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Have You Been Invited To A Brachos Party Or An Amen Party?

This post has been cross-posted to DovBear – more discussion there.

The newswires have been full reporting the massive scandal in NY / NJ the last few days. There is a strong correlation between the scandal and something prevalent in contemporary Orthodox Jewish society.

You may think you are far from a money-laundering, tax evading, kidney-dealing, FBI snitching, tax-evading, “knucklehead”. You may even be have the cleanest books on Wall Street and third party audits to prove it. Yet, our entire generation is infected with the same virus that the”knucklehead”are carrying.

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Shame on Gizmodo | Shame on Us Too

One of my favorite gadget blogs ran a discpicable headline for a post yesterday. Gizmodo is a great blog when it comes to getting information, reviews and opinions on the latest technology and gadgets. Unfortunately, yesterday they disgraced their reputation with a pretty offensive headline.

The headline garnered enough attention that they ultimately changed it to something less offensive.

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How To Avoid “Holier-Than-Thou” Syndrome

I saw a very interesting column in the New York Times today.

The column presents some evidence that a large chasm exists between what an individual will claim they would do in a given situation and what one would actually do in that given situation.

In other words our actions betray our feelings of righteousness. (How funny is it that the columnist’s named is Benedict? well, it made me smile…).

As I was reading the article, which I highly recommend I kept thinking: Why is this idea so natural to me? Where else have I seen this?

The answer was really obvious.

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Madoff’s alleged misdeeds spark feelings of betrayal, outrage in L.A.’s Jewish community – Los Angeles Times

Madoff’s alleged misdeeds spark feelings of betrayal, outrage in L.A.’s Jewish community – Los Angeles Times.

This LA Times article actually encompasses the points I made yesterday in my post about a similar NY Times article.

Except there are still some Jewish elitists who “disown” Madoff (the first “Rabbis” mentioned in the article”). Rabbi Adlerstein and Harriet Rossetto echoed my sentiments of learning from the incident and Madoff’s opportunity for Tshuva.

Rossetto even goes so far to say that maybe Madoff is the messenger teaching us to redefine our values. That is a good approach. That is a healthy approach.

Divorcing ourselves from Madoff by saying “Madoff does not represent the Jewish people, not even remotely” is useless and inaccurate. Firstly, no one represents the Jewish people, we each represent ourselves. Secondly, that kind of disownment is not our place as humans and fellow Jews. He is still a Jew and yes he made mistakes but haven’t we all?

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In Madoff Scandal, Jews Feel an Acute Betrayal – NYTimes.com

In Madoff Scandal, Jews Feel an Acute Betrayal – NYTimes.com

This NY Times article raises some interesting issues. Firstly, does Madoff reflect on “Jews” – are we all judged as a nation / religion by the actions of individuals? Is it anti-semitism when non-Jews express displeasure with the actions of Jews who act like idiots? Is there really no teshuva for Madoff? the last “rabbi” quoted seems to thing the Madoff is doomed to hell with no chance for redemption. Last I checked teshuva was always an option.

Besides all those questions what really irked me about this article was the self-righteousness of these non-observant Jews looking down from their pedestal of morality on Madoff. He is not excommunicated from the Jewish people because he is a thief! He is a Jewish thief and he is still our brother. He needs his people now more than ever to be sympathetic to his dire situation. He is not excused but we are not allowed to judge him either. Everyone does things that are wrong, everyone fails a moral challenge along the way. We are no different from Madoff. His sins do have grander repercussions and resonate more strongly throughout the world but at the end of the day he is just another person who messed up.

It is useless to paint him as a non-Jewish Jew because of his mistakes. As Jews we believe that mistakes are inevitable, it is how we dael with those mistakes that defines us. Not a bunch of “Rabbis” telling the NY Times that Madoff isn’t really Jewish because he is a crook!

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