“The Economist”, 23 Jul 16, p 22 contains the sentence,

Neither faction is well aligned with Labour voters in cities like Sunderland and dozens of other towns across the north, who are more likely to work in low-paid jobs, more likely to be socially conservative and less likely to be interested in Talmudic debates about the nature of socialism.

I assume that the author used the word “ Talmudic” as a synonym for intricate.

But for the record are there any Talmudic debates about the nature of ideas promulgated by the socialist ideology?

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    How could there be? The idea wasn't defined then.
    – Double AA
    Jul 28, 2016 at 21:03
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    Socialism, per se? Or socialist ideals? There are mitzvot that seem to agree with a socialist mentality (e.g. property return during Yovel)... Is that the type of thing you're looking for?
    – Noam
    Jul 28, 2016 at 21:16
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    Pirkei Avot 5:10?
    – rosends
    Jul 28, 2016 at 22:01
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    Your question can be translated as this. Is there talmudic debates about the ideas promulgated in socialism. If you say "the nature of the socialist idea", the debate should result from the observation and learning about socialism. At talmudic times, the books of Kar Marks were not available.
    – kouty
    Jul 29, 2016 at 12:24
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    @kouty, if that is the question it is off topic because it requires defining socialism.
    – Yishai
    Jul 29, 2016 at 14:29

2 Answers 2


As noted by @Danno, Avoth 5:10 encapsulates the concept very tersely:

אַרְבַּע מִדּוֹת בָּאָדָם. הָאוֹמֵר שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלִּי וְשֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁלָּךְ, זוֹ מִדָּה בֵינוֹנִית. וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים, זוֹ מִדַּת סְדוֹם. שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלְּךָ וְשֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁלִּי, עַם הָאָרֶץ. שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלְּךָ וְשֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁלָּךְ, חָסִיד. שֶׁלִּי שֶׁלִּי וְשֶׁלְּךָ שֶׁלִּי, רָשָׁע:

There are four temperaments among men: the one who says "what is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours" -- that's an [average] temperament. And there are some who say that is the temperament of Sodom. [A second type is one who says] "what is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine" -- [that's an] am ha'arets (uneducated person). [A third type is one who says] "what is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours" -- [that's a] pious person. [A final type is one who says] "what is yours is mine, and what is mine is mine" -- [that's a] wicked person.

The first part ("what is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours") seems to be a debate about the merits of libertarianism, while the second ("what is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine") encapsulates socialist values, which the Tanna describes as a simplistic worldview.

Nonetheless, it is very clear from the overall tone of the mishna, as well as more broadly from Tanach and Chazal, that "social justice" or caring for the poor, is a major and unanimously accepted theme of Judaism, and halacha demands charity and collects it by force as necessary.

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    Loewian, the above is based on a common misconception of socialism. You are equating the former with communism, which holds like the עם הארץ in the Mishnah. Socialism relies on socialising public resources, rather than making all resources public. Thus, a better assessment would be that a socialist government is in the position of the chassid (שלי שלך ושלך שלך) Aug 1, 2016 at 1:46
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    שלי שלך ושלך שלך suggests personal selflessness without government coercion. Unless it's a government that doesn't collect taxes that is doing the talking.
    – Loewian
    Aug 1, 2016 at 14:29

This seems to be a passuk in Mishlei


Where Shlomo warns against the blood-thirsty outcomes of socialism.

Sunderland Yeshiva would be a good place for the discussion though this has moved to Gateshead.

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    Rashi understands the band of robbers in that verse to be offering the recruit the option of taking his separate share of the plunder or joining in the communal pot. The verse doesn't overtly seem to be making a clear value judgment about socialism; it doesn't seem to address the morality or immorality of socialism at all (although I guess you could read that into the verse if you wanted to).
    – Fred
    Aug 1, 2016 at 1:45

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