Friday, November 21, 2014

What the Bible Teaches about Capitalism!


As the Ten Commandments instruct, envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it.

Who would have expected that in a Republican primary campaign the single biggest complaint among candidates would be that the front-runner has taken capitalism too far? As if his success and achievement were evidence of something unethical and immoral? President Obama and other redistributionists must be rejoicing that their assumptions about rugged capitalism and the 1% have been given such legitimacy.

More than any other nation, the United States was founded on broad themes of morality rooted in a specific religious perspective. We call this the Judeo-Christian ethos, and within it resides a ringing endorsement of capitalism as a moral endeavor.

Regarding mankind, no theme is more salient in the Bible than the morality of personal responsibility, for it is through this that man cultivates the inner development leading to his own growth, good citizenship and happiness. The entitlement/welfare state is a paradigm that undermines that noble goal.

The Bible's proclamation that "Six days shall ye work" is its recognition that on a day-to-day basis work is the engine that brings about man's inner state of personal responsibility. Work develops the qualities of accountability and urgency, including the need for comity with others as a means for the accomplishment of tasks. With work, he becomes imbued with the knowledge that he is to be productive and that his well-being is not an entitlement. And work keeps him away from the idleness that Proverbs warns leads inevitably to actions and attitudes injurious to himself and those around him.

Yet capitalism is not content with people only being laborers and holders of jobs, indistinguishable members of the masses punching in and out of mammoth factories or functioning as service employees in government agencies. Nor is the Bible. Unlike socialism, mired as it is in the static reproduction of things already invented, capitalism is dynamic and energetic. It cheerfully fosters and encourages creativity, unspoken possibilities, and dreams of the individual. Because the Hebrew Bible sees us not simply as "workers" and members of the masses but, rather, as individuals, it heralds that characteristic which endows us with individuality: our creativity.

At the opening bell, Genesis announces: "Man is created in the image of God"—in other words, like Him, with individuality and creative intelligence. Unlike animals, the human being is not only a hunter and gatherer but a creative dreamer with the potential of unlocking all the hidden treasures implanted by God in our universe. The mechanism of capitalism, as manifest through investment and reasoned speculation, helps facilitate our partnership with God by bringing to the surface that which the Almighty embedded in nature for our eventual extraction and activation.

Capitalism makes possible entrepreneurship, which is the realization of an idea birthed in human creativity. Whereas statism demands that citizens think small and bow to a top-down conformity, capitalism, as has been practiced in the U.S., maximizes human potential. It provides a home for aspiration, referred to in the Bible as "the spirit of life."

The Bible speaks positively of payment and profit: "For why else should a man so labor but to receive reward?" Thus do laborers get paid wages for their hours of work and investors receive profit for their investment and risk.

The Bible is not a business-school manual. While it is comfortable with wealth creation and the need for speculation in economic markets, it has nothing to say about financial instruments and models such as private equity, hedge funds or other forms of monetary capitalization. What it does demand is honesty, fair weights and measures, respect for a borrower's collateral, timely payments of wages, resisting usury, and empathy for those injured by life's misfortunes and charity.

It also demands transparency and honesty regarding one's intentions. The command, "Thou shalt not place a stumbling block in front of the blind man" also means that you should not act deceitfully or obscure the truth from those whose choice depends upon the information you give them. There's nothing to indicate that Mitt Romney breached this biblical code of ethics, and his wealth and success should not be seen as automatic causes for suspicion.

No country has achieved such broad-based prosperity as has America, or invented as many useful things, or seen as many people achieve personal promise. This is not an accident. It is the direct result of centuries lived by the free-market ethos embodied in the Judeo-Christian outlook.

Furthermore, only a prosperous nation can protect itself from outside threats, for without prosperity the funds to support a robust military are unavailable. Having radically enlarged the welfare state and hoping to further expand it, President Obama is attempting to justify his cuts to our military by asserting that defense needs must give way to domestic programs.

Both history and the Bible show the way that leads. Countries that were once economic powerhouses atrophied and declined, like England after World War II, once they began adopting socialism. Even King Solomon's thriving kingdom crashed once his son decided to impose onerous taxes.

At the end of Genesis, we hear how after years of famine the people in Egypt gave all their property to the government in return for the promise of food. The architect of this plan was Joseph, son of Jacob, who had risen to become the pharaoh's top official, thus: "Joseph exchanged all the land of Egypt for pharaoh and the land became pharaoh's." The result was that Egyptians became indentured to the ruler and state, and Joseph's descendants ended up enslaved to the state.

