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Money.

“Time is money. Money makes the world go round. Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

These are only a few phrases that have become all too familiar in our society. The strong focus on money and possessions in our lives has become idolatry. We learn from a very young age to save our money, then to work for money, and ultimately to make your money work for you. Money itself is a good thing because it allows us to provide the necessities of life to our families, but the obsessive focus on money is dangerous. When we begin putting money first before the most important things, especially G-d and our families, we are participating in a form of idol worship. Of course no one literally bows down and praises money, but placing it before G-d violates the first commandment out of the ten. “You shall have no other gods before me.” Deuteronomy 5:7

In parasha Mattot, we see the same problem with money our society faces today. The tribes of Gad and Reuben requested to “build sheepfolds for our cattle and cities for our children.” Note the first construction was for the protection of their livestock which was a form of currency and second was for the protection and shelter of their own children. Moses corrected them and declared that the construction of the cities be primary and shelter for the livestock be secondary. The Torah is teaching us the order of priorities for men. The teachings and commandments of Torah are “everlasting” and this hierarchy of priorities has great relevance for the society in which we reside. Today, people are focusing their time, energy, and resources on the acquisition and squandering of money. Individual justification of monetary obsession may vary, but the skewed order of precedence should be corrected. It is imperative for the health of ourselves, our families, and our country that we apply Biblical prioritization and forsake the global idolatry. “For the commandment [Torah] is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life…” Proverbs 6:23. Our way of life should radiate the light of HaShem and our focus should be on what He deems important, not what the world says is important.

“Money can buy sex – but not love; money can buy a bed – but not sleep; money can buy status – but not honor; money can buy a pint of blood – but not life; money can buy a clock – but not time; money can buy a book – but not knowledge; and money can buy a house – but not a family.” -Rabbi Larry Raphael

Let us purpose to humbly receive the correction of Moses to Gad and Reuben as if it were to us and may we love the L-RD our G-d with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might.

Money is only one of the idols currently plaguing the world. What other idols are rampant in our society? How do we identify and combat these idols? Are there specific idols you have purposed to shelter your children from?

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by tzadikguy

Rabbi Chanina ben Tradyon says: If two sit together and there are no words of Torah between them, it is a session of scorners, as it is said: ‘In the session of scorners he does not sit.’ But if two sit together and words of Torah are between them, the Divine Presence rests between them, as it is said: ‘Then those who fear HaShem spoke to one another, and HaShem listened and heard, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear HaShem and give thought to His Name.’ From this verse we would know this only about two people; how do we know that if even one person sits and occupies himself with Torah the Holy One, Blessed is He, determines a reward for him? For it is said: ‘Let one sit in solitude and be still, for he will have received [a reward] for it.’
Pirkei Avot 3:3

Rabbi Shimon said: If three have eaten at the same table and have not spoken words of Torah there, it is as if they have eaten of offerings to the dead idols, as it is said: ‘For all tables are full of vomit and filth, without the Omnipresent.’ But if three have eaten at the same table and have spoken words of Torah there, it is as if they have eaten from the table of the Omnipresent, as it is said: ‘And he said to me, “This is the table this is before HaShem.”‘
Pirkei Avot 3:4

These are some strong statements and ones that challenge the way we live. These are statements that make us uncomfortable and lead us to possibly justify our actions by saying, “This is so legalistic”. Though these statements may seem presumptuous or too difficult to accomplish, they are simply examples of living out the Shema.

4“Hear, O Israel: The L-RD our God, the L-RD is one. 5You shall love the L-RD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Devarim [Deuteronomy] 6:4-9

It would seem that we should talk about His mitzvot and Torah in general at ALL times. Whether it is at the dinner table, or with some friends we should be discussing Torah at least for a little while. This is not just a good idea it is a mitzvah and we should all take this very seriously. Just thinking about this task is quite daunting. Trying to bring up Torah or the Bible in every situation will be difficult but I can guarantee topics and discussion will become easier to initiate the more you know the Tanach. You will find yourself with much to say and much to share the more you study and apply the Tanach in your life. The classic snowball effect relates perfectly to this situation. The more you study, the more you want to discuss, the more discussion leads to more questions and possibly more people to discuss with, then before you know it you are bringing up Torah in all situations. Gentlemen, this should be our end goal. If we long to be a light to the nations and set an example for those around us then it is imperative to study, apply, then discuss and teach. Let’s get the ball rolling and intensify our study of HaShem’s beautiful gift: The Torah.

