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The Curse of Lottery Winnings (Re’eh)

Tranquil Study (AI-generated image by author)
Tranquil Study (AI-generated image by author)

We must do our business faithfully, without trouble or disquiet, recalling our mind to God mildly, and with tranquility, as often as we find it wandering from him. -Brother Lawrence

Tranquil Study (AI-generated image by author)

Statistics indicate that over seventy percent of lottery winners become broke within five years of winning the lottery. That means they become WORSE off than before they won millions of dollars.

Related to the above perhaps counterintuitive expectation, the Bat Ayin on Deuteronomy 11:26 ponders the very purpose of material wealth and rewards in this world. If indeed the purpose of the journey of our souls in this world is for the eternal spiritual rewards of the next world, then why should we be concerned with bounty in this world, why should we pray for it and why should God promise it to us if we follow His laws?

The Bat Ayin explains that material wealth in this world is merely a means to an end. The objective of God’s physical blessings during our mortal existence is for one purpose – to better serve Him. Having a roof over our heads, decent clothing, nutritious food, effective transportation, and the income to support all our needs is solely to allow us to carry out our divine obligations. The tangible rewards we receive are a means to serve God with greater tranquility. The greater our economic stability, the more capable and tranquil we should be in our service of God.

However, the Bat Ayin adds that God also knows that money and wealth can corrupt. He knows the corrosive impact that material plenty can have on a soul. Therefore, in some cases, God withholds the bounty for our own good. Not only does He not want us to be among those seventy percent of lottery winners who lose their money, but He also doesn’t want us to be among the well-off who lose their souls.

May we remember what our divine blessings are for.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ben-Tzion

Dedication

To the Aliyah of our niece and nephew, Leora and Sammy Landesman. Mazal Tov!

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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