Peace as a Prerequisite for financial success

It is said in the name of Rav Haim Vital (1543-1620), “Mahaloket Ahat Dohe Me’a Parnasot” – “One argument deters one hundred sources of livelihood.”  What this means is that peace is a conduit of material blessing.  Regardless of one’s efforts to earn a living, the presence of “Mahaloket” – strife and discord – will prevent the blessing of Parnasa (livelihood) from being bestowed.

Through our prayers and Misvot, we try to combine the two divine Names of “Havaya” (“Y-H-V-H”) and “Adnut” (“A-D-N-Y”).  The Name of “Adnut” represents the divine attribute of harsh judgment, and we seek to “sweeten,” or alleviate, the judgment by combining this Name with the Name of “Havaya,” which signifies the attribute of kindness.  This is why one should have in mind the combination of these two Names, and their combined numerical value of 91 (“Havaya” has the numerical value of 26, and “Adnut” has the value of 65).  This combination eliminates the potentially harmful effects of God’s strict judgment.  However, if one establishes and maintains peaceful relations in his home and with his friends, neighbors and colleagues, he accomplishes much more than simply eliminating the strict justice; he causes the combination between “Havaya” and “Adnut” to multiply exponentially.  If we multiply each letter of the Name of “Havaya” by the corresponding letter in the Name of “Adnut” (“Yod” and “Alef,” “Heh” and “Dalet,” “Vav” and “Nun,” “Heh” and “Yod”), we arrive at the products 10 (10*1), 20 (5*4), 300 (6*50), and 50 (5*10).  The sum of these four products is 380 (10+20+300+50).  The numerical value of the word “Shalom” is 376 (300+30+6+40), and if we add four to represent the four letters of the word (“Shin,” “Lamed,” “Vav,” “Mem”), we arrive at 380.  “Shalom,” then, is the product – not just the sum – of “Havaya” and “Adnut.”  Peace has the effect of multiplying the combination of these two divine Names.  If a person lives in peace with his family and peers, he not only eliminates the harmful effects of harsh judgment, but multiplies the blessing achieved thereof exponentially.

The Mishna famously comments, “The Almighty found no better receptacle to hold blessing than peace.”  A person can purchase $250 worth of groceries in the supermarket, but they will not help him without bags with which to bring them home.  Somebody can offer us the most flavorful and highest quality wine in the world, but without a bottle we have no means of enjoying it.  The same is true of God’s blessings.  Even if we are worthy of material blessings, they cannot come down from the heavens without some kind of receptacle.  And the Sages teach us that the receptacle that holds the blessing of Parnasa, the conduit through which these blessings are sent to this world, is “Shalom,” peaceful relations.  And the more peace a person achieves, the more “pipes” he makes available to bring down the “Shefa” (God’s abundant blessings) from the heavens.

It is therefore critical for us to include peace in our efforts to earn a livelihood – peace in our homes, families and communities – so that we will be able to bring God’s blessings upon us and experience prosperity and success.


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6 Responses to Peace as a Prerequisite for financial success

