Guest Post by Rabbi Chaim Coffman
A few days ago I wrote about my objections to a post written by Rabbi Chaim Coffman on Beyond BT. I thought he took the concept of being Dan L’Kaf Zechus in matters of public Chilul HaShem too far. And that taking it too far can be completely counter-productive. I also objected to his applying the concept of Gadlus to the mere fact that a Rabbinic figure took responsibility for his criminal actions and urged people to be honest in their fundraising. Rabbi Coffman responds here and I think him for this submission. What follows are his words:
I thank you for your comments to my post.
First of all, there is a virtue to dan l'chaf zechus. There is no mitzvah, at least that I am aware of that when we see something in the paper, internet or whatever I have to believe it like the word of G-d. For sure if the person is guilty, there is nothing to talk about and there is no need to dan l'chaf zechus. The issue that was addressed is what happens when it is out there, how do we react, not that if he is proven guilty we should whitewash it.
But if too many people end up violating the same precept, how can anyone be expected not to judge Judaism by it?
Even if people violate whatever the halacha is doesn't make it right and other people who follow are just as stupid. Ever hear the joke, how do you know when a baal teshuvah has made it to integrate into the community, when he talks during krias ha'Torah. What I should do should be based on Shulchan Aruch and poskim, not by what other people do.
There is a 614th commandment and that is DON’T BE STUPID! Just because I see people transgress and do things wrong, I should also do them? Well, what should I do, this guy cheats and this guy cheats so if they are frum and I am frum, then I should be stupid enough to make a kal v’chomer and say it is ok?
People who talk one way and act another certainly does not make one a gadol by any stretch of the imagination. People on a higher level have more of an acharyus to the klal and how they act. After all, every Orthodox Jew is an ambassador to the world, whether we like it not and if someone sees an Orthodox Jew push in line, cheat on their taxes…it doesn’t make it right and it is for sure a chilul Hashem.
We don’t whitewash aveiros! I never said we should whitewash them. The question presented to the panel was how do you react when you hear about it. That means it hasn’t been proven, lots of conjecture….even if the situation looks so bad, who says I should believe it. That was my point. Never did I say or try and infer that it was a mitzvah to look the other way at someone’s aveirah.
The point was that a lot of times we believe everything we hear just because it is on the internet or in the paper. Conjecture is just that, conjecture. When something has been proven that is a totally different point.