Three Lessons on Wealth from Father Abraham
אִם־מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ־נַעַל וְאִם־אֶקַּח מִכָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לָךְ וְלֹא תֹאמַר אֲנִי הֶעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת־אַבְרָם׃ I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say, ‘It is I who made Avram rich.'
אִם־מִחוּט וְעַד שְׂרוֹךְ־נַעַל וְאִם־אֶקַּח מִכָּל־אֲשֶׁר־לָךְ וְלֹא תֹאמַר אֲנִי הֶעֱשַׁרְתִּי אֶת־אַבְרָם׃
I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say, ‘It is I who made Avram rich.'
Our forefather Abraham was one of the most important figures that ever walked the earth. The patriarch is credited with discovering the one true God and establishing a family whose lasting moral legacy changed the world. After thousands of years, Abraham is revered to this day by Jews, Christians, and Muslims who all proudly claim to be his descendants. No one else in history can make that same incredible claim.
And so it is somewhat surprising that in several places the Bible describes Abraham’s great wealth. He had many servants, he was able to quickly mobilize a powerful army, and was in fact, “very rich in cattle, silver, and gold.” While Abraham might have been a financial success story in his generation, it’s not his business acumen for which he was so famous, but his moral teachings. Nevertheless, there are three lessons about wealth that we can all learn from our father Abraham.
Watch Rabbi Tuly Weisz explain, “Abraham’s 3 Lessons on Wealth” to the International Christian Chamber of Commerce meeting in Jerusalem in 2018:
The first lesson is that Abraham recognized that his wealth came not from any man, but only from God. Abraham says this explicitly to the King of Sodom after the war between the four kings and the five kings:
“I will not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap of what is yours; you shall not say, ‘It is I who made Avram rich.’ ” (Genesis 14:23)
The second lesson is that true wealth isn’t measured by dollars, shekels, pounds, or pesos, but by our impact upon the world.
“Avraham was now old, advanced in years, and Hashem had blessed Avraham in all things.” (Genesis 24:1)
The great rabbinic sage, Rashi explains that the numerical value of the phrase “in all things” equals 52, the same numerical value, or “Gematriya” as the Hebrew word for “son.” That is to say, God blessed Abraham with a son. All the blessings in the world were only worthwhile if Abraham’s impact would carry forth to the next generation.
The third and final lesson about wealth that we can learn from Abraham comes from Genesis 12:3: “I will bless you and make you a great nation and all the families of the earth will be blessed by you.” Abraham used his great blessings not merely to benefit himself, but to bring blessings to others as well.
It’s great to have money, we all want to have wealth, but it’s so important to learn from our forefather Abraham these three lessons:
- Our wealth comes from God.
- Wealth isn’t measured in dollars but by our impact.
- We must use our wealth to benefit others.