Making a Living

By Yosef Zukin, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Essays 2017

MyLife Essay Contest 2017


Pursuing livelihood is very hard and extremely intense for most people. It is one of the main life issues in history.

Much has been taught, advised, explained etc. on this theme, in Torah and elsewhere. Although the key to making a living1 is reserved to G-d alone, many factors have been related to good results on having a good Parnasah or even becoming rich.

In this essay I will focus on the importance of time component in the equation of livelihood. It is based on many parts of the Torah, but always through the vantage point of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

My main objective is to contribute in two ways. Firstly, on how to become more conscious of what involves having a sustenance and consequently becoming less or not worried at all. Secondly, the result will be to receive blessings for a good livelihood every day and always. For this purpose, a brief summary of five steps in order to reach Parnasah mindfulness is presented.


We can learn two things about earning a livelihood from the very first portion of the Torah, Bereshit:

  1. It is a curse. Therefore, it means something not good for which Men needs
    to work hard and a lot.
  2. It is a punishment for heaving eaten from the Tree of Knowledge of Good
    and Evil.

As we can deduce, making a living is not a possibility or a choice, it is mandatory. We cannot just count on G-d, we are ordered to do our part. On the other hand, we need to do our effort… but with our hands only and not to dive with our head. Additionally, we need to know that ultimately it comes from G-d and we should just make the vessel for the blessing.

Briefly: You must work, but don’t let your Parnasah define you. You define it.

Why it is so hard to pursue a livelihood

The stress for pursuing a livelihood is one of the main and most difficult challenges a human being can have. It is as old as the first person in this world. It began at the sixth day of creation. It was decreed exclusively for Adam and Men. Yet since a long time ago women claimed and could share this hardship for themselves also.The Guemarah in Pesachim confirms it is something hard and difficult (קשין). It is compared to the difficulty of Splitting the Sea.

It is so difficult because of its uncertainty and the time issue. We do not know if we will have what to eat or how to pay the bills today. And if we may have for today, nevertheless we may not know if we will still have for tomorrow, for our children, and so on.

How to make it a way of living and not dying for livelihood

The concept of sustenance in the Torah is mainly derived from the Portion of the Manna. The Rebbe Maharash declares that livelihood is provided as Bread from Heaven (Manna), and only because of the darkness of exile it seems something that follows nature. He complements saying it is obvious it happens every day. It is written we need to get our portion of Manna everyday consecutively.

Making a living is related to the present tense, in particular the present continuous tense.

The blessing for livelihood talks about the concept of time: Shanim (years): Mevarech hashanim.

It is also connected to the Sefirah of Netsach (which is a time concept = forever). This issue of livelihood is constant and eternal.

All the major events in History are renewed constantly and are in the present tense: Creation of the World; Going out of Egypt; Opening of the Red Sea; and the Giving of the Torah.

The same happens with livelihood! Time is the key factor for its success! This explains and illuminates why it is much more difficult to keep something in the time line, than to start something new.

Becoming rich; opening a new business; starting a food diet; creating a new product may be difficult somehow. On the other hand, it is certainly much more difficult to keep the value of the money while having expenses every day. The same is true for keeping a business, a food diet, the attractiveness of a product and so on.


Crown: Trust completely that your livelihood will come from G-d, each and every day.   See Figure 1.

From the fall of the Manna, a Jew can learn that every time and in every place Gd is the One that provides everything.

The livelihood of every Jew and essentially of the whole world is bread from Heaven, every day!

As it is an issue of receiving it every day, enough for each day, we need to learn how to deal with it.

Therefore, the knowledge that can help earning a livelihood is connected to time management and mindfulness.

Never worry and always have bitachon (confidence) every day. G-d pays our bills every day, in the same way as He renews the world every instant and you need to go out of Egypt every day.

Figure 1. Improving the results for making a living in Five Steps


Wisdom: Get the idea that livelihood is a test that you need to struggle hard to pass.

When you pass the test of livelihood, you become the boss over it. You gain the consciousness of freedom.

You realize that everything comes from G-d, and other persons (such as your boss, clients, suppliers and so on) have no power over you, neither other things also (such as money, food and so on).


Understanding: Understand that all your livelihood comes to you through G-dly supervision.

The content and learning from the Portion of the Manna ( לחם מן השמים ), is that the Jew should believe that all his Livelihood comes to him through Supervision (השגחה).


Emotions: Feel with your whole existence that G-d is the King of the world in an eternal way.

In order to implement the concept of “ ה’ ימלוך לעולם ועד ” – G-d is the Eternal King, in the world, a Jew needs to feel with his whole existence that G-d is the King of Israel, and the whole world, in an eternal way, including the issues of time and space.


Kingdom: Do what you can do today, live with the time. Livelihood and Matchmaking are compared to the Splitting of the Sea. We can learn from it that: we tend to over analyze those situations as to who is the best wife or husband, what is the best job, where is the best place to be. We may get stuck into four groups in crisis.

Get to do what you need to do, move on.

Do not try figuring out the whole project, just go ahead.

We get distracted by people’s distraction. Do not judge artificially. Try to look deep down. See what is below the water.

The name of G-d: Havayeh is related to time (past, present and future) but above time at the same time. In order to live well one needs to live with the time and also above time. Do what you can, today and every day.

Final Considerations

Basically, the challenge to dominate and control the awesome issue of livelihood is to be sure and confident that in each and every day G-d will provide and only He can provide. The essential point is that dealing with our livelihood express and involve accepting the yoke of G-d and His kingdom over the world.

When we ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil we got to know the difficulty of earning a livelihood, in the present tense (and tension). The healing for that, which will constitute the coming of Mashiach, is the knowledge that all come from G-d, like the water covers the sea, without it having to split for us. May it happen speedily in our days.

About the Author

Yossef Zukin is a Lubavitcher Chossid of the Rebbe. He is also a Businessman, Rabbi, Teacher, Painter, Writer and Doctor. He is a founding partner of the company, which is an ecommerce for eyeglasses. Before that, he was an executive director of many big companies in Brazil. Yossef holds a PhD in Production Engineering from PUC-Rio and NCSU-USA and a Master’s degree in Industrial Design from the Domus Academy in Milan, Italy. He has books published in Brazil and in the United States and several scientific articles in the main international journals of industrial engineering. His writings reflect his knowledge of design and science, as well as Torah and Chassidus.