Tuesday, April 27, 2010

My One and Only Rubashkin Post

This blog has never been one for discussing the countless scandals plaguing the Orthodox Jewish world. Indeed, I have never even mentioned the name of Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin before. But I want to comment on one aspect of the case that seems to perturb many folks - the attempt of the Chabad community to muster all of its forces to attempt to mitigate the sentence meted out to Rubashkin. See, for example, the many Failed Messiah posts or this particularly well-written one by Daas Hedyot.

I have a very close friend who is doing serious time in prison. Just before sentencing, many people in the community wrote letters or made personal appearances before the judge to try and reduce the time that he would surely have to serve. Although many folks dropped all contact with this individual as a result of his quite unsavory misdeeds, many others (include myself), acted as characters witnesses and spoke up on his behalf.

This is what family does.


What we did not do was to lie to the judge. My friend never denied his serious mistake, nor did the letters that we wrote deny the seriousness of the crime. We did not produce slick videos that glossed over the facts of the case. We did not speak in public alleging anti-Semitic motivations for his arrest. We never once applied the label of pidyon shevuyim, the redemption of captives. We did not bring irrelevant comparisons to sentences meted out to other criminals in completely different circumstances, or in completely different legal venues. The plea was simple: the person contributed much to the community (as indeed he did, and I am not referring to monetary contributions) who had a lapse in judgment which he fully admits and is willing to take responsibility for. Please, judge, have some mercy in your decision.

No, one doesn't just wipe one's hands clean and ignore the plight of a family member, even if that member is guilty of a great chillul Hashem as Sholom Rubashkin certainly is. However, to use lies and deceit to accomplish one's goals is contemptible. And this is why I part company with the Lubavitch community and its many allies in the chareidi and - yes - even Modern Orthodox world.


chaim said...

chaim said [sorry, I accidentally deleted the post; this is paste from email to FH]:

why is it not pidyon shevuyim? doesnt this apply when someone is guilty of the crime?

Frum Heretic said...

Much ink has been spilled on the argument of "pidyon shevuyim" for Rubashkin. My personal feeling is that it does not apply to Rubashkin, who is clearly a criminal. That doesn't mean that people shouldn't advocate for his cause, only that bogus arguments such as pidyon shevuyim should be avoided.