Thursday, October 16, 2008

...we wonder where the money went.

Rabbi Daniel Lapin is my Rabbi. Actually, he's everybody's. I started reading his books and listening to his messages after hearing about him on Dave Ramsey, whom we all know that I love. Here is his weekly newsletter sent out this morning. If you are interested in getting them yourself sign up for them here.

Who Took All Our Money?

As America’s rabbi, I have been asked by countless people for my reaction to the financial crisis we’re witnessing. I want to shine the light of ancient Jewish wisdom onto this frightening phenomenon in the hope of helping you sleep a little easier.

There are many words in Hebrew for money. This is because money is not tangible but spiritual. It is represented by round metal discs in your pocket, by strips of colored paper in your wallet, and by bits on your bank’s computer.

Your money is a promise by other people to give you the things you want when you need them. Thus we need three things in order to enjoy God’s blessing of money:

1. We need a widely agreed upon moral system in which we all agree on what a promise means and on our obligation to serve others.

2. We need many people in our group so there is always someone ready to exchange our money for the goods or services we require—in other words—a market. With no other humans in the world, all the money imaginable would be useless to you.

3. We need faith in tomorrow.

Because money depends upon human morality, which often deteriorates when things are too comfortable, we have always had cycles we think of as boom and bust.

The cycle of struggle leading to affluence, leading to decadence, leading to struggle again is so reliable that a late19th century Russian economist, Nikolai Kondratieff, concluded that the Biblical rule of the fifty-year-cycle did indeed hold up.

This Bible cycle occurs naturally and in Hebrew, is called YoVeL.

As those of you who own Genesis Journeys already know, there is a reason why the Hebrew sound Y often gets transliterated into a J and the Hebrew V often becomes a B.

Thus, YoVeL became JoBeL which of course became jubilee in English, the word for a fifty- year celebration of any major event.

Leviticus 25:10 reads:

"Make holy each fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants; it shall be a jubilee (YoVeL) to you."

Our Liberty Bell in Philadelphia carries that verse partly because the Pennsylvania Assembly made the Bell to commemorate the 50 anniversary of Pennsylvania's original Constitution.

Although it is far from mathematically precise, there does appear to be some reliable correlation between an economy’s ups and downs and the fifty-year Kondratieff Wave.

Those uncomfortable with the idea of God directing the affairs of men find the notion of regular economic cycles to be eerie. Unfortunately, for Nikolai Kondratieff, his boss, Joseph Stalin, did not appreciate the idea that the Bible trumps the glories of communist economic development. In 1938, he executed Kondratieff, but the Kondratieff Wave continues to entrance many investors.

Ancient Jewish wisdom can help us answer three important questions that anyone worried about the financial crisis is asking:

Question 1: Where has the money gone?

Answer 1: It hasn’t gone anywhere. There are no evil bankers cackling with malevolent glee as they grab all our money. Money is spiritual and it was never anything we actually held in our hands. It has gone to the same place that love goes when a marriage fails.

Question 2: Is it coming back?

Answer 2: Of course it will. Booms usually lead to busts and busts to booms. Our history, the Bible, and Kondratieff all agree that the economy has up and down cycles. In my view it will come back sooner rather than later because unlike during the great depression, today British and European leaders are lined up with American efforts to staunch the bleeding. Today, government efforts are completely different from the Hoover administration’s policy of doing nothing.

Question 3: What should we each be doing right now?

Answer 3: Three things: We should have faith, spread faith, and smile at everyone. In Hebrew, one of the words for a business professional is “OMayN” which is closely related to the word we all know—AMeN which means faith. In King Solomon’s Song of Songs 7:2. “Princess, your graceful legs are like jewels, the work of a craftsman's hands.” The word for craftsman, OMayN, throughout ancient Jewish wisdom, is used for anyone active in the economy. In other words, anyone active in the economy needs to be a person of faith.

I am no financial advisor, but to me this seems like a time not to sell but a time to buy. Perhaps it is the opportunity for those who missed out on the last boom to climb onto the escalator.

Finally we should smile at others because our money depends upon them. And smiling helps restore confidence. What is more, when we smile at others, we make God smile too.
Edited by Susan Lapin


Brandon Cunningham said...

Hey you plagiarized me plagiarizing Hans who plagiarized a Rabbi. I think that might be a sin.

Annie said...

Yes, but if all my friends jumped off a bridge.....

Click this and I will send you flair:)

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