PURIM -- One of the many fascinating subplots of Purim
is the human relationship with wealth. Throughout the Megillah
we find references to money and riches – both as virtue
The Megillah begins with Persian King Achashveirosh displaying
“the glorious wealth of his kingdom and the splendorous
beauty of his majesty” (Esther 1:4). “There
were hangings of white, green and blue, held by cords of
linen and purple wool to silver rods and marble pillars.
There were divans of gold and silver on a floor of alabaster
and marble [arranged in patterns of] rows and circles. Drinks
were served in golden vessels, vessels of assorted design,
and the royal wine was in abundance as befitting the king”
When wicked Haman presented Achashveirosh with his treacherous
plot to massacre the entire Jewish people, he offers to
“pay ten thousand silver talents to the workers, for
deposit in the king's treasuries” (3:9). Achashveirosh
then gave over his signet ring to Haman and told him that
he could keep his money and do with the people as he wished
(3:11). Haman later boasted about his great wealth (5:11).
The decree included plundering the property of the Jews
(3:13). And when the terrible decree was finally reversed
and Achashveirosh issued a new edict declaring the victory
of the Jews over their enemies he again included their right
to plunder the property of the enemy (8:11). Indeed, Achashveirosh
gave Queen Esther the estate of Haman (8:1).
However, despite these victories, the Jews did not take
any of the spoils (9:10; 15; 16). Instead, they celebrated
Purim through gifts of food and money (9:19; 22).
The Megillah also emphasizes the celebration of victory
in terms of wealth: “Mordechai left the king's presence
wearing a royal garment of blue and white, a large golden
crown, and a shawl of fine linen and purple wool. And the
city of Shushan celebrated and rejoiced” (8:15).
Earlier, the miracle of Purim begins with describing in detail how
Achashveirosh honored Mordechai with wealthy pomp and circumstance.
Indeed, it is Haman who actually suggested how best
to reward a man whom the king wishes to honor (mistakenly
thinking that the king wanted to reward him): “Let
them bring a royal garment that the king has worn, and a
horse upon which the king has ridden, and upon whose head
the royal crown has been placed. And let the garment and
the horse be entrusted in the hands of one of the king's
noble ministers, and they shall dress the man whom the king
wishes to honor and lead him on the horse through the city
square, proclaiming before him, 'So is done for the man
whom the king wishes to honor!'” (6:8-9).
When Queen Esther appealed to the king to reverse his decree,
the king offered her “half the kingdom” (5:3;
6; 7:2). Half but not all.
Even when Esther argued before Achasveirosh to foil Haman’s
plot she described it in financial terms: “I and my
nation have been sold to be destroyed, killed, and wiped
out. If we had only been sold as slaves and maidservants
I would have kept quiet. But our oppressor does not care
about the loss to the king” (7:4).
Finally King Achashveirosh levied a tax upon the mainland
and the islands of the sea (10:1).
2361 years have passed since these events transpired. How
much has really changed regarding human attitudes toward
wealth? Not much it seems. It would make a fascinating study
to derive from the above referenced passages a deeper understanding
of the nature of economics and the human pursuit of money,
its uses and its misuses and ultimately its redemption.
All this demonstrates the power of wealth to corrupt but
also to build, and the ability we have to harness and transform
this enormous force from vice into great virtue.
Above all, as we celebrate Purim and we break out of all
our boundaries, we should always remember: The final litmus
test of true transcendence is the way we deal with our money
and assets – whether we know how to give as much,
if not more, than we take; whether we are able to recognize
the means from the end; and whether we control our wealth
or it controls us.
We hereby bring you the fifth and final part of Money and
Spirituality, a paper that explores the power of wealth.
All of us at the MLC bless you with an exuberant and transcendental
FUTURE ECONOMY: A NEW MODALITY FOR WEALTH AND PHILANTHROPY
In reviewing history in retrospect, a pattern of economic
structural evolution emerges. Initially, economies were
driven and controlled by the few in power - monarchies,
the serf system etc. The birth of the free market heralded
the dominance of individuality and private ownership with
markets being driven by competition. Marx correctly zeroed
in on the flaws of capitalism – the abuse of individual
power – without really offering a viable economic
In an imperfect world, everyone, even dissenters, contribute
toward crystallizing a vision of a working system - fine
tuning and shaping it till we realign the distortions.  In
this context it can be argued that Marxist and socialist
thought as well as capitalist philosophy, are all part of
an economic evolution, leading up to a new perfected model.
Just as Korach’s rebellion helped shape and define
the true nature of Torah’s class system, so too, Marxist
theory helps us address the faults of our existing system.
Marx’s criticism and insight enables us to modify
and reshape capitalism addressing the misery and alienation
of our existing economy in order for us to correct it, and
align the world to its initial intention pre-tree of knowledge.
Today we stand at the threshold of a new economic paradigm,
one that allows us the luxury of the accumulative trial
and error of the past, while introducing new elements made
possible only recently. Critical changes today point to
the possibility of creating a ‘new economy’
in the spirit of the Torah model.
of matter and spirit
business models: cooperation vs. competition; specialization
Prosperity and Spiritual hunger
Today we stand at a time of unprecedented prosperity. At
the same time there also exists an unprecedented spiritual
void, which continues to widen the schism between our material
success and our spiritual hunger.
