Business Secrets from the Bible, with Rabbi Daniel Lapin
What if your thoughts about the Bible and what it has to say about money were crippling you instead of helping you to flourish the way you’re meant to? Today’s guest is Rabbi Daniel Lapin, returning for another deep and powerful conversation about business, money, and the Bible.
He’s a rabbi, speaker, TV host, and author of seven books, including America’s Real War, Business Secrets from the Bible, and Thou Shall Prosper-The Ten Commandments for Making Money.
Instead of avoiding the seeming conflict in our culture between God and money, Rabbi Lapin is known for uncovering and unpacking Biblical wisdom to guide today’s business leaders.
Prepare to be challenged, changed, and grow… tune in now!
Table of contents
Welcoming Back Rabbi Lapin
[2:23] Rachel: “We believe alike when it comes to money. And it’s amazing to me, to be able to understand the roots of what everything means, financially, and how that connects to our Christian faith, how it connects to biblical principles.”
And a common journey is reconciling faith with finances—how can you be a good Christian and a good entrepreneur without those things being in conflict? Fortunately, as Rabbi Lapin shows us, there’s more overlap than you think. We’ve enjoyed having him as a guest several times before because he has a deep understanding of the bible and the financial wisdom within its pages.
[4:54] Rabbi Daniel Lapin: “We are not using our time today to try and surreptitiously convert people to faith. What we are trying to do, very forthrightly, is impact their bank accounts.”
Why Business Matters
We’ve talked about many of the Rabbi’s books on The Money Advantage, and today is about one of his older books, Business Secrets from the Bible. What’s great about this book is that it provides a strategic, spiritual approach to business. And the foundation of this approach is within the pages of the Bible.
The conversation begins with a few thought experiments, such as the one below:
[13:15] “If retirement is such a good thing, what would happen if everybody in your world retired? According to the way many people think, people should say, ‘Well…God bless them, good for them. They’ve made enough money, they don’t need to work anymore. It’s great!’ And that would be great until you decide you want to go to a restaurant for dinner. And then you discover that nobody’s there because they’ve all got enough money, they don’t need your money.”
[14:18] “Without other people, you have nothing.”
The Impact of Inflation
Rabbi Lapin brings another thought experiment into the conversation. He asks you to imagine you found a duffel bag filled with a million dollars. And to your surprise, it’s addressed to you, as a gift from the white house. Your mind begins to fill with the possibilities of that money, and you call your friend to tell them. But before you can say anything, they tell you that they also received a million dollars from the white house. And you quickly come to learn that every single person got the same gift.
[17:40] “This is the mystique of money: if everybody got a million dollars, it is exactly the same as if no one got a million dollars. Really, nothing has changed.”
Lapin takes it further and says if you don’t understand, think about what you would do with the money. Say you want a specific BMW, so you go to the dealership to purchase it, because you can still use the money, right? But before you can find a salesman, you’re in a line of 40 people, with only 6 or 7 of that particular BMW available. And the price of the BMW has also shifted to reflect this sudden infusion of cash in the economy.
These thought experiments serve to help people think differently about money and the economy.
Investing vs. Making Money in the First Place
[21:00] Rachel: ‘What’s interesting is that making money in the first place might not necessarily be fair, but it is something that we need to apply ourselves to the principles of making money, which are biblical principles. You’ve already highlighted two of them: we have to be giving value to people, and it is a relationship business. You cannot make money if there are no humans to serve, and you cannot make money if you’re not providing value to them.”
[22:44] Rabbi Daniel Lapin: “Money is essentially a spiritual commodity, not a physical commodity.”
In his book, The Holistic You, Lapin identifies the five aspects of our lives that are essentially indispensable. These aspects are our health, finances, family, friendship, and faith. And all of these aspects are a package deal, they’re all necessary for a successful life.
If we neglect one area, there are ramifications that affect other areas of our lives.
Faith and Finances
[28:24] “We make money not by taking, but by giving.”
[29:22] “In my experience, very little business actually really results from networking clubs. Where business really comes from, and to some people is going to sound weird, is I go to Synagogue on Saturday morning…On any Saturday morning, at any Synagogue I’m speaking at, I’ll hear half a dozen business deals go down.”
[30:55] “You don’t get a full grasp of money if you don’t have an understanding of faith.”
[31:30] Rachel: “What’s really interesting is that we are people who need other people. We live in a society, we’re not isolated islands. And I know firsthand the experience of trying to make money. If you’re just focused on making money, you will never make any.”
The more you serve people and their needs, the more you create community, the more reach and influence that you have.
A Godly Economy
In Rabbi Lapin’s “Godly Economy,” as he calls it, money signifies certificates of appreciation. And we give them to people who we appreciate for their service. When he and his sons helped a fellow man fix his roof, he gave them certificates of his appreciation. And when later the Rabbi went out to dinner with his wife, they offered certificates of appreciation for their meal. And those certificates can then be given to the next person and the next person.
[36:12] Rabbi Lapin: “This is what a Godly economy is like. This is why no socialistic, atheistic, tyranny has ever in the history of the world succeeded in building a functioning economy; because the economy works when we see ourselves as givers, not as takers.”
Does God Want You to be Wealthy?
What do you say to the person who believes that God doesn’t want them to be wealthy?
[37:27] I might say something like, ‘Tell me, do you think God wants you to have a great sex life?’ And he might say, ‘I don’t know, what do you think?’
And I’d say, ‘Well I don’t know either, God hasn’t shared that information with me. But I’ll tell you what he did share with me, and that is that he wants a man and a woman to marry and be dedicated to one another, and to their children, and to live as a family. And it would not surprise me in the least if a good and loving God would reward your behavior in building a sincere family by giving you the greatest sensual pleasure that God made available to human beings. That wouldn’t surprise me at all.
And so on your question of whether I think God wants you to be rich, he hasn’t actually told me about that. He hasn’t even told me if he wants me to be rich, let alone you. But what he has told me is that he would like you to be obsessively preoccupied with filling the needs and desires of all his other children. And it wouldn’t surprise me in the least that a good and loving God would react to you fulfilling his desire that you take care of his other children, with the incredible blessing of financial abundance.’
Learn to Be of Service
[41:50] “Does God want you to be rich? That’s the wrong question.”
[47:25] “There is no one business to go into—it depends on a lot of factors…But one thing that applies to everybody…is that just because you really, really like baking, please don’t go into a cupcake business…Please don’t do something because you love it; do what needs to be done. Do what most people around you most urgently need. And here’s the key: learn to love doing it.”
Previous Discussions with Rabbi Lapin
About Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Rabbi Daniel Lapin is an author, speaker, and TV host. He immigrated to the United States from South Africa after studying mathematics, physics, and economics in Israel and the United Kingdom.
His books include America’s Real War, Business Secrets from the Bible, and Thou Shall Prosper-The Ten Commandments for Making Money. All have been translated into Chinese and Korean.
Rabbi Lapin is a frequent speaker for trade groups, political and civic organizations, financial conferences, and companies around the globe. He regularly appears on radio and television shows. Newsweek magazine included him in its first list of America’s fifty most influential rabbis. His weekly podcast now enjoys over 100,000 downloads, as do his weekly columns.
With his wife Susan, he hosts the daily TCT television show Ancient Jewish Wisdom. An enthusiastic boater who has sailed his family across the Pacific, Rabbi Daniel Lapin lives in Maryland. With him, he has his seven children that he and his wife homeschooled. His website is www.YouNeedaRabbi.com
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