One person gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds what is right, only to become poor. A generous person will be enriched, and the one who gives a drink of water will receive water. - Proverbs 11:24-25 HCSB

There once was a wealthy man whose riches were only surpassed by his greed. He lived alone, lest a wife should spend his money on frivolous dresses. He had no children and congratulated himself on not having to buy toys.

In that same town, there lived a godly man who knew that true wealth lay in love extended. This tzaddik heard that a poor family was in trouble. He gave what he could but more was yet needed. So he decided to approach the rich man and give him the opportunity to participate in this good work.

After the rich man heard of the family’s plight, he said, “So what? What is that to me? Their troubles will not affect me so why should I care?”

The tzaddik thought a moment and then led the rich man to a window. “What do you see?” he asked.

The man replied, “I see the street, some people walking, a couple holding hands…nothing out of the ordinary.”

The tzaddik then took down a mirror that was hanging nearby and held it up in front of the window. “What do you see now?” he questioned.

The rich man snorted and replied, “Well, myself, of course. What else should I see?”

The tzaddik put the mirror down and quietly taught the rich man. “Both the window and the mirror are made of glass. The clear window allows you to see life in all of its wealth of beauty and love. The mirror, coated in silver, blinds you to all but your self. Your wealth is blinding you to the true meaning and beauty of life. You are focused only on yourself.”

The rich man looked down for a moment. When he replied, a repentant tremor could be heard in his voice. “How much do you need?” he asked.

Trust in riches and down you go! Only the tzaddikim (the godly) will flourish like leaves in spring when the Lord God’s testing fire ventures into their lives.[1] The rich often mistake wealth for an impregnable fortress, but riches won’t help us on the Day of Judgment. Right living is the safeguard against death.[2] The wealth accumulated by evil people is fleeting[3] but the reward of the godly will last forever.[4] True wealth is gained by giving freely. True wealth is measured in love extended. Those who are stingy with Hashem’s resources will eventually lose everything.

Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding for the profit of these is better than silver and their wages are far better than gold. In fact, wisdom is more precious than rubies and nothing we could covet on earth can compare to it.[5]

To help the poor is to lend to the Lord and He will repay us.[6]

[1] Proverbs 11:28

[2] Proverbs 18:11; 11:4

[3] Proverbs 23:4-5

[4] Proverbs 11:18

[5] Proverbs 3:13-16; 7:10-11; 8:19; 16:16

[6] Proverbs 19:17