Posts tagged " money "

My girlfriend’s earning potential is greater than mine.

November 13th, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 5 comments

I have listened to a few of your podcasts that talk about the perils of income disparity between spouses, where the wife earns more than the husband. I’m a guy, and frankly the topic terrifies me because I’d rather drive nails through my feet than face the prospect of divorce because of this kind of thing. 

I’m dating someone who does not earn more than me but she has high potential to do so later.Am I heading for disaster?

Justin

Dear Justin,

I (RDL) often speak about the connection between money and marriage on my podcast and I (Susan) frequently cover variations on the same theme in my Musings. In this forum you get the two of us together! 

A few years ago, we did a multi-day conference in Dallas on the topic and we are working on a book as well. Some of what we write below comes out of that manuscript. So, you have touched a hot-button subject for us and one in which, not surprisingly, much of what we have to say contradicts popular culture.

One of the sentences in your letter concerns us.  We hope we’re wrong but you sound passively resigned to being terrified.  Why isn’t that fear fueling your financial climb to a new level at which that fear would evaporate?  Part of being a male is developing and feeling ambition.

Here is the bottom line: There is no question that both men and women can provide financially for their families. However, doing so fills a spiritual need in a man that it doesn’t for a woman. In addition, failing to provide financially erodes the essence of masculinity for most men but it leaves the core of a woman’s identity intact.

When a man loses his job or cannot obtain one, it strikes a blow at the heart of his masculinity.  For this reason his body often reacts with sexual impotence.  This problem, with its capacity to damage the marriage, can intensify, rather than diminish, if his wife capably and expansively assumes the burden of supporting the family.

Your question relates to this concept. We wouldn’t phrase it as “heading for disaster,” but we do think that you are wise to think about this now.

Here are some of the questions we feel you ought to both be examining now.  Is your girlfriend’s work a ‘calling,’ or a job? Is she doing something that she feels defines her identity, or she is simply good at what she does?  Do you ever get the feeling that her job is the priority in her life?  If one of you was offered a career opportunity that required moving, meaning the other spouse would need to leave his or her current position, would your decision be based solely on who earns more? Do either or both of you see a commuter marriage where you only live together a few days a month as a viable option? What would inform that decision? Do you both mean the same thing when you use the words “marriage” and “family”?

When you and your girlfriend talk about raising a family, who do you see having primary responsibility for caring for children? Do you both understand why 50/50 is an unrealistic answer?

Additionally we think that there are some really important questions for you to ask yourself. Why are you, at what we presume is a relatively young age, deciding that your own earning potential is so limited? Are you willing to do whatever is necessary to carry the primary burden of providing for a wife and family or are you counting on your wife to share that burden equally? If you were married and your wife decided, after the arrival of her first baby, that she wanted to be a stay-at-home mother and wife, would that delight you or terrify you? Have you expressed your preference to her in this area?

If you have listened to our audio program, Madam, I’m Adam, you know that ancient Jewish wisdom places primary responsibility for marriage failure on the husband. Earning more than your wife doesn’t guarantee a successful marriage even though the opposite scenario is likely to pose problems. We encourage you to seek role models of enduring good marriages and openly ask for guidance from the husbands. Awareness of divorce is necessary in the world today, but if fear of divorce plays an outsized part in your thinking, we suggest that perhaps you need to develop your thinking and feelings before making a commitment to marriage.

Humming, “Here Comes the Groom,”

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

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You + You = YOU

July 2nd, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 23 comments

Money, money, money…” sang Abba in 1976.  What is it?  It is funny how challenging it is to define.    Is it those metallic discs clinking in your pocket? How about those strips of colored paper in your wallet?  How about when you write a check? Is that money?  What if you write on a napkin, “I’ll give you $10 on Friday.” Is that money? How about if we shake hands and I simply say, “I’ll give you $10 on Friday.” Is that money?  Or is money the magnetic orientation of iron oxide molecules on that brown strip back of your credit card?  Is it a stream of ones and zeroes on the hard drive of your financial institution’s computer?  What is money?

Whether you consult economists or financiers, business school deans or directors of the International Monetary Fund, you’ll always get much the same answer.  It will be something like this: money is a government authorized circulating medium of exchange that allows us to count and store value. 

While that definition is basically true, it hardly tells the entire story.  For a far more useful depiction, we should turn to the 10th chapter of William James’ The Principles of Psychology published in 1890. While William James, who in my opinion had a much more correct understanding of the human soul than Sigmund Freud, is not trying to define money, he is helping us understand the breadth of its impact upon our lives.

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Matzoh, Money and Marriage

March 27th, 2018 Posted by Thought Tools 20 comments

Here’s an unusual thought experiment: Imagine meeting a twenty-year-old man who is suffering from near total amnesia. He explains to you that he knows how to read and write, drive a car and live healthily, but has no idea at all of what he ought to be doing to prepare for successfully living the rest of his life.  What are you going to tell him?

Upon some reflection, I think I’d say to him, “There are two really important things that are vital for happy living and neither is intuitive, so I am delighted that you asked me.”

The two are money and marriage.  Nothing at all is taught about either one at GIC’s (Government Indoctrination Camps formerly known as public schools.)  Not surprisingly, the result is a huge number of twenty-year-old men who have never given a realistic moment’s thought to earning a living.  Public education’s indifference to marriage has also resulted in a significantly diminishing percentage of young men marrying.  If nobody teaches young males how money works and why marriage is important, how could they possibly know? 

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What do you think of bitcoin?

January 23rd, 2018 Posted by Ask the Rabbi 25 comments

What is your opinion of bitcoin? It would seem that it does not exist in the true sense and does not serve other human beings. Investments only have value when other people place a value on them.

