My Money Versus God's Money

Posted by Anuj Pandey on Jul 29, 2019
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[Beautiful reflection shared by Aryae, in our Awakin Circle last Wednesday.]

Rabindranath Tagore's poem reminds me of a teaching from my teacher Rabbi Shlomo, who used to teach about Sadaka. That's Hebrew, traditionally translated as charity, but its literal meaning was justice. Why justice? Because whatever I have is only partly mine, and the rest belongs to God. The proper use of my money is to take care of my needs. Proper use of God's money is to take care of others.

So here's a story of Shlomo. It was a Friday night.

Now, on a Friday night, a religious Jew doesn't carry his wallet or anything in his pockets. Shlomo was walking toward his synagogue and a thief comes up to him with a knife and says, "Gimme all your money."

Shlomo says, "I'm sorry I don't have any money." And he tries to explain his practice but the thief doesn't believe him. "Empty all your pockets," he commands while holding a knife to his ribs. So he does. He has nothing. But Shlomo adds, "Brother, I'm really sorry that I don't have anything to give you, but if you meet me here tomorrow night, I'll come back so I can give you something."

The thief laughs at him, pushes him away, and they each go their own way.

Next night, the thief is on his regular beat. He's on his dark corner, and he sees the rabbi walking up. Shlomo reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wad of bills and gives it to him. "This is yours," he says. The thief, Oh my God. He grabs his hands and says, "Thank you."

The next day, Shlomo was telling the story in the synagogue and one of the congregants says, "Rabbi, how could you do that? It's crazy. You put your life at risk. Why would you go back?"

Shlomo replied, "Oh, you don't understand. He was asking for God's money, not mine. And I didn't want to rob him of God's money."

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Comments (5)

  • Shyam Gupta wrote ...

    Wonderful reflection.

  • Nipun Mehta wrote ...

    Really loved this story -- because it invites a contextual distinction between what is mine and what is God's. For instance, a lay person's needs may be huge compared to St. Francis. So a lay person may identify a much higher percentage as my money, and a small percentage as God's money. In fact, even Shlomo (if I'm not mistaken) never accumulated any money from one day to another -- so I'd imagine he might cite 99% of his money as God's money. All to say, the story is beautiful, because it offers meaning to the entire spectrum of needs. :)

  • Richard Whittaker wrote ...

    Great story, Aryae. So wonderful. I feel I've met Rabbi Shlomo through you, first from your book "Holy Beggars" and now from this story.

  • Bradley Stoll wrote ...

    I appreciate this idea of God's money. I have come to realize that I spend a large portion of God's money on my own wants. Thank you, Aryae<3.

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