Too Ill to Work?

March 6th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 37 comments

I just completed the audio version of Business Secrets From The Bible. In one word the content was wonderful. The book spoke to me.

My dilemma is unique. Because of serious life threatening physical challenges and learning issues it is difficult to work a so called regular job. 

I need and want more money and I sincerely desire to serve my fellow man and in that mix I can honestly say that retirement is not an option. What you say about retirement in the book is true. It’s detrimental to a man’s mental, physical and spiritual life. 

I need and want help in this area. In other words I want to get back to work now. 

Do you have any suggestions? It’s fine with me if you have tough words so please don’t sugar coat reality. 


Larry A. G.

Dear Larry,

First, thank you for your kind words about our book Business Secrets from the Bible: 40 Success Strategies for Financial Abundance.

The most challenging aspect of writing answers to people who “Ask The Rabbi” is to make sure that we are responding only from a place of love and empathy.  Nonetheless, our duty frequently includes telling truths that can hurt, as truth often does.   Not only does ancient Jewish wisdom prohibit us from administering painful words with arrogance and indifference but in such circumstances,  the Help we receive from Heaven would undoubtedly be withheld.  You can see that even had you not invited us to tell you the tough truth without sugarcoating we would have done so once we were certain that we were writing with compassion and a spirit of wanting you to be uplifted.  By the time you get to the end of our words, we hope you’ll agree that we have provided you with the escalator by means of which you can lift yourself. 

Since we don’t know you, what we have to go on is only what you told us. You told us what you cannot do, but not what you can do. You said nothing about your skills or experience, only that you cannot work a “so called” regular job. You ask for suggestions but tell us nothing of what you have to offer.

The phrase “so called” in this context usually imply a skepticism about the object of the sentence.  It’s as if you don’t believe a regular job exists.  Why didn’t you write merely “it is difficult to work a regular job”?  Why is it ‘so called’?  Do you perhaps, deep down,  feel some contempt for a regular job?  Or perhaps you mean a 9-5 job and that if you can’t do that, you have no options? Again, that would be focusing on the negative rather than the positive and possible.

One phrase jumped out at us and we think may be the key point. You inform us that your dilemma is unique.  No, Larry, as painful or debilitating as it is, it isn’t unique!   We don’t need to know the details of your dilemma to know that you are not the only person in the world with that particular dilemma or one of similar severity.

Each of us, as a creature of God, is unique.  The symbols of our creativity, our fingers, are unique.  Our thoughts are unique, but our challenges, problems, and dilemmas are far from unique.  And what is more, others with exactly the same dilemma as you, have overcome and triumphed.  You can too,  once you rid yourself of untrue thoughts, false ideas and bad beliefs.

We want to see you invert your thinking.  Instead of leading with, “I want more money” and then following up with “I sincerely desire to serve my fellow man” we want you to be intuitively thinking, “I really want to serve my fellow humans and I know that the money will follow if I do.”

Here is a critically important and frighteningly true statistic:

98 out of 100 people failing to find work fail, not because of a shortage of jobs but because they manifest a  shortage of conscientiousness, punctuality, desire to serve, diligence, humility, cheerfulness and ambition.  We’re sure that you, like so many of us, are handicapped by one or more of these seven shortages.

If you really and truly desire to serve your fellow man, you could quickly find a way to do so.   It is possible you are hampered if you have found an easier way of living….and you didn’t confide in us just how you are currently paying bills. It is terribly difficult to give up an easier way of life for the demanding and ultimately satisfying life that comes from doing a good day’s work for a good day’s pay even when you recognize that it is damaging not to be earning one’s way.  

You are clearly a decent man with core of honesty.  Most people don’t even care about self-respect anymore, preferring to substitute the fake self-esteem. But you desire the real thing.  That is wonderful.  Now all you need is a launch pad.  If you haven’t worked for a while this won’t be easy but it is entirely within your ability.  Get rid of the mistaken notion that you are uniquely handicapped in your quest for work.  From any job, no matter how far it may be from your perfect choice, you can later move towards a better option or some entrepreneurial activity but this is much, much easier after you have already succeeded at a job. Dig deep into your heart and discover which of those seven shortages you experience and cure them. 

No matter what your challenges are, Larry, we could show you someone somewhere equally challenged or who is suffering from worse handicaps and working productively. We are happy that our book launched your query.  It is wonderful that you are not complacent about your situation or content with your lack. 

Now is the time to “reach for the sky”.  This by the way, was the title of a book by a pilot, Douglas Bader, who during the crisis of the Battle of Britain in the summer of 1940, got the Royal Air Force to put him in the cockpit of a Spitfire fighter aircraft,  in spite of the fact that his legs had been amputated a few years earlier.  Here was a man who had a dilemma.  It wasn’t unique but it was certainly a challenge.  But it didn’t stop him from shooting down record numbers of enemy aircraft neither did it stop him organizing and participating in several escape attempts from German prisoner of war camps after he had bailed out of his damaged aircraft and been captured.

