A Humble Attitude Toward Wealth

Yael Eckstein  |  August 29, 2022

Close up image of one and five dollar bills.

He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. — Deuteronomy 17:17

Each week in synagogue, Jews read through the Torah from Genesis to Deuteronomy. The Torah portion for this week is Shoftim, which means “judges,” from Deuteronomy 16:18–21:9.

The former Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom, the Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, who passed away in 2020, told a story that beautifully expresses the biblical view of wealth.

Rabbi Sacks was at a dinner in honor of the opening of a new school in one of the more rural Jewish communities in England. The project, the building of the school, had been made possible by the generosity of one of the wealthy members of the community. Rabbi Sacks was seated at the head table next to this generous philanthropist, who was the guest of honor at the event.

At one point, Rabbi Sacks leaned over to the man and thanked him for investing so much money in Jewish education. Without a moment’s hesitation the man replied, “What else could I do? The money wasn’t mine. God lent it to me, and I invested it as wisely as I could in the next generation.”

A Humble Attitude Toward Wealth

This humble attitude toward wealth is alluded to in this week’s Torah portion. Referring to the king of Israel, the Bible says, “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.”

This Scripture is a warning that the accumulation of great wealth and power can lead one astray. The Bible does not look down on wealth, and sees it as a blessing from God, but it is also a challenge. Because of the human weakness of pride that easily sets in when people become wealthy, the Bible warns us that the king must take special care to guard himself against this danger.

So how do we guard against the arrogance that comes with wealth and adopt a humble attitude toward wealth? A few verses later, the Bible gives the answer. The king had to write a Torah scroll for himself, and was instructed: “It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites” (Deuteronomy 17:19-20).

The key to having a humble attitude toward wealth is to read the Word of God every day.

Your Turn:

Thank God today for all the blessings He has given you. Remember that all that we have is His, to be used for His work.