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What are Torah sources that discuss what actions a person should take in order to become rich?

  • 4
    איזהו עשיר השומח בחלקו – DonielF Jul 6 '18 at 5:44
  • 1
    "sources" is too broad. – Oliver Jul 6 '18 at 7:00
  • 2
    Do you mean to ask for Jewish sources? Because otherwise this should be closed... – רבות מחשבות Jul 6 '18 at 11:11
  • Buy wholesale, sell discounted retail, with a smile, and service what you sell. – Gary Jul 6 '18 at 14:57
  • 2
    "If I were a rich man - yada didi daidi dada lada didi daidi dum..." ;-) – ezra Jul 6 '18 at 17:43
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A few Talmudic sources (which are open to interpretation):

  1. BM (59a):

(וא"ר) חלבו לעולם יהא אדם זהיר בכבוד אשתו שאין ברכה מצויה בתוך ביתו של אדם אלא בשביל אשתו שנאמר (בראשית יב, טז) ולאברם הטיב בעבורה והיינו דאמר להו רבא לבני מחוזא אוקירו לנשייכו כי היכי דתתעתרו

And Rabbi Ḥelbo says: A person must always be careful about sustaining the honor of his wife, as blessing is found in a person’s house only because of his wife, as it is stated in allusion to this: “And he dealt well with Abram for her sake, and he had sheep and oxen” (Genesis 12:16). And that is what Rava said to the residents of Meḥoza, where he lived: Honor your wives, so that you will become rich.

  1. BB (25b):

אמר רבי יצחק הרוצה שיחכים ידרים ושיעשיר יצפין וסימניך שלחן בצפון ומנורה בדרום ורבי יהושע בן לוי אמר לעולם ידרים שמתוך שמתחכם מתעשר שנאמר (משלי ג, טז) אורך ימים בימינה בשמאלה עושר וכבוד

Rabbi Yitzḥak says: One who wishes to become wise should face south, and one who wishes to become wealthy should face north. And your mnemonic for this is that in the Temple the Table, [which symbolized blessing and abundance,] was in the north, and the Candelabrum, [which symbolized the light of wisdom,] was in the south of the Sanctuary. And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: One should always face south, as once he becomes wise he will subsequently also become wealthy, as it is stated with regard to the Torah: “Length of days is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor” (Proverbs 3:16).

  1. Shab. (62b):

...ולאו מלתא היא דאמר רב חסדא אנא משאי מלא חפני מיא ויהבו לי מלא חפני טיבותא

[The Gemara notes:] And that is not so, as Rav Ḥisda said: I wash my hands with handfuls of water and they gave me in reward handfuls of prosperity. [Apparently, in order to garner the benefits of ritual washing of his hands, one should use a significant amount of water.]

  1. Pes. (49a):

...איני והא אמר רבי יוחנן הרוצה שיתעשר ידבק בזרעו של אהרן כל שכן שתורה וכהונה מעשרתן לא קשיא הא בתלמיד חכם הא בעם הארץ

[The Gemara asks:] Is that so? Didn’t Rabbi Yoḥanan himself say: One who wishes to become wealthy should cling to the descendants of Aaron, and all the more so should the merit of the Torah and the priesthood cause them to become wealthy. [The Gemara answers:] This is not difficult, as this case, [where he becomes wealthy,] refers to a Torah scholar [who marries a woman of priestly lineage. In that case their union will be a successful one.] That case, [where their union will not be auspicious,] refers to an ignoramus [who marries a woman of priestly lineage.]

  1. Yoma (26a) speaks of the incense service in the temple, yet later rabbis posit that the same would apply to one who recites the passage of the incenses:

גמ׳ תנא מעולם לא שנה אדם בה מ"ט א"ר חנינא מפני שמעשרת

A Sage taught in the Tosefta: No person ever performed the service of the incense twice, [as a new priest was always found for this service. The Gemara asks:] What is the reason [that they were insistent that no priest should be assigned this task more than once in his life]? Rabbi Ḥanina said: It is because it brings wealth to the one who performs it. [Since bringing the incense was a blessing for wealth, it was decided that as many different priests as possible should have an opportunity to do this service.]

