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Rabbi Evan Moffic looks at if it is a sin to be rich. The question of sin and wealth is being equated as sin in today’s society. If we look at how we use money, it gives us a truer sense of our values, regardless of how much we have. Money simply illustrates who we already are. Rabbi explains how money itself is not the goal but helps facilitate some of our aspirations.
Welcome to the Solomon Success Show where we explore the timeless wisdom of King Solomon and the Bible as it relates to business and investing false prophets and get rich quick schemes are everywhere. Let’s not be distracted by these. Instead, let’s go to the source, the eternal principles that create a life of peace, power and prosperity. Here’s our host, Jason Hartman.
Rabbi Evan Moffic 0:33
Welcome to the Solomon success Show. I’m Rabbi Evan Moffett. I’m a friend and client of Jason and he was kind enough to invite me to co host this show, where we talk about biblical principles for finding wealth and happiness and meaning in the world. What better source can we have for true principles that can help us live a better life, then, principles that were developed over 3000 years ago, King Solomon of the Bible was the wealthiest and the wisest person in the world. And those two attributes go together. So what we will find in this show is the truths, the principles that we can derive from the Bible that help us live a wealthier and more meaningful life. Now, when we talk about wealth, we’re not just talking about money and materialism. Sure, those are important. But a truly wealthy life is one of freedom. One of giving, where the wealth that we’ve accumulated can help us add our creativity, our contribution, contribute to human dignity. That’s what wealth is for. One of the things that Solomon truly understood is that gathering money simply to gather more is not the purpose of life. But we can only truly release our greatest creativity and make our contribution to the world when we live for something bigger than ourselves. It’s kind of a paradox if we only present wealth and money, we’ll never get it. But if we pursue a contribution to the world, if we focus our energies on giving on serving others, then we will gain the wealth that we want and that we need. That’s the paradox. If we focus, it’s like with happiness, if we focus only on being happy, will ultimately be miserable. Because we’ll want pleasure all the time. But when we focus on service, on living a life of meaning and fulfillment, where we serve others, where we find our creative passions, and we live those passions, sometimes involving difficulty, right, there’s no path to happiness that doesn’t also have some suffering, and some hardship along the way, that’s part of the path. And it’s the same with wealth. There’s no path to wealth that is risk free. That doesn’t involve doing things that might be difficult solving problems. I once heard perhaps it was Jason who said this, that our wealth reflects the number of problems We can solve that part of building wealth is solving problems. So it’s not an easy path. And that’s why chasing created this show. Because there’s so many get rich quick gurus out there who are telling us do these three steps and you’ll be rich, or read this book and follow my plan, and you’ll be rich. That’s not the way the world works. The world rests on certain core principles. And King Solomon discovered and taught those, he taught those in the Bible. And those are the principles we are going to unpacked. Because that’s where we need wisdom most in the search for wealth and meaning and happiness. And I’m thinking a lot about sin today. Not because I’m a particularly person who commits a lot of sins. I hope not. But because I’m a rabbi, and right now we are in the Jewish high holy days. If you’re listening to this right now, we’re in the middle between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year. It’s when we begin it When we start a new year with resolutions and goals and visions, and it’s followed by Yom Kippur, which is the Day of Atonement, where we atone for sin we have committed in the past year. So there’s a lot of talk and discussion during these times about sin, and what sin means and what sins we’ve committed as an individual and as a community. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what is a sin? That’s perhaps a question you don’t think about a lot, but it’s an important question. Part of the reason I think about it is that in Judaism, the word sin has a different meaning than in Christianity. In Christianity, sin is a reflection of our inherent sinfulness, which is of course from the fall from Adam and Eve. In Judaism, there is no idea of original sin. But there is the idea that as human beings, we miss the mark. Sometimes the word for sin in Hebrew is hate. And it’s also the same word that we use when we shoot an arrow in archery. And we miss we miss the mark. We have a hate. So a sin is sometime where we’re trying to do the right thing. But we fail in doing so. And that’s a sin or we, for whatever reason, not just failing, but we choose not to do the right thing. That’s a hate to sin. So I want to ask this question, which is a question I get asked frequently. And I think, in some ways, our culture reinforces this idea. People think that being rich is a sin. If you think I mean, you know, it’s an interesting look at Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren, somehow if you’re a billionaire, you must be a bad person. Now, I don’t know. I mean, I think that there are probably billionaires that are awful people