An electronic board displaying market data is seen at the entrance to the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
As I write this I just got a call that the handmade matza I ordered is being delivered to my office in the next 10 minutes. For me that is the sign that Passover starts in a little more than a week. While we have started minor Pass- over cleaning, the major push starts for us the week of the holiday. My hands are starting to hurt just thinking about the oven that I need to clean!
Checking for hametz
As we know, there are many differences between hametz bread and matza, but there is one that I would like to focus on. Rabbi Elchanan Adler, in explaining the duality of matza being both “the bread of affliction” as well as “the bread of hastily leaving Egypt,” writes: “We might suggest an additional explanation for the link between the dual aspects of matza by examining the difference between the symbols of hametz and matza. Hametz sug- gests haughtiness, matza symbolizes humility. Hametz shows itself for what it is not – it is just fluff! Matza is what it appears to be, without any pretensions. It is easy to see why matza is associated with slavery. A slave is naturally humble. He has nothing to boast of. He has little sense of self. However, once liberated and given a chance to express his potential in the world, it is easy for the slave to become arrogant, self-centered and sta- tus-conscious. Therefore, the Jews needed to preserve the symbol of matza even after their liberation, so that they could retain an appropriate measure of humility even after their liberation.”
As we are busy scrubbing, and doing other mind-numb- ing pre-Passover cleaning activities, we should take the time to do some introspection. When we are checking cracks and corners, looking in the sides of the recliner we should think about what has become of us during the last 12 months. Have we been modest and humble or have we been so full of ourselves that we have driven away friends? If the latter, then use the pre-Passover cleaning as an opportunity to check the cracks and corners of our own personalities and scrub away these bad character traits.
Another element of only eating matza is for us to get back to basics, and to create a proper structure for us to grow as human beings, without any of the extra trappings symbolized by bread.
So what does any of this have to do with investing? It’s time to get back to investing basics. Use this time to clean up anything that really shouldn’t be in your portfolio. In fact it is probably more important than cleaning your windows – where there is no hametz!
You need to create a financial plan, and start under - standing what your short- and long-term needs and goals are. You can speak to a financial adviser to help you define those goals and needs. When creating the long- term plan, it’s important to also take into account future expenses. For example, the purchase of a car in five years, marrying off children in eight, 10, or 12 years, is all rele- vant information necessary for the adviser to give you an accurate picture of what you need to do in order for you to be able to meet these future expenses.
Once you have defined your goals, it’s time to look at your portfolio. Have you skewed from your optimal asset allocation? Is your portfolio a hodgepodge of random stocks that were bought on a whim, but with no under - lying strategy? Do you own stocks that you won’t sell because you are “waiting for them to go up to where you bought them?”
The world is always in a state of change. Investors should take the time to make sure that their portfolios are well positioned for current conditions. Be smart about your investments. Pick a strategy and stick with it. Own- ing random stocks with no strategy is a recipe for disaster, and even though you may have emotional reasons to hold onto certain positions, now is the time to put emo- tions aside and get rational.
Now is the time to get back to basics.
Happy cleaning and have a Hag Kosher V’Sameach.
The information contained in this article reflects the opinion of the author and not necessarily the opinion of Portfolio Resources Group, Inc., or its affiliates.[email protected] Aaron Katsman is a licensed financial professional in Israel and the United States who helps people with US investment accounts. He is the author of the book
Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing .