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November 12, 2009

Book Review: “Thou Shall Prosper” by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Filed under: Book Review — Tags: , , , , , — thebalancedspreadsheet @ 12:43 pm

Thou Shall Prosper

I have not found the time to do a book review in a while, even though I have been reading some good financial books recently.   In fact, I was surprised to find out that I have not done a book review since my review of “The Millionaire Next Door” back in June.  But after finishing “Thou Shall Prosper” by Rabbi Daniel Lapin I knew it was time to do another book review.

Rabbi Lapin’s book is insight from an Orthodox Rabbi on the Jewish ways of creating wealth.  It is not a book on Judaism, but more on principles that allow one to create wealth. Rabbi Lapin divides the book into his 10 principles or Commandments on wealth:

The First Commandment-Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business

The Second Commandment-Extend the Network of your Connectedness to Many People

The Third Commandment-Get to Know Yourself

The Fourth Commandment-Do Not Pursue Perfection

The Fifth Commandment-Lead Consistently and Constantly

The Sixth Commandment-Constantly Change the Changeable, While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable

The Seventh Commandment-Learn to Foretell the Future

The Eight Commandment-Know your Money

The Ninth Commandment-Act Rich: Give Away 10 Percent of Your After-Tax Income

The Tenth Commandment-Never Retire

While all 10 chapters have great insight, three stuck out to me.

The First Commandment-Believe in the Dignity and Morality of Business

Making money is much harder to do if, deep down, you suspect it to be a morally reprehensible activity.

With all the discussion over the latest Wall Street bailouts and discussion over executive bonuses, it can be easy sometimes to think that all business is full of greedy, immoral people.    Where as that is the farthest thing from the truth.  Business in itself is good; it is the exchanging of goods and services to people who desire it.  Business is where wealth is created.  True, there have been businesses that have mistreated the customer all in the name of profit, but that makes them bad, not all business.  It was refreshing to hear that point of view.

The Ninth Commandment-Act Rich: Give Away 10 Percent of Your After-Tax Income

Through the mystical alchemy of money, giving charity jump-starts wealth creation

One of our financial goals is to become big givers.  Rabbi Lapin points out a big myth that people have about giving.  When you are giving, you are hurting yourself financially when instead you are really opening yourself up to receiving more because giving focuses you outside yourself.  It is better to give then to receive.  We try to think of giving as something rational, but it is something totally irrational that does something inside of you that can not be explained mathematically or on a spreadsheet, as much as I might try. J But the giving of your time and money opens up so many doors to be able to create more wealth.

The Tenth Commandment-Never Retire

Integrate your vocation and your identity by thinking of life as a journey rather than a destination

Rabbi Lapin discusses the concept of never retiring in the final chapter.  Rabbi Lapin reminds us the retirement is a 20th century concept and that the Hebrew language does not even have a word for.  He is not saying to work at a job you hate for 60 years until you die.  Rather he says that we are stimulated by work and that we need to stop believing the lie that we have nothing to offer when we get older, but instead realize that when we get older we have vast amounts of wisdom and experience to share with others and use in the workplace.

Rabbi Lapin does a good job of using real life examples when illustrating his points and ties all 10 of his commandments together.  Again, this book does have religious references but does not hit you over the head with it.  I feel like this book can be read by someone of any religion.  Overall this book is on my must read personal finance book list.  I learned a great deal from reading it.


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