Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pidyon Shvuyim for Thieves and Liars?

I think it is monstrous that anyone would even think to mention that we should be donating money for pidyon shvuyim for people who clearly have chosen not to internalize any of the Torah that they learned. The Rabbis of New Jersey knew full well that money-laundering, theft and selling used body parts was totally unacceptable, unethical and sinful. I hope they're locked up in jail for the rest of their lives. The Chilul Hashem they have caused is enormous. I walk into Hunter and everyone looks at me and knows I'm an Orthodox Jew. But I'm not just an Orthodox Jew. I'm the Orthodox Jew whose rabbis steal money and are fraudulent and find nothing sacred. And for people like these, people who knowingly did what was totally wrong, we are asked to pay money? To save them from the punishment they so richly deserve? You have got to be kidding.

And I don't care what ridiculous loopholes in halakha people use to try to justify it: there is a concept of right and wrong and it is written clearly in the Torah. One must be honest- with Jews, with gentiles, with everyone! These people are disgusting; they dare to pretend to lead the community when in truth they don't give a damn about their Judaism. Am I judging them? Hell yeah! These are the people who make my religion into something that the nations of the world laugh at; they don't care about being a light unto the nations. They don't care about anything except dirtying the language of Torah in order to use it for fraud (part of their code utilized 'gemaras.')

I hope these people who dare to pretend to be upstanding leaders and scholars and then betray the entire community this way have the book thrown at them. I hope they get locked up forever. A betrayal of this magnitude (to man and God) should not go unpunished. Where did people's integrity go? Their understanding of right and wrong, honesty, being ethical? When did the halakha become a tool to subvert honesty and allow for cheats and liars? God must be crying to see what's happened to His Law.

And who in their right mind could claim that Madoff's sentence was due to anti-semitism? Are you kidding me? The man stole millions and billions of dollars from people, from Jewish charities. He turned on his own kind, his brethren, and you are claiming the court system is at fault and is anti-semitic. Are you out of your minds?

What in the hell do they teach you in these right-wing yeshivot?

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

for the rest of their lives ?!?!?!?!?!?


where is justice?

i can understand your clear distaste with their choices, but think about what you are saying

Chana said...

Yes, unfortunately they can't justly be placed in prison for the rest of their lives but I sure wish they could. These people trampled on the Torah; they are supposed to be the creme de la creme of our community and they took the Torah and trod on it, danced a hornpipe on its vellum, smeared the ink everywhere. Such people - who do it deliberately, not because they've sunk to give into their Yetzer Hara once, twice, and regret it- but who don't regret it, have coldbloodedly come up with a scheme and taken advantage for a long period of time...yes, I think such people deserve everything they get and more in terms of punishment.

Anonymous said...

So it's all about you being embarrassed, how pathetic.

Tobie said...

Frankly, it's hard for me to apply the whole category of pidyon shvuyim to jails, even gentile ones, in which there is clear order of law and no chance that people will randomly be executed, tortured, etc. Really not what the mitzva is about,

Anonymous said...

“What in the hell do they teach you in these right-wing yeshivot?”

That’s a little unfair. Enormous swaths of MO and centrist jews and jewish organizations (including YU) were totally comfortable turning a blind eye and recklessly profiting off madoffs illegal activity until they found out that it was they who were the suckers getting ripped off. All these jews knew all along that madoff was pulling illegal shit they just didn’t know they were the ones getting screwed.

Anonymous said...

I think it is monstrous that anyone would even think to mention that we should be compasionate and caring for people who clearly have chosen not to internalize any of the Torah that they learned. The Jewish Homosexualls of Washington Height knew full well that masturbation, sleeping toghether, getting aroused, oral sex and other psudosexual acts was totally unacceptable, unethical and sinful. I hope they are kicked out of Judaism for the rest of their lives. The Chilul Hashem they have caused is enormous. I walk into Hunter and everyone looks at me and knows I'm an Orthodox Jew. But I'm not just an Orthodox Jew. I'm the Orthodox Jew whose rabbis find loopholes and legitimize all and find nothing sacred. And for people like these, people who knowingly did what was totally wrong, we are asked to look the other way? To save them from the punishment they so richly deserve? You have got to be kidding.

