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May 25, 2014

does a convicted murderer deserve to be called by an unearned honorific?

Ami Popper is a convicted murderer. Popper was convicted of stealing an assault rifle and murdering 7 Arabs.

Somehow he has bene adopted by the Right, by the Religious, and even by the Haredi communities. Whenever there has been a prisoner release of Palestinians, the calls have gone out calling for Popper's release.

I have no problem with calling for his release. Part of the prison system includes parole and early release and pardons and commuting sentences. If this or that group or political party wants to put forth efforts to work for Popper's release, that is their prerogative.

What is interesting is something I saw in Mishpacha newspaper over Shabbos. They ran an article detailing the various candidates for the upcoming elections for the position of President of the State of Israel. They mentioned all the candidates and the haredi politicians positions regarding them.

They then also ran a small article in which they said that while the haredi community does not really have much direct interest in the position of the president or regarding who holds that position, as it doesn't really affect the haredi community, there is no reason why the haredi community should not demand of the president things that affect it, such as the pardoning of Ami Popper.

What was interesting is that Mishpacha did not just say "Ami Popper". They called him "Reb Ami Popper".

I am not quite sure how connected Popper is to the Haredi community, though it seems that in jail he became more torani (and was even cellmates with Shlomo Benizri)), and from his more recent pictures (at least from the last few years) he looks more Haredi with a black kippa, white shirt and long beard, If they want to adopt him and call for his release, that is fine by me... but does he really need the honorific of "reb"?

I already don't like that every person who gets married wearing a black hat and grows a beard is called "HoRav" or "Rav".. I find it to be a slight to real rabbonim. But if they want to call people rav or reb or horav, no harm no foul (or not much, at least)... but to call a convicted murdered with the honorific? What's wrong with just calling him by his name? Why does he need the title?

Perhaps one can debate regarding the people who went into jail already bearing the title - do they still deserve top be called by the honorific they earned prior to incarceration or not.. but somebody who is not deserving of the title even regardless of the crime he committed, why append the title to his name?

Does the title really engender such a small amount of respect that it can be given to anybody, even convicted murderers?

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  1. That's not all. Several years ago he was on furlough, illegally driving a car with his wife (an acquaintance of mine) and children, and got into an accident. Down south, IIRC. I don't remember all the details, but his wife and son were killed.

  2. Reb is the equivalent of Mister. It doesn't mean anything.

    I think the bigger story is that Charedim have no problem with murderers.

  3. Ami Popper was nonreligious when he committed the murders.

    Since then he became a baal teshuva and a talmid chochom.

    1. How do we know he's a Ba'al Teshuvah? Has he been faced with the desire and ability to kill more people, but stopped himself due to his new-found religious feelings?

      And I have my doubts about his status as a a Chochom. Talmid, maybe.

  4. Reminds me of when Yoram Skolnick shot and killed an Arab terrorist (or at least a guy who'd knifed people - http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%99%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%9D_%D7%A9%D7%A7%D7%95%D7%9C%D7%A0%D7%99%D7%A7) who had been completely neutralized. Around that time, I was given a lift by a Rebbe at a fairly well-known Yeshiva for Americans in Israel, a very smart guy and a Talmid Chacham. The killing was being discussed on the radio and my host wondered aloud very seriously whether there might be a din of Pidyon Shvuyim for Shkolnik.


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