Shaya Cohen -


“I have too much money” – No Jew, Ever.

Actually, as @susanquinn corrected me, nobody ever decides they have too much money. But this outspoken, red-in-tooth-and-claw capitalist thinks that maybe they should. Not because the idea occurred to me, but because the Torah seems to suggest it.

From Egypt, Abram went up into the Negeb, with his wife and all that he possessed, together with Lot. Now Abram was very rich in cattle, silver, and gold. …Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support them staying together; for their possessions were so great that they could not remain together. And there was quarreling between the herdsmen of Abram’s cattle and those of Lot’s cattle. … Abram said to Lot, “Let there be no strife between you and me, between my herdsmen and yours, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Let us separate: if you go north, I will go south; and if you go south, I will go north. (Gen. 13:6-9)

We know how well that worked out. Lot first has to be saved by Avraham, and then Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed. Lot ends up committing incest with his daughters, and his name becomes associated with ignominious failure.  

Here’s the question: why didn’t Avraham think to solve the problem of limited land by reducing his assets? After all, if there were fewer cattle to graze, resources would not have been strained to the point of disputes within the family.

It seems to me that our forefather put his material wealth ahead of the relationship with his nephew. Had they stayed together, it could have led to a great future for the descendants of both, instead of the catastrophe for Lot that it became.

It does not appear that such a solution was considered by either Avraham or Lot. But the Torah seems to be leading us to ask “why not?”

Ideas are welcome!

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