There is no doubt that the cost of leading a Jewish life adds extra expense to a family's budget. The cost of sending four children to a Jewish day school roughly equals the yearly wage of the average Canadian worker. Additionally there is the cost of religious articles such as tefilin, mezuzot, sukkot not to mention the extra cost of keeping kosher. Since the demand for many religious articles is inelastic -meaning that the observant consumer will pay practically any price for the commodity needed - some controls are necessary to prevent price gouging. With limited competition in many areas, what measures can be taken to prevent exorbitant pricing policies should they exist? The earliest case of Rabbinical intervention in regulating the sale of religious artifacts seems to be regarding the price of Korbanot (sacrificial items). The Torah tells us that as a token of thanksgiving a mother had to bring a korban for each child born consisting of either animals or if that proved to be too expensive a pair of birds. Opportunistic farmers began to raise the price of these items in order to capitalize on the captive market. R. Simoen ben Gamliel then decreed that from now on, one sacrifice will suffice for five births even though this went against what was explicitly decreed by G-d in the Torah. His bold declaration had the desired effect and immediately prices dropped enabling the proper number of sacrifices to be brought.
Throughout the ages Rabbis modified religious practices if the costs became too high. Decrees have been made forbidding the purchase of fish for shabbat when merchants were charging too much, insisting on having only one set of lulav and etrog for the entire community or even limiting the amounts that could be spent on Streimlach (fur hats worn by Chassidic Jews). Of course these laws were binding on rich and poor alike. In order not to entice envy (of Jew and non-Jew alike) or cause those who can ill afford to spend beyond their means rules were often promulgated limiting the expense that one could pay for a simcha. These restrictions have as its precedent the Rabbinical rulings standardizing funeral practices. Originally the rich would bring foodstuffs to the house of mourning in gold and silver vessels which in the homes of the rich would be served on "fancy china". The poor unable to afford such trimmings felt embarassed leading the Rabbis to outlaw such displays of wealth.
Before money could be spent on new religious initiatives it had to be ascertained that existing communal institutions would not suffer. A prime example is setting up another synagogue which will draw members and resources from the existing synagogue which is perfectly capable of catering to the needs of the entire community. In fact R.Moshe Feinstein issued an injunction forbidding the opening of a new synagogue in a case where an existing shul had just committed to large capital outlays. This injunction which would be reviewed after a period of ten years applied irrespective of the fact that certain of the synagogue customs would be different in the new shul.
An area which has received scant attention is the issue of moving out of a "dying" neighborhood. While freedom of movement is a basic right that we take for granted a Jew must always be concerned with the welfare of the community he is leaving behind. A Jewish community can therefore force a member to hire or find a replacement before allowing him to leave for the high holiday period if his departure would leave the community without a minyan. Regarding our modern neighborhoods, Rabbi Feinstein ruled that one may not "flee" a neighborhood leaving behind fear amongst those who must remain and the community infrastructure which must be rebuild at considerable expense. It is clear that in observing our "rituals" great care must be taken to ensure the impact it will have on our fellow human being. Service of G-d can demand no less.