Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Property Rights and Jewish Economics Pt. 2

Click here to listen to Moshe Feiglin and Yishai Fleisher discuss the current Land Reform legislation, what it encompasses, and what the Torah perspective is, in contrast to the socialist.

Below is an earlier article by Moshe Feiglin on this topic which addresses the basic Torah perspective on private property.

Property rights are a basic value in the Torah. Our Forefathers were all wealthy men. Jacob even endangers himself and re-crosses the Yabok stream to retrieve some small belongings. Our Sages teach us that righteous people hold their money as dear as their bodies. An entire Talmudic tractate deals with the minute details of a "strange" law that does not exist in any other legal system; the laws of returning lost property. While non-Jews may turn in items they have found to their local police station, they do it out of a healthy sense of ethicality - not because it is the law. For Jews, though, the connection between a person and his property is holy. Returning lost items rectifies the world and is a Torah obligation.

The Land of Israel is also considered the private property of the Children of Israel. It is divided equally on a sliding scale to every person aged 20 and up. That is the directive of the Creator of the world. Land is personal property. It is so linked to its owner that even if he loses it in a bad business deal, the land will be returned to him in the Jubilee year. Land and personal property are meant to help the Nation of Israel fulfill its lofty purpose. The Jew who uses his personal property according to the Torah's instructions, elevates the land and his belongings to a state of holiness. Even small items forgotten on the other side of the Yabok cliff are worth the effort and danger involved in retrieving them.

It is a pity that there are leaders in the faith based public who do not understand this fundamental principle. It is a pity that certain rabbis are captivated by populist socialist clich├ęs that theorize that property and economic success necessarily testify to a low ethical standard.
(For full article)

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