Read: A friend of mine is a business coach. Lately, she’s been sending out daily affirmations over a period of forty days, one for each day. Although each is different, there are probably three main themes to the group. One of what may be considered one of the most important is that prosperity comes from within, not from without.
Consider how we live our lives. We spend most of our waking hours working to please someone: our boss, co-workers, family. The latter is mostly an act of joy and consideration, a responsibility that we all take on willingly. The formers, however, can leave much to be desired.
How many times do we lay awake wondering if we’re doing a good or at least satisfactory job, enough that will allow us to remain gainfully employed without the further stress of wondering how we’re going to support ourselves and our family. Usually, it’s not so cut-and-dried; we’re oftentimes at the mercy of another human who is themselves dealing with issues of esteem and security and sometimes we just don’t know how they feel towards us. If we’re in business for ourselves, then we have a coterie of clients about which to worry; are they happy with our performance or are they being courted by a rival about which we’ll find out only too late?
Moses approached Pharaoh and said, “Let my people go”. Pharaoh, like many kings and people in charge, didn’t like the idea that there was another Being that had the ability and maybe, yes, the authority, to override his dictums and decrees. His heart was hard, he was stubborn, and he refused to yield.
Moses and Aaron, and to a large extent the elders and people of Israel put their faith in Hashem. What they were doing, in allying with Hashem, was right and just so Hashem basically fought their battle for them. The contest between Hashem and Pharaoh ended badly for Pharaoh. Hashem wrought plague after plague against Pharaoh and the Egyptians and still they clung to their wills.
For the Israelites’ part, they just let G-d do His work. They acquiesced and did what Moses told them to do. In the end, they won their freedom and they prospered.
While we are not going to expect G-d to hit anyone who harasses us with plagues, there is an interesting lesson here. If we do what is right in the eyes of Hashem, ultimately, we will triumph. Now, this doesn’t mean sitting around and waiting for G-d to act. We study Torah, act as righteously as we can, and go on with our lives.
We also want to know that we are in G-d’s hands, so to speak. As G-d set up the reward for the newly freed Israelites as the Egyptians gladly paid them for over one hundred years of servitude—working for free—so do we expect that things will ultimately pay off. After all, we are created in G-d’s image and He loves us, so why wouldn’t He want us to prosper, right?
In fact, during our daily Morning Blessings, we thank G-d for providing for our daily needs. There is also an insertion in our weekday Tefillah—the Amidah—that speaks to prosperity. During the prayer of asking Hashem to hear our prayers, we ask Him to provide us more than our daily bread in a righteous but not forbidden manner, that we may be prosperous and do Torah.
Consider an extreme way of looking at this situation. The second commandment states that we shall have no other gods before us. If we are kowtowing to a boss, landlord, friend, are we not, in a sense worshipping a foreign god? Yes, it’s a stretch to consider it in this light, but the lengths that some people go through to appease these people, you’d really have to wonder.