Economic inequity is an issue of worldwide concern in the twenty-first century. Although these issues have not troubled all people at all times, they are nonetheless not new. Thus, it is not surprising that Judaism has developed many perspectives, theoretical and practical, to explain and ameliorate the circumstances that produce serious economic disparity. This volume offers an accessible collection of articles that deal comprehensively with this phenomenon from a variety of approaches and perspectives.
Within this framework, the fourteen authors who contributed to Wealth and Poverty in Jewish Tradition bring a formidable array of experience and insight to uncover interconnected threads of conversation and activities that characterize Jewish thought and action. Among the questions raised, for which there are frequently multiple responses: Is the giving of tzedakah (generally, although imprecisely, translated as charity) a command or an impulse? Does the Jewish tradition give priority to the donor or to the recipient? To what degree is charity a communal responsibility? Is there something inherently ennobling or, conversely, debasing about being poor? How have basic concepts about wealth and poverty evolved from biblical through rabbinic and medieval sources until the modern period? What are some specific historical events that demonstrate either marked success or bitter failure? And finally, are there some relevant concepts and practices that are distinctively, if not uniquely, Jewish?
It is a singular strength of this collection that appropriate attention is given, in a style that is both accessible and authoritative, to the vast and multiform conversations that are recorded in the Talmud and other foundational documents of rabbinic Judaism. Moreover, perceptive analysis is not limited to the past, but also helps us to comprehend circumstances among todays Jews. It is equally valuable that these authors are attuned to the differences between aspirations and the realities in which actual people have lived.
Wealth in the World of the Sages: Why Were Korach and Moses Rich People?, by Meir Bar-Ilan
Care for the Poor and the Origins of Charity in Early Rabbinic Judaism, by Gregg E. Gardner
The Violence of Poverty, by Aryeh Cohen
Wealth and Rabbinic Self-Fashioning in Late Antiquity, by Alyssa M. Gray
Justice and Righteousness: Jewish and Christian Approaches to Charity and Poor Law in the High Middle Ages, by Yehuda Seif
1Q/4QInstruction: Training for a Money Changer?, by Curtis Hutt
Peddlers, the Great Jewish Migration, and the Riddle of Economic Success, by Hasia Diner
The Legacy of the Kelm School of Musar on Questions of Work, Wealth, and Poverty, by Geoffrey Claussen
Conspicuous Charity and Jewish Unity: The Jewish Loterie in Nineteenth Century Paris, by Jeffrey Haus
Getting Drunk, Dancing, and Beating Each Other Up: The Images of the Gentile Poor and Narratives of Jewish Difference among the Yiddish Intelligentsia, 1881–1914, by Gil Ribak
Empty Hearts and Full Wallets: Poverty and Wealth in American Jewish Films, 1921–1932, by Lawrence Baron
Crossing Over: Class, Race, and Ethnicity in the Baltimore Films of Barry Levinson, by Leonard Helfgott
The Cost of Living Jewishly: A Matter of Money or Values?, by Rela Mintz Geffen
Leonard J. Greenspoon holds the Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization at Creighton University, where he also is a professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies and of theology. Prior to his tenure at Creighton, Greenspoon was a professor of religion at Clemson University. As well as editing the Studies in Jewish Civilization series, Greenspoon has coedited another four volumes and written four monographs. A prolific author, he has written over two hundred journal articles, book chapters, and major encyclopedia entries. He has made public and scholarly presentations throughout the United States and Canada as well as in Israel and many European countries. His major research interests center on Bible translations (especially Jewish versions) and religion in popular culture.