Do the Jews hold the secret to financial prosperity? Joining Chris Miles for today’s episode is Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known widely as America’s Rabbi, a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author, and a TV host. Pairing his inheritance as a descendant of a multi-generational rabbinical family with his background in science and business, he teaches ancient Jewish wisdom in an unparalleled manner. With insights from his book, Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money, Rabbi Daniel shares important principles around making money in business. It’s not so much about religion but about how you do business. Listen in for more valuable lessons that will guide you to prosperity.
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Thou Shall Prosper with Rabbi Daniel Lapin (Part 1)
I got a special guest here in this episode. He’s someone that I have followed for years. Finally, I thought, “Why not have him on the show?” I’m happy to be able to bring on Rabbi Daniel Lapin here. If you haven’t heard of him, he’s written the book, Thou Shall Prosper that I’ve quoted on the show several times if you’ve read long enough. I’ve come back to this book from time to time. He has amazing teachings that we support because we always teach that principles are first and strategies are second.
Principles are eternal. They never change, while strategies can change with time and circumstances. I will give you some background about him. He’s a New York Times bestselling author. He has been featured on things like Fox News and Glenn Beck. He also has his own radio show. He’s also got a TV show with his wife that he has. He has been all over the place. He has been featured as a financial expert and a guest expert in many ways, shapes or forms. I’m excited to have him on to be able to share with you his wisdom and the things that he’s learned. Rabbi, welcome to the show.
Thank you very much. I have been looking forward to this opportunity. I’m so pleased we are here.
For those who haven’t followed you up to this point, give us a little bit of your backstory.
That’s always a dangerous thing to ask a rabbi. We have limited time, and I like measuring a show in terms of its punchiness and value nuggets per minute of shows. I don’t want to drain that in any way at all. I want to make sure that our audience gets maximum, real, practical, strategic value from our time together. In a nutshell, after a fair amount of time in the Jewish rabbinate, I found myself having written a book called America’s Real War.
It was essentially asking and answering the question of, “Why is it those Western countries are in bad repute in the popular culture now and in the world of wokeness and political correctness? The West is evil because it was imperialistic and colonial, etc. Nonetheless, is it true that the West prospered on the backs of its colonies in Rhodesia, South Africa, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Belgium, Congo, Germans, East Africa, and all these countries?” Sweden didn’t have any colonies but also prospered like France and Italy. “What’s going on?”
The book did very well because it did some econometric analyses on a simple basis if that was happening and if I am sucking out all your wealth like some vampire bat, leaving you just enough blood to sustain life so I can come back and take some more tomorrow. When you get rid of me one way or another, you are to prosper. Your effectiveness should skyrocket meteorically because you no longer have this vampire bat sucking your blood.
It turns out that, almost that exception, the former colonies’ financial fortunes plummeted as the colonialists left. That didn’t make any sense. Furthermore, once computers came along and people doing PhDs in Economics began to flourish and desperately search for new areas to write dissertations on. One of the interesting ones was to apply very meticulous econometric analysis to the books of colonial companies like the Dutch East India Company and the British English East India Company and to discover that much more wealth was put in than taken out in terms of actual cash, the building of railroads, and the creation of infrastructure.
These are all things that were done by the colonials, wherever they were. The book did well, and I found myself being invited to speak for non-Jewish audiences. For the first time in my life, this rabbi finds that he’s speaking to audiences that are mostly Christian rather than Jewish. I enjoyed it very much. I got to meet a whole lot of interesting people. I met a whole lot of pastor friends whose courage and leadership I grew to admire. Little by little, as people felt more comfortable with me, they began to ask a fundamental question, which got asked to me so many times that I finally could no longer ignore it. Do you know what the question was?
I could be completely wrong but it would be, “Why did the Jewish people prosper so much over time?”
That’s exactly the question. You are 100% right. “How come Jews are so disproportionately good with money? Why is it that 1.5% of America’s population being Jewish means that on the Forbes list of 400 richest Americans, statistically, there ought to be ten Jews? Why are there always between 60 and 100?” Eventually, after I could ignore it no longer, I decided, “The only person who can legitimately explore that topic without fear of accusations of antisemitic bigotry.” “Look at this man. He’s saying Jews are rich, perpetuating the Shylock stereotype from The Merchant of Venice.” Not exactly.
