The Jewish Eye
Reb Elchonon On The Stock Market Crash And The World Depression
Typically, says Reb Elchonon Wasserman, when the economy is good everyone pats himself on the back about the great financial decisions they made. When disaster strikes, they start blaming everyone and everything around them.
Da'as Torah is the opposite. When the 10 Shevatim found themselves in big trouble standing before Yosef, they proclaimed, "Aval Asheimim Anachnu", we are guilty for what we did to Yosef, and we brought upon ourselves our own trouble. Not once did they blame their troubles on Hashem or other outside reasons.
The great difference between these two approaches lies in the way a person tries to solve the problem. When blaming others, a person can try all he wants to change the situation but since it is not the real source of his troubles this will not help one iota. By understanding that the problems comes from Hashem, for a reason, a person can rectify himself and resolve these issues.
Reb Elchonon identifies the financial crisis as caused by the lack of mobility of funds. Money didn't disappear, says Reb Elchonon. The problem is that in order to have a working economy, money must easily flow from one person to the other. In the current situation the money is locked up in the hands of a small minority of rich people. These people, due to lack of trust, are not willing to lend it or move it around (i.e. the credit crunch). They are keeping it safe and sound. This has caused the economy to grind to a halt.
Why is this happening, asks Reb Elchonon. Is this group to blame? He explains that this is a punishment from Hashem, Midda K'Neged Midda. While the Yetzer Hara for Avodah Zara disappeared, the Yetzer Hara of Kefira, denial of Hashem has taken its place as the spirit of the day. This is far worse than Avodah Zara. For Avodah Zara a person is killed only by Bais Din after a proper trial with Eidim and all. With an Apikores, say Chazal, you areMorid V'Eino Maaleh, meaning they can be killed without any trial and without any eidim.
True the depression affects billions of people around the world, however we know that Puranuyos, tragedy, comes to the world on account of Bnei Yisroel. Hashem has declared, if you do not have any Emuna in Me and you do not believe in Hashem, I will extend that lack ofEmunah, to a lack of trust in other people. You will find out the hard way that just like the world cannot exist without Emunah in Hashem, it similarly cannot exist without Emunah between people.
Reb Elchonon didn't win the Nobel Prize for economics with this speech, but then again there have been lots of other economists since then who apparently haven't found a way to solve a 75 year old problem either. Maybe it is time for us to try a new direction, Da'as Torah.
Reb Elchonon Wasserman Hy"d was a Talmid and the successor to the Chofetz Chaim. His voice was Da'as Torah for the generation that was led into to the abyss of the Holocaust. He was aNavi L'Hashem , preaching and beseeching the people to do tshuvah and avert the disaster that ultimately struck. He fought like a lion against the prevailing views o his day, which dismissed Torah asirrelevant and an icon of the past.
Like a true Torah leader, despite his ominous warnings about the impending disaster, although he was safely on the shores of the US for a fundraising trip and wasbeseeched not to go back to Europe, he insisted on being with his Yeshiva where he ultimately met a heroes death butchered by the Nazis Yimach Shimam V'Zichram.
The Nazis are history, but Reb Elchonon's voice still lingers on and is eerily relevant to our generation. A collection of his speeches were collected and published in Ikvisa D'Mishicha.
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