“Not everything that can be counted counts”, Albert Einstein
One of the most beautiful blessings ever given is the blessing given to us by G-d every day bestowed during Birkat Cohanim,
“G-d shall bless you and protect you”.
We understand this to mean, “He shall bless you with wealth, and shall protect you from harm”. This is appropriate and meaningful for our present struggle battling the coronavirus.
However, our sages added an alternate meaning. Wealth and success in life can be a mixed blessing. The Torah itself warns: “Beware when you eat and are satisfied, and have built magnificent houses and your silver and gold is multiplied, then your heart may become haughty and you will forget G-d”.
Inherent in the acquisition of wealth is the danger of becoming greedy, and greed is essentially an addiction to wealth. Just as a drug addict craves ever-increasing amounts of a drug, and is never satisfied with what he has, Similarly, a person who has turned to greed becomes insatiably addicted to never being content with what he has.
So when is wealth a blessing? Only if one recognizes it as a gift from G-d and a responsibility to use for the betterment of G-d’s world.
The Torah gives us the antidote to the corruptive force of wealth, the Mitzvah of Ma’aser, tithing. Giving away 10% of one’s income to charity is the only Mitzvah recorded in the Torah as having been fulfilled by all of our patriarchs. By doing so, a person is declaring that everything he has is a gift from G-d, not belonging to him alone and in turn, he will be blessed with more abundance. As the Talmud teaches, “giving charity leads to true prosperity.”
~ Rabbi Shaul