Page 174 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 47

Basic HTML Version

1 6 6
JEWISH BOOK ANNUAL
tant than intellectual abilities. The Bible does not praise proph ­
ets for their wisdom or scholarship, but for their moral qualities.
Noah was righteous and upright; Moses was humble. God com­
manded righteousness (Exodus 18:24-5).
God wants us to serve Him with a pure heart. If one has
a good heart, even those occasional sins which he commits will
be forgiven. But if he has an evil heart, he blemishes even the
good deeds which he performs (Genesis 14:13).
WEALTH AND POVERTY
The
Meam Loez
appealed to the masses because it was very
sympathetic to the poor and downtrodden. Rabbi Huli drew
on traditional Jewish sources which extolled humility and honest
labor. Life is full of surprises. One who is rich now may sud­
denly become impoverished. On the other hand, one who is
now poor may soon become wealthy. One’s level of material
prosperity is dependent upon God. Therefore, one should do
his best to earn his living, trusting that God will do what He
sees fit. Regardless of one’s economic level, he should strive
to be righteous and worthy of God’s blessings.
There is no shame in working for an honest living. One
should not think it is below his dignity to work at a craft or
any other honest occupation. He should not try to live in a
style beyond his economic means (Genesis 12:4). When our fore­
father Jacob prayed, he asked only for bread and clothing, not
for any luxuries. Truly pious people do not seek anything su­
perfluous, but are happy with the basic necessities which God
provides them (Genesis 28:22).
Being wealthy does not make one more important in the eyes
of God. An earthly king favors the rich and powerful, not al­
lowing the poor to enter his royal palace. But God, the King
of kings, treats the rich and the poor alike. In many cases, He
even is more responsive to the prayers of the poor because they
are recited with tears and deep emotion (Genesis 19:27).
One who is blessed with wealth is obligated to share it with
the poor. Just as the sun shares its light with the moon, so the
rich should share their blessings with the poor (Genesis 1:19).
One should never reject his relatives, even if they are impov­
erished (Genesis 13:14). It is particularly important to support
the poor of the land of Israel. The poor in the Holy Land