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Tuesday, Iyar 15, 5781 (30th day of the Omer)/ April 27, 2021


This Shabbat we learn the fourth chapter of Pirkei Avot (Chapters of our Fathers). One of the lessons in this chapter is the secret to wisdom, wealth, contentment and happiness. 


The Talmudic sage Ben Zoma says, “Who is wise? He who learns from everyone. Who is strong? He who subdues his evil inclination. Who is rich? He who is happy with his lot. Who is honorable? He who honors others.”


Who is rich? He, who is happy with his lot.”A poor man found a wallet with one thousand rubles.  The following day when he came to synagogue he heard that Yossel the banker lost his wallet with 1000 rubles and promised a hefty reward of fifty rubles to the one who returns it.


After the service he quickly went to Yossel’s house, knocked on the door and when Yossel the banker opened the door he handed him his wallet with the 1000 rubles.


Yossel took the wallet, counted the money and then said, “I see you already took your reward! There was one thousand and fifty rubles in the wallet and there is only 1000 there now.


“But that’s not true,” protested the poor man. There was only 1000 rubles there. You owe me the reward.  The two men argued and in the end decided to go to the rabbi to settle the case.


They both presented their case to the rabbi. The poor man claimed that there were 1000 rubles in the wallet and he was owed the 50 rubles reward for returning the wallet.  But Yossel, the banker, said that there were 1050 rubles in the wallet. “Rabbi, I trust you believe me,” the rich man added.


“Sure I believe you,” replied the rabbi. The banker was full of smiles and the poor man was devastated. Then the rabbi took the wallet and gave it to the poor man. “It’s yours. You keep it!”


“What are you doing,” protested the rich man angrily. “You don’t believe me, rabbi?”


Sure I believe you. You said that you were an honest man and I believe that you had 1050 rubles in your wallet. However, I have to believe that the poor man here, who returned the wallet, is also an honest person. If he was a thief he would have taken all the money for himself. Now that I know that you are both honest people, I have to believe that the wallet in question is not the one you lost and it must belong to someone else.  Thus, until the rightful owner is found, the wallet stays with him.”


“But what about my money,” the rich man asked. “Well you will just have to wait until someone who finds a wallet with 1050 rubles comes forward…”


Our sages teach us a very important lesson. It’s not riches which brings true happiness. Rather, happiness makes one rich.