  1. I would like to explain why it is quite the contrary in inner work of Kabbalist, I mean that finantial success is prerequsite of Shalom(peace).Shalom is Shlemmut(wholeness) and it is given only by Ore Hokhma, while our spiritual money is Ore Hassadim and it is impossible to get Ore Hokhma without being dressed (mellubash) in Hassadim. First of all Tikkun(correction) then Milluyi( filling). Ore Hassadim is the light of Lehashpia almannat Lehashpia= and Ore of Emmuna mihal HaDaat.But at the beginning it isn’t geniune Ore Hassadim because we don’t have choice, but to go Emmunah mihal HaDaat, but when we pass this “exam” and we are given Ore Hassadim with Heerat Hokhma in it ,the question is if we willingly will choose Emmuna mihal HaDaat of the next stage( to be the tail of the lion) now when we have Heerat Hakhma, istead of holding this Heerat Hokhma of the present stage( to be the head of foxes ),and the moment of free choice in favour of Ore Hassadim of the Higher stage by our free will- meaning new amount of inner work -is called Shalom= We are wholesome with our choice ,because it is made not because of lack of choice but out of choice.The problem of choosing next stage is in heart becuase it belongs to Kellim de Gof and the Gof may let us do something if it sees a bigger gain, so we have to make Hitgabrut to make it agree( Baal Korkhoh) and make a move to get to the next stage,The is a moment of Shallom within our inner world when the mind and the heart are united, but we have to start to work on the next stage and get our spiritual money before the heart can rebel against it and we’ll find ourselves falling down with the speed of Light. We have to learn to choose Emmuna mahal Hadaat of the next stage to the Daat of the present one, because there is a rule in spiritual that says :”What is concided genuine on this stage is just Klippa for the next one.”
    So the model is to start from Hassadim (Emmuna mihal HaDaat) by no choice, then we get “daat” into it and now when we have the choice- to stay with the certain gain we prefer Emmuna mihal HaDaat BY OUR CHOICE and in this way we get to the next stage. It is very difficult even to read not to say to learn all the Talmud B. and Y. in one year and then let all our knowledge go and start learning it from the very beginning as if it is the first time we hold this Book-and Baal HaSulam DID IT. It is very difficult to give all the money in the evening and to start the morning with pure trust in HaShem that He will give you necessary income enough for your spiritual growth to be continued- and Baal HaSulam DID IT.
    It is easy to stay in Peace when we have Ore Hassadim, and it is even easier to stay in Peace when we have Heerat Hokhma, but to stay in Peace when you have neither this nor that by your own choice (imagene what our “heart” will call us in this moment) bring us to the Highest moments of spirituality. But to expirience them we should first train ourselves in getting Ore Hassadim, then getting into it Heerat Hokhma, and then to prefer Ore Hassadim of the higher stage. And if we can do it, we will be let out of Tzimtzum B into Tzimtzum A, where we get Ore Hassadim and Ore Hokhma in abundence( Zivvug A”B-S”G)= from above below and as we ascend from below up, for us it is S”G- spiritual money, the A”B- the light of Fulfilment, the Light of Hahim=Shalom. And it is given to us to learn to give up now not Heerat Hokhma , but ORE HOKHMA and Ore Hassadim altoghether becuase only in this way we can expirience Real Dvikkut, because we are “Lighter” when we are free of any wish for any Light, and if we manage to to remain in a complete Peace=Shlemmut this kind ot Shalom is real Shalom and It garantee the everlasting Peace because it is gained by our correction of Kellim deKabbalah and not by their suppretion- which is very dangerous thing to do, because it can burst up any moment and the so called peace will turn into most devasteting war. Only when we are able to let go everything what we gained we will see(get Daat) that both Ore Hassadim and Ore Hokhma are given to us by HaShem and then we will learn to get( Lekabbal) both of then almannat Lehashpia, but before we get to the level of such understanding, we will be trained in getting some portions of Ore Hassadim al Kavvana Lehashpia almanat Lehashpia, then Heerat Hokhma Lehashpia al manat Lehashpia amd learning overcoming of the desire Lehashpia al mannat Lekabbel, and reinstate again Kavvana Lehashpia al mannatLehashpia till we pass our final “exam” by proving absolute Emmuna in haShem by being able to let go all the wishes of our Heart and ” saying Blessing( Ore Hassadim) and Eating apple (OreHokhma) just for the sake of sanctifing HaShem’s Name- example given in the article “kavvana” by Felix.
    Now the question is why “Emmuna mihal haDaat” attitude is so difficult for us to accept? Actually we use this principle in our everyday life and even don’t care that we let ourselves to believe to what is said by TV, Radio, by newspapers, proffessors, actors, political leaders and so on, and we do it easely by Emmuna mihal HaDaat.So why is it so simple when it comes to everything exept spirituality?
