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Jewish Law in Transition: How Economic Forces Overcame the Prohibition Against Lending on Interest

Hillel Gamoran

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ISBN 10: 0878204628 / ISBN 13: 9780878204625
Published by Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati, 2008
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From art longwood books (Rockport, MA, U.S.A.)

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hardcover in dust jacket., no flaws, clean, tightly bound, no writing or markings, unused copy.; x-196pp., examines the evolution of attitudes toward lending money and charging interest as regards jewish law. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 10141

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Jewish Law in Transition: How Economic ...

Publisher: Hebrew Union College Press, Cincinnati

Publication Date: 2008

Binding: Hard Cover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First Edition.

About this title

Synopsis:

The prohibition against lending on interest (Exodus 22:24) is a well-known biblical law: "If you lend to any one of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him." This prohibition was intended to prevent the wealthy from exploiting the unfortunate. In the course of time, it was seen to have consequences that militated against the economic welfare of Jewish society as a whole. As a result, Jewish law (halakhah) has over the centuries relaxed the biblical injunction, allowing interest charges despite the biblical prohibition.

Hillel Gamoran seeks to explain how and when this law of high moral standing collapsed and fell over the course of the centuries. Talmudic rabbis believed that business agreements violated the biblical prohibition against lending in five areas: loans of produce, advance payment for the purchase of goods, buying on credit, mortgages, and investments. The Bible does not consider any of these activities, but all arise in postbiblical literature. How was the biblical law to be applied to situations that had not occurred in biblical times? And how could the rabbis allow these activities when they were hampered from doing so by the laws against lending on interest?

To answer these questions, Gamoran examines the biblical prohibition against lending and postulates when it was written, why it was written, and to whom it applied. He then considers the early and later teachers of the Oral Law, the Tannaim and Amoraim, who expanded discussion of the ban in light of various business activities from 70 C.E. to 500 C.E. Finally, he explores how the original tannaitic proscriptions for each of the five activities were upheld or relaxed over the centuries. Each activity is considered in the period of the Geonim (ca. 650-1050), the Rishonim (ca. 1000-1500), and the Aharonim (ca. 1500-2000). For each period, Gamoran shows how the rabbis struggled with the law and with one another and used inventive interpretation to create the legal fictions necessary for business life to flourish.

About the Author:

Rabbi Hillel Gamoran was ordained at the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion in New York and received his Doctorate from Spertus College of Judaica in Chicago. He served as the spiritual leader of Beth Tikvah Congregation, Hoffman Estates, Illinois for thirty-four years. Now retired, Rabbi Gamoran teaches Rabbinic Literature at the University of Washington.

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