Discussion Around the Shabbat Table: Can Money Buy Happiness?

At the Shabbat table, the Hillel Network left question cards to help break the ice. The guy sitting next to Rachel, he might have said his name but I missed it, picked up the one card and asked us: “Can money buy happiness?”

Rachel and I thought about it for a while. In the Torah, Bible, and Qu’ran, money is said to be the root of all evil. If money is the root of all evil, then how can evil buy happiness? Money can buy lust and a temporary high that is disguised as happiness, but money can’t change how you feel on the inside.

However, the guy countered our thoughts, “money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy a peace of mind.” We’re not very happy if we are in debt, struggling to pay bills, and homeless. We need some money to survive — food on the table, water for us to drink, and a roof over our heads. Money itself isn’t evil, it’s how we use the money that could be. We stress if we don’t have it, but with a bit of money, we can use it for our needs.

The best things in life are free, but some of the other best things in life do cost some money. The love I receive from family and friends is free, my faith and patriotism are free as well. However, some things that I do with friends and family aren’t free. To create memories, we have to spend some money, though not a fortune. There is a price to these relationships, as is there everything else in life.

John Pavlovitz posted this the other day, which I think ties into this concept well: “Nothing in this life comes for free, even though we sometimes imagine it does.
Everything valuable we receive needs to be paid for somehow.

When the separation happens between us and the people who mean the most to us, the instant they are gone—we suddenly realize how much the closeness is going to cost. We learn that we are going to pay for a lifetime in profound sadness.

Grief is the tax on loving people.

It is the inevitable price for being loved well.”

Can money buy happiness? Not really, but it does give us a peace of mind. Also, the things we consider free in this life also have a price, even if the price doesn’t come from our wallets.

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Creator of the Happiness Box Project Initiative, a project where you write your happiness or gratitude each day, then open the box in the New Year. The Initiative is to teach joy and gratitude, to pass it on to others.

2 thoughts on “Discussion Around the Shabbat Table: Can Money Buy Happiness?”

  1. Hi, Jessica Marie!

    I’m happy to know you are feeling better, dear friend! You and your new acquaintances picked an interesting topic of conversation at the Shabbat table. I believe the key is your relationship to money. Money alone cannot buy happiness, but I agree it can buy you peace of mind, give you a stable platform from which to operate, to make your own luck, reach your goals and find happiness. I believe having a lot of money is not inherently evil if you use it for self improvement and higher education, and are if you are philanthropic, use your money for good, give back to the community and help those on the fringe of society. A lack of money is also not evil unless your lack was caused by poor habits such as unwillingness to save and squandering it on luxuries and vice. Thrift and frugality help you to stretch and save what money you do have, and it can grow faster than you think if invested wisely.

    I agree with your musings about the price of love. Grief is indeed the tax on loving people and ultimately losing them. Yet, there is a certain sweetness to our suffering when we know that we loved freely and fully and got the same in turn. As Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote, “’tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

    Have a wonderful week, dear friend JM!


    1. That’s true too! I believe love is beautiful- there’s so much joy when the loved one is alive and even in memory too.

      Yes. I believe frugality is best, but extending some wealth in charity and self improvement are best too. I also love travel. ❤


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