Let My People Know

"He only altered his perception of reality in this world"

“Over the course of life, every human body inevitably changes and gradually deprives one of certain pleasures.

Physical changes occur along with the spiritual ones: while the person loses interest in certain subjects, he shifts his attention to others.

In this context, the story of John D. Rockefeller is very interesting. 

Rockefeller, the first billionaire, is often regarded as the richest person in history.

During the last years of his life, he suffered from an intestinal disease, and could not digest regular food.

Although he could afford the most expensive cuisine, because of the disease, just one dollar a day covered the cost of his meals.

Rockefeller was not the most righteous man on earth, but his situation made him wonder – not about the spiritual aspects of his situation, but about more earthy things.

He thought: “I have in my possession an unlimited amount of money, and despite this fact, my body is limiting me in what I can do.”

Such thoughts lead to the following question: which deeds and actions of a person are meaningful, besides his pleasures?

Rockefeller resolved this question by allocating a significant part of his assets to the creation of a huge charitable foundation.

Note that Rockefeller did not necessarily go through any spiritual transformation, to reach moral purity.

He only altered his perception of reality in this world.

Rockefeller searched for the things that might give him a sense of satisfaction, even though his physical abilities were limited.”

 –Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

From the essay “Shrouds have no pockets” by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz