Rabbi Jonathan would say: Whoever fulfills the Torah
in poverty, will ultimately fulfill it in wealth.
Ethics of the Fathers
Our sages have said: The only true poverty is poverty
of the mind.
According to this, we can understand the deeper significance
of Rabbi Jonathans words.
It is a common perception that in order to succeed in any
given field, a person requires a certain degree of self-assurance.
He must approach his subject with the confidence that I
can do it, that he possesses the character and mental
capacities required to master it. Without at least a trace
of such arrogance he stands little chance of attaining
Regarding the study and implementation of Torah, the very
opposite is true. To comprehend Torah is to comprehend the
wisdom of G-d; to follow its commandments is to actualize
the divine will in physical life. One who believes that his
mortal mind possesses the capacity to master Torah or that
his physical being is a fit vehicle to fulfill the mitzvot,
is least capable of attaining these goals. His understanding
of Torah will most likely be a biased perversion of the divine
truth; his daily life will probably be guided by a humanly-contrived
ethos rather than the will of G-d.
A person must approach Torah with the understanding that
his finite mind is inadequate a tool to grasp the infinite
and eternal truth of Torah, and that were it not that
G-d helps him, he could not overcome the subjectivity
and egocentrism of his physical self. He must understand that Torah
is a gift from G-d, and that all the studying, analyzing and
theorizing involved in its pursuit is merely the construction
of a vessel to receive its divine essence. He
must understand that the sanctification of physical life is
beyond the capacity of mortal man, and that he can only commit
himself to fulfill the divine will and pray to G-d for assistance
in overcoming his negative drives.
A person who fulfills the Torah in povertywho recognizes
the poverty of his mind before the infinite perfection of
the divine truthwill ultimately fulfill it in wealth.
G-d will grant him the mental and psychological resources
to assimilate the wisdom of Torah and fully realize its precepts
in his daily life.
Based on an address by the Rebbe, Sivan 14, 5746 (June
. Talmud, Ketubot 68a.
. Ibid., Kiddushin 30b.