The world of affairs is not under Jewish control; corporations existas does the stock market, and they will not disappear because Halakhahrefuses to recognize them. The sages of the Talmud (
)realizedthis and grappled with these problems, as did the Geonim andmedieval talmudists (
), as R. Buckwold himself states furtheron in his essay.
If Halakhah is to regulate the office no less then thehome, it must come to grips with an alien reality and give it recog-nizance in its thinking. Both Modern Orthodox and most
com-munities have no need for any work on
H .oshen Mishpat
similar to the
,for Halakhah stops at the officedoor. In their personal life they live lives of scrupulous religiosity; intheir business affairs they live like pagans, by the law of the Gentiles.That they do so is understandable; less understandable are those whotake their paganism as a mark of purity.
exists for themas a beautiful world of theory, not as a regulative system. One does notsully this pure world with dross of daily affairs. Living in an open soci-ety in a modern democratic state, such a bifurcation between the pub-lic and private sphere is possible, and the binding force of
H .oshen Mishpat
is entirely optional. This was not the case in the closed corpo-rate states of the Middle Ages. Each group was charged with regulatingthe affairsofits members, and if it had ceased to do so, its self-govern-ment and survival were seriously endangered. Self-government wasprerequisite for Jewish continuance, which meant grappling with intract-able economic realities and finding halakhic categories on the basis of which to adjudicate the issues that arose from their existence. To say that Rabad wrestled with the dearth of currency in his time or theurgent need for greater credit mobility is not to discredit him. It sim-ply means that he lived in an era where it was axiomatic that the fullspectrum ofone’sactivities fell within the orbit of Halakhah, and thatGod’s word was not to be consigned as now to the inner sanctum of the home and synagogueR. Buckwold further feels that the response to contemporary prob-lems yields a false or specious Halakhah. To my thinking the problem of sale of notes of indebtedness (
)like that of credit cardstoday is simply a challenge to halakhic thinking, as is a problem or objec-tion (
)posed in the
.Both stimuli can generate a cor-rect response or a specious one, and instances of good and bad repliescan be found in abundance for each of the two catalysts. The fact that atheorem is a response to a contemporary
scarcely invalidates it;similarlyaresponse to contemporary challenge is not disqualified by its