I decided to embark on that research. I explored the usual suggestions as to why Jews are smart. Is smartness a parallel correlating phenomenon with financial success? In other words, are they paralleled that as intelligence goes up, does income go up? Does revenue go up? Does business success go up? Actually, it does.
In the upper reaches, those people usually work in the faculties of major universities. Being in the financial industry that you and I both are in, we know that there are very few people who are less adept in finance than university professors. Intelligence doesn’t correlate. What is it? Is it that Jews are circumcised? If they were so, I know many guys who would prefer poverty. It’s a tough one.
I finally arrived at the astonishing solution, which had nothing to do with being Jewish. Once I realized that it was in everybody’s interests, most of all mine, if everybody could be introduced to these qualities because it’s not a finite pie. I don’t do worse if everyone around me does better. In other words, if I were a plumber and parachuted into a new country to start a new life, would I like to live in a poor neighborhood or a neighborhood of wealthy people? There’s no question. I would like to be in a place where people can afford to pay for a plumber’s services. In a poor neighborhood, I will starve because everyone will either leave the dripping faucet or solve it themselves but nobody will use me.
It was my goal to encourage as many people as possible to employ the specific tips, tools, and techniques that have worked so well for the people of Israel in good times and bad, and hospitable wonderful countries like the United States of America, as well as vicious, oppressive regimes. Jews have routinely done disproportionately well with money. Once I discovered that I could condense all of that into ten fundamental principles and expand on them in a way that would allow anybody of any background or no background to practice those in their own life and deploy those techniques for the benefit of increased revenue, I was up and running. I found my mission.
I’ve noticed too, that this is something that’s culturally not just one group of Jewish people. It has been across the board. My wife is South American by birth. She has a lot of Sephardic Jewish backgrounds. As she went through her family history, she realized they were in positions of power but the Spanish Inquisition drove them out. That’s what got them to colonize and start establishing a lot in South America. Still, they carry that with them where many of them prospered, even in South America, starting from scratch.It's not a finite pie. You don't do worse if everyone around you does better. Click To Tweet
Some of them fled to Holland and arrived penniless in Holland. Within not too many years, they were on top of their game again and prospering mightily.
We encourage everybody to read the book because there’s no way we can cover all of this in one show. Give us a few of those principles. As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s about principles versus strategies because the strategies are an extension of these principles being applied. What do you feel are some of the most important principles applied that have worked over those years?
Sometimes people say, “Tell us the one most important rule for making money.” Anyone would think you and I have prepped this show already but no. The most important thing about making money is to know there is no one most important thing. I’m not going to take that approach at all. There are important principles. One of the important principles is to know the difference between a principle and a trick. I happen to like the art of magic, illusion, and entertainment in that fashion. Those are tricks.
You got to remember that the person didn’t get sawed in half. It’s a trick well done but it’s a trick. You don’t prosper in business with tricks. In other words, “Here’s a way to pull a fast one on somebody.” It’s not how it works. You will waste precious time discovering that on your own if you cannot bear to hear it from me. Authenticity is very important but what happens if, authentically deep down, you are not a nice person? You then have to change that. “I’m not interested in morality or goodness. I’m interested in making money.” Me too, and I’m showing you the right way.
That’s one of the reasons that when I interviewed many non-Jewish people, mostly Christian but also some Muslims and secular people of no faith, as to their experiences in doing business with Jews, it was important that the vast majority related how they had become friends with people and Jews that they had done business with. They were not just business associates. They will also be people you like hanging out with. That’s important. I will give you another example of authenticity.
I was talking to somebody in a coaching session, trying to help him move forward. It had become clear to me that this person had an uncontrollable F twitch. He couldn’t talk for more than twenty seconds at a time without dropping an F-bomb. It wasn’t offending my ears. I did say to him at one point that we are going to have to work on that because that’s a hindrance in business. It is because most people wince when they have F-bombs flung at them.
