Scott A. Shay
We examine the moral transgressions—the pervasive, deep, and accepted financial immorality—that caused the current situation and then look at them through the lens of Jewish tradition.
Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce
Sarah Abrevaya Stein (Yale University Press, 2008, 256 pp, $30)
Reviewed by Shulamit Reinharz
Featured Artists: David Wander, Carol Buchman, Rinat Gilboa, Hannah, Chalew
Yehiel E. Poupko
The free marketplace, in which producers and manufacturers of goods meet people who want to purchase their goods, is the realization of two fundamental Jewish ideas. What is it that constitutes the marketplace?
Like many other Jews who grew up secular, I initially approached the idea of God with skepticism and even disdain. For most of my life, whenever I heard the word “God” I cringed and immediately activated my selective listening skills to tune out the irritating static of exclusionary religious fervor, or chosen naiveté, as I understood religion to be.
When I was in my early twenties, I stumbled upon God by accident. In search of a connection to other Jews, I had started going to synagogue. Once there, I found God’s presence in the songs that filled the sanctuary, in the bonds of friendship and mutuality that held the synagogue together, in a joke shared over a brownie in the oneg room.
Louis E. Newman
Glorifying money and treating it as an end in itself, may subordinate our value system, our spiritual needs, our integrity, our respect for others, and (ironically) even our financial security all in the pursuit of greater wealth. How, then, shall we establish and maintain a balanced and healthy relationship with money?
In Mishneh Torah 9:6 we learn: “A person who owns houses, fields, and vineyards that if sold during the rainy season would fetch a lower price than during the summer, should not be made to sell them; rather, [the person] should receive out of the proceeds of the poor person’s tithe [community tzedakah fund] up to half the value of the properties, so that the person should not be forced to sell at the wrong time.”
Has greed played a role in the recent financial failure? How is the free market limited by moral sensibilities? What core Jewish values guide us in making economic decisions?