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Friday, August 07, 2009

A Friend Helps You Bury The Body?!?!

I've sat through many a tirade about "pick and choose Judaism." As a matter of fact, I've had a few tirades myself on the subject. But, I choose to no longer have such tirades because quite frankly there is enough of a mess in my own backyard.


This article is perhaps even more despicable than Rabbi Shafran's (later retracted) column extolling Madoff and denigrating the achievements of Captain Sully. When that, now famous, article was published, I wondered how it made it out the front (or back?) door of the Agudah. And, now we reach a new low. To defend his kehillah, a Syrian Rabbi of Long Beach, NY has declared that the Rabbis involved with money laundering have fulfilled the mitzvah of loving a friend b'hidur and brings a mashul that seems to emanate from the handbook of the Crips or Bloods rather than from Torat Emet. He writes the story in the name of Rav Noach Weinberg zt"l, but I will not accept the source of the story without hearing it directly:

A gregarious son partying each night brags to his father that he can count 100 true friends. The father congratulates his son, noting that in all his life, he has only achieved half a friend. The father suggests a test. “Take a goat, slaughter it, put it into a sack, get some blood on you and in the middle of the night go to your friends,” the father says. “Tell them you got into a fight with a guy at the bar, one thing led to another and you killed him. Beg them to help.”
As so the son goes to each of those friends and all slam the door in his face. Dejected, he returns to his father and asks what the father’s half friend would do. His father tells him to go and see.
In the middle of the night, still holding the sack and covered in blood, the son knocks at his father’s friend’s home. He tells the same story. And the half-friend hesitates,
saying, “Although I shouldn’t do this, you’re Chaim’s son, and I’ll help you.”
They take the sack and bury it together.
The boy returns to his father in shock.
The story continues and the father explains that a true friend would never even hesitate.
The Torah states, you should love your friend as yourself, I am G-d. If you truly fulfill this, G-d promises then He is the third partner in your friendship.





The author then asks if we have true friends? I would respond that true friends are those whose actions are routed in sechel and yashrut. A wise friend sees beyond his friend's immediate "needs" and sees a larger picture. If we have issues in life, they certainly don't participate. If they really care, they hold us accountable and help us help ourselves. "Justice, justice shall you pursue" would not allow them to be a "friend" to the detriment of another person/family.

If you have a friend who is a lush, you don't give them your car to drive their children home. If you have a friend who is a gambler, you do him/her no favors by lending additional money. If you have a friend with issues in yashrut, you don't wash their money for them. If you have a friend who is a philanderer, you don't help them hide the affair from their spouse. And if you have a friend who is a murderer. . . . . .you sure as heck don't help your friend bury the body!!!

The real question is where are our true friends? Loving one person to the exclusion of others hardly seems like a mitzvah to me. In criminal fraud cases, that "other" is those who now have to prove their integrity in job interviews because a bad light in continually cast upon Orthodox Jews as a whole.

123 comments:

Julie said...

I had heard this story before. But the way that I had heard it the message was different. In the story that I know, the son slaughters the goat but does not claim that he had killed someone--he merely goes to all his friends and asks them to help him bury a bloody sack. The son's friends assume the worst and refuse to help him. The father's half friend knows that the father is a man of integrity so he helps the son to bury the sack. The message is one of dan adam l'kaf zehut. The story as you quote it is absolutely horrifying.

Ezzie said...

...wow.

Anonymous said...

My jaw almost hit the floor when I first read the article in the Jewish Star last week. Some people should just learn when to stay silent. The notion that helping a friend hide a body and deprive a family of knowing what happened to a loved one and having a proper burial somehow justifies or explains what happened in Deal or teaches a lesson in how jews should behave is astounding. This wasn't some contemporaneous comments in the heat of passion and can be explained away as a poor choice of words. This was an article that the author had time to reread and think about before publishing it. I sure hope the secular press/blogosphere doesn't find this.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

Granted, a person's principles should prevent him from doing something bad of such magnitude. When a friend asks you to do something so bad you should respond, "My moral principles come first."

But this does show a lacking in the friendship. A real friend would give up his own morals to help out someone else, he would not judge the situation on his own, he would be supportive no matter what the friend wants.

I know this might sound sacrilegious to you but, how do you understand the Akaydas Yitzchak? To me it means that Avraham had such a relationship with Hashem he was even willing to do something horrible to his own son. Knowing at the same time that this was not part of his own moral code.

Perhaps friendship like this in term of other humans can be considered idolatry, such love can only be given to God, but I understand where he is coming from.

Anonymous said...

That's an interesting perspective Childish. I think the point is that this article is another example of a warped perspective on what justifies illegal conduct and another example of more bad press. The parable also does not seem to fit the facts. If the person who helped the friend bury the body did so only on condition that he be paid, then the story might be a closer fit.

tesyaa said...

Minor technicality: I'm sure it is Long Branch, NJ, not Long Beach.

Long Beach is in NY.

Long Beach Island is in NJ.

Long Branch is a town near Deal where Syrians live.

Anonymous said...

A real friend will tell you the truth and guide you in the proper manner of behavior. In this case a true friend would help you find a good attorney and offer to bring you to the authorities to explain your case.

Rabbi Bibi - The shocking news is the traitor among us.

No, the unschocking news is that you are a fool, and so are the leaders of your communities. The *ONLY* reason that "traitor" was there is because YOU refused to eject him from the community, and you were even willing to do business with him. A thief.

If every community ejected their criminals (yes, cherem), then not only would honest people have much less of a chance to be corrupted by them, but people would have an additional reason to fear being criminals.

But you won't do it because the criminals have money and can buy you off.

Mark

Anonymous said...

SL, you say that "In criminal fraud cases, that "other" is those who now have to prove their integrity in job interviews because a bad light in continually cast upon Orthodox Jews as a whole." It's not just Orthodox Jews who have been cast in a bad light. The outside world doesn't distinguish between sects of Judaism. The only difference is that the orthodox are more readily identifiable. All Jews have been hurt and all jews are hurt when basic precepts are distorted.

rosie said...

I agree that we have all been hurt but to me the hurt is more what we have done to ourselves than what the outside world thinks. I will warn my children until they can't take any more of me not to take packages overseas for anyone particularly another frum Jew.
I have a friend whose ex-son-in-law is serving a jail term in the same jail as Madoff (also for a financial crime) but in a less restricted area of the jail. She said that the jail has plenty of frum Jews there, mostly for fraud. The sad thing is that there is no shame in being there; it is all in the line of the duty in providing the best for one's family. They are mainly sorry that they got caught. Years ago, if someone was pressured to give that big donation they were expected to "get" the money; in other words it didn't have to be money that they already had or had earned. They were still expected to keep up their standard of living and donate big bucks.
At least this is the way that I have always perceived these things.
A few years ago, Canadian customs officials insisted on opening Tefillin batim because someone had used them to smuggle diamonds. Frum Jews are far from being above suspicion and this is not new. What is new is that the fraud is now with larger amounts and the methods for detecting it have improved.
It reminds me of mice. At first the mouse is happy with the few crumbs behind the couch and we do not know that he is there, but when that isn't enough for him, he runs out for more and that is when we see him and set traps to catch him.
Plenty of people are small-time cheaters. They may make a few dollars off the books here or there but they don't live big so no one catches on and the government is not concerned enough to chase down every cent. The problem comes when the person begins to live in a way that he obviously can't afford on what he claims to make and that is when the trap is set.
Too bad that the writer of the article focused on avoiding negative judgments rather than paring down the extravagant frum lifestyle.

Lion of Zion said...

"A few years ago, Canadian customs officials insisted on opening Tefillin batim because someone had used them to smuggle diamonds."

so sad

conservative scifi said...

Child "man" behavior's comment demonstrates the gulf that exists between those who see a world "out to get us", so any action we take is fine, and those who see a world in which we as Jews must stand up for what is consistent with our ethics. Stealing and cheating are not part of mainstream Jewish thought, nor is murder.

Even the reference to the Akedah is suspect, since after this event, God does not speak with Abraham again. It is quite reasonable to suppose (in line with bereshit rabba and Caspi) that Abraham failed the test by not protesting, rather than passed the test. When Abraham protested the destruction of Sodom and Gemorrah, Abraham was demonstrating ethical principles we still follow.

On the first shabbat of rebuke, we read Jeremiah, who said "Bring no more vain oblations ...Learn to do well; seek justice, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow". While I am sure that Jeremiah was not opposed to following the ritual commandments, his message clearly requires ethical behavior. I don't think defending criminals who steal is particularly ethical.

Anonymous said...

Rosie: It's not just about the extravagant lifestyle, it's about arrogance (we are better than them, we only have to follow halacha) and this us v. the world attitude that leads some people to rationalize unethical behavior.

rosie said...

Anon, it is a particular type of arrogance. Part of it is:
a)we are smarter than the government officials
b)we are refined people who must live a refined lifestyle, therefore even though other jobless people are now working in jails and sewage plants, that type of work is beneath us
and
c)our European and Russian grand- and great-grandparents survived by outsmarting the government and we must continue to do so.
Since halacha dictates following civil law, why would following halacha be a substitute for following cival law?

Chizki said...

Wow. R' Shafran's article on Madoff and Scully merely made me upset, but this article literally made me nauseous. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

conservative scifi: Obviously the attributes of stealing and murder are not in line with Jewish ethics. But we are not talking about Jewish ethics here, we are talking about friendship and relationships. Is a friendship only valid when every aspect of another persons character traits conform to what you believe is right, or not? Can a friendship exist even when it contradicts your own moral principles. In both cases, Sadom and the Akayda, Avraham puts aside his own morals for the sake of others, first for the sake of the sinning people of sadom, and secondly for Hashem by the Akayda. Instead of viewing the world in selfish terms, ie angst free, Avraham goes out of his way and does things even though they seem wrong, trying to save a city of sinners that God wants destroyed as well as almost sacrificing his son. He prioritized his relationship with humanity and God before the relationship with his own conscience. That is what true friendship and relationships are all about.

