Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bad for the Jews?

Well, it ain't good...

I don't usually comment on current events (frankly, do I usually comment on anything?) but this...

I'm not going to pretend that it isn't possible to let the 'power' of being clergy go to your head: gifts from admirers take a weird turn, you start seeing your discretionary fund as literally your discretionary fund, and before you know it you've gone down the rabbit hole. We've seen it with plenty of rabbis, ministers, and other leaders from various religions and denominations (isn't that what Doubt is all about?). Chazal (the rabbis of old) knew that they were in a position that could lead even the most upright person astray. That's why they expend so much ink reminding themselves of their responsibilities:

"Antigonus of Socho received the Torah from Shimon the Righteous. He used to say: Be not like servants who minister unto their master for the sake of receiving a reward, but be like servants who serve their master not upon the condition of receiving a reward; and let the fear of Heaven be upon you."

"Shimon ben Shetach said: Examine the witnesses diligently and be cautious in your words lest through them they learn to falsify."

"Hillel used to say: He who aggrandizes his name, loses his name. He who does not increase his knowledge, decreases it. He who learns not, forfeits his life. He who makes unworthy use of the crown (of the Torah) shall pass away."

Those are just from the first chapter of Pirkei Avot. I could go on ad nauseum.

American jurisprudence asks us to view them as innocent until proven guilty, and even if that is true, or that they undertook this adventure in their minds to benefit their congregations somehow, it should be a reminder to all of us in positions of (relative) authority of our task and our responsibility...

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