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Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach



Torah Reflections: Conversations on the Weekly Parshah


Integrating Torah into one’s life through reflection and conversation can be an incredibly fun and engaging experience. It’s a journey of discovery, where ancient wisdom and timeless teachings come to life in our daily experiences. Through reflection, we have the opportunity to dive deep into the rich tapestry of Torah, extracting profound insights and lessons that resonate with our modern lives. The joy lies in the ‘aha’ moments, those instances when a Torah verse or story suddenly connects with our personal challenges, aspirations, and values. And when we engage in conversations about Torah with others, it becomes an interactive exploration, where diverse perspectives and interpretations enhance our understanding. These dialogues often spark excitement and intellectual curiosity, making the learning process both enjoyable and fulfilling. Torah becomes a vibrant and dynamic part of our lives, offering not just guidance but also a source of endless fascination, connection, and growth.

NOTE: Don’t feel obligated to go through every source or answer all the questions—unless you want to. Even one source, or one question will give you plenty of material for discussion and meditation. Enjoy this!

Consider the following sources as a basis for reflection and conversation with friends and family:

Genesis 14:18-23   “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine; and he was priest of G-d the Most High. And he blessed him, and said: ‘Blessed be Abram of G-d Most High, Maker of heaven and earth; and blessed be G-d the Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.’ And he gave him a tenth of all. And the king of Sodom said unto Abram: ‘Give me the people, and take the goods to yourself.’ And Abram said to the king of Sodom: ‘I have lifted up my hand unto the L-rd, G-d Most High, Maker of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread nor a shoelace nor aught that is yours, lest you should say: I have made Abram rich.”  

Genesis 12:5   “and the wealth (possessions) that they had accumulated…in Charan”  

Genesis 13:2   “and Abram was very rich with cattle, with silver, and with gold”  

Genesis 13:5-6   “And the land could not bear their settling together, for their rechush (‘possessions’) were great, and they could not live together.”  

Bava Basra 25b:8   “one who desires to become wise should face south, while one who desires to become wealthy should face north.”  

Genesis 14:20   “And he [Abraham] gave him [Melchizedek] a tenth of all.”  

Genesis 15:14   “at which point, they would leave ‘with great wealth.'”  

Points to Ponder:

  1. What is your personal definition of wealth, and how does it align with the conventional perspective or the deeper, more spiritual one mentioned in the text?
  2. In the text, Abraham was described as “rich” with cattle, silver, and gold, and these possessions were referred to as “heavy.” How do you relate to the idea that wealth can become burdensome for its possessor? Have you experienced this in your own life, and how did you deal with it?
  3. The text highlights a dispute between Abraham and Lot over their respective possessions. What can we learn from Abraham’s solution of separating to avoid conflict? Have you ever encountered a situation where material possessions caused tension in your relationships?
  4. The text mentions that facing north is associated with becoming wealthy and facing south with becoming wise. Do you believe there’s a connection between wisdom and wealth? How can one balance the pursuit of knowledge and material prosperity in their life?
  5. Melchizedek’s blessing suggests that everything is ultimately G-d’s possession, as He is the Maker of heaven and earth. How does this perspective influence your understanding of wealth and your role as a steward of your possessions?
  6. Abraham gave a tenth of his wealth to Melchizedek as a tithe. Do you practice giving or charity as a way to acknowledge that your wealth comes from G-d? How does this practice impact your relationship with your possessions?
  7. Abraham’s refusal to take anything from the king of Sodom was based on his commitment to G-d as the source of his wealth. Have you ever faced a situation where you had to make a difficult decision between material gain and your spiritual values? How did you handle it?
  8. The text emphasizes that the Jewish people would leave Egypt with “great wealth” that came by way of Divine Intervention. What do you think this wealth symbolizes, and how can we apply this understanding to our own lives?
  9. The text suggests that true wealth, as a spiritual element, does not occupy physical space. What do you think this means, and how can you cultivate spiritual wealth in your life?
  10. In conclusion, what steps can you take to cultivate an awareness of the Divine origin of your endowments and experience both physical and spiritual abundance in your life?

Feel free to use these questions for group discussions or personal reflection to explore the deeper meaning of wealth and its role in your spiritual and personal growth.

Shabbat Shalom

By Rabbi Tani Burton

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