The budget is a Jewish issue

May 10, 2009

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The budget: A dream come true.

Whoever dreamed the Jewish people would ever be battling over an entire State’s budget? Whoever thought that we might have the opportunity to apply Jewish thought and Jewish values to the affairs of state? An entire civilisation, an entire system of thought developed over 2000 years, with very little power to apply any of its wisdom in the real world. And now here we are, in 2009, grappling with shrinking resources and increasing hardships.

In these times of global recession, should the government increase its spending? Should it cut its spending, and in which case what should be cut? And what would the sages suggest?

As we know, Jewish philosophy and the Hebrew language suggests that charitable donations emerge from a sense of justice (tzedek), not necessarily from love or compassion (caritas). How should we pursue justice in 2009? Ancient customs brought to life in the upcoming story of Ruth highlight the rich leaving food for the poor. Yet Maimonides’ levels of charity suggest that investment in the work prospects of the poor might be more just, than simple hand-outs.

What would be the Jewish way to run an economy these days? What is the value of Jewish values?

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