web analytics
July 4, 2015 / 17 Tammuz, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


Respect Your “Border”: It’s Good For Your Wallet

Kupfer-060713

A popular topic of discussion in newspapers, magazines and talk shows revolves around the management of personal finances – or rather the lack of them. In most cases, dealing with overwhelming debt is the topic de jour. Seems many people are drowning in it. Spending more than they have has mired countless consumers into a financial quicksand with maxed out credit cards and collection agencies knocking on the door. Speaking of doors, many face eviction and the loss of their home.

Often tens of thousands of dollars are owed.

How do seemingly intelligent, educated men and women allow themselves to accumulate so much debt? Why didn’t they push the “stop” button when they saw they were getting in over their heads?

In most cases, the answer is simple and obvious: they wanted it all – now!

Nowadays it seems the cultural norm is immediate gratification with no regard for future consequences. A lack of self-discipline or self-control is rampant among young and old alike.

If there is something you want, you just get it – regardless if you can afford it.

But how did this “must have it now no matter what” mentality come to be? I believe this chronic self-indulgent behavior is fuelled by two factors – an absence of boundaries and low self-esteem.

Most people don’t have what I call a personal “border control.” They have no boundaries. There are fewer and fewer “nos” in their life. Restrictions and limits that were the norm just a generation or two ago are viewed as old-fashioned and seem to have become obsolete.

Behavioral “fences” have been removed, and I believe one of the reasons for this is the secularization of society. Religious practice for many, both in the Christian and Jewish worlds, has gone the way of the buggy whip.

I remember a time when few stores were allowed to be open on Sunday – a situation that caused a great deal of financial hardship for shomer Shabbat businesses that had to remain closed the entire weekend.

Today, however, North America is buying and selling 365 days a year.

The beauty of religion, especially Orthodox Judaism with its myriad rules, prohibitions and regulations, is that it promotes self-discipline. From a young age, children raised in religious homes are taught they can do some things sometimes, but not everything every time. Immediate gratification is not on the agenda in religious homes. Children (hopefully) learn patience, self-discipline and self-control because they must. And eventually, it becomes second nature to wait for what they want. That ice-cream cone they are salivating over is not an option for several hours after eating that chicken nugget.

The ingrained habit of holding off from getting what they want immediately can only serve to maximize their ability to avoid self-destructive behaviors like gambling, drinking or overspending.

Torah-observant Jews are still human and subject to human weaknesses and frailties, and some – despite being raised in homes with Torah “borders” – still indulge in unfortunate destructive behaviors and activities. But living a Torah life with its promotion and insistence of self-discipline will greatly improve one’s odds of resisting temptation.

Sadly, there are Jews who do not believe in a Divinely-given Torah and reject its rules and regulations. Yet by virtue of the borders that a Torah life provides and the resultant ingrained self–control and restraint, they should reconsider their attitude and embrace Torah for the magnificent blueprint of life that it is.

With religious observance becoming passé, the general population is growing up with no restrictions, no limits and no boundaries to guide their impulses. There are no “can’t,” “not allowed,” or “it’s forbidden” in their lives. Hence many have not had the opportunity to develop such life-enhancing attributes as patience and restraint.

I also believe that financial recklessness is caused by low self-esteem and a poor self-image. Human nature is such that no one wants to feel “left out” or inferior. No one wants to think they are a “loser” and that they don’t measure up to their peers. Everyone likes to see himself or herself as being a winner.

How else do you explain sports fans? Often their lives revolve around the game and the outcome of each one can affect the mood of a city, even a country. If your team wins, you walk around elated and feeling superior. If it loses that big game… you’d think there was a death in the family.

Why is that? Why should Joe Average be so emotionally invested in how his team does? It is because being associated with a “winner” makes a person feel good about him/herself. For someone with poor self-esteem, his or her sense of inadequacy is replaced with a sense of superiority, if only for a short time – until the next game or season.

Likewise, people equate possessions with being a success. The bigger, the newer and the pricier the item, the more the consumer feels on a higher madreigah than the “have-nots.” Shopping makes people who have a poor self-image feel better about themselves. Marketers know this and build on people’s insecurities. If you buy their product, you will either get the girl/guy; the job/promotion; your life will become exciting, etc. In other words, you become a “somebody” by dressing according to the latest fashion or by acquiring the most updated gadgets.

However, this sense of “coolness” is fleeting because almost overnight there is a new and improved version of whatever it is you bought – and all you have to show for it is crippling debt.