When SephardiLady says that "true friends are those whose actions are routed in sechel and yashrut. A wise friend sees beyond his friend's immediate "needs" and sees a larger picture." I would say just the opposite. The larger picture is only in your own head and it is only something that you can live with, the larger picture is always your own selfishness that you know better for what the needs than what the person thinks he needs. The larger picture is condescension.

SephardiLady said...

"He prioritized his relationship with humanity and God before the relationship with his own conscience."

And I would suggest doing the same before agreeing to help bury a body because the murderer has "yichus."

conservative scifi said...

Child "man". You entirely miss the point of the Sodom story as it relates to this point. Abraham may have tried to save the lives of the wicked people of Sodom (at least the lives of the righteous ones), but Abraham did not become an accessory to their wickedness.

If a friend commits theft, a good friend will not help cover up the crime, or become an accessory.

A good friend will help the criminal mitigate the offense, by turning himself in, by making restitution, by sincere repentance.

As in Vayikrah, "you shall rebuke your neighbor and not suffer sin because of him (19:17)" A good friend will rebuke the criminal when he commits the offense.

In Baba Metzia, Rava teaches that "Rebuke" your friend even one hundred times. Also, regarding rebuking a Master, Rava teaches, How would we know that the student is obligated to rebuke the master? This is to be inferred from "you shall surely rebuke".

I would argue that your support of criminals is not only ethically wrong, but in direct contradiction to actual Jewish values as embodied by Torah and Talmud.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

conservative scifi: the operating word here is "rebuke." It is your job as a friend to both rebuke the bad behavior as well as support the person when he chooses to make his own decisions. Granted, the beginning of the Pasuk says "don't hate your brother in your heart."(19:17) After helping him do something you consider wrong you will come to hate him for it. How could he make you do something like that? In answer, the pasuk says,rebuke him and don't bear his sin. Try to make him a person who will not fall to asking you to bear his sin, so that you don't come to hate him.

And yes, Avraham would have become an accessory, just like Lot, had the city not been destroyed. Which is why when he saw that there was not the requisite amount of righteous persons in the city he stopped asking for the city to be saved. If Hashem would have saved the city on his behalf alone he would have been responcible for the evil that was done, though he could do nothing to prevent it. Even with all the "rebuke" he could have given the city they still would have continued in their ways of wickedness.

"A good friend will help the criminal mitigate the offense, by turning himself in, by making restitution, by sincere repentance." Who decides what mitigate means? You or the friend? If it is you then you are not really his friend are you?

Granted a person should not have friends that he knows will ask him to do things he considers bad. But if you already have a relationship with a person, and that person is in a situation that needs help, what do you do? Do you cut and run? Or do you remain his friend and help out what needs doing?

conservative scifi said...

Child "man"

We obviously disagree. I may remain a friend, but I don't help with crime. If my "friend" is committing a crime, then yes, I would "cut and run". I would also "squeal" or "inform" or, as I might term it, "do my duty as a responsible citizen".

I don't know how old you are, but as someone approaching middle age, I've learned that you can't generally convince someone who is doing something wrong to stop unless the consequence of their actions catches them. This is particularly true when they are mentally ill, but even the well individual will do what they want to do. So all you can do is respond properly, with support where warranted, and with "squealing" where necessary.

Anonymous said...

All of this discussion about what being a friend requires does not change the fact that the Rabbi's article was rather tone deaf and another example of not taking responsibility.

JS said...

Child "ish" your views are really sickening. As was pointed out above, the view of helping a friend who has already decided to commit a crime is what the nevi'im prophesied against so long ago and what we still read today because the message is always timely.

To me, a good friend isn't a "yes man" who agrees with whatever I do and helps me cover up my sins. To me, a good friend is someone who knows me well enough and has enough of a backbone to stand up and tell me when I'm wrong. If I'm about to do something stupid, or worse, if I already have done something stupid, a good friend is the person who knocks some sense into you.

I can always tell how close I am with someone by that aspect of our relationship. If a friendship can endure each friend telling the other honestly that they disagree or that the friend should pursue another course, then that's a true friend.

A friendship is much like a relationship with a spouse I think, it needs to be an ezer kinegdo - supporting where necessary and pushing back where necessary.

Miami Al said...

A friend that needs you to help commit a crime, short of a scenario of an extremely unjust law, is not a friend, they are a user looking for an accessory. Have I cut and run in those situations, absolutely. I refuse to help commit a crime, remain friendly, and slowly distance myself from that friend. Perhaps as a teenager I would have felt differently, but putting myself, and therefore my family, at risk to help someone commit an immoral (or at least amoral act with negative consequences) is acting immorally, and hurting those dependent on me.

I bring out the issue of extreme injustice because of a need to handle that case. Obviously, if faced with a genocidal regime, it is moral to help a potential victim hide, even at risk to yourself. Helping Iranian dissidents get their messages about the regime out is moral, even if illegal for them to do. Each person needs to draw the line themselves, but if the crime is committed to enrich themselves, I'd suggest it is immoral to help, if the crime is committed to help others at the expense of themselves, than helping is moral. YMMV, consult your own conscience, your own Gd, your own Rav, etc.

It very much concerns me that the Chareidi leadership is frequently taking positions that my parents grounded me for as a teenager. You don't get to hit someone because they called you a name. Insulting people is wrong. And if someone is doing wrong, you have a duty (as said earlier as a Citizen), to put a stop to it.

When we've created a moral obligation to obstruct justice and not inform on the authorities, we're done for.

Not only do we have an obligation to be better than the gentiles, we have an obligation to appear better than the gentiles. That's the price of holding ourselves out there as "The Chosen People."

We need to start casting these people out BEFORE the state finds them. Right now we are letting these whack jobs cast a negative light on Orthodox Judaism, Judaism in general, and religion in general with their behavior as we say nothing. Further, we politically NEED the support of the non-Orthodox, and religious but not Jewish, on other personal matters (Saturdays off, large families, etc.) and on matters related to Israel. Parsonage is supported for pastoral protestant ministers and Orthodox Jews take the inch and run a mile. Church exemptions are used by Kashrut and Synagogue organizations for tax purposes when our organizations do WAY more with it (piss people off and the IRS can rule that the Mikvah is NOT part of our "Church" but instead a business wholy owned and operated by a 501(c)3 and require tax records and taxes paid, etc., same thing for Kashrut and other non-"spiritual" pursuits that Judaism requires and Christian religions don't.

And we ought to be better than them because that is supposedly why our religion is "true." If our religion doesn't lead to Gdly behavior, then we put the entire Rabbinic system into doubt.

Anon1 said...

A true friend will often have to tell a friend something he does not want to hear. We are commanded to admonish fellow Jews when necessary, for their own good and for ours.

As for loyalty, Esav and his men had a fierce group loyalty, too, just as mobsters do to this day, but it was defective because it was not subordinated to Torah.

.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

If a friend would constantly ask you to do things against your principles that person should not be your friend. A friend is never always a "Yes Man" but at times in order to measure the friendship as a "true friend" or not the mark of a "true friend is someone who will stand by you even when they don't necessarily agree with what you want to do. If such situations become the norm the friendship will never last.

JS, I'm sorry if this disgusts you. But this is the way it is. You have got to recognize the distinction between what you believe is bad, and the values that your friend holds to be true. So long as your values are somewhat compatible, you can be friends. Once your values start to diverge extremely, in order to keep such a friendship going you will end up the "Yes Man" or the friendship will fall away.

rosie said...

Miami Al, I think that what most rabbinic leaders rationalize when they advocate, albeit under the table, tax fraud, is that although America is not a physically dangerous place for Jews to live in, it is a spiritually dangerous place and therefore we can do whatever is necessary to finance our spiritual life, even corruption. It is viewed as on par with selling on the black market to make a living in communist Russia. It is easy to see how it is rationalized but hard to deal with when the whole thing unravels or threatens the whole kehilla. It is also easy to see how innocent people are coerced into cooperating for the sake of the frum community.

anon1 said...

If the problem is that this is a spiritually dangerous place, the cure is NOT to do spiritually dangerous acts!

rosie said...

While I am sure that everyone would agree with you anon1, when people are desperate, they do desperate things. For example, the school is desperate for a substitute but the sub will only work for cash off the books. The school can not afford to pay the sub enough that he or she is satisfied with the pay after taxes. School must go on but the sub does not agree to "volunteer" (work for very little pay). Now what should the school do? And the sub, what if he or she cannot afford to volunteer? So now technically, both are cheating the government. The only thing to do would be to shut down that class but then the children are truant. Now maybe the school "should" pay more or the sub "should" volunteer but what if those are not options?
So spiritually, school has stayed open and learning has occurred but civil law has been broken. Anon1, if you decided on either "shoulds", many would say that you are being judgmental. What would you do if you were the school principal? Would you go to work if it did not benefit you as in the case of the sub?

SephardiLady said...

the Rabbi's article was rather tone deaf and another example of not taking responsibility

Not just tone deaf. He makes Torah seem more like a street gang than a moral and ethical way of life defined by darchei noam.

rosie said...

Another point that needs to be made is that of the 44 people caught in the sting, 5 were Orthodox Jews but the others were elected officials and other high profile characters. However pervasive fraud has become in frum circles, it exists on a massive scale outside the frum world. The frum world unfortunately has always been influenced by the outside world and graft and corruption has seeped in from outside.

Anonymous said...

the story about a friend being someone who would help you bury a body is in Rav Steinsaltz's "Simple
Words" in the chapter on Friends, page 162 in the hardcover edition

Anon1 said...

