Rabbi Daniel Lapin (Photo: The Money Advantage)

Wealth-building strategies from the Bible by a Rabbi

Rabbi Daniel Lapin (Photo: The Money Advantage)

Daniel Lapin is an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi who shares wealth-building principles directly from the Bible. An acclaimed author, he is in demand for his wealth-building teachings from ancient Jewish wisdom.

If you are already familiar with the Bible’s caution against borrowing, you may have some insight into where we are headed today. Proverbs 22:7 says: The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender. Borrowing as a wealth-building strategy is counterintuitive.

This week, we will look at some of the principles Rabbi Lapin and similar teachers use in their counsel on avoiding poverty.

Lapin points out that Jews represent less than two per cent of the American population, but in any given year may represent as much as 25 per cent of the names on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans.

Jewish households are also twice as likely to be wealthy as those of non-Jews. In his best selling book, Thou Shalt Prosper, Rabbi Lapin has defended his famous mantra which asserts that wealth comes from serving other people, as stated in the scriptures.

The Rabbi may not quote the New Testament, but his theory is repeated several times in that portion of the Bible. It says in Galatians 5 verse 14: ”For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.”’

The first rule of wealth building taken from the Bible is the recommendation that individuals focus on fixing the problems of others.

The extent to which one does this successfully, to that extent one will be rewarded not only with great relationships, but appreciation in the form of money and other material rewards.

Lapin puts it boldly, in one column: “Serve people and help them improve their lives and you will make more money.”

He explains that one’s mission in life is not to fulfill personal passions, or run after personal dreams, but to help others fulfill their dreams. That’s how you make money.

The other side of this is the recommendation to be honest and apply good morals in your business dealings, as underhanded methods will certainly reward you accordingly. Proverbs 15:6 says, “In the house of the righteous is much treasure: but in the revenues of the wicked is trouble.”

Your gift is your calling

Proverbs 18:16 says a man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.” Rabbi Lapin states, “Learn to be excellent in your specialty and don’t be ashamed to accept money for helping people solve their problems with that specialty. Use our ingenuity to create opportunities that serve others and generate money.”

Stewardship and optimism

Achievement is impossible without faith. A man or woman who is in a permanent state of doubt, disbelief and worry will repulse any good fortune coming their way. Blessings are the reward of faith. Your optimism, your belief in God and his provision and your willingness to try again despite failure will lead you, one day, to success.

Avoid borrowing as well. Romans 13:8 advises, “Owe no man anything, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.” Proverbs says borrowing leads to a life of servitude.

Saving and investing in times of prosperity

Another principle which is useful is the seasonal nature of life and the need to save and invest in times of plenty. This is as the lean years, typified by an economic downturn or old age and sickness, invariably come along.

In Genesis 41, Joseph appeared before Pharaoh and was inspired to interpret his dream of seven mean and hungry looking cows which came out of a river to eat seven fat and prosperous looking animals.

The dream, Joseph said, was about a hard famine that would follow seven years of plenty. He advised the ruler of Egypt to save one twentieth of all produce, against the lean years that were ahead. Pharoah did so and Egypt prospered through the famine that came, with Pharoah ending up as owner of all the land in the nation as people exchanged property for bread.

Ecclesiastes 3 states: “1.To everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2. a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3. a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up.”

There is a time for everything under the sun including economic downturns, illness and even death. So prepare.

Life is seasonal and so the recommendation to save and invest as much as 20 per cent of one’s earnings in time of prosperity is not a bad one.

Giving, the first and last law

Giving is the first and last law of prosperity. Matthew 5:42 says, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” Proverbs 22:9 adds, “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.”

You should not be so interested in profit making and margins that you destroy the poor. Leviticus 22: 23 says, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap your field right up to its edge, neither shall you gather the gleanings after your harvest.” And Leviticus 19: 10 adds, “And you shall not strip your vineyard bare, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the sojourner: I am the Lord your God.”

Try to invest in others. When, as seen in the books of Samuel, the future King David ran for his life from King Saul, he gathered around him men who were as poor and desperate as he. However, his training developed men who were great warriors and who would stand with him all of his days.

You never know what the future will bring. Nurture, feed, guide and build those around you who have talent and the spirit of the gifted, or who simply need your support. They may be your source of help in an unknown tomorrow.