Kenneth Cohen

Lusting for Money

According to most opinions, the main cause for leprosy, was because of Lashon Hara, speaking badly about others. The word for leprosy is מצורע. Some say it is an acronym for מוציא שם רע, which means, bringing a bad name to another individual. The Torah even gives examples of Moshe Rabbeinu and Miriam, that were briefly afflicted with this disease. And it was attributed to the misuse of speech.

The Keli Yakar adds other possible causes for leprosy. He includes haughtiness and צרות עין, which means not being happy at the success of another person. But he places the desire for money, known as חמדת ממון, as a major cause of this affliction.

The servant of Elisha, Gechazi, was afflicted with leprosy, after he disobeyed his master, by taking great wealth from Naaman, a non-Jewish general. He was specifically instructed by Elisha, to distance himself from Naaman. He disobeyed, and this led to his ultimate downfall. His three sons were also punished with this disease.

We see so many people around us, lusting for wealth and material gain. This can be a denial of G-d, and such an obsession can lead to that person’s downfall.
I have seen many people over the years blessed with great wealth. This blessing often turned into a curse. They became very untrusting, and paranoid that everyone was after the money.

It is so true that we must be careful what we wish for. That wish may be more harmful than we realize. We must guard our tongues, but we must also curb our desires. The lusting after money, can be a disease in itself, but it can be much more harmful than we realize.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at