A close friend told me of a major challenge in his business. An employee of several decades recently left his company to work for a competitor. Before leaving, this ex-employee convinced many clients of my friend’s business to transfer their accounts to the new company. My friend had helped this person in so many ways, and yet, the employee stole these clients and as a result, countless thousands of dollars were not earned. A lawsuit made sense, but the time and aggravation weren’t worth it.
I was struck by how calm my friend was as he told me this story. This was a colossal mess! He replied by quoting the advice of his rebbe, “The best challenge to have is money. Baruch Hashem, you are healthy, and your family is well. Your children are progressing nicely in yeshiva and you have a great relationship with your wife. True, the money is a challenge…but it’s only money.”
When I heard this, I was a bit incredulous. I thought, “How do you remain calm when it comes to so much money being taken away from you?”
I believe the source of my friend’s attitude is in the first Midrash Rabbah of Parshas Teruma. The pasuk says, Veyikchu li teruma—you shall take contributions of teruma [for the Mishkan]. The Midrash explains this is referring to the Torah. Rav Gedalia Schorr explains that the contributions to the Mishkan were essentially a contribution for the Torah itself, as the Ramban tells us the Mishkan’s purpose was to create a place where the revelation of Torah can continue daily in a private manner. The Kodesh Hakodashim—the inner sanctum of the Mishkan—housed the Aron, which contained the luchos (tablets). From on top of the Aron, Hashem’s voice emanated. It was a Sinai revelation happening daily in a private way. Therefore, contributions to build the Mishkan were really contributions for the revelation of Torah!
The Midrash continues: Hashem tells Klal Yisrael, “I sold you my Torah. You got a great deal, a real fire sale! The Torah contains gold, silver and bronze.” That’s strange…gold, silver and bronze?? Rav Schorr says these are all symbolic. Gold represents financial security. Indeed, the American government backs the U.S. dollar with gold bullion. Silver represents desire, as the Hebrew word kesef (money) also means desire, as is found in the words nichsof nichsafti. The word kesef in our vernacular often connotes the love of money. And copper represents brazenness, as illustrated by the covering of the mizbeach with copper, which Rashi explains gives atonement for brazenness (which in this case is negative).
Hashem is telling us that the Torah is the source for all blessings. People are always looking for lucrative investments that yield high returns with minimum risk. The Torah is it! It is true: People need ambition to achieve. Desire, stamina and brazenness (used in a positive way) propel a person forward in business and personal achievements, and can also result in accomplishment in Torah!
If we apply ourselves in Torah and utilize our natural urges and drive in our Torah learning, the chances are that material success will also follow.
I witnessed this with my own eyes as I listened to my friend. A long-time employee robbed him under his nose, yet he remained calm and relaxed. He knew with certainty that Hashem is in charge. He was able to sleep at night, have conversations and spend quality time with his kids and wife. He did not let the situation make him tense and unhappy. It was a test, but he put it in proper perspective.
We all face hurdles at times; some bigger than others. That’s when we’re put to the test. Are Torah and mitzvos just nice things to do on good days, or do they constitute a way of life no matter what the challenges?
Let’s invest in the best investment tip we will ever get: Learn Hashem’s Torah. The dividends are endless and priceless.