By Yair Shavrick, Opinion Editor
Attending Yeshiva University placed me among Jews from all over the world, and exposed me to a great selection of stories and backgrounds. One thing that I have found to be a constant among the entire population is the drive for monetary success. This makes sense as the target population is attending a college on the expensive side which should already be a predictor for this finding. What upset me about this drive is not the actual acquisition of money or financial success, but the underlying reasons for the passion.
Growing up as a white, Orthodox Jew who attended private school, the assumption most people made about me is that my family had some sort of sustained wealth, or at least comfort with regards to money. My reality was actually one of monetary discomfort, uncertainty, and pursuit of help. At first glance, this seems distressing and sad, as it’s painful to experience monetary hardship, but after further contemplation, I’m happy about where I came from, thank G-d I always had a roof over my head and meals in my stomach, and in that way I was extremely fortunate.
In Judaism, there is an ideal of “Misameach Bichelko” (lit. being happy with one’s portion), contentment of the situations in which one is placed. I believe that a large portion of my appreciation for money and Misameach Bichelko comes from the fact that my situation was not easy. To provide you with a quick example, one of my favorite things to receive as a present (even today) was pairs of socks from my grandmother (keep ’em coming Savtee!). To other people, socks are a given, nothing special. To me, receiving any kind of present from a loved one is more than I could ever ask for, because they used hard work and energy to give and share, all of which displays love and care.
I believe that the aforementioned example shines light on the true importance of money. Many students attend college to gain high paying jobs and respected titles, such as “doctor” or “esquire.” On top of that, the financial situation one creates is what determines the level of success and reverence that is attributed to them. In my opinion, this is the most backwards and misguided approach to life. Money is a means of living, not living itself. So many times people increase work hours, increase revenue, increase luxuries, but forget about the more important things such as family, friends, relationships, religious duties, and so much more. There is a well known idea that all the money in the world cannot buy someone more time, and that is completely true. A secondary point to this idea is: one can use the money they have earned in the time they do have to better the world around them. This can be in forms of charity, giving time to volunteer, create organizations to help communities, or even on the most micro-sized level, spend more time with loved ones.
As I leave Yeshiva University, my goal is not to condemn or reprimand people for the way they live or choose to pursue money. Everyone has their own right to decide what is valuable and special to them. My goal in this editorial is to share with my fellow students and colleagues that life is so much more vast than money itself. Use monetary gain to aid your life; don’t use your life to aid your monetary gain.