Originally published in Expository Times 92:5 (1981), p. 156.
HALAKHAH AND ECONOMICS
The Halakhah, the pattern of Jewish living worked out in elaborate detail by authoritative teachers throughout the ages, has obviously been greatly concerned with ethical and social obligations as well as with religious observances. But the complexities of modern commerce and politics are so different from the conditions which obtained in the far more simple social order that formed the background to the majority of the classical Halakhic works, that guidance for the present can only be assessed tentatively. The method employed must be one of analogy in which principles are uncovered from the sources to be applied in the new situation. It is in this task that Professor Aaron Levine, a trained economist and an ordained Rabbi, engages with an admirable combination of profound erudition and proper balance in Free Enterprise and Jewish Law. Aspects of Jewish Business Ethics (Ktav , $17.50, pp. xii + 224). Naturally a pioneering work of this kind is less of a categorical statement than a basis for further discussion. As the editor of the series on Jewish law and ethics, of which this is part, remarks, one should not expect the first word on a topic to be the last word on it. Written primarily for learned Jews, this book will prove helpful nonetheless to anyone eager to explore the relevance of religious values to Western industrial society.