Do you have weird feelings about money?
A lot of people do.
Contrary to popular belief, money is not inherently unspiritual.
(Being obsessed with money, or dishonest about it is.)
But having material means to care for yourself, your loved ones, and those in need, is one of the greatest blessings, worth praying for, and working towards.
On the other hand, Ecclesiastes teaches: "One who loves money will never be satiated with money."
The Maharal, a great Jewish philosopher and linguist, pointed out the the Hebrew words for numbers are often etymologically similar to other words, which are connected to their meaning.
For example, he said he said that the word for ten, eser is connected to root for wealth, osher (it works a lot better in Hebrew letters:) A fair question might be: what does one have to do with the other?
In true Jewish style, we can begin to answer with another question:
He also says that the word for five, chamesh, is comprised of the same letters as the word for happy, sa'meach, (once again, much clearer in the Hebrew.) Again: what's the connection?
There's an often-quoted teaching by the Rabbis:
"If one has a portion [or a hundred], he will want a double portion, [or two hundred.]"
Meaning, there's a homiletical human tendency to want to double what we already have.
Another even oftener-quoted teaching by the Rabbis is:
"Who is wealthy? One who is happy with what he has."
(Notice, it doesn't say "one who is satisfied with what he has"- we are allowed to strive for more. We are just encouraged to pursue happiness during the ambition.)
Meaning, even if we have a portion, or 100, or 100 million, the natural desire is double that, which could detract from what we have.
We live in a finite numerical world construct of base 10. Once we get to ten, we start the next round of counting, recycling the numbers from one again. Which means that completion could be represented by the number ten. According to the psychology of the above quotes, how do we counter that impulse to always want to double what we have? We do the reverse: We focus on appreciating HALF of it.
So if 10, eser, means osher, wealth, and I can strive to want and enjoy 5, chamesh, that will yield sam'each (or properly conjugated: simcha) happiness.
The straightforward interpretation of "wealth means happiness with our portion" is a psychological truth: The more I actively enjoy and appreciate what I have, the more wealthy I feel, and therefore am. That alone is enough to be life-transformative.
But there's an even deeper piece:
Another teaching of the Rabbis is that one of G-d's names is represented by the Hebrew letters heh and yud, which are numerically equivalent to 5 and 10 respectively, based on their positions in the alphabet and an interpretive system called Gematria. The Talmud teaches that this physical world was created with Heh, 5, and the World to Come, Eternal World, was created with Yud, 10. Again, plug in the above idea:
To find fulfillment in this world, happiness, (chamesh, same'ach, heh) we need to make peace with partial, fragmented, halved reality. If I choose to want only "half the kingdom" then I feel relatively complete and rich with what is here.
But when it comes to the Eternal World, the spiritual dimension of consciousness, not bound by material constraints and cognitive limitations, there is no mortal flaw in the logic or comprehension, there is clarity and fullness, a completion of existence, that world is created with yud, 10, and can yield consummate osher, abundance.
So let's pull it all together:
"Who is wealthy? One who is happy with the half portion that is this world." Get it?
Ok there was a lot there, and I'm not sure how clearly I explained it, so if you followed it, I'm really impressed!