Jul 3, 2017

Defrocking Jewish Criminals

An article on the OU website by Rabbi Jack Abramowitz gave me an idea. Actually, when I saw the headline I assumed what we he would propose in his article, and was surprised to read it and find an entirely different direction.

Rabbi Abramowitz writes in "Should Jewish Criminals Be Literally “Defrocked?" " about criminals continuing to wear religious attire or changing their mode of dress so as not to be hypocritical. I actually agree with his sentiments that it makes no sense to expect someone just because he is lax in one area of halacha to stop dressing with a religious appearance or to be lax in all areas.

Abramowitz does not refer to it in his article, but I saw criticism of some of the women who were recently arrested when a picture appeared of them in jail and they were seen with towels wrapped around their waist over the prison jumpsuit, thus wearing a makeshift skirt. The criticism was something to the effect of it being hypocritical in their stealing but being makpid in tzniyus, and it all being insincere, etc. Abramowitz is right - just because they did something wrong, if they did, and committed the fraud they are accused of, does not mean they should not be makpid in tzniyus. If any of us would falter in any halacha, would that obligate us then to stop keeping shabbos, or to eat treif or to stop following the laws of tzniyus? Obviously not, and these people should also not be expected to do so.

However, what Rabbi Abramowitz actually made me think he was going tow rite wit his headline was something else.

There are some yeshivas that famously give out semicha to qualifying students but they make it conditional. Somehow within the text of the ordination they leave themselves wiggle room in case at some time in the future the ordained rabbi would make embarrassing statements or be involved in actions against halacha, they reserve the right to rescind and retract the semicha ordination.

I thought Rabbi Abramowitz was going to propose this in his his article - a different type of defrocking.

I have no idea if it actually happens, though a quick search online does point to a couple of relevant cases, and I remember discussion about encouraging a yeshiva to do so for one of its former students that took up a role in public life that seemed to garner the disapproval if his former yeshiva.

Perhaps the rabbonim and organizations that grant semicha should consider "defrocking" former students involved in such chilul hashem. I doubt that would be a deterrent, but it would at least be a response form the community at large saying we don't want any part of it and don't want to be led by such people...

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1 comment:

  1. of course one could make a meta argument that if one's personal tzniut (e.g. wearing a uniform which is not required but seen as group identification not required by halacha) leads others (how many may be the issue) to bad thoughts concerning hkb"h, then one should not persist in their micro-observance


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