Acquiring Wealth

Imagine I have a good friend who owns a hedge fund. One day, he comes to me and says, “Listen, I’ve done an extensive amount of research. This company is poised for success. I’m telling you, the IPO is in two months – this is a winner.”

Not being a wealthy person but not being willing to risk missing out, I take ten thousand dollars and I buy into the initial public offering. Then, just as my friend predicted, the stock takes off like a rocket. The ten thousand becomes a hundred thousand, then two hundred thousand, then three hundred thousand. I finally sell out with a million dollar profit. Wow!

Imagine that I would say to myself, “But really, a million dollars isn’t that much money. I mean, come on, Bill Gates has forty billion. What’s a million dollars? You know, I’m sorry I did the whole thing. I completely regret it.” Obviously that would be silly. Just because I’m not the wealthiest man in North America doesn’t mean that a million dollars isn’t very valuable to me.

This is an important perspective that we have to remember when working on resisting lashon hara. Oftentimes we take the attitude, “Listen, I’m not going to be perfect. I’m not a tzaddik, and the odds of my actually guarding my tongue from now until I leave this planet are very slim.”

It’s one hundred percent true. You will not be perfect. But the reward that you get every time you do close your mouth is astronomical. Chazal (our sages) tell us that “For every moment that a person closes his mouth and doesn’t speak lashon hara, he is given reward that no angel or creation can ever imagine or envision.” That motivation should allow us to focus and be more careful about what we say.

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