If someone were to offer us a choice between 1) complete satisfaction and happiness with what we have and 2) as much money as we want, which would we take?
As we re-enter our work lives, where we will exert ourselves till the next yom tov (Can’t wait!), it would be good to remember that money, success, and power are a means to an end. In and of themselves, they are at least neutral, if not corrupting forces. How many families are split due to financial disagreement? A friendship too may shred at the altar of power.
True, we must work hard to be able to support ourselves, our spouses, and families. But as we head into the months ahead, we need to remember: monetary success exists for us, we don’t exist for it.
Hashem told Noach, “Bo el hateiva.” The holy Baal Shem Tov learned this as a commandment to each of us facing the raging waters of earning a living: bo el hateiva, come into the words into prayer and study. They will give strength and shelter us from the stormy sea. Once we climb inside their protection, the waves and challenges of life will lift our boat instead of sink it.
Yet, ultimately, we are commanded “Tzei min hateivah;” we should “go out” from the words and cocoon of holiness. Take the strength you now have, and go out in the world; be extremely successful at what you do, and do it as a frum Yid. Demonstrate that you are courteous, refined, thoughtful of others.
Noach was able to withstand the pressure of the entire world being immoral, filled with individuals who were selfish and callous towards one another. Surely, we can face up to the mockers of our generation and proclaim boldly that we need to live moral, ethical, and G-dly lives. First by example, but then vocally if necessary.
Our journey through exile is almost over—let’s be the best closer we can.
Wishing you a wonderful Shabbos,