The Parnasa/ Hishtadlus Survey
Is income divinely determined, or does it depend on hishtadlus?
(Image generated by Craiyon)
What would the average yeshivish/charedi person answer to the following questions:
Is parnasa completely determined by Hashem based on spiritual reasons? (This means that it is is utterly unaffected by physical hishtadlus, which has no actual significance. There may be a spiritual requirement to engage in a certain defined minimum amount of hishtadlus, but obviously no spiritual need to increase hishtadlus beyond that in order to gain extra parnasa.)
Is there a general empirical correlation between hishtadlus and parnasa?
If you answered yes to both questions, how do you reconcile them?
I’m very, very curious to see how people would answer this. Because while classical Judaism would generally disagree with the first point, contemporary charedi Judaism totally buys into it. But what about the second point?
I would not expect the answer to be uniform in the charedi world. For example, Rav Steinman came to my neighborhood and flatly denied that there is any empirical correlation between hishtadlus and parnasa. On the other hand, I think most people even in the charedi world would have a hard time denying this factual reality. And so they have to explain why, if parnasa depends on spiritual factors and material endeavor is meaningless, the results that we see in the world instead correlate exactly to what one would expect if material endeavor and the normal quirks of nature are what determines income.
I’m sure that creative Gemara minds can come up with some sort of intellectual gymnastics to resolve it. But have they even thought about it?
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I've heard the argument made that sure if you work more you'll make more money but the "bracha" won't be there. God preordains how much "bracha" (ill-defined word) you will experience from your money but not necessarily how much money you will receive.
So while person A does minimal hishtadlus and person B does more - and perhaps makes more money - that extra money ostensibly goes to lawyers and bills etc.
Of course there is no evidence to support this assertion but c'mon "I know tons of people..."
I remember being very perturbed by this whilst studying in yeshiva. I finally summoned the courage to ask a certain Rav Moshe Stav. Expecting some profound explanation, his answer was short and simple: ‘we see it doesn’t quite work this way’, and off he strode. I felt very sheepish at having asked such a dumb question, but it was an important life lesson.