You don’t need somebody you are proposing a deal to or are trying to work out a transaction with. You were wincing. He said, “Rabbi Lapin, I’m not an idiot. I don’t do that when I’m talking to people in business.” I said, “With all due respect, you are an idiot because there’s something you don’t realize. That is that you are so accustomed to it.” He said, “I don’t drop it in. It never happens.”
I said, “I believe you. What you are not realizing is that your brain is a fast computer superior to any computer but computations still take time. That’s why intelligence is a measure of your speed of processing, among other things. It’s one of the reasons that fighter jet pilots are all high-intelligence people. Why couldn’t they be just people who have learned to be good at video games? No, because if you don’t learn and have the ability to process huge amounts of incoming data quickly, you die.”
“Here’s your problem. I know you don’t drop an F-bomb but what happens is that when you are in conversation with a business associate or prospect, and whereas in normal conversation, you, at that point, drop an F-bomb, your mind takes a finite moment of time to process out the F-bomb and substitute a more socially acceptable word. From your angle inside your brain, you don’t notice that time gap but I do, and so does anybody listening to you. We all hear the microscopic poles.”
“Do you know how we interpret it? It’s insincerity or lying. That’s why you are an idiot because you don’t realize the importance of authenticity. You think you can fool people into believing that you are capable of a regular conversation that is courteous and respectful but you can’t because you are dropping hints all the time without realizing those little gaps.”
That’s an example of why authenticity is an important part of doing this effectively. If I were interviewing you, Chris, I would say, “When did you realize this for the first time?” “I’m sorry that I took so long. I should have realized this when I was fifteen years old. I didn’t. I was well into my twenties.” That is, money is made only when one human being serves another human being. It might be a corporation providing insurance services to another corporation. Even that only happened because two executives set over lunch one day and said, “Why don’t we try and see if there’s a match between your need for insurance and our ability to provide coverage?” That’s why.
Money comes about when one human being serves another human being. That’s the only time it happens. When we choose who is going to serve us, we all choose people we know, like, and trust. It’s important to know a lot of people. What happens if I’m an introvert? I don’t like hanging out with people. It’s exactly what happened when you were a teenager with pimply acne all over your face. You didn’t say, “I’m just a pimply guy.” You spent the equivalent of the gross domestic product of some small country on pharmaceuticals to clear your complexion.
In the same way, being an introvert is like having a pimply face. You’ve got to stop it. What rule is there that says, “What you are is what you will be?” We are not cats, cows, camels or kangaroos. We are human beings. I certainly don’t want to be judged based on who I was a couple of years ago. I’m better than I was several years ago. We have techniques to help you overcome introversion and to find joy, love, and passion in meeting and making new friends, building your social circle, being likable, so you are a liked person, and being trustworthy. That’s important. You work on all those things and will be astonished how your phone will keep ringing.
It’s also still authentic to you. It doesn’t matter how introverted you are. You are still being you being the version of you that allows people to be open and trust you. We talked about this all in the show a lot about dollars following value in serving people that it’s evident of serving people, solving problems, and giving them. One thing I remember from your book that stuck with me that was a cool perspective was how both sides of the transaction, both people, are saying thank you. Could you explain a little bit about that?
Ayn Rand put it nicely. She once said that “There are only two ways of making people do what you would like them to do. One is with a gun, and the other is with money.” I’m not sure she’s 100% right on that but like many aphorisms, there’s enough truth in it to warrant paying a few moments of attention to it.
The idea is that if you have a dollar in your hand, and we now talk about how you got that dollar, I can almost sound like a mind reader because I will say to you, “If you did not point a gun at the convenience store clerk and empty his cash register, didn’t mug the little old lady and take her pocketbook, didn’t defraud anybody, didn’t elect a governmental representative who confiscated that money from your fellow citizens and gave it to you, if you didn’t do any of these nasty enterprises, the only way you have that dollar is because another human being voluntarily placed it in your bank account or your fingers.”You don’t prosper in business with tricks. Click To Tweet
Why would they have done that? The only reason they would have done it voluntarily is that whatever it was you did for them in exchange for goods or services, it was more valuable to them. When I buy a pair of shoes with lights that flash in the heels when I walk and let’s say I spent $20 and stepped out of the store. Imagine a refugee from Cuba has swum ashore and watched this transaction.