Rosie, whatever state of desperation exists in our school systems has been going on for years. Can't communities find a more suitable fix? Also, how much of the corruption is of the venal, selfish type, vs. your picture of a more positive type?

Avi said...

Wasn't this dvar torah also an episode of the Sopranos? If smicha is now the equivalent of becoming a made man, I have to admit I liked the HBO version better.

tesyaa said...

Rosie: I think more than 5 were Orthodox Jews. 5 were described as "rabbis", but there were many others Orthodox Jews named. Anyway, we should be upset that even 1 Orthodox Jews was involved!

And the example of the substitute teacher: it's hard to say how a sub is spiritually affecting a school. I knew of a chareidi school that employed non-Jewish assistants; it wasn't the first choice, but it was necessary. If the seal of Hashem is truth, HOW can one profit spiritually by doing something illegal??

SephardiLady said...

There were 19 Orthodox Jews arrested.

I cannot buy the argument that the outside world is coming in and causing corruption. Sorry. I have met many non-Jews over the years and just don't buy it.

rosie said...

SL, there is a saying that where the world goes so goes the Jewish world. We did not invent corruption.
Tessya, schools and other places hire non-Jews because Jews will not work for bubkas. Look what happened in the Agriprocessors case. They are in hot water for hiring illegal aliens. Regular Americans, much less Jews, will not work so hard for so little money. What happens though when only a Jew will do and there is not much money available to pay him or her?

tesyaa said...

Rosie, please, I am tesyaa, not tessya. But anyway: about those jobs where only a Jew will do? Why not ask the candidate if he's comfortable being paid with ill-gotten gain? If the answer is yes, he's not frum enough for the job. End of story.

I can't believe that you would encourage or condone a mitzvah habaah ba'averah.

tesyaa said...

I will admit, I once accused Rosie of being a troll. Maybe that wasn't nice. But I will say, at this moment I am hoping and praying that she is a troll. I don't want to think that a nice frum lady would be able to defend stealing in order to do a mitzvah.

rosie said...

I may be a troll but what I do see is that life isn't perfect. Let's use another example; one that I have seen in real life. Mr and Mrs X were elderly, difficult, and only trusted people who spoke Yiddish. Their children lived far away and needed to hire a Jewish caretaker but paid off the books in order not to have to pay more than they could afford. The work was hard and no one would agree to do it unless the pay was equitable with the work. Now in an ideal world, they would either force the parents to accept an non-Jewish caretaker and the non-Jewish caretaker would be able to handle the behavior for one low low price, or some nice selfless Jew with nothing else to do would agree to work for a pittance. The reality was though that no caretaker of any religion lasted very long and they would have had no care at all if they couldn't come up with an equitable sum. Now tesyaa, I would imagine that you would have the perfect solution to life's imperfect situations such as the non-Jewish nursery aide in the haredi school who can handle tots but can't teach Hebrew.
Maybe I am a troll because as much as I abhor cheating in order to live extravagantly, I don't vilify every incidence of cheating. If the purpose of this blog is to slam every Orthodox Jew who orders something online so that he gets away with not paying sales tax, I am a troll.
And yes Anon1, the desperation in our schools has gone on for years. If you look at some public school districts, you will also find plenty of incidences where someone had access to money and padded his wallet with it. The non-Jews are not all that pure and innocent and we are not all a bunch of thieves.
What I do vehemently object to in the Orthodox world is what happened in Deal NJ and that is the bar was raised so high with extravagant living that people practically had to rob banks to come up with the money to live that way.

Charlie Hall said...

" although America is not a physically dangerous place for Jews to live in, it is a spiritually dangerous place and therefore we can do whatever is necessary to finance our spiritual life, even corruption"

That corruption *is* the spiritual danger! Almost all the accusations against the Jews who were arrested on 2 Av are halachic violations in addition to violations of secular law.

'Now maybe the school "should" pay more or the sub "should" volunteer but what if those are not options?'

That this is even a matter for discussion shows how low we have come. Nobody would ever countenance the high cost of kosher meat as a justification for eating Tyson Chicken, nor, in most O communities, even Hebrew National hot dogs.

Commenter Abbi said...

"Once your values start to diverge extremely, in order to keep such a friendship going you will end up the "Yes Man" or the friendship will fall away."

Why on earth would you want to stay friends with someone with whom your values diverge extremely? And if you truly love someone who's values diverge extremely from yours and he/she is doing something dangerous like drugs or crime, staying a "yes man" doesn't help the person at all. Turning him in, doing an intervention, getting him help by "squealing" is what helps him.

Please tell me you're not an adult but rather a teenager who still has a lot to learn about human relationships.

tesyaa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tesyaa said...

Rosie, people aren't perfect. I agree that lots of people break the law. 98% of Americans don't pay the nanny tax (mostly because the law is so difficult to follow that you have to hire a consulting firm just to comply). And people drive over the speed limit too.

The elderly parents example is a bad example because it has nothing to do with religion. (The Xs might not even be frum. Or, change the word "Yiddish" to "Mandarin). It's true that there may not be another good way to care for these people, but this example has nothing to do with being frum.

But when the cheating is done in the name of spirituality, it's far worse, IMO.

Bob Miller said...

I agree with Charlie Hall's comment above.

How can we finance our spiritual enterprise, which the whole world depends on, by means that go against all our ideals? This is a open demonstration of deficient emunah, undercutting our whole message. At the same time, we have to make sure that those who need to be gainfully employed are, to be able to cope with necessary financial burdens honorably.

Charlie Hall said...

tesyaa,

The "nanny tax" is not difficult; anyone who files federal income taxes can report on Form 1040, line 60b. Saying it is difficult is yet another rationalization for something that violates both halachah and secular law.

Julie said...

Charlie,

The nanny tax is very difficult. It is, as I am sure you are well aware, more than one line on the 1040. Have you filled out Schedule H (the form you need to complete in order to fill in line 60b)? Have you withheld taxes for a household employee? It is because it is so difficult that I am extreme careful to not pay the woman who helps clean the house more than $1600 a year. Last December, I found her another job for the month so that she would not lose the income, and I would not run afoul of the law.

Dave said...

The overwhelming majority of Americans do not have any household employees subject to taxation.

rosie said...

Charlie Hall,
People who can't afford kosher meat can eat less meat. There are situations where people need help that they can't afford. I am not talking about someone who is rich and hires illegal aliens to clean their houses because they don't want to spend the money. I am talking about small businesses and individual households.
The cheating that has come to the forefront today has always been there but wasn't caught as often until recently. Remember Charlie, the opening verse of the vidui prayer is the confession over robbery. Fraud has been going on for a very long time and until society reaches the level where it is no longer a consideration, such as if we as a society gives tzedukah so that no one has a need to steal, we will continue to recite vidui.

tesyaa said...

Let me clarify about the nanny tax:

Dave, I believe 98% of Americans who are subject to the nanny tax don't comply. I thought that was obvious, but you were right to call me on it.

Julie, I'm not an accountant, but a part-time housecleaner probably is an independent "contractor" for whom you don't incur the nanny tax.

SephardiLady said...

Cleaning help that goes from house to house and exercises a good deal of control over their scheduling and the means for accomplishing a certain result are normally independent contractors.

Nannies who work in your home are subject to the nanny tax. It is a bit of a pain to get started, but is something most can manage. There are plenty of small and large payroll companies that can take care of all the paperwork too.

Anonymous said...

SL: My accountant told me that I did need to be concerned about witholding for my cleaning person even tho she brought her own vacuum. I don't know if my accountant was being overly conservative, but I dealt with it the way Julie suggested - kept use under $1600/year (i.e. two hours/twice a month only). Now my problem has been solved because my DH cleans the house (back problems keep from doing much).

SephardiLady said...

Without knowing the details, I can't tell you if your accountant is being overly conservative. Bringing her own vacuum in and of itself doesn't make it a clear cut case.

The only cleaning help I have used has been in conjunction with cleaning for business/investment purposes. I always make sure to higher someone who gives me a receipt for my own tax purposes. If they are running a business and paying their taxes, I have a lot less to be concerned about.

JLan said...

"Remember Charlie, the opening verse of the vidui prayer is the confession over robbery."

That doesn't make it acceptable to rob or defraud. Vidui isn't magic and teshuva requires steps towards not committing the aveira again.

"People who can't afford kosher meat can eat less meat."

And people who can't afford day schools (or day schools who can't afford certain things) need to find ways to pay less for day school or for those services, or else do without.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Josh Waxman has the whole history of this story. He posted it yesterday on his parsha blog

Charlie Hall said...

"Have you withheld taxes for a household employee? "

No, I pay extra to hire a *real* professional cleaning service that pays its legal employees in accordance with the law. It also carries insurance if anything happens.

"the opening verse of the vidui prayer is the confession over robbery"

Yes, and reciting that viduy is useless if you plan to continue as a robber. Not paying the nanny tax is robbing your household employee of their eligibility for social security.

Charlie Hall said...

"People who can't afford kosher meat can eat less meat."

And charities getting fewer donations can provide fewer services. Schools getting fewer donations can accept fewer students. Those are halachically acceptible; engaging in tax scams to raise money is not. Just like we can eat less meat rather than treif or nevilah.

rosie said...

