Does striving to become successful and comfortable take away from achieving Torah and yiras shomayim?
Now we come to a subject that has to be explained. I’m going to take a minute to explain that. How foolish are people who don’t understand how to fit in olam hazeh with ruchniyus, with spiritual things. In order to succeed as a decent Jew, you have to have a decent gashmiyus — a Jew must have a profession, he must have a calling. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to be a doctor of medicine, but you have to have some way of making a living. And just to be a shlep, just to be a failure, that’s no way to succeed as a Jew.
Now, if you’re a man who can succeed in learning – if you’re capable of learning all day long – so there’ll be some people who will support you; there are kollelim, there are places where you can go. But most people don’t do that. So you must live a normal life and you must learn a trade, you must learn some calling. And you have to have a home and you must have a wife. You must earn your own way — you cannot live on welfare; anybody who lives on welfare is a flop, a failure, and his life is ruined too; even his ruchniyus is ruined.
And so let’s not deceive ourselves; the gemara says that a man must teach his son an umnus: ראה חיים עם אשה אשר אהבת — See life with a woman who you love. So the gemara says, what does it mean with a woman who you love? It means the Torah – the Torah is the woman you love; the Jewish nation loves the Torah. But it says that you must “see life with the Torah.” It means learn an umnus; that’s what the gemara says. You need to learn some kind of livelihood.
Again and again we’ve seen tragedies of people who neglected to learn a livelihood. There’s a man in Crown Heights whose wife is an idealist — she’s a giyoress, a ger tzeddek, a big idealist. And she tells me she met this Jewish young man; she made him frum. She loves him, she tells me.
So I asked her, “What’s he doing?
“He’s a writer,” she tells me.
“Has he published something?”
“What does he do?”
“He lies in bed all day long.”
I said, “A man like that – why doesn’t he do something?”
“Oh,” she says. “He’s a great idealist, he’s thinking up plans; he’s drawing up plans for some great work.”
Well, a little time passed by and the next I heard she had left home with three little children, because he was beating her up – this “great idealist” was beating her. And that’s the wreck of an idealistic marriage — a giyoress tzeddek, a righteous convert, and she was an idealist, and she was beaten up by this bum, by this writer, because he never learnt a parnasa.
There’s a lot of people like that, ruined people. You can’t live in a cellar; you have to live in a decent home. Only that I must put in a word of warning – you shouldn’t put in all your efforts into beautifying your home; but still you must have a fitting frame for the right kind of a picture. You must make a living. You must guard your health. You can’t neglect your health and just be a shlepper who is run down in health. You need fresh air, you need exercise, you need the right diet.
Now, this is the subject that deserves a lecture by itself; I don’t have time for it now. I just want to sum up: in order to live a decent Torah life, you must have a proper and decent material life – the two go together. And that’s the ratzon Hashem and it can be proven by many statements in the Torah.
TAPE # 308 (April 1980)