I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap from what is yours, so that you shall not say, ‘I made Abram wealthy.’ – Gen. 14:23
With these words, Abram publicly declared his belief in the One G-d, Who supports him with all his needs. With minimal human assistance but obvious major Divine providence, Abram had just rescued his nephew Lot from the clutches of the warring kings. The king of Sodom, acknowledging Abram’s impact on his own narrow victory, offered to split the spoils with him: he would take the people, and Abram could take their things. But Abram—now, and later as Avraham—understood, and wanted others to understand, that neither his personal efforts nor those of any other human being were responsible for his wealth and success.
Abram took the opportunity to teach a lesson in emunah and bitachon, faith and trust in Hashem, to the people of his household who had fought alongside him as well as to the kings involved in the conflict. Just as G-d controls the major details of life, such as war, so too does He provide our mundane, minor needs such as thread.
We are of course responsible to pursue a livelihood, but G-d decrees our parnassah for the year on Rosh Hashanah.
Excessive efforts in this area will not reap additional income. Obsessive focus on material pursuits may even obstruct our blessings and interfere with our spiritual growth.
However, in the spiritual sphere, minimal effort can reap maximal reward.
Our prayers and gratitude to Hashem increase the flow of blessings from Above. We may be satisfied with a shoe-strap, but Hashem wants to reward our faith with a treasure-house.
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