No one ever said that saying vidui means that you are allowed to commit the averia. I was merely pointing out that fraud is not new. Charlie, do you know for a fact that accepting fewer students into yeshiva is halachically acceptable? What if that means that some will be denied a Jewish education? Are you a rav? If not, maybe it is a good idea to consult one before paskening.
Many Jews feel that depriving Jewish children of a Jewish education is the same as starving them physically. A person who would starve to death unless he ate the only available food which was treife, is allowed to eat treife. Those who commit fraud on behalf of a yeshiva feel that it is a real p'kuach nefesh. It is sad that this is the state of affairs and if everyone put chinuch first over materialistic pleasures, there might be less fraud committed. My point though is that this should not be treated as something that just started happening. It has been going on for a very long time. The difference now is that the government is no longer looking the other way at it. My other point is that those who committed fraud should not automatically be judged as deceitful and greedy. Passing judgment on someone that you are not in a position to pass judgment on is also an aveira. The only thing that you can do is to pay taxes legally, convince others to do the same, and do what you can to make sure that organization that you deal with are not engaging in fraud. You can also live within your means and convince others to do the same.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rosie: One doesn't have to be a Rosh Yeshiva to know that fewer students in a yeshiva at the expense of NOT committing fraud is exactly what the Torah wants of us.

Oshek, Gezel and Gneiva are clearly stated aveirot. Tell me -- no kids have ever remained frum (and learned about Judaism) within public schools? What did American Jewry do 50 years ago?

For G-d's sake -- if a Jewish education is so important, then move to Israel where you can get a religious education for free instead of having to resort to outright theft.

The halacha clearly states that Sifrei Torah should be SOLD to support Jewish education if all other means are exhausted.

That's how important Jewish Education is -- sell a sefer torah. Its better to sell a sefer torah and uphold the halachot of bein adam l'chaveiro -- than steal.

If a Yeshiva is at risk of accepting fewer students -- then go into the Beit Midrash and sell the Sifrei Torah.

That's the halacha.

Not theft.

rosie said...

Theft is against halacha and it is an aveira. What I am talking about is the mindset and motivation when one does it. A person who steals food because his family is starving is still guilty of theft but his motivation is not greed.
It is an oversimplification to say that everyone should go to Israel to be educated in government schools because we have to deal with the reality of people who have no way to make a living there.
Many people who went to public school left frumkeit, even though there were those who did remain frum. Public school would work in the best interest of the frum public if a large body of students entered one district and made demands on the district. I know that numerous people here are arguing for public school but they are not in a position yet to say that it worked for their children.

Avi said...

So Rabbi Bibi, Rosie, and Child-Ish all seem to think that circumstances mitigate behavior. For R. Bibi and Rosie, the circumstances are "if you're doing a mitzvah, fraud is probably wrong, but it's understandable." For R. Bibi and Child-Ish, the circumstances are "if a friend asks you to commit fraud, then it's OK."

What the hell is wrong with you people? R. Bibi and Rosie: a mitzvah due to an aveirah is not a mitzvah! I'm pretty sure I learned that in Kindergarten. R. Bibi and Child-Ish: there is no concept of loyalty trumping anything in Halacha. Love your neighbor, yes. Rebuke your neighbor, yes. Do something illegal because your neighbor asked you to? No, no, a thousand times, NO.

And stop offering up red herrings like the evasion of state sales tax online, evasion of nanny tax, or speeding. This was a case of check fraud, money laundering, political bribes, and organ trafficking.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rosie: If there are Jewish children starving for Torah in a community, then the community must sell their Sifreh Torah.

Its is simply a perversion of Torah for a mindset to exist that fraud can support yeshivot.

And yes, children may have left frumkeit in public school. There still is no halachik basis to allow for fraud to keep kids frum.

And Israel is an oversimplification?

Chinuch Atzmai schools are not government controlled -- but are subsidized by the government.

Yes, making a living can be difficult here. Its also difficult to get by in the USA sometimes. Why is the mindset that fraud is ok, but working on Shabbat isn't?

Its not easy being frum.

rosie said...

Avi, why are you so sanctimonious? Are you so completely righteous that you don't even need to say vidui in davening? Do you know why everyone confesses to robbery in vidui and embezzlement in al chet? Because there is a bit of cheater in all of us! (what you call red herrings) A mitzvah due to an aveirah is not a mitzvah but you must suspend judgment of the mindset that the person has when a person does it. And as far as the crimes that these men are accused of, I said in my first post in this thread that we have hurt ourselves as a community by committing these crimes. I agree that we cannot print articles only about passing judgment. I agree that the frum community must find an alternative to fraud but I do understand the mindset that leads to fraud. However well intentioned, the accused, if guilty, are culpable.
Jameel, I am trying to explain a mindset. Fraud has unfortunately supported Torah mosdos for years and like many other things in the frum world today, it's no longer working. You could ask the same question about how a shomer Shabbos man could be a pedophile. These are problems that have unfortunately been long term in the frum world and are now coming to a head.
As far as chinuch atzmai schools, they did a great job with my son-in-law and I am not against them. I am not against aliyah either except that I have seen several people make yeridah due to parnassa reasons. I am helping to support my son and his family since he made aliyah. Moving everyone to Israel will happen when Moshiach comes and until then we need to deal with the ugly reality that we are all here in golus with all the temptations of golus.
We do need to make changes in our community but lets leave the holier than thous out of it and realize that we are all on some level complicit. That is why we all observe Yom Kippur.

rosie said...

Jameel, one more thing: Sifrei Torah don't usually bring more than $30K to $35K in sales for each one. That would not get very many yeshivas out of debt.

Miami Al said...

No way, I'm with Avi. We're all sinners, and as sinners, we confess our sins and attempt Teshuva. Rosie, you aren't a sinner confessing, you're a defender and an enabler of it. You keep talking about the "mindset," well understanding the mindset as a way of combatting fraud is useful, it's a psychologic profile of the perpetrator and the community of accessories. Understanding that mindset to justify it?

Anyone who can stand by and pasken that Yeshiva education is important enough to justify fraud is not Frum. That is such a flagrant violation of Torah it isn't funny.

The fact that they are doing it for a Yeshiva makes it worse, because those innocent children and their parents think that they are sending their children to an Orthodox Jewish education environment. Instead they are sending their children to a realm of crime and immorality masking itself as Jewish. Better that they send their children to a Church run school, where they can tell their children "learn the secular subjects, ignore their idolatry," than to send them to this "Yeshiva" where half their day is taught by men that stand by and permit or encourage this behavior.

That's how bad it is folks.

Dave said...

The answer seems clear.

If it truly is Pikuach Nefesh, then the funds are available.

If the entire kehila were to stop keeping kosher, and thus have greatly reduced grocery bills, and donate the saved money to the Yeshivas, the money would be there.

And treif is acceptable to save a life.

Somehow, I have difficulty seeing the frum community defending treif to save the schools in the same manner that some defend fraud to save the schools.

Anonymous said...

Yikes. Rosie says "Fraud has unfortunately supported Torah mosdos for years." I'm sure that's an exaggeration, but if it's not, then what's the point of a yeshiva education? Far better to send kids to public school.

Avi said...

@Rosie,

Yes, when discussing communal policy, I am absolutely, 100% sanctimonious. I will NOT defend check fraud, money laundering, or bribing politicians "because it's too expensive to pay for Yeshiva education" and "sending kids to Yeshiva is an issue of pikuach nefesh" or whatever lame excuse you're offering up for them.

Of course people have their justifications - nobody wakes up in the morning and says, "I'm evil today." And, no, I personally am not above reproach in all areas. So what? I'm still not going to justify any of this behavior that is assur, illegal, and hurts my efforts to earn an honest living as a publicly Orthodox Jew, which I need to pay for Yeshiva education for my kids.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rosie: Why is fraud to support yeshiva education better than being Michalel Shabbat?

If one works an extra day of the week, then that could certainly go along way to paying for a frum education.

Working on Shabbat (when people don't know you are Jewish) is not a public chilul Hashem (as fraud is, and getting caught), and its a bein adom lamakom aveira -- I'm sure Hashem would forgive someone for working on shabbat to ensure their kids education, no?

However, aveirot ben Adam Lachaveiro is much much worse. Here, not only does Hashem have to forgive, but all those wronged by the fraud. Its not going to get forgiveness from the entire population of the United States which was defrauded.

And so what if Sifrei Torah only go for 30K? That's 2 chinuch for 2 children. If they have no way to pay -- the sefer torah has to go. Its a fact.

And why do you think everyone will move to Israel when Mashiach comes? The Frum community in Bavel didn't rush to Eretz Yisrael during Bayit Sheini time -- the majority of them stayed.

Lastly, I'm curious -- you mention parnassa problems in Israel. Are you saying its easier to live in the US, and defraud the government to pay for skyrocketing tuition costs, then it is to live in EY with "paranssa" problems?

"Fraud has unfortunately supported Torah mosdos for years."

I will clearly state what Avi and others said above.

What's the point of a yeshiva education if based on fraud?

Far better to send kids to public school -- probably far better for kids to not be frum at all, if this is the hypocritical "Yeshiva Education" they are learning.

I'm embarrassed and nauseated to even see the words in print that "Fraud has unfortunately supported Torah mosdos for years."

Commenter Abbi said...

Rosie, what you don't seem to get is that nobody cares about the mindset. Stealing is an aveirah-whether you do it with the best or worst intentions. Hashem and human courts of law judge the action- the intention might influence sentencing, but not the final judgement.

And your attempt at sidetracking with "everyone is a cheater" is also meaningless. The majority of the Jewish community manages not to engage in such mass fraud.

To be honest, it's your mindset of excusing these aveirahs which is so disturbing

rosie said...

