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Thursday, July 29, 2010

No white-washing, no condoning, no apologizing on behalf of the desecrators

With thanks for Professor Levine whose website contains information of much value. I have retyped the following Selected Writing of Rav Shimon Schwab as an important reference piece of an authentic Torah approach on how we, the orthodox public, should approach those who "[desecrate] all the fundamentals of Torah Judaism" in their dealings with their fellowman, Jew and Gentile. I really shouldn't have bothered with my own post from last night when this is far more powerful and poignant; speaking directly to the point, the words penned in the 1970's are as true then as now. My apologies for not having Hebrew a Hebrew typepad on my computer currently. If someone is kind enough type of the few pesukim in the essay in a cut and paste format, I'd like to add them. I've highlighted a few things in the essay below (twas hard to choose).

46* Chillul Hashem

Whenever we gather in prayer invariably we do recite or respond to the words of Kaddish: “May His Great Name be magnified and sanctified”. And whenever we introduce the daily Kedusho we call out: “Let us sanctify Your Name in the world”. And every so often during the course of our Tefilloh we emphasize our desire to belong to the sanctifiers of the Divine Name amongst men true to the injunction contained in Vayikro (22, 33) (“You shall not desecrate My Holy Name and I shall become sanctified in the midst of the children of Israel.”)

The second sentence of Sh’ma Yisroel begins with the command: “You shall love Hashem”, which is interpreted by our Sages: “Let the name of Hashem become beloved through you.” In other words, we are supposed to lead the kind of exemplary life which would contribute to the universal adoration of G-d and which would, in turn, enhance the glory and luster of the Torah, adding respect for the dignity of the Jewish people as a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy Nation.
The very opposite of the sanctification is the desecration of the Name as condemned by the Prophet with the scathing words (Yechezkel 36): “The came to the nations and desecrated my Holy Name, so that one said to them, is this the people of G-d who came from His land?”

Every form of Chillul Hashem lowers the awareness of the Divine Presence in the world. But if the desecrator happens to be a professed Torah observer or, even worse, a so-called scholar of the Torah, then the Chillul Hasehm not only weakens the respect for the Torah on one hand, but strengthens on the other hand the defiance of the non-observer and adds fuel to the scoffers, fanning the fires of religious insurrection of all around. Chillul Hashem is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the increase of frivolity, heresy and licentiousness in the world. Therefore, we should not be surprised reading the harsh words of condemnation we find in the Talmud: “He who has committed Chillul Hashem, even Teshuvoh, Yom Kippur, and suffering cannot fully atone for his sin until the day of his death (Yoma 86).”

“Better to commit a sin in secrecy than to commit Chillul Hashem in public (Kiddushin 40).

“The is no delay in the Divine punishment for Chillul Hashem, whether committed knowingly or unknowingly (ibid.)”.

“If one steals for a non-Jew, swears falsely and dies, his death is no atonement for his sin because fir gus sub because of Chillul Hashem” (Tosefta B. Kamma, 10).

“He who desecrates the name of Heaven in secrecy is punished in public” (Avoth 4).

“All sins are forgiven by G-d but Chillul Hashem He punishes immediately” (Sifri Haazinu).
This is but a small selection from the many fierce condemnations addressed by our Sages to the desecrators of the Divine Name.

All this comes to mind at this time since some perpetrators of Chillul Hashem are making the headlines of our daily newspapers. Certainly we are not sitting in judgment of the persons who are publically accused and we have to wait whether the indictments will be borne out by irrefutable evidence. However, be it as it may, the Chillul Hashem is there in the worst possible way. “Rabbi” so and so, who sits in court with his velvet Yarmulka in full view of a television audience composed of millions of viewers, is accused of having ruthlessly enriched himself at the expense of others, flaunting the laws of G-d and man, exploiting, conniving and manipulating – in short, desecrating all the fundamentals of Torah Judaism. And this sorry onslaught on our Jewish sensitiveness is repeated by similar allegations, proven or unproven, involving more prominent men who are stigmatized as orthodox Jews, sometimes even with so-called rabbinic diplomas.

While it is obvious that the vast majority of loyal and observant Torah Jews deal honestly and correctly with their fellow men, a very small minority of criminal perpetrators suffices to cast sinister aspirations on all orthodox Jews and, what is worse, on orthodox Judaism as a way of life. The Chillul Hashem of a few individuals provides excuses for the doubter, and encourages the desecration of Torah learning, Torah education and Torah influence. To defraud and exploit out fellowmen, Jew or gentile, to conspire, to betray the Government, to associate with underworld elements all there are hideous crimes by themselves. Yet to the outrage committed there is added another dimension, namely the profanation of the Divine Name and that means the profanation of all that is supposed to be held sacred by us as well as – in their heart of hearts –by the perpetrators themselves. What a sorry picture that is.
Suppose I have cheated my neighborhood or my Government and then I stand in the midst of a congregation of honest and decent men and women to recite the Kaddish which is the prayer for Kiddush Hashem in the world. What audacity! What a shame! Can there be a worse contradiction than the strict Sabbath observer who may also be a stickler for Kashrus and who at the same time violates the spirit of Shabbos and Kashrus during the week with non-kosher money manipulations?

