Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

26 Iyar 5762 - May 8, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Any Corruption is Intolerable

It is one of the cardinal principles of Torah and a crucial component of the Torah hashkofoh that neither a person nor life is compartmentalized. Everything, great and small, must be done properly, according to the moral and legal prescriptions of Torah. "The law of a penny is the same as the law of a hundred." Even the things that we crush underfoot, we are taught, may truly stand at the heights of the world.

There are no greater mitzvos and lesser mitzvos. We have internal rules and priorities, principles that we can use to resolve conflicts when there are competing obligations, but these are not meant to belittle any mitzvoh. We cannot always fathom the connection between different parts and it appears that certain commandments have no reason behind them. These are known as chukim. But we ignore them or belittle them at our own peril. Everything comes from Sinai; the Torah is one perfect whole and everyone must do everything that he or she is obligated to do.

Most importantly there is no such thing as a great Torah scholar who is otherwise corrupt. There can be great scientists who are corrupt in their personal lives and there were plenty of influential artists whose work is admired but whose personal lives were a mess by any standard. But there never was and never will be a great Torah sage who is corrupt and decadent in his personal life. Different people of course emphasize different parts of their lives and may choose to focus on particular things. But they may not ignore other things and must maintain minimum standards throughout.

This idea carries over to other areas as well. A state or a society must maintain minimum standards throughout, or it will collapse of its own sins. Corruption in one area will spread until it consumes the whole system.

A case in point is the unfortunate Palestinian Authority. In signing the agreements and turning over control to the Palestinian Authority, neither Israel nor the United States imposed sufficient controls to ensure that the societal institutions would be properly run. In fact, to some extent Israel cooperated with the corruption by agreeing to pay a large portion of the tax money that it collects for the PA to accounts that are personally controlled by Yasser Arafat. One election was held, but regular elections were not even discussed. Those who were close to the leadership became wealthy, and the Palestinian people became poorer.

The resulting system was rotten. It does not behave rationally because it is not a rational system. It cannot persist.

We do not mean to suggest that Israel should suggest that the Palestinian State should be run according to Torah. Rather, these thoughts are stimulated by the upcoming anniversary of matan Torah and reflecting on the powerful fount of wisdom that we received in the Torah. If we and our brethren turn to it as our main source of guidance in the big decisions that require deep insights into human nature and how it forms social systems, it will help us avoid mistakes and tragedies.

As HaRav Shamshon Rafael Hirsch wrote, "The Torah is the thoughts of G-d about man." There is no better source for guidance.

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