The Bible Says What? ‘Invest in property in times of crisis’

The Bible Says What? ‘Invest in property in times of crisis’

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith looks at a controversial issue in the Torah and applies a progressive Jewish response

The prophet Jeremiah makes a very odd decision at the point when the Babylonians are besieging his country of Judah, at the gates of Jerusalem, poised to take the Jews into exile. He invests in buying land.

In Jeremiah Chapter 32, while he is imprisoned in Jerusalem by King Zedekiah in an attempt to silence him, Jeremiah arranges to buy a field from his uncle in the nearby town of Anatot. The account, upon which the Talmudic law of property purchase is based (Kiddushin 26a), has Jeremiah paying a fair purchase price, writing a conveyance and having it signed and delivered in front of witnesses.

Why does Jeremiah do this at a point of disaster for the Jewish people when the land will presumably become inaccessible and worthless? Jeremiah explains that he has God-given confidence that, even when Judah seems doomed, the Jews will one day return and will once again buy houses and fields and vineyards. It means that, to him, the field that he now owns has value as an expression of trust in the future.

As we begin 2019, Britain is embarking on a new and tough period in the nation’s life. We are challenged to decide whether to express confidence in the long-term future, continuing to invest in this country, financially and emotionally, or whether to hold everything back, afraid of uncertain times to come.

Jeremiah’s action, continuing to invest in Judah whatever the circumstances, is a guide for those who believe in the values of this country, that whatever happens this year we will have the resourcefulness to build a good future.

Jewish life in Britain is good, there is every chance that it will remain so, and that is worth investing in.

  • Rabbi Mark Goldsmith serves Alyth Synagogue 
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