Pirke Avot 2:17

Let your fellow’s money be as dear to you as your own;

Apply yourself in study of Torah, for it is not yours by inheritance; and

let all your deeds be for the sake of Heaven.

Let your fellow’s money be as dear to you as your own.  This is similar to the advice of Rabbi Eleazar (2:15): “Let your fellow’s honor be as dear to you as your own.”   It would seem that if we follow the advice of the previous verse (honor) that we would not need the specific advice regarding money, but perhaps we do.  Respecting our neighbor’s property as much as we do our own would mean that we would step up to rescue it or protect it in their absence.

In our world today, where we may tend to walk through our neighborhoods and turn away from anything we see ‘out of the ordinary’ lest we be caught up in something that may take our time or effort or even threaten our own safety – well, this bit of wisdom is something to consider!  Would we not want our neighbors to alert us to something bad they saw happening to our homes or our cars or other property?  Do unto your neighbor as you would have them do unto you!

Allstate insurance ads talk about “your house (car, life) is in good hands with Allstate”.  We want to feel confident that our own property is safe because we (and others) are looking out for it.  We need to be good neighbors and do the same for others!

Apply yourself to the study of Torah, it is not yours by inheritance.  Those of us who are not Jewish should substitute “scripture” for Torah here.  How does this tie into the previous advice?  Do we have random thoughts here or what?

One possible tie-in is that our faith tradition is not property that we can simply hand on through a will.  And, IF I am going to care about your “stuff” because I want you to care about my stuff, should I not ALSO care just as much or more about our shared faith tradition and learning it, living it, and passing that on?

A stream of rabbinic thought suggests that our faith tradition is something we as a people hold in common and inherit together – but that each of us has to personally commit to study and prayer with it in order to absorb its meaning.

Let all your deeds be done for the sake of heaven.  I read this as an inclusive verse for the prior portions.  Protect your property and that of your neighbor – as in, attend to the needs of this world.  Study the scriptures – attend to your spiritual needs.

In summary: let everything you do (related to this world and to our spiritual dimension) be done in accordance with the will of the LORD.