Many on the religious left criticize capitalism because all do not end up monetarily equal—or, as Churchill quipped, "all equally miserable." But the Bible's prescription of equality means equality under the law, as in Deuteronomy's saying that "Judges and officers . . . shall judge the people with a just judgment: Do not . . . favor one over the other." Nowhere does the Bible refer to a utopian equality that is contrary to human nature and has never been achieved.

The motive of capitalism's detractors is a quest for their own power and an envy of those who have more money. But envy is a cardinal sin and something that ought not to be.

God begins the Ten Commandments with "I am the Lord your God" and concludes with "Thou shalt not envy your neighbor, not for his wife, nor his house, nor for any of his holdings." Envy is corrosive to the individual and to those societies that embrace it. Nations that throw over capitalism for socialism have made an immoral choice.

Rabbi Spero has led congregations in Ohio and New York and is president of Caucus for America.



Otisville said...

Leib Pinter and the Frankel's shul ganovim will have to make room for one more. Gofman had a bunch of unindicted co-conspirators from Yankel Velvel Katz's kollel in Cleveland


CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The two lead players in one of the country's largest mortgage fraud schemes took different approaches at their sentencing hearings Thursday in U.S. District Court.

Beachwood businessman Uri Gofman, 39, admitted to his crimes, apologized for his actions and got 81/2 years in federal prison for conspiracy and wire fraud charges from U.S. District Judge Donald Nugent.

"I have lost everything I've worked for my entire life," Gofman told Nugent. "I've brought shame on myself, my family and my community."

Tony Viola, 46, whose Cleveland real estate company found buyers for Gofman's properties, continued to proclaim his innocence.
"This has been a very difficult experience, and maybe I'm making it worse, but at no time did I think we were doing anything wrong," Viola said.

His lack of remorse cost him. Nugent sent Viola immediately to prison for 121/2 years. Gofman was given time to report and will likely serve his sentence at a prison in New York that will allow him to practice his Orthodox Jewish faith more easily.

The sentences bring investigators and prosecutors a step closer to completing a massive mortgage fraud case that involved more than 450 houses and $44 million in loans. The scheme has been blamed for contributing to a foreclosure crisis that caused housing prices to plummet in Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs, costing property owners untold millions in lost equity.

Gofman has pleaded guilty to similar charges in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. He is not expected to receive additional prison time in that case but has agreed to forfeit $600,000 in cash and 43 properties worth an estimated $4.1 million.

Chaim said...

This Op-ed is silly. I can bring you many rayos that the Torah supports a socialist society, very much from the top down - interesting points about personal integrity and responsibility feeding into being a capitalist, yet a moral one - but as I said, its somewhat silly.
The positive aspect of this Op-Ed is that there are Jewish thinkers out there who are Republican, conservative, and pro-individual wealth.

Q said...

I heard that Heinemann hosts that molestor Stanley Levitt in his shul these days - can anyone confirm?

Anonymous said...


Remember Yossi Ungar, the lowlife Philly talmid in Flatbush who was arrested for selling counterfeit parts for MTA trains & buses, tax evasion and impersonating dead people?


It could have caused a derailment killing many people.

He is a nephew of Chazan Potchie Lipschutz, the molester from Frankel's shul & Monsey. Ungar's lawyer is the modern orthodox behayma Avi Moskowitz who defends Margulies in the Kolko molesting conspiracy case.

After Ungar's conviction there was a big tumult in Flatbush whether R' Shmuel Kaminetzky was still going to back the Bnos Yaakov school that Ungar and his wife planned on opening.

Well, I don't know what R' Shmuel is thinking, but he went ahead with backing the school anyway and comes to their dinners. It must have helped that Ungar hosts the Philly parlor meetings $, a "good" and loyal Hungarian boy that makes Philly proud.

One of the Rebbeim at Bnos Yaakov is Bentzion Schiffenbauer who grew up with Ungar & Kolko on East 22nd St. He is one of the main players with Margulies and Belsky to cover up Kolko's molesting.

It looks like on the Daf Yomi directory that Ungar was fort kicked out from giving the shiur at the Soblover beis medrash on Ave L.

US spook chief says Asad is spooked and done for said...


