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MINDFUL OF THE TRUE MEASURE OF WEALTH

On the Gemara’s teaching, “A poor person is only one lacking deia” (knowledge or intelligence). * What about all those who are poverty-stricken, lacking material wealth and resources? Are they not truly poor?

by Bing AI

The Gemara presents a thought-provoking statement: “Abaye said that we have a tradition: A poor person is only one lacking in intelligence (אֵין עָנִי אֶלָּא בְּדֵעָה), in agreement with the opinion of Rav Naḥman. In the West, Eretz Yisrael, they say: One who has this attribute, intelligence, in him has everything in him. One who does not have this attribute in him, what is in him? If he acquired this, what else is lacking? If he has not acquired this, what has he acquired?” (Nedarim 41a)


This statement raises the question: Is there really only poverty of mind? What about all those who are poverty-stricken, lacking material wealth and resources? Are they not truly poor?


The Chidushei Agadot on Nedarim 41a provides a direct response to this question: “The word ‘poor’ (עני) typically refers to one who is poor in terms of material wealth. However, Abaye is saying that true poverty is poverty of the mind.” In other words, while material poverty may be a temporary condition, poverty of the mind is a more fundamental and enduring form of poverty.


Rashi explains that one who possesses intelligence is like one who has everything and lacks nothing: “One who has intelligence is like one who has everything and lacks nothing.” Tosafot adds that this refers specifically to one who has acquired intelligence: “This refers to one who has acquired intelligence.”


The Ben Yehoyada on Nedarim 41a explains the interconnectedness of faith, knowledge, and work: “The word ‘Adam’ is an acronym for ‘Emunah’ (faith), ‘Da’at’ (knowledge), and ‘Melacha’ (work). These three attributes are interconnected and dependent on one another. Faith and knowledge are prerequisites for successful work in this world. Without faith and knowledge, one’s work is likely to fail.


Thus, one who possesses intelligence (Da’at) and faith (Emunah) has everything they need to succeed in their work (Melacha).”

In the future era, as described in the Midrash (Shir HaShirim Rabbah 2:6), “delicacies will be as common as dust.” This phrase paints a picture of a world where material wealth and physical pleasures are abundant and easily accessible. People will no longer have to struggle to meet their basic needs, as even the most luxurious of items will be readily available.


In addition to this abundance of material wealth, the prophet Isaiah (11:9) foretells that “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.” This prophecy describes a world where knowledge of God is widespread and deeply ingrained in the fabric of society. People will have a deep understanding and awareness of God’s presence in their lives and in the world around them. In such a world, where material wealth is no longer a concern and knowledge of God is abundant, the true measure of a person’s worth will be their intelligence and faith.


The coming of Moshiach will bring about a fundamental shift in our understanding of what truly matters in life. In this future era, intelligence and faith will be recognized as the true measures of a person’s worth. While material wealth may provide temporary comfort and security, it is ultimately one’s intelligence and faith that determine their true success and fulfillment. In a world where material wealth is abundant and knowledge of God is widespread, it is one’s inner qualities - their intelligence, faith, and character - that will truly set them apart.


In fact, it is this proper mindset - the intelligence that will fill the world in the era of Moshiach - that will cause material wealth to flourish without any special effort or attention. When people are focused on developing their intelligence and faith, their material needs will be met effortlessly and abundantly.


In this future era, poverty of the mind will be the only true form of poverty. Those who lack intelligence and faith will be truly poor, while those who possess these attributes will have everything they need to succeed in their work and in life. Thus, the coming of Moshiach will highlight the importance of cultivating our inner qualities and developing our intelligence and faith.

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