Psalms 119:37 - Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity, and quicken me in Thy ways.
Most of us have heard the expression “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees”. That statement is true, but let’s imagine what it would be like if money did grow on trees.
If money grew on trees and you could have anything you wanted, would you work so hard at your job? Depending on your profession, of course, there’s a good possibility you would choose not to work at all.
If money grew on trees and you could buy whatever you need and have whatever you want, you wouldn’t be jealous of the neighbor’s new car or your friend’s new IPhone. There would be no point. Whatever they have, you could have as well.
If money grew on trees, we would have more time to do the things that are important to us, like spending more time with our children, visiting our elderly parents, or caring for the sick or infirm. We would have more time and resources to have guests for meals and feed the poor and destitute. Wait a second! There would be no poor and destitute if money grew on trees.
If money grew on trees, men and women alike could devote themselves to full time learning, to immersing themselves in Torah knowledge and bringing all that they learn into their daily lives.
If money grew on trees, all the sick of the world could benefit from the best doctors available, as money would be no object. The doctors themselves would not need to charge for they could have all they want simply by plucking the bills from the trees.
If money grew on trees we could build Torah Centers, Medical Facilities, Housing Projects and Senior Citizen Homes, all furnished with the best equipment money can buy. We could solve all the problems in under-developed third-world countries just by planting a money tree in their midst.
If money grew on trees, everyone could afford transportation, whether their choice was a plane, a train or a flatbed truck. With a snap of the fingers, they could have the next available taxi take them to their desired destination or a private helicopter to head to their secluded mountain hideaway.
If money grew on trees, life would be grand. That is, if money had any real value. You may think it does, but it is just an illusion.
What is money? Money is simply a man-made object that is used as payment for goods or services. It has a perceived worth which man created and calculates daily. It fulfills its function at the present time, because it is still a useful commodity, but that can change in an instant. Many financial transactions are simply a product of virtual manipulations as the currency itself rarely sees the light of day. Within a wisp of a second, at the wave of the trader’s hand, a person can become extremely wealthy or lose his entire fortune. If the economy fails and along with it the whole monetary system as we know it (and it could happen), money will be worthless. Just because something is a known, stable entity today does not prevent its demise tomorrow. Anyone with knowledge of emuna understands that the only thing that is absolutely true and unwavering is Hashem, His Torah, and the Laws He commanded us to live by. We are deceiving ourselves if we think that by putting our eggs into any other basket they will turn to gold.
Nevertheless, we do presently depend on money for our survival, even if those funds are actually provided by HaShem. If money did grow on trees, how would it change our lives? There are so many praiseworthy and holy things we could do with money, yet conversely, we could simply blow it away on vanity. Would it free up our time to enable us to live our lives the way G-d intended, or would we use the money for all the material and flashy things which get us nowhere?
The reason there is probably no such thing as a money tree is for that very reason. HaShem knows we are not ready for that challenge, because yes, it would be another difficult trial for most of us. Like the biggest yetzer hara (evil inclination) ready and waiting to fulfill our every whim, a money tree would only entice us beyond our ability to say ‘no’. Until such time that we have the strength of emuna and the resolute desire to put limits on ourselves for the sake of Heaven, we should be thankful we do not have free reign of the devil in the form of a money tree. The concept of a money tree is really nothing more than idol worship in disguise, a false god tempting us all. Instead we should respect, revere and nurture the most awesome tree of all, the Tree of Life (Torah).
She is a Tree of Life to those who lay hold on her and happy are those who hold her fast. (Proverbs 3:18)
There are some opinions that say when Moshiach comes, everything we need will be there for us to pick from a tree. Our Father in Heaven will ensure that his children are taken care of, so that we can follow His directives through our newly appointed King, unencumbered and in joy. There will be no need to work for anything other than holiness. Money won’t be necessary because whatever we desire in our service of HaShem will be plentifully provided for us. (With prayer and emuna, isn’t it almost like that already?) Rebbe Nachman, of blessed memory, says that by learning Torah, we will merit all our physical needs.
While it is not clear precisely what will happen when Moshiach finally comes (may it be soon), what is apparent is that it will not occur until we are ready. Until we can prove that we are up for the task, that we are eagerly yearning for a life of spiritual pursuits as opposed to striving for gashmius, worldly, physical goals, we are going to be stuck in this mundane existence.
Let’s penetrate the Heavens with our tefillot (prayers) and sacred desires, all the while saturating the lowly world with kindness, goodness, compassion, humility, forgiveness and all of Hashem’s priceless attributes. And may our love and respect for one another bring forth unfathomable blessings and blossom into the future redemption of our people immediately, in the coming days. Amen.