Rav Avigdor Miller on The Lazy Man and the Happy Man

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Q:
What’s the difference between an עצל, the lazy man who is criticized by the sages, and a שמח בחלקו, one who is happy with his lot, and who is praised by the sages?

A:
A lazy man, he’s not necessarily satisfied with his lot, only he doesn’t have the energy to change it. But he could be quite dissatisfied! In the slums you have a lot of people, who are not שמח בחלקם – they’re very angry that they have to be poor, they’re complaining all the time. Only that they’re too lazy, they’re too irresponsible or shiftless to do anything about it.

samayach b’chelko on the other hand is a man who has plenty of energy to do things but he feels that his lot is so satisfactory that there’s no need to change. He’s actually satisfied with his lot!

Q:
But according to this definition, a man would never become richer, because if he’s samayach b’chelko he has everything that he needs?

A:
So there are two things to consider however. First of all, what’s the misfortune if he wouldn’t become richer? If he’s samayach b’chelko then he’s rich enough. And secondly, there are plenty of fellows who no matter how much they have, they’ll never be happy. So they’ll be the ones who keep working to make more money – it’s almost everyone.

Q:
But then the שמח בחלקו will never work harder, he’ll never look for more opportunities to make money, right? So he’ll never become rich.

A:
So who says that there’s a mitzvah to be rich? It’s not so terrible. If he doesn’t want to become rich, if he’s happy, so let him remain that way. And secondly, sometimes a person becomes rich even without trying. It happens too.

Q:
There are some rich men who aren’t samayach b’chelko, right?

A:
I think all of them. And all of the poor people are also not samayach b’chelkom. The answer is nobody is samayach b’chelko. Only a very great man will stimulate his mind with the proper thoughts and create a mind that is truly happy with his lot. It takes work! You have to be an exceptional person, and exceptional people are very few and far between.

TAPE # R-22 (December 1972)