And I don't care what ridiculous loopholes in halakha people use to try to justify it: there is a concept of right and wrong and it is written clearly in the Torah. One must be follow the spirit of the law- with hard mitzvos, with easy mitzvos, with everything! These people are disgusting; they dare to pretend to lead the community when in truth they don't give a damn about their Judaism. Am I judging them? Hell yeah! These are the people who make my religion into something that the nations of the world laugh at; they don't care about being a light unto the nations. They don't care about anything except dirtying the language of Torah in order to use it for fraud (part of their code utilized 'v'ahava yilayacha.')

I hope these people who dare to pretend to be upstanding leaders and scholars and then betray the entire community this way have the book thrown at them. I hope they get locked up forever. A betrayal of this magnitude (to man and God) should not go unpunished. Where did people's integrity go? Their understanding of right and wrong, honesty, being ethical? When did the halakha become a tool to subvert honesty and allow for fags and pervs? God must be crying to see what's happened to His Law.

And who in their right mind could claim that Madoff's sentence was due to anti-semitism? Are you kidding me? The man stole millions and billions of dollars from people, from Jewish charities. He turned on his own kind, his brethren, and you are claiming the court system is at fault and is anti-semitic. Are you out of your minds?

What in the hell do they teach you in these so called centerist yeshivot?

Chana said...

Last person, your analogy is weak. Assuming that someone is acting on his homosexuality either:

a) he might do so quietly, if possible, so as not to bring attention to the sin

b) if he does so publically, at least he's not lying about what it is he's doing (unlike these big rabbanim)

When it comes to people who full-out try to legitimize it/ change the halakha regarding homosexuality, then perhaps I hear you.

But in the other cases, that puts him higher than fraudster rabbis in my book.

Ezzie said...

Great post until the last line. Any half decent accountant at YU should have been on to madoff, for example, but they turned a blind eye.

Anon said...

Anon August 05, 2009 1:54 AM said

"So it's all about you being embarrassed, how pathetic".

I don't believe it's pathetic at all. Let me explain. There are a few frum Jews in my Co and we are admired for our honesty in business and the way we treat all of our customers. Well,a slew of managers and a couple of VPs came to each and every one of us after this scandal with numerous Rabbis involved broke out. It was an extremely uncomfortable place to be.The Jews are supposed to be the light onto the world,we are supposed to lead the nations and this incident gave the secular society a lot to talk about the Jews,in a very bad way. Also, I know some Rabbis in Chareidi yeshivos (my son attends one)teach students that it's acceptable practice to cheat on taxes and etc, so Chana is not so off in questioning this in her post either.
An important post!

Anonymous said...

“Great post until the last line. Any half decent accountant at YU should have been on to madoff, for example, but they turned a blind eye.”

You didn’t even need an accountant. The entire implied sales pitch was that madoff would leverage his insider status and knowledge to ensure ungodly returns. Every single institution, school and organization knew good and well that madoff wasn’t operating clean. Chickens came home to roost.

Most desks at major U.S. brokerages wouldn’t touch madoff with a ten foot pole because he was shady as hell, but all these great upstanding jewish organizations had no problem handing him over ridiculously large chunks of their endowment.

Saul said...

Your lack of ANY dan Lchaf zechut, which is halachically required here (it is clearly written in the RAMBAM & Chofetz Chaim), is appalling. You have convicted the Rabbis in the press before they have had their due process.
The Rabbis most certainly have an obligation to make sure they do not get themselves even near this kind of mess.
This does not give you the halachik nor moral right to call all Rabbis & right wing yeshivas unethical.
ALL yeshivas have their share of failings, not just the right wing.

Gavi said...

Listen to Benjamin Brafman's speech at the Agudah meeting a couple of days before Tisha B'Av - he explains it, presents a few reasons why such behaviour is so prevalent, and presents a couple of possible solutions. You can find these videos on YouTube (here is the first part: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fL0gtWC2z2o)

Being a bit of a halachist, I also think the problem is that our community emphasises approximately one half of orach chayim over everything else that we almost forget that there are 4 chalakim of shulchan aruch that all must be followed equally.

