Money and business success requires recognizing that nature is not the primary force in the universe but a miracle. The miraculous in the natural has many levels. We shall describe four of them.
Wealth and Business Success Depends on Me- Level One
Some consider themselves believers in God but see natural causes as the dominant forces in the universe. They try to control these forces and bend them to their will relying on their ability to forecast the precise factors that will bring success. They also have unbounded confidence in their own talents and expertise to which of course they attribute their success. On the other hand, they will also pray to God to help them. They realize there is always the possibility that some unexpected factor might intervene to upset their calculations, and they look to God to protect them from such contingencies. They will also gladly acknowledge that it is He who gave them their skills and talents in the first place. But essentially, as they see it, the world is run by natural causes and by manipulating these causes they reach their own goals in this world. This is how they explain the verse “By the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread.”
People on this level are in reality worshiping two gods. They place themselves beside God in the running of the world. In spite of all their talk about “faith” and “trust in God,” denial is deeply rooted in their hearts. Deep down they are convinced that “my strength and the might of my hand have made me all this wealth.”
Wealth and Business Success Come From God Through Natural Processes – Level Two
On a higher level are those whose faith is sounder; they see the hand of God in every natural event. My father-in-law of blessed memory provided an apt illustration of this. Someone looks through the keyhole into a room and all he can see is a pen moving over paper. He concludes that the pen is writing by itself. This is the standpoint of the one who denies God and believes that nature is an independent power. When the door is opened the writer is revealed. This corresponds to the attitude of the believer who recognizes that God is the true cause of all events; natural causes as well as human efforts are for him nothing but the pen in the hand of the writer; they are used by God to bring about the outcome that He desires. However this person still perceives nature as a reality even though he considers it as a tool in the hands of God, like the pen in the hand of the writer.
Wealth and Business Success Come Directly From God – Level Three
On a still higher level are those who realize that nature and its forces have no existence as such; they serve merely to obscure the true state of affairs and provide a test for human beings, as we explained above. God needs no tools; whatever He wills comes into being immediately. This point of view is clear and true. It is built on a well-founded conception of the oneness of God to whom alone belongs the power and the glory.
Wealth and Business Success Come From God Despite Natural Processes – Level Four
But there is a still higher level, reserved for the happy few. At this point one sees that far from the concept of “natural causes” making a positive contribution to the world, it is in fact a destructive force. The purpose of creation is to sanctify God’s name, as Isaiah says,” “All that is called by My name and I created for My glory.” “Natural causes” are destructive because they obscure that glory. It would be understandable if human life were maintained not by eating food but by closeness to God. It would be understandable if, on the contrary, eating physical food brought death rather than life, because this utilizes a “natural” cause, which is a negative force in creation. But our situation in this world requires there to be an opportunity for error, so that man can retain his free will. That is why one who eats nevertheless continues to live and one who fails to eat dies— unless he is on the heavenly level reached by Moses who “for forty days . . . ate no bread and drank no water,” or on one of the other levels of the tsaddikim, such as those attained by Rabbi Hanina ben Dosa and others, for whom there was no distinction between the natural and the miraculous.”
Know The Level You Are At
If we wish to know where we stand in relation to these four levels, we should notice how we talk and how we think. II we see someone outstandingly successful in business our first thought is to explain it in terms of natural causes. We say, “Yes, he is very capable and he knows his business through and through; he has a lot of drive, etc., etc.” Or if we see a certain army gain a victory, our first thought is “Yes, this army is extremely powerful, it has many of the best weapons; the general is very experienced, he is a top strategist, he has guts and determination, etc., etc.” This means that we are still at the lowest level. We still belong to those who think that “the power of our hand” gets results.
But the verse” insists: “It is not the wise who have bread, nor the intelligent who have riches, nor the mighty who win the battles.” If we are really so strong in our faith why do we think and speak on natural lines? If we ask ourselves this question, our reply is: “Yes, of course we know that God is the source of everything, but it’s easier to discuss details the way other people speak, the way they write in their newspapers, etc.”
However much we try and cover up our faith deficiencies by constant use of the phrases ” Thank God! With God’s help, we have to realize that all our thoughts, plans and actions are based on the prevailing viewpoint which gives validity and power to the natural processes of cause and effect. It follows that our faith must be defective. “They honor Me with their mouth and lips but their heart is far from Me.”
The Spiritual Way to Material Success
We have to do some hard thinking. We must search for ways and means to strengthen the faith in our hearts. First we have to learn, at least, that all causes come from God. He is the writer who holds the pen; what looks to us like a cause is in reality an effect. If someone is successful this is not because he is clever; God wanted him to succeed and therefore gave him cleverness. General X did not win the battle because of his strategic brilliance; it was first decided that he should win, and in consequence of this he was granted brilliance. When it is no longer necessary for that particular person to succeed or for that particular general to win, they will no longer do so. We shall then say that, strangely enough, their business flair or strategic brilliance seems to have deserted them.
Let us think again. Does a person really create the thoughts which occur in his mind? Anyone who has ever been granted original ideas knows that they arise by the thinker s concentrating his mind to exclude all extraneous thoughts. The novel idea then arises in his mind unbidden. The thinker in fact did nothing; the thought came to him direct from God. This is why we say in our prayers “You graciously grant knowledge to man….” When the time has come for the person to succeed, God puts into mind the brilliant idea which will bring him success. How can we be such fools as to pride ourselves on thoughts and ideas which God Himself has given us? How can we pat ourselves on the back and preen ourselves on “our” wisdom and “our” cleverness ?
When we get used to thinking like this we will learn to keep clear of the fatal pathways of “natural” thinking, and then we shall begin to approach true faith graciously grant knowledge to man….” When the time has come for the person to succeed, God puts into mind the brilliant idea which will bring him success. How can we be such fools as to pride ourselves on thoughts and ideas which God Himself has given us? How can we pat ourselves on the back and preen ourselves on “our” wisdom and “our” cleverness ? When we get used to thinking like this we will learn to keep clear of the fatal pathways of “natural” thinking, and then we shall begin to approach true faith.
R. Eliyahu Dessler