On Monday evening, February 1, Rebbetzin Devorah Kigel, well-known speaker, shared the first of a two-part virtual shiur on relationships with money on behalf of Emet Outreach. Rebbetzin Kigel shared her own personal story and experience with dealing with financial struggles and how she was able to rise above them.

When she met her husband, he had a job on Wall Street. Then, when they were dating, they both lost their jobs. Then she got a job first. She knew he would be responsible and eventually land a job. She had emunah in Hashem and believed in her husband’s ability to get a job. She noted that it is the husband’s obligation according to the k’subah, to support the family financially, unless the woman waves that right. “G-d has all the money in the world. He decides how much money we will have.”

Eventually, he got another job on Wall Street. They spent their first five years of marriage living on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and enjoying an affluent lifestyle. At this time they had two children. Then Hashem turned off the faucet on parnasah for the next five years and they were struggling financially. They spoke to their rabbi. They wanted to have more children but worried about how they would support them. The rabbi told them it is a s’gulah for parnasah to have a child, because Hashem has to provide for the child. So, they had their next child, Yoni. They ran out of money and couldn’t afford to live in the city anymore. They left and went to live in New Jersey. She worried if their guests who usually came for Shabbos would come to New Jersey. In the end, the guests came and she is so happy they moved to Passaic. “Choosing your community is so important.”

At this point, her husband tried working in various industries. She said, “It was a miracle how we didn’t make money those five years.” Hashem needed us to move to the Jewish community in New Jersey. “He wanted my husband to leave business and go into kiruv.” Her husband learned in kollel at that time and continues to do so.

She shared how they tried so many different s’gulos for parnasah. Their rabbi told them that her husband needed to be learning Torah and teaching, and that would click in the parnasah. At the same time, Rebbetzin Kigel began learning the sefer Ohel Rachel. This sefer teaches about a woman’s three mitzvos: candle lighting, mikvah, and challah. Her husband got a job working for Emet Outreach as the Director of Campus Activities and he has done this job the past 14 years with great success, as many students went on to learn in yeshivos in Israel. He is transforming the Bukharin community. When he started, they had four children under the age of seven, and it was challenging for her because he stayed in Queens or Manhattan until midnight.

Rebbetzin Kigel said that she shared her journey in the hopes it will encourage others in their journey.

She then taught that there are four verses in the Torah devoted to the mitzvah of separating challah. Halachah requires us to give at least ten percent of our income to tz’dakah. This teaches us that all our money is not ours. “Money’s not mine. This money is Hashem’s.” When we separate part of the challah dough, we are showing ourselves and our family that all money comes from Hashem. Bread was the first item in the world that was made from different ingredients. We take away a portion because, even though we did so much in terms of human effort to make the bread, it still belongs to Hashem. “Taking challah demonstrates that Hashem is the source of brachah in our lives.”

It is interesting that the blessing we recite on the bread says that Hashem brought bread from the ground. We know that bread doesn’t grow on the ground as a finished product. The blessing is teaching us that it is Hashem who ultimately makes the farmer successful with growing his wheat, and allows the whole process of making challah.

The mitzvah of challah in the Torah is followed by the mention of idol worship. This teaches that fulfilling the mitzvah of separating challah is like nullifying idol worship.

When we go through challenging times, we have to work hard on our emunah and bitachon. “In any challenge, I have to trust that Hashem wants the best for me.” She added that “any suffering we experience is not pointless. It is leading us somewhere much better.”

When we separate challah, we should keep in mind that Hashem is in charge of parnasah and the rest of the things in our lives. We recognize that all success is in Hashem’s hands.”

 By Susie Garber