"You shall guard yourself from every evil thing" (Deut. 23:10)

When trouble in the world causes people's income and savings to decline, people make every effort to protect and stimulate their livelihoods. G‑d fearing Jews, however, believe that the source of their livelihood is Heavenly. They therefore make every effort to improve their spiritual level by committing to increase their good deeds of Torah Study, Mitzvot Observance and Prayer, thereby bringing down the abundant blessings of parnassah (livelihood) from Heaven.

One of the main barriers to Divine beneficence of parnassah is looking at improper things, which brings improper thoughts and ultimately pollutes the spiritual mind. Even if this influence is not immediate, it becomes etched into the mind, and in the end it will contaminate the person. For this reason, G-D commanded us in His Torah, "You shall guard yourself from every evil thing" (Deut. 23:10), which our sages explain as a command to guard oneself that one's thoughts remain pure during the day, because impure thoughts can bring physical manifestations of impurity (Ketubot 46a).

The Holy Zohar (Tikkunei Zohar 30b) brings the idea that poverty chases anyone who is mired in such impurity, and even if someone was born under a 'mazal' (constellation) of wealth, he will lose his fortune and riches. This includes not only financial poverty, but also poverty of the mind, because this impurity causes the brain to be addled and fogged, and this confuses the mind and causes low attention span and a lack of patience, and this lack of brain power will also cause one to lack success in his business dealings.

Conversely, we know that whatever exists in the negative sense will always be greater in the positive sense. Thus, one who is careful to guard his eyes will be worthy to have abundant income in an easy manner. This is because all of the pain and difficultly a person endures when he overcomes the tremendous temptations of 'shemiras einayim' (guarding one's eyes) will stand for him as a merit, and this will greatly lessen the pain and difficulty that may have been decreed upon him as necessary to earn a living, and this tremendous reward is poured down upon him and his progeny from Heaven, as is explained in Sefer Chasidim (495).

Along these lines, when a time comes in history where there is an epidemic and the situation of parnassah becomes difficult, we have to be even stronger than usual in these areas.

It is taught in the Gemara (Taanit 8b) that once there was a famine simultaneously with an epidemic, and the people did not know which they should put more effort into praying for relief from. Rabbi Shmuel bar Nachmani advised that they should pray that Hashem (G-D) gives them food, because this includes the prayer for their lives to be saved from the plague, because food is not given to the dead.


My holy ancestor, the Koznitzer Maggid of blessed memory, explains the depth of this concept. He said if it is written in the Holy Tongue by a divine decree the words "mavves ra'av" (death, famine), the tzadik (pure, holy Jew) is able to nullify the famine and to remove the letter 'ayin' from the word "ra'av" (famine), and place it into the word "mavves" (death). His doing so changes the words of the Divine Decree to "maos rav", which means "abundant money", and this will automatically nullify both of the evil decrees at once. This is the meaning of the verse: "Behold, the Eye (ayin) of G-D is upon those who fear Him, those who wait for His kindness" (Psalms/Tehillim 33:18); that is, Hashem gave over his "ayin" to the tzadikim, to change the place of the letter 'ayin' from its place in the Supernal decree, "and to save their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine", meaning that by moving the letter "ayin", it is possible to nullify "death" and "famine".


The holy Rebbe Meir of Dzikov in the holy book he zuthored, Imrei Noam [on Chanukah], writes that someone who is pious and fears G-D, and keep his "ayin" (eye) pure, because he knows that it belongs to Hashem who created him, and it would be disrespectful to use this eye in a manner which violates His Will, this causes the letter "ayin" to be moved on his account to the good place, and thus "ma'os rav" will be decreed upon him.

Similarly, we find in the Talmud (Bava Kama 60b) that Rava would shut his windows during an epidemic. The earlier sources explain that the "windows" referred to here are actually the eyes, which are the windows of the human body. During a time of an epidemic he was careful to close his eyes to avoid seeing any evil thing, because improper sights bring one to impurity, which increases the power of the destructive forces during an epidemic. From this famines comes, which is not the case when one guards his eyes, which nullifies the decrees of death and famine.

May it be His Will that by being strong in 'shemiras einayim' and staying far away from immodest sights on technological devices, the Jewish People will be worthy to a life of good Parnassah [and health].


Source: "A Message from Rabbi Moshe Taub, the Kalever Rebbe of Brooklyn (may he be healthy and live long years) for Parshas Ekev 5780" (translated by Rabbi Yitzchak Kolakowski - Edited by Rabbi Avrohom Shalom Farber)