Jeff N.

Dear Jeff,

We’re getting a strong urge to start this answer by saying that nothing in our Ask the Rabbi column should be taken as investment advice and that past performance is no guarantee of future results. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, we can answer your question.

The point we would like to make is that bitcoin’s value, as you say, is based on people’s willingness to honor it. That is true for many things we call money. For example, United States savings bonds are “backed by the full faith and credit of the US Government.” If the government falls or become dishonorable, the bonds quickly become worthless. The service any form of monetary exchange provides is allowing people to function economically in a more sophisticated manner than basic bartering. But any government behaving immorally by inflating its currency in order to surreptitiously tax its citizens will quickly find its currency valueless.

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Do as I Do, Not as I Say

December 20th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools 26 comments

Years ago, the little yeshiva in Skokie, Illinois, had a pathetic basketball team.  Just a bunch of slightly nerdy kids stumbling around the court.  Their star forward  dribbled like a drunk trying to stomp a cockroach.  They were so low in the Jewish schools’ league that they usually fell off the bottom of the page.

One day—wonders of wonders—the Chicago Bulls offered to coach them to basketball excellence.  This was going to be The Dirty Dozen all over again.  There is something deeply moving about watching hopeless losers rising to stardom.  King David’s words would resonate throughout Jewish Chicago, “The stone the builders despised has become the cornerstone.” (Psalms 118:22)

What a generous act of magnanimity.  Living legends of basketball like Michael Jordan and Dennis Rodman unstintingly giving of themselves.  Through their concern, a motley collection of kids who had never known what it was to hear fans roaring approval, would ultimately achieve success in sports.

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Does God Determine How Much You Earn?

October 5th, 2016 Posted by On Our Mind No Comment yet

The Jewish “New Year”, Rosh Hashana,  has just ended.  I have been privileged to be teaching in Jerusalem where several people have asked me the same question.  If God judges every human on this holyday, and furthermore He determines the fate of everyone including their financial fortunes, why bother working?  Everything is up to God and He will find a way to get into my bank account whatever He has deemed that I should have.  It so happens that I was fully prepared for this question since I asked it of one of my teachers many years ago.  I will confess there was a spirit of mischievousness in my inquiry that was utterly absent from the sincere and intelligent questioners who confronted me.  The answer is that God does not declare actual dollar amounts.  However, what He does do is establish the ‘cosmic exponents’ that will convert your efforts into actual dollar amounts.  For one person, X amount of effort will produce Y amount of return, for another it might be Z amount of return.  Obviously when X is zero, meaning no work and no effort, regardless of whether you square it, cube it or multiply it by ten thousand, the result will always be zero.  No effort generally = no return.  God put is in the Garden to work it; to exert our energy towards combating the entropy He built into the system for our benefit. This is why we know that closing our store on this website on Sabbath and Holydays is what God expects of us. While there may often be what appear to be temporary exceptions, we are always judged and God’s response is ultimately in accordance with our effort.

Do I Have to Stop Making Money?

July 21st, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question:

This is a complex ethical question, at least for me. An acquaintance introduced me to an internet marketing business which offered ad-sharing that returned $5 for every share purchased once the share retired. When I bought a lot of packs and received 2% per day ($10,000 investment) it adds up and I reinvested every day which made my shares grow. I checked it out and it is not a Ponzi scheme. Since I do not have a business to promote, the traffic that I am buying with my shares are sent randomly to all the other businesses who are promoting their sites on this traffic exchange – Traffic Monsoon by name. I have to view 10 ads personally every day to be a part of the revenue share.

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Your answer was off base!

May 5th, 2016 Posted by Ask the Rabbi No Comment yet

Question #1:

“I have been receiving your newsletter and watching you on Glenn Beck and listening to your radio Podcasts for quite a while now. I respect you greatly and think that you have a lot of wisdom, however, I was very dismayed at your answer to the young 17-year-old aspiring massage therapist. I’m a massage therapist myself and there are countless ways that you can go into the profession. There are many ways that you can serve in a medical setting rather than in a spa setting. Spa massage IS a luxury and has much less therapeutic value.

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The Too Few Flue

April 12th, 2016 Posted by Thought Tools No Comment yet

“I earned more money last year than my father/grandfather made his entire life!” Have you heard people saying that? I have; many times. It often means that the speaker is astounded at having earned more money than he ever expected to and the polite way to express this sentiment is by comparing it to a previous generation. Many people maintain a mental money-making number that they believe deep in their hearts to be the unspoken upper limit of what they think themselves capable.

Were it not so, nobody would ever be surprised at how much money he made. On the contrary, if our expectations were really limitless, we’d always view our revenue as merely okay. Better than last year this time, perhaps, but nowhere near what is possible. But we don’t think that way. Instead most of us think upper-limit rather than limitless. Instead of planning next year’s income in terms of “Let’s see how high we can make it,” we think in terms of “How close might I get to my goal?” The trouble is that the goal is almost always far lower than it might have been. (more…)

Money & Marriage Maketh Man

November 25th, 2015 Posted by Thought Tools 1 comment

Try persuading today’s university students that making money is both dignified and moral. That’s what I did last week when I addressed 13,000 students at the Liberty University Convocation in Virginia. I not only told them that making money was a virtuous activity but I proved it. And they whooped, hollered and cheered. But remember, this was not Dartmouth, Yale or University of Missouri. There’s hope for America down there in Lynchburg.

My dear friend, the late Jerry Falwell, founded Liberty University in 1971. It is a beautiful campus populated by God-fearing young scholars who play as hard as they pray. Their Flames football team competes successfully in division 1 of the NCAA in the Big South Conference. (more…)

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