Miami Al, I think that some churches have been in the same boat that the yeshivas are in. I don't think that they are all so clean either. The government for years tried to ignore law breaking of some religious groups but many crossed the line in numerous ways and the government stepped in. I can think of several groups off hand. The government tries not to limit a religion's ability to be separate from society in groups such as Mormons in Utah, Muslims, Orthodox Jews, Amish, etc but eventually runs up against a wall. These groups force children into marriages with adults, honor killings, education that ends in 8th grade, etc. To me, some of that sounds worse than tax fraud.
It appears that most people who read this blog have no problem being judgmental and would consider any person who does not rush to pass judgment to be an enabler. No one is saying that tax fraud is excusable. What I am saying is that frum Jews are a people who have a history of surviving various governments attempts to thwart our religious survival and that has translated into a lenient and tolerant attitude towards breaking tax laws. It is seen as the lesser of 2 evils, the other being a denial of Jewish education. To most of you, who may or may not value Torah education, you would see the closing of a yeshiva as a superior choice to committing fraud. For many of you, the choice of public school would be superior even if this meant that eventually the child would cease to observe yiddishkeit. Understand that those yeshiva administrators that laundered money (or engaged in other types of fraud) as easily as they tied their shoes weighed the 2 evils and decided that since at that time the government was not on top of it, it was the lesser of 2 evils. To me, it is a complex and long standing situation that is not helped by those who never ran a yeshiva sitting in judgment.
People who are looking for ways to launder money often approach charities. I would imagine that non-Jewish charities are also approached. I am not sure why there is this perception that this is only done by frum Jews. Remember those televangelists that went to jail for fraud?

rosie said...

Abbi, how do you know what the majority of the community does? No one knew what the Jews in Deal were doing until it came out.
Also, it is not my mindset and I am not excusing it; only explaining it and explaining why we cannot pass judgment on those who did it or do it. All we can say is that for whatever reason that they did it they are now paying a price for it.
Look, for all of you who are arguing with me, I am the poster that you love to hate. I am Gordon Ramsey and Simon Crowel all rolled into one.

Avi said...

Rosie,

I certainly don't hate you! However, there is a difference between playing devil's advocate and excusing unacceptable behavior. Your posts veer dangerously towards the latter.

Now, would I prefer to send my kids to public school instead of a Yeshiva that is funded by fraud? I'm apparently far to the right of Miami Al, but that's a really easy call - what is the use of sending your kids to a school that subverts its own teachings? Don't tell me that I risk them not being frum by sending them to a secular environment - in that particular situation I would be equally risking them not being frum by sending them to the Yeshiva! You don't need a Mishna Brurah or Igros Moshe or even an Artscroll translation - gneiva is one of the Ten Commandments for crying out loud!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rosie: Glad to see you keep your sense of humor - I loved the Simon Cowell comment (who is Gordon Ramsay?). I know you are not condoning fraud, but the problems as I see it include at least the following:

1. What's almost as bad as the fraud, is the response that came out of certain communities, making every excuse in the book, alleging antisemitism, etc. Everytime there is a crime (and of course since jews are humans we can't get rid of all crime) there seems to be a complete lack of taking responsibility. Your post trying to explain the mindset, sounds a little bit like justifications. The last thing we need now is excuses. That fails to send a message about right and wrong and to let other Americans know that this type of behavior is not what jews believe or condone.

2. Everyone here understands that jews have been horribly persecuted for 2 millenia. What we can't understand is how rosh yeshiva fail to understand that the u.s. is not czarist russia or spain during the inquisition. Aren't these rabbi's supposed to be smart, wise people and understand that what might have been necessary for bare survival under some regimes is plain wrong here?

3. Yes, I'm sure its hard to be the head of a yeshiva. But, if they truly cared about making sure the OJ community was on sound financial footing, they wouldn't be teaching that secular education (i.e. college) is bad, that everyone must get married and have children before they can support them, that summer camp is a necessity, etc. (all the things that SL posts about.) and they would be working to develop viable after-school programs for kids who go to public school.

4. Probably the most important is that when we make funding jewish day school and yeshivas more important than right and wrong, the whole point of jewish education disappears, unless the point is only to have people who know how to perform rituals and obey the ritual law and can quote gemara or a midrash. The heart and soul of the religion gets gutted.

5. Your reference to other religions having their bad actors and bad practices is irrelevant. Also, when an evangelist (or a right wing senator) is caught having an affair or engaging in fraud, I don't hear their colleagues and flock making excuses for them or trying to justify the bad behavior. True, the Catholic church completely mishandled the priest/child molestation scandal and tried to cover it up and prevent the victims from getting compensation. The response by most of the lay members of the Church was absolute fury and the church got crucified (no pun intended) in the media. Unfortunately, many of our leaders did not learn from that.

rosie said...

anon, Gordon Ramsey is the head chef of Hell's kitchen. He is the meanest you know what in the valley.
I brought up churches because Miami Al mentioned that children would get a more moral education in a church run school. That is why I did not consider it irrelevant.
You ask why rabbis have not seen questionable money dealings as "plain wrong" here. I have explained the mindset before but here it is again:
1)The government gave religious groups lots of wiggle room and looked away from certain activities to a point, and
2)While the government was not a repressive regime, American life with all of it's freedoms was an even bigger challenge to preserving yiddishkeit.
The point that you make in your example #4 is one that I agree with because despite all the money being poured into chinuch, young people are opting for less restrictive forms of Judaism, however, they still usually want to remain in the community. That is the difference that I see between attending yeshiva and public school.
Avi, the risk is not equal. In yeshiva as well as in public school there are things that we will have to tell our kids not to do. Nothing is, was, or ever will be perfect. It is like a smoker telling his kids not to smoke. It would be a better example if he would quit but if the best he can do is warn them, at least there is some chance that they won't smoke.

Miami Al said...

Rosie, did I say anything about Church schools (capital C, as in the Catholic Church) and a moral education? Perhaps I was vague.

If one sends their child to a Church school, and it has 7 periods a day, 6 of which are secular and 1 is religion, then the lessons of those 6 are positive, and 1 is to be ignored. Non-Catholics don't get the Catechism instruction, but they get something. If one sends their child to a Jewish school with 10 period, 5 secular, and 5 "Judaic," but in those 5 Judaic subjects the child is taught that it is okay to steal and pilfer as long as one wears the right hat and suit, than that to me is worse than my child being told to sit politely while the teacher talks about worshiping a dead Jewish carpenter. The latter is a relatively harmless superstition as long as the child understands the difference between acceptable Noahide behavior and Jewish ones, the former teaches a perversion of Judaism and calls it Judaism.

If you can't get your Judaism out of the Czarist repression, than it's unfortunate, but you might want to let it die off. A Judaism that can't thrive under pluralistic society is of limited value in the 21st Century, where most societies are relatively open, and the remainder prohibit Jews from living there anyways.

Further, youth have NOT been embracing "less restrictive Judaism." The percentage of Jews embracing Orthodoxy has NEVER been higher since the term existed. Plenty of Jews are leaving Judaism because they see no value in it, and if Orthodoxy starts to look like how you describe your community, I think we will see an abandoning of it there as well.

A religion that teaches people to rob, steal, commit fraud, etc. is a pretty worthless religion. Will Jews do those things? Of course, we wouldn't have Halachic prohibitions if people didn't do them. But if Judaism justifies that behavior? Shut the community down and sell its assets, better to abandon the ritual and be a good human being than to keep the ritual and be a bad human being. It is better to keep rituals, but only if it is a part of being a better Jew.

Miami Al said...

Rosie, further, if I send my kid to a non-Jewish religious school (I use this as an extreme illustration, not something that I'd consider), and the non-Jewish leaders are corrupt, my child will learn that non-Jewish religious leaders are corrupt and not to be trusted, a perfectly acceptable situation.

If I send them to a nominally Jewish school like a RW Yeshiva, where the leaders all wear big black hats, black suits, and mispronounce Hebrew words, and the leaders there are corrupt, than my child has learned that RW Jewish leaders are corrupt. However, since in the MO world that I dwell that RW Jewish leaders are called "really religious" or "very religious," my child is FAR more likely to conclude that Jewish leaders are corrupt (or racist, or sexist, or don't pay their workers on time), than just the RW ones.

Which pushes my kid off the derech? Realizing that in their Shomer Shabbat, Kosher, Jewish home neither parent is corrupt and believes in ethical behavior?

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

Let us all stand and pass judgment on our fellow man. We know better. We know what is right. We know what is wrong. Anyone else's views that do not conform to ours are obviously sinners.

BS.

The reality is that true friendship requires full trust. and full trust can only go to God or self. God controls the outer environment, and you control your inner environment. So if God asks you to do something for him, as in the case of Avraham, as a true friend of God, he was obligated to listen to him.

In my previous comment above I pointed out that the idea of a "true friend" could be considered idolatrous. This is because you are putting your trust in someone other than God. You are putting yourself in the hands of man.

However, and this is a big however, the concept of True friendship still means being willing to break the law for someone you consider a true friend. As I said before, "Perhaps friendship like this in term of other humans can be considered idolatry, such love can only be given to God, but I understand where he is coming from."

Who in this world can say that they put all their trust in the hands of God? We put our trust in people that seem reliable dependable, in short what we think as true friends. When these people ask things of us we understand that it is our duty, above the law, to help them.

So yes, there was a sin. Not in action, because at the end of the day, all actions can be justified. The sin was in the lack of faith in God and his Hashgacha Pratis.

on a side note, if the only true friend is God, then when your morals start conflicting with the ones you believe are God's you have two choices, orthopraxy or OTD. OTD means giving up God as your friend, orthopraxy means being the Yes Man to the will of a God you don' even really believe in anymore.

Avi said...

Child-Ish,

Please stop comparing the fictional mobsters in the R. Bibi story to HaShem commanding Avraham Avinu to bring the akeida. When the Lord talks to you directly, you do what He says. I really don't care how you define friendship, but when your friend shows up with a body in a bag, you call the police. One of these things is NOT like the other.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

It is true you could call the police, but only because at that point you have chosen to not be his friend. At that point you have chosen to act on another prerogative, the one of either God, if you think God wants you to rat him out, or that of the greater good as you see it, that would have your friend locked up for something he could get away with if not for you ratting him out.

