Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Letting those dolla' bills get the best of us!

Moshe warns Bnai Israel that they should not forget Hashem’s commandments when they enter the Land of Israel and become wealthy. When people become wealthy, their newfound security builds arrogance; hence people start rejecting any higher authority (i.e. God), or they attribute their success to themselves exclusively. Moshe warned Bnai Israel to remember that Hashem gave them a land that was fully cultivated by the Canaanites, who labored and planted vineyards, olive groves, and dug wells so that the Jews would not have to toil in extra labor. So to, Moshe warned them not to indulge in material pleasures and forget Hashem, but to continuously love and fear Him.

Moshe’s words are still a warning for us today. How easily are we poisoned by a culture that focuses exclusively on amassing materialism? How enticing that world is! However, the drive for material abundance is fruitless. Wealth comes and goes, but the wisdom one amasses from the Torah is eternal. Rather than becoming a slave to one’s wealth, a person can find ways to use his wealth for goodness, rather than serving his own ego (i.e. through giving charity generously, supporting Torah learning, etc.). 

Additionally, this should be a reminder for us all not to chase aimless pursuits. Indeed, it is important to have a well sustained life, but where do we draw the line before the need for excess completely infiltrates our very essence? At the end of the day, what do you want to be remembered for? All the money you made, all the fame and honor you acquired? Or do you want to be remembered for greater things like, being a giving person, or being a devoted student of Torah, etc.? The answer lies in what you choose to value in this world. If financial success, power, money, honor, status, etc. are what you value, than the answer is clear. But for most of you, I am sure your neshama-soul- wants more than those fleeting accomplishments. The answer, my friends, lies in recognizing that you are above all those desires. Once you overcome your yatzar hara's- evil inclination- whine for more, realizing how immature and nonsensical those desires really are, you will feel empowered more than ever and continue on the road to finding the inner essence of your true self.

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