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Price-Controls in Jewish Law

Makovi, Michael (2016): Price-Controls in Jewish Law.

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Previous scholarship has explored whether the halakhah (Jewish law) of ona'ah (fraud) constitutes a price-control. However, less attention has been paid to the similar law of hayyei nefesh (essential foodstuffs) – also known as hafka'at she'arim (profiteering). Nor has criticism been directed towards arbitrary price-controls imposed by the corporate, democratic Jewish community. This essay argues that while ona'ah is not a price-control, hayyei nefesh / hafka'at she'arim is one. Economic theory demonstrates that like all price-controls, hayyei nefesh / hafka'at she'arim and corporate communal price-controls are both self-defeating because the means conflict with the ends sought. The conflict between religion and science is therefore not limited to cosmology and biology, but may include economics as well.

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