Rita Zelig says:
I Refuse to Compromise

I have learned a great deal from the current economic climate although my story is quite a bit different from what you may be expecting to hear.

I work for a non-Jewish employer. My boss and his family knew when they hired me that I would not be at work for my religious holidays and I had specifically mentioned the biggest ones being Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The response was that we would work around that and figure it out. Six years later, there is now an issue with my holidays.

My boss is barely able to keep his business afloat. He has not paid me, and two other employees, for what is now five weeks straight, yet we are all still here and working hard for him. We all still have our jobs and our loyalty is to help him get his business back on its feet. Bearing this in mind you would think that our own financial hardships of not being able to pay our rent and our bills on time would dampen our spirits, yet it has not. No...we continue to work and are happy to do so but now a problem has arisen that breaks my heart but its value is something I cannot put a price-tag on. My boss and his entire family have planned a vacation for the beginning of April and they expect that I will be here, at my job, keeping the shop open. They will be gone the exact same time that I will be gone, the day before Passover through Chol Hamoed (the "intermediate days" of the holiday).

I don't want to lose my job, but I will gladly sacrifice my position if it means that I don't have to forfeit who I am as a JewConsidering that I cannot change the Jewish calendar it should be noted that I have taken off from work every year those same days so that I could cook, when on my own, or help my family prepare the meals when I was with them. Never have I ever worked through any of those days and I don't intend to now. My boss's mother however, wants me to "think about it" and my boss has flat out told me that I couldn't take off. I am still not going to be at work. Legally and morally they should be grateful that I have worked through this fiscal crisis without being paid yet. To lose your job because of closings, bankruptcies, cut-backs are all horrible things until you realize that true loss of a job could come from such ignorance, prejudice and un-appreciation for loyalty all because of religious beliefs. I am learning there are those in this world for whom the power of money allows them the belief that they can run roughshod over others. I don't want to lose my job, but I will gladly sacrifice my position running the office if it means that I don't have to forfeit who I am as a Jew.

I may not be the perfect Jew, but it is still my heritage, my belief and my life. I feel positive that there will be divine intervention on my part to help me if I am fired for my beliefs. Some things are truly more important than money. Pity that it took this to bring it so much more into focus than it had ever been before.

The moral of this story is to be grateful for what you have. If you can look at yourself in the mirror and know that you have not compromised your ideals for something or someone who will only look to bring you lower, you have just raised yourself up from something even worse than loss of a job. Jobs come and they go but the true measure of any person is the strength within themselves to overcome all obstacles by holding onto their faith. After that, everything else will fall into place. My wish for everyone who may have lost their job(s) is that they find something better and have long, happy, healthy and prosperous lives.

Charles Saavedra says:
Good Decisions

I'm a 30 year old Noahide. I work in the picture framing industry for a close friend of mine who is Jewish. As you can imagine, our conversations at work are frequently about Torah, Judaism, and Noahide Code. Business has been slow and my boss has been worried for some time now. A few weeks ago the rabbi stopped in and during his visit he asked my boss how business was. After hearing how slow things were and how worried my boss was, he asked about tefillin and whether or not he had been putting it on. The rabbi suggested that the blessing for the business would come from putting the tefillin on each morning. Shortly after the rabbi left my boss asked me if I thought that the tefillin would bring the blessing for the business. I wasn't able to answer this question but I did tell him something like this.

Making decisions at a time like this has got to be pretty nerve racking, especially in regards to business. You come up with a few options. Maybe you pray a little bit. You have as much faith as you can muster and then you pull the trigger on a free will decision that at the end of the day you have no clue as to whether or not it was the right choice. Not only does it worry you because you don't know whether it was the right decision or not, but you have no idea how it'll affect your family and any number of other things in your life. You could end up in a place where you feel like exercising your free will is so dangerous that you come to a stand still. Frozen. Not able to decide one way or the other. Fortunately there are plenty of choices that you can be making and be sure that the decisions that you're making are right. These decisions are in regards to Torah and mitzvot. If you begin to exercise your free will making choices to observe mitzvot, choosing to do the things that you know are right, then the decisions in regards to the things that your not so sure about will begin to become a little bit clearer.

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I'm not sure whether or not this helped him. It's the best advice that I could manage. It's the same advice that I would give myself in regards to Noahide observance.

