Friday, January 11, 2008

Legality versus morality - The imbalance of the two

A huge number of newspapers, commentators and blogs have hopped onto the Spinka story and are using the opportunity as a firing squad of all Chasidim. The venom and vitriol spewed by these media outlets is quite apparent and extremely transparent. Not a day goes by without some non-religious Jewish reporter looking for a Rabbi that may have thrown down a bubble-gum wrapper on the street.

As religious Jews we are held to a higher standard by the world. And we should be. After all we have the Torah and know the true way to live our life. So we should be better people. It is true, sometimes Frum people mess up and do things that they shouldn't. This is a transgression and a betrayal both to the Torah and to their people.

However, there is something that seems very hypocritical about the media reports.

The same people that report on how wrong money laundering is see no problem with bankruptcy. If one launders a million dollars, thus cheating the government and ultimately tax paying citizens out of a million bucks, the media says lock up that lying, stealing, cheating Hasid. However, when that same reporter is a million dollars in debt and files for bankruptcy, thus cheating all his debtors out of their money, we say that he is making a wise financial move. Not only does this reporter not get charged with a crime, but he can open a new business tomorrow and start the same cycle again.

Why is it that stealing someone's money is defined only by a mere legality, rather than morality? Is it ok to take someone's hard earned money just because you can get away with it? Is it less of a crime just because there is a law that says it's ok? Doesn't anyone feel that morals are just as important as laws?

The fact is both are dead wrong. And the fact is most Chasidim do not lie, cheat or steal. As a matter of fact Chasidim are more likely than anyone else to pay their debts off even after bankrupting.

If we are going to call laundering a crime and crucify the people that do it, we should do the same for people that file for bankruptcy, for people that create offshore tax shelters and for people that conduct shady business while hiding behind a corporation.

It is time for a single legal and moral standard for everyone!

When you say "shvartzeh", my friend, you are doing the same thing!


You are a little silly. It is legal to file for bankruptcy. You can not equate bankruptcy with shady business. Beside that, we as frum Jews always "file for bankruptcy"-it's called "b'dee'eved" or it's called a "heter". "Hakol shochtin-L'chatcheela, V'shcheetasan k'shayra-b'dee'eved". Bankruptcy is not the ideal way to go, but it is acceptable if you put yourself in that situation.


That's comparting apples with onions. You'll go to any length to justify what a frum goniff does.


Your writing is just a proof of your ignorance and lack of understanding of right and wrong. Money laundering and tax evasion are ILLEGAL. Filing for bankruptcy is LEGAL. You may not agree with the circumstances that allow one to file for bankrupcy. There might be people who abuse the right to file for bankrupcy and do so just to avoid paying their debts. But they are still doing something that is LEGAL. Perhaps the laws of bankrupcy should be changed, but until that is done they are not doing anything legaly wrong and should not be locked up. It is time for you to lobby dov hikind and simcha felder whom you seem to be a big supporter of to change the laws of bankrupcy in this wonderful medinah.


"Light of the world"; a higher standard than others. But first let the true facts be known. Do not judge this case before all facts are known. If we learn anything from this it is that we must live a just and moral life ourselves. We must be our own light of the world.


Just because Dina D'Malchusa (fraud is assur) applies to Jews, this does not mean that Jewish law (bankruptcy is assur) should apply to reporters.

There is no obligation on non-Jews to follow Jewish financial laws, but there IS an obligation on Jews to follow secular financial laws.


can you support your claim that chasidim are more likely than anyone else to pay their debts off ever after bankrupting? (is that even a word?) what is this claim based on?


you are wrong. it is not so easy for a guy to open a new business and restart the cycle after a bankrupcy. bankrupcy will damage your credit report and stays on your credit reeport for years. it is really hard ro get loans and credit again and if you do it will be at terrible rates.


I am not a chusid, but I grew up in Boro Park and have a yeshiva background. Having chassidim in my own family, I find myself constantly defending them. It could be the Satmar dispute, the latest person to be indicted for one reason or another etc. etc.. I find it apalling that you can defend people with this ridiculous line of reasoning. Yes, they are innocent until proven guilty, but let's get real here! Why are chassidim becoming such an embarassment to the rest of us Jews, frum or not frum? What is going on in your communities? Just a day or two ago, I read on this blog about how prospective in laws are intimidated into paying for an extravagant wedding they can't afford. What are you teaching your children about true torah values? I'm sure some of you that are reading this will think I'm just some misnagid that hates chassidim. Nothing can be further from the truth. My grandfather a"h was a chusid who's davening would shake the rafters. He died almost 30 years ago. I can't imagine what he would think about what goes on today! Many of your parents were holocaust survivors. Is this what they survived for, to watch their children lie, cheat and extort money? I don't remember any of these things happening in the Bal Shem Tov stories I loved as a child. Chassidim, wake up! I'm sure most of you are good hard working people who cringe on the inside each time you hear stories such as these. Teach your children the right derech. Show them the beauty of what being a chusid once was. It is your responsibility to keep chassidim from becoming an embarassment to Jews and non-Jews alike. If you can't do that then stop coming to us to support your institutions, because when you knock on the door, no one will be home!


