Ask The Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi - 264

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Ask the Rabbi

22 January 2000; Issue #264



She Was a Day Trader

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Name@amp;Withheld

Dear Rabbi,

Do you have anything to say about the phenomenon of "daytrading?" It seems to me that it's not a very "kosher" thing to do. People that know what they're doing can make a lot of money at it. To supplement our income, we have taken a portion of our savings (which would not make or break us) and opened an account for that purpose. So far I'm not doing very well. Daytraders try to take advantage of the intraday swings in the price of a stock. The more volatile the price swings, the better. If the stock is falling in price, it does not matter, because a trader can borrow the stock to "sell it short" and then buy it back at a lower price to return it, thereby pocketing the difference. If a stock went up in price 10 dollars and then fell 10 dollars, ending up the day at the same starting price, a day trader could earn $20, whereas an investor who held on to the stock throughout the day would not make a penny. It seems like gambling to me. I do not see how it contributes anything to society. My husband says it serves a valuable service by providing liquidity to the market and narrowing the spreads between the buy and sell price. If I could be successful at it, it would solve a lot of our problems.


Dear Name@Withheld,

Stocks are a legitimate investment. Buying stocks is essentially no different than buying diamonds, land, or wheat. According to everything that I know about "daytrading," I cannot see why it should be classified as a forbidden form of gambling.

Everyone agrees about one thing: Daytrading requires nerves of steel, tremendous concentration and an understanding of the markets. It can make one a lot of money in a short time; however, most people seem to lose money at it. Think long and hard about whether you really want to do this.


My Favorite Martin

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Ron Newton, Roanoke, Alabama wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

Shalom and thank you again for your wonderful site. I have always heard of the wonderful and unselfish life of Martin Luther, but have recently read he was a devout anti-Semite. My question is, was Martin Luther anti-Semitic, and if so to what degree?


Dear Ron Newton,

Martin Luther, the 16th century German theologian (not to be confused with Martin Luther King, the 20th century American Civil Rights leader), is considered the founder of Protestantism.

The list of Martin Luther's anti-Semitic remarks could fill books, and indeed they do! His own work, "The Jews and their Lies" is a harangue against the Jews in which he claims, among other things, that Jews live from the excrement of the Devil! Luther had a five point plan for the solution to the "Jewish problem" in which he proposed that all synagogues be burned and that all Jews be enslaved at hard labor, instead of living off the goodness of others, as he claimed they did.

Hitler read Luther, and Hitler's "Mein Kamf" quotes from this plan of Luther's.

But Luther's stance regarding the Jews is not surprising or out of line with his times, or with the history of Christianity up until his day.

    Sources:

  • Why the Jews, Telushkin & Prager


Colors

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Name@Withheld wrote:

Dear Rabbi:

I heard that colors have meanings in Judaism. What is the history behind this and could you explain the meaning of certain colors like red, green, blue, yellow, violet, black, orange, and white.


Dear Name@Withheld,

The color red represents blood and sin. White represents purity from sin. Ironically, a white skin coloration marks a person impure, making him into a "metzorah" (leper). Blue is the color of sky and hence of spirituality, reminding of "G-d's Throne of Glory."

* Red, white, and blue, represent fire, water, and air, respectively. They also stand for strength, kindness, and splendor, respectively; or, similarly, judgement, kindness, and mercy.

Furthermore, the color white is associated with the Angel Michael, red with Gabriel, and blue with the Angel Uriel. And white is associated with Abraham, red with Isaac, and blue with Jacob.

* ("yarok" is translated as blue, although there are divergent views regarding this.)

    Sources:

  • Iggeret D'kala page 300
  • Yitav Panim 1 page 193
  • Megalleh Amukot, Ofan 8, 57, and 86

Yiddle Riddle

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What two Friday nights of the year is there no shalom zachor? (Shalom zachor is the Friday night celebration held in honor of the birth of a boy.)


The Public Domain
Comments, quibbles, and reactions concerning previous "Ask-the-Rabbi" features.

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Re: KOSHER COSTS (Ask the Rabbi #262):

"Ask The Rabbi" recently featured an article about the father of a disabled daughter having a hard time affording kosher food on a low income. We want to thank our readers for their overwhelming response with suggestions and offers of help. The following is a sample of some of those responses. We hope to publish a follow up on this subject in the near future.

A kosher food bank was established last year and helps people in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Jewish community, seniors, Russians, observant and not. It is confidential and available to all who demonstrate need. I would be glad to put you in touch with the administrators of the kosher food pantry for information. Perhaps one could be set up in your area.

(Batya Moses, Pittsburgh, PA)

Many items in regular supermarkets not marked "kosher" do have London Beit Din approval. The Beit Din puts out a handbook of their products yearly and they can be found on the Internet. Thank you so very much for an excellent publication.

(Suzanne Havivi)



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