TLATD #3: Living in Israel During a Recession
The discussion of the Gemara (BB 91a) turns to the economy of Eretz Yisrael. It explains that to protect the economy of Eretz Yisrael certain staples (wines, oils and fine flours) were not allowed to be exported. The concern is that exporting these items could lead to a shortage and a price hike which would create hardships for the local population of Eretz Yisrael.
It is important to note how focused not just Tanach is on Eretz Yisrael, but even the Talmud Bavli which was written in Babylonia. The Gemara continues to explain that we are equally concerned about the economy in Eretz Yisrael if prices dropped too much (60% of its original value) and a special prayer would be recited on Shabbos in such an event. This seems much like the way Jews all over the world pray for rain in Eretz Yisrael and on Shabbos for the well-being. The Jewish people are always focused on our true Homeland.
The Gemara then makes an extraordinary statement about living in Eretz Yisrael. "One may not leave the land of Israel to go live outside the land unless two se’ah of wheat cost a sela." In other words inflation would have to reach a whopping 100% before one would be permitted to leave Eretz Yisrael according to the Rabbis. Rabbi Shimon however disagrees and holds this is only true if one can not even find wheat to purchase but otherwise, even if wheat costs double leaving the Land is forbidden.
A proof is brought for R’ Shimon's strict position from the Meggilas Rus. Artscroll's translation: "And similarly R’ Shimon ben Yochai used to say: Elimelech, Machlon and Chilyon [who left the Land of Israel during a famine and moved to Moab where they died not long after,] were the great men of their generation and the caretakers of their generation. And for what reason were they punished? Because they left the land of Israel to go live outside the Land."Full post and comments...