Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sympathy for the Abramoff Devil?

A rule in Jewish law holds that when all the judges on the Jewish high court unanimously condemned an accused criminal, he must be set free. The very unanimity was suspicious and called into question the justice of the proceedings.

Talk about unanimity. By now thousands of published articles, ranging from critical to hateful, have appeared about the famous Jack Abramoff � Orthodox Jew, former Washington super-lobbyist, product of an affluent Beverly Hills upbringing and future inmate of the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He has pleaded guilty to mail fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy.

As Abramoff told The Jewish Journal in a series of phone interviews earlier this month, �I had lost a sense of proportion and judgment. God sent me 1,000 hints that He didn�t want me to keep doing what I was doing. But I didn�t listen, so He set off a nuclear bomb.�

In such a case, can there be room for giving the universally condemned man the benefit of the doubt?

�What hurts the most is the way my co-religionists want to cut my head off,� Abramoff says.

Predictably, he has been excoriated by some Jews who seem transparently thrilled to point to an Orthodox Jew with failings. The response from the Orthodox community is more aptly described as shock and frequently expressions of shame at the thought that Abramoff, a Jew, did what he did.

But the story has another side.

In presenting this alternate view, I don�t pretend to be disinterested. I have met Abramoff twice, and 10 years ago I enjoyed spending the first two festival days of Sukkot in his home. His fundraising efforts, related in his plea agreement, supported many Republican and Jewish causes including an organization I admire and once worked for � Toward Tradition.http://www.jewishjournal.com/home/preview.php?id=15327

I read this story and I think the discussion about BTs and FFB is something that we should not take seriously. There are many many FFBs in prison for all kinds of crimes, ranging from frauds to violent and sexual matters. These people were either Black Hatters from birth or Chasidim; so what does this mean. This post, Chaptzem has talked about many of them.

Now I understand that reformers might comment about either BTs or FFBs, but they too have their problems-what about the Rabbi in NJ sitting in prison for having his wife murdered? I guess the thing to think about is when Jews stray we still need to support them. Prison time isn't easy, but it very difficult for an observant Jew. And we Jews need to support these poor souls all the more so, because of Klal Yisroel.


Please note, that the rabbi in NJ sitting for ordering the murder of his wife was reform and not orthodox.

Please don't mix up the two.


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