    This negative attitude to Emmuna mihal HaDaat in spirituality is actually a gift given to us by HaShem.The feeling of this negative attitude shows us that in this direction we can pass only if we overcome our Daat and make our Heart want to choose spirituality.So if we take simple situation, when a woman wants to go shopping, we’ll see that this is our Ratzon Lekabbel comes out to hunt the sparks of Holeness scattered in this world to revive it. BUT if a woman needs a new dress, or shoes for Shabbath and the only goal of shopping is to buy this dress or shoes, she will gladly stay at home and will give up the buying of them, BECAUSE it is a planned action, and our Ratzon Lekabbel doesn’t like planning. It LOVES to be “SPONTANEOUS”- buying for the sake of buying and not for the Mitzva of Shabbath. It likes getting for the sake of getting and doesn’t care for the real value of the action or thing it gets. So it will take a woman a real Hitgabrut to go shopping when Ratzon Lekabbel is told what to do and is not allowed any spontanrous actions!-It looses Its intrest in shopping altoghether! The same with the 6-year old girl that “love” so much to wash the dishes and to sweep the floor in the kitchen.Where is this wish when she is 15 years old? It disapeared, because now she is EXPECTED to do it and her Ratzin Lekabbel looses the intrest, because it is exited only by doing what It wants, and not by what should be done.
    So our Ratzon Lekabbel let us go “Emmuna mihal HaDaat” in all the spheres ecxept spiritual, because It is hunting these sparks of life at the price of getting us into bigger and bigger troubles- quarelling, debts, fighting, devourcing, loosing the jobs, deepest lack of understanding between us and so on. Intresting to notice here the methods of hunting monkeys- a hunter take a coccunut, make a hole in it big enough for monkey to push its hand through , then he pours the coccunat milk out and put three or four grains of rice inside, so the monkey push its hand in, grabs the grains of rice but it can’t pull the hand out, because the fist is wider than the open hand, and the lack of understanding of the trick makes her to continue to hold the rice and to be pulled by hunter to the cage by the string attached to coccunut and it may cost her freedom and sometimes even life, but poor creature doesn’t get that its life can be easely safed if it only would let this “grain-sparks” go.
    But in spiritual there is no “free bread” and even the smallest spark should be earned, nothing comes free of charge and Ratzon Lekabbel knows it very well ,because it holds Reshimmot of Malkhut Metzumtzemt deep inside its structure, and that is why it is afraid to let us go Emmuna Mihal Hadaat exactly in spirituality, it is afraid of responsibility,because there is nobody to blame in Spiritual Worlds for our failures, insolvency, bankrupcy, because there is no rivelry, competition, misunderstanding, but there is very fair principle- that who comes for correction is helped and the one who comes to try to get something, but correction is put out of Kdushah and continue to make his effort without understanding that he is in Tummah. And as Zohar puts it, that when the Angel of Death comes and holds the sword and the poison drop is running into the direction of a person’s mouth, he willingly open his mouth and swallow it.
    So negative attitude of our Ratzon Lekabbel to Emmuna mihal HaDaat way in spirituality is for our best, thus we can see if we are on the right way- making Hitgabrut, or running after the sparks of life which are just “shadow” reflections of the spiritual world.Hunting these sparks makes the illusion of having essence in the material world, we may argue with our inner feeling that we are missing something in this life ,and try to delete this feeling by going to the cinema,thearter,new restaurant, we can wrangle with our children or parents by saying that we are O.K. and happy, busy, intersted in many things around.BUT there are moments of such unfathomable emptiness that are difficult to overcome and the person becomes more and more depressed, loosing intrest in life and so on.The doctors call it existantial depression, Kabbalists call it Ester Kafful, but no matter how we call it, we have to get out of it and the sooner the better. So we have to go Emmuna Miahal HaDaat ,we have to earn Ore Hassadim to pay our previous debts, to have to live on something( because the external sparks don’t satisfy us anymore), and little by little we get amount of spiritual money enough to pay for our first Heerat Hokhma that the” free cheese is in the mousetrap only”, and we feel the first signs of recovery, and a moment of Peace in our inner evelasting strugle let us open our fist and by letting rice- grains- wish go, we buy ourseleves LIFE!

