Dec 6, 2012

Interesting Psak: Prohibiting Criminal Money

Rav Eliyahu Abergil, av beis din of Yerushalayim, seems to publish unique piskei halacha. Some of his halachic decisions have been featured here in the past, and today we will see nother interesting psak of his.

According to the report on Mako, Rav Abergil has recently published a psak halacha that prohibits rabbonim, shuls, yeshivot, gabbaim and other religious organizations from accepting donations from criminals.

Rav Abergil says that their money is stolen money, not like the hard earned money of regular citizens who donate wholeheartedly. The criminals steal money via charging protection fees to business, or they get their money via dirty businesses such as prostitution and casinos. Money earned through criminal activity cannot be accepted, and torahs that are written using such monies cannot be read from.

Rav Abergil contines saying that he knows many rabbonim who transgress many sins, they roll their eyes heavenward and take the money from criminals in order to fund their lifestyles. Such money is not l'shem shamayim (perhaps that can mean earned with good intentions or maybe donated with good intentions), and one is not allowed to accept it.

If this psak will take hold, which it won't, it will put an end to a lot of the rabbinic courts. Some of these criminals use the rabbis as a way of laundering some of their money, others use it to "kasher" their money as they can justify their bad deeds by saying they give a lot of tzedaka, others dont care and just want to be prominent supporters, and others might think they are buying their way into heaven or at least getting blessings for more success.

But it won't take hold, because their is too much for some of these people to lose.  Why should they stop these criminals from doing one of the few mitzvos they might actually do, I don't know where he got the money from, why should I assume he did bad and didnt earn it legitimately, I know nothing about that, whats the difference between him and the guy who fudges on his taxes.. these are all arguments that will justify continuing to take this money.

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  1. does this include people who cheat on their taxes? or do other things wrong? what determines a criminal? public opinion? reputation? how does one really know?

  2. Shaya maybe something about those who have an enterprise in criminal matters. For tax cheating for example, you could probably come up with measurable criteria such as (1) cheats every year and (2) they benefit by "saving" more than half of their obligation.

    Likely anyone already making excuses on the behalf of someone paying them, is also the type to ignore piskei halacha that don't suit them. (And besides they always say you can't rely on something published but instead have to ask about your own specific circumstances....)

  3. Something so sad about this post following the one about mixed dancing in Jerusalem causing uproar. Meanwhile, this important psak will get ignored and swept under the carpet for being unrealistic.... There is something very sick going on in religious society.


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