You (many of you) seem to feel that there is some absolute formula that should dictate people's actions. This is just not the case. Even when God himself asks something of you, You don't HAVE TO listen, you can still chose to disobey. It is all about prioritizing what you value most. Is it God? People? Law? Society? Yeshiva Education? or Friendship?

SephardiLady said...

The choice of the words "rat out" in regards to murder is so telling . . .
So tell me, what happens when your friend murders your other friend?

Anonymous said...

rosie - It is sad that this is the state of affairs and if everyone put chinuch first over materialistic pleasures

So, would that be before or after the $2,500+ wedding gown? Before or after the chosson and kallah gifts?

rosie - I am the poster that you love to hate.

C"V!!!! We don't hate you at all, we might hate some of your ideas and some of your comments, but we don't hate *you*!!!

I understand the "Jean ValJean" argument, but that only applies in the most limited of cases in which people are literally starving and will die if you don't steal the food they need to live.

Mark

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

Why, does "rat out" sound juvenile? Perhaps I should have used some other more eloquent phrase. If I worded it in a way that would impress your highly principled mind, would that convince you of the validity of my statements? I don't think it is possible to convince someone who believe axiomatically in the importance of frugality and lawfulness that it all boils down to personal choice and prioritizing what a person really cares about. To me it is obvious that the person would help the one he sees as more of a friend, and would then give up the friendship of the other. To you...

Commenter Abbi said...

"You (many of you) seem to feel that there is some absolute formula that should dictate people's actions."

Yah, it's this crazy thing called "the Torah", which created the system called "halacha" which we are obligated to follow everyday and in relation to all people. Your strange rantings about "true friendship" are wholly unrooted in the Orthodox understanding of halacha as we know it today. According to Halcha, when a friend or acquaintance commits a crime, we are obligated to report him/her to the police.

End of story. Try living by halacha. You might like it.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

I don't know anyone that follows each mitzva as if they all have equal weight. Everyone views different motzvos differently depending on their point of view in this world. Even within the realm of "pure halacha" there is disputes that leave a lot open to interpretation. Torah U(Mada, derech eretz,Torah,...), some even see validity in the synthesis of ideas. Others see this as extremely harmful. Some put more emphasis in Kabbalistic things, others deny it altogether.

"According to Halcha, when a friend or acquaintance commits a crime, we are obligated to report him/her to the police."

Is this so? How many child abusers were protected by people who abide by Halacha? How many people committed white collar crimes before this fellow set them up to do it in front of law enforcement?

This holds true all the more so with a system of laws that are legislated by people and changed every congressional term. People are always finding ways to do things that are within the law, that seem right, and that are the best way to get things done for them.

Yes, it is true, you can pick a Rav and do everything he says you should be doing, and you can even call this following Halacha, but you would be kidding yourself by abdicating the responsibility for your actions to someone who has no more connection to absoluteness than you do. Can you measure a person's fear of heaven by his beard?

I sure hope so.

I've recently started growing my beard. I think the Rabbinic look seems very distinguished.

Commenter Abbi said...

"Is this so? How many child abusers were protected by people who abide by Halacha? How many people committed white collar crimes before this fellow set them up to do it in front of law enforcement? "

It's absolutely so and the community members that protect child abusers are unequivocally going against halacha. Same goes for white collar crime- if you commit a crime such as STEALING you are committing the aveira (or aveirot) of either gneiva or gezeila.

I'm not sure what your point is- that because frum people have committed these crimes, they're not aveirot?

Dina d'malchuta dina holds true no matter how many times Congress changes the laws. It's everyone's obligation to follow them and to pay restitution or sit in jail if you don't follow them.

If you're not sure what the law is, throwing up your hands and complaining that you don't understand stopped being a legitimate excuse around third grade.

This line really escapes me: " but you would be kidding yourself by abdicating the responsibility for your actions to someone who has no more connection to absoluteness than you do."

Once again, because you really seem slow on the uptake: You don't help your friend when you help him escape punishment for a crime he has clearly committed. That's called "enabling". When you enable your friend to escape punishment, you are teaching him that crime is ok, that there are no consequences for his actions, that he can behave in the world as he pleases because he will never have to take responsibility for his actions. How is this helping your friend, in the long term?

When I punish my children for willfully doing something wrong (hitting their sibling, for example) do you really somehow think I'm "abdicating my responsibility" to the hitting child because I punish him? If so, you clearly have no clue about how human psychological and emotional development works and I hope you are very far from ever having the responsibility of raising children.

This has nothing to do with picking a rav or growing a beard. I really have no clue where those two factors come in. This is simple 10 Commandements time. Even the most unaffiliated Jew knows- stealing is wrong.

rosie said...

Miami Al, most heredi communities are experiencing a large movement of young people toward more modern types of Orthodoxy. I see it all the time. Maybe BTs are becoming more RW but FFBs are leaving RW in droves. RW Judaism turned them off.
As far as Catholic schools, my father was the only Jewish student in his neighborhood Catholic school in the 30's and was not forced to study catechism at all. The school had no affect on his feelings for Judaism except to re-affirm them. My sister was faced with the possibility of sending her dyslexic daughter to the only high school for dyslexia in the area which was Catholic. She took one look at the cross on the wall and could not send her day school educated daughter to that school. They would not have expected her to attend mass or anything of the like. The problem that I have with your argument is that children would see less corruption there and I don't see the corruption issue as particular to frum Jews. They might see just as much fraud, graft, and embezzlement in any religious setting. I know for a fact that small charities are targets for those who are looking to launder money.
Mark, we discussed the wedding issue before and the fact that there is tremendous community peer pressure in many frum communities to spend big on weddings. I agreed that we overspent but also felt that communities must get together to curb the expenses since no one seems willing to swim against the tide. I think that we also agreed that until you marry off a child, you might say you will do one thing and end up doing another.
Abbi, while everyone knows that stealing is wrong and everyone is upset that this has become acceptable among some (not all; note disclaimer) frum Jews, we have to know where the attitude came from and understand it in order to counteract it. Obviously it needs to change but it is not as simple as just saying "though shall not steal". All these one size fits all band-aid approaches such as sending all frum kids to public school or college or making mass aliyah will:
a)never happen
b)solve some problems but cause others and
c)cost someone plenty of money.

Commenter Abbi said...

"Obviously it needs to change but it is not as simple as just saying "though shall not steal""

Really. I didn't know you knew better than God or Chazal.

rosie said...

Abbi, if you want to lose weight I can tell you to eat less, it is that simple. You will tell me that I have taken a complex issue and made light of it. That is what happened here.
I see that you are a religious expert so we can ask you a religious question. Why when G-d has commanded us not to steal are there 2 al chets concerning monetary impropriety, and as we said before, vidui has as our first confession for the day the sin of robbery? I have asked that question of rabbonim and the answer that I was given was:
a)there is a tendency to steal in all of us and
b)we as a society must blame ourselves if anyone has a need to steal.
G-d gave commandments but that didn't make them easy to carry out!

rosie said...

Oh and Abbi, I have one more religious question. The Torah outlines the penalties for various types of theft. Why should that be necessary if G-d told us not to steal?
See, I obviously don't claim to know more that G-d because I have more questions than answers.

Avi said...

Rosie,

One more time: we don't hate you. We love you, and we hope you keep commenting (well, I do, anyway), but we just wish you'd spend more time counteracting and less time enabling.

Child-Ish,

Your views are so disconnected from reality that I have to assume that you're either A) a teenager, B) a philosophy grad student, or C) a struggling defense lawyer with a guilty client. Of course you can choose to be an accessory to murder. You could choose to be the murderer in the first place. In the world of The Sopranos or Grand Theft Auto, either is a perfectly valid choice. You do realize that those are fictional worlds, right?

rosie said...

Avi, why is it enabling to say that observing commandments require self-control and sometimes people fail? The Torah does not execute the thief (for most types of theft), nor does it put him in jail or even give him lashes. He may end up as a slave until his theft is paid off but life as a Jewish slave was not that bad! That does not mean that G-d ignores theft because the world was destroyed as a result in the time of Noach but while other cultures amputated the hand of a thief, the Torah maintains a monetary penalty.
Now maybe some of you religious experts could shed some light on that.

rosie said...

Here is another fact about the Torah's view on theft. The thief pays 5X the price of an ox and only 4X the price of a lamb. Why? One explanation is that the thief must carry the lamb and we even value the avodah of the thief!
That seems less severe to me that the penalty for adultery.

Commenter Abbi said...

"G-d gave commandments but that didn't make them easy to carry out!"

I would like to assume that you afford the same amount of magnanimity, understanding and empathy to mechalelei shabbat, treif eaters, homosexuals and all other sinners that are a part of am yisrael.

Somehow, I doubt this.

What I hear you saying is that because people are so weak, and prone to sinning, really, it's ok to sin. And since we have vidui, that pretty much takes care of things with God. So, if it's so understandable and so a part of human nature, when are you scheduling your first cheeseburger? Your first road trip on Shabbat?

I mean, we all sin and it's a part of human nature, right? And the Torah outlines penalties for mechalelei shabbat, so it must have understood that people will eventually do this. It's practically waiting for people to break Shabbat! And since treif food is cheaper than kosher, we could save more money for yeshiva tuition by eating treif- a worthy (if not the highest spiritual cause).

Rosie, I'm not a "religious expert" and it's sad that you see someone who takes ethical behavior seriously as a "religious expert". It really doesn't say much for your own ethical standards.

I'm a person who takes morals and ethics as seriously as the hashgacha I eat. I'm truly sorry you consider this to be not the norm.

rosie said...

