web analytics
February 1, 2015 / 12 Shevat, 5775
 
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Forgiving Others as We Wish to Be Forgiven

The sad, sordid tale of Solomon Dwek.

Solomon Dwek

Solomon Dwek

One night while looking for something interesting to watch on TV, I came across “American Greed,” a series portraying the rise and fall of people who will do anything for money. One of the episodes featured an Orthodox Jew, so naturally it drew my attention.

In a non-emotional, factual manner, the producers told the sad, sordid tale of Solomon Dwek. After being arrested on a $50 million bank fraud charge, Dwek agreed to wear a wire for three years, during which time he implicated dozens of people, among them several Orthodox Jews as well as politicians of every caliber. They were accused of money laundering, political bribery, and an illegal and morally repugnant black market kidney sale operation.

It was the largest sting operation in New Jersey history, and steep sentences were handed down to many of those convicted, including two of the Orthodox Jews.

The documentary was deeply troubling, centering as it did on an immense chillul Hashem – Orthodox Jews so blatantly breaking the law, using code words such as “gemara” and transferring bundles of cash in cereal boxes, all to keep the law off their trail; acting, in the words of an FBI agent, more like mob bosses than rabbis.

Obviously what Dwek did was wrong, but the people he entrapped could have indignantly sent him away or called the authorities. Those arrested were doing things that are illegal and against halacha, and they were well aware of the risks.

There is, as we know, a subculture in the Orthodox community that has a cook-the-books mentality. There are those who hide as much cash as possible because they feel the government doesn’t deserve any of it. (But of course they fully expect to benefit from the services funded by taxes – police protection, an effective fire department, systematic garbage pickup, road repair, etc.)

It is a sad wonder how people can live such double lives. They give tzedekah in shul one hour and blatantly break the law the next hour. They insist on eliminating women from photographs but forget fundamentals like not stealing.

What struck me most as I watched the program was that Dwek was punished not just by the courts of law but by the court of life as well, and his family was convicted right along with him.

In pictures taken of Dwek in court, the formerly robust real-estate tycoon looked thin and broken. His attempt to reduce his sentence by becoming an informant – he originally faced up to forty years in jail and in the end was sentenced to six – effectively ruined not just his life but those of his wife and children as well.

Dwek’s father denounced him, his children were thrown out of their yeshivas, and his wife and six children – including a baby who was a mere eight weeks old at the time of Dwek’s sentencing – fled to Baltimore. Rabbi Aaron Tendler helped the family over the protestations of many of his congregants who did not wish to see the family of a moser received in their midst.

The chesed and tzedakah the family had provided to Jews and non-Jews alike was quickly forgotten. They were shunned in every sense of the word – a treatment not meted out to families of those convicted of much worse crimes.

His wife, who stood resolutely by his side when she could easily have claimed ignorance of his actions and left him, wrote to the judge requesting leniency, saying they had already been punished. His eldest daughter poignantly wrote, “I have seen family members I love…shun us. And the community each one of us described as home [has] become a place where we are no longer welcome.”

This Rosh Hashanah, most Jews will find themselves in a synagogue where they will beg Hashem to judge them favorably and forgive them their sins, for which they will ardently promise to repent.

But many of us feel quite free to dispense precisely the opposite treatment to our fellow human beings. And we don’t hesitate to ostracize others not only for their mistakes or misdeeds but for those of their family members too.

What kind of superficial, meaningless value system is being upheld when an excellent, well-rounded girl is given only poor-quality shidduch prospects because her parents were divorced? Or when a child is denied the opportunity to receive a Jewish education because his mother is not considered “tznius enough”?As we prepare to repent and make amends, we need to look around and consider those we judge and condemn. Are we being too harsh in our estimation of their worth? Not one of us is free of taint, and one can only imagine the anguish we cause by not giving others a chance to prove themselves.

When we ask Hashem this Rosh Hashanah to blot out our sins, no matter their seriousness, will we be able to honestly say we’ve extended that level of empathy and forgiveness to others?

About the Author: Pnina Baim holds a B.S. in Health and Nutrition from Brooklyn College and an MS.edu from Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Program. She works as a nutritionist, a certified lactation consultant, a home organizer, and in her free time writes as much as possible. She is the author of the Young Adult novels, Choices, A Life Worth Living (featured on Dansdeals and Jew In The City) and a how-to book for the Orthodox homemaker, Sing While You Work. The books are available at amazon.com. Pnina is available for speaking engagements and personal consulting. Contact her at pninabaim@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “Forgiving Others as We Wish to Be Forgiven”

  1. Isaac Bergman says:

    "an illegal and morally repugnant black market kidney sale operation."

