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      Chief Rabbi Issues Unprecedented Halakhic Ruling on Economy

      Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar issued Halakhic rulings aimed at preventing an economic crisis in Israel and narrowing the wealth gap.
      By Annie Lubin
      First Publish: 1/17/2013, 12:05 PM

      Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar
      Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar
      Courtesy Kehilot Fund

      Using Torah law as the basis for enacting reforms in Israel's economic sphere, Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar issued an unprecedented Halkhic ruling Wednesday against debt settlements, arguing that if a person damages public funds it is his obligation under Jewish law to bear the cost. 

      At a press conference with the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, Rabbi Amar issued Halakhic rulings aimed at preventing an economic crisis in Israel, narrowing the wealth gap and assuring the public that economic recessions which befell the US and other European countries can be avoided. 

      Rabbi Amar explained that the ruling comes from a “deep and great fear” for the Israeli economy. 

      The watchdog group MQG concerns itself with corruption in government and public officials, a looming problem in Israel, brought about by what the group refers to as the “concentration of Israel’s economy.”

      As part of the reform, the Chief Rabbi stated that business magnates who own financial companies as well as companies relating to trade and services should not be allowed to invest publicly deposited funds from their finance interests into other businesses and firms under their control.

      He also stated that business owners cannot be absolved of responsibility for financial loss caused by negligence, even if there was no intention to defraud or deliberately profit from public funds, and any loss to public funds must be compensated in full. 

      Financial institutions, Amar ruled, especially banks and pension funds, must manage public money with “honestly and with clean hands."

      He added that Jewish law understands that “the nature of man directs him to act for his own good,” but that the ownership of certain companies alongside firms involved in managing public money “can lead a person from the straight path and from appropriate consideration and will certainly cause great damage to the public which entrusts its money to such people.”