While various cultures idealize materialism or asceticism, Jewish philosophy reveals a workable balance between the two; a balance which most people intuitively know is crucial for lasting happiness.
How is this balance achieved? Even a Torah-observing Jew has to ask this question, and might be subject to misconceptions. And though to know the answer is to know Torah, a life-long objective, the Torah does provide direction:
"The Holy One, Blessed is He, does not reside except on one who is wise, strong, and wealthy... "From a Torah perspective, it is obvious that true wisdom leads to an intimate relationship with G-d. It is less obvious that such a relationship is fostered by strength. But wealth: what does wealth have to do with closeness to the Creator? The answer to this question requires an understanding of the true purpose of material possessions.
Talmud Nedarim, 38a
This book intends to address this issue in a very succinct manner. Much of what I have written is not new; nevertheless, I believe that in the context of the material as a whole, many ideas will take on new meaning. Hopefully, the brevity of the book will not diminish the importance of its message, which is applicable to Jews on all levels of commitment to Jewish observance.
I hesitate writing a book of this nature, as I do not consider myself an authority on this matter. However, I have had the benefit of being exposed to exceptional teachers and role models who have had a tremendous impact on me and the way in which I view the world. What I gained from them I cannot help but share with others. I hope this book will prove useful to all who read it.
A brief note: the decision to use transliterated Hebrew names of biblical characters instead of the familiarized anglicized versions was made because the former are the actual names and therefore more accurate.
Before acknowledging my heartfelt appreciation to all those who have played a significant role in my life, I wish to thank God for all the blessing He has bestowed upon me and my family.
To my wife, Ahava, the inspiration and motivation for so much of my growth and accomplishments, and a source of my personal strength, I am eternally grateful. I am also grateful to my parents Jack and Betty Winston upon whose love and support I continue to build myself, and to my in-laws, Avrom and Roslyn Neumark for their ongoing love and support.
I would also like to thank Rabbi Noah Weinberg, Dean of Yeshivat Aish HaTorah, his staff, and the staff of Aish HaTorah Toronto, for investing so much time and energy into my spiritual growth.
A very special thank you goes to Shelley and Bill Herman, great friends who, among other things, spent much time and energy editing and bringing this book to fruition. They have taught me much about the level of devotion one can achieve in order to accomplish a meaningful goal.
Thank you also goes to Lisa Ben Simon for her editorial contributions.
I would also like to acknowledge and thank two very caring and helpful people, Helen and joe Berman. It is a great honor and pleasure to be considered part of their 'extended' family.
Hodu l’Hashem ki tov
Erev Rosh Chodesh Shvat 5752