The Truest Wealth
Yael Eckstein | March 13, 2023
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.” —Exodus 13:19
In Judaism, wisdom is something that should be sought, cultivated and taught — no matter what age we are. Enjoy this collection of inspirational thoughts and insights about this godly pursuit.
There is a story told about a famous rabbi in the seventeenth century who was ordered by the German kaiser to present an accounting of all his property and possessions. When the rabbi submitted his financial statement, the kaiser accused him of lying and threatened the rabbi with death. Years earlier, the kaiser had given a gift to the rabbi of a beautiful home. That home alone was worth more than what everything the rabbi claimed on his list.
The rabbi explained that he had been asked to list everything that he owned, but the castle wasn’t really his. After all, it could be taken away at any moment by the kaiser. “Then what is recorded on this list?” demanded the kaiser. The rabbi answered, “It’s a list of the charity I have given. Only what I have given away is truly mine. Nobody, not even the kaiser can take away the good deeds I have done.”
The Truest Wealth
When the Israelites left Egypt, we read about everything that they took with them. We read, “The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing” (Exodus 12:35).
A few chapters later we read about what Moses himself took: “Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’”
Notice that “Joseph had made the Israelites swear” to take his bones out of Egypt. So why was it only Moses himself who took them?
The sages praised Moses’ choice and wisdom by citing the verse in Proverbs, “The wise in heart accept commands, but a chattering fool comes to ruin” (10:8). In the original Hebrew, the words translated as “accept commands” literally say “take good deeds.”
Of course, there was nothing wrong with the children of Israel taking wealth from Egypt. They had certainly earned it. But like the rabbi in our story, Moses wisely understood that the truest wealth is the good deeds we do.
Let’s show our wisdom by investing at least as much in eternal acquisitions as we do in temporary, material ones.