Some great ideas for increasing study time are using the available resources including:

What are some study methods and resources you have discovered?

by Tzadikguy

Today I was reading a chapter entitled “Responsibility” from the excellent book, Toward a Meaningful Life. In general, responsibility may be easily viewed as specific tasks assigned to us throughout our life. We are responsible for our grades in school, for our pets, for our money, for our car, etc..Often times a person’s responsibilities are selfish or materialistic, and they are quick to relieve themselves of responsibility when there is a problem.

Now, let us stop and take a look at life and the reason for living. Why has HaShem allowed us to wake up alive and healthy today? It is so that we may fulfill our responsibility as human beings. We are here to draw closer to HaShem and be a light to the nations. We are responsible for fulfilling our purpose by making the correct decisions. By considering the purpose of life, we are able to accurately understand our foundational responsibility. Once we have this understanding then our specific responsibilities become more focused and purposed on the most important things in life. If we are focused on personal gain, acceptance, happiness, or any other selfish desire then it will have a direct effect on what we perceive to be our responsibility. We are responsible for keeping Torah, being a light to those around us, influencing our community and society, and using our special gifts and talents to help and improve the world. Free-will is a gracious gift from HaShem. Will you chose to take responsibility and start making the right decisions?

Of course, the most important element is implementation and action. How can you take responsibility in your workplace? In your community? What are some good habits to develop to remind us of our purpose in life?

by Kefa

I’m sure we’ve all gotten some sort of request by our employer for some weekend work sometime in our lives (ok, I actually haven’t :P) A quick favor turns into an agitated plea, which turns into an irritated requisite, which turns into an ultimatum; your job or your religion.

There are three sides to a response:

  • Honor G-d, honor the Torah, and honor the Sabbath; never work on a Saturday, whatever the cost.
  • Avoid any Saturday work until it puts your family’s well-being in jeopardy (job-threatening).
  • And, of course, you could just work on Shabbat…

If you’re an option 3 person, you can stop reading here.

A lot of men are torn between their responsibilities as a husband/father/provider and their obligation to the G-d of Israel. G-d commands us in Exodus 20,

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your G-d. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Pretty straight forward, don’t you think? You may argue that G-d values life over the Sabbath. It’s for this reason that we find no problem lying to save a life. The Preservation of Life trumps any other mitzvah in the Torah. But can providing money for your family be considered the Preservation of Life?

Is the necessity of  financial security, a roof under which to sleep, and food to eat an influence caused by the world? Perhaps we need to re-examine our convictions.

I would turn your attention to Joseph, son of Jacob, who was faced with pleasure and security on one side and his convictions and conscience on the other. Sleeping with Potiphar’s wife would have saved him from a bad reputation, losing his job, and ultimately ending up in jail (not to distract from the point, but if had slept with her he also wouldn’t have had to flash the other servants). But of course, he chose to disregard what the world considered valuable and he glorified G-d’s Name and His Torah.

Adultery may seem a far cry from the Sabbath, but is the situation much different? “Break commandment (one of those special ten, no less!) for reward.” What is the difference from your employer saying, “You will lose your job if you don’t lie to this prospect about the value of the item,” or, “You’re fired unless you steal our competition’s business plan,” or, “You can say goodbye to your job if you don’t come with the boys down to the strip club”? What makes the Sabbath a lesser commandment that you would make an excuse to break it? Have you no shame?!

“How can we serve G-d if we starve to death? How can we be a light to the world if our children are unclothed, unhoused, or unfed?”

Is it really our place to question the Will of G-d?! From where do we draw the authority to assume that G-d will not provide for the ones who love him, as demonstrated by their adherence to his commands?

If you are truly convicted of your beliefs, you will be willing to suffer for what you choose to do or choose not to do; you will accept the consequences and trust G-d for the omnipotent father that he is.


The king’s heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD; He turns it wherever He wishes.

Proverbs 21:1

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