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Don’t Flaunt Wealth

Rashi quotes a Gemara in Masechet Taanit, that gives an important warning for Jews for generations to come. He is referring to a conversation between Yakov and his sons.

When the famine had reached the Land of Canaan, Yakov tells his sons not to be afraid. Rashi’s explanation was that despite the fact that the sons of Eisav and Yishmael, had run out of food, they had not. They still had not used up their food.

Yakov’s warning for generations was that they must not show off this fact, that they had more possessions than the other Canaanite families. Jews must never show off their wealth to arouse the jealousy of the Gentiles.

If they are blessed with wealth, they should still try to live humbly. There is already a certain amount of friction between Jews and non-Jews, and we must not create bad feelings.

How often have we heard the anti-semites accuse the Jews of “having all of the money?” We do believe that there will come a time when the nations of the world will show remorse for their treatment of Jews over the centuries. And in many respects, Israel has gained much admiration and respect in the eyes of the nations.

But until that time comes, we must heed our Father Yakov’s warning, and lie low and not show off. Humility is always the best path to take.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for more than twenty years. He has been teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach, Old Katamon, Jerusalem, for the nearly seventeen years. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles.