For the week ending 7 December 2019 / 9 Kislev 5780

G-d in the Workplace

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Mike wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

So, as I sit down at my desk and start the workday, is there a prayer I should be saying right then? How does a person bring Hashem to work, so to speak?

Dear Mike,

What an interesting question, and one that everyone should really ask himself!

Working gives you a chance to do countless mitzvahsand good deeds: keeping your word to employers, employees and clients, paying workers on time, treating fellow workers with respect, fulfilling obligations to support your family, contributing to the good of society. These are all important parts of Jewish law that you can fulfill at work.

And simply supporting oneself is a mitzvah because it helps eliminate temptation to steal.

To paraphrase the words of our Sages, it is possible for a shoe-maker to stitch every stitch “in the Name of Hashem.” And the Talmud says, "Work is great because it brings honor to the one who does it."

So, approach your work as an opportunity to serve Hashem by doing all that is required according to Jewish law, and pray for success in this goal.

And, above all, if you set aside time to study Torah in the course of your busy schedule (not at your employers' expense!), it is possible to elevate the mundane workday to a spiritual plane.



What mitzvah applies only to someone who is sitting, reclining, or lying down?


Standing up in honor of a Torah Scholar or an elderly person (“Lifnei seivah takum, v'hadarta p'nei zakein... You shall rise before an elderly person, and honor the presence of a sage.” — Leviticus 19:32)

Explanation: If a person is already standing when an elderly person enters the room, he should remain standing, and not sit down in order to stand up. If you will ask about the mitzvah of eating matzahon the first night(s) of Pesach, which needs to be done while reclining — the mitzvah of eating matzah applies even to one who is standing. This means that the standing person should first sit, then recline and only afterwards eat thematzah.

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