The Deal Deal Deal Deal - UPDATED
UPDATE - See the important comments from Rabbi Bibi in the comments section.
I spent last Shabbos as scholar-in-residence at Congregation Magen David in Deal, New Jersey. It was a fascinating and wonderful experience, but the community is in great distress. With regard to the deal made by Dweck with the Feds to expose the deals of others in the community of Deal, Rabbi David Bibi weighed in with his view on the deal with this story in the Jewish Star, in an article that I found quite appalling; it stated that a true friend, when his friend's son turns up at the door with a body in a bag, helps him hide it and does not inform the authorities. Rabbi Josh Waxman has a fascinating analysis of the origins and message of this story. Meanwhile, I was very pleased to be sent the following response to Rabbi Bibi's article which was written by someone from the Sephardic community:
MURDER IN THE NAME OF FRIENDSHIP AND GOD
President, Congregation Magen David of Belle Harbor
If the Orthodox Jewish community in general, and the Syrian Jewish community in particular, ever wanted greater evidence of the mire and morass it presently wallows in, it need look no further then the recent article by Rabbi David Bibi published on the front page of the Jewish Star edition dated August 7, 2009. (See web address above for article)
In the article, Rabbi Bibi pleads that we should be dan lekaf sechut to those Rabbis who recently found themselves arrested for a host of illegal transactions. In support of his argument, he cites to a story about a father and son engaged in a debate as to what defines a true friend. Seeking to educate his son on the value of a true friend, the father paints the picture of a son who “got into a fight with a guy at the bar, one thing led to another and [the son] killed him.” While the son’s acquaintances wanted no part in helping the son bury the dead victim, a true friend, Rabbi Bibi extols, would assist in burying the body. Thus the Rabbis recently arrested, like the son’s true friend, were merely helping a pour soul in need and no fault should lie at the door side of these benign souls.
One can’t help but wonder if this story is one Rabbi Bibi conjured up on his own or cut and pasted from a scene in Goodfellas with Joe Pesci playing the “friend” helping Henry Hill cut up the body parts to hide the evidence. The moral of the story portrayed by Rabbi Bibi would be laughable if not for the sadism to our Torah that it breeds and champions.
Does this Rabbi, who leads the Sephardic Congregation of Long Beach, actually believe that being an accomplice to murder is a true indication of friendship? To what end? What was the lesson learned? That the son can continue to get in fights at bars, kill those he chooses at his tainted discretion, taking solace with the knowledge that if he gets into trouble he can always count on his friends to hide the body?
This is our Torah? This is our Mesorah? These are the teachings we wish to convey from the pulpit and publish on the front page of “Jewish” newspaper?
With all due respect Rabbi Bibi, you have utterly lost your moral compass. Friendship is not engaging, encouraging, participating, aiding and/or collaborating in a heinous criminal act. Rather, the son’s true friends were those who would not cooperate with the murderer. The son’s true friends would be those who would shun the son at first sight so that he may come to understand that violence, murder, and the breaking of the law are not to be tolerated on our world. The son’s true friends would be those who report the murderer to the authorities so that justice can be dispensed and rehabilitation of the character of the murdered may hopefully follow.
Rabbi Bibi rhetorically asks what crimes the Rabbis committed in merely helping a man who pled with them that his children had no food on the table. In the first instance, if food was the issue, give the man money for food to eat with, not money to launder with. Moreover, if food was the only concern, why the ten percent fee which was retained by those who engaged in the transaction? Lastly, we must instill in the hearts of all that the ends simply do not justify the means. Irrespective of whatever good cause exists, we cannot evade and violate the law (and the halacha) in the process.
Rabbi Bibi ends his missive labeled “Don’t Point Fingers” by directly pointing his finger at the “traitor among us.” To the contrary, without the “traitor”, these criminal and illicit actions would have remained unimpeded and would have continued with no examination of the actions of the leaders of the community ever having been undertaken.
The fact that Rabbi Bibi has twisted and contorted the Torah to lend its imprimatur to these iniquitous actions is reprehensible for him. The fact that we as a community might allow Rabbi Bibi to remain in his position while he endorses such views is reprehensible for us. I have sent this letter to the leaders of the Sephardic Community so that no one could later plead ignorance either to the article or the uproar it has caused. Will they stand pat or will they take the necessary action to ensure that the honor and nobility of the Syrian Jewish community in particular, and the Torah in general is restored. Silence, to the extent it ever was, is no longer an option.