- Torah and Jewish Thought
- General Questions
Jewish Money-lenders and interest
Rabbi, Please explain the Jewish position on money lending to gentiles. What I wish to know is do Jews consider Gentiles and non-Jewish Israelites as brothers in G-D or do you consider only Jews as people of G-D? I am aware that the Roman church used Jewish moneylenders as the interloper in Christianity as an excuse to make money at interest so I don’t Blame the Jewish community. I just want to know how Jews feel about usury outside the Jewish community today. Do you feel that it is proper for Jewish bankers to charge interest to Christians who are people of G-D? just because "Christian" (sic) bankers loan money at interest to non-Jews? How do you feel about most if not all of the central banking institutions being owned by Jewish interests and charging interest?
All people, Jew and gentiles, are “people of G-d” and brothers in the brotherhood of mankind. In addition, it’s universally accepted for loaners and banks to take interest, otherwise people and banks simply wouldn’t lend, but Jews have a special “extra-obligation” towards Jewish brothers that forbids doing so. Nevertheless, today, Jews and Jewish banks do take interest from everyone, including Jews (!), as well, within the framework of what’s called the “heter iska” (on which I can’t elaborate within the short scope of this answer). Historically, many forget that throughout Europe, Jews were very limited to a couple of fields of occupation, for they weren’t accepted to universities, nor to the worker’s guilds, couldn’t own land, in most places couldn’t buy houses where they wanted, etc. There wasn’t much else that gentiles allowed Jews to do during the Middle Ages, so many worked in money-lending, a field where the gentiles benefited, as well! The stereotyped generalization claiming that the Jews control “most if not all” of the banks is out-dated anti-Semitic propaganda which is way out of style and doesn’t compliment, nor lend truthfulness or morality, to those who espouse similar views, irrelevant of who is the target.