  2. I would like to share a story that happened to one of the ladies I study with, which shows the Hand of the Creator in each and every situation of our life.

    She got quite a big sum of money and decided to put Maaser( the tenth part of it) to the charity box of the Kottel, and on the Rosh Hodder Yi’ar went there with her friend, on the way to the Kottel her friend suggested a diffrednt way, and she agreed, though she used to go another one all the time she came to the Kottel.

    While going there, all of a sudden a relgious man approuch them, and as she told us he was very polite and ask them for the donation for their Yeshiva ( the place for studing Torah), but as she told he look to her very sad and quite uncomfortable with the role of a person askng for charity.

    She felt very sorry for him and asked if he would take a Maaser and he told that he would, and without further discussing she took all the money and gave them to him.

    As she tells the man didn’t expect to get such a big sum of money and the only thing he murmured was if she wanted a reception bill for it, she was comfused herself and said no, and quickly when away, but as she started going she felt uncomfortable with the fact that she intended to put the money to the charity box of the Kottel and without thinking twice gave them to a first man to ask.

    As she told us her uncomfortability became even stronger when she started to analyse her action and thought that may be it was her ego which wanted to show her ability to give such a big sum of money as if it was something regular for the people to do without thinking a lot.

    But what is done is done and they continue their way to the Kottel, after praying the Shakharit( morning prayer), on her way from the Kottel she wanted to put some money to the charity box of the Kottel as she always do after the praying.

    To her surprise the charity box was so full that there was even no place for the shequel to insert, not to speak about the sum of money she had given to that religious man, I want to add that the charity box of the Kottel is about one meter high, and 60 on 30 samtimeters wide!

    She felt very happy that the Creator solved her doubts by showing that her giving the Maaser to that man was a right decision, by showing her the full charity box of the Kottel.

    She told us this story to show that the Creator help us in each and every step, and if you want to find out the bestowing nature of your actions, one should just ask the Creator and He will find the way to show it to us.

    And what is more, when she decided to go the same way back and to give the money which she wanted to give after the praying, she couldn’t remember the place she had met that man and just put them into the first charity box she found.

  3. yehudith says:

    I would like to share one more story about the money which happened to one of the ladies of our group.

    Before her mother died, she told that she wants her daughter to have the apartment she got, and her son, this lady’s brother the privite house she had, and both of them accepted her will.

    The problem was that the lady didn’t have the citesenship of the country her mother and brother lived in, because at the time she left for Israel,one had to quit the citesenship of that country, and so her brother was responcible for sailing the property.

    To her surprise, when she called him and asked him what was going on, he told her that he sold the apartment and invest the money into his buseness, but he doesn’t see the reason to sail the house, because he doesn’t need those money meantime, he even didn’t mentioned that the apartment was left by their mother to her and spoke as if both the apartment and the house belong to him only.

    She was very upset, but decided not to fight her brother for that and to try to keep the relationships as good as possible.

    Later that year her son got into the University, and when she told her brother about it, he said that he will give a sum of money to pay for it, but as the time went he didn’t send her a dollar, and after calling and asking him for several times, she decided to take a loan and to help her son to pay for the University.

    She felt very uncomfortable with this fact, and though she didn’t confront her brother for this behaviour, insight she felt very hurt.

    We couldn’t find much comfort for her and said that sometimes we have to overcome this unpleasant family situations and just to keep on.

    What was more hurting to her, she told, that when she used to hear the stories of the problems between the children about the property of their parents she always thought that in their family it couldn’t happen under any curcomstances, and now she had to face the fact and tried to find the way out of the unpleasant feeling she had because of her brother behaviour.

    Then one day she bought a book of Rabbanit Sh.Yossef, the daughter in law of the Ovadia Yosser, very well known Rav in Israel, which was called the Possitive thinking in the Light of Judaism.

    One day she came to the lesson and was very happy, and that day she told us her story and the answer she found in the book of Sh.Yissef, which gave her the possibility to get in peace with the situation, discribed above.

    She found the explanation in that book, that sometimes a person has a very serious spiritual debts from this or previous life, and thanks to his/her pious behaviour and the the wish to get corrected, the Creator substitute the debt with the money loss and in this way a more difficult and painful experience is exchandged by the money problems and that it is the highest Hessed of the Creator ,Who is merciful and find the place to let the debt go through the minimal unpleasant experience ever possible.

    When she told us that, I remembered my mother -in-law saying that let all our problems will be in the field of money and not something else, G-d forbid, health, children, relationships and many other situations when you wish to pay any money, but nothing can be done to help.

    When she told us this and read us that explanation we felt that she is really glad, for what had happened, and she felt content with the situation for the first time she spoke about it.

    I think that her wish to keep the realtionships with the brother no matter his unfair behaviour with the money got her the answer for this experience and the Creator blessed her by sending her that book, and the peace in her soul was restored once again.

