By World Mizrachi Director-General, Rabbi Doron Perez
Insights regarding internal and external living
It is quite remarkable that although every material creature comfort can be purchased with money, the spiritual and moral values of life which give it its true meaning and purpose can never be bought, even with a limitless supply of financial resources.
* You can buy multiple beautiful houses with money, but can never buy a warm and loving home.
* You can buy the most sophisticated ammunition in the world, but can never buy peace and harmony.
* You can buy for others the most delicious sweets and chocolates, but can never buy true friendship.
* You can buy the most comfortable bed in the world, but can never buy a serene and restful life.
* You can buy the fanciest watch or chronometer, but can somehow never buy more time.
* You can buy the highest office of status, but can never buy admiration and respect.
* You can buy the latest medication for any ailment and illness, but you can never buy good health.
* You can buy every book of knowledge that has ever been written, but you can never buy wisdom.
* You can buy every desired possession, giving instant emotional joy, but you can never buy happiness.
A warm and loving home, global peace and harmony, friendship, rest, time, admiration and respect, health, wisdom and happiness belong to the realm of the spirit . They reflect the salient principles for living a successful and meaningful life. Financial means, honour and status may assist, sometimes even significantly, in facilitating these success factors. However, they are never the key to their acquisition. Sometimes they even hinder the process. There are laws to successful living which are independent of any external acquisition or G-d given talent. They are absolutely free for anyone and everyone to access and acquire, should they choose.
It was the great sage of the Mishna period, Ben Zoma, who taught (Ethics of the Fathers 4,1) that wisdom and wealth, honour and heroism, can never truly measured by external material and societal yardsticks, but rather through internal emotional and spiritual intelligences. The wise person is not the one with the highest IQ and most academic qualifications, but rather the one with the greatest internal capacity to learn and inner desire to grow. The true hero is not the military conqueror, but rather the one who is able to conquer him or herself – always giving priority to moral values over physical instincts, to spiritual principles over fleeting material desires. The wealthiest people are not those with the largest bank balances, but rather those with the greatest personal sense of contentment with what they already have. The most honourable person is not the one who society honours, but rather the person who is able to honour each and every human being, regardless of their position or status.
A constant life commitment to self-knowledge, introspection, learning, and personal moral and spiritual growth are the keys to unlocking the secrets of success.
This principal is beautifully expressed in an enigmatic verse in these weeks Parasha- Eikev.
The verse states (Devarim 10,16),
” וּמַלְתֶּם אֵת עָרְלַת לְבַבְכֶם וְעָרְפְּכֶם לֹא תַקְשׁוּ עוֹד”
” You shall circumcise the foreskin of your heart and no longer stiffen your neck”
We are all familiar with the commandment of circumcision that is performed on the eighth day to a Jewish child. But what could this verse possibly mean when it refers to circumcising the heart? The verse of course is not referring to a physical circumcision as in the case of a Brit Milah , but rather metaphorically to the moral and spiritual imperative of life – the purpose of the heart.
Rashi (the great Biblical super commentator) says that the “foreskin of the heart” is figuratively referring to moral and spiritual obstructions and coverings of the heart. We all have a pure heart and pure intentions and want to strive for a life of spiritual upliftment and moral integrity. We aspire to be driven by internal values of the heart and spirit. In the complex reality of our earthly lives, we are so often drawn to the physical and temporal aspects of our existence. While they are both necessary and important in order to ensure that we survive and thrive, they should never be come the epicentre of our lives. Our focus should always be on the internal as opposed to the external, on the spiritual as opposed to the physical and on the things that material power can never acquire. A warm and loving home, striving for peace and harmony, friendship, serenity, time, respect, health, wisdom and happiness are some of the salient and freely available values that give the things that money can buy their ultimate meaning and significance.