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"The Blessing of Enough"
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As we prepare to vote intelligently in this upcoming election, this might be a good time to read a book by the well-known Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, The Blessing of Enough: Rejecting Material Greed, Embracing Spiritual Hunger. Greed is no respecter of political party, economic status or education. It is an equal-opportunity offender, and it is eating away at our country and the character fiber of our lives.

The tug-of-war we are witnessing between the extremes on both sides of the political fence seems to be greed-generated, one side insisting on more entitlements while the other wants free reign to make money without restrictions to protect the powerless.

With a practical and urgent voice, Rabbi Boteach dares to name the real issue: spiritual emptiness, the gaping chasm in the human soul that money and power can never fill. Oh, yes, we have heard this before. Every prophet said it; Jesus said it; great voices across the ages have said it. And history screams this message with the evidence of once great but increasingly decadent civilizations that have crumbled.

“Material insatiability is the direct result of an inner vacuum and a feeling of unworthiness,” says Rabbi Boteach, and to fix that feeling, men just ramp up the pursuit of more money, more symbols of success, more accomplishments to fill the gaping hole in the soul.

We are becoming the walking dead, our souls eaten away by the omnivorous hunger for more that is devouring our relationships with our children and our ability to give outside ourselves as our self-need gets bigger and bigger. As Boteach writes, “Our culture is obsessed with horizontal expansion, and we think by having more, we’ll become more. But no matter what we eat, we’re still hungry… There should be a fire raging inside each one of us, but the fire should inspire us to grow vertically — in wisdom, stature, character, understanding— rather than horizontally, through possessions, status, property.”

Product commercials and image makers take advantage of the hunger and appeal to our pursuit of more advantages, more privilege, more entitlement to win our sympathies — and our votes. But solutions are not easy. Is it too late? Are we on a treadmill of spiritual junk food that is killing us — literally — as families, as individuals, as a nation?

When material affects are substituted for inner wholeness, there is always someone to blame, some “they” that should  fix us. This “inner emptiness that makes us feel like we aren’t — and don’t have — enough” can, says Boteach, only be combated through three relationships: Our relationship with God, our relationship with family and our relationship with community.

Before we swallow the slogans and promises of politicians and advertisers, maybe this book will remind us to look inside for real solutions to the hungers that gnaw at our souls.

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