Judaism teaches the free market system
By Alan Kornman
The role of man in this world is to work, create, innovate, accumulate wealth, and elevate the material world while caring for those in need.
Israel and Jews have a long-standing tradition of extending aid to alleviate hunger, disease and poverty, in the wake of natural disasters and terrorist attacks beyond its borders.
Israel’s 200-strong relief team was the first on the scene after a devastating earthquake hit Haiti in 2010, saving thousands of lives.
In March 2011, Israel was one of the first countries to set up field clinics within days after the Japan earthquake.
Israel sent in medical field clinic teams after Hurricane Katrina, 60 tons of international aid to Indonesia and Sri Lanka alone after the 2004 tsunami.
Most remarkably, Israel provides medical aid and hundreds of millions of shekels to their sworn enemies the Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza.
In 2009, some 10,544 patients and their companions left Gaza for medical treatment inside Israel. Further, Israeli doctors working through the organization Save a Child’s Heart have performed free life-saving heart operations for 2,300 children since 1995, with almost half of these children coming from the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Iraq.
Israel is the top philanthropic country in the Middle East and in the top tier of the western world. Israel’s philanthropy is possible because it ranks fourth out of 17 other Middle Eastern countries GDP per capita in the Middle East. Kuwait, Qatr, and the UAE, on the other hand, are not known for the generosity of their vast oil wealth when natural disasters hit other countries.
Jewish traditions teach, “Man is created in God’s image, God is the creator of the world, and man is the creator in the world.” This statement is a rallying cry for Jews the world over to take personal responsibility for their own actions.
If we don’t strive to be producers, creators and innovators in this world it is an affront to God. The Talmud teaches in Berachot 8a, Avot 4; the honest and legal accumulation of wealth is a virtue not a vice. The human desire to succeed is the bright flame in all of us that motivates us to achieve greatness. It is how we deal with failure that tests ones mettle. In some people, failure destroys the desire to succeed replacing it with jealousy, envy, and a deep-seated psychological hatred for those who achieve great success. It is from this envy, the corrosive politics of government forced redistribution of wealth and this mirage called social justice divides a nation rather than bringing it together.
In other people, failure sparks them to pick themselves up off the ground, innovate, and try even harder to succeed. What can’t be quantified is how many people are positively motivated by this can-do attitude. Which person are you?
The best government model to live under
The first book of Samuel 8:11-18 berates the Israelites when they ask for a king. It says that when a king reigns over you he will use your resources and persons for his interests not yours. Jewish sages say that if the Israelites choose a king and he eventually makes you his slaves, God will not hear your cries.
The Torah warns about the evil nature of government and bureaucracy extolling the dangers of concentrated power (Genesis 49:10). It is in these Judaic lessons our founding fathers discovered the wisdom to create a Representative Republic, three branches of government, and a government of the people, by the people and for the people, avoiding the dangers of concentrated power in the hands of any one leader or king.
Thou Shall Not Steal
In an article titled Jewish Theology and Economic Theory by Corrine and Robert Sauer, founders of the Jerusalem Institute for Market Studies, they state, “Man was given the potential to create, but the Jewish sages clearly recognized that man will only dominate the material world and will work and innovate if there is the ability to appropriate the fruits of one’s labor. To motivate man to fulfill the commandment to participate in the act of creation, the granting and uncompromising protection of private property was recognized to be essential.”
The Ten Commandments say Thou shall not steal or covet your neighbors’ possessions. It disturbs me when I hear liberals demonizing the wealthy and successful in our society. Many liberals believe life is a zero sum game and the successful succeed only off the backs of the less successful. I hate to tell you this, but the successful people will be successful no matter where they are or what type of government they live under. If you want success study hard, be diligent at your job, be trustworthy, and take calculated risks. Success is not always based on what your net worth is. Success is defined as excelling at whatever you put your mind to whether its the arts, business, sciences, politics, helping others, or creating a loving stable home to raise your family.
The government forcibly redistributing one’s wealth is an insult to God and the teachings of the Jewish sages.
Jewish traditions believe in limited government, honest labor in the accumulation of wealth, personal property rights, personal responsibility, helping those in need, and are against the forced redistribution of wealth in the name of fairness or social justice.
It is time for rabbis to start preaching these Judaic economic virtues from the bema without regard for their personal politics.
Once America crosses the threshold of more takers than producers, we as a country will be on the road to serfdom never to return to the land of prosperity, freedom, and liberty.
Alan Kornman is a contributing editor - Family Security Matters, and regional coordinator of The United West, small business owner.