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July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
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Can This be True?

Rabbi Metzger denies everything. I hope that’s true.
Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger.

Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger.
Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/FLASH90

Oh No! Not again! Please… not again… not with this man. I have to presume innocence. Not only because of western democratic principles of ‘innocent until proven guilty’.  And not only because of the major Chilul HaShem this would be – if true. But because of an impeccable record of service to the nation as Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi of Israel and because of his service as a soldier for the IDF.

Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Yonah Metzger has been placed under house arrest in Israel after ten hours of interrogation by the police about corruption allegations. From the Jerusalem Post:

Police from the National Fraud Squad raided the home and offices of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yonah Metzger on Thursday, and questioned him under caution for hours, as part of a bribery, fraud, money-laundering and breach-of-trust case. Metzger was released to five days house arrest on Thursday night following some ten hours of questioning.

Metzger is forbidden to enter his offices, leave the country or make contact with any of the other suspects in the case.

Metzger and three other men are suspected of being involved in the pilfering of hundreds of thousands of shekels from a number of charities.

Following an undercover investigation, officers went public on Thursday, arresting the three suspects and seizing documents, computers and other materials from Metzger’s home and office they believe may be linked to the allegations.

The suspects include Haim Nissan Eisenshtat, who worked for years as Metzger’s driver and personal assistant.

Eisenshtat is accused of taking bribes, fraud, breach of trust and money laundering.

Rabbi Metzger denies everything. I hope that’s true. But after so many high profile people have been arrested and convicted of crimes like this in the not so distant past, I have to admit that my confidence in his innocence is a bit tenuous at this point.  Especially as he is now under strict house arrest after an undercover investigation and  a 10 hour interrogation.

I don’t know what it is about so many high profile people who have spent their lives doing good things ending up as criminals. Perhaps the old adage about people who attain a certain level of power is true in far more cases than we would admit: Power corrupts – Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Maybe the temptation for even good people to cheat the system when opportunities are thrust at them constantly by unscrupulous people – overwhelms their ethical sensibilities.  Added to that is their erroneous belief that having so much power and influence makes them invincible.

Perhaps if all of us were tested that way (most of us never are) many of us would fail. Even those of us who believe we have inviolable ethical standards. I don’t know. I hope that I would never succumb to that kind of temptation but haven’t been tested that way. I hope that I never am!

In any case, I will say no more about this case until more of the truth about it is made public. I will give the Chief Rabbi the benefit of the doubt. I hope he will somehow be exonerated of these accusations. But I’m afraid that after so many other cases like this – where undercover police investigations were involved and people went to jail – that I may once again be disappointed. We shall see.
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.

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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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