Many people mistakenly think that peace of mind is dependent on
external possessions. Rabbi Simcha Zissel cited the following story:
A wise man lived in dire poverty. To save him suffering, the king gave
him a large amount of silver and gold.
To the king's amazement, the wise man came the next morning and said:
"Here is your gold and silver. Please take it back because I don't
"Why would you return my gift?" the astonished king asked.
"My master," replied the wise man, "my entire life I have always had
peace and tranquility. I have never pursued wealth and have always
been satisfied with the basic necessities of life. Due to my modest
demands I have always had more than what I needed. My mind was free to
engage in my studies. But yesterday when I took the silver, my mind
started worrying about what I would do with the money. Perhaps I
should invest in real estate; perhaps I should begin a commercial
venture. My mind was in such turmoil that I was unable to sleep. I
found myself so preoccupied with the money that no other thoughts
entered my mind. Please take the money back. I had more peace of mind
Today, ask yourself: Is my pursuit of materialism in any way a source
(see Chochmah Umussar, vol.1, p.5; Gateway to Happiness, p.80)
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