web analytics
July 5, 2015 / 18 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Lifestyles Of The Rich And Righteous


Every year Forbes magazine publishes a list of the highest paid individuals in the world. This year Forbes informed us that the actor Johnny Depp made $92 million while Nicole Kidman was Hollywood’s highest paid actress, commanding an estimated $16 million per movie.

Meanwhile, Barry Diller, CEO of IAC/InterActiveCorp, earned $295 million; Michael Dell, CEO of Dell, brought in $153 million; and Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and cofounder of Blackstone Group, took home $940 million. Endless lists of earners are inexhaustibly keynoted and referenced by every imaginable cross-index.

We have a seemingly insatiable, obsessive desire to know about the earnings and spending patterns of celebrities. We just can’t get enough.

For 11 years, until 1995, Robin Leach made a very nice living hosting “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.” Each week his audience was presented with a vicarious peek at extravagant mansions, vacations and the conspicuous consumption of the wealthy and powerful. Of course, only a tiny minority of the show’s viewers could ever afford these luxuries. But that wasn’t the primary focus. The point was to sit back and be taken on a whirlwind fantasy tour, during which the viewer could imagine what it might be like to spend money and possess luxuries beyond his or her wildest dreams.

America is a country dedicated to consumerism. Spending on luxury goods in the United States is rising at four times the rate of overall spending. We have become obsessed with luxury goods and brand names.

In our acute hunger to know everything about the spending patterns of the rich and famous, a strange phenomenon of omission has presented itself. Rarely do US Weekly, People or the National Enquirer raise a simple, concomitant issue: which charities do these celebrities and rich people support, and what percentage of their income do they donate?

Our society has become laser-focused solely on making lots of money and aspiring to spend that money on extraordinary extravagances. While we occasionally acknowledge generous charitable gifts, it gets nowhere the same amount of media time as celebrities’ latest clothes and vacations. Let’s face it: very few viewers would tune into a television program entitled “Lifestyles of the Thoughtful and Charitable.”

And it is not just the people we see on television. When was the last time we asked our friends, as they boisterously brag about their most recent jewelry purchase or exotic vacation, where they gave their charitable contributions and how much they gave?

If we did ask those types of questions, how long would they continue to be our friends?

Societal pressure and communal obligation to give charitable donations commensurate with our income is no longer pervasive. Many feel that helping those less fortunate is just a nice, feel-good thing to do.

For Jews, however, charity is not a polite afterthought but a requisite, integral component of our lives, morality and religion. The Hebrew word “tzedakah” literally means “righteousness.” The Talmud treats the obligation of tzedakah very seriously. All of us are required to give it – even a poor person who lives entirely on charity. The average American gives three percent of his or her income to charity, but Jewish tradition actually mandates giving between 10 and 20 percent, depending on one’s circumstances. Many in the Orthodox Jewish and evangelical Christian communities carefully and diligently practice this tradition, called “tithing” in the Bible and Talmud.

Our obligation to tithe is based on the premise that whatever material possessions we possess, they were loaned to us by God. Therefore, as fiduciaries, we are required to use them to help others in need.

Judaism also recognizes the reality that not since the days of the delusional ancient Pharaohs with their palatial tombs has any individual ever taken their prized physical possessions into the next world. There are no pockets in death shrouds.

The Rambam identified eight ascending levels of tzedakah:

● A person gives but resents giving.

● A person gives cheerfully but gives less than tithing.

● A person gives but only when asked by a poor person.

● A person gives without having to be asked but gives directly to the poor. The beneficiary knows who gave the help, and the donor knows who was benefited.

● A person gives a donation in a certain place but walks away so that the donor does not know who received the benefit; however, the poor person knows the giver.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Lifestyles Of The Rich And Righteous”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
ISIS-linked Sinai Province terror group prepares to fire missiles at Israel from the Sinai Peninsula.
ISIS Prompts State of Emergency in Tunisia, Declaration of ‘War’ in Egypt
Latest Indepth Stories
An ISIS Gaza rocket launcher.

