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on July 5, 2011
Thou Shall Prosper is a fascinating exploration into wealth creation amongst Jews and the values within Jewish communities that encourage financial success. I enjoyed it so much, I originally posted this review at my blog . This book is organized into 10 separate chapters, titled commandments in imitation of the Laws given to Moses. Written by Daniel Lapin, an Orthodox Jewish Rabbi motivated by a desire to research and catalog the cultural traits that have contributed to this, making them available to all people. The book promotes what Rabbi Lapin calls Ethical Capitalism.

I have always been fascinated by the subject of Jewish success. It only takes a little attention to notice that Jews are disproportionately successful in business and finance than any other ethnic group in the United States, if not the world. As Rabbi Lapin explains, this is not to suggest that there are no poor Jews. But as the most consistently oppressed people throughout 3,000 years of history, the Jewish people could easily have been expected to cease existing altogether. But they haven't, and wherever Jews are afforded the slightest opportunity they tend to thrive.

Rabbi Lapin points out that Jews represent less than 2% of the American population, but in any given year may represent as much as 25% of the names on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. Jewish households are also twice as likely to be wealthy as those of non-Jews. This is a remarkable phenomenon that deserves to be explored and hopefully explained.

Anti-Semitic conspiracy enthusiasts might see all this as evidence of Jewish misdeed in acquiring wealth.* However, genuine social scientists understand that a better explanation lays in some set of cultural values being perpetuated within Jewish communities. Personally, I have always seen this as admirable, like a mystery to be unraveled. That's why, when I found this book on the shelf, I didn't have to think very long before I happily handed the clerk $24.95 (plus tax) and walked out the door with the book under my arm, ready to read.

Foreseeing the anti-Semitic arguments, early in the introduction Rabbi Lapin debunks the idea of Jews operating jointly as some sort of cabal, plotting their dominance over society. In fact, Rabbi Lapin explains that Jewish communities are typically just as dysfunctional and full of conflict as most others.

Rabbi Lapin makes many points along the way regarding wealth, Jews, and the world, all of which are worth some serious consideration.

Education is Key
Lapin illustrates early on that education is very important to being successful in business and finance. Jews, though not necessarily any "smarter" naturally than non-Jews tend to place a lot of value on literacy and a love of books. Conversely however, Rabbi Lapin suggests that people holding advanced degrees are not necessarily more likely to achieve wealth. They tend to do poorly with money, and often seek employment at universities rather than focusing on financial independence.

Popular Culture Promotes Poverty
Rabbi Lapin tackles the fallacy embraced by so many in society that business, business people, and money are somehow bad. He illustrates how "movies and television conspire to make you poor," showing that since the 1970s, business people are portrayed as villains twice as often as any other demographic. The constant pushing of this message has effectively brainwashed the viewing public into accepting the narrative. He confronts this fallacy by explaining that most wealthy business professionals have actually made their wealth by enhancing the lives of consumers.
Lapin also explains that popular culture vilifies wealth, but admires immoral behavior. He illustrates this last point by showing that many of People magazine's "Greatest Love Stories of the Century" were in fact cases of marital infidelity.

You Are Already in Business
Perhaps the most valuable lesson in Thou Shall Prosper, is one that is also asserted by many other successful people: the importance of understanding that we are already in business. By virtue of being alive and independent, our lives are our businesses, whether we realize it or not. We may even have a board of directors, such as our friends or family whom we ask for advice or guidance in financial matters. Moving forward with this logic, I suppose we can count our spouses, children, or other dependants as our shareholders so to speak. By illustrating this, Rabbi Lapin further explains the importance of not being a wage slave.

Make Friends and Contribute to Charity
Wealth is created through human interaction. In order to be successful in business it is imperative that one have a large network of friends that can help encourage you on your path to prosperity. Rabbi Lapin does not suggest you should attend business oriented breakfasts and luncheons to make these acquaintances. Such gatherings, he says are too full of self interest, yours as well as the other attendants. Instead he recommends joining civic service organizations like the Rotary club. He also recommends donating heavily to charity. This sort of contribution raises your consciousness, and may contribute to a karmic increase in our own wealth.
Value the Wisdom of the Ancestors and Ancients

It is important to value ancient literature and history. This helps you to see patterns in time and human nature, and to gauge the future in order to set goals. This is not just a Jewish trait. Many Asian businessmen also apply lessons learned from ancient Taoist, and Buddhist literature to their financial plans and aspirations.
Meditation and Reflection

Regularly disconnecting yourself from daily distractions like television, radio, and other external influences is imperative. This allows you to clear your head and take notice of things that you might have otherwise overlooked or ignored. These may be useful thoughts and fully formed ideas. These are all things that can help you more accurately foretell and plan for the future. Set aside a regular time and day for such activities during which you can be alone, away from distractions in order to do nothing but reflect on trends, ideas, and set goals.

These are only a few examples of the remarkable lessons that can be found in this profound book, but it only scratches the surface.

Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin is not a typical book on business. It's much more than that. This is a book of finance, philosophy, religion, history, sociology, and self-improvement. Much like any classic work of philosophy, and like the Torah by which much of this book is inspired, Thou Shall Prosper is not just a one time read. It's the type of book that needs to be read, reread, thumbed through, and meditated upon multiple times over in order to get the fullest use out of it. I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to improve their life financially and spiritually.

