The Torah states that vegetation was created on the third day of creation. Yet, the Torah also states that the vegetation did not actually sprout and bloom until the sixth day of creation. Why didn’t the vegetation sprout immediately? Rashi explains that the grass did not sprout until the sixth day, the day when Adam was created and davened for it, in order to teach us that the world only receives sustenance in the merit of tefillah (prayer); in the merit of recognizing that all of our sustenance is solely in the hands of Hashem.

Why is it that specifically when it came to the creation of sustenance, unlike all of Hashem’s other creations, did Hashem not bring it forth until man davened for it? Why didn’t Hashem do so regarding the other good things in the world, like sunlight, our 5 senses, etc. - in order to teach us those things are all from Hashem as well? What message was He coming to teach us by doing this specifically by food?

A young man named Isaac came from a wealthy family. He was the youngest of three boys, but he was rebellious. Unfortunately, the only thing that kept him close to his father was his father's money.

One day, at the age of 21, he got fed up with abiding by his father's rules and told his father that he would go out on his own. He defiantly stated to his father, "I don't need your money anymore. I will become wealthy by myself."

Isaac traveled to a distant city with a desire to make it big. However, during his first day there, he was unsuccessful in finding a job and he did not even have money for lodgings. He was forced to sleep on a park bench.

The next day was the same story. Before long, he was tired. He was hungry. He even had second thoughts about leaving his family, but his pride would not allow him to return. The third day, early in the morning, something finally changed. Somebody was passing through the park and asked Isaac why he was sleeping on a bench. Isaac told him that he did not have money nor a job. The man said, "Don't worry. I have work for you. You could walk my dog everyday for half an hour. In exchange, you can have a room in my house and I will provide for you three meals a day."

Isaac was so thankful for the opportunity. Now, with less pressure, he was able to search for a job with a clear head. Eventually, he found a position in a bakery and they paid him a very high salary for the small job he was doing. After a year there, he had enough money to rent his own apartment and to open his own bakery. He leased a cheap storefront for his bakery but it was in a terrible location. Business did not go well. In fact, the first month there he actually lost money. Then one day a man walked into the store, bought something, tasted it and said, "Wow, this is delicious! If your store was in a good location, you would make a fortune."

Isaac said, "I wish I could, but I simply don't have the money."

The man said, "I believe in your product. I will put up all of the money to buy you a store in a prime location and we'll be partners," and that is exactly what happened.

The store did so well there that Isaac was able to buy another store, and then another. After just two years, he had five stores and was very successful. At that point, he decided to write a letter to his father. This is what he wrote:

"My dear father, I wanted to tell you that after three years of being away from you, I've made my own fortune without any help from you or my brothers. You are welcome to come see my bakeries whenever you want. It just goes to show you that hard work and perseverance are the keys to success. You don't need a rich father to succeed."

A few days later, Isaac received a letter back from his father and this is what it said:

"My precious son, I am very happy to hear that you are doing well. But for your ultimate benefit, it is my obligation to tell you what really happened. Did you ever wonder why a total stranger would let you stay in his house and provide you with 3 meals daily for just walking his dog for a half an hour a day? I sent that man to you to get you off the streets and I paid  that man your rent for the whole year.

Did you ever wonder why you were given such a high salary in the bakery for such a simple job you were doing, with no prior experience? I got you the job and I funded your salary. Also, that man who walked into your store and offered out of the blue to be your partner? I sent him there and he was using my money. When you were in the new location, I paid off the customers to  come to you to make you successful.

You see, son, it is not your hard work that made you your money. All this time, it was your loving father, who will always love you. I would love to hear from you again soon. Love, Dad."

The reason why Hashem specifically chose food to be the vehicle in teaching us that all blessing is solely from Him, is because when it comes specifically to food, there is the greatest danger that we will mistakenly, G-d forbid, conclude that kocho va'atzem yodi - it came to me due to my own power. It is unfortunately very easy to think that our success in business, or failures, were due to our own actions. In reality, however, as long as we do everything reasonably in our power to succeed, Hashem will bless us with exactly what is beneficial for us to receive; nothing more and nothing less. Therefore, specifically by food, Hashem decided that Adam would not receive it until he davened for it - in order to teach us to recognize that we're not in control of our sustenance. Only Hashem is in charge of our income and only He knows exactly which amount is best for us, both physically and spiritually.

Living Inspired

Hashem decreed that the majority of mankind must work hard in order to earn their bread. Why did He do so? Wouldn’t it be more conducive for spiritual growth to give us manna from heaven, so that we could devote more time to learning Torah and doing kind deeds?

Hashem did so because it is specifically when it comes down to one’s business, when one feels like his life is on the line, that one’s character is truly tested and can truly shine. Will one recognize that all of his success is from Hashem and ask Him for help before each day of work and thank Him at the end of each day for the success he had? If one does so, and if one keeps himself pure in a world motivated by base drives, he will have performed the greatest demonstration of loyalty to his Creator, demonstrated his absolute awareness of His Creator’s existence and involvement in his life, and will have tremendously sanctified Hashem’s name. This achievement is SO important to Hashem, that He makes the need to work for a living mandatory for the majority of the Jewish nation.

May we all internalize this lesson, and lead our business lives with the same purity and faith that we do in our synagogues and study halls.