Skip to comments.Hybrid Economics, Torah Style
Posted on 05/10/2012 8:08:36 AM PDT by Zionist Conspirator
And if your brother becomes poor, and his means fail with you, and you shall uphold him: as a stranger and a settler shall he live with you. Take no interest from him or increase; but fear your G-d; so that your brother may live with you. You shall not give him your money with interest, or give your food for increase. I am Hashem your G-d, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan, to be your G-d. (From this week's Torah portion, Behar, Leviticus 25:35-38)
The Torah portion of Behar holds the keys to the Jewish answer to the socialism vs. capitalism debate.
In this Torah portion we learn of the sanctity of a Jew's portion of land in Israel and the obligation of the landowner to leave the produce in the corners of his field (and what was forgotten or dropped) for the poor. The landowner is not giving anything up. The produce that he leaves for the poor does not belong to him, in the first place. If he does not leave it in the manner specified in the Torah, he has robbed the poor of what was rightfully theirs. This can be misunderstood as a socialistic approach to economics.
On the other hand, the Torah is acutely capitalistic about property. Even if a person sold his field to others, it must be returned to its original owner in the Jubilee year. A Jew's land (in the Land of Israel, of course) is not real estate. It is sanctified unto him and if necessary, must be redeemed. But the landowner is not allowed to do business with his sanctified property as he pleases. In essence, the landowner is leasing the property from G-d according to G-d's rules.
This is how the Torah maintains the balance between capitalistic liberty and the concern for human well-being professed by socialism: The liberty of private ownership and the exclusive rights of the individual over his life and property on one hand, and the servitude to G-d and not to a person or system that will forcibly reallocate property to others, on the other.
How do we translate these ideas to our times? Liberty from servitude is G-d's will but the only way to acquire it is to accept G-d's mastery over all.
Secondly, BeHar is the portion for this week in Israel. Outside Israel we are one week behind and will read BeHar (combined with BeChoqqotay) next week, concluding the Book of Leviticus.
And most importantly: Protestantism has capitalism, Catholicism/Orthodoxy have pre-capitalist communitarianism of various kinds, but Torah is unique. Here Moshe Feiglin discusses the Torah economic system for Jews in 'Eretz Yisra'el--an economic system unlike any other because it is from the mouth of G-d.
Thanks for the post.
Hope all is well with You and Yours.
Happy La’G Ba’Omer!
Thanks for the ping.
The Torah spells out a Jew’s obligation to God but the government is not God. Therefore, none of the obligations mentioned in the Torah can be interpreted as obligations to the government.
You seem to be misunderstanding the whole nature of the article. Moshe Feiglin is speaking of Jewish Theocracy as it existed in its fullness in Biblical times and will exist again. He is not talking about non-Jews or Jews outside Israel and their relationship with secular, non-Jewish governments.
The ancient Jewish Torah government is the one and only true Theocracy in all history. It came from the Mouth of G-d and does not mesh entirely with any purely human system. But it is Divine in origin and Torah regulates not only "religion" but every aspect of life. The Torah isn't just about priests and animal sacrifices but about economics, agriculture, the treatment of slaves and animals, business practices, testifying in courts, etc. The ancient Jewish government had a "separation of powers" in the sense that there was a King, a Sanhedrion, and a Priesthood, but the exact same Divine Torah regulated and governed all three. Nothing was "secular." Because nothing is "secular."
"Render unto Caesar" is not in the Torah. The fact that it's in the holy book of the religion that has dominated western civilization for the past 1700 years or so is one reason we're in the mess we're in today.