Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, among the founders of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization, has called on the Israeli government to take action to ensure that basic food products are available to everyone.
"Even though Jewish law very much supports open competition, it views the prices of basic items otherwise," Rabbi Cherlow said.
According to him, "An integral part of implementing religious holidays is the constant worry for others who do not have their own 'fields,' and we are required to leave gifts in the field. In the Scroll of Ruth, which we read on the holiday of Shavuot (the Festival of Weeks), it describes a merciful society, in which strangers can collect from the fields at harvest time."
"A government policy, and certainly one which sees Jewish identity as one of its tasks, must turn its efforts towards bringing about the same result. Its attention must be focused not only on the traditional 'religious' aspects, but also towards those who are struggling. It is unthinkable that there should be a situation in which people cannot buy the most basic necessities for daily life and join everyone else in celebrating the holiday."
"Not only this, but despite the fact that Jewish law very much supports open competition, it provides otherwise for the prices for basic necessities," Rabbi Cherlow added. Quoting Maimonides (Laws of Sales, Chapter 14), he added: "A court is obligated to determine the market value and to establish inspectors for such. No individual shall sell at any price he sees fit. . . about which case are we speaking? Those commodities which are required for life, such as wines, oils, and flour products."
Rabbi Cherlow concluded, "The governmental responsibility and ability to influence the State budget therefore obligate it to act in order to ensure that basic products remain accessible to everyone. The most worthy way of doing this is to subsidize the product or to help those who require it - this needs to be done by professionals and through political decisions, but the basic human and religious obligation to take care of this must be an integral part of the governmental responsibility."