For more on Rabbi Lapin, visit his website here!
* It is unfortunate that I or Rabbi Lapin would even feel a need to mention this, but due to the nature of the real world (and anyone who has spent any time on the internet will know), it must be addressed.
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on July 6, 2013
Daniel Lapin is a Rabbi with a Biblical understanding of the value of work, money and so much more. Work is your way of providing others with the goods and services they need. It has value in and of itself. Man was created to rule and reign over all that is on earth, productively tending and caring for the planet. When we stop blessing others with our labors, we cease having a reason to live. We become selfishly focused on ourselves. I especially enjoyed his comments on controlling anger, giving a portion of your money away and never retiring. I highly recommend this book.
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on February 24, 2012
The premise makes sense - "A practical approach to creating wealth-based on the established principles of ancient Jewish wisdom-made accessible to people of all backgrounds."

Thou Shall Prosper accomplished the task perfectly. Wisdom of "the ages" was delivered - and it was entirely accessible. I took plenty of notes. Have already taken some specific steps in my own business.

Perhaps even more important/valuable in the this book was a good old fashioned defense of capitalism - of "making money" in general. As an entrepreneur, I'm often surprised out how others not responsible for every element of their revenue/incomes look at the world quite differently than I do.

In short, my worldview and "businessview" (I know, not a term, but I'm using it anyway) are closer to this Rabbi than most of my non-entrepreneurial peers. Didn't see that coming.

But at the end of the day, I'm going with this book more than my peers - or certainly anyone these days put in charge of regulating the money I work so hard to make.

Didn't realize how beneficial and encouraging this book would be to me. If you don't take a paycheck, I recommend it highly.

If you do take a paycheck, consider reading it as well. It might change your mind in a few places.

One of my new years declarations was that I'd read a book every week. Join me on this journey? [...]
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on November 25, 2011
I enjoyed reading this book. Rabbi Lapin explained how using Jewish and Christian principles and practices such as meditation and daily confession can lead to success and wealth in your everyday life. Lapin dispels the belief that money and wealth is not needed in this world; and that only certain people can enjoy a life that is filled with personal accomplishments and triumphs. By putting the principles listed in the book into practice, anyone can have financial success. The chapters are a little slow but it's a good book.
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on September 22, 2011
Being a Christian, hearing lessons on business from a Jewish Rabbi was something completely unheard of for me. I've listened to many books on leadership, business, 7 Habits-How-to-Win-Friends kind of books. I've tried my best to live them and always attempt to assimilate the good from whatever I read and let the rest "blow away as chaff". The author integrates religion and the Torah in proper balance to relate with any religious business person (be it employer or employee) in ways the other books hadn't addressed. He does not have mind-boggling statistical studies or researches, just occasional sprinklings of helpful data, so do not expect a loophole-less book. In other words, you may occasionally say, "I see what he's saying but am not sure it's the best resource to get his data from..." I do stand behind my 5 stars since it was well worth my time to open my own eyes of how I can better apply the scriptural canon I have at my fingertips better in the business/money-making side of my life. Not many books have a standpoint from a Jewish Rabbi who's also a businessman!
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on January 18, 2012
I am reading this book along with two others and find that the chacter of people can and dose impact our lives in so many ways. "When a mans ways please the lord he makes even his enemies to be at pease with him"
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on February 21, 2015
There is a plethora of great business advice in this book. It is amazing to get a glimpse into thousands of years of Jewish culture and how it relates to business success and then how it is transferred from one generation to the next. This book is required reading for anyone wanting to be successful in business.

Lapin distills this ancient Jewish history and wisdom into ten key points listed below;
1. Believe in the Dignity and the Morality of Business
2. Extend the Network of Your Connectedness to Many People
3. Get To Know Yourself
4. Do Not Pursue Perfection
5. Lead Consistently and Constantly
6. Constantly Change the Changeable While Steadfastly Clinging to the Unchangeable
7. Learn to Foretell the Future
8. Know Your Money
9. Act Rich: Give Away 10 Percent of Your After Tax Income
10. Never Retire

This book is definitely a must read.
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on April 22, 2014
This is a book written by a Jewish Rabbi, which matters to me since I am Jewish. He argues that the desire to make money is not an unethical action, but can be a very ethical thing if the profit raises a family, provides jobs, etc. He makes a great point, which I did appreciate, that it's okay to make money. I believe, but he didn't say this, that the whole attacking of the successful, is just jealousy and it's justified through stupid things like "a rich man is as likely to get into heaven as a camel passing through the eye of a needle". He lost me about halfway through the book, when he begins taking it too far and starts justifying the actions of some corporations that I feel have done unethical things. I was depressed to see it go off the the ethical rails into arguing too far into what I felt became conservative ideals in general and that seeking profit is always okay in business. I hope we all know by now that profit without ethics hurts us all. I really liked it up until then. Someone should have given him better advice on the tone of the book.
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on December 30, 2015
Rabbi Lapin presents financial wisdom in a form that is practical, informative and entertaining. His enlightened perspective ranges from who we are as people, why relationships are important, why business is essential to us individually and collectively, what money really is, how to use it to serve others, how to anticipate changes, what prosperity really is, and so on. Because of my age, Lapin’s tenth commandment, “Never Retire,” was especially meaningful. I’ve said for years that retirement isn’t a biblical concept; just an American fantasy. Lapin points out that the very idea of retirement erodes the quality of perseverance. So, regardless of your age, you’ll benefit greatly if you read this book and apply what you learn.
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on April 20, 2014
Rabbi Lapin does bring home the point that humans are ordered to work. I think it is a good book for garnering stability and security in one's life. The only premise I personally disagree with is that any work will do as long as one is making money--that one does not have to follow one's passion. While I can understand this to a point (the homeless struggling artist who refuses to get a job outside of their craft) I do believe there is a way to merge one's passions and work--sometimes this may not be the most lucrative path. Coming from a spiritual perspective, sometimes one must work for justice and sacrifice a high salary. But, there is also something to his premise that one makes the money at a job in order to do the other things. I'd recommend the book though.
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