The Meaning of Money

By Ari Jacobs, Pittsburgh PA
Essays 2017

MyLife Essay Contest 2017

Wealth is one of the most amazing things G-D created. You can do so much with a lot of money. You can help out as many poor people as you wish. Money is something most people wish to have. However, according to Chassidus, our lives should not revolve around money or any physical pleasures. Chassidus tells us that we were created for a certain purpose, which is to make this world a dwelling place for G-D. Having an obsession with wealth ultimately does not necessarily lead to success in life. So being wealthy could be an amazing thing and a bad thing that pulls us away from our belief of the purpose of creation.

G-D has created every single soul with a different mission to accomplish in the process of life. G-D gives each and every one of us the tools and resources that we need to accomplish our mission. We always get a different amount of tools and different amounts of those tools. For example, money is a tool that G-D granted us. G-D grants everyone with a certain amount of money. G-D has also given each and every one of us freedom of choice. That means that it is up to us to use our tools in a good way or a bad way. You can either sabotage your mission or accomplish it. You can even sabotage other’s missions that other souls are trying to accomplish. G-D is taking a huge risk. He is trusting each and every one of us to achieve our goal, using our tools. He is trusting us to use our resources appropriately. That is why certain people are wealthy and certain people are not. G-D trusts wealthy people to accomplish their mission with their money.

There was once a very poor man named Zalman who was in need of money. He came to the Apter Rav for a blessing. The Rav gave him a piece of paper that said “give Zalman $10,000.” The rebbe said give this to Yankel. So Zalman went to Yankel and gave him the piece of paper. Yankel,(who was a wealthy man) said, “I would love to give that to you,but that is way too much.” Zalman continued to beg him and insisted that he give him the money. Yankel again replied that he would give him half of the amount requested. Zalman said, “You either give me the $10,000 and not a penny less, or I am going back to the Rav.” Yankel then said, “Sorry, I can’t help you.” So Zalman went back to the Apter Rav and said that Yankel wouldn’t give him the money. The Rav wrote the same note and said, “Give the note to Zundel,” (Zundel who was very poor.) In any case, Zalman went to Zundel and gave him the note. Zundel said “I will have the money for you within twenty four hours.” A day later Zalman came to get his money, and low and behold, Zundel somehow managed to scrape together $10,000. Zalman then thanked him tremendously and went back to the Rav with a tremendous amount of joy. Zalman then came to the Rav and thanked him. A year later, Zalman realized that Zundel had become an extremely wealthy man and Yankel was a poor pauper. Zalman went back to the Apter Rav and asked, “Why did G-D suddenly swap their positions?” The Rav said, “G-D originally gave Yankel a gift of wealth, and G-D trusted him to use it in the right manner. G-D realized that Yankel wasn’t the right person to handle the money properly. G-D noticed that Zundel was a perfectly fit and trustworthy man for the money. G-D then reversed their missions in life, and gave them each other’s tools.” Zalman then returned home happily ever after.

On Purim in 1958, the Lubavitcher rebbe once asked the crowd of his Chassidim, “Who wants to be rich?” Only five people raised their hands. The Rebbe gave all five of them a blessing that they should be very wealthy. To this day, those five people are very wealthy, all because of the Rebbe’s blessing. So we see that being rich is not a bad thing, but it’s not what our focus should be in life.

Some people are so obsessed with their money, that they don’t take time to spend time with their own family, or even just to pray to G-D. The Rebbe once said something very interesting during a talk in the weekly Torah portion of Noach. He said that G-D made a huge flood that killed everyone and everything and there was nothing left when it died down. G-D commanded Noah to build an ark to save himself from these waters. The water is compared to disturbances about making money. The hebrew word for ark is “Taiva” which also means “word”. This teaches us that G-D is telling us that when we have disturbances about business or making money, we have to surround ourselves with the “word” of learning Torah and praying to protect us.

The Previous Rebbe talks all about being rich in another talk. He says that being rich is an amazing thing and he can support so many people who need help or just learn all day. However, being rich can make him a little “stuck up” and draw him away from the reality of being rich. Rich people also sometimes forget that they are also regular people like everyone else. The Previous Rebbe said you should rebuke the rich who don’t use their riches properly, and those who use their wealth to strengthen Torah, will get an abundance of the greatest blessings.

I have seen many people during prayers, talk about their living like they have never even realized that they were sitting in front of the king of kings. I have noticed the way that some people act in general, and with their connection to G-D. They completely forget about their families, and learning, and their main focus is making money. I know it is non of my business to judge these people, and ultimately G-D does trust them with this money because they use it well. And I completely respect that. However I think that they need to realize their true purpose of being in this world. They need to understand what their mission is, why they have their tools, and to fulfill their mission using their tools. One who accomplishes his mission will receive loads of blessings and merits. Those rich people just have to understand that and then they will have a very accomplishing and enjoyable life. G-D willing, when I get married and start working, I will understand the true meaning and goal of my life and I will not give up the chance of giving charity. That is the only way to get through life feeling very accomplished with yourself. As the Previous Rebbe once said, that wealth is one of the most happiest and saddest things that G-D has ever created in this world. It is the greatest test of all, and if one uses it well, he is lucky in this world and the next.