Daf Yomi Moed Katan 14
Yankel is a good Jew. He meticulously keeps kosher and Shabbos. He begins each morning at shul, davening and learning Daf Yomi, before heading out to work.
But he works hard. Ten, twelve hours a day and boy, does he drive a hard bargain. A clever businessman, he takes his work very seriously.
Honestly, though, does he really need the money? Thank G-d, he’s very comfortable and could probably work a little less arduously. Maybe he should be devoting more time to spiritual matters, like Torah and chesed (acts of kindness)? Is this how a frum Jew spends his life?
One is generally not allowed to cut his hair during Chol Hamoed (the intermediate days of the festival). The Mishnah teaches that one who arrived from overseas may. In a Beraisa, Rabbi Judah teaches that one who came from overseas may not cut his hair. Can you or can’t you?
Rava teaches: If you travelled for pleasure, everyone agrees that it is forbidden. If you travelled for your sustenance, everyone agrees that it is permitted. When did they disagree? If you were travelling to profit above and beyond your livelihood. Rabbi Judah likens it to travelling for pleasure, and thus forbidden, whereas the Sages of our Mishnah liken it to the pursuit of sustenance, and therefore permissible.
In Judaism, there is no neutral territory. Either it’s permissible or forbidden. Nevertheless, often it is a matter of intent.
The pursuit of riches is not a good thing or a bad thing. It all depends how you intend to use the money. If your aim is to increase your pleasure in life, to buy more luxury items, to impress more people, then you’ve drifted off your Divine path. But if your goal for pursuing profit is in order to increase sustenance, it’s a good thing.
How do you increase sustenance when you already have enough to eat? You seek ways to sustain others. There is no shortage of needy people and institutions in your community that desperately need your sustenance. If your aim is to feed the hungry and build community organizations, then every moment you spend working is a mitzvah!
And that’s the question you constantly need to ask yourself: Am I pursuing pleasure or sustenance? Am I working hard simply to buy more ‘stuff’ or is my goal to increase the sustenance of those around me? With the right intentions, the Almighty will grant you blessings beyond your wildest dreams!