skip to Main Content
Have a question? ASK THE DAYAN 1.888.485.VAAD (8223) Elevate Your Inbox! SUBSCRIBE
Eved Ivri And The Torah’s Message For Employees

Eved Ivri and The Torah’s Message for Employees

Eved Ivri and The Torah’s Message for Employees

Adapted from a shiur by Rav Yosef Greenwald

והגישו אדוניו אל האלוהים והגישו אל הדלת או אל המזוזה ורצע אדוניו את אזנו במרצע ועבדו לעולם

(שמות כא:ו)

Halacha recognizes two types of workers:

  •  – Employee paid by the hour, e.g., an office manager hired for a 9-5 job
  •  – Employee paid by task, such as a contractor hired to build a deck

The Gemara (77b-78a) rules that a may sometimes quit a job after beginning it due to the principle of stated concerning  — we are servants to Hashem, and not to other humans.

  • He may quit even in the middle of the day.
  • He must be paid for the work that he did already.
  • If his leaving will cause a loss (e.g. a time sensitive job for which there is no one else to replace him), he may not quit.
  • A may generally not retract without completing the job.

If the worker was paid up front before he began working, may he still quit?

  • Only if he has money left now to return for the work left undone.
  • Maharik/Rema (Y.D. 333:3) – Yes, and he can repay the rest of the money later.

May one sign a long-term contract with an employer for more than three years?

  • Rema (C.M. 333) – No
  • A rabbi may sign with his community for longer as long as he may still quit in the middle.  

The message for us:

  • Our true job in life is to serve Hashem, our employment is simply the means to maintain a livelihood, and should not control us.
  • The ears are pierced when wanting to stay because he did not heed this message heard at Har Sinai of being servants to Hashem 
  • The Brisker Rav: Our job is our livelihood, but if we are asked who we are, we respond like Yonah (Yonah chapter 1): I fear Hashem!