And the answer is absolutely. Can a man with two arms do more than a man with one arm? If a man doesn’t have arms, he can’t put on tefillin. So arms are necessary for tefillin. If a man doesn’t have money, he can’t buy kosher tefillin, so he’s not mekayem the mitzvah. If a man doesn’t have money, he can’t give tzedakah.
“Oh,” you say, “well if you don’t have money, you don’t have to give tzedakah.”
You know what happens if you don’t give tzedakah? You’re a poor man; you have no money, so you don’t give tzedakah; you know what happens? After a while you lose all interest in giving tzedakah because you’re out of practice. The feeling of tzedakah becomes atrophied. If you don’t use it, you’re out of practice. And therefore a lot of poor people have no interest.
So let’s say the yeshiva sends out letters. And here a poor man gets letters from all the yeshivas. What does he do? Straight from the mailbox he throws it into the garbage can. Because he has no money anyhow. He has no interest in the yeshivas. But a rich man, he has money so he reads it and he sends something in. He has a sympathy for yeshivas. This rich man might even be invited to the yeshiva after a while. They see he sends checks, so they call him up and say, “We invite you to join the Board of Directors.”
And now he takes an interest in the problems of the yeshiva. He worries about the yeshiva. After a while this rich man becomes an oihev Torah. The poor man however, he’ll never be on the Board of Directors. How can he be an oihev Torah?
Now it’s possible for a poor man to love Torah, it’s possible. But he has to work very hard. He has to learn mussar and he has to think into it. But a rich man automatically becomes an oihev Torah.
I was once at a rich man’s office. This man had knitting mills; a very rich man. And I saw that the biggest roshei yeshiva had been in his office. Which poor man would be zocheh to spend time with the roshei yeshiva? This man did. And he spent a lot of time with their company! That’s a zechiya! It’s a greatness! There’s no question that a rich man can become greater by his wealth.
Of course there’s another rich man who uses his money not to be in company of roshei yeshivah. He’s in the company of I-don’t-want-to-say-who. He’s sitting at night in the cabaret and he’s sitting in the worst company. So this man has taken the glory of wealth, the opportunities of wealth, and has used it to ruin himself. But wealth is an opportunity.
TAPE # 318 (June 1980)