Torah for Today: Panic buying
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here
Analysis

Torah for Today: Panic buying

Rabbi Ariel Abel reflects on the recent petrol shortage, and looks for an Orthodox answer to the problem panic buying

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

The forecourt of a petrol station during a run on the pumps
The forecourt of a petrol station during a run on the pumps

Following scenes around the UK of motorists queuing for petrol – and at times fights breaking out on the forecourt and emergency services not getting through to their destination – what does the Torah say about panic buying and putting one’s own needs first before others?

When Samaria suffered a terrible famine nearly 29 centuries ago, Elisha brought tidings of relief to the region.

Besieged by the Arameans, extreme deprivation set the price of a donkey’s head at 80 pieces of silver; women conspired to kill and eat their own children.

Elisha declared the famine would soon be over, and the king’s officer laughed at him. “Verily will God make windows in heaven…?” he mocked. Elisha promised him that although all would experience
relief from starvation, the officer would not.

Indeed, the Aramean camp was abandoned when they misapprehended an attack; and the price of a measure of fine flour tumbled, as prophesied, to only one shekel, in modern money at the very most,
£2 for a kilo of the best wheat flour and £1 for barley flour.

The people, on hearing the miraculous news of the windfall, stampeded the store of flour brought out for purchase. Panic buying taken to the extreme, the rude officer who had disrespected Elisha was crushed underfoot and never got to enjoy the end
of the terrible famine.

Recent petrol and other limitations and rationed supplies have resulted from the lack of supplying drivers, not supply. Whether it is bad planning, greed or the result of failed politics, or a combination of some or all of these, good governance is required to feed the nation. This includes doing whatever it takes to hold back the people from panicking.

Panic buying of Pesach products last year led to a shortage of matzah in parts of the UK; Liverpool was rationed to two boxes of matzah per household. Thus, a festival of faith was reduced from a festival of faith to a festival of panic.

The Exodus, which shapes our faith, requires disciplined calm and mutual respect, not frenzy, in the keeping of mitzvot.

  •  Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments