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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Mordechai Lipskier

When a woman's wealth weighed her down.

Parshas Lech Lecha

“And Avram was very heavy with cattle, with silver, and with gold. And he went on his journeys, from the south and until Beis Kel…”[1] The Divrei Yisroel of Modzitz interprets these pesukim as follows: Serving Hashem is likened to mountain-climbing, as the posuk says, “Who will ascend upon Hashem’s mountain and who will stand in His holy place?”[2] Just like extra weight makes it more difficult to climb, so too in our service of Hashem; too much materialism can weigh a person down from reaching spiritual heights. The posuk continues, “He who has clean hands and a pure heart,” when our hands and our hearts are clean of materialism, that’s when we can readily ascend upon Hashem’s mountain. Avraham Avinu’s accomplishment was that although he was “very heavy with cattle, with silver, and with gold,” it didn’t hinder his climb. Rather, “he went on his journeys, from the south and until Beis Kel…” until he reached Har HaMoria- Hashem’s mountain.

For many generations, Yidden preferred the challenge of not having. When the Alter Rebbe wished to bless R. Yekusiel Liepler with wealth, he said he did not want it. He did not want wealth to distract him from studying Chassidus and from his avoda. Today, we face the challenge of having. The first step is to recognize that it’s indeed a challenge. We don’t expect to overeat and still remain athletic, and we shouldn’t expect to indulge in materialism and still reach spiritual heights. Materialism isn’t weightless. The next step is to realize that if we were given this weight, we can carry it, and it should actually enhance our climb. Heavy vehicles have more traction and are a stronger force than lighter vehicles. Soldiers in the Special Forces who carry more ammunition are even more powerful than your average soldier. A woman once wrote to the Rebbe that she felt hurt because she understood that the Rebbe wished her not to be wealthy. The Rebbe responded (loose translation): “Your letter came as a wonder to me, for it’s well-known that I wish every Jew a life of ampleness, materially and spiritually. And although the challenge of wealth is more difficult than that of the opposite, nevertheless, this is an avoda and we must support each other in recognizing this challenge and living up to it. “What I wrote to you was that you should not live a life of superficial wealth, losing focus of what’s important, spiritually and even materially. Case in point, you are not satisfied with your wealthy lifestyle. Rather, you only find satisfaction when others recognize your wealthy lifestyle. But to reiterate, it's indeed very possible to be both extremely wealthy and extremely pious.”[3] When wealth is misconstrued and misused, it weighs us down. We become burdened by living our life for the way we will be perceived by others. But when wealth is directed by Torah values, it becomes a driving force for so much goodness. As descendants of Avraham Avinu, we can do this. We just need to remain fit, spiritually. May all Yidden be blessed with harchava, materially and spiritually. Gut Shabbos, Rabbi Mordechai Lipskier [1] Lech L’cha 13:2-3. [2] Tehilim 24:3-4. [3] Igros Kodesh vol. 14 pg. 295


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