6

Sorry to spoil the party. Those answers represent the famous "availability bias" - they only bring the positive correlations and totally ignore the negative ones:

  1. Beitzah 16a: "כל מזונותיו של אדם קצובים לו מראש השנה ועד יום הכפורים חוץ מהוצאת שבתות והוצאת י"ט והוצאת בניו לתלמוד תורה שאם פחת פוחתין לו ואם הוסיף מוסיפין לו"
    "The (heavenly) providence for a person is allotted (and fixed) in advance..."

  2. Tanhuma Pikudey: "הקדוש ברוך הוא גוזר על הטיפה מה יהא בסופה, אם זכר אם נקבה, אם חלש גיבור, אם עני אם עשיר, אם קצר או ארוך, אם מכוער או נאה, אם עבה או דק, אם בזוי או גס. "
    "haKB"H declares (when the insemination takes place) whether the person to be born will be ... rich or poor"

  3. Taanit 25b - the story of R' Elazar ben Pdat: "כי אתער אמרו ליה מ"ט קבכית וחייכת אמר להו דהוה יתיב עמי הקב"ה ואמרי ליה עד מתי אצטער בהאי עלמא ואמר לי אלעזר בני ניחא לך דאפכיה לעלמא מרישא אפשר דמתילדת בשעתא דמזוני "
    (In short) R"E was extremely poor. One day he asked haKBH in his dream to make him richer. haKNH replied - do you want me to destroy this world, and create a new one and MAYBE you will be born under a Mazal of providence.

A lot of additional stories (R' Chanina, Rashbi etc) show the aforementioned conclusion - there's nothing a person can do about his financial state, but he can always pray to Hashem to improve it.

It seems that the examples that the sages bring (see @Oliver's answer) are purely educational, not factual and there's no clear correlation between one's deeds and one's income.

  • 1
    I what way are they educational if they are not factual? – Alex Jul 6 '18 at 15:55
  • Exactly what I was thinking. Great answer, Al Berko. +1 – ezra Jul 6 '18 at 17:43
  • how can something be educational but not factual? What does one learn from something that is false? – Dude Oct 7 '18 at 17:55
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This is discussed directly in the Talmud:

Shabbos 119a

בעא מיניה רבי מר' ישמעאל ברבי יוסי עשירים שבא"י במה הן זוכין א"ל בשביל שמעשרין שנאמר עשר תעשר עשר בשביל שתתעשר שבבבל במה הן זוכין א"ל בשביל שמכבדין את התורה ושבשאר ארצות במה הן זוכין א"ל בשביל שמכבדין את השבת דאמר רבי חייא בר אבא פעם אחת נתארחתי אצל בעל הבית בלודקיא והביאו לפניו שלחן של זהב משוי ששה עשר בני אדם ושש עשרה שלשלאות של כסף קבועות בו וקערות וכוסות וקיתוניות וצלוחיות קבועות בו ועליו כל מיני מאכל וכל מיני מגדים ובשמים וכשמניחים אותו אומרים לה' הארץ ומלואה וגו' וכשמסלקין אותו אומרים השמים שמים לה' והארץ נתן לבני אדם אמרתי לו בני במה זכית לכך אמר לי קצב הייתי ומכל בהמה שהיתה נאה אמרתי זו תהא לשבת אמרתי לו [אשריך שזכית] וברוך המקום שזיכך לכך

Rabbi asked R. Ishmael son of R. Jose, The wealthy in Palestine, whereby do they merit [wealth]? — Because they give tithes, he replied, as it is written, ‘Asser te'asser [which means], give tithes [‘asser] so that thou mayest become wealthy [tith'asser]. Those in Babylon, wherewith do they merit [it]? — Because they honour the Torah, replied he. And those in other countries, whereby do they merit it? — Because they honour the Sabbath, answered he. For R. Hiyya b. Abba related: I was once a guest of a man in Laodicea, and a golden table was brought before him, which had to be carried by sixteen men; sixteen silver chains were fixed in it, and plates, goblets, pitchers and flasks were set thereon, thereon, and upon it were all kinds of food, dainties and spices. When they set it down they recited, The earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof; and when they removed it [after the meal] they recited, The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, But the earth hath he given to the children of men. Said I to him, ‘My son! whereby hast thou merited this?’ ‘I was a butcher,’ replied he, ‘and of every fine beast I used to say, "’This shall be for the Sabbath"’. Said I to him, ‘Happy art thou that thou hast [so] merited, and praised be the Omnipresent who has permitted thee to enjoy [all] this.’ (Soncino translation)

