Love and Money

Hazon Shmita Blog, May 2015

The words of the Shema call for love of God “with all your me’od.” Me’od ordinarily means very-much, and is generally translated in the Shema as strength, might, or power. But ancient rabbis understood this power quite specifically: “Love God with all your money.”

Money circulates—often inequitably, but it’s always moving among us. Talmudic rabbis, observing their own generations of changing fortune, declared poverty to be “a wheel that revolves in the world.” Given all the uncertainties of the financial wheel in spin, they called for regular attention to distributive justice: “Just as each small metal scale joins into a great armor-plate, so with tzedakah each and every coin joins into a great heshbon.”

The Jewish ethical principle of heshbon (accountability) provides an immediate connection between ecology and economy, spirituality and social change. Every time we open our wallets or check our bank balances, we face choices of heshbon—and heshbon hanefesh ( “soul accounting”) includes personal finance. How are we literally spending each day of our lives?  READ MORE

What Really Counts

To number our days—teach us,
and we will bring a heart of wisdom.  (Psalm 90:12)

Family TravelogMy mother found this among my father's papers after he died in 2001.  
Years later, my sister scanned the image and sent it to my brother and me.

Tablet Magazine, 5/5/15

My father lived a life of heshbon: accounting and accountability. A carefully handwritten expense log of a family road trip to Maine and Nova Scotia in 1968 shows daily entries for mileage, destinations, meals, lodging, venue admissions and the like, with running totals weaving back and forth between currencies. Dad “numbered our days” to keep us all on track financially. (...)

Along with his call for tithing, the prophet Malachi highlights the need “to return the heart of parents to children, and the heart of children to their parents” (4:6).  I discovered a common financial language with my father toward the end of his life, and now I seek out the money dialogue within and between generations. By sharing our stories, we can move toward more conscious sharing of the money itself. READ MORE