"Rabbinic Judaism tried hard to turn work and the relationship between employees and employers — an arena which the Rabbis understood always involved some conflict — into an arena of community, loving-kindness, and holiness. They faced the same questions and worked toward the same goal when they addressed another aspect of economic life — the tension between sellers and buyers.

"Perhaps the most basic issue we face in the marketplace is whether it is purely the domain of Homo economicus — ruled by the desire to maximize gain at minimum cost — or a place governed by ethical, moral, and communal standards. That basic question takes many forms:

• What standard of living can give me reasonable dignity and comfort without making me addicted to buying more and more unsatisfying material objects that soon lose their kick and stir me to still more buying?
• What 'labor-saving' devices actually save me work, and which ones push me to work yet harder to pay for them, operate them, and repair them?
• How do I distinguish between advertising that informs me what is useful, and advertising that turns my pleasant fantasies into thirsty needs?
• How can I choose between products that wound the earth, and products that sustain and heal it?
• How can I choose between products that strengthen my own and my household's autonomy and integrity, and those products that make me subservient to the mass media and political or economic fashion?
• If I am myself a producer or seller, how do I balance my responsibilities — in setting prices, or in choosing materials for manufacturing and packaging — to the earth, to myself, and to those who buy from me?
• How much communal regulation do we want and how much should we leave to individual ethical and economic decisions? If individual workers band together to shape their working conditions and affirm their sense of their own worth, how much honor and support does the community owe them?

"The Rabbis insisted that the marketplace as well as the workplace operate within a basic commitment to justice, loving-kindness, fairness, and community. Some communal interventions to preserve justice, protect the poor, and keep prices fair would be needed to make sure that bargaining in an open market would not damage those goals."