tu push the train from inside

Friday, 3 February, 2023 - 6:01 am

The story is told of a person who complained to the Chafetz Chaim – Rabbi Yisrael Meir Hacohen of Radin – that he doesn’t have time to come to Shul to learn and to pray because he has to open his store early in the morning, and stay there until late at night; otherwise, he claimed, he wouldn’t be able to make a living. 

The Chafetz Chaim said to him: “You’re behaving like someone who is traveling by train from Warsaw to Lodz, and since he is in a great hurry, he stands and pushes the train car from the inside, thinking that that way he’ll get there faster. It’s clear to any thinking person that such a person is wasting his efforts. 

“Hashem is the one who decides how a person will make a living for himself and for his household, and how much money he will have,” said the Chafetz Chaim. “Your store is merely the vessel through which you are provided for. It would make no difference if you opened it one hour earlier or one hour later, especially if this takes place on the account of other important things such as prayer, learning Torah or spending time with your children. It’s exactly like pushing the train car from the inside.”

The Lubavitcher Rebbe says that the story of the Mann that we will read in this week’s parasha, parashat Beshalach, is coming to tell us that our livelihood is just like the Mann that Bnei Yisrael received in the desert – “bread from heaven.”

At the very beginning of the Jewish People’s existence, the Creator taught us how to relate to the matter of earning a living, or, in other words, how to relate to the vessel that holds the blessings from Hashem, the vessel we make use of when we go to work. 

It is a mistake to attribute one’s livelihood to the vessel through which it comes, instead of to the source of the abundance, the belief in the Creator of the World who blesses one and determines one’s degree of wealth. 

And not just livelihood, everything we face in our lives - the means here in this world are similar to a carriage, be it the most beautiful and the best, it will still remain a carriage, our eyes are fixed on the locomotive, the creator of the world.

Shabbat Shalom, 

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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