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January 17, 2016 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Beshalach

This coming week’s portion involves, among other things, the miracle of manna.  God provides manna for the Jews as the wander around the Middle East for forty years.  Arama asks: why does the Torah limit the amount that a person can collect? And why every day instead of, say, a week at a time?

He responds that “God was aware of the dangers inherent in wealth… its accumulation is not an end in itself.” Excess wealth creates an incentive to amass fortunes instead of focusing on serving God.  On the other hand, God provided a double portion on the Sabbath to teach that “accumulation of worldly goods is justifed when those goods serve a worldly purpose.”

More broadly, Arama’s comment illustrates Judaism’s ambivalence about wealth: in an ideal world (such as the miracle-filled world of the Torah) we would devote little attention to material needs.  This ideal world is egalitarian; the Torah does not suggest that some would collect vastly more manna than others.  Judaism, unlike Ayn Rand, does not glorify the accumulation of wealth.

On the other hand, accumulation of wealth can be put to good use, and is thus not altogether a bad thing- especially in the flawed, post-Manna world in which we live.  (But that’s a discussion for another day…)


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