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Av 6

A piece of dry bread with peace is better than an abundant house with strife (Proverbs 17:1).

One young man whom I treated for drug addiction expressed what must be on the minds of many young people who have either used drugs or resorted to other unhealthy types of behavior.

"I wanted the kicks and I wanted them now," he said. "I didn't see any reason to wait for anything because I had no dreams of a happy future. Why should I exert myself? To achieve success and wealth? I could go to law school, and if I were lucky, become a successful lawyer and make a great deal of money. I could then have a house in the suburbs with a huge garden and a swimming pool. I could have a luxury car and a summer home with a speedboat. Well, that is exactly what my home looks like, and our home must be one of the most miserable places in the world. My parents have always been bickering, and they are now in the middle of divorce proceedings. If knocking myself out to achieve success will bring me that kind of happiness, forget it!"

For some young people, the worst thing that happened to them was that the American dream came true - and proved itself to be a nightmare. Money alone cannot create a pleasant, peaceful household; only when the family's goals are spiritual can the household be a happy one. If this household is not rich, the absence of luxuries can be tolerated; if it is rich, the luxuries can be truly enjoyed.

Today I shall...

re-examine my values with the realization that material success alone never produces happiness.

With stories and insights, Rabbi Twerski's new book Twerski on Machzor makes Rosh Hashanah prayers more meaningful. Click here to order...

Published: May 21, 2009

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