So please know that if you really want to earn money—you can.   If you really do, go for it and reach for the sky.  Please let us know how it goes.

With confidence in you,

Rabbi Daniel & Susan Lapin

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Ann Switzer says:

A VERY encouraging statement at the end: “With confidence in you” — beautiful, compassionate and uplifting as well. Good one Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you, Ann. We do truly put a lot of thought and a lot of prayer into the Ask the Rabbi answers.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Ann–
we do get wonderful questions.

James says:

How great to read again of Douglas Bader, who was lauded as a British superhero in Paul Brickhill’s book The Great Escape! No matter what the handicap, he never gave up.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Please you enjoyed that, James.
I was torn–does mentioning an indomitable pilot from 75 years ago sound irrelevant to most of our readers or is it interesting and perhaps inspirational?

Don Mullet says:

It is inspirational!

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

I sincerely hope it is, Don,
for the original questioner as well as for others.

Siri Kanniah says:

You can learn new skills. Skills like graphic or web design or even writing. Work from home.
All the. best to you.

Patricia says:

Your response was necessarily strong, but also so uplifting. I would like to know the outcome as well.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Patricia–
Doing nothing but massaging someone with warm butter will never build muscle and strength and only telling people what they enjoy hearing is a nice way to make money as an unscrupulous therapist but a terrible way to try and help.

tony corker says:

Good and sensible but not necessarily easy. Regards Tony.

Susan Lapin says:

Easy isn’t in the job description for human beings, Tony.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Tony–
Seldom do good and sensible go together with easy.

Dear Larry,

Your predicament is certainly unique to you. I truly understand but I KNOW that The Master and Ruler of the Universe is watching out for you. 13 Years ago I suffered a massive stroke at the tender age of 41. I had just retired from the US Army and had a nice civilian regular job, and a very fun part-time one. The stroke took my ability to walk, use my left arm, control my emotions. My already screwed up back became debilitating. I cursed The Creator with one side of my mouth for two years for not just letting me die while using the other side to pray and ask for help. Fortunately for me we have a Merciful Master, full of compassion, understanding and forgiveness. I had my Job moment and regretted my stupid and idle words. From then on I realized the beautiful gift I was given. I couldn’t work, but I did try some part-time jobs at minimum wage that were useful but not permanent. I was found eligible for Social Security Disability on the first try, a miracle itself. I eventually was awarded 100 percent disability from Veteran’s Affairs as the unusual stroke happened within a year of retirement. This allowed my wife to go back to college and my kids to go as well. Eventually I went too, I still do part-time. My got her Master’s degree in teaching. I still don’t work, but I volunteer to do things to help other people when I can and my congregation. I NEVER EVER would have pictured my life this way, but The Master of the Universe knows how to operate.

There is sooooooooo much more to the miracle of me but I just want to encourage you Larry. Please look for the good in your circumstances….it’s there you just need to find it. As Rabbi said, concentrate on what you can do. So what if you fall short on somethings…DO IT AGAIN. There is a line from one of my favorite songs, “sometimes darkness can show you the light”.
I know Who has your back, in fact, you are completely surrounded, so reach out for help. May the Master and Ruler of the Universe always turn his face toward you.

Susan Lapin says:

Louis, I am in awe at your answer and how you took control back of your life after such a crippling blow. I pray that Larry heeds your words.

Dan Anderson says:

Wow. Amazing, inspiring words brother. Beautiful. Bless you. Thank God for all of you lifting. So powerful. Dan

Thank You Dan, all the credit belongs to The Master of the Universe.

S.M. ROGERS says:

I currently lack the words to fully express the gratitude for the acknowledgement of being ‘set free ‘ at reading this response. One person… impacted & empowered. Thank you

Susan Lapin says:

We look forward to your sharing your successes, S.M.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear S.M.
I feel so very gratified to hear that this response resonated for you too. Good luck and ever upwards.
Keep us in the picture of the good times ahead.

Jean says:

Larry should look at the technology and legitimate work at home jobs that are currently available. Two years ago, I was in a serious auto accident. I was essentially bedridden and could not commute, but I could still drag myself to my computer and talk on the telephone. I was able to snag a work at home, tier 1 customer support position that put food on the table and kept the lights burning while I was healing. Many of my fellow virtual agents were retirees who wanted to do something other than retail or fast food. And for the record, I live 30 miles from the nearest big city; my town has a population of about 800 people. I still do virtual work on a part-time basis, and serve customers all over the world.

Susan Lapin says:

Thank you for sharing your story, Jean, and for your “can do” attitude. Examples like yours are powerful.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Very inspiring Jean-
thanks for sharing. As I said, it’s not a shortage of jobs that keeps most people unemployed, but shortage of the spiritual values that you obviously have in good measure

Robert Aronson says:

Teacher in the event you see this- its off topic….

when Billy Graham’s daughter Anne spoke at his funeral she mentioned that the date upon which her father died is a special date for Jewish people, that its a specific date that the Jewish people study Moses….so maybe this is an “Ask the Rabbi”….the question being, what is it that she is referring to?….

could you maybe email to me the answer?

