37 Thus said the Head Economist: Moreover, in this I will respond to the House of Capitalism and act for their sake: I will multiply their savings like sheep. 38 As Jerusalem is filled with sacrificial sheep during her festivals, so shall the ruined banks be filled with bundles of currency. And they shall know that I am the Head Economist.
Sepharadim begin here
1 The hand of the Head Economist came upon me. He took me out by the spirit (and not the private corporate jets) of the Economy and set me down in the valley of the Wall, the valley of recession, the valley of the dry economy. It was full of dried up, meaningless papers. 2 He led me all around them; there were very many of them spread over the valley, and they were very dry (and worthless.) 3 He said to me, "O mortal, can these securities, papers, derivatives, paper currency, stocks, mortgages, promissory notes, et al live again?" I replied, "O Head Economist, only You know." 4 And He said to me, "Prophesy over these papers and say to them: O worthless papers, hear the word of the Head Economist! 5 Thus said the Head Economist to these worthless, dried up papers: I will cause belief and faith of the people to enter you and you shall have value again and be traded. 6 I will lay bail-outs upon you, and cover you with assurances, and form stronger regulations over you. And I will restore the people’s faith unto you, and you shall have value again. And you shall know that I am the Head Economist!"
7 I prophesied as I had been commanded. And while I was prophesying, suddenly there was a sound of bells and tickers and people fingering on Blackberrys, and the papers came together, paper to matching monetary standard, and the tickers ran, but the values did not always rise. 8 I looked, and there were bail-outs on them, and assurances had grown, and new regulations had been instituted over them; but there was no faith in them, and unemployment among the people continued to rise. 9 Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the stock market traders of the people, prophesy, O mortal! Say to the stock market traders: Thus said the Lord God: Come, O stock market traders, from the four corners of the global economy, and instill the faith and confidence of the people into these worthless papers, that they may have value again." 10 I prophesied as He commanded me. The faith of the stock market traders entered them, and they came to have value and people began to trade in them, a vast multitude of papers.
11 And He said to me, "O mortal, these papers are the whole Economy of the World. They say, ‘Our papers are dried up with no value, our faith is gone; we are doomed.’ 12 Prophesy, therefore, and say to them: Thus said the Head Economist: I am going to open your wallets and lift you out of the recession, O My people, and bring you to the land of sustainable economy and employment (that at the same time doesn’t destroy your planet.) 13 You shall know, O My people, that I am the Head Economist, when I have opened your wallets and lifted you out of your recession. 14 I will put My faith in the economy into you and you shall shop again, and I will set you upon your own ship of financial security. Then you shall know that I the Head Economist have spoken and have acted"–declares the Head Economist.
Would that G"d would interfere, and restore our economy, and do it in a way that also allowed for the sustainability of all people, and of all of the planet. Yet I do not believe this is likely. We’ve created our own mess, with our own free will (and greed) and it is up to us to get out of it. We have followed and prayed to false gods. We have had our false messiahs, too.
If we come out of this economic crisis with nothing essentially changed, then we will have failed to truly rescue ourselves. We will simply stumble down the same insane path. It’s not just about instituting controls that keep the greedy among us from getting carried away. It’s about a fundamental change in the way people think; in the way people determine what is need and what is want, what is necessity and what is luxury. If we do not alter our habits, then we will just be encouraging the traders and others to try the same games and gimmicks.
I’m not espousing a particular economic system. Socialism and Capitalism both have their plusses and minuses. I am, however, espousing a wholistic, realistic, and truly communal approach to how we live, and the economic engine that is part of that.
I don’t have Ezekiel’s faith that the dry bones of our shattered economy will rise anew, for if they do rise anew in the same form they were before their death, then they will simply rise, expand, and eventually devour and consume us all.
I have given a great deal of thought to the subject of m’khayei ha-mei-tim, the raising of the dead. I have struggled and searched for a way of understanding the concept that is meaningful. In many ways, I have come to that understanding, and no longer refrain from using the words "m’khayei hameitim" when they occur in our siddur. It is through our continuance and re-enactment of the good that the dead have done in their lives, that they live again. Memory is a powerful tool.
Yet I now see that an element is missing from my understanding. We must not only carry on the good of those who are no longer among the living-we must learn from that which they did which wasn’t as good, or was driven by wrong thinking, or following misguided leaders, which may have been particularly affected by the realities of their times, or a lack of knowledge we now have or, put simply, that which they did which was wrong, bad, or evil. People do such things, and we ignore this reality at our own peril. We must learn, too, from those things that may have contributed to someone’s death – greed, avarice, overwork.
In bringing our shattered economy back to life, we must learn from the mistakes. If we are to bring the Jewish people, who some would say are in great peril of dying out, back to life again, we, too, must learn from the mistakes as well as the good. Ideas and institutions which may have served us for centuries may well have served their time and need not be part of a renewed Jewish people. Other ideas that may have been lost or trampled over may be needed as part of a restored Jewish people. We won’t know until we take a good, long, hard look. This is true for our economy, and true for the continuity of the Jewish people.
This period of the Counting of the Omer may just be the perfect time for such reflections. Before we are ready again for mattan Torah on Shavuot, we’ve some soul searching to do. Before we are ready for a revived economy, we’ve more of the same to do.
©2009 by Adrian A. Durlester