“And Elisha said: Listen to the word of G-d, for so says G-d: At this time tomorrow a measure of fine flour will cost one shekel and two measures of barley will cost one shekel on the Shomron exchange. And the king’s captain, on whom he relied, answered the man of G-d and said: Will G-d make windows in heaven? Will this thing take place? And he answered: You will see it with your eyes but you will not eat from there.” (From this week’s (in Israel) Prophets portion, Kings II, 7:1-2)
Everyone was starving to death in Shomron, the capital of Israel’s kingdom. There was even cannibalism. The mighty army of Aram was deployed in siege mode in the valley, patiently waiting for the city to fall. Not only did they have an abundance of food, but also heaps of gold and silver. Why work hard and endanger themselves trying to climb up the treacherous slopes and menacing fortifications to Shomron? Soon, they were sure, the starving population would surrender their city for a few crumbs. And the prophet? What does he have to say about this dire situation?
The prophet Elisha writes an economic forecast that seems to be taken from Globes. Does anybody really care how much grain will cost on the local exchange? Couldn’t he simply say that tomorrow morning there will be abundant food for all?
G-d’s hand is everywhere – but it is most revealed through the economy. Adam Smith’s Invisible Hand is really the Hand of the Creator. An economy based on capitalism and production, on faith in man’s ability to be like his Creator and to be creative (“In G-d we trust”) will always flourish. An economy based on socialism/communism, on allocations and on lack of faith (it is no coincidence that communism is bound up with atheism) will always fail.
The prophet Elisha (whose final resting place is just five minutes from my home, in the village called Nebi Elias) speaks the language of economy because economy is man’s interface with the will of the Creator. G-d wants us to be free so that we can choose Him (or not). He has angels who do His will in Heaven and He created a plethora of animals that have no freedom of choice here on earth. We were created to be free, to possess the right and obligation to make choices in order to make G-d King of His world. The most basic way to attain this liberty is first and foremost through economy. That is why non-liberty economy distances us from the destiny for which we were created. It prevents us from being able to choose. That is why (for example) a Jew who does not own land (a means of production) is not considered a free man and is not obligated to ascend to the Temple on the three Festivals of Pilgrimage: only the King’s subjects are invited to his palace – not slaves to other kings. That is why we must return the land from the State of Israel to the Nation of Israel (and lower the cost of housing in the process).
But let us return to the besieged city of Shomron (just 15 minutes from my house, adjacent to today’s Shavei Shomron). The prophet Elisha understood the axis around which all the processes revolve and that is how he described reality. As soon as the Invisible Hand decides, the economy turns upside down. The starving drown in abundance and their enemies melt away. As the West distances itself from the economy of productivity and faith, the abundance evaporates. Western civilization is crumbling just as quickly as the army of Aram.
Our Sages predicted that prior to the final redemption, all the gold of the world will flow into the Land of Israel. The light that emanates from Zion will be advanced by great wealth so that Israel’s wisdom will not be the scorned wisdom of the downtrodden. The gold is already beginning to flow. We have to remove all the obstacles, allow the Invisible Hand to work and make Israel the wealthiest of all the Nations.