    Um, actually it is you and the legislators who are morally repugnant, who prefer to see that people die than to have your sensibilities disturbed. It's a proven fact that legal organ markets alleviate the chronic shortages and save many lives when implemented. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703481004574646233272990474.html

    "using code words such as “gemara” and transferring bundles of cash in cereal boxes".

    Um, that is what Solomon called it, not his victims. And it was Solomon who delivered the money like that to the politicians.

    "and his wife and six children – including a baby who was a mere eight weeks old at the time of Dwek’s sentencing".

    Shows how little the writer knows about this story. I wanted to write more about it here, but because of its personal nature I will have to refrain.

    "The chesed and tzedakah the family had provided to Jews and non-Jews alike was quickly forgotten."

    What charity? Oh you mean by giving away other people's money? Wowwee, how honorable and charitable of him!

  2. Isadore says:

    Love thy neighbour.

  3. Forgive even your enemies. Jesus forgave all of us. Let us follow Him and we will live in peace.

  4. Suzy Baim says:

    Very good point. Yes sometimes people make very big mistakes and do things that are absolutely wrong. But that was his wrong doing. As a consequence, his family suffers, but people shouldn't judge the whole family because of his mistake. His wife and children are generally good people, BH. We all make mistake whether big or small. If we want to be forgiven, we should also give forgiveness. Of course, there should be justice and people should improve themselves and their character traits and actions. But we also need mercy for people like his family. His children didn't do anything wrong and shouldn't be scorned.

  5. Suzy Baim says:

    Very good point. Yes sometimes people make very big mistakes and do things that are absolutely wrong. But that was his wrong doing. As a consequence, his family suffers, but people shouldn't judge the whole family because of his mistake. His wife and children are generally good people, BH. We all make mistake whether big or small. If we want to be forgiven, we should also give forgiveness. Of course, there should be justice and people should improve themselves and their character traits and actions. But we also need mercy for people like his family. His children didn't do anything wrong and shouldn't be scorned.

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Arab attackers smashed these windows on an Egged bus in Jerusalem's Old City.
Egged Bus Attacked Traveling to Western Wall in Jerusalem
Latest Indepth Stories
Eli Weiss

Shepherding in the Shomron isn’t your usual kind of shepherding – despite his business-minded beginnings, Eli has discovered that a strong ideological impetus powers the job.

Resnick-013015-Pilot

I said to myself, “This story has got to be told. We’re losing this generation of World War II and if we don’t listen to them now, we’ve lost it.”

Eller-013015

His entire existence was about spreading simcha and glorifying G-d’s name on a daily basis.

IRAN-US-POLITICS-MILITARY

An Israeli strike could theoretically damage Iran’s nuclear program; only US can terminate program

At some point we need to stop simply defending and promoting Israel and start living in Israel

“We Jews are the only people who when we drop a book on the floor pick it up and kiss it.”

Though Zaide was the publisher of The Jewish Press, a big newspaper,I always remember him learning

Speaker Silver has been an extraordinary public servant since his election to the Assembly in 1975 and has been an exemplary leader of that body since 1994.

He spent the first leg of his daylong visit to the French capital at Hyper Cacher.

Drawing Congress into the Iran nuclear debate is the last thing the White House wants.

Great leaders like Miriam and like Sarah Schenirer possess the capacity to challenge the status quo that confronts them.

Obama’s foreign policy is viewed by both liberals and conservatives as deeply flawed

Many journalists are covertly blaming the Charlie Hebdo writers themselves through self-censorship.

Why does the Times relay different motivations and narratives for jihadists in Europe and Israel?

More Articles from Pnina Baim
Baim-012315

Does standing under the chuppah signal the end of our dream of romance and beautiful sunsets?

Baim-092614-Plate

Everyone has a weakness. For some people it is the inability to walk past a sales rack without dropping a few hundred dollars. For others, it’s the inability to keep their house organized.

The world sees the hand of God through us, and does not like it.

Maybe we don’t have to lose that growth and unity that we have achieved, especially with the situation in Eretz Yisrael right now.

This summer, why don’t we try to do better and cool off without blowing our retirement fund?

Do we really have that much extra money to throw away on substandard products and shoddy service? I think not.

Yom Tov is about spending time with your family. And while for some families the big once-in-a-lifetime experience is great, for others something low key is the way to go.

So, my dear sisters in the trenches, remember. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. And who is tougher than the Jewish women of today?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/forgiving-others-as-we-wish-to-be-forgiven/2013/09/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: