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For example, should one who must go work to make a living wish he can stay and learn, or should he feel that this is the ultimate option that Hashem wants for him and there's no point to wish for anything else?

Another example: Should a yisroel wish he to be a kohen so he would be able to do more mitzvos that would get him closer to Hashem?

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  • Maybe the kohein should wish to be a yisrael to be able to do pidyon haben etc.?
    – Double AA
    May 1, 2023 at 20:48
  • I don't think they're mutually exclusive. One should wish to do as many mitzvos as possible while accepting that they can only do what Hashem enables them to.
    – shmosel
    May 1, 2023 at 20:53
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    Last I checked, the verse said Zevulun, BE HAPPY when you go out [to business].
    – Shalom
    May 2, 2023 at 10:55
  • See Ba'er Hetev to SA OC 62:3: בכל מקום שאינו נקי אסור להרהר נוסח הק''ש רק שיהרהר שמחויב לקרות ק''ש וברכותיה ויצטער על שאינו יכול לעשות כן ויש לו שכר על זה
    – shmosel
    May 30, 2023 at 21:10

3 Answers 3

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A Yisroel wishing that he were to be a Kohen, is a wasted wish, akin to a תפילת שוא [Mishnah (Berachos 9:3), Shulchan Aruch (OC 230:1)], as this is something that's impossible for a Yisroel to ever be, due to his lack of Kohen lineage.

However wishing and striving for those spiritual things that are attainable to him is a worthy endeavor.

Just as with material matters, most people generally strive to improve their lot, so too, with regard to spiritual matters, people should also strive to improve their lot.

The Talmud (Makkos 10b) teaches:

בדרך שאדם רוצה לילך, בה מוליכין אותו

"Along the path a person wishes to proceed, on that path he will be led."

If a person shows Hashem that he sincerely wants to accomplish more spiritually, and that is the path that he would like to take in life, then Hashem will see to it, that his wish will become fulfilled.

כל המקבל עליו עול תורה, מעבירין ממנו עול מלכות ועול דרך ארץ – If a person takes upon himself the yoke of Torah learning, then from Heaven, they take away from him the yoke of other obligations, which will give him opportunity for learning (Mishnah, Avos, 3:5).

If something so important as spiritual growth is attainable by every person, as is indicated by these sources, shouldn't they wish and strive to attain it?

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  • Maybe his daughters will all marry kohanim? I'm not convinced it's a wasted wish let alone if that is a bad thing if so
    – Double AA
    May 1, 2023 at 22:59
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    @DoubleAA The OP mentioned a Yisroel wishing to be a kohen. That wish is impossible to become true, so I would consider it a wasted wish, akin to a תפילת שוא. Maybe his daughters will all marry kohanim? That's a totally different wish. May 1, 2023 at 23:08
  • Whether it's a "totally different wish" or דרך בה מוליכין אותו is clearly a judgement call so there's no point debating it unless you can bring a source that supports your claim. See the other answer for a source that may support mine.
    – Double AA
    May 1, 2023 at 23:27
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    @DoubleAA I'm not debating if a person can wish that maybe his daughters will all marry kohanim. I only meant to say that it's different than the wish mentioned in the OP. May 1, 2023 at 23:40
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1-I always assumed that when Moshe Rabbeinu said "I also want to be a cohain" he was being sarcastic to bring out a point as if you want a million dollars? I also want a million dollars but welcome to life meaning you accept your lot as is. 2-We see women say sheasani kitzono and "accept" not having as many mitzvos as men and don't wish they were men. There's the famous story told by chassidim about Reb Zusha and by Litvaks about Reb Yisroel Salanter about how someone wished he was smarter and a bigger tzadik and they told him Hashem wants you to serve him as you are.

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Regarding wanting to have more time to learn Torah, here is a story from The Gemara (Chagigah 5b):

רַב אִידִי אֲבוּהּ דְּרַבִּי יַעֲקֹב בַּר אִידִי הֲוָה רְגִיל דַּהֲוָה אָזֵיל תְּלָתָא יַרְחֵי בְּאוֹרְחָא וְחַד יוֹמָא בְּבֵי רַב, וַהֲווֹ קָרוּ לֵיהּ רַבָּנַן ״בַּר בֵּי רַב דְּחַד יוֹמָא״. חֲלַשׁ דַּעְתֵּיהּ, קָרֵי אַנַּפְשֵׁיהּ: ״שְׂחוֹק לְרֵעֵהוּ אֶהְיֶה וְגוֹ׳״… נְפַק רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן לְבֵי מִדְרְשָׁא וּדְרַשׁ: ״וְאוֹתִי יוֹם יוֹם יִדְרֹשׁוּן וְדַעַת דְּרָכַי יֶחְפָּצוּן״. וְכִי בַּיּוֹם דּוֹרְשִׁין אוֹתוֹ וּבַלַּיְלָה אֵין דּוֹרְשִׁין אוֹתוֹ?! אֶלָּא לוֹמַר לָךְ: כׇּל הָעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה אֲפִילּוּ יוֹם אֶחָד בַּשָּׁנָה — מַעֲלֶה עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב כְּאִילּוּ עָסַק כׇּל הַשָּׁנָה כּוּלָּהּ

The Gemara relates: Rav Idi, father of Rabbi Ya’akov bar Idi, would regularly travel three months on the road to reach the study hall and as he would immediately travel back again to arrive home for the festival of Sukkot, he spent only one day in the school of Rav. And the Sages would disparagingly call him: A student of Torah for one day. He was offended and read the following verse about himself: “I am as one that is a laughingstock to his neighbor, a man who calls upon God, and He answers him” (Job 12:4). Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Please do not punish the Sages, i.e., do not take offense and be harsh with them, as this will cause them to be punished by God

Rabbi Yoḥanan left Rav Idi and went to the study hall and taught: “Yet they seek Me daily, and delight to know My ways” (Isaiah 58:2). But is it possible that only during the day they seek Him and at night they do not seek Him? What is the meaning of daily? Rather, this verse comes to say to you that with regard to anyone who engages in Torah study even one day a year, the verse ascribes him credit as though he engaged in Torah study the entire year!

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  • Moshe Rabeinu could have legitimately wished to be a Kohein, because he was originally supposed to be one, but lost the privilege as a punishment for arguing with Hashem, regarding accepting the mission to go to Pharaoh (see Rashi, Shemos 4:14). Moshe might have wished that Hashem would relent and reinstate him as a Kohein. However today, for a Yisroel wishing to be a kohen, such a wish is impossible to become true, due to his different lineage, so I would consider it a wasted wish, akin to a תפילת שוא [Mishnah (Berachos 9:3), Shulchan Aruch (OC 230:1)]. May 2, 2023 at 0:05

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