In My View: Don’t point fingers
‘Not just a Syrian problem; we are all scapegoats’
By Rabbi David Bibi • The Jewish Star
The way the Jewish papers and blogs wrote about the recent arrests in New Jersey requires some comment. One expects misstatements and exaggerations from the international media, but do the Jewish papers need to follow suit? Rumor had become perceived fact, as so often happens. What happened to dan lekaf sechut — giving the benefit of the doubt — and innocent until proven guilty?
Rabbi Noah Weinberg zt”l tells of what he calls “A Jewish consciousness story.”
A gregarious son partying each night brags to his father that he can count 100 true friends. The father congratulates his son, noting that in all his life, he has only achieved half a friend. The father suggests a test. “Take a goat, slaughter it, put it into a sack, get some blood on you and in the middle of the night go to your friends,” the father says. “Tell them you got into a fight with a guy at the bar, one thing led to another and you killed him. Beg them to help.”
As so the son goes to each of those friends and all slam the door in his face. Dejected, he returns to his father and asks what the father’s half friend would do. His father tells him to go and see.
In the middle of the night, still holding the sack and covered in blood, the son knocks at his father’s friend’s home. He tells the same story. And the half-friend hesitates, saying, “Although I shouldn’t do this, you’re Chaim’s son, and I’ll help you.”
They take the sack and bury it together.
The boy returns to his father in shock.
The story continues and the father explains that a true friend would never even hesitate.
The Torah states, you should love your friend as yourself, I am G-d. If you truly fulfill this, G-d promises then He is the third partner in your friendship.
What is a true friendship? Do you have a true friend? Do you have half a friend? Do you have someone in your life who would risk his freedom, his honor, his money if your son came to him?
A Jewish consciousness story!
Three Sephardic rabbis are accused of succumbing to compassion. Was there personal gain for any of them? I highly doubt it.
Did they succumb to a young man who was ostracized by others? Did they succumb to a young man who came to them again and again pleading that his children had no food on the table? Did they succumb to the suffering son of a trusted scholar? They did. They fulfilled the verse, Ve’ahavta LeReacha Kamocha, even though they were duped, and my sense of judging favorably tells me that Hashem is with them.
Was it wrong to be complicit in a potential federal felony? Undoubtedly it was. Does it mean we need to examine ways of helping? Certainly, and we need to reexamine much in the way we live.
The shocking news is the traitor among us. One begs to imagine the FBI threatened and cajoled, but to set up the 87 year old chief rabbi, to set up a relative, to set up the holy man who shared the dais with his own father for 30 years is unconscionable.
French Jews burned Maimonides’ book and a short time later the Talmud was burned in France.
We have a problem and its beyond the scope of this article and well above my pay scale to solve it. But the problem is not a Syrian problem, not a Sephardic problem, not even an Orthodox problem. It’s a Jewish problem. Let’s come together to solve it. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and lets avoid pointing out scapegoats, because in the eyes of the world, we’re all the scapegoats.
Rabbi David Bibi leads the Sephardic Congregation of Long Beach.