Exploring the Relationship between the Spiritual and the Physical

        May 2014    
Search the Jewish Magazine Site:     

Browse our




Is the Spiritual Dependent on the Physical or is the Physical Dependent on the Spiritual?

By Nachum Mohl

An interesting question was recently brought up in a class learning Torah.

A man is being supported by a very wealthy and kind noble person who gives him money so that this man can learn with out distractions. There are no strings on the money; the man can have as much as he likes. The wealthy person is interested only in that the man feel comfortable and succeed and not be plagued or worried by any monetary consideration.

The question is since the student need only to approach the wealthy man and ask for money and with that request he will be granted any sum that he requests, how often should the student go to ask the wealthy man for money? There is no bother on the part of the wealthy man to give the student his stipend and there is no waste of time on the part of the student to get the money.

The student can go once a year or once a week or any other interval. What is in your opinion? Is it preferable to go infrequently (like once a year) or is it better to go frequently (like once a week)? Think about it before you continue reading, come up with an answer and then continue reading.


The answer to the question is interesting and reveals a interesting aspect of the inner workings of man.

If you answered infrequently:

Many people feel that it is better to go infrequently, like once a year, to get the money. Deep down inside they feel that it is degrading to have to request money to provide for their own needs. A real man should be able to provide for himself and this that the student is in need and must go to request money from the wealthy man makes the student feel in a weakened mode. Therefore the more infrequently that he must go, the less of a negative impact there is on the student's ego.

If you answered frequently:

However there is a second side: It is preferable to go more frequently to the wealthy man. Why? In reality a man who is wealthy and so generous is indeed a rare person. To have a close relationship with a person like that is a plus for anyone, including our student.

Imagine having a close relationship with someone like the famous Baron Rothschild z"l who was the most kind and wealthy philanthropist in his time. He supported not only most of the yishuvim in the Land of Israel but also helped a plethora of communities in the Diaspora. He traveled over the world to intercede on behalf of his poor fellow Jews and his greatness has rarely been matched.

To know a man like this is should a positive thing, it would be worth going once a week to get a personal check from him just to be in the same room with him. Perhaps the greatness of his personality could rub off onto our student and influence the student's behavior.


In reality this is just a parable for us in relationship to our praying to God.

Although we must ask God for all the things that we need in this physical world like food, shelter, and health, are the needs that we have more important than the opportunity that is granted to us to actually approach God and speak with Him face to 'face'?

True we do need physical things and we can not exists with out them, but in reality we can make the physical primary and the spiritual secondary or we can utilize the physical to make the spiritual primary.

One of the basic elements that is required in coming close to God is to be able to stifle one's ego whether he desires that which is forbidden or even that which is permissible. To come close to God a person must realize that it is the closeness of God and the desires of God that are primary and the needs and desire of the individual which are really secondary.

So now we can utilize this physical need to draw closer to God, or God forbid, we can use the need for the physical to become more distant from Him. The choice is yours.


from the May 2014 Edition of the Jewish Magazine

Material and Opinions in all Jewish Magazine articles are the sole responsibility of the author; the Jewish Magazine accepts no liability for material used.



All opinions expressed in all Jewish Magazine articles are those of the authors. The author accepts responsible for all copyright infrigments.