Monday, October 23, 2006

The Lesson of the Yonah - Two Kinds of Sustenance

Parshas No’ach, Bresishis 8:11. Alei zayis toraph befiha.

Rashi brings the Gemara in Eiruvin 18 that “amra yona...” Let my food be bitter as olives from the hand of Hashem, rather than sweet as honey from the hands of man. We see from this expression that although Hashgochas Hashem predetermines whether a person will have enough to eat, it does not necessarily predetermine the quality, or the flavor and pleasantness of the food. So, the Yonah said, I realize that by choosing to subsist directly from the Yad Hashem I might have to settle for food that is as bitter as the olive, while if I shnorr from Noach I would get food that is as sweet as honey, but I prefer the Yad Hashem. Like the Gemara in Sanhedrin 20a that says that in the generation of R’ Yehuda B’reb Ila’i that was characterized by universal limud hatorah, but “hayu shisha miskasim b’tallis echad.” Their absolute bitachon was not rewarded with wealth and comfort, with what we think of when we read "ve'achalta ve'savata.". Hashem only provided them with the minimum subsistance. V'savata does not always mean plenty. V'savata can mean that we are given whatever is best for us. As we see in the story of Chaninah ben Dosah, everything has a price, and sometimes it is better to be poor.

Along this line, see below in Mattos, Bamidbor 32:1, regarding Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven, where R Dov Povarsky says that the Medrash there says that there are two kinds of wealth: a mattanah from Hashem that comes miko’ach haTorah, and wealth that is “chatuf,” snatched. Evidently, it is possible to snatch wealth and power and chochmoh even if they are not granted to you. (In fact, he says that the kind of mattanah that is granted by Hashem is more evanescent than the kind that is chatuf; that is, it vanishes easily when a person no longer deserves it.) Maybe that is what Chazal mean with the story of the Yonah; that it is better to subsist from mattas Hashem rather than from the other ways of getting what you want, namely chatifah or shnorring.


  1. There is another possibilty of getting wealth not destined for someone-through the sitra achra R'L.Rav Shimon Scwab says that all wealth obtained through gezel or other forbidden actions comes from that source,

  2. Interesting. Please send the address.

  3. It's in Selected writing or speeches.Bl'n tommorow I will give the exact place.

  4. The source is Selected Speeches pg.67-68.