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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

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?

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