Thou Shall Prosper with Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Do you want to make more money this year? Today, we’re talking with Rabbi Daniel Lapin, author of Thou Shall Prosper — Ten Commandments for Making Money, one of the deepest and most profoundly philosophical books about the wisdom you need to be successful.
So if you want to learn about the steps that make success possible and make more far more money than you’re making right now… tune in now!
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Table of contents
We’re excited to bring you a unique guest who may surprise you. Rabbi Daniel Lapin is more than just a man of faith, he’s also an accomplished speaker, scholar, and author of a book on our favorite topic—Prosperity.
The 10 Commandments (of Making Money)
While most financial books focus on returns and strategies and products, Thou Shall Prosper is a deeply profound look at the philosophical underpinnings of success and wealth. The book sprung into being after a series of lectures Rabbi Daniel Lapin gave on socio-political topics, when his most frequently asked question was, “How come Jews are so good with money?”
It was a question many were sheepish to ask, yet it gave the Rabbi cause to study the question. Especially when he realized he did not have the answer readily at hand. And so he pursued the history of the financial success of many Jews, and in the process debunked many of the bogus explanations.
He boiled his research down to one truth:
[7:43] “It is that the vast catalogue of ancient Jewish wisdom embedded in the Hebrew scriptures, that have been part and parcel of Jewish culture. Whether it’s a man, dedicated sages who study the word diligently, or whether it’s among secularized Jews whose conversation around the dinnertable revolves around the way they raise their families and inculcate their children. All reflect these intrinsic values and so, in a nutshell, that’s what it was. And I worked as hard as I worked in my life to condense all of that into ten fundamental principles.”
Business is Not Piracy
In his research, Rabbi Daniel Lapin learned many Jews became pirates in the 17th century. They pillaged and plundered and built a trove of treasure. Then when they were ready to retire from piracy, they funded churches or other projects to reenter society peacefully. It’s dangerous to compare modern day business to the same model. The wealthy should not have to buy their way back into polite society.
Today, people compare businesses to this same model, despite being very different from piracy. Businesses are lauded for their donations, yet criticized for their income. Giving to charity should be a moral act, and it cannot “right” something that is not inherently wrong, like making money.
[13:02] “If giving charity is giving back to society, then what the hell were you doing to society when you were making money in the first place?”
No one complains athletes make too much. Yet people complain about CEOs—they do specialized work and are the linchpin of many major decisions.
Biblical Wisdom as a Foundation
Our world as we know it is based on principles and ideas found in the Bible.
[23:50] “So ancient Jewish Wisdom explains that—that is the way that it teaches and explains that—you’re not allowed to exploit a lack of information in a business transaction that isn’t transparent. And so, I’m actually prohibited from offering you a price for your property without disclosing to you that I’m aware that there is a plan development or infrastructure that is going to be built there that is going to increase the value of your property—I am not allowed to make you an offer for it without disclosing that information.”
In the same way, there’s a verse in Genesis 2 that says gold is very good. This is one reason that gold became a method of monetization. On its own, it has no intrinsic value. Yet we’ve interpreted the scriptures in a way that makes gold valuable to us.
[25:50] “It’s just that from time immemorial, people read that God said gold is good.”
Rabbi Daniel Lapin also points out that when God says it’s not good to be alone, it is not simply regarding marital prospects, like Adam and Eve. It also explains the human need for connection—it is not good to be solitary.
Thou Shall Prosper (and Be Happy)
[27:59] “Many people say money doesn’t make you happy. And, you know, that is a mistake. It’s like saying a car doesn’t drive you anywhere. Well, yeah, it doesn’t. You’ve got to put gasoline in it, you’ve got to put a driver behind the wheel, but yes, with those provisos a car absolutely does get you places. There are certain provisos with respect to money as well, and with those provisos in place, money makes you very, very, very happy.
“And the chief, and most important, of those provisos is that you have to make the money yourself. And I think we all know what happens to families who win the lottery. I know you may have contradictory information, but I do not know of a single instance of people who won the lottery, and two years later were happier and better off for it.”
Another component of our conversation with Rabbi Daniel Lapin involves the stigma of charging interest. He points out that the bible does not say you cannot charge interest; it says that you should not charge interest without disclosing all the information. This understanding allowed a lot of Jewish people to go into banking with a mind for commerce and how to provide loans in a way that benefits many.
[31:06] “You see, as part of God’s love of connection, he prefers equity to debt.”
When you owe someone money, you cross the street to avoid them—that’s debt. However, when you have an equity investor in your business, you seek them out because your interests align. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. Debt can cause rifts, while equity can strengthen bonds.
The Most Important Thing To Starting a Business
[32:49] “I think the most important thing is that there is no one important thing. Because business and life are far too complex to be operated on the basis of a silly slogan. There are profound and consequential principles that you need to wrap your entire being around. And one of them, for instance, is that if you consider business to be a reprehensible activity [you cannot succeed].”
For each of us to be successful, we must believe, honestly, that we are doing something great for others. Because, if you view yourself as a thief and a pirate, you will not be very successful in your industry. Find your specialty, find your area of interest, and make it worthwhile to the world. Then, if you’re good at what you do, and have a passion, you’ll be paid for it.
There’s more to making money than a simple transaction. You must build relationships to make money—whether personal, business to business, or even on a “brand” level. Giving value, being skilled, and finding opportunities are components of wealth. These qualities simply scratch the surface. These are the spiritual qualities of money, the things that you express that are valuable—optimism, integrity, ingenuity, and more.
You are not a thief for making money. You bring innate skills to the table in order to make that money. Your wealth can reflect your spiritual qualities.
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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