Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Working Hard for the Money

A couple of people have asked me: "Lord Ironheart, why hast thou not commented on the Bernie Madoff debacle on thine blog?" (People I know talk funny. What can you do? They're good with broadswords though)
My first answer was: that's not my blog's purpose. I blog to spread my opinion, challenge non-believers and spread the Torah of the Navonim (well, okay, still only one paid member but I'm just saying...). Financial scandals, even Jewish ones, aren't exactly my purview.
Not only that, but what could I possibly add to the countless news items and blogposts that have already come out on the subject?
I'm outraged? Take a number. I'm worried that this will lead to a surge of anti-Semitism in the U.S.? Me and countless genuine Jewish leaders.
But upon thinking about it further, I have one thought to add:
There are three ways to make a parnassah in this world. One can sit and do nothing/learn all day and live off of a rich aidem or tzedakah. One could wheel and deal in high finance and stocks, hoping for that big easy payoff. Or one could work hard every day for a living, make a decent income and invest wisely based on one's timeframe to retirement.
Too many Jews prefer the first option. And because they were largely reliant on those Jews who prefered the second option, the financial disaster that Bernie Madoff and his ilk caused has wreaked havoc far out of proportion to what it should have. Rich Jews, poor Jews, frum and non-frum, have all been affected.
But not people from the final option. Those with a stable income, who live within their means, who might secretly wish for the big stock tip and comfortable villa in Kfar Shemaryahu but who would never actually take the risk because it's not worth it, are nearly completely unaffected by the recent stock market crash and financial scandals.
Yes, stock portfolios have dropped but because they're conservative investments they haven't fallen nearly as much as the markets. Yes, the overall worth of the portfolio is diminished but given the reliable monthly paycheque and sustainable budget, it can be observed for now.
And in the end, this is what people will hopefully learn from the Crash of '08: there is no substitute for success in This World to working hard for a living, staying within one's means and ignoring the hype about keeping up with the Jonesteins.

1 comment:

Rabbi Ben Hecht said...

Reading between your lines, I believe that there is another question that you were also addressing and to which you also gave an answer. That question is: why does this matter to me? In our world of media, it just seems that any news item is deemed proper for public consumption. Just wanting to know seems to be all the justification for trying to know. We actually have another word for that -- curiousity. And also another expression for it -- loshon harah. The only reason why we should be investigating this whole matter is because there is something that we need to learn from it. Your question in investigating this matter was: lemai nafkah mina, what difference does it make to know this? And you gave an answer -- an answer that not only applies to Madoff and felonies but also to risky investments in general, even if legitamate. I am contemplating other answers but if one wishes to speak on this matter, let it have a purpose. I don't need to hear what a bad thing Madoff did and I appreciate your original hesitancy to write on the matter. Lemai nafkah mina?

Rabbi Ben Hecht