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On Jews and Gold

As the global economy continues down the tumultuous path toward financial meltdown, the value of gold has correspondingly skyrocketed. From a value of around $300 an ounce in the year 2000, the price of gold today sits at $1,784. The price of silver has had even more of a meteoric rise during this same period. Very likely this move toward the precious metals is a reflection of investors fears regarding the fiat money system itself and the reserve-banking ponzy scheme that is destabilizing governments worldwide. What, you might ask at this point, is a blog post about currency and gold doing on a Jewish Environmental website such as Jewcology? There are in fact many connections between banking, the bible, the environment, and the 'yellow metal' gold. Let me explain.

Many critics of the Federal Reserve banking system blaim Jews aka "Zionists" for creating the financial system we have today. They cite as evidence the huge political and economic influence of the Rothschild family, and the role of Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke, both Jews, in chairing the Federal Reserve. Granted, these Jews have undoubtably had a large influence on the course of finance and banking, and therefore have influenced people's lives in countless ways. Whether they were acting in a way that is in fact either "Jewish" or "Zionist" I am highly skeptical about. In fact, the Torah has many prohibitions against charging interest when lending money to other Jews, and even when charging interest to non-Jews, there are mechanisms for debt forgiveness such as the Shmitah and Yovel years (which I have blogged about previously). Thus, most bankers activities should rightly be called "Anti-Jewish" and "Anti-Zionist", or at least called out as not in accordance with Torah law.

The bible speaks of gold and silver many times, both as forms of currency and as metals used to make the furnishings of the ark of the covenant and the vessels of the Temple. In fact, the Menorah, which once stood in the Temple in Jerusalem was made of pure gold, and was carried off to the Vatican, where it likely still remains. Offerings were often made in the form of silver and gold coins, or 'talents', which illustrates that gold and silver have been used as money since anciet times. How ironic that today we no longer consider gold and silver to be money, but rather 'assets'. This point of contention was recently discussed between Ron Paul and Ben Bernanke during a recent House Financial Services meeting in July. Other examples of gold in the Torah include the infamous "Golden Calf" incident, where Aaron fashioned a golden calf out of the Israelites gold earings, which upset Moses so much that he smashed the tablets he was carrying and had to go back up the mountain for a second set. Clearly, it is important not only to have gold, but to use it in ways which elevate the world rather than bring the world down into idol worship. As an interesting side note, the story of how the Israelite slaves were given the gold by the Egyptians shortly before their departure is also worthy of further examination. As this fascinating blog post points out, there is a strong connection between Biblical Prophesy and the precious metals market, in that both "subjects are quite related in that they focus on what the future will bring, and both subjects require a dedicated search for the truth."

Gold, silver and precious metals are also important beyond their traditional roles as money and as jewelry. Both are conductive of electricity, and have many industrial applications. Gold and silver also have important health uses, especially when the size of the molecules is broken down to colloidal size or smaller, in order to be absorbed by the body. According to Ayurveda, gold is spoken of alchemically as solidified sunrays, for its effects on living organisms are like those of the sun. Wearing gold purifies all energy entering the body, improves the skin and the body's overall beauty, and strengthens the joints and the beings overall energy. Silver has many antibacterial and anti-viral applications, being natures most powerful anti-viral agent, as well as one that has proven impossible for bacteria and virus to develop resistance to. Colloidal silver is therefore being explored as a natural cleaning alternative, showing greater success and lower costs than conventional chemical cleaners. It is thus quite natural for the prices of gold and silver to be skyrocketing, given the instability of other financial instruments and the inherant value represented by these metals. However, the environmentalist in me is concerned.

Gold is usually mined with the help of cyanide, a heavy metal that is quite toxic. Gold mining sites often results in the destruction of large amounts of land and water. An example is the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska which threatens to destroy vast swaths of land and pollute the Bristol Bay, which would decimate native salmon populations as well as the people who derive their livelihood from fishing. The environmental destruction that accompanies mining operations is often even worse in poorer countries, where lax laws, weak environmental standards, and illicit mining literally threaten to collapse whole mountains and destroy the environment in the process. In short, the precious metals, while extremely valuable and useful, are also extremely bad for the environment. And due to their value, the rate at which they are being brought out of the ground is likely only to increase in the future. How then do we balance our need / desires for these materials with our need / desires to live in a healthy and sustainable world? Once again, we must look to the Torah for guidance. For if we desire gold and silver only for the wealth and power such possesions represent, are we not worshiping a golden calf? Let not our lust for silver and gold and our desires for wealth and power lead us down the path toward idol worship. For then we would be truly lost.The Torah calls upon us to elevate the material world by putting it to use in the service of a higher spiritual calling. It is only by elevating the material world that we can bring about true healing to the world, Tikun Olam. Let us therefore acquire wealth and gold not for their own sake, but only as means to the end of furthering truth, justice and righteousness in the world.

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  • Isaac Hametz
    August 17, 2011 (11:44 am)

    Rafi, you make some very interesting connections, as well as bring up a fascinating paradox. Gold and silver have very real material and spiritual benefits, but at the same time they also have very real material and spiritual pitfalls. Personally, I find it exciting to consider the opposing and complimentary conditions present in all things. Thanks for bringing gold and silver to my attention.

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