Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Book Review III: Coping With the Economic Downturn

To my knowledge, there has only been one Jewish book published about the current economic crisis -- The Sun Will Shine Again: Coping, Persevering, and Winning in Troubled Economic Times by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, MD. R. Twerski is a prolific author on issues of mental health and self-esteem. As a professional therapist, he is keenly sensitive to the potential effects on people of financial troubles. In this short book, he addresses many issues of concern and offers advice to help people deal with their troubles by changing their perspectives and growing personally.

There are three main themes to the book.

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There are three main themes to the book. The first is that you shouldn't panic; it will only make things worse. In order to avoid doing this, you should talk about the situation with your family and friends, and try not to keep it bottled inside you. Talk to your children as well so that they know they have to keep their expectations realistic. This will help you bond as a family as you get through this rough time together. We have to prepare our children for the real world and part of that is dealing with disappointment. So be open with them.

You can't control everything that happens to you but you can control how you react to it. Do just that, and take control. Do not allow despair to overwhelm you and absolutely do not use alcohol or drugs (prescription or otherwise) to soothe the pain. That will just lead to disaster.

The second theme is that of using mitzvos to make sense out of the world. Prayer will bring you closer to God, the joy of mitzvos will bring happiness to your days and Shabbos will bring you relief from your worries. But you have take the initiative to utilize these mitzvos properly. So pay attention to the words of prayer, and be happy over mitzvos and make Shabbos a financial-worry-free day.

The third theme is that you need to have perspective. Money problems are serious but, after all, they are only about money. It is often hard to see, but there are many things more important in life than money. This is the time to regain that perspective, to think about what is permanent and what is temporary. Think about your priorities in life and make living a truly religious life, both in practice and in spirit, the top priority. Learn from your troubles so the experience is not wasted.

All of this discussion is peppered with R. Twerski's characteristic stories and divrei Torah. That is stylistic. Thematically, the book is a unique combination of contemporary self-help, Chassidic thought and the Mussar approach. Additionally, as part of the new Artscroll line of pocket-size books (PocketScroll), the softcover book is priced at an inexpensive $10. You can purchase the book here: link.

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