  4. yehudith says:

    I would like to recomend to all intrested to read a book by Dan Senor and Saul Singer called “Start-up Nation” the story of Israel’s economic mircle and to decide for themselves what is course and what is effect in money-peace ratio.

    It may help to many of us to learn how the things work for us at least here in Israel.

  5. yehudith says:

    Ekev(Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25)
    The Little Things
    by Rav Ari Kahn

    As Moshe continues his soliloquy, after revisiting some of the major catastrophes that befell the people in the desert, he warns the people against idolatry and encourages them to keep the mitzvot. The Ten Commandments are repeated, and we may sense a certain stress that is born of having and maintaining a relationship with God: As Parshat Vetchanan comes to an end Moshe returns to the commandments:

    And guard the mitzva and the statutes and the laws which I command you today to perform. (Devarim 7:11)

    Ekev begins on a similar note:(1)

    And due to your listening to these laws and guarding and performing them, Almighty God will keep the covenant and kindness which he promised to your ancestors. (Devarim 7:12)

    The word ekev, translated here as “due to,” is an unusual word. The word’s literal translation is derived from ‘heel’, the back of the foot, and is therefore taken to mean ‘that which follows’, as the heel follows the foot. Thus, the verse describes the relationship with God that will result from our observance of the laws and statutes – a relationship of spiritual and physical bounty. In his commentary on this verse, Rashi employs the metaphor of the heel of the foot in a more literal fashion:

    And due to your listening -if a [person listens] to the simple mitzvot which people (usually) trample with their heels. (Rashi, Devarim 7:12)

    Instead of stressing the grandiose, or the “important” mitzvot, Rashi stresses the light or easy mitzvot, the ones that are performed in a nonchalant fashion. If those small, seemingly less-significant mitzvot are fulfilled, God will fulfill the covenant He made with our forefathers, and will treat us with kindness.

    What are these “light” mitzvot? The verse continues, providing more details: “and due to your listening” is followed by “to these mishpatim (laws).” The Ramban points out that mishpatim are normally associated with torts, laws that regulate monetary transactions and interactions between people.(2) All too often, these laws are neglected or abused in the course of “business as usual”; this verse informs us that careful attention to these same laws will bring upon us the blessings promised in the covenant with Avraham, Yitzhak and Yaakov.

    R. Moshe b. R. Yaakov of Coucy (France, circa 1200), follows this same line of reasoning to explain the lengthy exile. The Jews’ continued dishonest business practices force God to prolong the exile: If He were to redeem the Jews despite their corrupt behavior, God would be put in an awkward position, as it were. The non-Jews would rightly complain that this is unfair: Why are these dishonest people redeemed? The blatant and infamous dishonesty of the Jews leaves God no choice; the redemption waits.(3)

    The problem with the tradition expressed by the Ramban and echoed by R. Moshe ben Yaakov is that the behavior they describe, the transgressions of which the Jews are guilty, do not seem to “minor”; dishonesty of this sort undermines the very foundations of community, unravels the fabric of society. Dishonesty in business dealings is dealt with aggressively and forcefully by the sages, even when the wrongdoing is not punishable by law. If, for example, someone withdraws from a transaction and the court cannot compel hime to stand by it, the Mishna describes the admonition that is read or recited to place his behavior in perspective. This text is known as the “Mi shePara,” and it speaks of generations that were obliterated because of corruption:

    If [one person] drew into his possession [another person’s] produce without paying him the money, he cannot retract. If he paid him the money but did not draw into his possession his produce, he can withdraw. But they [the sages] said: He who exacted payment from the generation of the flood and the generation of the dispersion, He will take vengeance of him who does not stand by his word. (Mishna Bava Metzia 4:2)

    The message is unmistakable: dishonesty, immoral business behavior – even when it is not criminal – destroys society. This is no minor transgression. Perhaps because of the importance ascribed to these types of laws, Rashi’s comments steer us away from the mishpatim, and instead focus on more generic mitzvot.(4) Rashi’s comments may be more akin to the Mishna in Avot:

    Rebbi said: which is the right way that a man should choose for himself? One which is [itself] an honor to the person adopting it, and [on account of which] honor [accrues] to him from men. And be as careful with a light mitzva as with a grave one, for one does not know the reward [for the fulfillment] of mitzvot. (Mishna Avot 2:1) (5)

