Sunday, May 13, 2007

This week in poverty

Behar-B’hukkotai & Economic Radicalism: By Mordechai Liebling, in JSpot
This week there is a double Torah portion Behar-B’hukkotai beginning with Leviticus 25. It contains the most economically radical practices in the Torah, the shemitah –sabbatical year- and the yovel- the jubilee year. To briefly recap: the shemitah year requires that in the land of Israel every seventh year the farmer is to leave the land fallow for one year and to share whatever produce grows wild with all others. The landowner and the poor have equal rights to the produce (in the book of Deuteronomy the shemitah year is characterized by the forgiving of debt and this is not mentioned in Leviticus).

The jubilee year is powerful warning against the concentration of wealth and a reminder the land does not ultimately belong to us, we are the stewards. The torah recognizes that societies will become unequal in time and that we have to create laws to recreate that equality.... The United States today is experiencing the greatest inequalities of wealth in its history and it is worsening daily. ... The authors of the Torah understood that the concentration of wealth harms a society. We need to remember that wisdom and begin to create mechanisms for wealth redistribution.

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