Translated by Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum
WEALTH AND LIVELIHOOD
When a person conducts his working activities with faith and honesty, he fulfills the commandment to "love HaShem your God" (Deuteronomy 6:5) , which is the root of all the commandments, and his livelihood will be sent to him without struggle and toil.
The commandment to love God "with all your might " ( ibid. ) is fulfilled by one who overcomes his desire for wealth and does not embark on ventures beyond his means but conducts his affairs fairly and honestly, investing his own money without borrowing from others. This commandment is also fulfilled by a person who gives one fifth of his net income to charity.
Likutey Moharan I, 93; 210; Sichot Haran #289
All the Torah laws about property and business are relevant to practical business activity. Only one who is conversant with these laws can conduct his business with faith and honesty without stumbling.
Likutey Moharan I, 35
Be very careful to safeguard your money and take good care of your possessions. It is ridiculous to be the unlucky type who loses his money through laziness and irresponsibility.
A person takes time from Torah and prayer to struggle to earn money in order to support his family. After earning the money, should he become a luckless shlim mazelnik and not take care of it?
Money gained honestly must be guarded like the eyes in your head.
Sichot Haran #281
Be content with what you have and take only what you need from this world. When you are content, you can enjoy the full light of God. But "the belly of the wicked shall be wanting" (Proverbs 13:25 ) - because they are not content with what they have and constantly feel the need for more.
Even out of the little that you take from this world, you must contribute a portion to charity. The act of charity whereby the giver benefits the receiver brings about the union of Tzaddik and Knesset Israel in the upper world, sending a flow of blessing and abundance into this world.
Likutey Moharan I, 54
Have faith that God will help you and provide you with what you need. Those supporting a family frequently lack sufficient income, clothing and other needs. One person may lack a simple garment; someone else may feel that he needs fine clothing and mansions.
Wait for God's help! Don't press the hour, insisting that all your needs must be satisfied immediately. Wait until God shows mercy.
If I were impatient when I need something, insisting on having it at once, I would have to borrow money and go into debt. Then I would have to wander around and travel in order to earn enough to repay my debts. I would be just like the many others who have to travel for this reason.
Understand this well: Learn to live within your means. Everyone is constantly in need of all kinds of things: this applies even to the very wealthy. It is best to be satisfied with a minimum and to run your household according to your means at the time.
You may imagine that your wife and children need clothing. Indeed they may need it very badly. Even so, don't press the hour and take loans or buy on credit. Wait until the time is ripe, when you are able to pay for what you need.
It is better to endure privation than to fall into debt. This applies to food, and all the more so to clothing and housing. It is better to be in debt to yourself and your family - to owe them the clothing - than to be in debt to the storekeeper.
In everything connected with making a living you must wait until the time is ripe. For "The eyes of all are to You, and You give them their food in its time " (Psalms 145:15) .
Sichot Haran #122
Why worry about making a living? The only thing to worry about is that you may die of hunger if you have nothing to eat. And if you die, what will be so terrible? You have to die anyway.
Sichot Haran #250
God gives livelihood and people eat for nothing. They work only because of their sins.
Siach Sarfey Kodesh 1-274
Sometimes a person is given great wealth. The whole world envies him and everyone goes chasing after wealth and possessions. They spend days and years on this - all because of envy. But in the end they are left with nothing in their hands.
All this is the work of the evil one. He works hard to make one man very wealthy in order that many, many others should waste away their days and years because of envy. Heaven save us from such folly!
Sichot Haran #284
Those sunk in craving for wealth are constantly in debt. When people are dissatisfied with what they have, they take risks and borrow from others in the hope of making large profits from the investment. This way they become saddled with a mighty burden of debt and end up dying as debtors. Even if they are not literally in debt when they die, they are always effectively in debt to their own appetites.
Many people have more than enough to cover their needs yet waste away all their days in pursuit of profit. They will submit to every kind of effort, risk and inconvenience for the sake of money. They behave exactly like one with actual debts strung around his neck - but they are driven only by the obligation they feel to their own desires. These are so demanding that it is as if they really did owe an enormous sum. In effect they are debtors all their lives and they die in debt to their desires.
Their entire lifetime is not long enough for them to pay off their debts to their desires, which have no limit, for " No- one in this world achieves even half of what he wants before he dies" ( Kohelet Rabbah 1) . They are worried, bitter and depressed all their days because of their craving for wealth. The greater people's wealth, the greater is their worry and sadness - because they are trapped in the net of idolatry, which is the very source of depression, darkness and death. Their entire lives are consumed with the problems and worries of wealth.
When people make dishonest profits or refuse to give money to charity, this is nothing but a fool's game. The money plays with them in the same way that you can amuse a little child with coins, but in the end the very money kills them. "Who is the fool? It is the 'other god', the choking child-killer cough. It smiles at them with the allure of wealth in this world and ends up killing them. Why is it called a 'child'? Because those trapped in it do not have the sense to escape from it" ( Tikkuney Zohar 140a) .
The way to escape the allure of wealth is through the purity that comes through guarding the Covenant and drawing closer to the Tzaddik, who is the very embodiment of purity and of whom it is written, "He who is good and walks before God will be saved" ( Ecclesiastes 7:26) . The Tzaddik possesses true wisdom and understanding, and knows how to escape this trap. Even the greatest of men need deep wisdom and understanding if they are to escape the pain and toil of earning a living. Most ordinary people suffer terrible bitterness all their lives because of this. They lose both worlds: this world and the world to come.
