Every day we recite the shema prayer once in the morning and once at night, testifying to the unity of Hashem, that He created all that exists, and that everything which transpires is a result of His will.
Every day we recite the shema prayer once in the morning and once at night, testifying to the unity of Hashem, that He created all that exists, and that everything which transpires is a result of His will. We recognize His unconditional love and care for us, both as individuals and as a nation. Our response is: "You shall love Hashem, your G-d, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (second sentence of the shema) - to love Hashem by dedicating all of our creative abilities and emotions to His service ("all your heart"), even if we have to give up our life in His service ("all your soul"), and with all our material possessions ("all your might").
The Talmud asks, once I am required to give up my life for Hashem, isn't it obvious that I must subject my possessions to serve Him? Answers the Talmud: No, it is not obvious. The rabbis of the Talmud teach us that there are people who value their money more than life itself! They are ready to serve Hashem - even sacrifice their lives - as long as it does not require a monetary investment.
Do we place the pursuit of wealth as a higher priority than a profound family life? Do we spend more time with our jobs and not enough time with our children? Do we pursue materialism without taking time to develop our own lives in a profound, spiritual, "meaning-full" way? We must all take a step back and ask ourselves - am I the subject of the question of the Talmud, the one who "obviously" places the spiritual before the material, or am I the one referred to in the Talmud's answer, the one who has succumbed to the pressures of society to place money and pursuit of social status before meaning and depth? Which is the "real" reality?
Yonoson Blumenthal, who hails from Atlanta, is presently studying in Baltimore at Ner Israel Rabbinical College.
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