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MONEY FOR NOTHING

by Pinchas Landis    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"Aaron said to them, 'Remove the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, sons, and daughters, and bring them to me'" (Exodus 32:2).

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"Aaron said to them, 'Remove the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, sons, and daughters, and bring them to me'" (Exodus 32:2).

The creation of the golden calf was one of the greatest sins that the Jewish people ever transgressed. Had it not been for Moses' dedicated prayers, we surely would have been done away with. Rashi, the fundamental commentator on the Torah, teaches us that the reason that Aaron asked for the Jewish people's gold to make the idol that they demanded was because he thought that they would not be so quick to give away their wealth to make the new deity. Aaron knew that they were making a huge mistake, and he was trying to buy some time so that Moses would come down and prevent them from transgressing.

They, however, did not hesitate to give over their gold. Why? Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski, a respected psychiatrist from Pittsburgh and a noted author, points out that in the absence of true leadership and guidance, people do irrational things. Not only were the Jewish people being irrational in making the golden calf, but in giving away their gold also.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this event. How do we, as Jews, perceive material wealth? Why do we work so hard? What do we do with our money when we get it? We must perceive our wealth, as we should everything, as something that was entrusted to us by Hashem. After we take care of our essential needs, we should use our money to make us stronger people, and better Jews. We should do mitzvot with our money.

When we strike a little wealth, what is our immediate reaction? Do we go out and purchase some new Jewish books and give the appropriate portion to charity? Or do we use it to buy a new 30 inch television for our living room to replace our "outdated" 25 inch. We must remember, wealth is not something that we simply come across for no reason.

In the same frame of mind, how do we perceive what we already have? If, G-d forbid, there was a fire in our house, what would we try to save? Would we go for the 14-caret gold necklaces, or for the pair of Tefillin?

We must stay focused on what money is. We cannot let money lead us or motivate us. We are in a time when we do not have "true" leaders, and we must keep ourselves under control until that day when Mashiach (the Messiah) comes when we will once again have "true" leadership. We cannot be irrational and wasteful. Money comes and goes, but we will always be Jewish.

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Pinchas Landis, a native Atlantan, is currently serving as the Grand Aleph Gadol (International President) of the Aleph Zadik Aleph of B'nai Brith, and will be attending Yeshiva University in the fall.

You are invited to read more Ki Tissa articles.

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