Posts tagged " Leviticus 19:15 "

Can success be too much of a good thing?

March 27th, 2019 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 13 comments

I truly believe that God wants all of us to succeed in what we do in life. But people I know (some family and friends) that succeeded in their professions seem to get more greedy. All they really talk about is how much money they made.

Deep down I feel I don’t know these people anymore. Can success be too much of good thing?


Dear Greg,

It can be extremely upsetting to grow apart from people with whom we used to feel close. We do hope you can find a way to retain these relationships.

Before we move on to the essence of your question, we want to raise a thought that may be completely off the wall or might possibly just be worth considering.

1. Is there any chance that the envy bug has affected you so that you are being hyper-sensitive and a bit self-righteous?

In different times and places society becomes prejudiced against the poor; at other times the prejudice targets the wealthy. Today, resentment, jealousy and disdain against those who have achieved some financial success is rampant. Frankly, it is hard not to be affected by the surrounding culture. Both halves of the equation in Leviticus 19:15 are meant to apply: “Do not make an unfair judgment: do not favor the poor or show deference to the rich; judge your kinsman fairly.”

Now that we have asked you to peer carefully into your heart, let’s move on to the issue of balance.

We often stress the timeless truth that we human beings are neither angels nor apes.  We are physical beings with a yearning for God.  As such, we are finely tuned to blend the spiritual and physical. So, for example, abandoning human interaction and focusing only on prolonged, isolated meditation and prayer is just as much of a problem as is neglecting our relationship with God and being obsessed with our gym routine or social media.

Deuteronomy 31:15 speaks of the children of Israel ‘becoming fat’ and ‘kicking’ at God. It is describing the natural temptations and risks that arise when things are going well in our individual and/or national lives. Rather than being filled with gratitude and appreciation, after an amazingly short time, we ‘kick’ at the source of our blessings. This is true in our relationship to the ultimate Source, God, but it can also be true for the foundations of our country or our family.

It is easier to be aware of the struggles involved while we are going through tough times. We sometimes ignore the struggles involved when blessing pour down upon us. Hopefully, your family and friends will adjust to their new financial realities and remind themselves of the other important areas in their lives. And, we hope as well, that you are able to retain a loving heart to those who are doing well financially as well as to those who aren’t.

Use your blessings wisely,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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