Gold, Silver, and Socks

September 14, 2012 - 5:00 am

“‘The silver is mine and the gold is mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” — Haggai 2:8

Edward Reichman passed away in Jerusalem at the age of 80. He was a real estate tycoon who left behind billions of dollars. He also left two wills with instructions to open the first will immediately, and the second, 30 days after his death. When the Reichman family opened the first will, they found a peculiar request. Edward had asked to be buried in his favourite pair of socks.

Now, Judaism has very clear laws when it comes to death and burial. Every Jew is buried in simple burial shrouds and nothing more. Nothing else is allowed on the body or in the casket. Period. Rich and poor alike are all buried the same way.

The Reichman children didn’t know what to do. Their father was a learned and pious man, but his request seemed to contradict the law. They went to rabbi after rabbi, seeking permission to obey their father’s request. But no God-fearing rabbi could help them. Edward Reichman was buried the same way as everyone else – without his socks.

Thirty days later, Edward’s children opened his second will. This is what it said: “My dear children, by now you must have buried me without my socks. I wanted you to truly understand that a man can have all the money in the world, but in the end, he can’t even take along one pair of socks!”

In the book of Haggai, God says, “The silver is mine and the gold is mine.” No matter how much wealth a person acquires in this world, it’s never truly his. It’s just on loan from God for the years that he or she lives.

We tend to think of our money as – well – our money. But the truth is that it’s not ours at all. It belongs to God. Instead of asking, “How should I spend my money?,” the question should be “How should I spend God’s money?”

That small change in words can make a huge shift in our thinking. If the money were ours, the focus would be on what gives us pleasure, but since the money belongs to God, we start to think about what kinds of things matter to the Lord.

What do you spend God’s money on? We may not be able to take gold or silver, or even a pair of socks with us when we leave this world. But we will be able to take all of the good deeds that we do with God’s money while we are still living.


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