Aryeh Asher Kahn says:
The Benefits of Trust

A secret for these times is to put some work into upgrading one's trust in G‑d. Trust in G‑d is called bitachon. Bitachon isn't just for holy people—it's for everybody.

What does bitachon do for you?! There are many potential benefits to upgraded bitachon – from good health to income – from the Almighty who is the only one who can guarantee these things. Best of all, those who has bitachon knows and feels in their gut that G‑d – who loves them more than all the love in the world – is in charge of all that happens to them.

A secret for these times is to put some work into upgrading one's trust in G‑dHow do you work on bitachon? Says the Maharal: say holy verses relating to bitachon in order to put bitachon in your heart. There are many verses. Here is an easy one. Say the section of the manna, Exodus 16:4-36—it is the Torah portion describing how G‑d sustained the Children of Israel in the middle of the barren desert for decades. The holy words will influence your heart. An additional benefit, the Jerusalem Talmud says that one who recites this section every day is assured that their food will not be lacking.

By the way I'm not Lubavitch or even chassidic, but I appreciate the good work that Lubavitch, and especially Rabbi Overlander in London and the Rebbes of righteous memory, have done. Thank you.

May G‑d – out of His loving kindness and mercy, if it is good in His eyes – bless all with ample livelihood from His open hand.

Chaim Zalmon Kohn says:
Crisis Also Means Opportunity

The Chinese word for crisis also means opportunity. We may be wondering what we can or should do. How can our time tested Torah help us use this crisis to make an opportunity?

One place we can learn from is the manna. The manna is what sustained the Jews in the wilderness. Everyday the manna would fall from the heavens, and each head of the house would collect the same amount for each person in their family. Some of the Rabbis have compared the manna to our livelihood. The Rabbis have also said that seeing that our paycheck ultimately comes from G‑d is one of the hardest things to do. If you are trying to find a job, or you're scared that you may lose your job—know who can help you. Cry to G‑d, tell Him all your fears, and ask for Him to keep giving you his loving kindness. G‑d is all powerful; He has more contacts than any job search website so He can do more for you than just a normal job search. This is not to say "don't go out looking for a job," and depend only on G‑d. We need to make an effort down here, and if G‑d sees it for our good He will give us a job. When we get a job, or income, then we should thank G‑d.

Another opportunity is that we can look at how we interact with G‑d. Do we just go to pray because of habit? How much Torah learning have we been doing? Is there a mitzvah we can try to do more often? If we can't get a job we should know that G‑d sees something bigger we can do, and we should know that whatever G‑d does is for our benefit.

Let's not waste this opportunity, let's use this trouble to make us stronger and better people.

Moshe Kass says:
Find Your Dancing

There are ideas we hear many times over. Yet, getting them to really sink in is the challenge.

Emunah—faith/trust in G‑d.

Before G‑d creates the sickness he creates the cure.

Depression and sadness are not only undesirable, but they are antithetical to serving G‑d.

"From the start, go over it."When confronted with an obstacle some say the best route is to go around, or under it. The Rebbe Maharash says: "And I say one has to go l'chatchila ariber [from the start, go over it]."

These days a lot of people are feeling the crunch. It's easy to forget about the ideas above. To give up or give in. But where did these teachings come from? They came from some of the greatest tzaddikim. These statements are emes (truth) and as real this very day as when they were originally said.

I am a Currency Trader. I trade the Dollar vs. the Euro, or the Dollar vs. the British Pound, etc. Without going into exact details, let say it cost $1.36 in dollars to buy 1 Euro. If the price today changes from $1.36 to something else, I can make money (actually, quite a lot). Basically, if the Dollar is getting stronger I buy Dollars. If the Euro is getting stronger I buy Euros.

As a currency trader I don't care which way things move, I just care that they move.

So with all the financial craziness that's been going on, (the stock market being depressed, bank problems, etc.) guess what's happened to the currency market? It's moving like crazy. So many people are feeling troubled about the current situation, and currency traders are dancing in the streets.

There's always a way out. there's way to make things better. Even when times are tough, there's still a way to find dancing. This is just one example. I'm sure there are more.

It requires trust in G‑d, not giving up till you find your dancing, staying away from sadness, and as the Rebbe Maharash said, "From the start, go over it."

Michoel Friedman says:
Lessons from Jacob
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I always liked the explanation of why Jacob had to go back over the river to retrieve the jars.