    There is a subtle difference between this Mishna and Rashi’s comments on our verse: whereas the Mishna speaks of scrupulous performance of mitzvot, even those whose importance we may believe to be minor, Rashi’s comments refer to a verse that discusses “listening.” The word ekev is connected to the word “listen.” This phrase does not call upon us to guard or perform the commandments; simply “listening” will bring reward.(6)

    What is the value of listening? What, in Rashi’s view, is the importance of listening to the little things which people usually take for granted? The verse tells us that if we are attentive, God will fulfill His side of the covenant; apparently, what is at stake is the very nature of the relationship, a covenant of kindness. A relationship of this sort is not forged by virtue of mere obedience; a covenantal relationship, a relationship of intimacy and kindness is forged by love. And love is in the little things, in the details, in the attentiveness and that special type of listening that “hears” nuances, shades of meaning, unexpressed desires and needs. This type of relationship is not born of obedience, no matter how precise or punctual, but of that step beyond adherence to the law.

    When the Rambam describes the highest level of service of God, one motivated by love, he uses daring terms to describe a passionate relationship:

    What is the appropriate love that a person should love God? a great, brazen, extreme love, until one’s soul is connected with love of God, and he speaks of it consistently as if he were lovesick… (Rambam Laws of Teshuva 10:3)

    The person who serves God with love is consumed with this love, is always aware of this love and is constantly mindful of the object of their love. Even when they are separated by the necessary interruptions of everyday life, such a person sees the world through a unique prism: The object of their love is always in mind, and the world is seen through dual eyes – for such a person attempts to see and experience through the eyes of their beloved, to relate all experiences to their beloved. This is what is meant in our verse: to be “listening” to God is far more than fulfilling commandments or avoiding transgressions; rather, to be always thinking, always seeing the world through God’s eyes, as it were, always considering God’s desires, always “tuned in” to God’s voice. The result of such listening is a relationship of profound intimacy – a covenantal relationship, a relationship of kindness.

    This same “listening” lies at the heart of is considered by many to be the most succinct expression of Jewish faith, the phrase which may be the greatest common denominator(7) of the Jewish religion: The Torah commands us to know that there is one God, but goes further, and bids us to listen:

    Listen, O Israel: The Eternal is our God, the Eternal is one. (Devarim 6:4)

    This listening is immediately followed by love:

    Love the Eternal your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your wherewithal. (Devarim 6:5)

    The Seforno’s comments on our verse underscore this important connection:

    “And due to your listening:” Here the King commanded all of this, so we shall merit the covenant and the hesed, that which it says, “And guard … today to perform”. (Devarim 7:11) – out of love, not on condition to be rewarded; and for that you will merit the covenant and the hesed. (Seforno, Devarim 7:12)

    Real relationships are not based on utility, or hope of reward. A real relationship is based on love, and it is the result of listening, of paying careful attention to the little things. What we learn from this first verse in Parshat Ekev is that this love reciprocated by God “in a big way.” When we are attentive to the “little things” that fall in the area beyond the letter of the law, we build a loving relationship, and God, in turn, takes care of the “big things.”

  6. yehudith says:

    an extract from the article
    by Rav Noson Weisz

    The area of human endeavor in which the influence of expectarions on consequences is most manifest is economic activity. The state of the economy is largely expectation driven. When people are confident that everything is as should be, they do not hesitate to invest in the future. They buy houses and cars and new electronics etc. and confidently finance their purchases out of future earnings. The economy expands to meet the increase in demand, GNP rises, corporate profits spiral upward, the stock market climbs, and everyone is better off.

    But if we introduce a confidence-shattering event such as the horror of Sept.11th, the bubble of confidence in the future deflates and there is a marginal increase in social anxiety. People are overcome by terror and lose their vision of a rosy future. As they no longer face the future with total confidence, they are reluctant to mortgage their future earnings to finance present expenditures. They put off or abandon the idea of new purchases. The economy starts to deflate. Corporate earnings shrink, the GNP stops expanding or even contracts, the stock market declines. Soon everyone is worse off.

