Torah and Economics: What does the Bible teach us about investing?

Venture capitalist Michael Eisenberg joins Arutz Sheva to discuss the relevance of biblical teachings for the modern economy.

Yoni Kempinski ,

Michael Eisenberg
Michael Eisenberg
ערוץ 7

Michael Eisenberg, venture capitalist and chairman of the Aleph investment fund, joined Arutz Sheva to discuss the effect of Biblical principles on the modern economy. Eisenberg is insistent that the Torah is full of lessons for the modern investor. He wrote three books in Hebrew on that connection and will be soon be releasing his first English book - "The Tree of Life and Prosperity".

“The principles have not changed,” he explains. “What is said about families or values was true then and it remains true now.” By way of example, Eisenberg relates to the story of the Garden of Eden, where, with all his needs provided, Adam nevertheless sinned.

“He had everything, but he became bored,” Eisenberg explains. “It is only after he is sent to work the land from whence he came that he begets children. We are no different today - we are only productive when we begin to work.”

Eisenberg admits that not everyone has been accepting of his interpretation of the texts. “Some people think it’s too preachy, or that it cannot possibly be relevant today. I think, though, that we need to return to core values and first principles, and there is no better source for them than the Bible."

Regarding economics specifically, Eisenberg focuses on the commandments of Shemita, the Sabbatical year during which agricultural activity is prohibited. "In a modern economy, we see the same argument every Shemita - some say to 'sell' the land to Gentiles, in much the same way as we 'sell' our chametz before Passover, and others say to abandon it completely and import produce instead. I think there's a third option - to allow others to take the produce and benefit from it."

Another aspect of this, Eisenberg says, is found in one of the few commandments of Shemita that do not address agriculture. "We're supposed to forgive debts every seven years," he explains. "That is very hard to do in a modern economy, and we need a solution for it."

In terms of value-based business, Eisenberg puts his money where his mouth is - his own ventures, he says, actively try to center themselves on values instead of profit. He points at his investment in Lemonade as an example.

"In insurance, most companies want the worst for the customer - they only win when the customer looses. Lemonade takes fixed fees only, giving itself no incentive to want the customer hurt, and gives extra premiums to a charity of the policy holder's choice. It's the first step towards building an ethical business in the twenty first century."

Caring for others, he says, does not mean we are headed along the road of socialism. "We're going to make a model that has parts of capitalism and socialism. That's business in the twenty first century."