Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Crooked Rabbi

Rabbi Yona Metzger dojng the 'perp walk'.
What a Chilul HaShem. From VIN
Rabbi Yona Metzger was photographed and taped by a police operative undermining investigations, arranging alibis and compromising himself, according to the Israeli news website 
The court on Monday opted to keep Metzger in custody based upon the evidence. Superintendent Assaf Wofish, leader of the National Fraud Unit, gave the judge only some of the available evidence. The police haven’t handed over the incriminating videos yet.
Metzger is acused to have committed fraud, bribery, money laundering, breach trust and witness tampering as well as obstruction of justice. 
The Jerusalem prosecutor and the tax authority both believe the crimes involve several million shekels.

I don’t know what it is that turns good people into criminals like this. Here is a man who for 10 years had the highest rabbinic office in the land…

*a man who served his country in the Israeli Defense Forces( IDF) before that…

*a man that was hand chosen by Rav Elyashiv, ZTL because of his loyalty to certain values important to Charedim…

*a man who had admirably represented the Torah point of view and his country…

*a man who I have admired for his principled stand on the issues…

*a man who understood how to present himself, the State of Israel and the Jewish people to the world...

and he turns out to be a crook!

OK. I know all about innocent until proven guilty. But that’s kind of like saying that Al Capone’s only crime was income tax evasion. We all know that he was guilty of a lot more than that.

It turns out that Yona Metzger’s primary interest was… Yona Metzger. He sure had a lot of people fooled.

Which brings up the question about how much this has to do with the power one achieves in life. I guess some people are ethical because they are never challenged. Temptation to the tune of millions of Shekels was put before him and he succumbed.

I know that there are some real idealists in the world. And that no amount of power in the world will corrupt them. But it seems more often the case that the old adage about power is true: Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The behavior reported about Rabbi Metzger is the behavior of man with no integrity, the behavior of a crook. It doesn’t matter that most of the money went to his personal charities. The means by which he obtained that money were illegal and immoral. He knew it was wrong. Which is why he tried to cover it up. Which only made things worse.

Unfortunately there are a lot of corrupt people in power these days. Not all of them are chief rabbis. Living in Illinois, I can testify to that. A lot of former governors have spent some time in prison. And it isn't just Illinois. Just today Florida Congressman Trey Radel, a rising star in the Republican Party was caught buying cocaine from a federal agent in a sting operation.

The same is true in Israel unfortunately. And it isn’t only about money. Sometimes it’s about sex as was the case with Moshe Katzav, the former President of Israel. But when it is someone that the world sees as occupying the top religious post in Israel, that is a Chilul HaShem of major proportion.