The Price of Deception

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10 Responses

  1. Dr. E says:

    While the focus of the piece obviously deals with emess and yashrus, the premise cannot be ignored. That is tzedaka collectors becoming not only far too ubiquitous but sometimes demanding and brazen (“magiah li”). Tzedaka collection is a sort of public trust for which well meaning donors are being taken advantage of more and more as the volume of collectors and letters soar. How many donors have given money to collectors only to whiff cigarette smoke as the collector moves on to canvas the room? So, the pathetic story which preys on our sympathies turns out to merely be a conduit for a nicotine habit and a support for lifelong underemployment.

    The reference of the “chassan” collecting on his own behalf (and the knee-jerk reaction of giving under that pretense) has got to make one realize how broken the system is. Why is someone in such a situation? Why is he a “chassan” if he cannot support a kallah and family? (And why does that not raise a red flag?) There is a whole subculture out there that collecting for oneself or one’s family is no longer a last resort, but is “Plan B”–when in reality there really wasn’t any viable Plan A. This is not emess and yashrus either. Sometimes this is due to lack of parental direction, sometimes it is unrealistic expectations set up by the yeshivos. This applies not only to those who shnorr, but it’s indicative of an attitude and wordview that has become the norm even in better economic circumstances.

    Of course, there are certainly some truly unfortunate cases where we need to step up to the plate. And it’s a real shame that the charletans and deadbeats out there have created a climate of cynicism towards a mitzva as central as tzedaka.

    Let the giver beware.

  2. Joel Rich says:

    I couldn’t agree more but is there any cognitive dissonance between this dedication to complete truth and a popular philosophy articulated by Rabbi Shimon Schwab as quoted by Rabbi J. J. Schacter “There is a vast difference between history and storytelling. History must be truthful otherwise it does not deserve its name…. What ethical purpose is served by preserving a realistic historic picture? Nothing but the satisfaction of curiosity. We should tell ourselves and our children the good memories of the good people…What is gained by pointing out their inadequacies…? We want to be inspired by their example…”?


  3. Yisrael Moshe says:

    R. Rosenblum,

    I can’t thank you enough for pointing out the overwhelming faults of those who control the Israeli Government.

    It bothers me to no end the way these so called leaders routinely lie bold faced to the Israeli public with impunity.

    And your point about the trickle down effect is so important. Leaders set the tone of a country, and when they lie, it becomes acceptable day-to-day discourse for an entire country.

    I apologize for essentially repeating what you wrote in the article without having something unique to add, but it is therapeutic to know that I am not the only one who thinks this way. It’s good to know that I am not crazy.

  4. yoelb says:

    Yisrael Moshe

    I think you may have left out a level. Rabbonim set the tone, and when even a small percentage of rabbis and others wearing the uniform of the frum game the system, or even, G-d forbid commit outright fraud or act like thugs… The world sees it.

    Terrible things flow from religious leaders who aren’t what they ought to be. It was when the High Priest died that people went home from the Cities of Refuge; negligent homicide was laid at the door of the High Priest who didn’t set the right tone.

    What is the power of a bad example, of bad publicity? When I first went into practice I was told that if a client has a really good experience with your services on average they will tell three or four people; if they have a bad one they will tell everybody they know.

  5. Aaron says:

    “Citizens of Israel are now experiencing what happens when a whole society is comprised of people who have not learned midvar sheker tirchak.”

    Do lies include making demands on others in order to live beyond one’s means?

    Perhaps if gedolim would send their own adult children to communities where the cost of living was 1/3 that of J-lem, Boro Park or Monsey, it would be possible for families to live a modest Torah life that isn’t such a financial hardship where the baal habatim work overtime so that they have to delegate “v’shinantam livanecha” to others and slave to enrich mortgage companies and caterers? What about choosing a community where a baal habayit can work a regular day and come home with a little bit of energy left for his family and fit in a seder for learning?

    Moreover, cities where haredim are concentrated are especially overflowing with geysers flowing with the values we try to eschew. Why not consider neo-shtetlism away from billboards and urban ethics? Such a movement can’t begin with baal habatim who will be stigmatized. It would require a Torah leader to LEAD by example.

    Perhaps maybe an edict against hiring the golddigging boys who come out of yeshivas where the roshei yeshiva encourage demanding exorbitant dowries to accompany the edict against attending weddings with more than 400 guests. “Average” kollel boys are worth a dowry of half a house and a stipend from the in-laws? Puh-leeze. That Borsalino is made of tissue paper.

    Why is a “working boy” who is serious about learning promoted as inferior “husband material” by haredi leaders?

    In a class of 100 kollel boys, if the rosh yeshiva can’t quantify the difference between the 12th in his class and the 27th so that independent outsiders can judge, please explain to me how the kollel “system” is _not_ smoke and mirrors. And are boys ranked #41 through #100 really entitled to being fully supported? Or maybe they should do something akin to work-study, apprenticed to the Zevuluns in the community to help mikadesh the level of commerce we practice?

    And while we’re talking about dishonesty, what would Reb Yaacov Kaminetsky have said to Jews who use pirated software to write their Divrei Torah?

  6. Ori Pomerantz says:

    There is also a “trickle up” effect. Some types of dishonesty are endemic to Israeli society, which makes it easier for the politicians to think they will be able to get away with things. The problem is that once you start accepting some dishonesty, it’s hard to draw the line.

  7. Ori Pomerantz says:

    In relation to the article Aaron cited, may I quote Pirkey Avot 4:7? רבי צדוק אומר, …, ולא קורדום לחפור בהם: – Rabbi Tzadoc said: don’t make them [words of Torah] … a shovel to dig.

    Gdoley Israel might be able to live without luxuries. However, most of us need shovels. Isn’t there a risk that a Torah only curriculum would result in young men who are lacking the means to support their family except for Torah, and therefore would be forced to commit this sin? Isn’t that a case of putting a stumbling block in front of the blind?

    I am not Charedi, so I may be missing something critical here. If so, could you please tell me what?

  8. GB says:

    One of the main reasons we made yerida (and there are many like us) is that living in Israel one is forced to compromise one’s emes, whether exchanging dollars on the black market or cheating on taxes, etc. etc. which is not something we were willing to do nor did we wish to expose our children to this type of game-playing. I admire those who are stronger than the system, but tzaddikim are very few and far between.

  9. Aaron says:

    GB, I almost made aliyah with my family but I found that “becoming Israeli” came at the expense of emes, as you said. Yes, there were some specific mitzvos I could only acquire there, but I came to the conclusion that my aliyah would only be successful if I could remain what jaded Israelis would call a “freier” and have a US-based business that I could perform from a home office, there. Currently working toward that goal. I need and want to be insulated from the arbitrary bureaucracy and crushing socialism. I have no stomach for haggling and have problems with haggling hashkafically (Two people buying the same item pay different prices because one can haggle harder or wear down the seller? There’s a tinge of gneivah there. Better system is for a proprietor to put price stickers on goods and adjust the price based on the traffic. It eliminates the whole issue of gneivas daas that we are cautioned against as the potential buyer never has to ask and engage in the uncomfortable process of negotiation.)

  10. dovid says:

    Aharon: “…what would Reb Yaacov Kaminetsky have said to Jews who use pirated software to write their Divrei Torah?”

    He may have said: mitzvah habah b’averah.

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