Midreshet Amit


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The Lesson of Avraham's Wealth

By: Mrs. Dara Knapel

The first book of the Torah is light on Halacha but heavy on values. According to many it is the source of the “fifth” volume of the Shulchan Aruch – something that the Rebbe of Slonim thinks is the groundwork for the entire Torah.

It is with this background that there is a question that stands out in this week’s parsha. Why does the Torah make sure to mention the great wealth that was amassed by Avraham first in his journey to Israel and then on his way back from Egypt? Is the Torah trying to tell us that wealth and riches are a good thing? Don’t we always say that one who has a lot of riches has a lot of worries and that wealth can lead us astray? The question is strengthened when one looks at the Torah and sees that all the Avot – Yitzchak and Yaakov as well - are seen as wealthy men.

I heard a very nice explanation that wealth, money, is just a kli – a vessel and like any other vessel it is neither positive nor negative – it depends on how it is used. The Torah points out the wealth of the Avot to show that the wealth is not the issue; it is the usage of that wealth. We never see Avraham use his wealth for anything but Hashem - we never see him focus on it, we never see him caught up in it. In essence, he is role modeling for us what our approach to money should be.

There is an interesting Midrash that says that Avraham printed his own coins. On one side of the coin was a picture of an old man and woman and on the other side was a picture of a young man and woman. What was the significance of these two pictures? I heard it explained that there are many Yetzer Hara’s throughout a person’s life and the passion for these inclinations change over the course of time from youth to old age. The one Yetzer Hara that stays the same at every stage of life is the yetzer for money. Avraham realized the dangers of wealth and went about protecting himself from it. He wanted a constant reminder of what can happen if he isn’t careful with his approach to money.

Besides being an important lesson about wealth, the lesson that Avraham teaches us is that many things in life are just keilim. It is up to us to use them to promote Hashem in the world rather than Chas VeShalom the opposite. May we all be zocheh to use the keilim that Hashem gives us for their true purpose! Shabbat Shalom.