Biblical Investing: Bava Metzia


It seems the media is always focused on what investments to buy NOW, preferably today, for a quick short term gain. I thought it might be interesting to view what scripture has to say about investments and economic life in general. (You may recall that this time period pre-dated Breaking News at CNN and the internet.) Although I expected I’d find little from the agrarian economy to be relevant today, I was quite surprised with what I found.

The first excerpt I’m sharing comes from the Talmud. The Talmud, written between roughly 200 C.E. and 500 C.E., contains the teachings and opinions of numerous rabbis on a variety of subjects, including law, ethics, customs, history, lore and many other topics.

The section I’ll talk about now is from the Tractate Bava Metzia. Generally, Bava Metzia discusses civil matters such as property law and usury. It also examines one’s obligations to guard lost property that have been found, or property explicitly entrusted to him.

The text says:

Rabbi Yitzhak said:
“A person should always divide his money into three parts: one-third should be placed in land, one-third should be placed in merchandise, and one-third should be readily available to him (kept in his hand).”

Rabbi Maharsha (1555-1631) commented:
“Each of these is possessed of an advantage not found in the others. Real estate is secure, but investment in merchandise yields higher profits. The advantage of having money readily available is that one can benefit from business opportunities that might suddenly arise.”

What does this say? Diversify your investments. Keep some money in stocks (merchandise), some in fixed income (cash), and some in real estBate. Even today financial advisors, especially those of us at BCR Wealth Strategies, recommend this exact same strategy: worldwide investment diversification in stocks, keep a portion in real estate, and keep a portion in fixed income.

Isn’t interesting that this was well established wisdom more than 1500 years ago?

-Harold Sasnowitz –

Harold Sasnowitz

Harold Sasnowitz

Harold Sasnowitz CFP®, MBA is a Financial Planner with BCR Wealth Strategies managing the New Jersey office.