He knew that he had to treasure every material possession that he had and use it to serve G‑d. He realised that G‑d wouldn't have given it to him without a reason. Therefore whatever possessions he had or didn't have were only because G‑d wanted it that way.

Also when Esau says to Jacob, "I have more than I need", Jacob's reply was "I have exactly what I need."

Perhaps someone at Chabad.org could elaborate on this topic? I would read that...

Morris Abadi says:
Talking to the Children

Dear Rabbis and Friends,


The magic question is: "Do I actually need this?"Here in Brazil, inasmuch the rulers keep saying that the financial tsunami will not reach the country, the truth is that the real world is quite different. We have only to give a glance around, and understand how profound the current crisis is.

I have personally been taken by the crisis. And I would like to share with you, dear friends, some insights and some solutions. What I mean, is that with some learning and reasoning, one can always get out of it stronger. And, most important of all, live quite better after some little changes.

I will not talk here about how one can keep on making a real good life spending less money (I will, may G‑d allow me, write about this in another article).

I have two kids (my boy is 14 and my daughter is 7), my wife is a doctor and we are a happy family, since we got married 20 years ago, and we started to get real close to Judaism for the last 8 years.

The first thing we have done, my wife and me, was to understand what was going on, and talk to the kids. It is very important to talk to them, because, unfortunately, we live in a surrounding (at least, here in Sao Paulo, Brazil) where you are someone based on whether you have lots of material things. This crisis is a very good clue to change things. And, believe me, kids of 14 and 7 years old understand EVERYTHING.

We have caught this opportunity to show to our kids that what really matters is what WE ARE, and not WHAT WE HAVE. Of course, the beginning is very hard. But if you take the kids with you to the supermarket, to buy school stuff, and so on, you may show them that the olive oil from our neighborhood is as good as the other one from Greece or from Spain, but the price is very different.

On the other hand, with this, not only the kids, but we are getting used to making a very important question prior to any purchase. And the magic question is: "Do I actually need this?" And, after this question, we get used to some others, like: "Is it worth it?" "Is this something necessary or only some kind of momentary fashion?" "What will I do with this?" "Don't I have enough ties?"

A real good mental exercise...

Now, the real good effect is that we are taking this opportunity to get closer as a family. We a talk a lot to one another at home, we learn more, we understand more... and we spend less.

This is a unique occasion to have a much more meaningful lifeI am getting closer to my wife and to my kids, as soon as the effort to make a living has had its focus changed. Instead of Mom and Dad work a lot to buy a lot of things, Mom and Dad work, the kids help us at home, and we talk about economics, and, after this, we talk about everything.

Which means, this crisis is a real big occasion to show to our kids that life is not only about buying another cell-phone, a new car, and so on. This is a unique occasion to have a much more meaningful life—of course, following the way of the Almighty.

Shalom to all.

Terri Rubin says:
What Has Got Us Through This?
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My husband, for the first time in 28 years, is unemployed and has been for over six months. I am self employed. Last year, 2008, my income/revenue was down 75%. We have a child in college and another at home. We are living on our savings, which is starting to run out...

What has got us through this? Focusing on what we are grateful for! We are all healthy (knock on wood). Our children are mensches and so proud and involved in their Jewish heritage. We have a roof over our heads and cars to drive. We have survived so far without any meltdowns. G‑d has taken care of us.

Vanessa Van Branteghem says:
Children Can Learn to Appreciate

This is a Chinese proverb:

If you do not have enough to eat, make sure you get enough to eat.

If you're cold in the winter, make sure you have adequate clothing.

If you do not have time to enjoy, make sure you free time.

However, if you have enough you should stop.

I always buy my children's clothes in a secondhand store.

It is not expensive, and good for the environment.

Children grow quickly out of their clothes.

Instead of the free time we don't spend in expensive amusement parks, we can find very cheap entertainment. A public park, a playground, free performances in the city.

Children ask for all the beauty they see in advertising. Sometimes it is difficult, but they do appreciate the other things you do. Children don't need that luxury—it is not necessary to be happy.

Benjamin Westfried says:
A Time of Purification and Edification

The lean years have their purposeThe economy is a natural organism. Like all other natural phenomena, it is cyclical. Joseph expressed this clearly to Pharaoh when he explained that seven good years would be followed by seven lean years. Moreover, he expressed a plan of action in which he suggested that surplus be stored during the fat years so that we would be prepared for the lean years.

