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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 Kefa

When it comes to the issue of reputations, the visible church seems to take on a passive ‘ignorance is bliss’ mentality; they stress the power of the conscience, teaching the mass faction of approval-seeking teens that “it’s not important what others may think of you, as long as you know deep inside that you’re doing the right thing.” Although this behavior may battle ‘self-inconfidence’, it doesn’t line up with Scripture.

Solomon comments on the value of a good reputation at least twice in the Tanakh:

“A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold.”

Proverbs 22:1

“A good name is better than a good ointment…”

Ecclesiastes 7:1

I like to think that Solomon may have learned this the hard way; he certainly had wealth in abundance, as well as a good stock of valuable ointments (speculation). Perhaps his indiscreet amassing of wives or the preceding meddling with the Torah’s words earned him a very undesirable reputation (or at least among the women). Whether he wrote out of experience or through his G-d-given wisdom, Solomon’s words should not be taken lightly.

In the Apostolic Scriptures, Paul confirms Solomon’s wisdom when he pays for four other Nazarite Vow completion ceremonies.  Let’s look at the passage in Acts 21:

“They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everybody will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law…

…The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.”

Acts 21:20-24,26

Even though Paul knew inside that he wasn’t teaching against the Torah, he chose to go through an expensive clearing of his reputation, rather than disregarding the circulating rumors.

But what is a reputation? Merriam-Webster defines reputation as ‘overall quality or character as seen or judged by people in general’, but I think of our reputations as a long distance representation of the fruit of our walk in Messiah. Preserved carefully, a good reputation is a powerful weapon in the believer’s arsenal, while a single stain can hurl a devout life of Torah into a presentation of hypocrisy.

In the coming weeks, consciously protect your reputation by following Paul’s advice and live a pattern of good works:

Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you.

Titus 2:7

In the case that you are misrepresented, ardently pursue the clearing of your name, regardless of the cost, knowing with certainty that the value of a good reputation far surpasses that of silver and gold.

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