Joe approaches his friend Mike and says, “Hey, Mike, I’ve come up with a great match for you–Bill Gates’ daughter!”
Mike is intrigued, “Sure, I’d be happy to meet her!” he replies.
Joe then heads over to Bill Gates. “I have a wonderful idea for your daughter–I would like to set her up with the vice president of the World Bank!”
“Sounds cool,” says Gates.
Next, Joe knocks on the door of the President of the World Bank. “I have an excellent vice president for you–my friend Mike.”
What an upside down world. Jobs seem to define everything about us, taking precedence over character, personality, relationships and values. Chances are, the last time you bumped into a friend you haven’t seen in a while, he or she didn’t ask in the course of the 2-minute conversation, “How is your family?” But he or she probably did ask, “So, where do you work?”
In this week’s Torah portion, we learn about how the Jewish people were instructed to sacrifice a lamb. The lamb was one of the foremost idols of Egypt. After 210 years of enslavement, the Jews were very much affected by the mentality and icons of the surrounding culture. As part of the process of redemption–physical, emotional and spiritual–they would need to abandon those deities. By taking a lamb, keeping it bound in his home for a few days and then slaughtering it, each Jew would be enabled to break free of the hold of the Egyptian mindset and empowered to embark on a new life, one of liberty connection to G-d.
If the Egyptian deity was the lamb, the Western one is the Dollar. We venerate Franklin’s picture the way that ancient culture worshipped an animal. When people approach you in awe, do you think they respect you? Of course not! It’s your money they are impressed with!
If we are to become truly free men–individuals of character who live meaningful lives–we must first abandon the service of the green bill. It is about time we began respecting people for their values rather than their assets, prioritizing family over finances and idealizing character over capital.