    Economic enterprises that were marginally profitable in an expanding economy begin piling up losses and resort to accounting tricks to shore up their corporate bottom line to protect themselves against the public loss of confidence. Several giant corporate enterprises go under and a spirit of panic and mistrust spreads through the land. People become cynical and begin to question the honesty and reliability of the entire economic system causing further contraction and further collapses in a rapidly descending downward spiral.

    Objectively, little has changed from the times of expansion and economic well being to the times of downturn. The difference is mainly psychological. People’s changing expectations and perceptions constitute the real difference. In the world of physics and chemistry, there is no need to factor in human expectations to determine the relationship between cause and effect. This part of reality is not humanity driven.


    But in any sort of human driven process, the perception of reality is itself a major factor in working out the relationship between cause and effect. If this is true in the realm of the secular world, as we have just demonstrated through considering the laws of economics, how much more must this applicable to the world of spirituality, a world whose reality is entirely grounded on relationships.

    It is in this sense that human observance of Torah laws and Divine observance of the Covenant are interrelated. As long as the Jewish people maintains its confidence that Torah observance leads directly to increased Divine focus on the supply of the blessings of the Covenant, the spiritual economy is on an upswing. Israel will enthusiastically observe the Torah laws and God will joyously implement the blessings expressed in the covenant in an ever-increasing upward spiral. But as soon as the Jewish people forfeits the perception that its welfare is a direct result of the blessings of the Covenant, this spiritual cause and effect relationship breaks down.

    Observance of the mitzvot may not immediately drop, but greater energy and enthusiasm will inevitably be invested in other inputs. After all we mainly expend energy in the quest for greater welfare. As the human investment in the covenantal relationship declines, the Divine input into Covenantal blessings correspondingly contracts. As the supply of such blessings begins to contract, the natural laws of cause and effect start to kick in. As the Divine energy invested in Covenantal observance contracts, the human investment into alternate sources of well being rises, causing a further contraction of Divine investment. Over the course of time basic expectations begin to change; there is an erosion of security and confidence in the future. The spiritual economy shrinks and contracts, physical systems begin to expand into the resultant Covenantal vacuum.


    Expectation driven systems are double edged. Each side of the equation induces a corresponding response in the other. In our economic model for example, troubled economies can rescue themselves through exports. Other societies that are in the confident stage can decide to buy the products of troubled economies, generally available at depressed prices. This in turn induces an upswing in the profitability of troubled corporations, having the effect of restoring local confidence and kick-starting a new wave of consumption which ultimately has the effect of restoring the economy to its former health.

    In the same way, an upswing in the investment of Divine energy that causes an increase in the supply of the blessings of the covenant has the effect of restoring Israel’s confidence in the correspondence between Covenantal blessings and its own Torah observance, restoring the lost enthusiasm for the practice of mitzvot.


    A prime example of the existence of this spiritual mechanism is the very existence of this website. Following the Holocaust, less than four per cent of the surviving Jewish people were fully observant, and Torah literate Jews worldwide numbered no more than several hundred. A continued spiral of misfortune would surely have wiped out this tiny remnant in a relatively short span of time.

    But God poured divine energy into the Covenantal blessings. The Holocaust survivors prospered miraculously. Almost any Jew who turned his hand to any sort of enterprise prospered enormously. The State of Israel won a series of incredible victories and experienced an unbelievable run of great economic growth. By the rule of ‘ekev’, as the Divine observance of the Covenant perceivably expanded, the level of Torah observance shot up. Torah observance made a powerful comeback; yeshivas grew exponentially, the Ba’al Teshuva movement brought many thousands of Jews back to Torah observance.

    As everyone knows, confidence and trust are flip sides of the same coin. Everyone with the barest amount of formal education is capable of fully understanding the economic phenomena discussed in this essay. Therefore it follows that everyone knows how to cure ailing economies. All you have to do is demonstrate your confidence in the future by agreeing to invest in the things that you would like to have now. You get the double benefit of getting what you want and also ensuring the recovery of the economy so that you are able to pay for it. And yet, we all know how difficult it is to turn around an ailing economy and to kill the ‘bear’ market and restore bullish times. Why don’t we all take the steps to fix what is wrong?


