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Chief Rabbi Amar at kotel.(Photo by: Deborah Danan)
Amar: Those causing loss to public funds must pay
Amar addressed the issue of financial management after being approached by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel.
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 cost.

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.”

In his 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 poor.

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 stated.

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.”
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