Keeping it simple: The Shofar and investments

Everyone else thinks it’s “gross”. Well if any family members are reading this, how about throwing me a bone this year and make some honey cake for me!”

HEARING THE shofar is one of the core aspects of the Rosh Hashanah prayers (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
HEARING THE shofar is one of the core aspects of the Rosh Hashanah prayers
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Rosh Hashanah has arrived. As I have written nearly every year, “while there are many symbols that highlight Rosh Hashanah for me it’s all about honey cake. Yes, I like honey cake but in my family the problem is that I am the only one.
Everyone else thinks it’s “gross”. Well if any family members are reading this, how about throwing me a bone this year and make some honey cake for me!”
While we only use it once this year because the first day is Saturday, with apologies to the apple and honey fans, the Shofar is the main symbol of Rosh Hashanah. There are many reasons given as to why we blow the Shofar.
One reason given that I would like to focus on is that on Rosh Hashanah, the first of the Ten Days of Repentance, we awake from our spiritual slumber. The Shofar is like an alarm that calls on us to examine our deeds and correct our ways, as we return to God.
Simplicity
Interesting that when the national would coronate a king or go out to war they would blow a trumpet. The Shofar is different. It’s not the kind of instrument you will find at the philharmonic. It’s a ram’s horn. It’s as basic as you can get. The simple sounds of the Shofar are a wake-up call for us to get back to basics.
We need to make a break with our behavior of the last year and focus on what’s really important. It’s the time to stop rationalizing how great we have been acting and be true to ourselves; maybe we aren’t the amazing people we think we are.
Earlier this week I was interviewed in a webinar about investing for a secure financial future. I was asked a great question about the worst investment that I had seen. I gave the case of a man who came to my office about 8 or 9 years ago.
He was a 1/6 partner in an apartment in Haifa. His partners were his brother in law and father in law. As he was explaining me partnership and all the other details I literally got a headache and excused myself to take some Advil. He told me that one of them had taken a loan to buy it, even though it wasn’t officially registered in Tabu (land registry).
I was so confused. He ended up coming back to me 2 years later and told me that it didn’t end well and they took a loss on the property. Not a surprise. I remember telling him Dave Ramsey’s famous line that your mother in law’s thanksgiving turkey sure tastes better when you don’t owe her any money! There was no reason to make an investment so complicated.
I told him that if he wanted real estate, that he should buy an apartment in his name only. If he wanted investments in the stock market then there are ways to do it in a way that would be easy to understand and easy to follow. For a few, the more convoluted the investment the better. But for 99% of the population investing in complicated schemes is not at all recommended.
As I told the participants on the webinar keep your investments chocolate and vanilla. You should understand what you are investing in. And if it comes time to tell someone what you have invested in, it shouldn’t give them a headache trying to understand the program.
As Dhirendra Kumar, CEO of Value Research writes at the Economic Times, “No matter what product or service we’re buying, nothing impresses us more than features, jargon and complexity.
Perhaps our modern technological world has mentally trained us to accept that most of the new wonders of the world are too complex to be understood by most people, and therefore, anything that is complex must be good.
Unfortunately, in personal finance, this idea is fatally wrong. In the case of personal finance products, simplicity is not just something useful, it’s absolutely necessary.”
May we all merit a happy and healthy new year. Ketivah v’Chatimah Tovah.
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 the author of Retirement GPS: How to Navigate Your Way to A Secure Financial Future with Global Investing. www.gpsinvestor.com; [email protected]