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Putting Money In Its Right Place

From the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars in the Enron corporate implosion, to state lotto jackpots reaching hundreds of millions of dollars, Americans are bombarded with images of vast sums of wealth and excess.

So with his new book, "More Money Than God: Living a Rich Life Without Losing your Soul," Rabbi Steven Leder, from the Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, tackles some of life's more difficult areas. He covers questions such as, "What do you do when money is tearing apart your marriage?", and "How do you deal with the loss of money when facing divorce, death, or unemployment?"

The title of his book, Rabbi Leder says, is meant to attract those who have placed money above God.

He tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith that in our culture, as in many others, money has "replaced God as the chief deity in people's minds and as the chief power in people's minds."

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We should not dismiss money altogether. After all, it provides things like education, shelter and safety. But in the end, it does not help us achieve a rich inner life, Leder warns.

He says, "What's inherently wrong with it is if one fools oneself into believing that that's what it means to be truly rich. In our culture, when we say of another person, what's he worth? All of our minds go to the same place. We can't help it. Yet if we step back from that for a moment and think about that assumption, we really do know that a person's worth, their true worth, has precious little to do with their self worth. And we know that that ought to be true of ourselves. But we live in a culture that promotes another kind of thinking."

As a rabbi serving in the Beverly Hills community, Leder says, he has not found that wealthy people are any happier than the elderly woman who has to take three buses to get to his synagogue.

Money has little to do with real happiness. He explains, "It is seductive to believe, and easy to believe, that somehow a rich outer life implies that one has a rich inner life. But, in fact, that isn't the case."

How much money is enough money? Rabbi Leder says, "What you have is probably enough. I am not here to say ambition isn't important. Two beautiful quotes, the first from the Talmud written almost 2,000 years ago where the sage asks, who is rich? The answer is, the one who is happy with what he has. And Norman Vincent Peale said is success is getting what you want and happiness is wanting what you get."

Many marriage problems are related less with infidelity and more with money. Leder advises couples to discuss money before they get married. He notes, "People talk in our culture about almost anything besides money. Men will talk about sex. They'll talk about sports. They'll talk about what's going on at the office. But ask a man to tell us his net worth is and suddenly there is silence. I don't think my mother knows how much money my father has."

And he points out that money arguments in marriage are rarely about money. He says, "They're about power. And people need to step back from that money issue and realize what they're really talking about is power."

His advice for parents is to teach kids that money used wisely can help themselves and others. But it is a limited resource.

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