Until recently he had been the richest man in town, but the wheel of fortune had ground him to a pulp and spat him out the other side with almost nothing left of his former wealth and fortune.

More grating than the loss of all the luxuries he had previously enjoyed was the corresponding drop in his public profile. He had become accustomed to the deference with which he was routinely treated. It had been so pleasant to feel welcomed by all, with his every utterance treated with respect. He enjoyed offering an opinion on every issue and he dearly missed the ability to sway public opinion with just a few well-chosen words.

He had previously believed that his counsel was independently valuedHe had previously believed that his counsel was independently valued, but now that he had been relegated down the pecking order he was forced to watch others enjoying the adulation that had once been his right.

But he was coming back! He'd weathered the storms, rediscovered his mojo, revisited and reinvested his capital, caught the tail end of some lucky breaks and suddenly he was a force to be reckoned with once more. And wasn't it just precious to watch his erstwhile friends come scurrying home again. Once more the topic of a thousand conversations and the focus of the common gaze, he hadn't just recovered wealth, he'd also been reunited with his wisdom.

He was consulted widely and roundly applauded for his perspicacity and intelligence. People flocked to him for advice and applauded him for his willingness to share.

The only person not carried away was the magnate himself. He was often heard to remark that he was grateful for his brief time out of the sun so he could learn who his real friends truly were and the true societal estimation of his opinions and thoughts.

Out of Your League

Isn't it strange how just because someone is wealthy there is a widespread perception that they are automatically imbued with all other attributes as well? Why would you logically assume that an entrepreneur or wheeler-dealer would have any innate appreciation for the arts or can be trusted to decide public policy? Not every money-manager is an intellectual giant. The acquisition of wealth demands a specific skill-set and this does not necessarily translate into other disciplines.

The Torah warns us against developing a skewed view of reality.

Be careful not to forget G‑d and fail to keep His commandments… You might eat and be satisfied, build good houses and live in them. As your herds and flocks increase, your silver and gold accumulate and everything you have grows, your heart may become arrogant and you might forget G‑d. (Deuteronomy 8:11-13)

A chilling and timely lesson to all of us about the dangers of wealth and luxuryA chilling and timely lesson to all of us about the dangers of wealth and luxury, however encoded in the words we can read a message about how to relate to the wealth of others:

Just because a person has houses, gold and silver, don't automatically assume that everything he has also grows. Keep things in perspective; riches do not confer intellectual legitimacy. In Judaism, wisdom was traditionally invested in those who study Torah. Scholars are our true aristocracy and the role of rich men is to support the study of Torah and to supplement the functioning of society.

Wealth can be a challenge for those blessed with it. Always remember who your true friends really are. Money comes and goes, but character lasts forever. If you forget this timely reminder you run the risk of arrogance and disgrace.

The challenge for the rest of society is to accept and honor a man proportional with his intrinsic worth, not his bank-balance. We are proud of our Torah values and uphold them in spite of any financial inducements or purse-string pressure. We must never forget that G‑d is the one who rules the world and we are ultimately answerable to no one other than Him.