"US spy chief: Syria's Assad cannot hold power

By NBC News, msnbc.com staff and news services

[January 31, 2012]

Syrian leader Bashar Assad cannot sustain his hold on power and it is a matter of time before his leadership falls, U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told senators, according to Reuters.

"I personally believe it's a question of time before Assad falls, but that's the issue, it could be a long time," Clapper told a Senate intelligence committee hearing. "Protraction of these demonstrations, the opposition continues to be fragmented, but I do not see how he can sustain his rule of Syria."

Meanwhile, British newspaper the Guardian reported that a copy of the draft U.N. resolution demanding Assad step aside tried to address Russian concerns that the vote could open the door to western military intervention.

The draft obtained by the newspaper said the council is "reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria, emphasising the need to resolve the current crisis in Syria peacefully, and stressing that nothing in this resolution compels states to resort to the use of force or the threat of force," according to the newspaper.

The draft did not entirely exclude the possibility of military action, however, the newspaper reported.

A senior Russian diplomat warned Tuesday that a draft U.N. resolution demanding Syrian President Bashar Assad step aside is a "path to civil war," as Syrian troops crushed pockets of resistance by rebel soldiers on the outskirts of Damascus.

The U.N. Security Council was to meet Tuesday to discuss the draft, backed by Western and some Arab powers. But Russia would likely veto any punitive action.

"The Western draft Security Council resolution on Syria does not lead to a search for compromise," Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov wrote on Twitter. "Pushing this resolution is a path to civil war."

Russia has been one of Assad's strongest backers as he tries to crush an uprising that began nearly 11 months ago. In October, Moscow vetoed the first council attempt to condemn Syria's crackdown and has shown little sign of budging in its opposition..."

Turkey says Asads goose is cooked said...

Israel National News.com:

"Turkey: Assad is Doomed: Assad is doomed, says Turkish president Abdullah Gül. “The end is certain. The question is how painful it will be.”

By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

The fate of Syrian President Bashar Assad is sealed, according to Abdullah Gül, the president of Turkey, which until recent months had forged a warm relationship with Syria and Iran.

“Some think that we want war in Syria. Turkey has done everything in its power for a transformation under the leadership of the president. We did everything except beg for it,” he told reporters in remarks published by Turkish newspapers Tuesday.

“We worked so hard [to convince Assad]. We told him that one day you will regret it, one day you will say, ‘I did this and that,' but it will be too little, too late,” said Gül, quoted by Today’s Zaman.

“We regret this, but Syria is unfortunately on a path of no return. The important thing is that this process is not dragged out. There is no [good] end for this. The end is certain. The question is how painful it will be,” the president also said.

He also said that ”foreign intervention will be inevitable” if Assad does not institute reforms instead of continuing the daily slaughter of civilian protesters and army deserters.

Pressure is mounting on Russia not to thwart new efforts to sanction Syria in the United Nations Security Council. British Prime Minister David Cameron called on “all the members of U.N. Security Council to live up to their responsibilities instead of shielding those who have blood on their hands.”

"Russia can no longer explain blocking the U.N. and providing cover for the regime's brutal repression," the prime minster’s spokesman said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday, “The status quo is unsustainable” and the volatility in Syria could "spill over throughout the region.”

Syrian forces on Tuesday continued to kill opponents and soldier-turned-rebels, who have breached the suburbs of Damascus, previously totally loyal to Assad. Government-controlled media said the army "chased the elements of armed terrorist groups that committed the worst crimes of murder and kidnapping against the citizens and had planted mines on public roads and terrorized people, including children and women” in the capital’s suburbs.

The government also claimed it had confiscated Israeli and American weapons from the opposition fighters."

Anonymous said...


Avromi David who is under arrest for the illegal green card scam once had a law office in Lakewood at 216 River Ave. But he lived in Marlboro. Did he daven in a shul around Marlboro? It's not likely he would walk over an hour to daven by R' Chaim Veshnefsky. Maybe he went to Chabad of Western Monmouth if anywhere.


The Canadian Strettiner ainiklach named Langner that he is related to started becoming Conservative rabbis / cantors in the last generation.


His first wife from whom he is divorced with a child was a Moroccan girl, family name Encaoua.

His second wife from Mexico is named "Salome Fernandez Palomo". It is possible that she is Jewish despite her Hispanic name as some old Sfardish mishpochos from Spain moved to Mexico hundreds of years ago, although most of those ended up intermarrying.


He was in trouble with the SEC over a decade ago for stock fraud.


