A Seamless White Cloak

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8 Responses

  1. Ori says:

    In other words, it is not enough to be honest. One must strive to appear honest too.

    However, there seems to be a conflict of interests between being a leader who must appear honest to his followers, and being the head of an institution that relies on donations. Maybe that’s the reason so many of the Tanaim and Amoraim had jobs.

  2. dr. bill says:

    I am dumbfounded. You write: “The recent EJF scandal would look to be one of those times. I am firm in my conviction that all is seamlessly white. What is lacking, though, is transparency.” Devarim (16, 19), particulalry as interpreted by Chazal says otherwise. If one called a tzaddik in the Torah can be corrupted by (even innocent) kindness, are we to assume our generation is immune to such possibilities. Yes, we need transparency, but to be “firm in my conviction” given the largesse involved goes well beyond “havei dan et kol haadam lekav zechut” and imho opposes a verse in the Bible.

  3. Doron Beckerman says:


    Perhaps it just makes it a bit harder.

    Dr. Bill,

    See Chazon Ish there two paragraphs later and on, that Shochad is an exceedingly narrow exception which is a Chok.

  4. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Rav Beckerman, Moshe Rabeinu wore a white cloak for a reason. The Torah is like water. Moshe Rabeinu, a”h, was immersed in water. And we all know what happens to white garments when they get wet.
    Moshe Rabeinu was completely transparent in his dealings with Klal Yisrael. There was no hidden agenda, no hope for personal gain even without harm happening to someone else, nothing other than a sincere dedication to bring his people closer to God.
    But there was also something more, a knowledge that even if one is totally honest, one must also take into account the perception of others. Moshe Rabeinu could have worn a regular outfit (bekisher, sthreiml?) and stood in front of Klal Yisrael 100% confident that he had embezzled nothing. But he didn’t want to rest on his own confidence. He wanted the people to be confident too. That perception is often missing today. Yes, certain great rabbinic figures may have had nothing to do with EJF’s missteps and they know they are blameless. But that’s not how many on the outside see it and their perceptions should matter too.

  5. Ori says:

    Garnel Ironheart, do you think Moses’s behavior was an example of not putting a stumbling block in front of the blind? If people suspected him of embezzlement, they’d probably speak about it. It would be extremely difficult for them to avoid Lashon haRa. This way, the Israelites were not tempted to commit that particular sin on that particular occasion.

  6. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Hi Ori,
    I don’t think I mentioned stumbling blocks before the blind. Besides, the midrash and Rashi’s commentary bring plenty of examples of how the people complained about Moshe Rabeinu’s behaviour and nitpicked about every little thing he did. Perhaps this is why he made such a tremendous effort to avoid any opportunity for complaint on this occasion.

  7. Ori says:

    Garnel Ironheart, you didn’t say it – but it read as if you were thinking in that direction, so I wanted to check.

    A related question, would it be “not putting a stumbling block” if we today try to act in a way that looks like we couldn’t cheat?

  8. dr. bill says:

    Rabbi Beckerman, Consider yourself in good company; my question remains regardless of who might agree with you. The CI ztl’s explanation, as you reference it, is neither the pshat of rishonim (see – Rashi or Seforna) nor is it normative (Choshen Mishpat 9). I suspect he may be making a related but different point; I need to think about his viewpoint more carefully. Perhaps, in “brisker” fashion how a student should treat his teachers may be different than how indviduals (even tzaddikim) ought treat themselves.

    In this case, particularly, given the financial aid and largesse that was funneled through the individual in question, one would expect many not to investigate but recuse themselves.

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