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Torah Musings on the Economic Downturn

Torah Musings on the Economic Downturn

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Published by hirhurim
Thoughts, musings and analyses on the economic downturn from the perspective of the Jewish tradition.
Thoughts, musings and analyses on the economic downturn from the perspective of the Jewish tradition.

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Published by: hirhurim on Apr 03, 2009
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02/01/2013

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Adapted from the blog TorahMusings.com
by
Rabbi Gil Student
Torah Musings on the Economic Downturn
Adapted from the blog TorahMusings.com. \u00a9 2009. All rights reserved.
2
Table of Contents

A Spiritual Message in the Credit Crisis............................................................................ 3 Did You Lose Your Job Because God Is Punishing You?................................................. 5 Responding to Crises with Emunah.................................................................................... 8 Coping With the Economic Downturn............................................................................. 11 The Corporate Dilemma and the Financial Downturn...................................................... 13 Making God a Part of the Stimulus Package.................................................................... 16 Jewish Charity In A New Era........................................................................................... 21 Charity Priorities............................................................................................................... 23 The Stimulus Package and Halakhah................................................................................ 25 Shacharis Tips for the Unemployed.................................................................................. 26 Rav Soloveitchik and the Madoff Scandal....................................................................... 29 Purim as a Temporary Remedy for the Economic Downtown......................................... 30 Hagbahah and the Financial Crisis................................................................................... 31 Judaism and the Financial Crisis...................................................................................... 32

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Torah Musings on the Economic Downturn
Adapted from the blog TorahMusings.com. \u00a9 2009. All rights reserved.
3
A Spiritual Message in the Credit Crisis*

The current economic crisis in which we are in, which started with mortgage problems but spread to most of the banking system in the form of a credit crunch (that is hardly over!), has many lessons for those who are willing to look for them. Some of them are obvious, such as the need to perform adequate analysis before investing in a security. Others are more remote, like the importance of creating compensation packages that promote the right behavior. However, there is one lesson from this crisis that I find meaningful but have not seen anyone else discuss it. It is the fact that corporate denizens, the people who sit behind computer screens and roam the halls of large, faceless companies, created this mess. Why is this significant?

I only heard R. Henach Leibowitz speak once, and one of the questions he was asked was how a yeshiva-trained student, someone who was taught for all his life that he was created to learn Torah, can find meaning in his participation in the working world. This is a critical dilemma for the working person who usually spends the majority of his waking hours in the corporate (or retail, etc.) world. All that time and effort is spent trying to make money. How can a Ben Torah find peace with himself when he spends most of his day on such mundane things? The guilty feelings of being inauthentic to your ideals can be overwhelming.

R. Leibowitz\u2019s response was that people who go out into the workforce should look at it as an opportunity to glorify God\u2019s name through praiseworthy behavior. I think that this is a powerful answer because it enables people to find meaning in every potentially mundane act. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, it encourages people to be on constant guard to act properly in the office and not fall prey to the many ethical and other pitfalls that come across their path.

Notwithstanding R. Leibowitz\u2019s approach, rather in addition to it, I have always struggled to see how my actions in the corporate world benefit mankind. This is usually a stretch. When I worked as a property & casualty insurance actuary, I used to try to make the case that my work enabled people to buy homes, start businesses, drive cars, etc. All

* Originally posted Wednesday, June 18, 2008, http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/06/spiritual-message-in-
credit-crisis.html

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