Doing Work Or Work Getting Done?

kabbalah money parsha Feb 22, 2022

Parshat Vayakhel

By: Rabbi Amichai Cohen

“Six days work shall be done and on the Seventh is a Sabbath of rest for G-d, no work shall be done of the Sabbath” -Exodus 35,2

In our work-centered world, the notion of not being on top of every detail on business at all times seems irresponsible and even strange.

How can you not be completely immersed in work to point of exhaustion which requires rest so that one can go back to and continue the vicious circle of work, vacation, work.

Life happens to us, and we barely know ourselves let alone our children, friends, and loved ones. 

It comes as no surprise that our mental energy is exhausted and our happiness is depleted. 

In our Parsha, the Torah gives us the recipe for a happy balance of work and self.

The sin of the Golden Calf brought harsh retribution upon the Children of Israel who should have known better than to engage in idolatry.

Moses petitions G-d and knocks on heaven's door to repent for the sin of the Golden Calf. He gathers the people- "Vayakhel" and teaches “Six days work shall be done and on the Seventh is a day of rest for G-d”. 

While it sounds like the words "work shall be done", is a commandment to be proactively engaged in our work to the best of our abilities, while we rest on the Shabbat. In truth, the words “shall be done” are exact revealing a powerful insight, especially for our work until you drop society.


The difference between doing work and getting work done

While doing work and getting work done sounds similar, there is a vast difference. When one does work they are proactively involved with their mind in accomplishing the tasks they are entailed to do. Getting work done, means that work happens through us.

Let me explain. While we believe that solely control the process and outcome of our work, in truth, we are all channeling the creative powers which we have been divinely endowed with.

Each child is given the abilities to do the work which will sustain them. The verse says "You open your hands and give every creature sustenance". In our belief, G-d is the one that sustains, we merely do our part.

Let's elaborate. The work that we specifically do is a divinely tailor-made set of circumstances for our soul's mission to be accomplished. This is true in two ways; 1. Inner work means identifying with our life mission via the creative work which we do. 2. Outer work, an expression of work to earn money to live. 

In both inner work and outer work, it is important not to over-identify with the notion that “we” accomplish the process and direct the outcome. We are merely conduits for the divine blessings which work through us. 

King David writes "by the toil of your hands, you shall eat, praiseworthy, and it is good for you". -Psalms 128,2. What is the toil of your hands? The Lubavitcher Rebbe says it refers to toiling with our external dimensions while our inner world is connected to our spiritual core.

In the philosophy of Kabbalah and Chassidut, everything comes from G-d and we are merely asked to participate in doing our part. Money and the work which we do are predestined. This process is called “hishtadlut”. It is like creating a vessel that then needs to be filled up. In another analogy, The Tzemach Tzedek, the 3rd Rebbe of the Lubavitch dynasty likened hishtadlut to wearing a fitted garment. Just as we would not wear a garment that is too large for us. At the same time, one can not sit back and wait for money and work to come their way. An effort must be made. Just as a garment that is too small will not fit so too, we must also create the right fitted balance of accomplishing and not over accomplishing. The balance of action and belief- Emunah.


Subtle Idolotry

What is idolatry? Idolatry is the belief that there is another power besides G-d. While even the side of impurity believes that G-d created everything but he has given permission to other forces such as the Sun and the Moon to have a role in creation. The Rambam, says that a belief in any intermediary constitutes the transgression of idolatry.

The Talmud says that there are those who live outside of the land of Israel and "worship idolatry with holiness". Chassidut explains that this refers to the notion of believing that the intermediary of work is the source of one's livelihood. While the individual believes that G-d is the source of his success, he still believes that his boss, his business, his schooling, his proactive efforts are the real reason for his success and sustenance. 

In other words, idolatry in the subtle sense refers to a belief that the intermediary is the important factor, while G-d is a figurehead who is called in as needed.

The sin of Golden Calf represents the sin of not completely believing in the absolute power of G-d. It is the belief that money comes from a different source.

When Moshe came back from Mount Sinai, he convenes the people and gives them the commandment to "have work done, not "do work". On a deeper level, Moshe convenes the various parts of the people. The mind, heart, fear, anxiety, feelings of lack, etc. All of these parts must come together and remember- Hashem, G-d is the absolute source and that is where our minds should be focused on. 

The Torah is telling us, to do work but remember that the blessings come from Hashem. Therefore we must allow work to be done through us. Meaning that the blessings are channeled and the work becomes accomplished. 

In this way, we merit to live a much greater stress-free life, one which is happier and filled with the rest of Shabbat in our lives.

Shabbat Shalom! 

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