Every new settlement established on the basis of agriculture or commerce, rather than dependent on donations from “Distribution Funds,” was a practical manifestation of economic independence.
By URIEL LEDEBERG
The complex economic environment in which we live requires us to be more independent in our economic choices. Do we devote enough time and energy to ensure that our family’s economic affairs are correctly managed? Do we follow up or record our family’s current expenses? Have we learned to compare prices?Many of us don’t really know how to run our economic lives, and find it very difficult to make ends meet. It is not unusual for families to fall into deep economic crises which severely affect their functioning and quality of life.Our first instinct is to lay the blame elsewhere. We can always find fault with the state and the authorities, and it’s true that many of their responsibilities are inadequately fulfilled. However, independence is acquired with effort, not received as a handout or gift.Independence begins first of all with a firm decision to take responsibility for our lives. Our sages went as far as to say: “Make your Sabbaths like weekdays and don’t rely on others.” Forgo your Sabbath luxuries rather than be dependent on gifts from others. Following our commitment to financial responsibility and our declaration of economic independence, we must treat all financial activities within the family framework as we would a small business, monitoring expenses and income, suppliers and prices, negotiations and deals.It seems to me that this is also the secret of our Independence Day. Many years ago, it became increasingly accepted that the Gordian knot tying Diaspora funds to economic relief in Israel had to be cut. Some people decided not to wait for salvation to come at the “end of days,” but took action instead, and made their age-old dream of settling in the land of Israel come true. They came to live here and manage their economic lives without depending on the charity and goodwill of foreigners.In almost every case, the decision to be independent and make aliya was accompanied by a decision to achieve economic independence. Every new settlement established on the basis of agriculture or commerce, rather than dependent on donations from “Distribution Funds,” was a practical manifestation of the desire for economic independence. For sure, difficulties arose along the way, some of which may have seemed intractable at the time, but the decision in principle marked the direction to be taken, and it has continued to light our path to this very day.The writer is director of Paamonim.