Specific to our case, look at choshen mishpat 369 where tax evasion is ruled out-and-out theft.

Anonymous said...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-tax-fraud-04-aug04,0,5196897.story

Ex-Chicago rabbi indicted in tax-fraud case arrested in Israel
Ring allegedly used stolen IDs of inmates to file for refunds

By Jeff Coen | Tribune reporter
August 4, 2009

A former Chicago rabbi and nine of his family members and associates have been indicted in connection with a tax-fraud ring that allegedly used the stolen identities of thousands of federal prisoners to file bogus tax returns.

XXXXX XXXXXX, 62, who fled to Israel to avoid a tax fraud case in 2003, was arrested in Jerusalem on Sunday night, federal authorities said.
...
It was unclear when XXXX might be returned to Chicago, where in the late 1980s he also was convicted of stealing documents from the U.S. attorney's office in yet another fraud case. He eventually was sentenced to 5 years in prison for that crime.
~~~~
my additional comment:
Don't ask Berel Wein about XXXXX.

Anonymous said...

I retract my reference to Berel Wein in the last comment.

Anonymous said...

What does this have to do with right wing yeshivot?

As an aside, a few MO individuals were arrest in recent week for financial crimes, it just was so news worthy, and don't fall for the big lie about the kidney salesman, as if all these people were connected.

just a thought said...

its understandable how disgusted you are but that has nothing to do with pidyon shevuin or not. maybe it is a cae of p.s maybe not, but the fact that they caused a massive CH has no bearing on it
example-if they would get killed you would agree we should try to rescue them? (i think?), so now how about 100 years hard labor, and if so what about 50 years prison....etc etc.

J.A.T. said...

oh and never underestimate the yetzer hara- not regretting, or doing things "coldbloodedly" as you say, now why is that not caused by the yetzer hara? some people are enticed to sin and feel bad and some people have a harder nisayon, the yetzer hara tells them not to even feel bad...maybe?

Anonymous said...

is there a resosn you have not responded to the many comments?

Chana said...

1) Just because a Chicago rabbi is also a criminal doesn't absolve anyone else.

2) A miscarriage of justice such that people would get the death penalty for stealing would be fixed by the State/ Gov. There need be no involvement from the populace.

3) I think the fact that they caused a massive Chilul Hashem absolutely has to do with the fact that they don't deserve (at all) a Pidyon Shvuyim.

4) I don't believe it (re: yetzer hara, the fact that they don't feel bad, etc.) People like that are sociopaths- they know the difference between right and wrong; they just don't care. (As opposed to psychopaths, who will kill you because they think they're killing a grizzly bear, for instance.) And no, I have no compassion for sociopaths who help destroy the Jewish community further.

Anonymous said...

(btw jat is not anon)
so the question is how do points 2 and 3 work together-does chillul hashem make them not worthy of pidyon shevuim or is it the fact that the govt would fix it if it was a miscarriage of justice the reason- (and btw pidyon shevuim is not limited to tzadikim)

point 4-so ur saying these ppl have a desire to do a bad act (which no regret is) independent of the yetzer hara? is there such a thing?

Chana said...

JAT,

Here's what I figure: I don't know exactly where the concept of Pidyon Shvuyim comes down in the literature, honestly. I assume it was instituted for people who were, quite literally, taken captive for money (so to be ransomed.) Alternatively, it might apply to a situation where a poretz who was notoriously anti-Semitic had a Jew in his prison (for debts or otherwise.) In either of those scenarios (even if the Jew is a Beinoni - thus not a Tzadik)- the Jew is not in a position where he actually committed *crimes* and needs to be saved. Rather, he is being saved because:

1. He was kidnapped
2. Anti-Semitism will not allow for clear/ true justice to prevail

Thank God, in America, neither of these things are the case. Thus, there is no need to consider pidyon shvuyim for criminals.

I am saying that of course their yetzer harah is part of why they sin. But I won't have compassion upon people who lead the community and then betray it in such a horrible way, or those that use the words of Torah as code for their filth. That Gemara that I never understood says that if someone *must* sin they should go away to a different city, dress in black, etc...well, these people weren't those who were fighting desperately against their yetzer hara and finally gave in and are remorseful about what they did. They're just people who wanted to turn a profit through money-laundering- money, the idol of our times.

Anonymous said...

