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“As we mentioned, the actual limitation is only to food items where there is a predominantly Jewish community,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “However, it stresses the importance of legislative control to enable staple items to be affordable. The Shulchan Aruch adds that a beis din is permitted to punish one who price gouges.” (231:21)

“Given the need for gasoline in our modern setting,” concluded Rabbi Dayan, “it seems appropriate that the government stepped in to impose a price freeze on gasoline to prevent price gouging.”

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Rabbi Meir Orlian is a faculty member of the Business Halacha Institute, headed by HaRav Chaim Kohn, a noted dayan. To receive BHI’s free newsletter, Business Weekly, send an e-mail to subscribe@businesshalacha.com. For questions regarding business halacha issues, or to bring a BHI lecturer to your business or shul, call the confidential hotline at 877-845-8455 or e-mail ask@businesshalacha.com.