Our Daily Bread
Thank God I am not a Hollywood screenwriter.
Our Sages taught that we could learn trust in God from farmers and sailors. They knew with a clarity unavailable to most of us that their livelihood depended on the Almighty; it was completely in His hands. They saw how the weather affected their voyages or their crops, the sun or lack thereof, the rain or lack thereof, the winds or lack thereof.
Today, in a world of large supermarkets stocked with beautiful fruit in and out of season, we aren’t so aware of those situations. Even though farmers today may still experience this, it is mostly large corporations owning the land and the individual experience is limited. So who today can teach us this important idea?
Believe it or not, television writers and producers.
I have a number of friends, students and acquaintances who work in the entertainment industry. No matter how talented they may be it is a rocky profession. One moment you are in and the next moment you’re out; popular one day and a disaster the following. Job security is non-existent. It lasts one season if you are lucky and then you pray that you will get renewed or reassigned, that there will be a job for you the following season. Lucky is the man or woman whose series lasts for many years or who glides seemingly smoothly from one series to the next. I look at them in awe and say to my husband, “Thank God you’re a Rabbi and not a screen writer!”
And then I realize I have totally missed the point. We are all dependent on the Almighty for our livelihood. We just don’t notice it. Those of us who don’t work project by project or contract by contract have gotten a little lazy in our recognition of the Almighty’s hand in our income. We can forget that it all comes from Him, that it’s all in His hands. Since I don’t have to pray every day for my series to be renewed, I forget to say thank you or to pray that my income continues as is. I forget to notice that this “stable income” can be whisked away in a minute (God forbid) because it is a gift. All of our income comes from the Almighty and if it is stable, that is an extra gift.
Or is it? (Please God, don’t take it away!) Perhaps the sailors, farmers and TV producers are the lucky ones. They don’t have a chance to forget. They aren’t allowed to be complacent. They are given the opportunity on a daily – or at least season by season – basis to turn to the Almighty and pray for a renewal and continued income.
We can certainly learn from them. It is a kindness of the Almighty to have an income and it is an extra kindness to have a steady one. Instead of taking it for granted and forgetting to pray and express my gratitude, I should be overflowing with it. I don’t want it to be taken away in order for me to realize what I have.
I’ve never envied those who work in the entertainment industry, not their actual jobs, not the people they rub elbows with, not the access – and certainly not the job insecurity. But I am going to try to learn from them – and to be grateful for everyday for that gift of sustenance.