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Becoming rich during recession
By Rabbi Tzvi Price


A recession by definition means that there are fewer jobs available and fewer  deals being made. Thus, conventional wisdom says that it is less likely that  you will become rich during a recession. That is how it looks on the surface. However, we believe that there are deeper, spiritual reasons why people become rich.
 
Of course, there are many possible reasons why G-d might make one person wealthy and another needy, but there are some strategies that improve your chances of being on the receiving end of G-d's bounty. And from a spiritual vantage point, the recession offers a great 'business opportunity'; namely, acquiring for yourself the merit of acting with honesty and integrity during a financial crisis. Dealing 'on the up and up' while business is down is a great way to show G-d that He can trust you with more of His wealth. The following story found in the sefer Aleinu L'shabeach, parashas Kedoshim, page 314, helps illustrate this point.

Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, zt"l, known as the Chazon Ish, was once asked by a certain landlord if he was permitted to evict his tenant. The landlord explained that the tenant had been living in the apartment for many years and was still paying the same rent as he had ten years earlier. The tenant was a poor man with a large family and he simply could not pay more than that. However, the neighborhood in which the apartment was located had become a very popular one and rents had significantly increased. The tenant claimed that he was protected by Israeli secular law which made illegal the eviction of a tenant in order to raise the rent.

The Chazon Ish ruled that Israeli secular law was not binding upon the landlord and that he could evict the tenant. Furthermore, he said that, if the tenant would not leave, the Torah would consider him to be a thief. The Chazon Ish knew how difficult it would be for the tenant to follow his ruling so he himself went to the apartment to inform the tenant that he must leave.

The tenant asked the Chazon Ish, "Rebbe, what should I do, I have no place to go!" The Chazon Ish told him that it would be better for him and his family to sleep in the park than to be guilty of stealing. Certainly, the tenant faced a difficult financial situation if there ever was one. What would you do?

The tenant was a righteous person who feared G-d. He understood that according to the Torah he must leave the apartment, and that is what he did. He took his wife, his children, and all his worldly possessions and went to live in the park.

When the Chazon Ish heard that the tenant had accepted his ruling and was now living in the park, he went to visit him and he gave him a blessing. He told the man that since he had proven to G-d without a shadow of a doubt that he was a man of great integrity, G-d would bless him with the joy of walking all of his children to their chupah, the wedding canopy, and with the financial means to buy each of them a beautiful apartment. The author of Aleinu L'shabeach, HaRav Yitzchok Zilberstein, writes that he kept a close eye on this man and his family to see what would become of the Chazon Ish's blessing. And indeed, HaRav Zilberstein attests to the fact that the man did merit seeing each of his children happily married and living in a beautiful apartment.

When did this poor tenant become rich? Was it later on when he made a few good business deals and the money started flowing, or was it when he was sleeping in the park with his family struggling to keep his integrity? Maybe the recession offers more 'economic opportunity' than first imagined.

(as seen from Rabbi Ashear's emunah daily) 

What can we do to bring yeshu'a when we face a problem?

Certainly, having faith in Hashem and praying intensely are effective means of earning Hashem's assistance.  Additionally, however, as Rabbi Falk noted, we earn G-d's salvation by making a kiddush Hashem, by glorifying the Name of G-d in this world through our conduct.  Our Sages comment in Torat Kohanim(Parashat Ahareh-Mot): אם מקדשים אתם את שמי אף אני אקדש את שמי על ידכם - "If you glorify My Name, then I, in turn, will glorify My Name through you."  If we make akiddush Hashem, then Hashem will use us a means of creating yet another kiddush Hashem.  If a person was sick and the doctors had despaired, but through the heartfelt prayers of the Jewish people the patient miraculously recovers, this is akiddush Hashem.  And one can earn this kind of yeshu'a by creating a kiddush Hashem.  By displaying middot that reflect the qualities expected of the nation chosen by Hashem to represent Him in the world, we earn the privilege of being vehicles for further kiddush Hashem.

There is a well-known philanthropist in Brooklyn named Mr. Ruby Schron.  Some forty years ago, Mr. Schron purchased a home on East 9th St.  One day his children were jumping on the bed, and they heard a crash underneath.  They discovered a safe containing diamonds, jewelry and bonds worth a total of approximately $40,000.  The sale contract clearly stipulated that the purchase of the home applied to everything in the home including all of the furniture and any leftover belongings . The Schron's wanted to do what was proper so they  consulted with Rav Moshe Feinstein.  Rav Moshe in fact told them that they were correct and definitely  should return everything, as people do not usually sell money. And so Mr. Schron phoned the house's previous owner, who said, "Our parents left us money in the house, but we were never able to find it.  We knew that a religious Jew like yourself would return it to us if he found it."(the previous owners were Jewish but totally unaffiliated)

This was a remarkable kiddush Hashem.  At the time, Mr. Schron was just starting out in real estate, and Hashem has blessed him with great wealth allowing him to perform many more קדושי השם with all of his charity work.

The verse says in Tehillim, ישלח עזרך מקדש.  Hashem sends us His assistance מקדש - because of the kiddush Hashem that we create through our honest, proper, upstanding conduct.  Kiddush Hashem, very often, is not planned.  It results naturally from living life the way Hashem wants us to.

Rabbi Falk told the story of a talmid hacham in Israel who did not have much money, and whose son took seriously ill one Shabbat.  He desperately needed a doctor, and there was an excellent doctor, a secular Jew, who lived down the block.  The doctor agreed to treat the boy, but demanded that he be given a check immediately.

"I don't trust religious Jews," he said.  "I will tend to your son only if you give me a 500 shekel check right now."

Halachah clearly establishes that the concern for human life overrides Torah law, and so the father wrote a check כלאחר יד (in an unusual manner), and handed it to the doctor.  The doctor looked at the check, and noticed that it was for 1,000 shekels.

"Maybe you didn't hear me," the doctor said.  "I asked for 500 shekels, not 1,000.  Looking around your apartment it does not appear as though you can afford to pay me extra."

The talmid hacham explained that to write a 500 shekel check, he would have to write three words: חמש מאות שקל, whereas giving 1,000 shekels required writing just two words: אלף שקל.  In order to minimize the Shabbat desecration, he was prepared to double the amount.

The doctor was amazed.  He had never seen anything like this in his life - a poor person paying an extra 500 shekels in order to write one less word on Shabbat.  He gave the man 500 shekels change, and brought the check home to show it to his wife.  After Shabbat, he returned to the man's home and said, "I was so moved by what you did today, I decided I wanted to learn more about Shabbat and Judaism."  The Rabbi sat him down and began studying with him.  The doctor ultimately became a ba'al teshuvah.

This is a kiddush Hashem at the very highest level.  This Hacham did not plan on making a kiddush Hashem, and was just living life the way Hashem wanted him to.  And in this merit, this doctor, and his children and grandchildren, observe themitzvot.

If we conduct our lives the way Hashem wants us to, we will make a kiddush Hashem, and then ישלח עזרך מקדש - He will send us the help and salvation that we need