A federal judge held a preliminary hearing Monday in the criminal case against a former New York immigration lawyer who prosecutors say made millions of dollars leading a fraud scheme that won legal immigration status for tens of thousands of clients.

David, who is 47- years-old, faces up to 50 years in prison, if convicted. Eleven other defendants are on trial with him as co-conspirators. Thirteen others were charged earlier; most of them have pleaded guilty and already have been sentenced.

Road to war with Iran 32 said...

The Washington Post:

"Iran, perceiving threat from West, willing to attack on U.S. soil, U.S. intelligence report finds

By Greg Miller
January 31, [2012]

U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Iran is prepared to launch terrorist attacks inside the United States in response to perceived threats from America and its allies, the U.S. spy chief said Tuesday.

Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. said in prepared testimony that an alleged Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington that was uncovered last year reflects an aggressive new willingness within the upper ranks of the Islamist republic to authorize attacks against the United States.

That plot “shows that some Iranian officials — probably including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei — have changed their calculus and are now more willing to conduct an attack in the United States in response to real or perceived U.S. actions that threaten the regime,” Clapper said in the testimony, which was submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee in advance of a threat assessment hearing Tuesday. “We are also concerned about Iranian plotting against U.S. or allied interests overseas.”

The assessment signals a potentially dire new direction in the adversarial relationship between the United States and Iran, at a time when there are indications that a covert campaign is already underway to thwart Iran’s alleged ambition to develop a nuclear weapon.

Clapper’s warning about Iran was delivered as part of the U.S. intelligence community’s annual overview of the nation’s most serious national security concerns. As the hearing got underway, Clapper signaled that the United States is seeking to avoid a violent confrontation with Iran, instead pushing for more and more sanctions while also monitoring the possibility of a preemptive strike by Israel.

“Our hope is that the sanctions ... would have the effect of inducing a change in Iranian policy toward their apparent pursuit of a nuclear capability,” Clapper said. “Obviously this is a very sensitive issue right now. We’re doing a lot with the Israelis.”

Clapper’s testimony also calls attention to a heightened concern over cyber-related threats, as well as the diminished but persistent danger to the United States posed by al-Qaeda.

This year’s assessment is the first to evaluate al-Qaeda’s capabilities since Osama bin Laden was killed in a U.S. commando raid in May. That blow, combined with the toll taken by subsequent strikes and raids, has destroyed al-Qaeda’s core.

As a result, Clapper said in the testimony, the United States is entering a “critical transitional phase for the terrorist threat,” in which smaller-bore strikes from regional nodes are more likely than elaborate, mass-casualty plots.

If the pressure on al-Qaeda can be maintained, “there is a better-than-even chance that decentralization will lead to fragmentation,” Clapper said. The terrorist group “will seek to execute smaller, simpler plots to demonstrate relevance to the global jihad.”

The group’s affiliate in Yemen continues to be seen as the most likely source of plots targeting the United States. But the death of U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki in a CIA drone strike in Yemen last year has at least temporarily eroded the affiliate’s ability to mount international attacks..."

Chaim Berlin = My Way or the Highway said...


Did Chaim Berlin push Hamodia the other week to promote the weirdo Michael "Jamaica" Hersh in this article?

Baltimore said...

I personally saw the molester Levitt get p'sicha this shabbos. for shame! you could smell his cologne or perfume for a mile. Heinemann watched this happen in his own shul, and i could garauntee he knows about Stanley Levitt molesting kids in Boston and Philadelphia. They had the decency to try the man and kick him out of town; the baltimore rabbonim lack even that.
at least Hopfer doesnt give him kibbudim; he just sits in the back.
Does the star k have somethng to gain from this penislover whacko criminal?


Chaim Berlin - annals of corruption said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Q said...


what exactly was the story with R Avigdor Miller leaving Chaim Berlin? How about R' Yaakov Moshe Shurkin?

Paul Mendlowitz said...

R' Miller and R' Hutner were two alpha males that had their own distinct followings which R' Hutner was never going to put up with. Of course, R' Miller got tossed!

Q said...

And R' Shurkin?

Paul Mendlowitz said...

Dunno the Shurkin story....I'm certain there is a story though!

Didan notzach said...

The Shurkins are very meyuchoss Lubavitchers who cousins of the Rebbes. I was wondering why they took a shmuck like Leib Pinter for an eidim until I realized his wife is not very nice either.