Where does your money Really come from?
Parshas Behar By Rabbi Yitzchak Aryeh Strimber
The beginning of this week’s Torah reading introduces us to the Mitzvah (commandment) of Shmitah. The last year of a seven year cycle is the year of Shmitah. This year is a sabbatical year, when it is forbidden to work the land of Israel. Whatever does grow on its own in this year, must be left for all to collect, free of charge. This Mitzvah is still in practice nowadays. One may wonder, if an entire country has to refrain from agriculture, how will the people have what to eat? Furthermore, perhaps those who have other sources of income may rely on importing food from abroad or finding other solutions to obtain food. But how will farmers sustain themselves with no income for an entire year? The Torah addresses this concern and says as follows (25:20): “And if you will say, “What will we eat in the seventh year since we will not plant and not collect our harvest?” And I shall command my blessing to you in the sixth year, and it will produce a crop for the three years.” (Rashi explains that the three years are not three full years, but rather for the end of the sixth, the seventh, and the beginning of the eighth.) Says the Ohr Hachaim, this does necessarily mean that the land will produce a crop double in size in the sixth year, but rather God will bless that crop in such a way that the same size crop will sustain them for a whole extra year. How does one gather the strength to stand idly by his field without seeing where his food will come from for an entire year?
This leads us to another Mitzvah, the Mitzvah of Bitachon – putting our trust in God. The Chovos Halevavos defines Bitachon as follows (gate of Bitachon, chapter 1): “The essence of Bitachon is for the one who has trust to feel calm in his mind. His heart should be secure with the trust he has put in the one who he trusts, that that individual will provide him, with all his might and wisdom, all that is best for him”. The Chovos Halevavos (ibid, chapter 4) tells us, the basis upon which we should feel secure without ever being anxious about where our sustenance will come from is as follows: “No being whatsoever has any control over the livelihood of anyone other than God. God has complete control over everyone’s welfare and provides everyone with what is best for them. The means of which a person engages in to provide himself with income are not the true source of his income. If the means fail to provide a person with what he needs, God could just as easily provide him with the same money from a different source. One must always trust that God is overseeing everything and is caring for him constantly.” As one internalizes this concept, it is no longer surprising to expect the farmer to leave his field idle, realizing good and well that it was truly never the field that provided him with food in the first place. The same way God has provided him with all that he needed until now, God will continue to do so. We do not need to see in advance how it will play out.
A number of years ago, my wife and I went on a walk, and the topic of our finances came up in discussion. A certain source which was supplementing our income at the time, was slated to terminate in few months. Naturally, my wife expressed her concern about the looming shortage of income. I assured her that there was nothing to be worried about. Since God was providing us with a certain amount of money on a monthly basis, there was no reason to think that it would cease just because that source would no longer be available. It is not any harder for God to send us the same amount of money in a different fashion. “But how can we count on that?” she asked me, “We can’t rely on a miracle happening.” “True,” I said, “we cannot rely a miracle. But we don’t have to. The same way God’s power is endless, His creativity is also limitless. Just because we can’t think of a way for it to happen naturally, that doesn’t mean that God cannot come up with a way that will seem natural to us. There is no reason to think that the flow of money will stop as a result of a specific source drying up. Only God is the true source of money, and the means by which he sends it could be varied easily.” Sure enough, a few months later, around the time that money stopped coming from that source, the agency which my wife was working for offered her a different position with a higher salary. The increase in salary surpassed the amount which stopped coming from the previous source.
Bitachon is an essential tool for life. It is not enough to recognize that God has complete control over our lives, we must integrate this concept into our daily lives. With perseverance, we will be able to slowly put more of our trust in God in all aspects of our lives, bringing calmness and tranquility to our minds.