“Livelihood and God’s Compassion” – an Excerpt from Jewish Literature – Babylonian Talmud (Fifth Century CE)

Rabbi Meir says: A person should always teach his son a clean and easy trade, and he should request compassion from the One to Whom wealth and property belong, as poverty does not come from a trade, nor does wealth come from a trade; rather, they come from the One to Whom wealth belongs, as it is stated: “Mine is the silver, and Mine the gold, says the Lord of hosts” (Haggai 2:8).

The mishna taught that Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: Have you ever seen a beast or a bird that has a trade? It is taught in the Tosefta (5:13): Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: I never saw a deer work as one who dries figs, nor a lion work as a porter, nor a fox work as a storekeeper. And yet they earn their livelihood without anguish. But all these were created only to serve me, and I, a human being, was created to serve the One Who formed me. If these, who were created only to serve me, earn their livelihood without anguish, then is it not right that I, who was created to serve the One Who formed me, should earn my livelihood without anguish? But I, i.e., humanity, have committed evil actions and have lost my livelihood, as it is stated: “Your iniquities have turned away these things, and your sins have held back good from you” (Jeremiah 5:25). (Babylonian Talmud, Kiddushin 82b)



  1. Shalom. Yes we should go about our daily tasks with pleasure and be thankful to God for what we have. We can learn from the animals. With the ants and the bees, each one has a task and they do it.

  2. So the animals have no free will and do the will of god; but we have the option of evil, and so toil in drudgery because of sin?

  3. I recall an American Indian legand that ends ‘ the eagle flies on command, the serpent thinks’ to prosper at the labor you love takes it out of the category drudgery into a state of satisfying pleasure. There are people who have said I could not believe I made that much money to do something I love to do. Good fortune, luck, destiny all come into play


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