Let us repeat. The profaners and the desecrators are only a handful of unscrupulous people and we even hope that some of them will be proved innocent. But it needs only very few violators to give us all a rotten name, aiding and abetting our many adversaries and antagonizing our few friends.

Therefore, no white-washing, no condoning, no apologizing on behalf of the desecrators. Let us make it clear that anyone who besmirches the sacred Name ceases to be our friend. He has unwittingly defected from our rants and has joined our antagonist, to make us all suffer in his wake. And – noblesse oblige – the more prominent a man has become in orthodox Jewish circles the more obligated he must feel to observe the most painstaking scrupulousness in his dealings with the outside world.

Our observance of Torah and Mitzvos is regulated by the Choshen Mishpot, the code of social justice no less than by the other codes of the Shulchan Aruch. Whoever betrays his loyalty to one portion of the Torah uproots all others. For, at the roots of Chillul Hashem are gross materialism, blatant selfishness, insatiable love of wealth and brazen disregard for common decency. Even if, strangely enough, as it sometimes happens – those with ugly traits go together with excessive charity and benevolence. We call the type of twisted ethics [mitzva habaha beavreirah] i.e. virtue acquired by sin, which is worthless – less than worthless. It is a travesty and a farce. It means playing jokes with the Torah. It is blasphemy and therefore unforgivable. Let us proclaim, loud and clear, that we shall have no part of such sickly “Yiddishkeit”. Our aim is to strive for Kiddush Hashem. And in order to reach this goal we shall band together and march together, we and our children [] with clean hands and pure hearts towards the dawn of Geuloh, speedily in our days.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps for some, part of being very insular is a loss of perspective. How can one identify what is a chillul HaShem if one has no clue as to how others might perceive things? How can one treat others as you wish to be treated if you have no clue as to how others want to be treated? How can one think that maybe Mr. Rubashkin was not the victim of anti-semitism if one only gets one's news from orthodox jewish media and from some of the far right secular media that are really opinion pieces than real news, and one hasn't learned about the american justice system in the context of cases other than those involving orthodox jews?

RAM said...

It's possible to do something wrong but, because of antisemitism, to incur an indefensibly severe penalty.

Offwinger said...

It is impossible to understand the severity of the penalty without any other context of how similar cases are treated.

The vast majority of Rubashkin supporters have no idea how other criminals are treated or what the key differences in sentencing might be (e.g., remorse is very important; pleading guilty is very different from forcing things to go to trial, etc.)

I'm tired of hearing about how white collar crime is victimless or harmless by people who have no connection to a case. Fraud and theft are extremely destructive behaviors with actual people left holding the bag. They are not victimless, even if they don't produce a dead body.

And if anyone really cares about justice and proportionality in sentencing, why aren't you protesting the harsh results of three strikes laws (even for non-violent crimes) or the fact that crack cocaine was singled out for heightened punishment to make sure that poor, minority drug users would face sentence lengths that could never reach upper middle class white folks who get high?

It's time to face reality: Rubashkin's legal defense strategic made some MAJOR mistakes. That cost him big time. I have no doubt that Rubashkin himself helped "choose" his strategy, as no one was forcing him to perjure himself on the stand. For all the criminals who can't afford lawyers and get overworked, underpaid public defenders who make major errors in their cases that can not be appealed, and then serve extremely onerous sentences, please tell me again, why we're supposed to hang our (black?) hat on THIS defendant and THIS criminal as injustice due to anti-semitism?

Lion of Zion said...


"It's possible to do something wrong but, because of antisemitism, to incur an indefensibly severe penalty."

yes, but is there any evidence of anti-semitism in the recent high profile cases of criminal jews other than the general assumption that all goyyim are anti-semites?

also, in my experience there is often a correlation between those who see anti-semitism behind every convicted jew and those who have a disdain for civil society, think its mutar to cheat goyim, etc.
so i find it difficult to take it seriously when someone who thinks there's nothing wrong in engaging in criminal activity against goyyim then turns around and tries to convince me that an alledged jewish criminal is really innocent (or excessilvey punished) and a victim of anti-semitism.

it's sad, because i'm sure anti-semitism does exist, but these reckless, knee-jerk defenses of frum criminals make it more difficult to prove anti-semitism when it really does exist.

ProfK said...