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Robert–
The great Billy Graham died on Wednesday morning February 21st 2018. When the sun set that evening, the Hebrew calendar date of the 7th day of the month of Adar commenced. It was to this that my friend, Anne Graham Lotz, referred. You see, the 7th day of Adar is always observed each year as the anniversary of the death of Moses. As it happened, this date was also the birthday of Moses. The day is always strongly linked to Moses.

Carl from SC says:


Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Thank you Carl-
Take care.

Judy says:

Thank you for a great answer to a question I had for decades. I wish I’d seen the answer sooner, but then I might not have been where I was needed right now. I hope Larry doesn’t spend time wishing he’d reached for the sky like I have. Louis’ response was so inspiring. I’m changing my definition of success. What I’m doing now (caregiver) doesn’t help a lot of people but it makes a world of difference to a few. My thanks for these Q&As and the Thought Tools. I share your wisdom with friends, family, and on social media. May you both continued to be blessed.

Susan Lapin says:

Making a world of difference to a few people sounds like a great deal, Judy.

Elizabeth says:

Judy, Being a “caregiver” in my opinion is one of the most amazing positions a person can accept. It takes an abundance of compassion to actually care for someone who is unable to care for himself. The attributes needed to fill that position are likely much greater than the seven ‘shortages’ listed by our Rabbi. Your post brought tears to my eyes for I know what it is like to have someone truly care for family members who are far away.

Susan Lapin says:

Beautifully said, Elizabeth.

Zack says:

If I may offer a name that adds to the discussion: George Wurtzel. I became aware of him not long after reading your above response; which seemed a bit serendipitous. Mr. Wurtzel is a woodworker who creates beautiful pieces. He has a part in a recent Subaru ad titled ”See the World”. Mr. Wurtzel also happens to be blind; surely a hindrance to some…but not to him. Thank you Rabbi and Mrs. Lapin for encouraging individuals to realize their true potential is found by moving through the challenges that would otherwise shackle us if we allowed them to.

Susan Lapin says:

We don’t have a TV, Zack so we haven’t seen the ad. But we will try to find it online. What a wonderful accomplishment.

Esther Amaka says:

I’m so inspired by this response tool. It’s like I just found a new family!
But I really don’t know which to do first Rabbi,
I have a plan of raising funds for my business which is developing simple snacks that would meet the nutritional requirements of hypertensives and cholesterol affected people. I have been applying for jobs and not getting it. Recently I applied for a loan and they’re willing to lend me that money. Now my fear is this;
How would I succeed in this? Sometimes I’m so afraid that I may not get to pay the loam before its deadline. Frankly I have taken financial management courses even though I have no income or any source of any type of income both for personal and business safe the loan, I’m really scared I may not pay up on time.
I’m volunteering at an NGO that teaches young adolescents to love Christ and it’s totally free.

Do you have any advice to give? Concerning my fears or way out to earn. By the way I’m writing from Nigeria
Thank you. You can as well mail me the response.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

Dear Esther–
I am inspired by your letter; your vision, determination and goodness shine through. You ask for any advice we may have to offer. With the understanding that we are writing from thousands of miles away and an equal distance in terms of local knowledge, here is what we say. Your business idea sounds interesting but you left out the most important part–who are the customers? To whom will you be marketing these snacks? But, for now, I’ll assume you have that worked out. Your priority is cash flow. And note, the word priority is a singular word. Number one is cash flow. That means you need a job to provide your main revenue stream while you gradually build up your snack business. Nothing should come in front of seeking a job. One of the hardest aspects of changing one’s situation is recognizing that this requires changes in behavior and acting on that recognition. For instance, I know that your heart is in the work you are doing for the NGO. And I know how painful this would be for you, but you can’t afford to be a volunteer just yet. However, if you handle things correctly, you will soon be able to do even more for those adolescents in need of God. But for now, you need to be working for money not for free. Make sure your pastor and all members at your church have your resume. Utilize every person you know in your pursuit of a job. Approaching this single mindedly, with no distraction of energy from the NGO or anything else will result in a job. It may not be an ideal job but it will be a start. You will find it far easier to move to a great job from a mediocre job than from unemployed status. Once your immediate cash flow is positive, you can work out whether you need the loan and if so, what your repayment plan is even if your snack business takes longer to yield revenue than projected–an almost certainty. Once you have determined your plan of action and started acting on the plan, all you need to do is regularly read Joshua 1:9 Did I not command you, be strong and have courage, do not fear and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
Onwards and upwards. Let us know how you are doing.

Esther Amaka says:

Thank you so much Sir. I’m gonna do just that. At least I won’t be held by that fear. As regards to the job, I’ll do it as you said. Thank you for the good work. Just to inform you, the loan management will be coming to my house today to confirm my claim of desiring to start a business and see my production site. So I barely have few moments to get a paying job but I must get one. Keep me in your prayer. God bless you

Rabbi Daniel Lapin says:

You’re on your way, Esther,
Full speed ahead!

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