Shabbat start time: 4:12 PM
Shabbat end time: 5:15 PM
Two Approaches to Wealth
By Rabbi Dr. Richard Ehrlich
When Yaakov sends gifts to his brother Eisav to appease and mollify him for him having stolen the blessings Eisav sees the gifts and his reaction is (Chapter 33, Verse 9) “I have plenty my brother, let what you have remain yours. I have a lot and, therefore, I don’t need these presents.” But Yaakov insists that Eiasv keep them because he doesn’t need them, as he says in response, “No, I beg of you… please accept my gift in as much as G-d has been gracious to me and inasmuch as I have everything.” (Chapter 33, Verses 10-11)
The Chofetz Chaim (R. Yisroel Meir Kagan 1843-1933) comments on this dialogue and sees within it two distinct and contrary philosophies that explain who Esaiv was and who Yaakov was. Eisav says “I don’t need your presents because I have a lot.” When someone says they have a “lot” they are saying also but I don’t have everything. Yes, I have much wealth and riches but not everything I need, as our Rabbis tell us, (Mishlei/Proverbs) “he who loves or desires money will never be satisfied with the money that he has.” Yaakov, however, responds that “I have everything.” That doesn’t mean that I literally everything – rather I have all that I need. As we say in Ethics of the Fathers, Chapter 4 Mishnah 1, Ben Zoma said, “Who is truly rich? Someone who is happy with his portion.” If a person is content with what G-d sends him then he is never wanting or is jealous of his neighbor. If he truly believes that G-d is sending him what he needs and deserves, then there is no reason for him to be jealous of his friend who may have more.
The reason they “lack nothing” is not because they have everything but because their attitude is “I have everything I need because I need only small things and not everything I have all I need.
This is what we say in our tefillah/prayer at each meal (birkat hamagon) in the last paragraph. “Those who truly fear Hashem, His holy ones, for them there is no deprivation…”
The same idea is said there; the reason the holy ones are not deprived is simply because of their attitude. Those who fear Hashem are satisfied that He is sending them what they need, therefore, they aren’t lacking, aren’t deprived, rather they are totally satisfied with their lot in life.
We need to incorporate this idea and philosophy in our times when everyone is always trying to keep up with their friends and neighbors “the Joneses.” That wasn’t a “Yaakov” philosophy but rather our “Eisav” perspective.
On Monday, November 27, students from Kindergarten through fifth grade at Staten Island Hebrew Academy had the wonderful opportunity to spread joy and cheer at the Jewish Community Center (JCC). In a heartwarming display of community and celebration, these young students performed a selection of Hanukkah songs for the members of the JCC’s elderly adult club. Their voices resonated through the hall, touching the hearts of all who heard them. A special note of appreciation goes to Max Slonim, whose beautiful saxophone renditions of “HaTikva” and various songs from “Fiddler on the Roof” were a highlight of the event. The performances were so moving that many audience members personally approached the staff to express their gratitude for the joy brought into their day. In addition to their musical talents, the children also engaged in a thoughtful gesture by decorating and distributing Hanukkah cards, further brightening the spirits of those present. This memorable day not only celebrated the festive season but also fostered a sense of community and intergenerational connection.
Happy birthday to Emma Mark!
A great big SIHA congratulations to:
Students of the month for November
K – Ezriel Andreyeva
1 – Ava Elkaiev
2 – Gadi Amos
3 – Liad Hanuka
4 – Joseph Cohen
5 – Noah Sharoni
6-8 – Ethan Shenkman
Judaic – Jeremiah Akiva
Picture of the day: Third Graders are getting into the festive spirit of Hanukkah!
Please follow the links below to learn about what our classes did this week!