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Money: A Blessing or a Curse?

by Rabbi Simon Jacobson

  

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Money is soul-energy, it represents the very energy of life itself; depending how you use it can either free you or enslave you -- The Rebbe

A man once set out to visit a great sage in the town of Mezritch. When he arrived, he asked where to find the man, and was shown to a tiny, decrepit shack at the edge of town. Inside, there was nothing but a broken-down bed and a table full of books, where an old man was studying. The traveler was shaken. “Where does the sage live?” he asked the old man.

“It is I,’’ said the old man. “What is disturbing you so?”

“I don’t understand. You are a great sage, with so many disciples that your name is known all across the country. It doesn’t seem fitting that you should be living in a room like this. You should be living in a palace.”

“Where do you live?” the old man asked.

“I live in a palace, a grand home with magnificent furnishings.”

I am also only on the road. This material world is just a road. In my home, too, it is very different. Come to my spiritual home, and you will see that I live in a palace
“And how do you make a living?”

The man explained that he was a businessman, traveling twice a year to a large city to buy materials that he brought back and sold to local merchants. The sage asked him where he stayed when he was in the city.

“I stay in a small room in a small hotel,” he answered.

“If someone were to walk into that small room, might they not say, ‘Why are you, a wealthy businessman, living in such a small room?’ And you would say, ‘I am only on the road for a short time, so this is all I need. Come to my real home, and you will see that it is entirely different.’

“My friend, the same is here,” the old man continued. “I am also only on the road. This material world is just a road. In my home, too, it is very different. Come to my spiritual home, and you will see that I live in a palace.”

Is money a blessing or a curse?

Most people measure their self-worth by their bank account. The bigger it is, the better they feel about themselves. Because we put so much energy into earning money, it represents the very energy of life as we see it.

Some people feel that they and they alone are responsible for their success, that their intelligence and abilities made it so. This is the serious challenge of wealth: to not be deceived by your own ego but to remember that it is G-d who gives us the power to become prosperous.

This is not to say that your success is not a result of your efforts; of course it is. And you must do everything possible to ensure success, not just sit back and wait for money to come your way. But you must acknowledge that it is G-d’s blessing, and not your effort alone, that creates wealth.


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Rebbe
A Chassidic master. A saintly person who inspires followers to increase their spiritual awareness.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.