and billionaires that are great people, just like that there are, you know, middle class people that are great people, middle class people that are bad people, and the same with the poor. But somehow, there’s this idea. Perhaps it’s rooted in socialism, or in her version of religion, that having wealth A sign that something must be inherently wrong with us that we must have done something wrong, that being rich is a sin. Is that true? And where does this idea come from? Why do people think this? So this week, I’m going to explore try to answer that question. Why are there people who believe that being rich is a sin? Where does this false belief come from? That’s what we’re going to look at today. And then next week, we’re going to look at how we answer that how we say that, in fact, wealth is not a sin, that wealth is good when it’s used in the right way. And just to give you a little taste of the Bible’s view of wealth, in a positive way, Abraham is said to be wealthy with enormous flocks. The temple was only built the temple in Jerusalem was only built because wealthy people could give your finest artifacts and gold to build the temple. So certainly, the Bible does not convey the idea that wealth is a sin. And yet somehow, there are many Christians many, in fact, many Jews and people of all religions, who see wealth as a sin, some of it May trace back to that biblical verse, it’s in the gospels that says, love of money is the root of all evil. You’ve heard that first before, some people just shorten it and say money is the root of all evil, whereas it says love of money is the root of all evil. And that’s a very important distinction. So, what I do think about money, and we’re going to get into this more next week. But the truth, the truth of it, is that how we use money reflects our innermost values. So love of money can be a sin. It can be a sin when we make money at God, but it is not necessarily a sin at all. In fact, it can be a tool to do great good deeds in Hebrew, we would say their meat to vote, their contributions to the world so money can lead us to sin, but it can also lead us to greatness. But today, we’re going to look at why some people say that money, wealth is a sin. And this is good because it can help us understand the logic, the reasoning if there is any of many in the mainstream media today and on the far left The first kind of psychological truth and reason some people think that money is sinful is that as human beings, there is something in us that always wants more. It’s almost rooted in our biology. evolutionary biologists will tell you that our hunter gatherer ancestors, they didn’t know when the next drought or famine would come, they didn’t know when they would have to get up and move perhaps a an invading tribe would come after them. So they had to always be gathering more and preparing for the future. They were never satisfied with what they had, they always had to be getting more, because there was a scarcity mindset, this idea that we need to protect ourselves, we need to know that we are going to be safe, and we’re the evolutionary descendants of them. So the scarcity mindset that persisted, who knows where our next meal will come from? That really that that kind of mindset was passed on to us in our DNA. And so we then because we don’t know where our next meal is coming from, we’re going to hoard, we’re going to gather, we’re going to get more. So this pattern, then, if we have more than other people don’t have more. And if other someone sees that we have more, they think that we’re taking from them. It’s like, not seeing the pie is constantly expanding, but seeing it as limited. So someone who has more must have taken what’s ours. This is what it comes down to. People who see wealth as a sin, believe that money is scarce and limited. So they think that someone who has more of it must have taken from someone who has less of it. And that view comes from the scarcity mindset that was passed down from our ancestors, where things were scarce, right. Jason has interviewed George Gilder on the show and George Gilder essentially says, we have the same amount of materials in the world that our hunter gatherer ancestors did. It’s just we know how to multiply them. We know how to use technology to Give them greater life. But there are there are limits to what we can have. It’s just those limits are much less today. But there still is this kind of scarcity mindset that leads us to see people who have a lot of it as having stolen it or unfairly acquired it. The second reason that money that seems somebody as rich, that we think that it’s a sin is that there are people in life, who by who they want to be, rather than become who they want to be. This is the way money actually can be used in a sinful way. There are people who, let’s say, they want to become a better person. So they’ll say, well, I’ll give money to some charity, who can then put my name on a building, even though I’m still going to rob and steal and cheat. And we see that around us in the world today. Perhaps the embodiment of this ethic that we can buy, the person we want to become is Jay Gatsby and The Great Gatsby, if you’ve ever read that book, book, you know, considered the greatest American novel, because Jay Gatsby wants to become a different person. And he sees money as the way he can become that different person. And as individuals, we are tuned to authenticity, we respect authenticity and others. And when we see somebody who’s trying to buy their status, we’re suspicious of it. So we’re suspicious of wealth, because we know that some people use wealth, to try