People who have a healthy sense of self don’t need to artificially make themselves feel good. They don’t have to buy and accumulate “stuff” to know their true worth. They don’t need to be snobs, or ingratiate themselves with people they perceive as being superior because they are wealthy, popular or have “yichus.”

How do you recognize someone who has positive self-esteem? They are the ones who are modest and unassuming, who do not chase kavod – despite achievements they justifiably could brag about. Their modesty is a reflection of true yirat Shamayim because they know that all they have is a gift from Hashem and not because they are so special or better.

Those who live genuine Torah lives know that the authentic and long-lasting way to feeling good about themselves is by giving, not by getting. Ask yourself this question: Who feels more positive about herself – someone who sent a meal over to a family whose mother is in the hospital, or the person who bought designer shoes with an inflated price tag, shoes that will be “yesterday’s news” around the time the credit card bill arrives in the mail?

Reining in our impulse to spend money we don’t have and harnessing our Torah inspired mandate to set limits and boundaries will help lead to a healthy bank account – and a good night’s sleep.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

One Response to “Respect Your “Border”: It’s Good For Your Wallet”

  1. Myriam Obadia says:

    I urge you to take on a minimum wage and try to feed, house, care for your family without borrowing a dime, no matter what emergency comes up. Let's see then how long you manage to last without debts. Yes, a lot of people are in debt because they wanted it all, but don't forget that many more are in debt because they're just too poor to even provide for the bare necessities. I dare you not to buy the milk for your kids, or gas up the car (to take them to the doctor or just go to your underpaid job) knowing full well you don't have the means to pay for it. It's a situation I have known in the past, and it has taught me not to judge others.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
UN Human Rights Council
UN HRC Condemns Israel (But Not Hamas) for War Crimes
Latest Sections Stories
South-Florida-logo

Orlando was once a place where people came only to visit and vacation. Now it is home to a burgeoning Torah community, a place Jewish families can be proud to call home.

South-Florida-logo

The smuggler’s life has been changed forever. He is faced with a major criminal charge. He will probably be sent to prison.

South-Florida-logo

“Thanks to a local philanthropist who shares our core mission, we now are able to connect more Jewish teens to Israel than ever before,” said Todd Cohn, executive director of Southern NCSY.

In September 2013 he was appointed head rabbi of the IDF Central Command and is currently in charge of special projects for the IDF chief rabbinate.

Last month we outlined how a few years after Judah Touro’s death a public movement was inaugurated by the citizens of New Orleans to erect a monument to his memory, and that opposition to this tribute came from a number of rabbis throughout the country who claimed that Judaism forbade the erection of any graven […]

Marceau suggested a dark reason for his wordless art: “The people who came back from the [concentration] camps were never able to talk about it…. My name is Mangel. I am Jewish. Perhaps that, unconsciously, contributed towards my choice of silence.”

Anna Henriques, who hopes to one day head back to Jamaica, says, “Rabbi Raskin must be willing to respect what exists in Jamaica. The way to the future is to gently bring in the traditions of the past and at the same time embrace the idiosyncrasies of the Jamaican people.”

The Silver Platter has it all: gorgeous photography, oodles of useful tips and, more importantly, incredible recipes that you will find yourself making again and again.

It may be that seeking to connect with the past is rooted in the impermanence and impersonality of modern life.

It is very hard to build a healthy marriage when you do not have good role models.

My best book is one that hasn’t been published yet.

We tend to justify and idealize this division with pride attributing these tendencies as demonstrating a higher level of kedushah.

More Articles from Cheryl Kupfer
Kupfer-060515-Supermen

There are fathers who bravely step up to the plate and fill in the maternal vacuum with their love and devotion.

Kupfer-On-Our-Own-NEW

The message being conveyed is that without “flour,” without the means to support oneself and one’s family, one’s focus on Torah will be impeded by worry.

Divorce from a vindictive, cruel spouse can be a lifelong nightmare when there are offspring.

Not knowing any better, I assumed that Molly and her mother must be voracious readers.

Unpleasant happenings are quickly discarded if they do not affect us directly.

I have always insisted that everything that happens to anyone or anything is min Shamayim.

It is so hurtful to heighten people’s sense of inadequacy and guilt in a matzav that is already horrendous and difficult to bear.

Make no mistake: in the wrong hands cars are weapons of mass destruction.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/on-our-own/respect-your-border-its-good-for-your-wallet/2013/06/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: