Rabbi Raymond Beyda
Negative financial news strikes fear in the hearts of common men. How low can it go? What steps must one take to survive? The smiling face is replaced by a concerned countenance, and the friendly “good morning” passes from a daily ritual to a once-in-a-while occurrence. Serious thought is given to the lifestyle changes one must make to avoid falling deeply into debt. It is not a pleasant situation, to say the least.
It is sad that when a person is under pressure and cannot think clearly, time-proven methods for bettering his or her situation may be missed.
However, it often happens that one who can only see gloom and doom consults with a helpful outsider and finds a simple solution that he or she would not have found alone.
Two steps taken by many people when the going gets rough are said by our Sages to be counter-productive. There are those who feel that the appropriate first step to take when experiencing concern about the future financial well-being of one’s business is to cut charitable contributions. Yet this move can really reduce the possibility of bailing out of trouble. The Torah teaches that one who gives is blessed. Furthermore, one is challenged by Hashem to “test Me with this”-i.e., Hashem promised: give and you will get and remember, you have the right to test His promise!
Secondly, many cut out time from their Torah learning schedule in order to devote more time to business. True, one’s business may need more hands-on attention, but one must find that necessary time without decreasing the time already dedicated to learning and self-improvement. The Torah, says the Gemara, protects and saves and so reducing the time spent learning reduces one’s protection and security.
If you, unfortunately, are in a situation where you are forced to consider making changes in order to deal with hard times, include the advice of our wise predecessors in your calculations. Give, and you will get. Torah protects and saves. These are simple solutions for complex problems.
CONSIDER THIS FOR A MINUTE
A good technique for deciding whether to do something or to refrain: When one has to decide, one should imagine that another person asked his or her advice on the matter. Usually, when one is advising another, one sees clearly, without personal interest and prejudice to cloud the issue. What you would advise another is how you should act yourself. (Sefer Hasidim 155)