you are correct about pidyon shevuim- the more conplicated question is does it apply to ppl who have done wrong-or even if it doesn't, do we try to help jews even those who have commited wrong

how do you know these ppl so not have a yetzer hars to do all of the above? maybe some of them struggled with themselves for hours, lost nights of sleep but gavw in to temptation whether its the temptation to stay a rabbi to receive honor even though one knows they are a sinner, or to make money, whatever it is how does one know how strong these ppl desires are? and as far as no remorse, maybe they struggle with that every second of the day? I know I'm playing devils advocate here, but my point is everyone both right and left is inconsistent with hating the sin and not the sinner, those on the right do not apply it by many sins but they do with others and same can be said throughout the spectrum

Chana said...

JAT,

"do we try to help jews even those who have commited wrong"- The best possible help we could give them is for them to sit in prison and contemplate their crimes. People have to accept responsibility for their actions- ALL their actions. These people well knew the risk they ran; they knew the consequences- they did it anyway.

Regarding what you say about indiscriminate application- I disagree. I personally, for instance, see this by gay/ lesbian people. But in those cases, that sin only hurts *them.* They are not lying to their community, cheating their people, hurting the image of the Jewish nation as a whole, totally denying the idea of being an Or LaGoyim- every offense is multiplied here. I see betrayals like these as one of the worst crimes- because it's our own. You're right- *maybe* these people struggled with themselves, etc but I am extremely doubtful that's the case.

When I'm in class, there's a woman who knows every single scandal that has anything to do with Orthodox Judaism. Every single one! I'm in class and I want to show how my religion is true- is meaningful- is pure, right? And no matter what I say, this woman has a story to show the disgusting depths to which our nation can sink. I think that's written somewhere- that no one has the potential to reach as high or as low as the Jews.

I understand the idea that one man, perhaps, struggles with his temptation and sins. But an entire group of people? Would you have me believe that everyone who works in the Mafia also had a dread confrontation with their evil inclination and lost? I don't believe it. Sometimes people choose to lust after money because it's the easiest thing- not something they've fought and given in to.

So- the best way to help these people is to let them suffer the consequences of their actions to the fullest extent of the law. That's how we learn. If we *do* save these people from their well-deserved punishment, we are just teaching them that it's okay for them to sin- no big deal- because we'll help them get away with it. THAT would be the real tragedy.

Anonymous said...

while your idea rings true and is definitley the more convincing one, maybe a fresh look is needed your story about the girl in your class is painful, only adding to the sick feeling most ppl felt when they found out about the crimes (not the arrets, but the crime) and those people include right wing rabbis to conservative laymen, it still has no bearing to why they did it or whether they struggle maybe the only reason you see it by the gay/lesbian person and not these individuals is because you have spoken/read interviews with such people? someone who never did either of those doesn't think the gay person struggles at all as I'm sure you have met or read such views
lying, hypocrisy, faking etc all horrible-just makes the crimes bigger but how does that mitigate the person/sinner involved? because they hurt others means its not hard for them to resist? you compare it to idolatry, as the famous gemara poits out, the desire for idolatry in those days is not fathomable to us-and those very ppl are scratching their heads now looking down and wondering how onw can pervert torah/justice all for the sake of money

Chana said...

JAT,

I once heard a perspective I found beautiful- it was when I was in Crown Heights for Shabbat. The Lubavitch family I visited for a Melave Malka was speaking about Madoff and rather than saying he was an evil person said she could not fathom how strongly the aspect of greed pulled him in, and it was sad that he was sucked in by his greed.

I did admire that. And I do admire the fact that you can judge people favorably like that- so long as it's divorced from a consequence I see as unacceptable. By which I mean, I'm fully prepared to say that perhaps indeed these men fell prey to their lust for money due to the temptation of their evil inclination, but even so, I think they must have the law thrown at them (and should not be spared the repercussions of their actions.)