Abbi, Hashem expects us to obey the commandments and we don't eat a cheeseburger while saying that we will to tshuva afterwords; however with regards to some aveiras that people might be compelled to do, there are escape hatches. Probably in the early days of Jewish history, theft was related to poverty, and although it was punished, it was not punished as severely as idol worship which people were drawn to but which had no practical reason.
Another example is accidental murder. The accidental murderer is expected to go to a city of refuge because the Torah understands that the family may try to take revenge. Now why should they do this? Doesn't the Torah prohibit revenge as well as murder? The Torah is protecting the accidental murderer (who may have been careless but not malicious) from expected human behavior.
Now I realize that it is not nice of me to poke fun of someone as a "religious expert" because they want to trot out their ethical behavior but the Torah itself teaches us how to deal with theft.
The problem comes in though when an entire society becomes thieves as it was in the time before Noach. That is when we are really in trouble. I do believe that the frum community is experiencing problems today because theft has become commonplace.
As far as other sinners such as non-Shomer Shabbos, homosexuals, etc, who are we to judge them? They are doing aveiras and we can try to influence them positively but we are not judge and jury, nor should we be in the case of Jews who steal.

Ahavah Gayle said...

I'm curious - several posts here say that helping a friend commit a crime is always wrong. But, here's a "what if."

Suppose you had a female friend whose husband was violent and abusive (and you knew this yourself already) and she flees him and arrives at your house with the kids in tow - but he has been awarded custody or unsupervised visitation or whatever.

NOW do you think following only what's "legal" to the civil court is the best solution, or would you rather try and arrange for this woman and her children to find a safe haven away from him (and the law)?

And lacking the resources for that, would you take them in yourself? If not, why not - just because you're afraid of the violent jerk coming to your house or because you really think just because some short sighted judge awarded him custody or visitation that "the law of the land is the law?" And does refusing to help her for either of these reasons make you a non-friend?

I would say yes.

rosie said...

Ahavah gayle, your own family comes first and by getting involved, other than to do what is legal to do, you could put your own family at risk. They need you so don't get into trouble.
I did want to say one more thing about ethical behavior.
According to the laws of lashon hara, we are duty bound to be skeptical about news reports in the secular media regarding Jews. News reports often contain inaccuracies and we are obligated to view our fellow Jews in a positive light until proof has been found to see them otherwise.

Anonymous said...

rosie - Here is another fact about the Torah's view on theft. The thief pays 5X the price of an ox and only 4X the price of a lamb. Why? One explanation is that the thief must carry the lamb and we even value the avodah of the thief!
That seems less severe to me that the penalty for adultery.


Except you are forgetting the most important thing. These are the penalties bein adam lechaveiro, there are also the bein adam lemakom penalties that we don't know about. So maybe, on balance, the overall penalty for adultery is greater.

Ahavah Gayle, first I would wonder why the court awarded him those rights if he is violent and abusive? Tough question. Very tough question. If I knew *for sure* that he was dangerous to her or to the kids, I would do my utmost to protect them. But I don't know a situation in which I could be so sure while the courts rule the other way, but courts make mistakes all the time.

Mark

tesyaa said...

Mark, unfortunately I have heard horror stories about divorce. I also know people who stay in bad marriages because of the horror of custody battles. It often comes down to which spouse has the most money and is willing to lie under oath. Sad but true.

And, I think we should all consider that we may not be as yashar as we think, even though we are trying. People speed, people use unlicensed daycare, and people buy knockoff designer handbags (although they are so ugly, I would never do that last one, for sure). Does that mean we shouldn't be repulsed by money laundering? Hopefully, we can use the lessons learned to improve out own behavior.

rosie said...

Yay tesyaa! I was waiting for someone to finally say something that didn't drip with holier than thou judgments.
The heredi world in certainly in need of improvements, no doubt about it, but I don't think that I could have either withstood the tests that brought down those rabbis. (But then again we all know how unethical I am.)

Dave said...

That's odd.

There are lots of things that can tempt me.

Money laundering isn't any of them.

rosie said...

Dave, are you a community leader? Do you head a charitable organization? Do a lot of people rely on you to get paid and the pay comes from donations? I doubt that you have any need in your life to launder money. I don't either. I don't know what kind of community leader I would have made and would probably have been at least as corrupt. People in high positions have certain temptations that others don't have. We see that from Pirkei Avos.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

Avi-"Your views are so disconnected from reality that I have to assume that you're either A) a teenager, B) a philosophy grad student, or C) a struggling defense lawyer with a guilty client."

I got an MA in Economics actually. One thing I realized through my studies is that it all boils down to two things, original axioms and incentives. People believe certain things to be true, they believe it in their gut and nothing will change that. Then there are the incentives people put into place to have others adhere to what they believe to be true. That is what the secular law is all about.

In Jewish law the axioms we believe to be true are supposed to be based in the Torah. And everyone, in the name of Torah, uses incentives to have other people listen to their interpretation of what they believe is right and wrong. Community pressure, eligibility for marriage, gamachs, acceptance in shul, ect. are all ways that people tell others what the community views as right and wrong.

The bottom line is that the community in general doesn't really care about the things many of you seem to be worrying about, ie Yashrus, because it is not measurable until something really bad happens, like this fellow setting up his fellow yidden to be caught on tape doing a crime.

Commenter Abbi said...

Tesyaa - I don't think you need to be straight as a pin to recognize that corruption and money laundering are wrong under all circumstances and something really dreadful is happening in the community when people not only engage in these activities but try to "understand" and excuse those who do.

As a parent, I understand why my kids sometimes hit out of frustration, but the bottom line is that that behavior is not allowed and not tolerated, even if I might understand why it happens sometimes.

Yes, there might be some very valid reasons why someone might want to steal money. It's still wrong and it's still a huge chillul hashem no matter what the reason.

And again, Rosie, the fact that you think this attitude is of the "high horse" variety, is even more disturbing then your attempts to excuse these criminals.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

Commenter Abbi: You are probably a young mother on a power trip, in love of the control you have over your children, loving the fact that you can shape your children into who you want them to be in the future.

"but the bottom line is that that behavior is not allowed and not tolerated"

I can imagine you giving your kid just the right amount of slap on the hand as the kid cries for some candy and makes a scene in the store.

"I don't think you need to be straight as a pin to recognize that corruption and money laundering are wrong under all circumstances"

This too sounds like something you would tell your young child when he does something you think is, Bad Bad Bad.

It seems very funny to me.

You do realize that NOTHING is wrong under all circumstances? While it may be true that you tell the all circumstances thing to your young child because that child can not distinguish between the gray areas in life, in the real world it is all shades of gray.

Because while for your kid you are there to give a slap whenever he/she does wrong in your eyes, God has more mercy/cruelty to us and doesn't correlate evil directly with punishment.

Dave said...

I would not say that I am a community leader in the sense you mean.

I have, however, helped found one non-profit and served on its board, and served as a trustee for a non-profit foundation. I have also served on the board of two separate professional assocations.

And I can honestly say that had anyone come to me with the offer that was made in this case, my very next call would have been to law enforcement.

Dave said...

I should ad a caveat.

If a close friend had made the offer, I would most likely have told them "I will pretend I didn't hear you say that, don't ever do that again" (although possibly using more profanity).

They also would no longer have been a close friend.

Commenter Abbi said...

Child-

I have never hit my child, and I certainly would never hit my child for taking candy.

I am not "in love with being in control". It sounds like you had parents like that and are still suffering the effects with your delusional thought process.

rosie said...

Dave, a close relative is also in control of a non-profit and has chased off an offer of money-laundering. The non-profit had enough donors to support the cause, the relative was savvy enough to realize what could happen, and the non-profit has very open books. The non-profit also had no salaries to pay. It all went from donor to recipient.
I don't think that this was the case with yeshivas. What I am trying to say is that leaders both the Jewish leaders and the mayors of Hoboken and somewhere else in NJ had temptations that we don't have. There is a limit to how much judgment we can pass on them and when it regards our fellow Jew, we are obligated by the same Torah that prohibits stealing to judge l'chaf schuss.
Abbi, it sounds really high horse to me. If Rabbi Kassin had been your grandfather, you would probably be on here asking people to view things differently.
Again, we can't condone stealing and must reach out to the community and tell them that whatever they did in the past will no longer work and should never have occurred but at the same time the Torah prohibits passing judgment. If you are guilty of passing judgment you are committing an aveira, pure and simple and should do tshuva and stop.

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

"I have never hit my child, and I certainly would never hit my child for taking candy."

My apologies, God forbid you would hit your child. I mean, that wouldn't teach him the right message now would it? And really, the line between child abuse and child admonishment is one of those gray areas. A little slap on the hand and a beating are probably synonymous in your mind. I bet your into the time out thing, and taking away privileges. Or perhaps you only use rewards as incentives?

There are many aspects of control. The bottom line, you put principles above people. In that way you are always in need of control; who knows when the persons you love will start doing something you disapprove of?

My parents, not as controlling as some, probably more controlling than others. I can't say, I don't know. As a person growing into my own path in life, I am recognizing more and more the distinction between indoctrination through the enforcement of absolutes and the guidance into personhood through the recognition of individual wants and desires.

In my mind, the best intentions in the world do not change the fact that you in the process of forcing your values on someone else and not letting the person discover for himself what true values are supposed to be.

Rosie, if the Rabbi had been her grandfather Abbi would probably disown him, because in the end for her "the bottom line is that that behavior is not allowed and not tolerated, even if I might understand why it happens sometimes." and what do you do when something is not tolerated and people do it anyway?

rosie said...

