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Net Worth

Friday, 7 May, 2021 - 8:15 am

A super wealthy man was once asked about his net worth. After replying with a figure lower than his assumed wealth, he was questioned, “Have you not understated your assets?”

“No,” he replied, “I’ve stated my true assets, the charity that I have given.”


In the second of this week’s two Torah portions, Behar and Bechukotai, we read of the pledges to the Temple. The Torah tells us that a standard amount was collected from someone who pledged to give the value of a specific person to the Temple. Regardless of the person’s occupation, piety, or talent – it was the same amount.

So, for example, if Izzy said, “I pledge to give the value of Shmerl to the Holy Temple, we do not take into account Shmerl’s relative value in the marketplace, health or status in the community. Rather, it’s a set fee.

We can appreciate the Torah’s insistence that a donation be given, even though a human is priceless. After all, the donor committed to contribute something. But why set an arbitrary amount? Should it not depend on the inherent value of the individual “offered”?

Perhaps, the answer lies in the fact that this was a gift to G-d. The Torah is providing a powerful insight into the notion of approaching the Divine.

In order for someone to come close to G-d, to an infinite being, one must be stripped of all human limitations. Great talent, material wealth, and devoutness are all laudable virtues. But they are also equally tainted by the ceiling of human accomplishment.

By equating every person, the Torah is declaring that the ladder of human accomplishment will never reach an infinite being. The only method to bridge the vastness that lies between us and our Creator is selflessness. When we are egoless, then our humanity ceases to interfere. It is then – and only then – that we can truly unite with the absolute essence of life, creation and existence.

When we shed our exaggerated worth, our true net worth will shine.

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