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The Crown of Halacha

Reah 5777 – It’s Not About the Money!

This entry is part 4 of 9 in the series Devarim 5777

Reah 5777 – It’s Not About the Money!

“You shall tithe the entire crop of your planting, the produce of the field, year by year.” (14:22)

 

R’ Yochanan said, “Why is it written, ‘aseirta’aseir’ (you shall tithe)?  In order to teach us ‘tithe so you will become wealthy’.” (Taanis 9A)

 

The obligation to give tithes is not comfortable. It involves giving away the fruit of hard labor without compensation. Therefore, to make it easier to give, the Torah tells us that we will become rich through doing this.

I Have One, Now I Want Two

However, Koheles warns us that wealth can be even more uncomfortable than poverty! “A lover of money will never be satisfied with money; a lover of abundance has no wheat. This too is futility! As goods increase, so does the desire of those who consume them; what advantage, then, has the owner accepted what his eyes see? Sweet is the sleep of the simple laborer whether he eats a little or much yet the satiety of the rich does not let him sleep.” (5:9-11) So we are encouraged with the promise of wealth along with a warning that makes wealth unappealing!

 

Although we know that financial abundance is a blessing, often there is a downside to it. In modern times we witness the phenomenon of average people winning millions of dollars in national lotteries and being completely ruined by their wealth.

Your Money or Your Life

The following story illuminates an important lesson:

The Saba from Nevardic and another Rabbi were collecting money, each for his own Yeshiva. They came to the home of a wealthy man who invited them in. The NevardicorRebbe left the house with a generous donation, while the other Rabbi received only a small donation. The Rabbi, curious why his donation was so small, asked out of complete innocence for an explanation. The rich man answered, “When the Rebbe spoke to me, he told me that I need to work harder in my learning. That I must work on my anger and guard my eyes. He warned me how futile this world is and how all pleasures are temporary. He reminded me that my days are passing swiftly.  After showing me how meaningless money really is, it was easy to give him a big donation. But you give me great honor and respect and I know that this is because of my wealth. You are teaching me how much money is worth, so in that case, I’ll keep it for myself!”

Give of Yourself

The same is true for the bracha of giving tithes. By telling us to take tithes, the Torah is teaching us how to avoid the pitfalls of wealth. We learn that a person cannot be truly happy without breaking the desire for money. Giving is a way to cool off our natural desire for money. It then becomes easier to feel satisfied and therefore any increase in our fortune really is a true blessing. Yet, this blessing is not limited to tithes. Chazal teaches that whenever a person gives of himself, his possessions or his time, it is a form tzadakah. By giving, he diminishes himself and enriches someone else. This is called shiflus, humility. It is through one’s humility that Hashem will bring him the greatest brachas and with proper humility those brachos can be appreciated and utilized.

 

Series Navigation<< Eikev 5777 – The Weak vs The StrongShoftim 5777 – War is Upon Us! >>
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