The Sefarim discuss (see Hobot Halevavot, Michtav MeEliyahu etc.) the idea of being Mishtadel (making an effort) for one's livelihood but believing that the Hishtadlut (effort) has absolutely nothing to do with one's income.

I have heard from Rav Yoel Ashruv that the proper Hishtadlut one should do is as follows, for example: if nature demands that one work 60 hours a week to get a livelihood, he should work 45 or 50 hours a week.

What is the source for the words of Rav Ashruv? I asked my older brother who says he's never heard of such a thing. What do the sources have to say about how much Hishtadlut one should do for livelihood?

  • I once heard from a rabbi that the amount that someone has to work is directly proportional to his emunah. So, basically, you should work as little as possible such that you still have emunah that you'll be ok.
    – Daniel
    Aug 9, 2013 at 16:58
  • @Daniel I've heard that plenty of times but again it didn't come with a source. Aug 9, 2013 at 17:08
  • related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/29444/…
    – Lee
    Aug 18, 2013 at 14:11

4 Answers 4


To add to Rays answer from Chovos Halevovos "Shaar Habitachon" Gate 4 Chap. 4


For the second category, the matters of man's possessions, means of financial gain in his various pursuits, whether in commerce, skilled trades, peddling, business management, official appointments, property rentals, banking, work of kings, treasurers, contracting, writing work, other types of work, going to faraway deserts and seas, and other similar things, from what people toil in to amass money, and increase the superfluous. The proper way of trust in the Al-mighty for this is to engage in the means which G-d has made available to him to the extent necessary for his maintenance and sufficient for his needs of this world (i.e. his minimum necessary needs only - TL).

And if the Creator will decree for him more than this, it will come to him without trouble or exertion, provided he trusts in the Al-mighty for it and does not excessively pursue the means nor inwardly trust in them in his heart.

  • 1
    see the commentary there by Rav Yaakov Emden who qualifies this statement to mean one has to be smart about it. a farmer for example, cannot live on one day at a time. he must plan his work and livelihood for the whole year. this is why I wrote "as short-term as possible" in my answer
    – ray
    Aug 15, 2013 at 9:50

don't know about Rav Ashruv but regarding your last question "What do the sources have to say about how much Hishtadlut one should do for livelihood?"

But if, from the beginning, we did not open a door to the desires and satisfy their wants, nor accustom ourselves to indulge in superfluous things and chase after them, but instead we reply to the yetzer that we have no need for the superfluous things, and that we already have enough mental anxiety in working to obtain what we need, and if G-d sends us extra income without our having to trouble our heart or straining mind for it, we will spend them in the right and proper manner as duty dictates, and if this does not happen, we will be satisfied with the basic necessities, and won't require more than this, then the [power of the] yetzer will be broken and smitten.

from Chovos Halevavos Gate 5 ch.5

seems from here the proper hishtadlut is in obtaining the minimum needs. The timespan seems to be as short-term as possible as brought down in the gate 4 ch.5:

"The one who trusts in G-d will not mourn if his requests are denied, or if he loses something he loves, and he will not hoard possessions nor be troubled by more than his day's needs"


The Sabba of Novardok in his sefer madregas haadom has a lengthy chapter on the idea of bitachon. He brings it down as a machlokes between the ramban and the chovos halevavos regarding what hitadlus a person should take.

The ramban is of the opinion that no hishtadlus is necessary, so long as a person has bitachon even zero hishtadlus will yeild results. For instance, since parnassah is determined on Rosh Hashonah it does not help to work more, you will always receive the amount alloted. The gemara says "השלך על ה" יהבך והוא יכלכלך" roughly translated as, place on hashem your burdens and he will support you. The gemara asks, what is the meaning of the word יהבך/burdens? The gemara says, a rabbi saw an arab go by with his donkey, and the rabbi was carrying a large burden, he said to the arab, can you take my stuff, the arab said "you can place your יהבך" From here the gemara learns that יהבך means burdens. The vilna Gaon says, it cant be the gemara needed to find out the meaning of a word from an arab. Rather the rabbis were unsure if יהבך meant your extra burdens or even the basics that everyone would assume we should work for. But the story with the arab illustrates that יהבך means even the basics we should place on hashem and he will provide. Because according to derech hateva there is no way an arab donkey owner would take all these goods, especially not for free. But this rabbi because of his exceptional trust had even the unnatural occur. He also brings a story of (i think the chida) who after giving a shiur on bitachon one day, a simple worker who had attended the shiur, went home quit his job and after weeks of no food or money all of a sudden found money and became wealthy. The students of the chida were upset, after all they had been learning about Bitachon for many years. The chida told them, this man had simple trust, he heard that g-d controls money and therefore work is pointless and he saw that as truth. You all look at it as a sugya, there is a tzad to say we need hishtadlus and a tzad to say we do not, and therefore you do not receive without hishtadlus.

He brings yaakov placing the stick before lavans animals, not as a proof of hishtadlus, rather that because it was his job to take care of lavans animals, he was required to act to the full amount. One of the great mussar seforim writes about the presents and preparation for war, and prayer that yaakov did before going to esav. And he asks, where was his Bitachon? He makes a distinction in the requirement of Hishtadlus, that by ones own middos having Bitachon is not enough, and since yaakov felt a little fear he had to do hishtadlus.

According to the Saba, even the chovos halevavos would agree that for the one who exceedingly trusts no histadlus is required, but for other Hihtadlus is.


Rav Yoshiahu Pinto שליט"א writes in his book דברי יאשיאהו דף כט' that one should do Hishtadlut according to what he thinks that nature requires (after I read this my brother said that Rav Bension Shafier says the same).

  • Bitochon is only good if one believes in G-d. The proof is what he does the rest of the time. The mishna says that one has never seen a (wild) animal working for a living. The only reason we have to work is because our deeds are no good.
    – user2800
    Aug 14, 2013 at 8:14
  • I'm not sure what you're saying. Aug 15, 2013 at 12:44
  • Hacham Gabriel quite simple really. The only people who have real bitachon are those that bentch and say in 'racheim' I dont want charity or loans from others. Only what comes from your(G-ds) open and wide hand. All those 'takers' have no 'Jewish' bitachon whatsoever. However they are 'dressed'.
    – user2800
    Aug 15, 2013 at 14:40
  • @annex so you're saying Hacham Ovadia doesn't have Bitachon? Aug 16, 2013 at 3:13
  • @ Hacham GabrielI dont remember mentioning him or anyone else. And I am not impressed by titles either. They dont prove this either way.
    – user2800
    Aug 16, 2013 at 5:21

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