Um, well, in the sense it’s a “mitzva” to be happy and to sharpen your brain according to Rabbi Nachman of Breslov (Likutei Moharan 1:62). No mitzva, per se, but it helps you arrive at all the real ones. Yes, the title is somewhat facetious. One may not make himself poor, though, “Lo yiheye becha evyon”.
First of all, wealth is good and proper not merely as a tool thereby to attain what it buys (Torah, giving tzeddaka, medical care, tuition, etc.) The Torah, after enumerating the blessings ensuing those faithful to its commands, including agriculture, merchandise, children and livestock, still adds “Ve’ashteros”: sheep herds which enrich their owners (Rashi Deuteronomy 28:4 and 7:13). Our forefathers are praised in Scripture for their great wealth (just as are the Matriarchs for physical beauty), and Chazal praise some of their own number (Rabbi Elazar ben Charsom, Rebbi) for the same.
Still, why must I be rich?
- There is a Torah commandment to purchase a Sefer Torah. Can’t be done easily without money. The Chazon Ish himself managed to acquire one only about two weeks before he passed (Here Lies a Juicy Story).
- There is an absolute obligation to buy your wife what she needs, including clothes for holy days.
- Woe betide you if you don’t buy your children candy. Follow the link. I dare you!
- Chinuch. You can never have enough money for good tutors, let alone great ones. I know.
- Living in the vicinity of Torah scholars and teachers often means moving. As it dawns not everyone with a published book and a beard is a scholar, the clearer and more urgent this becomes.
- Even if you live in the right place, you may still need to pay the man to teach you how to learn, if only “sechar batallah”. Some basic general and Torah wisdom is online, up to a point (Wikiyeshiva, Mises.org), but only some. Most Torah wisdom is certainly locational and oral.
- There seems to a be a grave problem with the kashrus of meat and chicken from even the best hechshers. But meat is important for nutrition, see Sha’arei Teshuvah 551:16.
- Shabbos generators in Israel are expensive (assuming they are needed halachically…).
- Being a Starving Scholar is very tough. Torah scholars ought to know this Gemara: תנו רבנן שלושה דברים מעבירין את האדם על דעתו ועל דעת קונו אלו הן גויים ורוח רעה ודקדוקי עניות למאי נפקא מינה למיבעי רחמי עלייהו
- Even living in straitened circumstances is not easy. There is a joke – containing much truth – of a Kollel student who went and bought a lottery ticket. His friend asked him what he would do if he won. “It’s obvious”, he answered. “Leave Kollel and start learning seriously!”
- You are likelier to publish your chiddushim (Gemara novellae), by self-funding, without donors.
- And the clincher. Ready? The poor are disqualified from prophecy…
Money makes Judaism go round.