to buy themselves into another person. So that’s another psychological reason, while we might see being rich, as being sinful. The third reason we often think of the wealthy as wealth as a sign of sinfulness, is that envy is a very powerful emotion. It really is. I mean, just, we all do it. And good marketers know that they show pictures of people who tempt us to want what they want and in our human, this section It goes back to the first point I made, that our hunter gatherer ancestors believed that they needed more they needed to protect themselves. So envy is a built in powerful human emotion. So when we see someone who has more, we become envious and we become angry. And we then may make excuses for why we don’t have what they have. And one of those excuses can be their sinful. Perhaps you’ve heard that. I guess it’s sort of a folk wisdom that behind every great fortune is a great crime, which is not necessarily true. In some cases, it is true. I read this one incredible book called Super mob, which was about the Chicago mob, my home city, and kind of how certain families who are very dominant in Chicago even to this day, a lot of their fortune came from bootlegging, and came from cooperating with the mafia and corrupt politicians, which of course is a Chicago specialty. But anyways, we often think of those because of out of envy. We think that people who have gathered great wealth must have done something horrible to acquire it. fourth reason, we often think that a rich person is a sinful person is that materialism, it is easy to fall into a materialist mindset. In other words, if you are wealthy, sin can become very easy. It’s kind of a paradox. I was just reading this new book. Forgive me, I don’t remember the title, but it was just came out this year. And it actually showed that people who are extremely wealthy in the top 1% to 10%, they’re actually much more likely to cut people off in traffic. I don’t know how they studied this. But this has been this is a I probably shouldn’t be talking about this until I really have read the book thoroughly. But but the studies sounded pretty convincing that in terms of basic social norms and behavior of how those who are wealthy interact with others, there’s often some hostility in rudeness. Now, I know everyone listening to the show. This is not true of you, because you’ve been following Jason’s plan. It If you have invested with Jason, and you’re, and you’re wealthy, and you don’t act this way, because you’re good people, but there is something that if we buy into a materialist lifestyle, we may start to see other people, as means not ends. In other words, we look at other people as means to our ends, rather than ends and ourselves, retreat people as things, not as human beings, that we’re only after this is this is the truth of that first love of money is the root of all evil, that sometimes we just, that’s all we’re thinking about. We just want more and more and more, and everything around us is a means to getting more, and it’s easy to fall into that trap. materialism is tempting the story of Noah in Judaism, you know the story where God destroys the world but saves only Noah and his family. The Jewish interpreters, the sages ask the question, well, what did the world do that was so bad in Noah’s time? And the answer they give is that the world had become extremely materialist in the Talmud, the rabbi’s say the sin of the generation of the flood, was that the people preferred their material wants to their idea of God in a higher calling. They made their own materialism, the most important value in holiness, secondary. In other words, they were only materialist beings. They didn’t have any kind of spiritual sense. They didn’t see their lives in a larger context. People can fall into that America itself right now is becoming less and less religious. And I do fear that sometimes we we are falling into what did Madonna sing, we’re living in a material world. And that seems to be increasingly so. But if we lose that spiritual depth, if we lose that understanding that money is not a goal in itself. Money is a means to a higher goal, which is service and creativity. Then perhaps we will fall into that sinful perspective. And that’s one of the reasons we have this Solomon success show, because Solomon reminds us that to be wealthy, it’s not an end in itself. The whole book of Ecclesiastes is about how Solomon’s pursuit, temporary pursuit of eat, drink and be merry. A life of hedonism was absolutely unfulfilling. The only time when Solomon became happy is when he used his wealth to honor God, when he built the temple in Jerusalem, when he brought people in from other countries to help build up the sacred city of Jerusalem. That’s what made Solomon wise and happy is when he uses wealth for higher ends. And so, hopefully, as you adopt the Solomon success principles in your life, and hopefully as you find true wealth, you’ll use that wealth for what really matters. And what really matters is our contribution is our dignity. Wealth is Wonderful, and we’re going to talk about that next week, how we many of the benefits of being rich. I’ve had the chance to counsel people who are very rich and people who are poor, and I can see the problems that both have. And I can also see how wealth has helped make people enormously happy and given enormous contributions to the world. So we’re going to look at that next week that if you have wealth, what can you do to ensure that that wealth is used with wisdom and use to build greater happiness and fulfillment in the world? shalom.
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