PM Netanyahu this week identified ISIS and Iran as Israel’s primary threat. It is a planetary threat that carries the promise of peace.

U.S. postage stamp honoring Haym Solomon.

Haym Solomon, overlooked hero of the Revolutionary War, was America’s “Funding Father.”

Jelgava Synagogue, Latvia

Latvia, July 4, 1941 they forced many Jews in the shul putting it on fire; everyone was burned alive

United Nations Building, New York City

There’s blood on the reporters’ hands AND New Israel Fund for funding groups feeding lies to the UN

Respect & appreciation for our country is not only a civic value but an essential Jewish one as well

When words lose meaning, the world becomes an Orwellian dystopia; a veritable Tower of Babel

Israel, like the non-radical Islamic world. will be happy see the ISIS beheaded for once.

Kids shouldn’t have “uninstructed” Internet access, better to train them how to use it responsibly

What if years from now, IS were to control substantial territory? What world havoc would that wreak?

Rambam writes the verse’s double term refers to 2 messiahs: first King David; 2nd the final Mashiach

The Gaza flotilla has been rightfully and legally blocked by Israel’s Navy, with greetings from Bibi

The president described the attack as “an act that drew on a long history of bombs and arson and shots fired at churches, not random, but as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress…”

“The only [candidate] that’s going to give real support to Israel is me,” said the 69-year-old Trump.

And whereas at the outset the plan was that Iran would have to surrender most of its centrifuges, it will now be able to retain several thousand.

More Articles from George D. Hanus

It makes no sense. It defies logic. You’ve got two reliable statistics from two reputable sources and yet they stand in utter opposition to each other, like statistical non-sequiturs.

Released in 1987, Where’s Waldo? was the first of illustrator Martin Handford’s Waldo series of books to become a sensation. Where’s Waldo? introduces readers to the eponymous hero, a distinctively dressed young man who sets off on a worldwide journey. Waldo travels to everyday places, like the beach, ski slopes and the zoo, each of which is detailed by two-page illustrated spreads filled with people and activities. Somewhere amidst the intricately crowded scene is the camouflaged Waldo, and readers are asked to scour the detailed illustration to locate the lost traveler.

Nearly 52 years ago, on October 5, 1956, a newly released movie billed itself as “the greatest event in motion picture history.”

There is an allegorical story about a luxury passenger ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean that hits an iceberg and begins to sink. On the lower decks, the crew and passengers make a valiant but unsuccessful effort to plug the hole in the ship’s hull. On the upper deck, first-class passengers rearrange the deck chairs, sun themselves and play shuffleboard, seemingly oblivious to the disaster around them. Meanwhile, the ship’s band plays on.

Every year Forbes magazine publishes a list of the highest paid individuals in the world. This year Forbes informed us that the actor Johnny Depp made $92 million while Nicole Kidman was Hollywood’s highest paid actress, commanding an estimated $16 million per movie.

Every January, in an annual rite, nearly half of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight. About half of those will pledge eternal servitude to their new diet plans. Sometimes the diets work – in the short run. We drop a size or two, look younger, more svelte and bask in insincere gratuitous compliments from colleagues and friends. But two-thirds of Americans who lose weight gain it back within a year. Over 90 percent gain it back within five years.

Everyone is familiar with the age-old question: If a tree falls in the forest, but nobody is around to hear it, does it make a sound? To some, that may sound like a silly rhetorical quandary, but it actually provides a wonderful metaphor to describe a huge problem facing today’s Jewish community.

In Yiddish folklore, the real-life Polish town of Chelm was characterized as a legendary community of fools. According to this folkloric tradition, Chelm’s residents were exceedingly proud of their tradition of non-wisdom and convoluted insight into the world’s problems. They viewed themselves as brilliant.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/lifestyles-of-the-rich-and-righteous/2008/02/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: