Why have the Jewish people always been considered to be more successful in business than other segments of society? Is the Jewish phenomenon a myth, or is there something special that allows them to be more successful at business and making money in general?
In his book “Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money”, Rabbi Daniel Lapin answers these questions in great detail. He shows what you can do to achieve the same mindset, actions, and results that have made the Jewish people so successful over many centuries.
This post is the first in a series based on the book. They teach details and strategies that teachings from ancient Jewish texts such as the Talmud, the Torah, and others have ingrained into their culture over the centuries, and have made them generally successful as a group.
Read the entire series and learn all 10 commandments. I guarantee it will put a brand new perspective on how you view money and business from now on!
Each post covers one or two commandments and give takeaways for each one you can apply to your own life.
So let’s get started.
Commandment #1: Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business
“You can’t earn an honest living without pleasing others” is one of the central tenets of this commandment. When you operate your own business affairs honestly and honorably, and you have a product or service that people want or need, then you’re making the world a better place, and you’re making people happy.
When you understand that what you do for a living is an act of service to the world, to other people, and even to yourself, you realize that engaging in business is a moral act that benefits all involved (if it’s done well).
Jews are taught that business is a matter of being valuable to other people. When you view it that way, you're more likely to succeed in doing well at whatever business you’re engaged in.
We’re All Engaged in Business
Whether you are an administrative assistant typing documents all day long, a factory worker, a trash hauler, CEO of a multibillion dollar company, or a stay at home mom, you are engaged in business because you are providing value to others in some way.
You must truly understand that the business you’re engaged in matters to others. Then you can have a good attitude, and even passion for your work, no matter what you do for a living.
Conflicted Feelings Don’t Breed Success With Money
But deep down, if you feel that what you do is really not worthy of time and effort, and you don’t recognize how your work adds value to the world, then you’ll never succeed at what you do. Lack of belief is what causes you to be ineffective at generating worth to others, or yourself, through your work.
This lack of belief has the effect of limiting your wealth, your feeling of usefulness, and limits your value to the world as a whole. It’s all about the attitude and belief that we are all engaged in business, and business is a good thing to be engaged in.
Takeaway From the First Commandment For Making Money- you must come to the realization that you are in business, and business is an honorable thing to be engaged in. You can’t have conflicted feelings about business and money, and be truly successful at either one.
Commandment #2: Extend The Network of Your Connectedness to Many People
This commandment is all about networking. But it’s not necessarily about the type of networking that we’re used to thinking about (more on that below).
Rabbi Lapin stresses the necessity of getting to know as many people as you can. He writes “Only by actively, and perhaps even joyfully interacting with other people, can the circumstances of wealth creation be set in place”.
People prefer doing business and doing favors for people with whom they have a relationship, “so you have to learn to relate to strangers with a warmth and interest that turns them into friends” He writes.
Building a network is not about coldly getting to know people so you can extract money from them. It’s about having genuine interest in other people. This brand of connectedness is about getting to know others on a sincere, personal level because you’re interested in them, not because of what they can do for you.
It’s not about money and transactions, but about friendship. It’s about building a genuine relationship, and eventually transactions may develop out of that.
Connection Through Service
Rabbi Lapin writes about seeking out opportunities to make many friends. He argues that this is where many Jews get a head start in business. This is because Jewish communal life is tied to the Sabbath, the Synagogue, and Jewish celebrations that bring many people together that may not all know each other.
But he also says that the principles of connectedness are easily transferrable to anyone through being involved in a church, a civic group, or any other gathering where people meet to serve others or grow in some way.
The commonality of getting together to worship or serve others fosters a much higher level of connection than just networking for business purposes alone in a “what can you do for me” atmosphere
It’s Also About Obligation
The Hebrew word for friend is “chaver”. The root of that word, “chav” means “obligation”. The idea is to foster relationships by doing things for people. When you do good things for others, they will feel more obligated to do good things for you as well. It’s a virtuous cycle that serves both individuals well.
But even if you do something for someone else and get nothing in return, that’s ok. You’ve still done something nice for someone and been of service. It’s about doing good things not out of expectation for a returned favor. You do it because it’s the honorable thing to do.
Building relationships and receiving good things in return is the side effect of unselfishly serving others and being a good friend. The explanation of obligation goes much deeper than this in the book, and is an absolutely fascinating study. You can learn much more about these concepts by reading the book. You can find it at the following link:
“Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money” by Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Genuine Relationship Builds Your Income
The defining characteristic is that building relationships is an action. It’s not passive and doesn’t just happen. To be connected is to seek genuine relationships, not seek out people just to use them in some way.
Takeaway From the Second Commandment of Making Money- Relationships matter. Build relationships upon the idea of service and true friendship, and the transactions will eventually follow.
In the next post, you’ll find commandments #3 and #4 which are “Get to Know Yourself” and “Don’t Pursue Perfection”.
In the meantime, I’d like to hear your insights on these first two commandments? Any thoughts?
Leave a comment and let me know.
Learn more about Rabbi Daniel Lapin here