My take on the Rubashkin issue

In studying the laws of דינא דמלכותא, I heard a shiur from R’ Schachter. In one of his comments he stated that if the law of the land meted out a form of judgement that far exceeded the expected outcome of a prosecution under a formal פסק דין from a סנהדרין, this implied a situation where there is a clear conflict between Torah Law and the Law of the Land, and creates Halachic tension.

We are limited in what we can do in such a situation since we live under שלומה של מלכות and, in the main, are very appreciative of the system of laws enacted, even if they aren’t completely motivated by satisfying the requirements of the דין of a בן נח.

Accordingly, in this case, based on what I have read, there may have been a miscarriage of justice in that (amongst other things) the presiding Judge exercised irregular behaviour. This would then imply a new court case after which, presumably, justice would take its course. Given that Rubashkin is widely known as an איש צדקה it seems to me that his efforts for a new trial should be supported in any way that people are able: either through דורון or תפילה.

In summary: until the judicial process is fully exhausted, he is the proverbial  חצי עבד וחצי בן חורין in my eyes. There is a ספק and in the case of a ספק we help someone seek a just outcome. At the end of the day, he may well be found guilty in a new trial, or may receive a lesser/larger sentence, or may get off on a technicality. Que Sera Sera.

Until and if that happens, those who are uncomfortable with supporting the effort—and I understand their viewpoint—should simply adopt שתיקה. There is no חיוב to protest against your fellow Jew until the process has ended and something else unfolds.

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

5 thoughts on “My take on the Rubashkin issue”

  1. I object to your statement “Given that Rubashkin is widely known as an איש צדקה ”

    He might be known for that, but that doesn’t make him a good person who didn’t lie and cheat and steal.

    I would rather not go into his crimes publicly, but when people make him out to be a saint who helped everyone and could do no wrong and talk about him as a victim of a blood libel, someone needs to provide a wakeup call

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    1. At worst, it most certainly DOES make him a good person who committed offences. Does somebody become completely bad because they do an עבירה? This is a very negative Misnagdic view of the world.

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  2. One often hears about a crook having given a lot of tzedokoh, but there’s an important distinction. It’s very easy to be a baal tzedokoh with other people’s money; after all, what else is one going to do with it? SIgning a cheque is easy, and costs nothing if all one has to do is steal some more money to cover it. And of course a Bernie Madoff regards it as a business expense, to maintain a position in the community.

    But the Rubashkin family, including Sholom, is different; while they did give generously to certain causes, such as Colel Chabad, they are known primarily not for their tzedokoh with their money, but with themselves. They don’t just give a cheque and go back to their pursuits; they put themselves out for another person, they personally do what it takes to give another person what he needs.

    I guarantee you that if you were to pick nine famous philanthropists out of ten, and knock on their doors at 11pm asking for a place to sleep, they will send you away; in the best case they’ll give you some money for a hotel. But knock on any Rubashkin family’s door and they will personally make up a bed for you, if necessary displacing one of their own children. If you’re hungry they’ll personally find you something to eat. If you seem to need encouragement they’ll spend time with you. They take an interest. Mrs Rubashkin’s restaurant is famous, both for its lack of hechsher and for the fact that so many meals go unpaid for; it’s her private tzedokoh project, and all those unpaid meals have surely accumulated a huge account Above. This is how she trained her children, and many people can relate similar stories of personal chessed by members of that family.

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