Chief Rabbi Amar at kotel.
(photo credit: Deborah Danan)
Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar issued a groundbreaking ruling on Wednesday, stating
that anyone who damages public funds is obligated under Jewish law to bear the
Additionally, business tycoons owning both financial companies as
well as those involved in trade and services should not invest publicly
deposited funds from their finance interests into other businesses and firms
under their control, the chief rabbi wrote.
Amar addressed the issue of
financial management after being approached by the Movement for Quality
Government in Israel to provide the perspective of Jewish law, or Halacha, in
regard to these matters.
MQG, a watchdog group that addresses concerns of
corruption in government and public officials, has also sought to fight against
what it describes as the “concentration of Israel’s economy.”
lengthy ruling, Amar explained that he had addressed the issue out of a “deep
and great fear” for capital in Israel, and in particular that of the
Business owners and fund managers can also not be absolved of
responsibility for financial loss caused by negligence, even if they had not
acted deliberately to defraud or otherwise profit from public funds, he
Anyone who causes losses to public funds is obligated to provide
compensation in full, Amar ruled.
Heads of financial institutions
managing public deposits or funds, especially bank directors and pension fund
managers, are obligated according to Halacha to manage the money deposited with
them “honestly and with clean hands,” Amar wrote.
According to the chief
rabbi, Jewish law recognizes that “the nature of man directs him to act for his
own good,” and the ownership of goods-or-services- based companies alongside
firms involved in finance “can lead a person from the straight path and from
appropriate consideration and will certainly cause great damage to the public
which entrusts its money to such people.”