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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2003 / 28 Shevat, 5764

Jews and money

By Rabbi Berel Wein


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A prominent author and historian gives the lowdown


http://www.jewishworldreview.com | In Temple times, the Talmud tells us, the collecting of the half-shekel "tax" for the support of the Temple services began with the entrance of the month of Adar. Therefore, in commemoration of this ancient Jewish rite, this Sabbath is known as "Shabbes Shekalim".


The half-shekel was to be assessed "b'shekel hakodesh," by the standard of the holy shekel. The Talmud describes in great detail the actual amount of silver required in each coin to meet that specification. But the Talmud indirectly reminds us that part of the task of Judaism, and therefore of necessity of its adherents, the Jews, is to somehow invest a sense of holiness into the shekel — into otherwise grubby money.


According to Midrash, Moses was shown a holy shekel of fire on Sinai. The Jewish understanding of the symbolism of fire has always been that fire is ambivalent — it can burn and destroy or it can light and warm. So, too, with money. Money can accomplish great good and it also is able to bring about great evil. It can build hospitals and schools and help the needy or it can wreck personal character and corrupt society, government and industry. It finances war and causes violence and cultivates crime and yet it can just as well succor the widow and orphan and save the helpless from disaster.


Thus, the notion of "shekel hakodesh" exists in our world as strongly as it did in the times of the Temples in Jerusalem. To take the ordinary shekel and transform it into the "shekel hakodesh" is the mission of Torah and Israel.


There is an entire section of Shulchan Aruch (the Code of Jewish Law) devoted to money and the task of transforming it into the "shekel hakodesh." There are many volumes of Talmud devoted to this issue as well. Judaism sets a minimum standard of human behavior regarding monetary matters that is recorded in these legal tomes. But it also sets a standard of moral behavior that though legally unenforceable is nevertheless necessary in order to attempt to create a more just society — in short, in order to raise money to the level of "shekel hakodesh."


This moral standard regarding money is called "lifnim meshuras hadin" — above the minimum face of the law itself. The Talmud saw that one of the spiritual causes of the destruction of the Temples was the lack of willingness to behave "lifnim meshuras hadin." People insisted on their legal rights and were not willing to accommodate others even when morally obligated to do so. A society that does not allow for a moral code of law to accompany the strictly legal code of law eventually turns corrupt and rotten and dooms itself to destruction.


The Talmud is replete with examples of "lifnim meshuras hadin" in monetary matters. Money is a great test in life. The rabbis of the Talmud held monetary probity in such high and necessary esteem that groups of people (such as shepherds, for example, who usually grazed their herds on other people's property) who had bad reputations as far as money was concerned were held to be unacceptable as witnesses in Jewish courts of law. A great rabbi once told me that it is far easier to have glatt kosher meat on one's plate than to have glatt kosher money in one's pocket. Sadly, he was right in that assessment. "Shabbes Shkalim" comes to remind us about glatt kosher money.

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Judaism has always stressed the importance of imparting knowledge to its children. But it has stressed even more the teaching of values. In current world society, we speak of the value of money in purely economic and social terms. But there is a value of money in spiritual and holy terms as well. And it is that value of money — the "shekel hakodesh" value — that needs to be addressed in the education of our children and in our own personal and national life.


Throughout Jewish history, movements arose to help cleanse the money of the House of Israel from immorality and cupidity. The Mussar movement that originated in Jewish Lithuania in the nineteenth century did wonders in developing a "shekel hakodesh" attitude amongst its adherents. The influence of the Mussar movement was widely felt throughout Jewish society. To a certain extent, even the secular Jewish labor organizations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries also were trying to achieve a "shekel hakodesh" attitude and society, being still based upon the Torah rules and attitudes regarding money that were part of the Jewish psyche and soul over the ages.


Improving our attitude towards money is a vital step in rebuilding ourselves spiritually and morally and refocusing our attention towards creating a more just society.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in uplifting articles. Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Rabbi Berel Wein is one of Jewry's foremost historians and founder of the Destiny Foundation. He has authored over 650 tapes, books and videos which you can purchase at RabbiWein.com. Comment by clicking here or calling 1-800-499-WEIN (9346).

© 2004, Rabbi Berel Wein