Needless to say, the lean years are upon us. Some are prepared. Many are not.

But the lean years have their purpose. It is during this phase of the cycle when institutions and wrong-headed ideas fail under the stress and are washed away. It is a time of purification and edification as we learn what is good and what is dross. It is also a time of coming together as we learn that we need one another and we need G‑d. And we also learn that many of the things that we thought we needed we are better off without.

Leah Rosenstein says:
Their Wisdom Amounted to Nothing

We clearly see that money is in the hands of G‑d and that a successful person might put blood, sweat, and tears into earning a livelihood but it will not happen unless G‑d allows it.

People who thought that they had made wise investments and were therefore getting rich were crushed to find that it was a Ponzi scheme. Their wisdom amounted to nothing. G‑d had the ultimate wisdom. People who view the value of another person by how much money he has are seeing that money, like life or health, can, G‑d forbid, be gone in an instant. Nothing but the existence of G‑d and His Torah is guaranteed.

We must pray for livelihood, give charity, and never imagine that the money belongs to us. We must also be grateful for what we have and think thoughts of gratitude to G‑d every day. We should teach our children to make friends based on the character of the friend rather than by the size of their house or the expensiveness of their clothes. Maybe our children should see us use cash rather than: "give the man the plastic card Mommy so that we can have new toys." We should teach the kids the difference between nutritional food and junk that just wastes money. And, on the subject of waste, we should be like our grandmothers and preach against waste.

LJ says:
Thinking Back...

I am going to try and save money weekly. Even if it's only a few bucks.My husband works for the Bank of America. As far as he knows at present, his job is secure for another year. And then again, that may not be a total truth. We are in our upper 50s. The future job prospects are not promising, if there are jobs for our age group. It's time to do some real creative thinking about alternatives. I wanted to open some kind of retail store, but that also doesn't seem to promising. And where can one get a loan? In the short run, the only thing I can do is reassess budgets and start cutting. I'm not at the stage of saving aluminum foil, but I am going to stop using aluminum tins. And water down my dish detergent. I cut back on the cleaning lady. And will probably cut back completely. I don't buy clothes, I shop in my closet. I shop more at TJMax, Wal-Mart and Kohls, and clip coupons. I trimmed my food budget to at least 25%, and go out to eat maybe once a month. I do want to keep a quality of life that won't be compromised because of money though.

My mother always looked good, despite our financial situation. She tells me when she was a girl in Poland, she had one sweater. She took very good care of that one sweater, and it always looked bright and clean. She also painted her own house, mowed her own lawn and cleaned her own house. We lived a very nice middle-class life. And I am going to try and save money weekly. Even if it's only a few bucks. It's something. Start small, work up to something big.

All for the best? Right? Remember those Rav Zucha stories.

And turning the corner of feeling good about this downsizing, I run smack into the wall of weddings for my kids. Ouch. Now what? How am I going to cut back here?

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So now what? I think. Think? Think of my first child I married off. Faith. Prayer. And let G‑d be the judge of when and with whom. And you don't judge so sternly. Yeah. That was the first lesson.

My husband then was in between jobs. That was around Y2K time, and the bank he was working for laid him off after they finished preparing for Y2K. He was out of work for about 3 months and then got a job with a local organization. Not his style, but he had no choice. A year later, he was out again looking for work. And then came time to marry of my child. How was I going to start? What did I have to offer? Out of work husband, enough money saved for a small wedding, and nothing else saved. So I didn't pursue anyone...

Our lesson here was to learn gratitude, not be plundered emotionally about being the takerG‑d had other plans for me. My neighbor indirectly found out about someone and so it kinda fell in our lap. But, but my husband is out of work! My neighbor advised me to not quote a figure, but say we'll help with what we can, when we can. The boy turned out to have a lot of "perks." The boy came with a rich sponsor, who paid for the wedding and bought them furniture. Our community at that time had a wonderful discount policy offered through some stores, and a service to help buy bride's appliances, and other necessary home items. My daughter was not thrilled to be taking charity, but I felt it was the way G‑d wanted it. And our lesson here was to learn gratitude, not be plundered emotionally about being the taker, and not giver, and say thank you, and hope we can contribute in the future. And everyone knows those small things are what busts your budget. So thank you for helping us. The rest we were able to pay for. And then, my husband got a job. With the Bank of America!

What comes around goes around? And his starting date was the day of my daughter's wedding! Is that a sign or what? Pushed off to the next week.

