There is a certain enthusiasm in liberty, that makes human nature rise above itself, in acts of bravery and heroism – Alexander Hamilton
Earlier this week I was sitting with a cup of coffee and eating a Hamentaschen (Aznei Haman – Haman’s ears). After all, one needs to get in the festive mood of Purim. Not sure why but suddenly I started thinking of Purim when I was a kid, and how everything was prepared at the last minute.
My mother A”H, baked all of our Shaloch Manot, unlike the gifts we receive here that are for the most part all packaged and processed. My parents would stay up all night baking Hamentaschen, and then in the morning, the brownies and oatmeal cookies would go into the oven. We would leave the house to deliver the goodies and you needed to be careful how you carried them as sometimes they were piping hot, right out of the oven. For the lucky recipients, it was amazing. How often do you get hot, super tasty homemade baked goods?
For many years I just assumed that this was normal, and then it hit me: 99.9% of the population didn’t do it this way! It was a bit of a letdown.
This week we add an extra portion to the weekly Torah portion. We read Parshat Zachor, the “portion of remembrance” – a reminder of what Amalek did to us as we exited Egypt. Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb writes: “Our Sages in the Midrash Tanchuma note that we encountered two “visitors” soon after we left Egypt, as we began our trek through the desert. One was Yitro, who ultimately joined us, and the other was Amalek who attacked us from the rear.”
The Midrash Tanchuma draws upon the verse in Proverbs 19:25, which reads, “Beat the scoffer, but the simpleton will become clever.” The simpleton, says the Midrash, is Yitro, who overcame his prior beliefs and became clever. Amalek the scoffer, on the other hand, was blinded to the miracles of the Exodus by his cynicism, and his evil was unredeemable. Amalek is the ultimate scoffer, the paradigm of cynicism. He is described as “asher karcha,” usually translated as “the one who ‘surprised you,’ or ‘happened upon you,’ on the road as you left Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 25:18)
But Rashi offers other explanations, one of which is quite fascinating. The medieval commentator suggests that “asher karcha” can mean “he who cooled you off,” and he offers the metaphor of a seething cauldron or tub of boiling water, which Amalek cooled off by jumping into it.” Regarding the seething cauldron, Rabbi Weinreb continues: “It can be a metaphor for the bubbling enthusiasm of the triumphant Jewish people, which was diminished, perhaps permanently, by the effects of Amalek’s attack.”
WHEN IT comes to your finances, don’t let others get you down. I was recently speaking to a couple that had been working for four years to get out of debt and then start a long-term savings and investment plan. They had told me what a tough process it was.
They explained that at the beginning they were on an emotional high when after just three months they managed to pay off their first debt. They continued to live within their means and slowly paid off debt. They were so committed to the process. They were living very simply, not eating out, only buying essentials etc.
It was then a month before Hanukkah and the wife was speaking to a few girlfriends while watching their kids play at the park. They started talking about their holiday plans, the other two mothers were both planning trips abroad, one to France to ski and the other to London. When they asked the wife what she planned on doing, she said that they were staying put, because they couldn’t afford such a vacation.
Then the friends started making fun of her and said “why don’t you live a little? It’s just a vacation, borrow the money.” She told me how terrible she felt. The couple then confided that they wanted to quit the debt payoff program, go on a nice vacation, so that their kids would have fun. They said that they suddenly felt as if their plan to pay off debt was hurting their children.
To make a long-story short, they decided to keep going, tune out all the noise of how spending money on material things is the key to happiness. They realized that to be totally out of debt and have a disciplined savings plan brought them a sense of freedom that no amount of skiing can bring.
We are charged to “remember” and “not forget” what Amalek did to the Jewish people. Let’s keep that in mind – if you are on the path to financial freedom, don’t let the naysayers cool you off. Stay energized on your path. Happy Purim.
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.
Aaron Katsman is author of the book Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing (McGraw-Hill), is a licensed financial professional both in the United States and Israel, and helps people who open investment accounts in the United States. Securities are offered through Portfolio Resources Group, Inc. (www.prginc.net). Member FINRA, SIPC, MSRB, FSI. For more information, call (02) 624-0995, visit www.aaronkatsman.com or email email@example.com.