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November 28, 2015 / 16 Kislev, 5776
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Impurity, Heresy, and Immorality

Why aren't crime and corruption considered heresya kind of denial of the Torah and its precepts?
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Do we expose corruption and unethical behavior? Do we strive to make our community one of yashrus, of uprightness? Or do we place much more energy into exposing heresy and taboo thoughts?

Where, truly, do the greatest threats lie? Is it when someone with Orthodox ordination suggests something outside of mainstream tradition? Or, rather, when someone with Orthodox ordination is discovered to have stolen charitable funds for private use, or government funds for Jewish schools?

Is it when someone claiming Orthodox credentials declares that protecting the secular civil rights of openly gay and lesbian citizens is valuable in that doing so might protect the interests of all minority populations, including Torah-observant Jews? Or, rather, when someone claiming Orthodox credentials raises money for a charged sexual abuser of children or intimidates witnesses or calls the victim of such abuse a prostitute?

And what dangers disillusion and drive people away from Yiddishkeit? Are supposed ideological heresies causing young men and women to discard their prayer books? Or is witnessing corruption and criminality doing so?

Clearly, ideas are important and heretical ideas are not free of danger, but here is a proposal for our times: Let us put a temporary moratorium on rooting out ideological heresy, and refocus our attention on moral heresy. Let us take the zeal we have summoned in rooting out heretical individuals, and reorient it into a passionate effort to root out corruption and criminality in our midst.

Once we have cleaned up our house in this respect, then we can return to issues of ideological purity and impurity.

About the Author: Alan Krinsky is a senior analyst in the field of healthcare quality improvement. He is also a writer who was previously a monthly columnist for Rhode Island’s Jewish Voice & Herald and whose essays have been published in print and online by a number of publications. He lives with his family in Providence where he currently serves as president of Congregation Beth Sholom.

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