Yesterday afternoon the television news
was abuzz with the arrest of the Rebbe of Spinka on a variety of white-collar charges, including income tax evasion and money laundering. According to the government (he has yet to be tried by a jury and is presumed innocent) he solicited large donations from wealthy people in our community, then kicked back as much as 95%, giving the donor a tax deduction 20 times what he was entitled to. I am no longer surprised by news of this sort, just thoroughly disgusted. It seems that ingratitude is the new Jewish virtue. We enjoy in this country the tranquility and freedom that eluded us throughout our long galut
, and this is what we give in return. Earth to Harediland
: Wake up. We’re not in Poland or Hungary any more. The American government does not persecute Jews. Whatever the gemara
might say about the permissibility of defrauding Gentiles or a Gentile government (which ours is not, Jews having achieved high office up to and including running for Vice President) does not apply in our enlightened society. And the intrinsic evil of the rebbe’s alleged crimes is compounded by their inevitable consequence: massive hillul Hashem
. It seems to have escaped the notice of the haredi
world that such actions confirm all the tired old stereotypes that Gentiles have of us. Jews are dishonest connivers. Jews are greedy. Jews are grasping. Jews are money grubbers. Jews don’t uphold the law of the countries in which they live (hey man, remember that one?), ad infinitum
. For those who think that skulduggery of this sort can be kept to ourselves, be assured that news of the rebbe's arrest was splashed all over the Internet (see link above) within hours of its occurrence.
The presumption of innocence may keep the Rebbe out of jail for the time being, but it does not entitle him or his hangers-on to our respect or trust. For that, those who presume to be our authority figures must be above suspicion. One who has such a cloud hanging over him (so much the more if the charges are substantiated) cannot be trusted in matters of kashrut
or as a witness on a document of halakhic significance such as a ketuba
. They should not be invited to our functions, nor should they be honored in our synagogues. In short, they should be ostracized from the society of honest men, a powerful sanction as long as man is a social animal (and a sanction which needs to be applied to men who unreasonably withhold gittin
from their wives). And any parent with a child in Spinka’s yeshiva needs to ask himself or herself if (s)he wants his or her child taught by men of such dubious character.
Labels: America, gedolim, haredim, Jewish criminality, Purim, yeshivot