Thursday, December 08, 2005

CHASSIDIC DIMENSION: The Responsibilities of an Employee (Vayeitzei)


Kislev 7, 5766 * December 8, 2005


Parshat Vayeitzei

The Responsibilities of an Employee
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The Rambam states the following law in Hilchos Sechirus : “Just as an employer is forbidden to steal the wages of his employee, or delay payment, so too is an employee forbidden to pilfer from the labor he is to provide his employer by wasting time a bit here and a bit there, and so spending the day in deceit.... So too must he work with all his might, for the tzaddik Ya’akov stated: ‘I have served your father with all my might.’ He therefore was rewarded for this labor in this world as well, as the verse states: ‘The man became tremendously wealthy.’ ”

The Jewish people are considered G-d’s “employees,” in line with the saying of our Sages: “Your Employer is trustworthy to pay you the reward for your labor.”

How are we to understand the above ruling in relationship to our divine “employment”?

The reason we derive the obligation to serve one’s employer with all one’s might from Ya’akov’s labor in Lavan’s house is because a Jew’s labor for G-d is similar to Ya’akov’s labor for Lavan.

Ya’akov’s labor while in his father-in-law’s house could in no way compare to his spiritual toil in Shem and Ever’s House of Study, nor could even compare to the time spent in his father Yitzchak’s in Eretz Yisrael. During those periods of his life, Ya’akov was completely immersed in spiritual service. His labor for Lavan, however physical it may have seemed, involved transforming the world into a dwelling fit for G-d.

So too, with regard to the labor of every Jew as an employee of the Almighty: the service of a Jew’s soul in the spiritual worlds prior to its incarnation is truly of great spiritual magnitude. At that time, its comprehension of G-dliness is profound, and its love and awe of G-d particularly intense. But in all this, the soul is laboring for its own benefit.

Labor for the sake of its Employer can only be undertaken when a soul descends into this physical world, and occupies itself in purifying and elevating its surroundings, transforming them into a dwelling fit for G-d.

Concerning such labor, it is imperative that the laborer “be scrupulous with regard to the amount of time .... So too must he work with all his might”:

It is easy for a person to think that it is okay to take a bit of time off here and there, using this time for matters that serve his own spiritual needs. However, he must know that this results in his spending his entire “day” — “Today is for you to do” — in a “false” manner, i.e., he is not fulfilling the purpose for which he finds himself on this earth.

Moreover, a person must be scrupulous not only with regard to time, but also with regard to effort, working with all his might — he must use all the powers of his soul in this service.

A Jew may think he will involve his intellect and emotions while immersed in Torah study or prayer, but that, while involved in transforming the mundane world into holiness, he need only apply his soul’s lowest power: action in acceptance of the Divine Yoke.

Herein comes the lesson from the tzaddik Ya’akov. The service of transforming the world into a dwelling for G-d must involve all of one’s might, powers, intellect, emotions, will and delight.

These are not optional requirements, but an integral part of the employee’s labor. For when a Jew toils not for his own sake but for the sake of his Employer, he must be imbued with the feeling that he is serving with every fiber of his being; he is to be wholly dedicated to his Employer and to his task of transforming the world into a fit dwelling place for G-d.

(Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXV, pp. 139-149)


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