In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review

Talmudic Investment Advice

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q. I've heard that the Talmud dictates how to invest money. Does Jewish law really dictate individual investment policy?

A. The Sages of the Talmud gave a great deal of useful practical advice, together with the spiritual motivation, and one issue they discuss is investment. One prominent theme is diversification to cope with risk. A Midrash learns this principle from the conduct of the patriarch Jacob, who when threatened with attack divided his family into two camps:

Rav Chiya Rabba said, the Torah teaches right conduct, that a person shouldn't place all his money in a single position. From whom do we learn? From Jacob, as it is said, "And he divided the people with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels into two camps, and he said, If Esau falls upon one camp and smites it, the camp will remain will escape". (Genesis 32:8-9) (1)

Even more specific advice is found in the following Talmudic passage:

And Rebbe Yitzchak said: A person should always have his money at hand, as it is written (Deuteronomy 14:?) "And bind the money in your hand". And Rebbe Yitzchak said, A person should always divide his money into three: one third in land, one third in commerce, and one third at hand. (2)

The Maharsha (a well-known commentary on the stories of the Talmud, from the 17th century) explains the financial logic of this division based on principles we are familiar with today: Land is safe because it can never lose all its value, but its return is also low. Commerce has the highest return but also the highest risk. Finally, some money must be left liquid for unexpected exigencies.

However, it is clear from the various commentators that the "three thirds" idea is not a hard and fast rule, but rather an application of the general principle to diversify investments considering long-term safety, long-term return, and immediate needs and opportunities. The rabbis were not in the business of giving investment tips, but rather of placing our monetary affairs in the context of a total religious lifestyle.

Specifically, prudent investment is part of a broader religious ideal of temperance, prudence, and generally adopting a long-term approach to planning our life. Maimonides explains:

It is forbidden for a person to disown or dedicate all his property and thus become a burden on others, nor should h sell a field [a productive asset] and buy a house [for his own benefit only], or sell his house [which is durable] and buy moveable goods. Nor should he engage in commerce with the money from his house [risk his house on business ventures]. . . The general principle is that a person's goal should be to have his property succeed, to supersede that which is temporary with that which is durable, and his intention should not be to have momentary enjoyment or to benefit a little [now] and lose much [later].

As a result of the revelations following the financial crisis, many people have become aware that much of the so-called "investment industry" was not really oriented towards increasing our long-term quality of life, but rather towards the kind of behavior Maimonides condemns: making a quick buck or looking for immediate gratification. The rabbis were not interested in the details of our investment portfolio, but rather in the overall approach to life that is reflected in it.

SOURCES: (1) Midrash, Bereshis Rabba on Genesis 32:8 (2) Babylonian Talmud, Bava Metzia 42a (3) Maimonides' Code, Laws of Right Views, 5:12. The Hagahos Maimonis glosses specifically relates the "three thirds" rule to this statement.

Interested in a private Judaic studies instructor — for free? Let us know by clicking here.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes inspiring articles. Sign up for our daily update. It's free. Just click here.

To comment or pose a question, please click here.


JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology.


You've enjoyed his columns on JWR for years. Now the Jewish Ethicist has culled his most intriguing — and controversial — offerings in book form.
Sales help fund JWR.

© 2009, The Jewish Ethicist is produced by the JCT Center for Business Ethics