He says, “In Cuba, they told me that this guy had been exploited by the evil store owner capitalist. I will go over and help him. As a new American, I want to help other Americans.” He comes up and taps me on the shoulder. Spare us the dialect here. Our newly arrived Cuban immigrant says, “What are these new shoes you got?” “I just bought them. You liked them?”
“Good. How did you get them?” “I gave $20 to that guy.” “$20 for that? He exploited you. You don’t realize that.” “What are you talking about? I have been searching for these for weeks. What’s more was that he went down on his knees in front of me, took off my old shoes, and put on these beautiful new shoes. He asked me if I was comfortable and wished me to have a nice day. What are you talking about?”
He says, “I will prove it to you. You got ripped off. Here, I’m going to give you $10 for those shoes and say, ‘Buddy, you may have swum shore here but you are still wet behind the ears. You got a lot to learn.’ You are not going to take $10 to get money for these useless shoes you paid for?” “No, I’m not taking $10.” He says, “I will give you $20.” I said, “No deal. I’m not interested. Why would I do that? I would have to go out and look for another pair of shoes in my size.” He says, “How about I give you $30 for them?” Now he’s getting worried.
I say, “Mrs. Lapin didn’t raise dumb sons. That’s a profit.” It’s approaching irresistible but it’s not quite there, so I say to him, “Give me $40 for them, and I will give them to you.” Whether he takes my offer or not, it doesn’t matter because the important thing is we have now established what the net value on my balance sheet is of this transaction I’ve engaged in. It’s true that I lost $20 but I’ve gained something, which is valued at $40. I know that using GAAP accounting procedures, which were established by the SEC to standardize investment calculations on the stock exchange, GAAP accounting would be slightly different.
The reality of it is that I’ve proven that it’s valued to me at $40. I won’t accept less than $40, so now we know its value. I have benefited $20 by buying these pairs of shoes. Why wouldn’t I be happy? The Cuban runs to the store owner and figures he must have had it backward, “If he didn’t exploit me, I must have exploited him.” He said to the store owner, “I’m a big guy. I will help you chase Lapin, and we will take your shoes back.” “Are you crazy? Why would I want to do that? I buy those shoes.” For argument’s sake, let’s say the retail markup is 100%. I don’t know what it is in the shoe industry.
“I paid the wholesaler $10 for that pair of shoes. Now, I’ve got $20 in my cash register. I’m as happy as could be. I don’t want the shoes back.” Our Cuban refugee walks away, scratching his head, saying, “I got a lot to learn.” A financial transaction is how two human beings can please one another. From my perspective, if you don’t mind me saying, it makes God smile at the same time.
I don’t mind you saying that at all. I 100% agree. That’s the funny thing. The one thing that the shoes aren’t worth is $20 because it’s worth $20 to you, and it was worth less than $20 to him, which is why it was a win-win transaction.
That’s a good point. I never thought of that near exactly right. One thing we know is it’s all worth $20.
This has been amazing. I want to carry this conversation to part two. I’m going to close off for now, but I’d love to have a conversation again, talking more about going deeper into some of these principles and even maybe a strategy or two that ties in with this in the market. There’s a lot of noise in the market nowadays.
There are a lot of people that aren’t giving information. They are giving a lot of noise and getting people all freaking out, either hot and bothered, excited or panicking. The truth is that these principles always govern. These are God-given eternal principles that have never changed. How do we stay peaceful during these times? I would love to do part two on that.
This has been great. Stay tuned for part two.
About Rabbi Daniel Lapin
Rabbi Daniel Lapin, known widely as America’s Rabbi, is a noted rabbinic scholar, best-selling author and TV host. He is president of the American Alliance of Jews and Christians, author of America’s Real War, Thou Shall Prosper and other best-sellers. A frequent guest on Fox News, WallBuilders Radio, and Glenn Beck TV, he hosts his own popular radio and podcast programs with audiences world-wide. With his wife, Susan, he hosts the weekly television show Ancient Jewish Wisdom on the TCT Television Network. Pairing his inheritance as a descendant of a multi-generational rabbinical family with his background in science and business, he teaches ancient Jewish wisdom in an unparalleled manner.