Tuesday, July 12, 2011

How the Mighty Hath Fallen...

I have any number of books that I have considered writing. Amongst them would be a thesis on the structure and writing of a Sefer Torah or a thesis on the polemic of the person/people who divided the parshiyot and the aliyot. Another one on my mind for a couple of years now is entitled "Eikh Naflu Giburim." We know this phrase. It is David's lament upon hearing of the death of Saul and of Jonathan. It is usually translated the way I have it in the title.

One of the reasons I have not written this book is that I do not know why I want to write it. Let me tell you about a few 'colleagues.' One is in jail for being a pedophile. Another is in jail for life after contracting a hit on his wife. Still another died in jail. He had broken the terms of his parole. This one ended up in jail for pilfering $85,000 from his discretionary fund. He used the money to move his mistress from Memphis to the Mississippi coast, and then to move a family facing difficult times up to New Jersey so that the family (his mistress) could have a fresh start after Katrina. He also purchased a $5000 rock for her finger. Yet another was videotaped with a prostitute.

The three mentioned received their ordinations from schools in every denomination. This type of behaviour is not restricted to one movement. As well, they are only the tip of the iceberg.

The concept of the book is intriguing. The reasons to write it are elusive. If it just turns out to be another expose of tawdry behaviour, to write such a book is unjustifiable. I often wonder though what keeps most of us from making such egregious decisions with our lives. I would like to figure that one out.

All of that being said, the crimes listed above are more than just crimes in the eyes of the law. They are a betrayal to the people these 'rabbis' are supposed to serve. It is not just short-term. "Okay..we fired the Rabbi, burned his files, and moved his furniture out of the house. No one with that Hebrew name will ever be allowed to receive an aliyah again." That does not make it go away. It requires a new Rabbi with a gentle demeanour and a kind heart. It will take time for the congregation to learn to trust that person. Building trust is difficult enough. Rebuilding it is nearly impossible.

The translation of our verse can also be rendered "how did the mighty fall?" It is a question with which I have wrestled for years. The answer is elusive. The inability to find an answer is frightening.

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