Before a certain man passed away, he gave his sons two letters. He instructed the young men to open the first before his burial and the second after the burial. When the time for the burial arrived, the sons opened the first letter. To their chagrin, there was but one short instruction written on a sheet, albeit an impossible one. The father’s final request was that “no matter what anyone says, I want you to bury me wearing socks on my feet” – an explicit halachic prohibition! Bewildered, the sons hastened to the Hevra Kadisha to fulfil their fathers last wishes.
Showing the letter to the Hevra Kadish resulted in a quick “No! This is strictly against Halakah.” After pleading and begging, the sons eventually gave up, and buried their father according to Halacha.
Torn by grief over the fact that they were unable to fulfil their father’s final request, the sons opened the second letter after their father’s grave was sealed. They were shocked and then filled with joy over the contents of this second note, which read as follows: “My dearest sons. I love you dearly, as only a father could. When I realized that my final days were quickly approaching, my greatest concern was your spiritual wellbeing. I wanted to teach you a lesson that would stand in the forefront of your consciousness, even decades beyond my passing. The lesson that you have learned from my first note is that the only valuable investment that a Jew can make is in a currency that is recognized in Olam Habah. Do not spend all your days amassing wealth and hoarding your fortune from the hands others. If Hashem blesses you with surplus, know that you have been chosen to be nothing more and nothing less than the messenger of your Creator. Whether Hashem has blessed you with a sharp mind, an impeccable memory, extraordinary emotion or physical strength, or with healthy finances – know that He has blessed you not for your own sake, but for the sake of all His children. Whatever you do, do it for the sake of G-d, and He will bless you in all of your endeavors.”
With tears in their eyes, the two brothers, sons of the righteous man, accepted upon themselves to dedicate their lives to serving Hashem with love and joy, and to never hold back from sharing the good that He would bless them with.
The bottom line of this story is that the best investment is in Torah, Mitzvot, and Good Deeds. Nothing else lasts. Physical assets last a person for a lifetime, but when they are acquired and used for the purpose of serving Hashem, these physical items are imbued with the everlasting spiritual value that can be taken to Olam Haba.
The Talmud teaches that a Jew should always divide his assets into thirds:
1/3 real estate
How does one apply this even with limited funds?
1/3 Torah: Torah study is the building upon which everything stands
1/3 mitzvot: the best business is the mitzvah business; you should always have some “mitzvah opportunities and mitzvah merchandise” for your partners and investors (fellow Jews)
1/3 ma’asim tovim: when you see an opportunity to do something good, something that will make Hashem “smile,” grab the opportunity as if it were a fat stack of cash, and take it all to the bank of Hashem in Olam Haba.
Whenever a dollar enters or leaves your possession, make sure to keep in mind the lesson that the currency bears.
“In G-d we trust.”
Live it. Love it. Give it!