Keeping Up With The Joneses

“When we wave the red kerchief of a lavish lifestyle in front of others, we are guilty of fanning the flames of jealousy and causing others to imitate our ways. ”

It’s been nearly two years since I wrote about the “Barnum & Bailey Wedding” that took place in our midst. While there were some that felt that people have a right to do whatever they want with their money, most Gedolei Yisroel feel otherwise.

Flaunting one’s wealth in public can cause jealousy, greed and even bring on an evil eye. Our chachomim tell us not to stand near a field filled with fully grown produce, since you can damage it with an evil eye.

Modesty is a personal virtue that is reflected in the clothing we wear, the homes we live in and the way we conduct ourselves at all times. When we wave the red kerchief of a lavish lifestyle in front of others, we are guilty of fanning the flames of jealousy and causing others to imitate our ways. While the Torah forbids us from desiring someone else’s possessions, it’s not easy to contain ourselves when people wave the flag of wealth and success in front of our eyes.

Flaunting one’s wealth in public is the cause of many of the problems we now encounter in our midst. When lavish weddings, extravagant lifestyles, and Buckingham Palaces surround us on all sides, it unfortunately causes people with lesser means to try and imitate these ways. That’s because peer pressure sometimes gets the better of us and may be responsible for many of the downfalls we see in personal business practices.

Kin’ah, tayvah and kovod easily grab hold of us and entice us to make irrational decisions. No wonder con artists have such an easy time cheating us out of our hard-earned money. The moment we see the green dollar bill flashed in front of our eyes, our brainwaves get crossed and we make irrational decisions. Even intelligent, experienced people fall easy prey to the conniving scam artist who promises high returns for their money. When you finally feel your empty pockets, you wonder how you could have been so dumb as to let your greed blind you.

Tragedy after tragedy should convince us of the dangers of driving in the fast lane, and get us to put the brakes on our lavish lifestyles and live a life of modesty instead!

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