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Sep 11, 2013

Can a drug dealer be Orthodox?

I remember reading in a book about Jewish members of the mafia about a mafiosa fellow nicknamed "The Rabbi". He was given this nickname because he tried to avoid killing on the Sabbath. And when he could not avoid it, he would first put on his tallis and pray a bit before murdering his target.

I was reminded of this when I saw this article about a ring of 5 Orthodox drug dealers who close up shop for Shabbos. It seems they would send out messages to clients letting them know not to come between sunset on Friday evening until sunset on Saturday evening. The group of men has been indicted - they have been arraigned this week, pleading not guilty, and most are out on bail.
(source: The Forward and Ladaat)

It's a funny thing, but even way back in the time of the gemara, and later in the time of the Shulchan Aruch, we find that it is common that people very religious can have a problem with one specific vice - and they would be completely trustworthy in regards to everything else except the one area in which they have a weakness. It is strange to call such a group of men "orthodox". Maybe just by being involved in pushing drugs a person has given up on being associated with Orthodox Jews. However, when that is how they act and present themselves, even if they have their one or two vices that are pretty bad, it is not wrong to still call them "orthodox".

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  1. I heard a story about the Brisker Rov (Reb Velvel) ztz"l. He had occasion once to speak with one of the major ganovim in Brisk. He asked the ganov if he steals from goyim or only Jews. When the ganov answered that he doesn't discriminate, the Rov asked him what he does if he steals, say, a ham from a goy. The ganov was shocked and exclaimed: "Rebbe! What do you think? I am a Jew! I would never eat that."

  2. Do we know what level of sin + intent would disqualify a Jew as Orthodox? How often do we pass judgment on people when we have a meager understanding of the person, the sin, and the situation? How often do we base our opinions pro or con on surface appearances?

  3. I dont. I dont know who "we" is.. :-)

    actually, it most likely mechalel shabbos bfarhesya that would be the cutoff point.


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