The Floodgate: A Jewish Response to Recession

By Getzy Markowitz – Jewish Thought in Simple Words

The Hachnosas Safer Torah procession going down the Victoria Harbor.

Earlier this week, I was honored to attend a ceremony marking the completion and inauguration of a new Torah scroll. My good friends, the Kamhin family of Hong Kong, inscribed themselves into eternity by fulfilling the Torah’s final bidding of acquiring a scroll for themselves. Following formalities, hundreds of participants paraded by way of Victoria Harbor to the scroll’s new home.

The procession made its way against the backdrop of the world’s most picture-perfect skyline, filled with skyscrapers that are crowned with names of important banking institutions. Yet the outline of buildings defined against the sky did not obstruct the souls gazing towards the G-d who dwells in it. Singing and dancing, they defied convention. It was Sunday. The troubled markets were closed, as they invested in the glorification of Torah and the perpetuation of its message. Men and women, residents of one of the world’s major financial centers, danced with a scroll authored by the One maker of heaven and earth. In their presence, the structures and the ideas they represent bent, and their faith soared.

I have been to many Torah dedications, but never have I witnessed such a celebration. Thousands of spectators witnessed a band of Jews engaged in sensational festivities. And the Jews experienced their ongoing divine engagement, one that for thousands of years has honored a spectacular inner festivity enjoyed by their senses.

In hard times, as pressure builds and uncertainty fills the markets, the biblical Jew finds puzzling inspiration in the great biblical flood. Solomon’s Song of Songs proclaims that, “Many waters cannot extinguish the love, and rushing rivers cannot dampen it.” The Sages define the waters in this verse to be referring to the worries that one encounters when maintaining a livelihood. Like floods, these concerns rush forth with a vengeance. At times there is a drizzle, but often they fall like torrents that torment the inhabitants of the valley. Nevertheless, the fire, the love of G-d that sometimes lies dormant within the soul of man, cannot and will not be dampened.

The current economic crisis is proving to be a watershed in the history of global markets, marking a deluge of financial drought. Yet Solomon’s maxim encourages the Jew to maximize his inner resources. A difficult downpour is met by a catapulting outpour. When faced with a fiscal blaze, the Jew fans his innermost flame. Surging straits at the bank will not strain the love protected by embankment.

There was no greater advisor than King Solomon, the wisest of men. His wisdom has guided generations and his prudence advises man to seek a bailout by looking within.

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