Your money or your life? - Vaetchanan

Thursday, 22 July, 2021 - 4:57 pm

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The most famous Jewish prayer, the Shema, is found in this week’s Parasha Vaetchanan. G-d commands us to love Him with "בכל נפשך" (bechol levavecha), with all our heart, בכל" נפשך" (bechol nafshecha), with all our should and "בכל מאודך"(bechol meodecha). The last words bechol meodecha have two meanings: with all our might, or with all our fortune. Since G-d told us to devote ourselves to Him with all our soul, which means that we should be ready to die for Him, we should be willing to give Him all our possessions. Is this not self-understood? Is it possible that someone should be ready to give his life for G-d, but not his money?

It is odd, but we do know such people. People who ignore the risk simply to earn more money. People who are so immersed in their work and their quest for money that they forget to devote time to their families.

The prayer of Shema Israel reminds us to have our priority list in the right order, with our lives being above our possessions, and G-d above the rest.  

This is the explanation of the ceremony of the Redeeming of the Firstborn. During this ceremony, the Kohen asks the father of the child what does he prefer, five coins of silver or his son? It seems like a silly and superfluous question: Why ask this question at all, is there any parent that will prefer the money?

The question here is deeper and is related, as we mentioned before, to our priority list. How will you educate this child? Will you show him with your example that money is more important than anything? Or will there be in the family values, study, and kindness?

Let us set our priorities in the correct order.

Let us devote time to our families, without being constantly immersed in our work. No one regretted in his last moments of lives not to have spent more time at the office.

Let us love G-d with our money as well. Even though the Jewish school is costly, Kosher meat more expensive, and the Mezuzot on our doors are an expense as well, let us express our love for G-d with our money.

Thus, we love G-d, and G-d loves us back.

Shabbat Shalom,


*Redeeming of the Firstborn: In the beginning, all the firstborn Jews were destined to be the priests in the Temple. But because of the sin of the Golden Calf, this honorary position was given to the tribe of Levi who did not sin. But the firstborn of the rest of the Tribes have a special holiness, as they belong to G-d, and they need to have this ceremony through which the parents “redeem” their child.

Based on an article of Rabbi Yossy Goldman 

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