You should know that with me in particular, people who lie or break faith are the worst of the worst. Trust is the most important thing in the world- between people, between man and God, between man and man. It upsets me tremendously when our leaders are untrustworthy and have broken faith with us. Betrayals or breaches of trust of any kind kill me. My best friend in the whole world did that once to me- unintentionally, and I forgave him for it- but he shouldn't have claimed he was sure of something (it was something very important, as all meetings at 2 in the morning which involve girls in pink skirts are important) when he wasn't. Now, that friend was betrayed in turn by *his* best friends (it had to do with school and such)...anyway, that's off subject. The thing is just that betrayals and breaches of trust and breaking promises hurt me most out of every sin possible; that is why I react so strongly to them.

Anonymous said...

ur point about this not changing whether they should sit-true valid point I have nothing to add to ur entire response except that ppl who betray others sometimes cannot live with themselves forever and ever, naybe the rabbis feel that and it will help them do teshuva

Chana said...

I'm sorry- that was cruel. I become cruel sometimes. I am not really. I wish everyone well- really.

Listen, thanks for the discussion- and have a good night- with lots of blessings and joy and happiness- and forget my cruelty. I am unkind.

Chana said...

And in truth I wish everybody the best - always.

Chana said...

Before I go to sleep at night, I pray to God for those I love. That includes The Girl from Philly, BlueJew, Rocket Man & the Flower Princess. Had I the power to give them all the blessings in the world, I would. Moods can come and go; choice remains the same. This desire I have to do good for them is unchanging and everlasting- that's the *true* me...leave aside the others. Take nothing to heart but that fact; I pray for those whom I wish well.

Anonymous said...

I think it could be argued that anti Semitism played a role in the madoff sentence. Look at the other recent high profile white collar sentences.

Ebbers: 25 years
Skiling: 25 years
Madoff 150 years

Anonymous said...

Carrying out justice, which I agree with, and claiming to know that the hearts of people are sociopathic are two very different things. You are the type of person who would do well preaching morals to children, so that they hopefully do the right things in life, but thank God for the world that you don't preside in any courtroom. These people haven't even been properly convicted or sentenced. Maybe they will be. Maybe they won't be.

While I have no real reason at this moment to believe that anti-Semitism is part of this scandal, anti-Semitism does seem to have played a role at some points in American history--refer to the cases of the Rosenbergs and Jonathan Pollard. Two very different cases (one was in regard to an enemy country, USSR, the other in regard to an ally, Israel), but in both cases the Jew received an extremely harsh sentence.

JD and an adult said...

Forget dan l'kaf zchut. Have you never heard of "innocent until proven guilty"?

Do grow up some. This isn't about you or your embarrassment. I'm not saying they're not guilty and won't ultimately be found guilty, but at this point, all we have is an indictment. Do you know what that means? It means the government demonstrated probable cause, and convinced a grand jury to indict. The old joke is that a halfway decent prosecutor could convince a grand jury to prosecute a ham sandwich.

So, I'll go back to grow up a little, and stop being so self-important.

Anonymous said...

So where you angry when you wrote this post, and that's why it's one of your most vile posts? Or do Hassidim rub you the wrong way, and that's why it's your most vile post?

AK said...

JD and adult said:

"So I'll go back and grow up a little,and stop being so self-important"

O my! Look who is talking... It's you who feels "self-important",or you wouldn't be stating that you are a "JD and adult" and throwing your weight around. In time the jury will prosecute these rabbis as a TREIF "ham sandwich" and the verdict will be just.

Aaron said...

Great post!
The comments are not kind. But the job of a gifted journalist is not to give in under pressure and continue to stand for what you believe to be true.I admire that in you.

Anonymous said...

For someone with such high moral standards, it must have been tough for Chana to willingly spend her entire adult life in an institution where the religious-spiritual side is presided over by a known enabler of a convicted child molester and the secular and financial side was deeply entrenched and was profiting (trying to at least) from the most evil financial criminal of the past century.

Geez, I wonder what kind of sick stuff they are teaching in such a morally corrupt institution.

Der Alter from YU said...

Hey Anon,

Fortunately, the institution doesn't teach that it's acceptable to enable child molesters and to steal.

