Posts Tagged ‘Foreclosure’

Mortgage Meltdown and Coveting Another’s Property

August 16, 2008

V’etchanan (Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11)
Do Not CovetEveryone knows that one of the Ten Commandments is “Do not covet” (Deut. 5:18). However, most people do not know how this works.

What is the difference between admiring another person’s thing – perhaps even desiring it for yourself – and coveting? The Sages explain that the prohibition of coveting only occurs when you begin to plot how you could get it from the other person. Even if you intend to offer him a price way above market value, the mere planning of how you can make his property your own is a problem of “coveting.” Of course, if he has previously indicated a willingness to sell something, there are no restrictions. But the Torah is very strict about something that is not on the market.

The idea is simple. We have to learn to respect the ownership of others to the point where we regard their things as completely and utterly untouchable under all circumstances. As soon as he puts the item on the market, it comes into our dimension in potential – but until that point, it is not even something to consider.

The Torah puts it very nicely: “Do not covet his property, nor his wife.” His property should be as taboo as his wife. In the same way that no normal person would try to plot how to get someone to willingly give up their spouse, so too his property.

The Sages explain why: If you believe on any level that you have a right to acquire the property of another even though he is happy with it, then you do not have absolute respect for his ownership. And not having absolute respect for his ownership is a first step on a very slippery path toward dishonesty and outright theft. So the net time you read about a hostile takeover on Wall Street, think about the Ten Commandments.



March 8, 2008

The reading for this week centers on the building and rebuilding of the Tabernacle. It is said that the translation states or implies that Moses built and rebuilt the Tabernacle several times per day. 

The lesson offered by scholars is that life is a constant process of building and rebuilding. In today’s economic conditions, people are running into all sorts of tragic challenges. We offer compassion and empathy. Yet it is only when we suffer the same or similar challenges that we can truly empathize with another person who is striving to keep his family his home, his business or his job intact. 

Belief in spiritual process can help, but in life, you have to buy a ticket to ride. If you don’t DO anything, then it is unlikely that anything will change for you. You are not to drown in despair but remake yourself.

It is actually an exciting even if daunting process. “The Slonimer Rebbe uses this Midrash to teach us a vital lesson. Although we spend our lives toiling and struggling to build ourselves into sanctuaries – vessels worthy for the Divine Presence to rest within – there still may be times that we stumble and fall. Despite these low periods, however, we must never give up hope. Rather, we must rouse ourselves immediately and continue to strengthen and build ourselves, because it is forbidden for a Jew to fall into despair.”

Consider foreclosure and eviction. You have choices. You can find another place to live or challenge the right of the lender to foreclose. Chances are there were defects and flaws in the original documentation that can at least delay the process and possibly force the lender, who doesn’t want another house in their inventory, to settle or modify your loan. Call the lender and discuss it. File papers in Court even if you don’t have a lawyer. Rattle the cage, shake the branches, assert yourself as as human being who is not defined by fiancial trouble. 

Consider jobs. Do whatever you can to tackle those high profile jobs that your boss will recognize and be reluctant to consider letting you go. If you have already lost your job, consider retraining for another one or look around you and see if there is something that people need that you could provide in your own business.  

Consider Yourself: Who do you want to be. What model to you want to exemplify to your children, your spouse, your friends, relatives and acquaintances?  Answer the question! Then act on it.

Find Your Outrage, Abandon Your Despair

November 10, 2007

I read the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution with much the same interest and devotion as I do the Torah. It is true that much in history as recorded in our myths, stories and laws is based upon one or more perceptions of one or more mere mortals. Yet they are not irrelevant. Whether we are looking at Genesis, or the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree, these things have penetrated our consciousness, they affect our perceptions and we make decisions about our behavior based upon what we perceive as truth within the context of our own stories and myths.

And yet, despite the differences amongst us, there are common notions of right and wrong, of good and bad. This is what Thomas Jefferson told us when he wrote of unalienable rights and natural law. The Declaration and the U.S. Constitution are in the final analysis the creation of a few people, but the powers of the people, the naturals laws that govern their lives, are the inner knowledge, whether expressed or not, of all people.

Our country cherishes freedom, liberty, and protection of life, and property with “due process of law.” Yet as the base nature of those with ambitions greater than their fellow human beings take over, government sometimes becomes an instrument of those who have power and wealth and who seek to serve themselves rather than their society. This is inevitable. The correction is with natural law as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the preamble to the Constitution (all powers derive from “We the people”), and ninth amendment to the Constitution which reserves those rights to the people — not to the states nor even the Federal government. The 5th and 14th Amendment go even further to assure protection of our basic unalienable rights providing for due process and equal protection of the laws.

It is therefore the right, indeed the duty, of people to correct their government when it errs and hurts the society as a whole, and to remove either the people appointed or elected to positions of power, or to remove the powers themselves to restore law and order.

We are faced with a series of events that affect our basic existence, in which our government has been the instrument of monied interests and has acted against the interests of its citizens or refused to act in the interest of its citizens, giving special privilege to some (violating equal opportunity and protection under the laws) and denying the rights of people to their own homes, safe food, and access to substances and protocols that would save the lives of our children, our grandchildren and even ourselves. This government even refuses to protect our borders from invasion, which under any interpretation could only be called treason under man-made law.

We have reached that point in human events, where the people who are the sole source of all power in our country can and should make the corrections necessary to save people from the threat of losing their homes due to unscrupulous use of derivative securities (collateralized debt obligations, which threaten our viability as nation in the world commerce), to save people from eating poisonous food, and to grant everyone access to the American dream of health, prosperity and happiness. It is our duty under God and under our man-made laws.

Resist the normal legal process of foreclosure, refuse to play by the rules created by those who are no more than predators and whose agents continue to make money off of the misfortune of those whoa re threatened with losing their property and refuse to leave when called upon to do so. Overload the “system” with the two million people expected to be foreclosed and refuse to leave the homes you purchased in good faith and force the correction by using your unalienable right to vote, to remove people from power who misuse it, and remove powers from government that were never intended to be used as a source of tyranny against the great majority of Americans. 

As in the Torah, appoint inspectors of food and food processing or actually present and protect us from poison and protect livestock from inhumane treatment. No tainted food should be allowed to enter any household, any state or even the country. Merchants who sell such food should be branded as outcasts. 

What person with any sense of right and wrong would deny a person the right the live because they don’t have the money to pay for medical services? The reason that medical care costs more in this country than  other countries, is because we let it happen. 

Profit and purpose have been reversed. We, the people, need to make a correction. It isn’t that we can’t afford it. We already pay for it. The costs and savings should b reallocated fairly, equally over society, not into the hands of the insurance companies who control the amounts that get paid and the treatment that will be available, the pharmaceutical companies that control the medicines that are available and the prices of those medicines, and the providers of medical services who have left the traditional philosophy of “first do no harm” and entered the world of playing with people’s lives as though they were toys. 

If we find our outrage,if we lose our despair and see the world and our lives as capable of improvement, then we will prevail and the world will be right again, with each succeeding generation looking forward to a better future, with greater justice, fairness and quality of life.