Skip to comments.The Jewish Economy Triangle: Capitalism, Faith and Loving Kindness
Posted on 09/18/2008 8:55:33 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator
ike every other facet of running a country, economics is a complex business. But when the nation's and individual's bottom line is G-d and His directives, greed evaporates and capitalism based on faith and loving kindness flourishes.
A truly Jewish Israel must adopt the economic structure that will most aptly balance objective economic principles with Jewish values. We can call it the "Jewish Economy Triangle."
Prinicple 1: Capitalism
Judaism absolutely recognizes personal property rights, the right to amass and maintain wealth and the fact that there will never be full economic equality. Moreover, Judaism sees wealth as a sign of blessing. Our Patriarchs were all "millionaires."
Commerce, which socialism sees as negative and "robbery of the workers," is viewed in Judaism as an honorable trade, just as any other legitimate source of income. Many of Israel's sages engaged in commerce, from Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi who compiled the Mishnah to the Holy Ari.
Principle 2: Faith
A Jew must always understand that his wealth is not the product of his business acumen and that he is not its ultimate owner. It is G-d's blessing that brought him success, and wealth is nothing more than a deposit in his hands to enable him to do what is right in G-d's eyes. According to Judaism, it is permissible and appropriate to enjoy wealth. Judaism does not encourage asceticism, but guides us within the refining cultural framework of Torah. Furthermore, Judaism obligates the Jewish capitalist to perform actions that completely contradict the rules of capitalism. He must cease from work on the Shabbat even if he will lose the economic chance of a lifetime. During the Temple era, the Jew's capitalism was even more compromised, when he was commanded to thrice yearly ascend to Jerusalem for the holidays, leaving his work far behind.
The laws of Monetary Sabbatical (Shmittat Ksafim) and the Jubilee, in which loans and land return to their original owners, are obviously the most compelling expression of the second leg of the economic triangle. The idea that the entire capitalistic game eventually returns to its starting point and that personal property is not exactly personally owned completely contradicts capitalism. Currently, these laws are reserved for the "Era of the Messiah," but we can integrate the principle of faith inherent in them. The main economic objective is not growth just for its own sake, but rather the spiritual lifestyle that wealth can foster.
Principle 3: Loving Kindness
Acts of loving kindness are the responsibility of the individual and the community. No hiding behind state organizations such as social security or welfare. The welfare mandate, like most other authority, will be the responsibility of the community and its elected officials. The local officials must be responsible for the underprivileged of the community. They know them personally and can identify who is truly needy. They will collect the taxes and decide what portion of the district income will be allocated for education, health, welfare, etc. Furthermore, every individual in the community must take responsibility for the poor, setting aside a fixed percentage of his income for charity, as the Torah commands.
The Jewish state must cultivate an economic approach that reflects the basic culture of the nation. Jewish leadership that would apply the Jewish Economics Triangle in Israel would pave the way for a flourishing economy and would foster a sense of joy and well-being for all its inhabitants.