By S. Friedman, Matzav.com Newscenter
Outrageous. Disgusting. Appalling. These are the words used by the media to express feelings over the recent release of the only man convicted in the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland. While Scotland was trying to be “humane” with their release of the dying mass murderer, the terrorist then received a hero’s welcome complete with a parade and dignitaries upon returning to his homeland. No shame, just glorifying the villain for all of the world to see, not to suffice with just letting him return quietly to his family to spend his final days.
There are many stories of Gedolim who condemned people who cheated. One was recently posted here (link) on Matzav.com with Rav Chaim Kanievsky telling a bochur he should sit in jail for what he had done (driving without a license). Another is a famous story about a boy who cheated on a test and Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky expelled him from yeshiva. Years later he was indicted on fraud charges, to which Rav Yaakov reflected that if only other yeshivos had not been so quick to accept this boy back, perhaps he would have learned his lesson.
Financial integrity has been at the forefront of our community as of late, and while there are those who are trying to better themselves, there is still a disturbing cavalier attitude that permeates some segments. We thought that recent events would have gotten rid of this attitude, but on the surface at least, it appears that it hasn’t completely gone away.
I know of someone whose rov chastised his kehillah to avoid dealing with people who can cause chillul Hashem. When he tried to act upon this by distancing himself from associates who were indicted, he was met with scorn and resentment, as if he was a frum Benedict Arnold amidst others in the business.
At the same time, for some, the release of a person who commits fraud on a large scale might be cause for great celebration.
To see honesty shunned and criminality glorified is contradictory and embarrassing.
When we glorify those who break the law, we put ourselves in danger, literally and figuratively. We don’t need to give fodder to those who wish to report how hypocritical we are. Do we really need to invite the scrutiny and criticism for which there is no good answer? What message do we send to our young people if we send mixed messages about right and wrong? What about younger people who observe approval from of our society to criminal actions?
In stark contrast, we have three yeshiva bochurim rotting away in jail in Japan, who were completely unaware of what they had gotten themselves into. We need to daven for them and try to obtain their release. We will celebrate the day they come home, iy”H very soon.
And then there are others. Others who may have known what they were doing. Others who we wish the best for and who we want to be returned to their families. While we don’t want people to sit in jail and we empathize with the families and don’t begrudge their return to society, shouldn’t it be an awkward situation, not one of blatant celebration?
Rav Chaim Kanievsky, who we run to for yeshuos and advice won’t give such a person a bracha. Should we be celebratory? What an olam hafuch…