“I can’t believe my transmission’s blown,” Moshe said to his mechanic, “It makes no sense. Five minutes out of warranty and the gearbox is gone, the exhaust blocks up and now the transmission!? I don’t why I’m holding on to this piece of junk!”
Poor Moshe, why is his car giving him so much trouble?
Rabbi Takhlipha taught: One’s annual income for the coming year is determined between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, except for expenditure on food for Shabbos and Yom Tov and Torah tuition expenses. If you spend more on these items you get more; if you spend less, you get less.
If your income for the year is already decreed by G-d on the High Holy days, why should you bother going out to work the rest of the year? Our Sages explain that while the total amount has been decreed, it is still in a state of potential. Unless you make an effort, G-d will not allow you to pick the money off the tree.
At the same time, however, our Sages point out that there’s really no point in overworking since your total salary has already been determined. You must make a decent effort, but beyond that, you’re wasting your time. And that is time that you should be devoting to family, G-d and community.
The exception to the total annual income is powerful: Whatever you spend on Shabbos and Yom Tov is above and beyond the predetermined amount. And so when you kvetch about how expensive Yom Tov is, you are wasting your breath. Yom Tov is outside the budget! You can spend a fortune on Yom Tov and G-d will replenish your account.
How does that work? My income is fixed, there’s no way G-d can give me more money!
Our Sages explain that when you spend on Shabbos, G-d will find ways in your life to do magic. Your car won’t break down. You’ll snag those Black Friday clothing bargains. There are so many ways that G-d can repay you without you even realizing!
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be judging anyone else’s account by accusing them of not spending enough on Shabbos if their car breaks down! But in your own life, this is the attitude that you should have towards Shabbos and Yom Tov expenses.
Next time you miss out on that bargain, ask yourself, ‘Am I inviting enough Yom Tov guests? Did I skimp on my Shabbos cholent meat?’
But more importantly, don’t kill yourself working! G-d has already sealed the deal on how much you’re going to earn this year. Just put in a good day’s work and then go home and spend time with your family, the Almighty and your community. And maybe by the time Shabbos rolls around, you won’t be too exhausted to have a table full of guests that shines with zemiros (Shabbos songs) and words of Torah into the wee hours of the night!