[Avodah] Interest and modern economies

Marty Bluke marty.bluke at gmail.com
Sun May 19 00:55:07 PDT 2024

Dad Yomi recently learned the 5th perek of Bava Metzia which deals with
interest and the gemara stresses the severity of the prohibition of taking
interest. It is so severe that one who violates the prohibition is like a
kofer bakol and will lose all their money.
The question is how do we reconcile this prohibition with modern economic
systems. Every modern economy today runs on interest. It is the lifeblood
of the economy. The most important person in the country in terms of
economics is the head of the central bank. His decisions about interest
rates affect the economy more than any politician can. With the Torah
prohibiting interest does that mean a Torah society cannot have a modern
economy? I understand that there are workarounds but those raise a larger
question. If taking interest makes you a kofer then surely circumventing
the prohibition through technical means is not what the Torah wants. So how
can we have a modern economy Al pi Torah given the prohibition on interest?
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