Rav Schwab wrote his words in the 1970s. Just as we see it today we saw then a number of "frum" Jews finding their way into federal prisons because of engaging in fraud and government cheating in addition to other so called white collar crimes. I believe it was the Allentown Federal Penitentiary that had a daily minyan and kosher food available because of the number of frum Jews incarcerated there.

What's the difference between then and now? 1)You didn't see the mass public appeals on behalf of the criminals; 2)You didn't hear any statements of "it must be anti-semitism"; 3)the pulpit rabbis in the communities where those who were imprisoned came from came out with mussar on living a correct, truthful life and following the law; 4)there was no public approbation of trying to cheat the government and you did not have rabbanim, well known or otherwise, who were among those imprisoned; 5)the chillul HaShem was that the wrongdoers did wrong, not that they were caught, which seems to be the attitude today.

Klal, or at least some in Klal, haven't learned very much since R' Schwab wrote those words.

ProfK said...

Ooops, sorry, also meant to add that those imprisoned during the 70s were mostly of an MO orientation, although there were a few to the right as well. MO has nothing to hold its head so high in the air about, except maybe that the community mostly learned its lesson from having some of its members incarcerated.

Garnel Ironheart said...

This is a question of competing value systems. To wit:
Most frum Jews outside certain groups (like Chabad) think that the Shulchan Aruch is the final word on halacha. For those certain groups, however, it isn't. The Zohar and subsequent kabbalistic works are the final authority. Last year during the "Moshiach seudah" in our community the shaliach stood up and said that maybe technically chalav stam was permissible but "al pi kabbalah" it was certainly forbidden and did anyone really want to do something God didn't actually approve of?
This parallel legal system has quirks of its own. Within in, gentiles are less human than Jews (see the Tanya for example). All non-Jews are basically idol worshippers from whom stealing is a mitzvah because one is depriving them of property they would otherwise use to worship their idols. The only real legal system in the world is the beis din system as run by these groups, therefore judgements rendered by any other system, even an MO beis din, for example, are illegitimate and lack force. Finally, these laws are God's own and one who follows them is at the highest level of righteousness.
As a result, all of the behaviour around the Rubashkin chilul haShem now makes sense since he was simply following this code. That's why the man could lie in court. There's nothing wrong with it in his legal system. At the same time he could refuse to walk without having tzitzis on, something the Shulchan Aruch permits, because the Zohar forbids it.
How does one deal with a group that has developed a Jewish worldview that legitimizes immoral behaviour while mixing it with superfluous piety?

RAM said...

"please tell me again, why we're supposed to hang our (black?) hat on THIS defendant and THIS criminal as injustice due to anti-semitism?"

Quite possibly, we're not supposed to in this case, but antisemitism does exist in our world and needs to be investigated as a possible factor.

That said, considering the law of the land to be negotiable or avoidable is a very bad idea, not only for individual Jews but also for our nation's leaders from Obama on down.

Anonymous said...

While I suspect this may start a flame, I do not regard supporting the government as something we should just knee-jerk do. The tax system is unconstitutional to begin with. The forced redistribution of wealth is unethical. The current Regime in WA does not have my allegiance or respect. Does that mean I will not comply? No, but I do so very grudgingly and pray for Hashem's deliverance from the very evil people currently in control of our government.

Picky Picky said...


Anon 1:29, I hear your complaints against the regime in Olympia, but I'm curious what you think about the feds in DC?

Dave said...

So, anonymous, those Federal Grants to protect Jewish Institutions in New York that just came through.

You're opposed to those too, right?

efrex said...

R' Breuer zt'l has many an essay on the same theme.

For the Hebrew texts, you can always go to Mechon Mamre, which has the text of all of tanach, shas, and the mishnah torah online.

If you need to type a quick Hebrew sentence or two, there's a pretty good online "keyboard" at

Anonymous: Since when is obeying the law tantamount to "supporting the government?" I might have issues with the administration (as I have had with every administration in my adult life: how come the president never asks my opinion on anything?) but that does not absolve my responsibility to obey the law (with the possible exception of civil disobedience). As for forced redistribution of wealth: it might be unethical in some value systems, but it is certainly explicitly allowed in classic Jewish law (hefker beit din hefker)

JS said...

What's great about shouting antisemitism every time a Jew gets caught with his hand in the cookie jar is that nothing a Jew does is a chillul Hashem.

Yeshiva children misbehave on a field trip? It's not a chillul Hashem, it's antisemitism on the part of all the non-Jews who look disdainfully at them. It's antisemitism to view Jewish children as miscreants who can't behave properly!

RAM said...

It's time to stop the glorification of Jews convicted in America---except if they truly (really truly!) are innocent. We can provide the guilty or their families with whatever assistance we owe them as fellow Jews, but turning them into heroes or even role models is revolting, especially when done in public.

Anonymous said...

