Dear Matzav.com Editor,
I recently read a letter written by someone who vociferously argued that yungeleit must do something for their future parnassah, even if at the moment such action is unnecessary. Meaning, a young yungerman, learning full-time, must already involve himself in some endeavor to ensure his future parnassah is taken care of.
The Chayei Adam, who was the Vilna Gaon‘s mechutan, writes in his (2nd) hakdama: “In the generation of my youth, it never occurred to a father and mother to worry about how their child will find parnassah. Their only ambition was that their child be zoche to Torah. And it never entered the mind of one who had the ability to learn Torah, to throw off the yoke of Torah and abandon it. This never entered the minds of neither the parents nor the children.”
In Dorash Moshe (Tehillim), Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l says: “‘Ashrei ha’ish asher lo holach ba’atzas resha’im’. What is the atzas resha’im? …It is what many people who believe in Hashem and his Torah and observe the mitzvos worry and fret as to how their children, who are yet young, will find parnassa.” Rav Moshe goes on about leaving yeshiva to get a secular education, but his point is that the worrying itself about parnassa at a time when one can learn is atzas resha’im. He thus ends with, “And praised is he who trusts in Hashem Who sustains and provides for all, for even when he toils in Torah he will not lack his sustenance, as in Yirmiyahu 17:5.” This is repeated numerous times in Igros Moshe as well.
Rashi in Shemos (17:32), in explaining why Hashem commanded Moshe to preserve a jug of mon for future generations, says: “Ledoroseichem. In the days of Yirmiyahu. When Yirmiyahu rebuked them, ‘Why aren’t you toiling in Torah?’ And they said, ‘If we leave our work and toil in Torah, from where will we have parnassa?’ He [Yirmiyahu] showed them the jug of monn and told them, ‘You see…this is how your forefathers had parnassa. Hashem has many messengers with which to prepare sustenance for those who fear Him.”
When one assures us that it is simply, realistically rare to find adequate parnassa for a large family straight out of learning in kollel, he may be absolutely right. But one wonders if he has learned, internalized, and believes in this Rashi.
Let me conclude with a story heard from Rav Shalom Schwadron zt”l. A student of Rav Elya Lopian zt”l came to take leave of his rebbi. He was planning on leaving the yeshiva so as to prepare himself for parnassa. The student began by saying how his life is progressing. Rav Elya asked him, “Who said you will live?” The boy was taken aback. “Why?” he protested. “Hashem gives everyone life. Why should I think He will not give me life as well?”
“Nu nu,” Rav Elya prodded. “So?”
The boy continued that he hoped to get married. Again, Rav Elya asked, who said he will get married? The shocked boy once again expressed his hope that just as Hashem helps everyone find their zivug, so too, he hoped, Hashem would help him as well.
“So?” asked R’ Elya. The student continued that iy”H he would have children. Once more, Rav Elya stopped him. “Who said you will have children?”
By now the boy was quite bewildered. Why was the rebbi scaring him so? He expressed his hope that Hashem would bless him with a family just as he blesses all families. Rav Elya prodded him again. “So?” The boy explained that he would have to somehow provide for himself, his wife, and his children. At this Rav Elya exclaimed, “Life – Hashem can give. A wife – Hashem can help you find. Children – Hashem is capable of providing. But X amount of dollars a month is beyond Hashem‘s capabilities?!”
True, there is hishtadlus we must do. But let us not mix up the hishtadlus with where the parnassa is actually coming from. This is not intended as a final or exhaustive treatment of when or if to leave kollel. However, at the time when one is learning in kollel, let us not question how Hashem can then provide for such a person. And let us surely not seek eitzos which may be atzas resha’im.
I am writing this to Matzav, because you are the Torah site, and it is readers like yours who understand this message and mode of thinking.