In a small town outside Tel Aviv, someone decided to open a nightclub opposite a Chassidic shteibel (synagogue). You could imagine the uproar, the riffraff, and the atmosphere in the neighborhood. The shteibel and its congregation started a campaign to block the club from opening with petitions, government lobbying, and even a daily gathering where they assembled for extra prayer, Tehillim, etc. All to no avail. Work on the nightclub progressed.
Three weeks before the opening, there was a massive storm; Lightning struck, and the club burnt to the ground. The club owner sued the chassidim on the grounds that the congregation, through its praying, was ultimately responsible for the ill fate of his dream project, either through direct or indirect actions or means.
In its reply to the court, the shteibel vehemently denied any responsibility or connection between their prayers and the club burning down. As the case made its way to court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented, “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this case, but it appears from the paperwork we have a secular Israeli nightclub owner who believes in the power of prayer and an entire religious congregation that doesn’t!”
That story is the perfect backdrop for discussing a common conversation with some Jewish and religious clients. Many people that I speak with do not have a sound financial system in place to adequately prepare them for their current lifestyle or future family and life needs. In the past, I have found that many were blaming the expensive demands of being a religious Jew; however, now I am finding that many are taking serious financial missteps while now hiding under the guise of “faith.”
Unless someone is on a supernatural level of faith, and I have yet to find that person, no one is exempt from adequate financial planning, fiscal literacy, and proper guidance regarding money matters. Yet, I recognize that this implies a dual approach: making informed decisions while also recognizing that success comes from a ‘higher’ power. Whether it’s planning for children’s education, investing in a property, or ensuring a comfortable retirement, the tools, and methodologies might vary, but the foundational approach remains consistent: smart strategy coupled with trust in the Divine.
Emunah (faith) doesn’t exempt us from necessary action. The Torah and Talmud are replete with examples that emphasize the need for human effort. To merely “hope” without work or to act without trust is to miss the equilibrium these principles offer. This means we don’t simply hope for the best. We study, we invest, we save, we insure. Hishtadlus (effort) is our part in the divine partnership. It’s our responsibility to create that “vessel” to receive God’s blessings.
In today’s rapidly changing and increasingly unpredictable economic landscape, the significance of prudent financial planning cannot be overstated. For the modern Jew, building a robust financial strategy becomes not only a prudent decision for a worldly living, but also a reflection of deeper Torah-based values.
When integrating these age-old principles into financial strategies, one discovers a balanced approach that offers not just monetary growth but also spiritual enrichment. As we start the month of Elul and will soon be ending our Jewish year, I wish everyone the best of luck to adequately prepare for a prosperous new year with the proper balance of prayer and preparation.
Shmuel Shayowitz (NMLS#19871) is President and Chief Lending Officer at Approved Funding, a privately held local mortgage banker and direct lender. Approved Funding is a mortgage company offering competitive interest rates as well as specialty niche programs on all types of Residential and Commercial properties. Shmuel has over 20 years of industry experience, including licenses and certifications as a certified mortgage underwriter, residential review appraiser, licensed real estate agent, and direct FHA specialized underwriter. He can be reached via email at Shmuel@approvedfunding.com.
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