According to the Baal Shem Tov’s teachings cited
above this should not come as a surprise. Our growing demand
for acquisition of material wealth actually reflects a deep
craving for the ‘energy’ and ‘sparks’
within this wealth. Hence, the wealthier we become, the
deeper the anxiety and restlessness for not finding relief
by utilizing the true purpose of this wealth. The stronger
our grip on the material, the deeper our need for the spiritual
Indeed, the prophet Amos tells us: “Days are coming,
when I will send a great hunger and thirst in the world.
But the hunger will be not for bread and the thirst not
for water, but for the word of G-d.”  The Bible itself assures us that
“It is not on bread alone that man lives, but on the
word of G-d,” which is the divine spark within. 
Technology and the Convergence of Matter and Spirit
In every area of developing technologies, we are witnessing
the convergence of matter and spirit. The Zohar tells us  that
the proliferation of science beginning in 1840 (approximately
the time of the Industrial Revolution) and accelerating
at greater speeds ever since, is a prelude to a “world
filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the
The stage has been set. The final frontier is achieving
unity in our own personal lives – integrating the
work we do and the wealth we acquire with the purpose of
our existence. Bridging our outer and our inner lives.
The final frontier of integrating matter and spirit is
the integration of wealth and religion. Because wealth represents
all that is material, its transformation into spiritual
fuel is critical in the complete synthesis of matter and
Maimonides writes that the Messianic age does not necessitate
miraculous or cataclysmic external change. The primary change
will be from within; a radical shift of consciousness. Instead
of seeing materialism as an end in itself, we will see it
as a means to “knowing G-d.” This consciousness
will affect our economic view. As Maimonides puts it: “Material
delights will be found as dust,” which also means
that the abundance of material wealth will render it valueless
as dust and useless as an end unto itself. This in turn
will naturally eliminate envy and competition, hunger, poverty
and strife. “The business of this entire world will
be to know G-d.”
This does not mean that all will be theologians. It means
that everyone, in his/her particular profession and expertise,
will perceive G-d in all that we do. 
A physician will study, recognize and teach us the beauties
of the Divine within human anatomy and physiology. A physicist
will demonstrate the parallels of Divine unity and the unity
within the structure of nature. A businessperson will glean
wisdom in comparing the models of business structure with
the business of the cosmos.
Wealth, in short, will finally realize its true value:
soul energy, elevating and transforming all of existence.
The Mishkan was a model in microcosm for this social and
economic structure. The 40 years in the desert provided
a controlled and self-sufficient environment, without the
challenges of supply and demand of a functioning economy
this was in order to nurture a working model in a controlled
setting. However, the ultimate goal was to enter the promised
land – a land that can consume its inhabitants - and
face the challenge of materialism. The challenge remains
to create the Mishkan economic model in the real world,
ultimately leading to our times today – when we have
the possibility to actualize this new model universally
We will enter the new economic age with the wealth of the
past, with “their silver and gold with them,”
 but with a new attitude.
Our present challenge is to create a transition from the
old economy to the new one. The challenge is twofold:
We are accustomed to an old economic paradigm. What would
happen, for instance, if we were to realize that so much
wealth has been generated that it is as ‘plentiful
as dust’?! Would we want to accept such a possibility?
Or would human greed not allow such a consideration?
We see wealth as a measure of self worth and security.
By giving it away we see ourselves as becoming less. Is
it conceivable that those with more will be ready to just
share willingly, or would their insecurity not allow them
The only answer, I submit, is introducing the Torah model
for life in general, and wealth and philanthropy in particular:
As opposed to Marxian theory, that man is a product of his
environment,  the Torah’s faith in a human
being is absolute. You, man were created in the Divine Image.
Your inherent nature is divine. Selfishness and greed is
superimposed by a material world created by G-d – a world
that allows for all the economic classes to divide us –
in order to allow us the opportunity to be wise and pierce
the false veneer, and recognize the true Divine nature of
wealth and power, and in effect use it for its intended
purpose. When human consciousness is raised and we feel
that our security and value does not come from a mercurial
physical world but from within, from your Divine soul, we
can then exchange the ‘teddy bears’ of our material security
blankets with a true and eternal self esteem.
Inevitably this will change our attitude and use of wealth.
Perhaps one can say that the Torah’s futuristic economy
will be an elegant synthesis of a free economy choosing
to behave in some way like a socialist one, with the key
distinction being, that the collective sharing will come
from within, self initiated rather than imposed. Recognizing
the true nature of wealth will drive men to create systems
that will honor and express the inner purpose of our wealth:
creating a home for G-d. We will begin to see the acquisition
of wealth as a means for spiritual growth, for understanding
ourselves and G-d, for filling the world with Divine knowledge
as the waters cover the sea.
Practically speaking, for this new economic paradigm to
take hold we must create educational materials and practical
programs that introduce and engender into our children and
our adults the deeper meaning of wealth. This then needs
to translate into a methodology: how to give charity, how
to make your home and workplace a more giving place. An
example would be to prominently place a charity box on your
office desk and in your room.
“Theory becomes a material force when it has gripped the
masses,” writes Marx.  Awareness
comes first, action follows. Think and act conscientiously,
and we begin to create a shift, a change. Torah believes
that redemption is a process: each charitable act today
is a building block, that accumulates with all those before
and after, with all generations past, creating a nuclear
force that must ultimately surface.
Wealth without its spirit, is the world in which we live
in today. Wealth with its spirit is the economy of tomorrow.
We stand at a unique and exciting threshold. How will we