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New Criterion For The Forbes 400

Pursuant to the previous post we must mention that if riches are used for good purposes then one should definitely try to acquire them. We [my yetzer tov and I] just meant that money should not be deified.

So it behooves us to define what it means to be wealthy. The gemara in Shabbos [25] says in the name of Rebbi Yossi [in the Soncino gemara I used in high school to help me study for gemara tests, Rebbe Yossi is translated as "Rabbi Jose" - ostensibly a Puerto Rican sage] that one is rich "if his lavatory is situated near his dining room table".

WHAAAAAAAAT????????????? That is wealth? A bathroom near his table. Au contraire! Rich people have such big houses the bathroom might be a mile away. POOR PEOPLE have homes in which all the rooms are close to each other. And what type of definition is that? A large Swiss bank account, a private airplane, thirty thousand shares in Google - now that is rich! As a child [last month?] I read Richie Rich comic books. I have no recollection that "Rebbetzin" Regina Rich made sure that her restroom was near the dining room table - and the Riches were really rich. I used to watch Robin Leach hosting "Lifestyles Of The Rich And The Famous" and I don't remember that the fantastically wealthy people featured on the show had such a setup.

As they say in the Yeshivos - What's pshat???????

This is similar to the opinon of R' Yochanan in Bava Metzia (107a). I know of 4 approaches to explain this statement of R' Yose and R' Yochanan:

1. The Torah Temima in his comments to Devarim perek 28 (comment #5) explains that in those days people would have to go outside the city to use the bathroom. It was considered very prestigious to have a bathroom in your home.

2. The Rashba on the Gemara in Shabbos learns that the lashon of "samuch" (next to...) is chronological not physical, ayein sham. It is hard to understand how he understands R' Yose's comment in the context of the sugya, but is seems that he was bothered with your question.

3. The Maharsha (chiddushei aggados, Shabbos there) explains that there are different motivations for aquiring wealth. One of them is to ensure his ability to care for himself if he gets sick, chas v'shalom. One of the things that a person will need to make this possible is a bathroom in his home.

4. Lastly, one of the talmidim of the maggid of meziritch (sp?) in his sefer "Or Hameir" explains that R' Yose's comment is similar to "eizehu ashir, hasame'ach b'chelko". A bathroom that is next to one's table is a constant reminder that the body does not retain excess foods that are eaten purely for physical enjoyment. This helps a person become truly "ashir" in his perspective of the world that he only needs so much to live and be happy and healthy.

You are awesome!!!

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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