• Akiva Murguia

Rabbi Elimelech Biderman - Torah Wellsprings - Emor - Part 1


The parashah begins, "[the cohanim] may not become impure to a corpse…" Because of this prohibition, cohanim are cautious not to enter cemeteries, and other places that contain dead bodies, so they don’t become impure.

This Gemara reveals to us that everyone has a right for parnassah — even those who are ignorant in Torah —for just as Hashem supports dogs and crows and all other animals, Hashem supports all mankind too. However, this is true as long as a person isn't worse than animals. But a person who profanes his speech is worse than animals. He can no longer claim, "Just as you support animals, support me."

The Imrei Noam writes, "The Gemara (Bava Basra 8) tells us that the Jewish nation can draw parnassah, even if they don’t have Torah and mitzvos, being they aren't worse than animals. Even if the person is a baal taavah, and he gives in to the urges of his body with regards to eating, drinking, sleeping, and the like, nevertheless, animals are that way too [and Hashem sustains them, so why shouldn't human beings be supported too?] However, if a person doesn’t guard his speech, and he speaks lashon hara and nivul peh…he is worse than animals who don’t sin with speech, because they are unable to speak. This blocks one's parnassah, because he isn't able to claim, 'support me like dogs,' because he is worse than them. Hashem is warning us to have pure speech. The result will be that he will have wealth and parnassah.

People work very hard for their paranssah. Sometimes, they risk their lives to earn some money. As it states in the Torah (Devarim 24:15), "For his parnassah, he risks his life." Rashi explains, "For his parnassah, he puts his life on the line; he climbs up ramps and hangs on trees." The counsel that we are offering is relatively easier; control yourself from speaking forbidden words, and you will earn parnassah. Generally, when one seeks advice for parnassah, he expects to hear where to invest, what to study, how to advertise, and the like, but he doesn’t expect someone to tell him, "If you want parnassah, be careful not to speak lashon hara." But as we just learned, being cautious with one's speech is mesugal for parnassah. This counsel shouldn’t surprise us, because parnassah comes from Hashem, and therefore, deeds that appease Hashem will help one earn parnassah in easier ways.

The Imrei Noam concludes, "The first and final letters of פרנסה spell ה"פ ,mouth, and the middle letters ס"רנ are gematriya עמר .These hint to the mitzvah of counting the omer with one's speech…" Counting the omer rectifies the mouth, and therefore results with parnassah.

A parable:

Someone came to a field and saw hundreds of people in work clothes, working in pairs. One dug a hole, and the partner filled it back up with earth again. He watched in surprise, for what purpose was there in what they were doing? He asked one of the workers for an explanation. The worker replied, "We usually work in groups of three. One digs a hole; a second plants a sapling; and a third puts the earth back, so the sapling will grow. Today, those who plant the saplings have a day off. We figured that we should at least do our share. Just because they aren't here, doesn’t mean that we can't do our part of the job…" The nimshal is, Chazal tell us there are three partners in the creation of man: the father, the mother, and Hashem. Hashem has the largest share in the partnership, because throughout the person's life, that Partner is continuously thinking about him, giving him parnassah and life. Even when we work, we must remember that success is with the third Partner. If the third Partner won't help, we fail. All of our work is fruitless and purposeless without Hashem. We now understand the severity of forbidden speech, and why forbidden speech ruins one's parnassah. The Or HaChaim writes, "Nothing distances a person from Hashem as much as lashon hara." And without Hashem, how can one earn parnassah? Therefore, the counsel is logical: One must be cautious with his speech, as a segulah for parnassah.

The counsel generally given to someone who falls into quicksand is that he should remain still, and wait for someone to rescue him. Each attempt and movement to save himself may cause him to sink deeper. The same counsel is given to someone who doesn’t know how to swim and finds himself in deep water. If he panics, he will drown. If he relaxes he will float, and someone can get to him and save him. It’s the same with parnassah. Panicking causes one to lose parnassah. Being patient, and doing what one has to without worry reaps a greater potential for success. So, relax. Do what you have to, make sure to devote some time for Torah and tefillah, and don’t lose your serenity. You will be more successful that way.

There are people whom we assume are wealthy, but may be very deeply in debt. We don’t know what other people are going through. And even if they do have wealth, it could be that it comes along with a lot of strife and stress. It could be that for them it’s as though they don’t have anything at all. So why should you be jealous of the wealthy? Perhaps the wealthy are jealous of you?

A very wealthy person told me that he would willingly and gladly give half his wealth away to become a kollel yungerman, who sits in beis medresh and learns Torah all day long. He looks at the kollel yungerleit with jealousy, because he sees how satisfied and happy they are; how they rejoice with every sugyah they learn, how it fills their heart with joy, while he works very hard, and is totally taken up with his business. He struggles daily with anger, disappointments, and frustrations, in the office, and at home.

The Ohev Yisrael zt'l said, "Learning Shaar HaBitachon of the Chovas HaLivavos is mesugal for parnassah." It is written, "Hashem is with me to help me, and I confront my enemies." Rebbe Shlomke of Zvhil zt'l explained this verse with an observation: When one needs to have surgery, chas veshalom, he will check up on the surgeon, to make certain that he has a good record. Some will seek the very best doctor, because they know that their life is on the line. However, when these people go on a plane ride, which could also be dangerous, they don’t check out on the pilot’s credentials. Without seeking information, they trust that the pilot knows what he's doing. What’s the difference? The explanation is, when one goes for surgery, it’s your life that’s in danger, not the doctor's. Therefore, you fear that the doctor may not be qualified, and he’s taking a risk on your life. However, the pilot is there on the plane with you. If he doesn’t know how to fly a plane, his life is also in danger, therefore you rely on him. This is hinted at in the words, "Hashem is with me to help me, and I confront my enemies." When Hashem is with me, I rely on Him and have nothing to fear.

Reb Akiva told his students, "When I was an am ha'aretz, I would say, 'give me a talmid chacham and I will bite him like a donkey.'" The students asked, "Rebbe, why didn’t you say that you would bite him like a dog?" Reb Akiva replied, "When a donkey bites, he breaks bones" (Pesachim 49:). Why did Reb Akiva tell that to his students? We can explain that he wanted his students to know that am ha'aratzim suffer. They’re filled with anger and hatred, and don’t have a good olam hazeh as one might think. Some religious Jews think that the less observant Jews lead happier lives, because they are less restricted. Reb Akiva wanted his students to know about the hate he suffered from when he was an am ha'aretz. The grass might seem greener on the other side, but it isn't so at all.


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