"Judaism and the Economy"
The economy's downward spiral has us worried. We are worried about our savings. We are worried about our retirement accounts. I am worried about my bank accounts too. But I am not an economist. I am a rabbi. As a rabbi the question is not where should I invest but how can I best respond to this crisis? There are two Jewish responses to this economic crisis.
1) We must continue to give tzedakah. Judaism insists that we never ignore the poor and hungry. It is far easier to be a tzaddik during years of plenty. These years of trial will be our test. History will judge us by how we respond to these years. Will we only think of our dwindling savings or will we think of those less fortunate than ourselves? We will have less, but others will have even less. I have always been a supporter of Mazon. Mazon distributes grants to organizations that help to alleviate hunger. We must think of others. We must not turn aside. We must give tzedakah.
2) We must also not ignore the needs of our own souls. We must nourish our spiritual selves. Shabbat is Judaism's gift to the world. We are given the seventh day to recharge our batteries and to refresh our souls. Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav taught: "During the week we speak of wealth and work, of worries and wants. Our weekday talk proclaims imperfection: we often focus on what we lack or have yet to accomplish, on how we would like things to be other than as they are. But when we speak of life’s blessings and joys—the talk of Shabbat—we speak of contentment, of fulfillment." We are given six days to worry about our world and one day to count our blessings. Shabbat helps to remind us of what is most important in our lives: our families, our friends. We must take this day to help restore the proper balance in our lives. We must celebrate Shabbat to reclaim the contentment of our souls.
By giving tzedakah and celebrating Shabbat we will not only survive these years of difficulty and trial, but will persevere.