Lessons from Exodus: Patience is the key to financial success


“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect, before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.” John Quincy Adams

In this week’s Torah portion, Vaera, we read about events that lead up to the exodus from Egypt. Speaking about where this portion fits in the broader story of the Exodus, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein z”l explained,“ At the beginning of the parasha, God promises Moshe that He will deliver Am Yisrael from their suffering. This long and detailed promise contains five different expressions of redemption. Moshe conveys God’s words to Am Yisrael, but his message falls on deaf ears and cold hearts: “…but they did not listen to Moshe because of impatience (kotzer ruach) and hard labor (avoda kasha).” (6:9)

Many different interpretations have been offered for the expressions “kotzer ruach” and “avoda kasha” and the connection between them. Rashbam comments (ad loc.): “But they did not listen to Moshe” at this stage, even though they originally had faith, as it is written, “And the people believed” (5:31), for they had thought that they would have rest from their hard labor, but now it had only become worse for them.”

Rav Lichtenstein continued, “In other words, the reason for the lack of faith on the part of Bnei Yisrael was their disillusionment. In parashat Shemot, Moshe came to Am Yisrael and conveyed God’s message of redemption. They heard the words “pakod pakadeti,” which had been passed down among them as the code and signal of redemption, and believed in Moshe, rejoicing and looking forward to an alleviation of their suffering (4:31): “And the people believed; and when they heard that God had visited (pakad) Bnei Yisrael, and had seen their affliction, they bowed their heads and worshipped.”

The nation was now inspired with hope. They believed that within a short time their enslavement would be over; they began packing their bags and getting ready to leave. It came as a great disappointment that days and weeks went by, yet they were not redeemed. Their enslavement continued, its conditions growing even more difficult.

Arthur Szyk’s ‘The Exodus from Egypt,’ Paris, 1924. Courtesy of Historicana, Burlingame, California. (credit: ARTHUR SZYK)

The nation, lacking any historical perspective, was impatient. The people did not understand that redemption is a long, slow process; they expected it to happen all at once. Since there was no visible progress, they were disappointed, and started to complain. This is the meaning of “impatience” (kotzer ruach).

A few weeks ago, I got a call from a client who needed to make a lot of money fast. She apparently had borrowed money from someone, and the loan was being called, and she didn’t have enough money to repay it. So, she figured I had a “hot” stock that she could make a fortune on, quickly.

Needless to say, I didn’t play that game. While many of you may think this is an extreme story of sorts, it happens more frequently than not. In fact, just before I started writing this column, I received a call from a prospect asking about how much money he can expect to make in the markets. After asking some questions to get an idea of his financial profile, I asked about his time horizon for the investment.

He told me that he has money for one year, and then is going to buy an apartment. He wants to make as much money as possible during that one year by buying stocks. I explained that with such a short-term time horizon he would be best served keeping his money in the bank and taking zero risk, as this sum is needed for a down payment. He didn’t like that advice and said there are stocks that “never go down,” so he will make plenty of money. I said, “I am sorry, but I’m not the right adviser for you.”

When it comes to creating wealth, patience really is a virtue

When it comes to creating wealth, patience really is a virtue. You are not going to get rich overnight. It’s a long process with bumps in the road. Staying the course is key. Trust the process. Denny Baish of Fort Pitt Capital group wrote, “In the world of investing, it’s common for some people to experience a bit of buyer’s remorse. Not the kind you get when you make a big Black Friday purchase, but the kind investors might experience during times of market volatility or turmoil.” He gives three tips:

1- Trust the process. It’s important to trust your investment strategy and do your best to tune out the talking heads that create fierce headlines and may strike fear or hesitation into an investor.

2-Make decisions when life’s circumstances change, not your emotions. It’s best to make allocation changes based on what’s changing in your life, and not your emotions. Some life events that could drive change include retiring, switching careers, expanding your family, or receiving a raise.

3- Ask for help and guidance. Part of having trust in your investment decisions is knowing exactly what they are. A financial adviser can not only help take some of the emotions out of investing, but can answer any questions you might have along the way, so that you know exactly what you’re investing in and what the strategy is to accomplish your financial goals.

It’s a long road, but if you have patience and trust the process, there’s a great chance that you will achieve financial success.

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), and 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 aaron@lighthousecapital.co.il.

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