Rabbi Meir Asher
Jerusalem College of Technology, Jerusalem, Israel
Jan 31, 2011
Rabbi Meir grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey. He studied economics at Harvard and at MIT, and then moved to Israel where he studied in yeshiva and kollel, primarily at Yeshivat Har Etzion, but also for two years at Merkaz HaRav. He received his ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate in 1997.
In keeping with his academic and rabbinical training, Rabbi Meir's scholarly work has mostly focused on the interface between Torah and economic life. His first significant publication was in 1999. When working for the Keter Institute for Economics and Torah, Rabbi Meir published a major article in halachic research proposing a new kind of heter iska based on labor earnings rather than investment earnings, in order to effectively extend this heter to borrowers with limited assets.
Between 2001 and 2010, Rabbi Meir was the research director at the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, founded by Dr. Meir Tamari. The Center provided a platform for a wide variety of research and educational activities in the area of business and economic ethics from a Torah perspective. The most prominent of these is the Jewish Ethicist column, published weekly on the Aish HaTorah website and on Jewish World Review since 2001. To date, over five hundred online Jewish Ethicist columns have been published, providing a Torah perspective on a very wide variety of everyday ethical questions. A collection of these columns was published in 2005 by Ktav in the book The Jewish Ethicist.
Rabbi Meir has spoken on Jewish business ethics as a scholar in residence in congregations in Toronto, New York, New Jersey, California, and London.
In 2005 Rabbi Meir published his book Meaning in Mitzvot, distributed by Feldheim. The book gives insights into the meaning of everyday halachic practices, following the order of Rabbi Ganzfried's Kitzur Shulchan Arukh.
Since 2000, Rabbi Meir has been a senior lecturer in economics at the Jerusalem College of Technology, a religious institution of higher secular learning (often known as Machon Lev). In addition to the courses he teaches in economics, Rabbi Meir also teaches Jewish business ethics at the undergraduate and graduate levels; these are courses with strong Jewish content specially geared to teaching business ethics to a religiously committed student body.
For the last three years Rabbi Meir, together with Rabbi Ari Dobner, has been giving a weekly shiur in Efrat on contemporary business halacha and ethics. The shiur is well attended by learned baalei batim and studies in depth many little-studied contemporary issues in conducting business according to Torah.
In 2008-2009 Rabbi Meir chaired the RCA's special Task Force on Jewish Principles and Ethical Guidelines for the kashrut industry. The Task Force studied the issue of ethical conduct in kashrut in great detail and recommended that each kashrut organization develop and publish transparent guidelines for ethical conduct and commit to an effective mechanism for implementing these guidelines. Sample guidelines and helpful resources were made available as well.
Rabbi Meir's most active area of current research is the mystical approach to the sanctification of business activity, based primarily on the writings of the Shelah (Rabbi Yeshayahu Horowitz) and Likutei Halakhot (Rabbi Nathan Sternhartz). This research has found its way into Rabbi Meir's teaching and a recently published article presenting the concept to a broad audience, but he is currently working on a more in-depth article suited for a more learned audience.
Rabbi Meir lives in Efrat together with his wife Attara and their children Shira, Renana, Hillel, Yisrael Zev, Hanania, Sarah and Nechama.<