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Passionate Profession

Rabbi Yehoshua Alt

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Rabbi Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg ztz”l. Rabbi Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications and is the author of the books, Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights. His writings inspire people across the spectrum of Jewish observance to live with the vibrancy and beauty of Torah. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes, and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance.

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Passionate Profession


How should one know which profession to enter? Just as we need shoes that fit us, the same is true with our job.[1] The Chovos Halevavos writes that every person has a preference for a particular occupation or business over any other, as Hashem planted within his nature love and affection for it.[2] Among humans, there are different personalities and physiques that are predisposed towards certain trades and occupations. Whoever discovers within his personality and nature an attraction to a particular trade, and his body is fit for it and can endure its difficulty should pursue it and make it his means of livelihood, accepting its sweetness as well as its bitterness.[3]


So, one should choose a profession that he enjoys,[4] that excites him, that he has passion and enthusiasm for.[5] Then he eagerly gives 100% of himself when he is working, thereby putting forth his best[6] effort.[7] As the saying goes, “If you love what you do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”


When one travels and knows his destination, he drives in the express lane. However, if he is looking for an exit and is unsure where to get off, he will be in the slow lane. The same is true with respect to one’s job. If someone is looking for an exit out of his situation because he doesn’t like his job, he will not accomplish very much or be too productive.


The following is an analogy for this. An employer sent a worker for a package that needed to be picked up. When the worker returned with a heavy package, the employer told him that it wasn’t the right one, because the correct package was filled with diamonds and should be very light. That is the kind of job one should choose.


Many people look outside to see what jobs are available when they should really look inside themselves to see what it is that they truly love. Someone once said that a big mistake people make is that they try to force an interest on themselves. “You don’t choose your passions; your passions choose you.”


How do you know what your passion is? Passion can be described as who you are and what you love to do. It is not something you have to do but something you want to do. It may even be something you would do in your free time even if you didn’t get paid for it! What interests you? What do you talk about most of the time? Some people have a passion for health. These people may be doctors, nutritionists, and the like. Others may desire travel. They may be pilots, traveling businessmen, etc. Others may pursue spirituality. They may be rebbis, mashgiachs, and so on. Yet others may enjoy math. They may become statisticians, actuaries, accountants, etc. Based on advice from the Stoliner Rebbe to do what one enjoys, a Stoliner chassid, who enjoyed traveling and directing boys in life, chose to be a recruiter for a post-high-school boys’ yeshiva in Israel, for which he travels around the world. Is it any surprise that he is successful at what he does?

[1] Just as it is extremely difficult to walk around in someone else’s shoes, the same is true of one’s job. Yet many people continue to work at jobs they don’t like.

[2] Shaar HaBitachon, 3. This is just as we see with other creatures. For instance, Hashem implanted within the cat the instinct to catch mice. Within the nature of each animal species there is implanted a liking and desire for a certain kind of plant or animal which is ordained as its natural source of sustenance. The configuration of its body and limbs is suited for that particular thing. Examples include the strong teeth and claws of the lion and the horns of the ox and ram. On the other hand, animals whose sustenance comes from plant life are not provided with the tools for hunting and catching prey.

[3] The Chovos Halevavos concludes that we not be discouraged if income is denied on occasion, but to rather trust in Hashem that He will provide us with a livelihood all our life.

[4] It is because of this that a criminal lawyer from Memphis moved to Israel and became a baker. That is what he truly enjoyed!

[5] Similarly, the best exercise that one should choose for himself is one that he enjoys—whether it is swimming, running on a treadmill, or playing ball (see the Rambam in his aphorisms pertaining to health, 18:2).

[6] One who does what he enjoys can be successful at it. In this light, we can grasp כי יברכך ה‘ אלהיך בכל תבואתך ובכל מעשה ידיךשמח, Hashem will have blessed you in all your handiwork and you will be completely joyous (Devarim 16:15). If you are happy with your livelihood, you will succeed. In a similar vein, we can understand שמח זבולן בצאתך, Zevulun is happy when he goes out to work (Devarim 33:18). Rashi comments, הצלח בצאתך לסחורה—succeed when you depart for work. So, Rashi translates שמח as הצלח, since joy and success go together.

[7] For one to discover his natural talents, it has been suggested that he ask himself the following: (1) What am I good at? (2) What do others say I am good at? (3) What was I good at when I was young, before people said I can’t do certain things? What am I naturally good at?


Author of the books Fascinating Insights and Incredible Insights

Listen to the short Fascinating Insights Podcast at

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