There is no limit to the bitterness of this world. "Were it not for salt, the world could not endure the bitterness" ( Zohar I, 241b) . [Salt neutralizes bitterness.] Were it not for the strength of the Tzaddikim, who observe the Covenant with absolute purity and who are called the "eternal covenant of salt" (Numbers 18:19 ) , the world would be unable to endure at all because of the terrible bitterness caused by the desire for wealth. The closer a person comes to the Tzaddik, the more he can sweeten this bitterness. But those who are far from the Tzaddikim and from personal purity, and especially those who are actually opposed to the Tzaddikim, will be the victims of the full force of this bitterness. How many are sunk in this! Pay heed to these words and perhaps you will escape.
Likutey Moharan I, 23
If the Torah were written in order, we would know the reward and punishment for every positive and negative commandment.
There are sins for which the punishment is to be perpetually in debt. The sinner may try every possible ploy, but he still remains in debt. He can even cause others to fall into debt too . When these sins are rampant, there are many debtors in the world.
The remedy for this is to repent in general for all your sins and to beg God to save you from this particular sin. The time for such repentance is when you are in a state of expanded consciousness. This is the time to regret such sins, praying to God with complete repentance.
For the debtor's mentality is one of constricted consciousness, as the Talmud teaches: "Ten measures of sleep came down into the world and nine were taken by slaves" ( Kiddushin 49b) . "Sleep" is constricted consciousness, while the "slave" is the debtor, because "The borrower is slave to the lender" (Proverbs 22:7) . The "nine measures of sleep" taken by slaves are the constricted consciousness of the debtor.
This is why the time to repent these sins is when you are in a state of expanded consciousness, because this counteracts the debtor's state of constricted consciousness.
Sichot Haran #112
It would be proper for all Israel to have wealth, but there is one trait that interferes and causes them to lose it. The trait in question is a very bad and lowly trait from which it is very difficult to escape. Sometimes a person wants to escape this trait out of a desire for wealth itself, so as not to lose money, but even so this evil trait attacks him from childhood, causing him to lose the money he should have had.
The evil trait that causes a person to lose the money he should have had is anger. The reason for this is that at its very root and spiritual source , wealth is in the same category as anger. Thus when the evil one sees a flow of influence descending to bring wealth to a person, he turns it into anger, because , at their root , anger and wealth are in the same category: they both descend from God's mighty powers, deriving from the same place. "From the north comes forth gold" (Job 37:22) and "The evil will start from the north " (Jeremiah 1:14 ) .
Wealth is a "wall" ( ch O mah ), while anger ( ch EY mah ) ruins the wall. Thus when the evil one sees that a flow of wealth - chomah , a "wall" - is being sent to a person - he turns this flow into anger, sending something to make the person angry. Thus the "wall", chomah , is ruined because of the anger, cheymah . Since anger and wealth are at root one category, the evil one can easily turn the flow of wealth into anger.
And know that even if the descending influence has already reached a person and turned into actual wealth, a "wall", the evil one can still sometimes tempt the person to become so enraged that he loses even his existing money and wealth. One might have thought that after the blessing has already reached him and turned into wealth, it would be impossible for the evil one to turn it back into anger. The wealth should have been a "wall" protecting him from the evil one and preventing him from succumbing to anger, which is the opposite of a "wall". Yet the evil one has the power to attack a person with such great anger that he loses even the money he already has.
May God guard and save us from this despicable trait! Amen.
Likutey Moharan I, 68
All business dealings are really Torah. For example, the law relating to a person who exchanges a cow for a donkey is Torah, and when a person actually performs such a transaction this is certainly Torah. Accordingly, when engaged in any business transaction, you must bind your thoughts only to the Torah teachings and laws con tained within the transaction in question.
When a person uproots his business dealings from the Torah, relating only to the externality of the business transaction itself without binding his thoughts to the Torah within it, he is later punished by having to go to a Torah court of law. He must then review all his thoughts and deeds from the start of the transaction to the end and bring them back to the Torah. He must tell everything to the judges, who then determine the Torah ruling in the case.
This way everything relating to the business transaction is turned back into Torah. This is the Torah's vengeance against the person for having separated the transaction from the Torah laws contained within it and falling to the level of the business deal itself as if no Torah were present within it. By having to come before the court and tell the judges everything related to the matter, turning them into Torah, he comes to see that all business activity is Torah. Everything is relevant to the case, even the person's thoughts - for if he omits a single word or thought, the Torah ruling will be defective. Everything must be put before the judges, who turn it into Torah.
Everything depends on the extent of the flaw. There are cases where the person's only punishment is that he has to go to court but , although he wins his case, he is shown that he failed to attach his thoughts to the Torah in the proper way. However there are cases where a person uproots his business activities from the Torah to a far greater degree, and his punishment is greater because he does not win the case.
In truth, when engaged in business you should focus only your external mind on the transaction in itself, while your inner thought s should be bound to the Torah contained within it.
Likutey Moharan I, 280
People are always saying that things are not as good today as they were in the past.
They say that in the "good old days" everything was much less expensive than today, even though people did not have as much money as they have now. Even ordinary people, even those who live off charity, spend more today than wealthy people did in the past.
But the truth is the opposite of what people say. God now runs the world better than ever!
Sichot Haran #307
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By Rabbi Avraham Yehoshua Greenbaum
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