Can't say as much about other institutions, that pretend to be religious and teach that it's mutar to cheat the government as long as you don't make a chillul hashem.

Anonymous said...

“Fortunately, the institution doesn't teach that it's acceptable to enable child molesters and to steal.”

Do as I say but not as I do? Yeah, that’s always effective.

By letting an enabler of a convicted child molester be the spiritual leader of the institution it teaches plenty of great lessons to the students on what the institution’s values and where its priorities are.

Der Alter from YU said...

Anonymous,

If you knew the whole story, you would know that this 'spiritual leader' did more than his share in bringing the molester to justice. He had second thoughts about the bais din's conclusion, and stuck his neck out to do the right thing. And he continues to be on the forefront of addressing child molestation issues. So yes, he is a very good example to all the students at YU. All the students learned that if we make a mistake, we should do our best to fix the problem.

I wish the same could be said about institutions that teach it's OK to steal. Are these leaders renouncing their ridiculous psak that Jews can steal from the government as long as there is no chillul hashem? Recent events have proven how ineffective this psak is. They should have realized from the beginning that the psak is ridiculous. But I'd hope now that they'd publicly renounce their opinions. And I haven't seen that.

The Aguda gathering started to address this, but from what I heard, it didn't address the fundamental psak that some people still consider legitimate.

Anonymous said...

“If you knew the whole story, you would know that this 'spiritual leader' did more than his share in bringing the molester to justice. He had second thoughts about the bais din's conclusion, and stuck his neck out to do the right thing. And he continues to be on the forefront of addressing child molestation issues. So yes, he is a very good example to all the students at YU. All the students learned that if we make a mistake, we should do our best to fix the problem.”

This is such brainwashy revisionist history its not even funny.

Willig intentionally attempted to quash criminal claims against Lanner- before he had even examined any evidence- by attacking the victims and their supporters from the get-go. This is undisputed fact. And even after hearing the evidence that would have made it clear as day to anyone (at least anyone who wasn’t intent on protecting a child molester) that lanner is a dangerous dude, willig actively covers it up by forcing the claimants to publicly apologize and SEALING the records to ensure that lanner could stay around children. Only after YEARS of stonewalling on the issue does he make his insulting “I made a mistake” apology, but only do public outcry and institutional pressure.

A “mistake” would have been ruling the wrong way on a tough case. There was no mistake made when he tried to silence the victims before hearing any evidence- it was straight out malicious and intentional.

In a fair and just world, willig would have had to spend time in some pound-me-in-the-ass prison and be stripped of all authority.

I also don’t see why people are enamored by an apology. Even most of the biggest and most vile criminals ultimately apologize once caught.

What YU has taught me is that its ok for a rabbi to intentionally enable child molesters as long as they apologize after being caught.

Der Alter from YU said...

Anonymous, we are referring to two different people.

I would not label R. Willig as the one who presides over the religious-spiritual side. That's why I assumed you were referring to the mashgiach.

Furthermore, I'd leave it up to Richard Joel whether action against R. Willig is warranted, as President Joel was the one who investigated the whole Lanner affair in great detail, and is now in the position to take such action if he wished.

But for the record, I was a student of Rabbi Willig, and never heard him preach once that it's OK to ignore child molestors. The issue was that Rabbi Willig didn't believe that someone he knew so well could be so corrupt.

And I can understand that. I sat with Mordecai W. in the same shiur. I wasn't friendly with him. But had I known him a bit, I probably would never have imagined the acts that he was committing and would continue to commit.

Fortunately, I did learn Gittin and Dina Demalchusa Dina with Rabbi Schachter, and heard him clearly state that all his teaching was predicated on being honest in business.

I think the time has come for other institutions to also publicly state that we must be honest in all our business dealings even if the chances are that we won't be caught.

Honesty is a value in itself.

Off the Derech said...

>What in the hell do they teach you in these right-wing yeshivot?

You don't want to know.