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Dust and Wealth

Dust and Wealth

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Chassidic master Rabbi Simchah Bunem of Pszcyscha (1767-1827) started out in life as a pharmacist, but later he became a rebbe (chassidic leader) and loved discussing Torah with his disciples.

One day he was talking about the snake which seduced Eve in the Garden of Eden. The Torah relates that G‑d cursed the snake, "On your belly you shall crawl, and dust you shall eat, all the days of your life" (Genesis 3:14).

Wouldn't it be convenient if we could live on dust? Rabbi Bunem pondered: "Is that such a terrible curse? Dust is everywhere, so the snake's table is always full, no matter where he goes. Now look at the people in our shtetl and elsewhere: they earn their bread with difficulty, many families are poor, children go hungry and some never know where their next meal will come from. How convenient it would be for us if we could live on dust!

"But life as a human being," explained the chassidic master, "means that we are constantly crying out to G‑d for help: women in childbirth, hungry children, fathers without a job... So mankind has a connection, a very strong connection to G‑d which the snake does not have. It needs nothing, it asks for nothing. And that is truly a curse. But we, we are like children with our father. G‑d is our father, the one to whom we turn countless times a day to provide for us and protect us...

"A poor man is always aware of this blessing. The wealthy man, too, is so blessed, but it is a little more difficult for him to know this. The challenge of wealth is that one should always keep this in mind, and turn to G‑d every day for help and guidance."

Text and image by chassidic artist Shoshannah Brombacher. To view or purchase Ms. Brombacher's art, click here.
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L N October 30, 2013

Health and Wealth There is an old Chasidic saying. if you lost your money you lost nothing. lost your health, lost half. lost your moral and optimisim, lost everything. Reply

Mark R Reston, VA October 22, 2009

Mark R I do not have any wealth to speak of, but have always had enough for the basics of life. When I was younger and single, at times I lived on $3 a day, and was amazed by the fact that I could easily supply myself my entire month's needs by only working 1 day a month. In that sense, I was much more like the snake than like Adam (I wish the snake had a name, because "snake" doesn't sound so nice). I pondered why is such a thing possible, and decided it was due to the amazing agricultural engineering technology mankind has produced over the ages. The snake has his advantages. While Adam has his face to the ground, the snake can look up at the sky and watch the clouds and see the amazing paintings that God creates. Surely, now I have a family, so the mere material needs are higher. We live in a house, eat more elaborate foods, have a car, etc. But this is still different from Adam. I draw the line how much is needed, and fulfill it, and then I'm done. Reply

Shoshannah Brombacher, author Brooklyn, NY October 21, 2009

Dear Mark R, shalom! No, I think good health is a blessing, it enables you to do more mitvot, walk to shul, earn a living, take care of you family and your community etc. You thank G-d for good health. It is too much money that often overpowers people, that is the point of the story. I know several families which are very rich (I mean here that they have lots of money, by all standards) but they handle it well, they live happy lives, give a lot to charity and help poor people and Jewish institutions, they use their beautiful house to receive guests for shabbat, so how you handle wealth depends not only on the amount you have, but also on you, your character etc. Reply

Mark R Reston, VA October 20, 2009

good to get sick? But by the same reasoning, it would be very good to get sick, because then we could pray to God to get well.. or it would be good if we slip and fall, then we can pray for our pain to be relieved? So then, having good health and avoiding harmful accidents is a curse? Reply

neal fayetteville, ar. July 29, 2007

dust and wealth. shalom, in all my years of reading Torah, this is something i have never understood. G-d knew that eve was going to be tempted and the form that satan chose to use was the snake, why was the snake cursed?
and satan was only doing the job that G/d created him for.
i live in arkansas, i appriciate the job that snakes do in keeping the rodent population down, but ; that still doesnt explain the curse to me. Reply

shoshannah brombacher brooklyn, ny October 18, 2006

dust and wealth Dear Shai, thank you!! I also think that rich is better and that rich does not mean money. No money at all creates a lot of problems in our modern world (and in the old world too), but I think you are richer if you appreciate what you have and are connected to ask. Many things that make me feel rich are a gift from HaShem and not from the bank. I bless HaShem by saying I am a rich person, warm regards, Reply

Shai October 17, 2006

I love the whole story, and I like the pictures. I think rich is better. Reply

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