Practical Emunah: Your Money or Your Life?

What’s more important to you: your money or your life?

[picture courtesy of this site]

This is a question that, I would think, would be pretty straight forward! Of course, my life is more important than my money! Who would possibly think otherwise?

Yet the more we actually explore this issue we find that – all speeches aside – many times we put our money first, (certainly not where our mouth is)!

Let’s take a look at a few examples:

Texting and driving. We run a 20% chance of getting into an accident due to “distracted driving”, yet the average amount of people who text and drive is on the rise. Comparatively, if there were only a 10% chance that the food in front of me was poisoned – I wouldn’t eat it. I know this isn’t quite a case of “your money or your life”, but we are just so fascinated with our toys we are willing to risk it!

I know this isn’t quite a case of “your money or your life”, but we are just so fascinated with our toys we are willing to risk it!

Tefillin and Mezuzot.

In addition to trying to improve and deepen my own understanding, commitment and fulfillment of the mitzvah of emunah – I also happen to be a sofer STA”M and Magiha, with over 20 years of experience. During the course of my sofrus I found that there are many people who buy homes and invest quite a lot of money in their development and styling. This can include upgraded tiles, special glass, top-of-the-line air conditioning units and more. (In truth, a house can – quite literally! – be a bottomless pit) However when it comes to purchasing the mezuzot for their brand new home “Give me kosher ones”, I am told, “that’s all I need”.

How is this relevant to the topic? Well, it’s actually pretty straightforward! One of the verses of the two parshios (passages) that we write in the mezuzah (and in tefillin as well) is l’ma’an ya’arichu yameichem ve’yemei beneichem (so that your days and the days of your children should be lengthened), from which Rabbi Yosef Karo, the author of the Shulchan Aruch (the most widely accepted sefer of halacha in the modern world) writes in part Yoreh De’ah 285,1 “…and one must be very careful in the fulfillment [of this mitzvah];  and anyone who is careful in their observance will be given length of days, and anyone who isn’t [careful] his days will be shortened”.

When something wrong happens, chas ve shalom, happens one of the first things that a Jew does is have his mezuzot and tefillin checked for this exact reason. There are thousands of stories that are relevant to this – just ask your local sofer!

So how can it be that in this mitzvah, to which our life is connected, we are willing to go for “the bottom line” to save ourselves some money, whereas in the rest of the house – the sky is the limit?

Do we really put our money where our mouth is? Or, phrased differently, when HKB”H tells us in the Torah that these mitzvos, tefillin and mezuzot, are connected to your life and length of days – do I trust Him? Is He trustworthy in this regard?

As I show in Core Emunah Book 1 (coming soon, with HaShem’s help) this is the most basic defining trait of emunah.

In addition, our sages tell us (also in the first parsha of kriyas shema) that the reason why the Torah says that we should love HaShem with all of our heart (desires), all of our souls, (our life) and all of our being (me’odecha, which can be translated as “our entirety”). Our sages, ob”m, tell us (Tractate Sanhedrin 74a) that this teaches us that both the person who puts his soul before his money and also the person he who puts his money before his soul, both must put the love of HaShem before the thing they love most. Whether it be their money or their life, love of HaShem comes first.

It therefore seems that one of the basic things that we need to do in life… is get to know ourselves! I say that my life comes before my money, but is that really true?

Take a good, close look at your life. The answer might shock you.

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