It is told of the chassid Reb Binyamin Kletzker that one year, when totalling the annual accounts for his lumber business, he summed up the long column of figures in his ledger with the words: “total: Ein od milevado” (“There is none else besides Him”).
In relating this story, the Lubavitcher Rebbe notes that Reb Binyamin wrote “There is none else besides Him” on the last line of his tally. If there is truly none else besides Him, what were all the other figures about? Why wasn’t the chassid inspired to write these words as the very first entry in his ledger?
But the entire point of Chabad Chassidism, the Rebbe explains, is not to renounce and denigrate the material world, but rather to elevate it by infusing it with an awareness of the divine. If the purpose of a business is merely to satisfy one’s selfish needs and wants, it is indeed contradictory to the truth that “There is none else besides Him”; but if the business serves to increase one’s awareness of Divine Providence and to support a life dedicated to serving G-d, it becomes an instrument and facilitator of this truth.
That Reb Binyamin Kletzker was steeped in the awareness that every plank of wood in his yard and every ruble in his strongbox “is actually considered naught and absolute nothingness in relation to the divine force… that brings it into being” did not make him a less astute businessman or a less careful accountant. When he sat to do his accounts, he entered every item of income and expenditure, each loss and each profit, in complete accordance with the dictates of the so-called “real world.” But to him, the total of it all was that “There is none else besides Him.”
Adapted from the teachings of the Rebbe by Yanki Tauber
. Deuteronomy 4:35.
. Reb Binyamin Kletzker was a disciple of Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), founder of the Chabad philosophy and the Chabad branch of Chassidism.
. Tanya, part II, ch. 3.
. Likkutei Sichot, vol. XXXIV, pp. 112-113.