[Avodah] economics 101

Eli Turkel eliturkel at gmail.com
Wed Jan 9 07:08:26 PST 2013

In Baba Mezia 40 the gemara states that one cannot make a profit of more
than 1/6

Ritva adds that a talmid chacham should charge the maximum 1/6 and it is
better that he make his own living and not live off of charity

Arukh Hashulchan (CM 231b)  complains that on the contrary in his country
lower the prices below the 1/6 profit level which causes poverty and this
makes no sense

I am at a loss to explain these opinions. As one learns in economics prices
are set by supply and demand. If a TC charges higher prices than others
(but allowed by halacha) he wont have business.

Businessmen are not charging less than a 1/6 profit because of generosity
but because that is what the market bears.

In the same sugya there is a machkloket in the Mishna how much fruit spoils
or is eaten by mice.
Two remarks

1) The gemara asks on the Mishna concerning Orez (rice or millet) that the
amount given in the mishna doesnt correspond to reality (answers on
different types of orez).
Thus, we see that the amoraim ask on a mishna from facts

2) In the mishna discusses a case where the fruit expands (due to water?)
and compensates for the loss due to the mice. Rashi and Tosafot argue about
the details and the difference is a ratio of 10:1
Are they arguing about metzius (reality?)

Eli Turkel
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