Childish, I don't think that the solution is either to let people discover for themselves what is true and what is false. In this case they are in danger and we must educate them as to how to prevent themselves from going to jail.
Many of these people don't know that within 5 minutes of downloading illegal material, the police can be at your door. They don't know that people can be walking around with enough high tech recording equipment to incriminate them. It isn't your grandfather's embezzlement anymore. Now I know that this is a shocking statement about grandpa's embezzlement but we do confess in vidui for our own sins as well as the sins of our fathers!. Anyway, crimes that were overlooked in the past or that people got away with are no longer safe to commit, aside from any religious issue involved. And from a religious issue, we destroy trust within our own community when we are dishonest. We become disgusting creatures before both man and G-d. As I have said before, even if I understand and avoid judging a fellow Jew, I wouldn't carry something over an international border for him. NO WAY!

Child אִישׁ Behavior said...

rosie- obviously, I wouldn't do that either. But only because I put my "friendship" with God before my friendship with individual people. Fear of prison and punishment only works as far as the person's aversion to risk, and the strength of the punishment. While prison is very bad, it is not the end of the world for a person. If all a person's morality is based in a fear of punishment, that is a weak person indeed. Right and wrong must come from within, and for it to come from within it must be a process of discovery and not one of indoctrination. If indoctrination is used, in the end the morals are only as strong as the consequences.

rosie said...

Childish, these people as pointed out would go to the ends of the earth not to eat traife but are not afraid to commit fraud. Obviously they don't feel that they disconnect themselves from G-d when they money-launder. It is sad that they may have reached the point where only fear of jail would have an effect. As it has been said, these are rabbis, whose wisdom should dictate doing what is moral, right and true, and legal. They are the leaders from whom we would hope to be told to have emunah that Hashem would help us with money rather than to feel the need to steal it. I don't think that they realized that there was such a price to pay.

Charlie Hall said...

"To most of you, who may or may not value Torah education, you would see the closing of a yeshiva as a superior choice to committing fraud. "

It is not a choice at all.

Commenter Abbi said...

wow, I'm really not sure how this conversation got to the point of discussing the fictional corporal punishment of my children or the fictional fraud of my grandparents (one is niftar and the other is 89 and in the mountains at the moment so I think our family is pretty safe from embarrassing frauds, at least those that could be perpetrated by the elders of our family).

But when your starting point is nihilistic amorality as proposed by Childish, I guess that endpoint isn't all that surprising.

Rosie, you still haven't provided a cogent argument for why we're not allowed to judge people who perpetrate horrifically embarrassing acts of chilul hashem aside from the fact that: a) "everybody commits or is capable of committing fraud" (patently not true.) b) it means I'm a "religious expert" (not sure what exactly that means) or that I'm on a "high horse". (meaning, I have no right to make such judgments).

Sorry, if someone damages Hashem's name (chillul Hashem) in addition to damaging my own public name (ie: my public stature as a Jew in the world) than I believe it's our obligation and our right to condemn him, no matter what his reasons for perpetrating the fraud. Clearly, you feel differently.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rosie: You are very forgiving for those who commit fraud and theft. I like that.

Here's a question: Why is it that you continue to call those who commit fraud, "Chareidi", yet those who are michalel shabbat or eat treif (yet don't commit fraud) are NOT considered Chareidi?

If the Torah True community is so forgiving for those who commit fraud, why is there so much hatred towards those who "slip up" and say...open a parking lot in Jerusalem on Shabbat, and have riots, damage public property, and call policemen, "Nazis"?

Or maybe the Gay pride parades -- why aren't they Chareidim as well who just slipped up?

Miami Al said...

This is my issue, the Modern Orthodox world, that clearly agrees with Chareidi Jews on the concepts of Kashrut and Shabbat, albeit with different interpretations, shares no values beyond that with them.

Chareidi Judaism clearly seems okay with fraud and theft. I say that not because individuals engage in it, individual sin is individual sin, but the reaction. The Modern Orthodox world that Bernie Madoff was nominally affiliated with (he wasn't an observant MO Jew, but he certainly affiliated with our institutions) completely condemned him and his actions. When the Chareidi Rabbis were busted for fraud, their community defends them and their actions. So EVEN if you consider Mr. Madoff a M.O. Jews that doesn't follow our tenants, we don't condone his behavior. The Chareidi world gives the appearance of condoning the fraud.

The Modern Orthodox world sends its children to Modern Orthodox Day Schools with Chareidi Rabbis really need to ask themselves what "Judaism" is being taught to their kids.

6 Days a week, the 19 hours I'm not eating or praying, I have more in common with a conservative Jew than a Chareidi one.

rosie said...

Abbi,
Judging someone involves saying that you would not make the same choice if you were in that exact circumstance and from that exact background and that you ascribe negative motives to his choice.
Jameel, the term "charedi" is mainly what a person considers himself rather than what someone else calls him. Charedim consider themselves part of a group of like minded people who basically call the shots of what is right and wrong in their society. If you fit in; you're in.
Miami Al, we are good friends with a Conservative rabbi and his wife. He is one frustrated fellow. His constituents follow very little of what the JTS rabbis advocate and most are 3 day a year Jews. He would love to inspire people to study and learn and care about their kids Jewish education but it isn't happening. After the Bar Mitzvah, it is goodbye Charlie. He is a really caring and sincere guy and a truly good yid but sees that much of his movement is either dying out or becoming Reform. You might have a lot in common with him but it does not sound like you have much in common with his congregants.

rosie said...

Also read this weeks Jewish press. It has an op-ed by Rabbi Steven Prusansky as well as an article by Rabbi Moshe Meir Weiss about how to understand without holding judgment when our fellow yid engages in criminal behavior. I think that the site is www.thejewishpress.com. I am not sure how to link the articles here. I did send the first one to SL.

Miami Al said...

Rosie, I have a lot in common with his congregation. I work hard to support my family. I am college educated and have a graduate degree. I want my children to get a good education, go to a top college, graduate school if they want, and be able to support their family. I hope my children are happy, healthy, and happy in their life choices. I aim to be more successful than my parents, and hope that my children are more successful than me. These are all "immigrant values" that I have in common with the non-Orthodox Jews around me.

When meals roll around, the Chareidi Jew and I both eat Kosher meals and say the same prayers. Thrice a day we have nearly identical services. The Conservative Jew does neither. However, when I'm at the office, worrying about my children and their future, or trying to make ends meet I have a lot in common with the Conservative Jew.

And like the Conservative Jew, I think it is more important that one is a honest person and doesn't steal than it is that they keep Kosher. That is not a value shared by the Chareidi world.

rosie said...

Al, you also seem to care that your children have sufficient knowledge about their Jewish heritage. It appears that you wrestle with whether to keep them in day school or send them to public school. I think that you would have a hard time accepting a non-Jewish in-law child (chas v'sholem). I think that your children are being raised to respect Torah study and Torah wisdom and not relegate it to a nice thing to learn if there is not something more important going on out there. I doubt that you would want your children to attend the high school Friday night football game instead of kabbalos Shabbos davening and a seudas Shabbos. I think that you expect your male grandchildren to be circumcised (by a mohel).
The Chereidi world is suffering from a lack of leadership and at the same time underwent a tremendous amount of growth. The growth could not be sustained by the small amount of available funds as well as by a leadership that understood the needs of it's constituents. Now the chereidi world is experiencing a decline. In some communities, tznius has gone rapidly downhill. The divorce rate, especially among very young marrieds, has skyrocketed. Now we are witnessing an increase in crime, due in part to the escalating nature of the crimes (we are no longer talking about tutoring the neighbor kids for a few dollars off the books). Then there are people coming out about past crimes (child molestation). People who had faith that if they called a shadchan, their child would soon be married have now found a significant failure rate with that system. Much of this is also the price to pay for insularity.
The chereidi world is in upheaval and I don't know where it is going but Conservative Judaism also started out strong and has also spiraled downhill as far as how committed their members are to Jewish study and practice.

rosie said...

I realize that post 119 was not clear. The leadership in post-growth Orthodoxy did not understand the needs of BTs as well as FFBs who did not fit into the old system.

conservative scifi said...

Rosie,

That was quite a reasonable comment (number 119).

I do think that Miami Al has hit upon a very important point, which is the differing mitzvah emphases of the different movements of Judaism.

Much (surely not all) of the Chareidi world focuses immense efforts on the ritual observances of Judaism, with some effort towards the ethical and moral aspects.

The reform and most conservative Jewish worlds focus mostly on the ethical and moral aspects (though certainly there are crooks here too), with a lesser focus on the ritual.

Modern orthodoxy, in my view as a conservative (leaning right) Jew, balances these a little more, though I think they overbalance the ritual slightly.

So back to the original issue in the post, my question becomes which commandments are most important?

Clearly someone seems to believe that taking care of a friend overrides even accessory to murder.

What about balancing the reform Jew, who works in the soup kitchen on Friday night, violating Shabbat against the Chareidi Jew who studies torah, is careful in ritual observance, but commits tax fraud?

Are they equally criminal or is one "better"?

rosie said...

I don't know that one is better or one is worse. G-d knows what is in everyone's heart. If a person does not know that they are doing something wrong, G-d takes that into account as well. The heredi Jew who commits fraud may have been wrongly influenced by someone who has told him that it is not the worst thing in the world.
Also, everyone has his own purpose in the world. There is a doctor who I read about in Reader's Digest who has a free clinic in the poorest part of Africa. I think that he is Jewish but not frum. Obviously, G-d has a mission for this man and maybe had that reason for allowing him to be born to non-observant Jews.
That does not mean that if someone hates being Jewish that they can circumvent it by opening a clinic in Africa.

Anonymous said...

But violating shabbat is only bein adam lemakom, while tax fraud is both bein adam lemakom and bein adam lechavero (and is a chillul Hashem when made public). I would have to say that the tax fraud is worse, perhaps depending on the level of the fraud. I think I once read that bein adam lechavero is worse in general than bein adam lemakom.

Mark