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Kenneth Cohen

Money is a curse

The Book of Kohelet, written by King Solomon, has two verses that speak and warn about money. There can be a great stumbling block in one’s attitude about trying to accumulate wealth.

One verse warns that one who loves money, will never be satisfied with the amount he has. אוהב כסף לא ישבע כסף. And the second verse says, “Wealth is guarded to its owners, to their detriment.” עושר שמור לבעליו לרעתו.

These two verses say a great deal about the way one should view the acquisition of money. This teaches that having great wealth, could actually lead to one’s downfall. He might become so obsessed that it becomes just like any other addiction, similar to drugs and alcohol. It can consume an individual to the point that this is all he thinks about.

The Orchot Tzaddikim says that money can be a blessing, a curse, or a test. If one appreciates all that he has, and believes that all of his needs are met, it is a blessing. He has an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to Hashem, for the abundance he has received.

For others, money is a test. They do not have peace of mind all of the time. They might feel insecurity in wondering if their wealth will last. They know they should have more faith, but they are not at ease.

The third group are the Korach type. No matter how much they have, it is never enough. They feel that everyone is after their money, and they are not getting the honor they deserve, because of the token charity that they give. For such people, who become bitter and miserable, their money is a curse, and to their detriment.

Korach was not satisfied being the wealthiest man in the world. He needed more honor to go with his wealth. His challenge of Moshe Rabbeinu, led to his demise.

This is a very strong example of how we need to work on ourselves. We need to learn to have the proper perspective when it comes to our own sustenance, and livelihood. Strengthening our faith in G-d, and the realization that He provides us with our basic needs, will begin to give us peace of mind. When we get to this point, our money will only be viewed as a blessing.

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 www.cafehebrew.com