    The answer in a word: trust. If I could trust that everyone else would do as I do, overcome his or her emotional loss of confidence and willfully invest in the future, I would certainly do so myself without hesitation. The problem is that I don’t trust other people to follow my example. If I am the only one investing, my puny effort will have zero effect, and instead of being buoyed by a rising economy, I will drown in the gathering flood of bad economic bad news.

    Things are no different spiritually. Unless I place my trust in God, it always seems to me that reality is non-Covenantal in nature, and my efforts at observance will fail to reshape the world into a world of blessing and therefore my survival in the world as I know it demands that I pour my primary effort into the natural inputs of life, leaving little energy to invest in my relationship with God.

    In the absence of my own trust in God, God is not inspired to offer me His confidence and trust. The mutual lack of trust has the pernicious effect of validating my lack of confidence in the future as a realistic interpretation of reality. Expectations verify themselves as realities.


    Parshat Ekev offers a step-by-step approach of how to successfully function within this confidence-trust driven spiritual reality. Step one: know who and what you are.

    “Hear O Israel, today you cross the Jordan, to come and drive out nations that are greater and mightier than you, cities that are great and fortified up to the heavens…. Do not say in your heart, when Hashem pushes them away from before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness did Hashem bring me to possess this Land….'” (Devarim 9:1-5)

    Reject the salary approach to spiritual reality. Do not regard the capture of Israel as a well-deserved compensation for services rendered. Understand the laws of spiritual causation properly; they are relationship driven and not salary oriented.

    “Now O Israel, what does Hashem, your God ask of you? Only to fear Hashem, your God, to go in all His ways and to love Him…. Only your forefathers did Hashsem cherish to love them, and He chose their offspring after them – you – from all the peoples as this day.” (Devarim 10:12-15)

    Observance is a measure of emotional attachment, a continuation of the relationship of mutual trust established between God and our forefathers. Never make the mistake of thinking that observance alone must always be compensated or adequately safeguards the Covenantal relationship.

    The only truly confidence-trust driven reality in the universe is the Covenantal relationship that exists between God and Israel. What we interpret as physical reality is merely the measuring rod of the state of confidence and trust that exists between God and Israel.

    …It( the book of Devarim) is the teachings of Moses and yet it is also the words of God. After Moses spoke the words of his own teachings, God dictated these same words back to him as His words, and instructed Moses to inscribe them as a portion of the Torah. But even as Moses uttered them, they were already Torah inspired; Nachmanides cites a tradition that the Torah was fully written well before the creation of the world in letters of black fire on a parchment of white fire. [Rashi refers to the same tradition in Devarim 33:2]. Tradition thus teaches that we are looking at a three-stage process; the words of fire become the words of Moses and are then incorporated into the Torah given to us on earth.

    The Torah of God is an abstract reality difficult for human beings to grasp and to deal with. Just as we need a human agency to bring the Torah down to earth, we also need to be taught how to incorporate its teachings into our functioning reality. The heart and mind of Moses is the bridge between Israel and God. Moses grasped the Torah with the force of his great mind and was able to translate the abstract information in his heart in terms that we can relate to. Relating to the Torah properly is also Torah.

    The Torah as written in Holy fire is the Written Law; the Torah as translated into actions that we perform in our world is the Oral law; the Book of Devarim, the book that teaches us how to approach the relationship with God that the Torah was intended to establish is the transition between the two.


    …Moses lays down the ground rules on which we must construct a relationship with God based on mutual trust and confidence. The first step is to realize that we are dealing with a different sort of reality; the ‘head’, the proper approach and understanding, must direct the ‘heel’, the level of blessing in the world. Torah reality is the very reverse of physical reality. Physical reality is inflexible and is already in place before we understand it. Understanding it doesn’t have the effect of altering it; it merely allows us to fit ourselves successfully within its confines. The heels are there first; the head must follow. In Torah reality the understanding comes first.

    The reason for this is the fact that the level of Covenantal blessing and observance are different spokes along the same wheel. The level of human Torah observance actualizes the availability of Covenantal blessings that allows for its expression; the greater the level of observance, the greater the level of blessings. But the relationship with God will never disappear in this two pronged reality; when the situation gets truly desperate, God will raise the level of Covenantal blessing and the altered reality will automatically restore the level of observance to match it. This is the way that God will bring the Messiah.

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