And...... one more perk...... my mother got a buyer for her house that she was selling to retire to Florida. She had been stubbornly holding out for a better deal. She ended up with an extra $40,000. Of which she then gave me $20,000! It all came back to us and more! We were advised to spend for the wedding. You'll see, it will come back to you? No! But why? How? How can I can answer what G‑d has in mind? Did we have to struggle as a payment for this reward?

Now I am the proud bubby of two grandchildren, my daughter has blossomed and the marriage is very good.

A famous artist once said. There are no problems, only solutions. I have lived on $5 a day in my college days. Could I do the same today? We shall see. Have faith, and roll with what challenges you have. The tests are about to begin.

Jolene Anderson says:
The Bridge to Financial Wellness

As a seasoned realtor and self employed business owner, my income has often had great swings.

Today, as we begin a new day in America, and a new political climate, many of my colleagues, friends and clients have been touched by the economic downturn, including my family.

Perhaps the best way to approach this is to see it through the lens of the past and observe the lessons from previous generations who have lived through similar economic downturns.

I am convinced the way to thrive in this economy is with embracing the wisdom of our grandparents, "A penny saved is a penny earned."

"Invest in the long term" and "Patience is a virtue."

The Bridge to Financial Wellness may be too simple to grasp, but I am convinced the way out of this crisis is the way through it.

Wellness is a journey and begins with the first step: embracing hope and saying no to fear!

Kristine Morgan says:
Thinking Back...

Here's a thought...why don't we put all the people getting unemployment to work. Sounds difficult, but maybe it's not. Let me explain.

It's obvious the US cannot create millions of jobs overnight. However, if a company from another country could be enticed into opening a business in the US, jobs would become available. But how can we do that when even the US companies are moving elsewhere because of tax laws etc.? But what if the US offered the new company from another country free employees?

Here is the plan:

Those individuals currently receiving unemployment would be "contracted" to the new company as employees. They would continue to receive unemployment checks from the US government, and would be paid no salary from the new company (maybe the new company could offer them health insurance only during that period of time). Therefore, the new company would be getting free employees to work for their company. In exchange, that company agrees to hire X amount of American workers for their company. For example, the US Government could offer 1000 free employees for 1 year if said company agrees to hire 50,000 American workers above and beyond the free labor they are getting from the 1000. Also, you could then stipulate that the company must keep the one thousand employees on after the first year, for at least another year, provided they have received good evaluations etc. Individuals receiving unemployment would apply for positions, be interviewed etc. and be placed by the company...most in lower level jobs that require minimal training. The higher level jobs would be filled by the other 50,000 (just an example) employees said company agreed to hire. The individuals receiving unemployment who do not get hired by a company would then be placed into a job by the US govt., such as a lower level health care position since so many health care positions are needed due to the demand in the new healthcare system.

I believe this idea would do a great deal to jump start our economy. For starters, it would create incentives for the more prosperous countries to begin businesses in the US, putting more Americans to work. It would also assure that the people who are currently on unemployment begin to actually work, rather than having a huge gap in their employment history, thereby making it more difficult to become gainfully employed in the future. Also, it would weed out those individuals on unemployment from staying on unemployment as long as possible (to keep receiving extensions) to avoid working while still receiving a paycheck.

Even if this idea would not work to attract businesses from outside the US because of taxes, higher wages in the long run etc., then apply this idea to businesses that currently exist in the US. Give these US companies free labor for a year at a time...the number of employees at a company would determine how many, if any at all, free employees they would get. You would still get the unemployed working, while helping US companies at the same time.

The bottom line, in my opinion, is we need to try something new. We no longer produce much in this country, so we need to try something new to spark the economy. Almost the opposite of outsourcing, if you will. The scary thing, as a US citizen at this point in time, is that I don't see any new ideas or possible solutions on the horizon. There is currently nothing in the works that I feel will change the downward spiral that this country is currently in today. You know that old saying,” If it ain't broke, don't fix it?" Well, it's broke and we ain't fixin' it! So why not try some new, innovative ideas that could possibly work without costing the government a dime? I went to Florida during the summer and could not buy a Florida orange! The stores were filled with oranges from South Africa! Something is wrong here...what have we become when we can't buy an orange that the farmer down the street grew on his tree? Let's give some new ideas a try because it's obvious that the old way of doing things is not working!