Everybody would like to be rich, and winning the lottery is the easiest (albeit most unlikely) path to sudden wealth.

In terms of Jewish hashkafa (philosophy), I agree that buying more than one lottery ticket shows a lack of faith. It implies that pure randomness dictates which ticket will win, therefore the more tickets you buy the better your chances of winning. A person with proper emunah (faith) understands that G-d is in control of everything, even what seems apparently random, and while you can't win the lottery without a ticket you only need to have one for Him to make you the winner.

But how does hashkafa view the act of buying the lottery ticket? There are any number of normal, non-miraculous ways for a person to become rich. If G-d wants to bestow riches on you He is not constrained in how to do it. Is it presumptuous to buy a lottery ticket, implying He couldn't make you rich some other way?

Please give sources for your answers, read or taught, from Jewish hashkafa.

  • The question, as written, seems to be asking for opinions rather than objective answers.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 10:07
  • @IsaacMoses Please suggest how it might be rewritten to elicit sourced, objective answers from the treasury of Jewish hashkafa rather than opinions Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 10:11
  • Say that in the question.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 10:13
  • @MichaelSandler Can you explain why you think winning money from the lottery is "miraculous"?
    – avi
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 11:00
  • Sorry @avi! Rereading my question I see where you inferred I was calling lottery winning miraculous. I meant only to exclude miracles from consideration of how Hashem might make you rich. I will try to find a better wording. Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 11:14

4 Answers 4


Your question asks if buying a lottery ticket is some form of questioning Gd's ability to help you through "normal" means. This would imply that you believe that buying a lottery ticket is NOT a normal means of acquiring money.

I would like to question that assumption. It is true, that most people do not win money from the lottery. And that would make this an "abnormal" way of acquiring money from the perspective of the average population. However, from the perspective of faith in Gd, a lottery is really no different than praying to find lots of money from some other means.

You can pray to Gd all day that he allows you to find a hidden treasure. However, if you don't leave your house and search for that treasure you will never find it. This is true for all forms of gaining money. If you pray to Gd to give you a good business prospect, you must then go out and conduct business, else you will not receive that reward.

In other words, your question here could easily be, "Is searching for gifts or treasures, a a lack of faith?", or somebody else might ask, "Is working for a living, a lack of faith?" Any one of the numerous ways to gain money could be singled out, as different from the other ways of making money, and thus would be open to the question if the activity is a lack of faith. In the end, all action which normally produces money is a question of lack of faith.

There are two resolutions to this problem:

  1. You argue that since the other actions are not a lack of faith, then buying a lottery ticket is also no a lack of faith.
  2. Every action appears to be a lack of faith, and we ask what is the proper action.

Jewish tradition takes route 2 and asks in many different ways, what is needed from a person to act and what will be the method of receiving a reward.

In general, we follow the dictum that if we make the opening of a needle, then Gd will create an opening for us large enough to drive a camel through it. This phrase originally appears within the context of Teshuvah, but has been used throughout the generations as a general way of understanding Gd's working in this world.

If you want a blessing of money, you need to open up needle eyes. Buying a lottery ticket is one of many ways of doing that. However, on the other side of the spectrum, we are told that the greater the effort, the greater the reward. And in that vein, since buying a lottery ticket requires little effort, one can expect little reward, unless the need is truly great.

  • 1
    Do you have a source for 'the greater the effort, the greater the reward' with regard to parnassah in Jewish hashkafa? This would address the core of my question. Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 11:58
  • I have skimmed through your sources and did not find support for or allusion to reward proportional to effort. On the contrary: "However, the effort is not what helps, but is only an abstract necessity (independent of the Providence that brings us sustenance)". Please clarify. Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 12:26
  • @MichaelSandler Through self-analysis, he tries to understand how much effort (hishtadlus) is appropriate for his unique situation. He realizes that overly intensive involvement in this-worldly pursuits can badly distract him from his Torah life (and cloud his sense of dependence on G-d). On the other hand, he also knows that if he minimizes his effort, relying wholeheartedly on G-d to meet his needs, he might not yet be spiritually ready to face the disappointment of unmet expectations (even if he's intellectually aware that whatever he's been given is no less than G-d intended for him). ...
    – avi
    Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 12:27
  • 1
    You have correctly identified the essence of my question as relating to hishtadlus in parnassah, and I thank you for clarifying my own thinking. :-) Your answer and comments address profound matters of emunah, but I maintain that you have not answered the question fully. I will contemplate an answer of my own. Commented Mar 1, 2012 at 12:38

I have heard in the name of Rav Moshe Feinstein that it is good for someone with a fixed salary to buy an occasional lottery ticket - but only one - in order to recognize that his livelihood is not actually dependent on his employer and that divine providence guides his income.

This is kind of quoted here without a direct source:

Rav Moshe Feinstein Zatzal ruled that to buy a lottery ticket is Hishtadlus; to buy more than one is a lack of Bitachon, as if you were meant to win, your odds won’t improve by purchasing more.

It then goes on to say that purchasers of lotteries that benefit charity can purchase more than one.


Rabbi Gedaliah Anemer, zt'l, Founder and Rosh HaYeshiva of the Yeshiva of Greater Washington, and the Rav of Young Israel Shomrai Emunah, said that if one buys only a single raffle ticket, then that is fine. If God wants the purchaser to win, he will win -- but only if he buys a ticket. However, purchasing more than one ticket for a single drawing indicates that the buyer believes that buying more tickets increases his chances of winning. In other words, he believes in the odds more than he believes in God. And given the odds involved in lottery winnings, relying on the odds indicates the buyer is an "idiot." I asked him if he heard that from a teacher, and he said "no," he came up with that himself.


Rav Avigdor Miller speaks about this in a few different shiurim (see below), and the common thread throughout each response is that buying one lottery ticket combined with many tefillos is not considered wasting one's money. Although I have heard some quote the name of Rav Tzvi Berkowitz that if it was planned for you to become so wealthy that quickly, then Hashem would have other more likely methods to bring you the money, it seems the act of buying one lottery ticket is not beyond the realm of legitimate messengers in how Hashem would send you the money.

  1. Tape 491:

In Europe there were state lotteries, and it wasn’t considered wrong, even for frum Jews, to buy a lottery ticket. However, some Jews go overboard with it and that leads to trouble. It’s like drinking wine for kiddush. It’s a good thing, but drinking too much wine, or drinking all the time, that’s not so good. What happens is that people start hanging around these places and putting all their money into it. You even have some fools who think they have perfected the system how to win; there are actually fools like that! I know all about it because I have to deal with them. I argued with one. His wife called me up, and she says that all their money is going down the drain in the lottery tickets. So I spoke to him and he told me he has a system! He’s following a system and he’s bound to win. Only that it didn’t come yet; it’s always right around the corner. A fool!

  1. Tape 213

Let me tell you something. If you buy one lottery ticket and you get busy davening to Hakodosh Boruch Hu that He should help you, there’s nothing wrong with that. But don’t buy any more. Once you get into that intoxication – it’s like drinking whiskey. You’ll get drunk and you can get lost in it. So one is enough. You can do one in ten years, if you want. And each time, be mispallel. Ask Hashem to help you. And if it’s bashert, you’ll get it.

  1. Tape 214

Last week somebody asked this question. If you want to buy a lottery ticket, you should do it only once. And what you should do is to make a lot of tefillos beforehand. Before you buy that ticket pray to Hashem. A lot of davening – a few months of being mispallel. And after that one time, forget about it.

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