Monday, February 18, 2008

Losing YOUR Religion

Reading Jewboy's post about something in the orthodox world that saddened him reminded me of a New York Times article that a friend forwarded me a few days ago.

The article speaks about an Orthodox rabbi serving a 27-year sentence in an Otisville, NY federal penitentiary (where, I'm told there is at least 1 Daf Yomi Shiur) for fraudulently obtaining more than $4 million. Oh, and we're not talking about not-paying-your-taxes $4 million, we're talking collecting-money-for-a-fake-lottery $4 million. He is suing the Bureau of Prisons for the right to be able to pray outside of his cell. He claims that he cannot pray inside of his cell because of the presence of a toilet, and in doing so, he would be violating Halacha.

Thank G-d, we live in a country where we can pray where we want, when we want. We live in time period that is arguably the best for Jews in recent history. But, how do we obtain these liberty and freedoms? It doesn't come for free; it comes with the price of obeying the rules of this country. You steal money from innocent people who think that they can win money in a lottery - a clear violation of the laws of our land, yet you claim that you're owed protection from those same laws? Sounds like some real chutzpah to me.

I'm sure Rabbi Samet would scold me for speaking Lashon Hara. I'm sure Rabbi Samet could run circles around me in learning. But, I have to imagine that I have one up on him in the eyes of Hashem; after all, I didn't swindle $4 million out of anyone. I fail to understand how these people can be so Machmir in all aspects of life, but when it comes to money, they feel that they can do whatever they please. TAXES?! Who pays taxes? To a Goyishe government!? The hypocrisy in which these people live their lives is astonishing.

I would like to believe that Hashem doesn't as readily accept the prayers of people who live their lives seeped in such hypocrisy as he does mine and yours. Rabbi Samet - you know how you go about being able to daven whereever you want? A: Don't steal $4 million from innocent people and it wouldn't even be a problem in the first place. Deal with it.


Blogger Jewboy said...

Wht about those who live in the state of Israel that G-d has given us but don't pay taxes to the government? Same analysis in my view.

9:02 AM, February 18, 2008

Blogger AlanLaz said...

WHAAAT - Pay money to a secular government?! (Tongue in cheek)

11:02 AM, February 18, 2008

Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

are we allowed to pray in the same room as this Rebbe?

1:16 AM, February 19, 2008

Blogger SaraK said...


10:38 AM, February 19, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i completely agree with the sentiment that its shocking how rabbis can be so machmir in some areas and yet also theifs.

but i think both the law and Judaism should give people a break when it comes to viewing their subsequent requests and actions all in terms of their prior conduct.

it would seem from a legal standpoint..(although im on break from law school and dont know much about this) the reason that the rabbi is in jail should have no bearing on either the substance or procedure of his doesn't matter if hes in there for stealing 5 dolors or 500 million dolors a violent offense or a non violent offense (unless theres a security issue with him being outside his cell)...if relief can be granted and he has a right to be outside his cell for this..then fine..if not..not.

from a religious standpoint: since when do prior unrelated avaros or mitzvos determine our eligibility..indeed our fully engage in mitzvohs now and in the future?

if i have a fight with my mom and raise my voice and disrespect her..does that mean im ineligible to daven? does that mean i shouldn't care whether im davinag near a toilet?

indeed..its the yetzer hara that tells us "it doesn't matter..your a sinner anyway" or "how can you daven when you just ate that candy bar without a heskher"...or "why bother going to shul..i don't keep shabbos anyway"

i get annoyed when people have sconr for those who do daf yomi in prison...its easy to say the person is a hypocrite based on what he did to get in there and his current efforts to learn...obliviously..he should use prision time to reflect on his misdeeds and not just learn...

but honestly..what else is he supposed to do in prison? should he not learn just be cause he committed a crime? yes..he cant reverse his crime through learning..but in actuality..nothing can reverse his crime. (aside from what hes already sentenced to do..such as restitution if possible)

imagaine if you wre in prison for a dui or some stupid mistake. your really embarrased and mortified at having gotten caught and are worried over what it will do to your future. you also feel that you need to do you begin to daven....but your worried that god isnt listening..becuase there is a toliet in your cell..and you may not be allowed to daven..and halakicly your davening may even be mitzvah habah beaverah...

wouldn't you ask to daven while in the common area?

7:25 PM, February 19, 2008

Blogger Jessica said...

Isn't it against halacha to steal money too? I wasn't aware we were allowed to pick and choose which halachos we followed...

8:26 AM, February 20, 2008

Blogger SephardiLady said...

There are certainly security concerns for other prisoners and prison staff. You simply can't expect to end up in the pen and for life to continue as normal.

10:17 PM, February 24, 2008

Blogger Jessica said...

hey, just wanted to let you know that i added a link to your blog on the links page of my website. hope that's alright. if not, i'll take it off. you can view my site at

8:40 AM, March 03, 2008

Blogger Brother Red said...

You're being too harsh on the poor reb. I mean, come on, we're talking $4 MILLION DOLLARS!

Give him a break!

Besides, maybe he would have paid them the winning amount, eventually, given a little more time to earn some interest. You never know what happened to the poor man.

Don't you people ever have any thoughts of mercy in your hearts, forgiveness? I mean, you're judging him all self-righteously, but it's not like you keep all the halachos, eh?

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

10:43 AM, August 03, 2008


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