Dave....even a broken clock is right twice a day:)

Efrex....classical Jewish law does not posit that a gentile government can forcibly confiscate wealth; you have a confused understanding of it. We don't have a Temple, therefor these are not laws we can keep. These laws are solely for Eretz Yisroel, not the USA.

When the Regime confiscates our money to give to things we may abhor, it is NOT even close to the requirement of maaiser. It's theft by government fiat. It also creates a petty, jealous population who are pitted against each other for the "goodies" the Regime will give them. Ah, but that is the Marxist idea...class warfare.

When you observe the obvious lack of achdus even on this little blog, it is even more miraculous that the charedim came together for Reb Rubashkin.

Dave said...

Oh, so you aren't opposed to wealth redistribution per se, just redistribution where you either don't get the money or don't like who does?

Good to know.

Anonymous said...

Um Dave...I was joking. Yes, I'm 100% opposed to wealth distribution, even if I were to benefit from it. I reject all forms of govt. aid (control). I walk my talk.

If Jewish schools want to give scholarship money (privately funded) that's great. The govt. should stay out of it. I believe in very limited govt..

If Jewish institutions need security, they should also fund it themselves. If more Jews were armed, we'd need less of it.

Offwinger said...


You live in a free republic. If you don't like it, MOVE. No one is stopping you. This is not the old shtetl. If you CHOOSE to stay in America, then you are consenting to be governed by our system.

And if you want to live where more Jews are armed, there is amazingly an entire country premised on having Jewish defense forces. But then you'd have to deal with even more socialism from your government.

Ah well. You'll just have to secede and create your own country.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:43: It sounds like you are opposed to a lot of Torah. Are you sure you are jewish?

Anonymous said...

WOW. Yidden! If I don't agree with your liberal tendencies I should leave the country and I'm probably not Jewish?? And attacking someone with whom you disagree is real Torahdik:)

Very mentschlich guys. In the words of a great rabbi (OBM), "every Jew a 22!"

Ariella said...

As they used to say with the Yekke accent, "Better to be glatt yosher than glatt kosher."

Outraged said...

Garnel, with your words you are implying that all of Chabad holds that kabbalah comes first, do you know that for a fact? Have you heard Chabad poskim say such a thing? Because I am a third generation Chabadnikit and have never heard such a preposterous statement, nor do I and my extendend family behave in such a fashion. I take issue with your words, before slandering an entire movement you best make sure you have facts not assumptions in hand. Perhaps speak to the shliach in question directly and ask him if that is what he meant to say. And perhaps call a Chabad posek or two as well if you doubt my words.

Northwards said...

Efrex....classical Jewish law does not posit that a gentile government can forcibly confiscate wealth; you have a confused understanding of it. We don't have a Temple, therefor these are not laws we can keep. These laws are solely for Eretz Yisroel, not the USA.

You are actually incorrect in each point you made: The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 369:6) rules that a tax collector who collects "a set tax that was assigned by the king - even if he rules that Jews must pay more than non-Jews..." is not a thief (and the tax must be paid). This is true today and outside Israel as much as inside.
The Rambam (Gezaila v'Avaida 5:11) also rules that a king who appropriates (through his right of eminent domain) the wood of privately owned trees to build a bridge is within his rights and Jews are allowed to use that bridge.
The ironic consequence of that is that if a Jew were to hold that today's governments do NOT have the right to raise taxes from their citizens would be prohibited from walking on the sidewalks or entering government buildings (not to mention taking welfare or tax credits)

Northwards said...

I am at least as confused and bothered by response of the establishment orthodox leadership as our esteemed host, Orthonomics. There is one more point, however, that I haven't yet seen raised:
The mishna (from Gitten 45a) states that "one may not redeem shevuyim for more than their value because of 'tikkun olum'" The gemara offers two possible explanations, one of which is that paying exorbitant ransoms will place a punitive financial burden on communities that cannot afford it. The Maharam M'Rotenberg famously refused to allow himself to be redeemed based on this halacha.
Therefore, even if the Rubashkin case is considered pidyon shevuyim (something I very highly doubt for a number of halachic reasons), it would seem to be forbidden for us to actually spend this money.

Anonymous said...


John Jacob F said...

Like everythign in life we have to choose our priorities. At this point no one (OK, almost no one) is questioning Rubashkin's guilt, only that is sentence seems very large compared to his crime. Assuming the Jews in the US have a certain number of "bullets" or "chips" to use, do I want to use it on this guy? (or the guy who shot a woman in the head in Florida?) I think not.

One other note to those who are yelling and rallying: It appears that our yelling and rallies for convicted criminals doesn't work. (e.g., Rubashkin, Grossman, Pollard.) Maybe we should do more yelling and rallying to prevent ourselves from doing crimes to begin with.

Anonymous said...

Women...please light your shabbes candles 10 minutes before zman and daven for Shalom Rubaskin next shabbes.