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The Importance of Earning a Living

  1. Regardless of a person's stature, one must toil for his bread. This was a result of Adam's sin and the subsequent curse put on mankind.[1]
  2. One must live a Torah fulfilling life in the "way of the land".[2]
  3. It is better to resort to embarrassing work in public than to rely on gifts from people for one's living.[3]
  4. A life of Torah learning, when unaccompanied by daily toil, leads to idleness and sin.[4]

Learning a Trade and/or Craft

  1. G-d implanted within every human being a desire and ability to succeed within a certain activity. This was done so the world would not lack anything[5]
  2. A man must learn a trade and/or craft as well as teach his son a trade and/or craft in order to prevent his son (and himself) from thievery. [6]
  3. One should love "melacha" (creative activity). [7]

Honesty in Making a Living

  1. The first question that a person will be asked when he dies is "Did you do business fairly?" [8].


  1. Bereshit 3:19
  2. Berachot 8a, Berachot 35b. There is a discussion between R' Yishmael and R' Shimon Bar Yochai as to how a person should live a Torah fulfilling life; R' Yishmael taught that one should live by "the way of the land" and gather in one's grain while R' Shimon Bar Yochai taught that one should do the will of Hashem and their work would be done by others. The Gemara continues by stating that many did like R' Yishmael and succeeded, while many did like R' Shimon Bar Yochai and it didn't work.
  3. Pesachim 113a, Bava Batra 110a
  4. Mishnah Avot 2:2
  5. Berachot 43b states that Hashem granted a special bracha to everyone that they should everyone their trade. One example of the need for diversity is the Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba ch. 5) which says that all of the Kohanim would leave the rest of the vessels of the Mishkan in order to take the Aron and since they degraded the other vessels, they were punished.
  6. Kiddushin 29a, 30b, Makot 8b
  7. Mishnah Avot 1:10
  8. Gemara Shabbos 31a