By Rabbi Yisroel Shusterman, Dean, Cheder Chabad of Monsey
There is a famous response to the comment, "Money is the world's curse", which goes "May the Lord smite me with it," Indeed, money is the source of humanity's greatest friction. Most marital disputes revolve around money. Most disagreements brought before the world's courts are about financial matters.
Money, however, is neither a curse nor a blessing. It is our attitude that determines the outcome. When we view money as an agent that provides our needs, comforts and luxuries, it inspires greed. And when others take an inordinately large slice, our own greed is triggered and we want more. But when others use money to spread happiness, blessing and goodwill, our entire perspective changes; their example inspires us to overcome our greed and to join them in their beneficence.
This is perhaps why, in this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei (Shmos [Exodus] 35:1-40:38). Moses called for the entire nation to congregate before the Tabernacle was built. Having experienced an incredible moment at Sinai, where the nation melded into a single entity with total unity of purpose, Moses wanted to replicate this unique singularity in the Tabernacle. Moses knew that the single most potent barrier to unity is money and therefore addressed this barrier before all others.
Before announcing the fundraising campaign to build the Tabernacle, Moses shared a law, "You shall not kindle a fire in all your dwellings on the day of Shabbat." Though this law is seems irrelevant to the construction of the Tabernacle discussed later in the Parsha, it is most relevant to the unity of purpose that must precede it.
Fire is a metaphor for passion. Our passion on Shabbat must not be kindled by matters such as the beauty or security of our dwelling places. Rather, Shabbat allows us to tune to something more lofty. From Shabbat this ethic must spill over into the rest of the week. Money should not be viewed as an agent that provides the needs, comforts and luxuries of our homes. Rather it is meant to be a vehicle through which holiness and goodwill are delivered. Our sages taught that gold was created to be used in the Tabernacle. Though we are entitled to utilize the extra gold for ourselves, its primary purpose is not for pouring into our residences, but to be used in the service of the Divine cause.
Fire carries an additional connotation. It serves as a metaphor for anger and divisiveness. When we recognize that money is a vehicle that serves the Divine cause in spreading holiness and goodwill, it ceases to be a source of friction between people and families.
When our ancestors embraced this truth and were inspired to the heights of unity and collective generosity, Moses initiated the construction of the Tabernacle. The fundraising campaign was so successful that in the end donors were begged to stop contributing! Once they were taught the true import of money they stopped trying to hoard it and worked with their neighbors to distribute it.
May Hashem bless everyone with all the sustenance that is needed, used and shared wisely !
(Excerpts from Chabad.org - from Rabbi Lazer Gurkow)
May you have a meaningful and uplifting Shabbos!