  • This is just one of the tens of stories and discussions of "how to become rich". – Al Berko Jul 6 '18 at 10:43
1

Gemara Taanis 8b-9a

וא"ר יוחנן מאי דכתיב

And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: What is the meaning of that which is written:

9a

(דברים יד, כב) עשר תעשר עשר בשביל שתתעשר

“A tithe shall you tithe [te’aser]” (Deuteronomy 14:22)? This phrase can be interpreted homiletically: Take a tithe [asser] so that you will become wealthy [titasher], in the merit of the mitzva.

אשכחיה ר' יוחנן לינוקא דריש לקיש אמר ליה אימא לי פסוקיך א"ל עשר תעשר א"ל ומאי עשר תעשר א"ל עשר בשביל שתתעשר אמר ליה מנא לך א"ל זיל נסי

Rabbi Yoḥanan found the young son of Reish Lakish. He said to the boy: Recite to me your verse, i.e., the verse you studied today in school. The boy said to him: “A tithe shall you tithe.” The boy further said to Rabbi Yoḥanan: But what is the meaning of this phrase: “A tithe shall you tithe”? Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: The verse means: Take a tithe so that you will become wealthy. The boy said to Rabbi Yoḥanan: From where do you derive that this is so? Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Go and test it.

אמר ליה ומי שרי לנסוייה להקב"ה והכתיב (דברים ו, טז) לא תנסו את ה' א"ל הכי אמר רבי הושעיא חוץ מזו שנאמר (מלאכי ג, י) הביאו את כל המעשר אל בית האוצר ויהי טרף בביתי ובחנוני נא בזאת אמר ה' צבאות אם לא אפתח לכם את ארובות השמים והריקותי לכם ברכה עד בלי די

The boy said to him: And is it permitted to test the Holy One, Blessed be He? But isn’t it written: “You shall not test the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 6:16)? Rabbi Yoḥanan said to the boy that Rabbi Hoshaya said as follows: It is prohibited to test God in any way, except in this case of tithes, as it is stated: “Bring the whole tithe into the storeroom, that there may be food in My house, and test Me now by this, said the Lord of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven, and pour out for you a blessing that there shall be more than sufficiency” (Malachi 3:10).

1

I want to focus on the mitzva of ma'aser, which has been cited in other answers, and become somewhat practical - in the hope you are asking le'maase and this can further inspire you.

R Aron Tendler has a good synthesis

Although anyone who gives Tzedakah has a guarantee from our Torah that he will not be impoverished by doing so, one who properly separates 10% of his income to charity has a guarantee that he will be repaid for every penny that he gives to charity, and that he will become wealthy over time.

As a matter of fact, it is permitted to “test” Hashem by separating Maaser and seeing if he will receive the wealth that he has been guaranteed, although regarding other commandments, including the Mitzvah of giving Tzedakah, it says (Devarim 6:16) “You shall not test Hashem”.

This is different from "standard tsedaka"

Anytime a person gives money or items to charity he fulfills the Mitzvah of giving Tzedakah, even if he does not keep an accounting of what he has given throughout the year. However, the obligation to give Maaser is only fulfilled if it is separated and given based on an exact accounting system, i.e. an actual one-tenth or one-fifth of his annual income. Only if this is done can he expect to become wealthy based on the Torah’s guarantee.

I wrote here regarding the system proposed by the Chofetz Chaim to set up such a system.

  • 2
    How do you know that the "guarantee" applies to income tithes? – Alex Jul 6 '18 at 15:59
  • @Alex see the sources in the link I quoted from R Tendler – mbloch Jul 7 '18 at 18:12
  • I am aware of the Sifrei cited by Tosafot. But that is not universally agreed upon, especially because our Sifrei doesn't even say what Tosafot quotes. Moreover, the article cites the Beit Yosef and Rema as sources that the guarantee applies even to ma'aser kesafim yet what they actually say is that it applies to ma'aser but not regular tzedaka (without specifying ma'aser kesafim). And even then, the Pitchei Teshuvah on the spot quotes a bunch of sources that specifically say that it does not apply to ma'aser kesafim. – Alex Jul 8 '18 at 2:06

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