[Avodah] Interest and modern economies

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Tue May 21 07:56:04 PDT 2024

R' Marty Bluke asked:

> 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?

Is a "modern economy" the ideal? Do we really *want* that?

More precisely, is a modern economy the ideal for *Jews*? (If I'm not
mistaken, the prohibitions on interest are among a small minority of Bein
Adam L'Chaveiros which are directed specifically at us, and are *not* for
the world at large.)

Imagine a nation where those who needed a loan could easily get one, and it
would be interest-free.

For more examples of how the Torah sees the Jewish nation's economy, see
this week's parsha, where we learn details about the concepts of ownership
and buying/selling. The general world perceives buying and selling in
absolute terms, but we Jews have certain limitations - shemitta, geulah,
not to mention many matanos from the produce that we "own".

Akiva Miller
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