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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Tips for the Powerball

Daf Yomi Gittin 30


Tonight is the biggest Powerball draw in the history of humankind.  One and a half billion dollars.   It’s not easy to get a ticket from Canada, but trust me, millions of Canadians are figuring out ways to buy the ticket to their dreams.

Honestly, though, why is everyone swept up in such a frenzied excitement?  Okay, it’s a billion and a half, so what?  Sure, we could all do with an extra billion dollars.  But let’s be honest, if you had the chance to win half a billion dollars, wouldn’t you be satisfied?  How about a hundred million?  Fifty million?  There are lotteries for that kind of money every week, so why is everyone rushing out to buy tickets now? 

Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov taught: If one lent money to a cohen or levi in a court of law and they died, he may tithe his produce and keep the tithes for himself in lieu of the debt repayment.  Similarly, if he lent money in court to a pauper who subsequently died, he may separate the poor-man’s tithe and keep it.  If he lent money to a pauper who subsequently became wealthy, he may not separate tithes and keep them, and furthermore the debtor need not repay the loan (since the assumption at the time and location of the lending was that there would be no repayment).
The Gemara asks: Why did the Rabbis institute a remedy for the case of sudden death but not for the case of sudden wealth?
The Gemara answers: Sudden death is common, sudden wealth is uncommon.
Rav Pappa adds: As they say, if you hear your friend suddenly died, believe it.  If you hear your friend suddenly became rich, don’t believe it.

Most of us wouldn’t even know what to do with a billion dollars.  Have you made a list yet of what you would do if you won the billion?  How far did you get?  Still a lot of money left to spend, right?  Give it to charity, you say?  So why should you buy the ticket?  Let the charitable organization buy their own ticket!

A billion dollars is way too much for anyone to spend on themselves.   I know billionaires; they don’t live very differently to you and me.   Maybe they struggle a little less to pay school tuition.  Perhaps they don’t feel as guilty when they splurge on the wine with their dinner order.  But really, the level-headed billionaires are regular people, just like you and me.

What are you really missing in your life that you would buy if you had a spare billion?  Now that you’ve made that list, you’re probably realizing that you don’t need to win a billion dollars.  A hundred million is even probably too much.  And for that matter, fifty or even twenty million. 

The truth is that most of us would be happy if we just had a few more dollars in our pockets to buy those extra bits and pieces we need.   The good news is, you don’t need to win the Powerball jackpot to get those dollars.  In a moment’s notice, Hashem could give you a raise, or bring you a big client or two, and you would have all the jackpot money you’ve been dreaming of!

That’s what Rav Pappa means when he says don’t believe people who tell you they became rich overnight.  If you want to truly prosper, it takes hard work, commitment, and trust in the Almighty.   And all your dreams are completely achievable in the here and now.

Write down the things you want and then set yourself goals on how you will achieve your dreams.  You want a boat?  It doesn’t take a billion dollars to own a boat.  It might cost ten thousand, which means that with a good savings plan, you can own the boat you’ve always dreamed of.  A trip to Israel?  Again, start budgeting, planning, and praying for Hashem’s abundant hand, and you will be on the plane to the Holy Land in no time at all!


Time and again we are reminded of the sage words of Pirkei Avos, “Who is rich?  One who is happy with his lot.”  You could literally be a billionaire and still be unhappy with life.  Or you can believe that Hashem will provide you with everything you seek; and be happy today, knowing that He is always there for you.  May you merit prosperity, abundance and success in all your material and spiritual endeavours!