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The Responsibility of Wealth

The Responsibility of Wealth

When all is said and done, all you're left with is the money you've given away.


JK Rowling is among the wealthiest and most famous women in the world and has been honored by the Queen of England. She will be forever remembered and honored in English literature for authoring the Harry Potter series, but her true greatness lies in what she does with the rewards of her success. She uses it to help others. JK Rowling has just donated 70,000 pounds (over $120,000) to a girl whose hands and feet were amputated due to a bad case of meningitis. The money is going toward fitting her with prostheses.

Fame, fortune, celebrity and power can be wonderful… but not as ends in themselves. They are merely resources, tools to achieving a greater end. Our job in this world is to help those less fortunate than ourselves. This is how we connect to others, how we connect to God, and how we achieve true greatness.

Many people possess great skills and talents, yet will never achieve renown outside their circle of family, friends and colleagues. People are given wealth and power because they are meant to use them, not necessarily because they are more deserving of them. Those who do achieve a wider measure of success have an equally larger measure of responsibility. How much do the rich and famous glory in self-gratification, and how many use their good fortunes to help others? The world waits to see what such people do with their resources and success -- and takes their cue from them.

Can't take it with you

Most of us don't have 70,000 pounds to donate at will. However, all of us enjoy some fruits of our labor. And fruit according to Jewish law is meant to be tithed. And for that matter, so is our money, our time and our energy. Success and talents are gifts that we are meant to use in serving God by serving others. The more we have, the greater our obligation to give. Which isn't to say that we shouldn't enjoy ourselves or live according to whatever lifestyle we can afford. But at the same time, we aren't given success, money, power, talent or fame so that we can go shopping.

The charity we've contributed remain ours forever.

The Jewish view of money is that what you're left with, when all is said and done, is that which you've given away. Because you can't take anything else with you. The cars, yachts, mansions and artwork don't truly belong to us, because we can lose them at any moment, and we ultimately leave them behind. But the charity we've contributed, the loans we've given, the presents we've bestowed, and the donations we've made remain ours forever.

Giving to others also make us appreciate exactly how much we do have. Ironically, it's giving -- not acquiring -- that makes us wealthier. Although fame and fortune (or even being young and upwardly mobile) comes with its own price tag, charity should always be seen as part of the spending plan.

Even financially speaking, it's a good investment. If your boss sees that you invest your salary back into the company, he's more likely to give you a raise. By the same token, if God sees you using your assets to help others in His company, He's more likely to raise your salary.

Don't we feel happy when we read that someone who has everything they could possibly want uses it to make others happy -- instead of on some extravagant spending spree? And doesn't that then inspire us to want to do the same?

I feel good knowing that while I'm enjoying reading Harry Potter books, the money I pay for them is helping others enjoy a better life, too.

April 17, 2004

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Visitor Comments: 7

(7) SusanE, August 14, 2011 4:02 PM

Do the Super Wealthy and Super Charitable co-Exist?

The author giving 70,000. pounds for limbs is as most of us giving charity of 100 pounds. It's nothing compared to her degree of wealth. I'm sure she is a fine woman. But lets not confuse degrees of charity here. Perhaps our 100 pounds should be written up in the Sunday mail as well.. The super wealthy aren't as charitable as one might think because they are still wealthy, aren't they? They have kept the vast majority of their wealth. Most are charitable but only up to a point. Aren't we all? ------------------- A tithe of 10% of an annual wage of $20,000. can make paying bills and buying food a bit harder on the $18,000. remaining before taxes and giving charity. Tithing 10% of an annual $500,000. salary, lets a family pay bills and eat very easily on the $450,000. left. I understand that taxes are lower for those who earn more. Giving charity doesn't deprive this family. Most billionaires start Foundations or other organizations that are tax exempt. Many travel and donate real estate through these Foundations and organizations, and live quite well and pay little in income taxes. I don't know the benefits from these privately held organizations, I know only what the media tells me.. Many churches have huge amounts of real estate donated by the super wealthy, who benefit from the church owned status of their gifts. Unless privacy issues have changed, those gifts and donations are not public and are secret within the church. I would wonder that if the super wealthy paid a bit more in income taxes, those needing charity in society would benefit from the overall use of those taxes more than the charitable contributions by those considered wealthy.

(6) James daramola, June 9, 2011 8:25 PM

Responsibility of wealth

It isn't right for someone who is selfish to be rich. What is the use of money to a stingy person? Don't say that you can rich. If you deny yourself in order to accumulate wealth, you are only accumulating it for someone else. How can you be generous with others if you are stingy with yourself. Anything he does in good, it is only by accident. More important than giving is the motive behind it. It is not what you give or how much. As will all know all ready that money is temporaly, you can make it and lose it.

(5) James daramola, June 7, 2011 10:31 PM

Types of friend we choose.

Be careful about the kind of friend you invite into your homes, because clever people can fool you in many ways. Do good to humble people, but don't give anything to those who are not devout. (To know a real friend), is when things are going well, it hard times you can recognise your enemies; even your friends will leave you then, but when you are successful your enemies will act like a friends. (seat an enemy at your right hand, and the next thing you know he will be trying to get your own place of honour). An enemy will stay with you for a while, but not when troubles comes. He will pretend to share your sorrow, but he will kill you if he get a chance. If troubles comes your way,you will find waiting, ready to help you. So be caution of inviting friends to homes.......

(4) Char, April 21, 2004 12:00 AM

The Giving that was given to us

More important than giving is the motive behind it. It is not what you give or how much, but the motive behind it. All our labor in life should be towards doing so that HaShem gets the praise and glory and it is greatly multiplied when we do for the poor, the needy, the hungry, for those who have lost their way in life, for those who are sick and lonely. May all we say and do bring praise to Our Maker -- The Keeper of the Heavens and the Earth -- the Holy One of Yisroel.

(3) Anonymous, April 19, 2004 12:00 AM


This is a wonderful essay. Money is temporary, you can make it and lose it, and if you can make it once you can make it again. However your time is far more valuable. You can not recapture lost time, and every moment of one's life is a moment and a memory never again to be renewed. Giving of one's time is more valuable than money. Every memory one creates or doesn't create can not be redone. We must make our use of time, memories, personal relations, and dreams as valuable as we can in both our charity and our daily lives with others.

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