Living A “Torah” Day A Series In Halacha

Laws and Customs that Merit a Good Parnassa


In these difficult and uncertain economic times, we are obligated, for our sake, for Klal Yisroel and for all of  humanity, to do our best to improve the world with prayer and the deeds that the Torah and our sages advise us to do.

This includes four general areas.

  1. Praying in the appropriate manner and halachic framework.
  2. Being careful not to do the things that the Torah and sages say could cause poverty.
  3. Doing the things that we are taught can bring good parnassa.
  4. Being careful that our table etiquette and the meals we eat are conducted in the best possible manner, which has much to do with bringing down good earnings. Just as the Shulchan in the Mishkan and Bais Hamikdash, with the piles of bread on it, brought the world sustenance and parnassa, similarly our table and the meals we eat can do somewhat the same.

Bitachon and a Person’s Effort.

We are not here to discuss the question of proper amounts of בטחון והשתדלות (relying on Hashem and/or working hard to earn a living in a “natural” manner). We will assume the path of the widely accepted opinion of the Chovos Halevovos, which indicates that one is obligated to make natural efforts, and yet know deep down that his parnassa has, is, and will always come from Hashem.

We cannot quote here all of the many segulos that are written about which can help an individual. We will try to cite some of the primary ones from earlier sources and those that have been widely accepted. Undoubtedly, we will find that there will be some overlap regarding these halachos and those discussed in  our previous subject of davening for the sick.

Prayer as Part of One’s Hishtadlus.

The Sages of the Gemara (1) clearly instruct us to use Tefillah - Prayer, as part of a person’s efforts to earn a livelihood. This is in addition to whatever other activities he does to earn a living and bring himself parnassa. Even if one has a predetermined “Mazel” (Heavenly divined portion) that he shall remain poor his whole life, his situation can be changed with much prayer (2). Chazal add (3) that it also goes the other way: while one has, or seems to have, good parnassa, he should pray that he does not become poor.

The very fact we need parnassa so often (nourishment to satisfy our hunger and needs many times daily) is in order that we should pray often and thereby become closer to Hashem (4).

Advice of the Chofetz Chaim.

In his Sefer Shem Olam (5), the Chofetz Chaim zt”l gives advice regarding how one can better his concentration and feeling in the berachos of Shemona Esrai. Before a person starts to say each beracha, he should quickly summarize to himself what he is about to say. As it applies to this beracha (ברך עלינו), he should think, “I am now going to ask for good parnassa, and bless Hashem for being the One who gives it.” This quick summary goes a long way in helping one feel the content of the beracha. The Chofetz Chaim writes there that this does not really lengthen the Shemona Esrai in any excessive way, because one can do this in a split second.

Accessing the Power of the Menorah and Shulchan.

In the times of the Bais HaMikdash, the wisdom of the Oral Torah (תורה שבעל פה) came down from Heaven and shone out to us via the Menorah which was situated on the south side of the Mikdash. Parnassa, too, came down and poured out to us via the bread on the Shulchan (Table) which was on the north side of the Mikdash. The Gemara (6) teaches us that even now when there is no Mikdash, a person can still inject the power of the Menorah and Shulchan into his prayers by turning slightly to where they were in the Mikdash, as he davens. The statement of the Gemara reads: “One who wants to become wise (in Torah) should turn to the south. One who wants to become rich should turn to the north.” (7) This is only one explanation of the Gemara. There are a few other ways to explain the Gemara. (ע’ מתיבתא - ילקוט ביאורים ב”ב כה)

How to Turn.

The RMA (8) says that the way to turn is to tilt one’s body slightly to the north or south, and keep his face towards the Mikdash in the east. RASHI, however, explains the Gemara to mean that his body should face east, and he should slightly turn his face towards north or south. The Mishna Berura (9) rules like RASHI. There are shuls that do not face due east. These shuls are built according to the opinion of the Levush (10), who holds that shuls should face south-east. In such a shul, one who wants to turn to south to gain wisdom, doesn’t have to tilt, because  the whole shul is facing towards south (11).

When to Turn.

The simple reading of the Gemara and Poskim is that one should turn to the north or south for the entire Shemona Esrai. R’ Shlomo Z. Auerbach ZT”L is quoted (12) as saying that it means to turn when one is asking for wisdom or parnassa. Accordingly one can do both in the same Shemona Esrai. Others say to turn for the whole Shemona Esrai (13).

(1) נדה ע: (2) עיין מש”כ התוספות יום טוב בקידושין ד:יד למקור לזה (3) שבת קנא: (4) יומא עו. (5) סוף חלק שני (6) בבא בתרא כה: (7) עיין בית הלוי שמות יט:ה (8) או”ח צד:ב (9) צד:יב (10) הובא במ”ב  צד:יא (11) מ”ב שם:יב (12) הליכות שלמה ח א (13) ע’ פסקי תשובות צד הע’ 52

By Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld, Kollel Ateres Chaim Boruch, Torah Life Institute

Rabbi Boruch Hirschfeld shlit”a is a world-renowned Posek, Mara D’asra and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Ateres Chaim Boruch, Torah LIFE Institute, in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. Rav Boruch writes his unique Halacha column each week in the Torah Tavlin newsletter. These Halacha columns run the gamut of laws and customs that a Jew encounters on a daily basis. He writes them in a concise and clear manner, each point carefully delineated and noted, with sources displayed for quick reference. Presented here are excerpts of his Halacha columns that have been tediously reviewed to ensure its accuracy and veracity.