Thursday, June 24, 2010

Yes, We Need Achdus!

Guest Post By Steve - Long Time Friend Of UOJ

The navi Yeshaya gives us the answer in the very first perek with two words, "ASHERU CHAMOTZ"- STRENGTHEN THE VICTIMS! The gemara in Sanhedrin explains: "ASHERU CHAMOTZ VELO CHOMETZ"- STRENGTHEN THE VICTIM AND NOT THE CRIMINAL!

This is the type of achdus that was lacking at the time of the destruction of the two temples. The navi cried out, save yourselves by doing teshuva. Save yourselves by caring for the victims, the widows and orphans. Save yourselves by getting rid of your corrupt leaders who are the friends of thieves and love bribes . However, the people did not listen. They instead rallied around their false prophets, their corrupt leaders and the gangsters of that generation. It is said that every generation that the bais hamikdash is not built is as guilty as the generation when it was destroyed.

We have still not learned our lesson. Instead of unanimously rallying around the cause of victims of sexual abuse, we see rabbis and community leaders rallying around the child molesters. Read the latest Daily News article about Baruch Lebovits if you don't believe me. See how many people came to support him in court versus how many who came to support his brave victim. See how his victims have been villified and attacked while pidyon shvuyim funds are being collected for him and other child molesters. Have these people gone insane? No, we have been this insane since the time of Yeshaya. Nothing has changed. That is why we are still in galus. We still have our false prophets who tell us everything is fine and dandy, our corrupt leaders who are friends of thieves and love shochad and who refuse to even acknowledge those that have been victimized. What has changed?


As for Sholom Rubashkin, nebach, it is a human tragedy. Yes, the sentence was excessive. Anti-semitism? I don't think so. The man made one fatal mistake after another. For close to ten years, he refused to heed the call to change the way he operated his business. We begged him to do something about the reports of worker abuse, animal abuse, immigration law violations, identity fraud, health and safety violations, EPA violations, kashrus and labeling issues, etc.,etc. Yet, all we heard back were denials from him, his lawyers and his PR spinmeisters. After the raid and his indictment, instead of cooperating with the authorities, he stubbornly refused to change his ways. Instead of accepting a plea deal, he committed bank fraud, tampered with evidence, violated his bail terms and ultimately perjured himself on the witness stand. I don't put blame him alone for all his troubles.

His partners, coworkers, lawyers, PR team, the OU and Weissmandl all share in the blame and chillul hashem that took place at Agriprocessors. SMR is not an evil person. A stubborn, misguided and corrupt businessman maybe, but not evil. For the crimes he committed, a 27 year sentence is ridiculous. However,his arrogance and lack of contrition along with some bad advice all served to grease his skids. Pleading for leniency on behalf of such an individual is noble. I myself signed a petition calling for leniency. However, to make this into a cause celebre and playing the race card is not in our best interests. Further antagonizing the judge and the US justice system is also not wise and it severely backfired in this case. Try and help the man, yes, but please stop with the histrionics and this "achdus" business.

Yes, we need achdus.

Gilad Shalit needs our achdus. The victims of child sexual abuse need our achdus. The State of Israel needs our achdus. The countless poor people need our achdus. The orphans, widows and agunos need our achdus. Let's show achdus where it really counts and where it really means something. Asheru Chamotz Velo Chometz! I will keep repeating it until it starts to sink in.