Whether it’s stocks, mansions, lottery tickets, bitcoins, or other worldly objects that we put our hopes and dreams into, at the end of the day, the reality is that they are all nothing compared to what is really important and meaningful:
The precious time we have with our loved ones
Selflessly caring for and giving to others
Living faithful, holy lives in the eyes of the Almighty
These are the things that money can never buy, and they give true inner happiness that outer material trappings can never even aspire to.
Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called “Chutzpah Dating.”It used to be that young men and women went on dates and generally treated each other respectfully and civilly as they explored whether there was a spark between them and potentially a match to be made. But somewhere along the lines, too many Prince Charmings have turned into real ugly toads.
My hope and prayer is that this is just a small microcosm of friendship and peace that can spread in all communities, societies, nations, and lands, so that we are no longer black or white, Jew, Muslim, or Christian, or any other divisive label, but rather that we are all children of G-d, and plain and simple, friends.
When we are happy, we are able to graciously and generously give to others, and when we give to others, we are able to be happy! All the other pursuits in life such as wealth, ego, good looks, and so on are nothing but vanities (like King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes), and in the end lead to nothing but loss and suffering. However, giving and the happiness and positive spiritual energy it creates endures.
When it comes to strangers, it’s almost easier to put on a face, act all proper, and do what’s right because they aren’t our family, thus Avraham could run to help the strangers. Yet, when it comes to our own families, we don’t feel it necessary to keep up pretenses. We sometimes say and do things to family that we would likely never say to or do in front of strangers, like Avraham telling Hagar and Ishmael to get out! We may even betray and hurt the ones we love, like when Avraham said Sarah was his sister putting her at jeopardy with Avimelekh. Further, we “sacrifice” our children and spouses by putting our work (sometimes 24/7), social media, and our own brand and needs first, and don’t adequately pay attention to what’s really going on with our families, their needs, aspirations, and troubles; for example, Avraham was going to sacrifice Isaac, his and Sarah’s only child and “the son of her old age.” We take for granted and even advantage of our families, because we can. And some at the further bad end of the spectrum, “go home and kick the dog!” Yes, the pictures that everyone posts on Facebook and Instagram are what people want you to see and think about them (their personal brand): that everything’s all rosy and they have the perfect lives and families, but I venture to guess that often, it’s far from the reality of what goes on “behind closed doors.”
All of us need to pay attention and do what’s right not only when we want to look good in front of others, but knowing that even in our own homes, G-d is watching what we do and how we treat each other.