Weekly Jewish Wisdom
May 18, 2017
How Much is Too Much?
Many years ago, I stepped into an elevator and saw the following sign: "If what you have isn't making you happy, why will more of it make you happier?" It was a sobering morning. And it was a gift and a reminder about the limitations of ownership. Wouldn't it be better to be an inquiring mind than an acquiring one? Can we appreciate something without having to own it? After all, Ethics of the Fathers - our subject of study until Shavuot - reminds us that the more we own, the more worry we create for ourselves.
Vivek Shanbhag is the author of a new small gem of a novel, Ghachar Ghochar. Shanbag has been called an Indian Chekov, and it's not hard to see why when you read this story of a family unraveling. They were a small but close family, united in their poverty and an us-versus-them approach to the world. When they open a wholesale spice company on the brink of their ruin, they suddenly find themselves wealthy. Everything changes. They move out of the old neighborhood, convinced they will visit often and maintain the old relationships that they soon forget. Their close-knit bonds begin to fray under the pressures that ownership creates. The lassitude that sets in from not having to work hard or work at all is responsible for the destruction of not one marriage but two. The narrator makes a general observation about money: "It's true what they say - it's not we who control money, it's the money that controls us. When there's only a little, it behaves meekly; when it grows, it becomes brash and has its way with us. Money had swept us up and flung us in the midst of a whirlwind."
Tweets on the Today's Page of Talmud (Daf Yomi)
"Age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face," Michel de Montaigne.
Bava Batra 120a: Said of Moses' mother in her old age, he "flesh became smooth, wrinkles disappeared and beauty returned to its place."
Bava Batra 118a: "A person should be wary of the evil eye." Success evokes jealousy. Keep it to yourself so it does not turn into misfortune
Bava Batra 119b: "Merit is brought about by one who is meritorious and liability by one who is liable." Is this not obvious?
"Prizes are like butterflies, colorful butterflies that fly away. I don't believe in prizes much," Lina Wertmuller.
Bava Batra 118b: "Protesters and the assembly of Korah did not have a portion in the Land of Israel." There are no prizes for the difficult.