This may seem like a stereotype but it is undeniable that Jews are over-represented to in business. Jewish people currently make up 0.2% of the world’s population, yet if we look at Forbe’s 20 richest people in the world, 6 of them are of Jewish descent; Larry Elison, Mark Zuckerberg, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin and Steve Ballmer. The discrepancy here is too significant to ignore.
Anti-Semitism has existed in Europe and the Middle East for a very long time. Historically, under many kingdoms Jewish people were not allowed to own land, thus were forced to be merchants. Combine that with a lack of a “homeland” until recently, they were forced to immigrate and created a tight-knit community that helped each-other both financially and otherwise.
The Jewish religious texts like the Torah, Talmud and Tanakh focus highly on education and a traditional Jewish rite of passage is to spend several hours a day studying the religious texts. Jews are also the most educated religious group in the world, with an average of 13.4 years of education per person and most of them going to higher education.
Unlike Christianity, where the bible criticizes hording wealth and borders upon calling it a sin, Jewish religious texts mention it as a virtue. Especially, the idea that opening a business is considered a highly noble thing to do but only if you run the business ethically; treat people kindly and save enough to educate the next generation.
To ensure performing at 100%, it is necessary to rejuvenate. Although several religions have a concept of taking a day in the week off, the Jewish faith takes it further and forbids any work to be done during Shabbat (rest day in the Jewish week). It is even forbidden to talk about money or business on this day. While living in Munich and following a similar pattern (although for Sundays), I have become accustomed to it. Instead of feeling guilty for not working on Sundays now I take it easy and rest well, ready to go on full throttle on Monday.
“For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God, and God has chosen you to be his treasured people from all the nations that are on the face of the earth.”
Famous ex-Navy SEAL, ultra-marathon runner, triathlete, author and motivational speaker David Goggins, mentions several times in his book, that it is vital to believe that you are on this Earth for a purpose. This helps you stay motivated, and visualize the positivity that the future holds for you. Although Goggins talks about this on an individual level, the Jewish faith takes it further and believes that they are chosen by God to be in a covenant with God.
While in majority of Western cultures, “Rock stars” or “Pro-athletes” have been considered the epitome of glory that can be achieved by humans, in Jewish culture, the focus has always been on entrepreneurs and businessmen. This disparity still exists today such that Jews are over-represented in finance and business and under-represented in professional sports.
While it would be impractical for many of us to start practicing the Jewish faith and lifestyle (not to mention that it would be highly selfish to switch to a faith simply to gain from it’s community), we all can learn from example. Adopting certain practices from Judaism can help us all become better, richer and more generous versions of ourselves and help us on our journey to FIRE!