"The venom and vitriol spewed"
what does yoily the jewishcop have to do with this.


There seems to be a thread here, to the effect that "Bankruptcy is Legal."

Yes, indeed it is.

But the bankruptcy process, in addition to being legal, is also TRANSPARENT!!!

How a debtor's estate is disposed of is a matter of the public record.

Compare this to the secret and shady dealings which tend to go on in some circles (Jewish and otherwise).


If you really care about the honesty and the moral standards of chassidim and how to respond to venom thrown at jews in general when these stories come by, then do something very simple - start posting positive stories on the blog.
For every person knocking the spinker rebbe and all the ganovim in boro park, let me tell you the simple truth - the acts of honesty and chessed done there and by other frum communities especially chassidisher are simply without comparison.
"Mmitzvah lefarsem Osay mitzvah" - why dosn't anybody do it? For every single day of the year, one can easily find - whether in Boro park, monsey, williamsburg, or Crown heights - incredible acts of chessed or honesty, from the countless erlicher yidden which will amaze and inspire anyone who hears those stories. Publicizing these facts will have a three fold effect -A) It's a huge kiddush hashem, B) it inspires those whom hear the stories to act similarly, and C) when those people who are busy laundering money go to mikveh and hear how moshe chaim who sits in the back of shul and talks the whole davening, lost money to honor a contract which was verbal and not even signed on paper, he will be ashamed of his money laundering , and instead of dwelling on what a chochom he is that he can outsmart the whole law enforcement, he will realize what a momzer he is for making money by assisting swindlers.
I think chaptzem is a good blog which publicizes things which everyone tries to hush hush, but it bothers me that every major story is always borderline loshon horoh without anything positive. Why not start posting good positive news as well?


for all you chasiddim haters just remember who was a embarrassment to us the litvak finkel who knowignly fed frum jews treif meat so look at yourself and remember all the yeshivash people like freidman and others that give lots of money to lakewood and were and were caught in other scams


Maybe the real issue is that people on your blog don't realize that they are living in America and have to become educated in the English language and not live in such an insulated world. Just check some of the postings on this blog. The majority of writers should be ashamed of themselves. They can't compose a complete sentence in English with correct spelling and punctuation. English is the language of America, not Yiddish. If you live here, then learn the basic fundamentals of the English language.


It comes down to bobby kasirer ratting everyone out. what was done is wrong, but who let him decide when to drop the dime? I do not see yankel's name coming off beis yaakov? I do not see his name coming off the siddur he donated.

Everyone knew bobby's "shticklach" when he sold land in lancaster/palmdale and befriended some real jews to his own advantage. he has never so much as thanked those people, who are in their 80s and maybe he should.


It comes down to bobby kasirer ratting everyone out. what was done is wrong, but who let him decide when to drop the dime? I do not see yankel's name coming off beis yaakov? I do not see his name coming off the siddur he donated.

Everyone knew bobby's "shticklach" when he sold land in lancaster/palmdale and befriended some real jews to his own advantage. he has never so much as thanked those people, who are in their 80s and maybe he should.

Comment Credit ---This article posted by Anonymous : January 13, 2008 11:41 AM
You want to know let kasirerr drop the dime? Look up for a minute. The Aybishter decided it.
If kasirer was wrong halachikly then thats between him and the aybishter. But to blame kasiirer for this mess is totaly ludicrious.


I think Chaptzem has made a very good point. He doesn't justify what spinka did. He just compares the illegal acts that they committed, to other acts that are legal but may be just as immoral, and asks "Doesn't anyone feel that morals are just as important as laws?".

All the above commentators who are going on about how this is legal and that is illegal, apparently feel that morals are irrelevant.


how dare bobby decide to rat everyone out. He made friggin millions in his old age home scam and then, when the SEC decided to go after him, he ratted out all these people. the guy made his money through the goodness of others - he was selling houses in the shfartza areas and others helped him - never so much as gave a hakars hatov to those people, instead, he ratted these people out.


You have your facts all wrong. When a person files for bankruptcy it can ruin their finical future. They can't get a loan, buy a home, lease a car, take out any credit cards. It's not so simple. Sure in time if the damage is repaired you can start fresh but you don't want anyone to be in that position its a horrible thing.

Interestingly enough though, many shady people DO file for bankruptcy and then pull shtick to get a new identity or use someone else's identity or their wives or kids identities to rebuild their credit and start fresh.

So it's ironic that the very case you use to prove one thing, actually shows you that they are shady many times in that as well.


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