Derech HaMelech

The Weekly Raid From Galus

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Chanukah Ner Sheini

I saw this article from Rabbi Shmuely Boteach and I thought a response was necessary. I did not address all of the issues raised, but there is one particular area I wanted to address. Rabbi Shmuley seems to be complaining about a higher standard applied to religious people and he is right. This is standard Judaism. Not only do our Rabbis teach us this, but also in the first chapter of Tanya, the Alter Rebbe writes that a righteous man is not just someone who does good deeds; rather, all sin and the thought of sin repulses him - he is only attracted to goodness. Therefore, I think we can deduce from this that when someone who we formerly believed to be righteous somehow fell from that standard, his negative behaviors are more closely scrutinized. We see this all throughout the Torah and throughout our history. Mr. Madoff did not wear a beard and a hat and although this does not make him less Jewish, G-d forbid, than you and I, he certainly is not expected to behave in the same manner as someone who represents themselves as being a religious Jew. We can draw a parallel from what happened in Mumbai - why was it so different than any of the - thank G-d not anymore - daily killings and suicide bombings that happened in Israel since Oslo and before? Because at the center of the Mumbai killings stood a few religious Jews, Chabadnikim (and I'm not Chabad, BTW) and it hit so much more close to home for religious Jews, because we identified personally, saying "Oh my goodness, these were religious Jews representing G-d and his Torah! How could it be?" The same here as far as identification, the same words can be applied, with different accentuation, "Oh my goodness, these were religious Jews representing G-d and his Torah! How could it be?" And I think the entire world understands this way of thinking.

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