Money-The Real Test of Religion

There is a classic question asked about the first Pasuk in Parshat Behar. The Parsha begins by telling us that the laws of the Sabbatical year was given on Mount Sinai. The question was, weren’t all laws given on Sinai?

Rashi explains the Torah specifies Shmitta, the year when loans are forgiven, as the example of a law given on Sinai. Just like Shmitta was given on Mount Sinai, so, too, were all Mitzvot given on Sinai.

The question still remains as to why, specifically, Shmitta is chosen as an example of a Mitzva given on Sinai. There is an important lesson to be learned here about how we observe Judaism.

It is relatively easy to represent ourselves as observant Jews. It is not that difficult to find kosher food, and Shabbat observance has become easier.

The real test of one’s religiosity is in his wallet. There are requirements to give ten per cent of our income to charity. We are not allowed to overcharge in our business dealings. We must act scrupulously in keeping our word, and acting in a totally honest manner. We are expected to purchase religious items such as Tefillin of excellent quality.

All of these examples require that we have the faith to realize that these expenditures are worthwhile. We can certainly save a lot if we weren’t given these expectations.

For many, this aspect of Judaism might be the most difficult. There can be numerous excuses why we cannot give charity. People are simply attached to their money.

The Shmitta laws teach that we must put our faith in G-d for our sustenance. Not only are loans forgiven in the seventh year, but fields must be left fallow as well.
It is not by chance that Shmitta was chosen as an example of a law given at Sinai. There is a very foundational lesson to be learned. We must have absolute faith in Hashem, especially when it comes to money.

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