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Money, like a golden calf, is not meant for worship

כסף מודרני

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

The following thoughts come from Rabbi Amitzur Ariel of "Habayit LeKalkala Yehudit", a non-profit organization whose mission is to integrate Torah values into all financial aspects of life:

"What does idol worship have to do with us? What does the golden calf have to do with us? The story, after all, is part of history. Perhaps people once bowed down to idols and worshipped gold, but we are far more developed and sophisticated, or should be.

"Indeed, there is a parallel between our relationship to money and our relationship to God. Money, like God, is something for which people toil, something they think about and desire, something the world revolves around.

"Recall that if money was once physical and tangible, today we can also say that, like God, "it has no body (or physical presence) nor resemblance to a body." Banks no longer need to keep gold bricks in their cellar safes. Money has become virtual, abstract, exchanged with a click on our cell phones.

"The danger with modern money is that we can become enslaved to it, without feeling disgust for it as we would for idol worship, which we think of as long gone. For example, when we follow economic trends and take delight in our profits going up, we cannot compare hours spent earning and investing money to time volunteering, since the latter elevates our standard of living in a manner that monetary success never will. Another example: It's not possible to quantify learning Torah, which raises the quality of life but does not contribute to the gross national product. Similarly, the benefits of spending quality time spent with our children cannot be quantified, yet enrichment we provide our children through private lessons and afternoon activities is often measured in terms of return on an investment.

The financial side of life is important as long as we imbue it with our values. We only need to ascertain that profit and loss statements do not become our golden calf.

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