RCA’s Feel Good Resolutions

Michael posts to Hirhurim: Nice feel-good stuff, but really no meat to any of them. The sad thing is that they will likely be ignored by their own membership and OU-affiliated shuls. The smachot in my neighborhood are still over the top, giving kibbudim only to exemplars of ethics? Right.

And the new media reso comes rather late considering all the venomous rhetoric from top YU-affiliated Rabbaim against Rabbis Berman and Weiss (unless it is intended only for anti-RCA articles).

The opposition to any model of education other than day schools (as opposed to making day schools the primary with other options as needed) is disappointing because the one-size-fits-all approach does not work and never has. The OU’s proposals for cost cutting (see comments to the earlier post) do not add up and most schools that I know have few expensive frills to begin with. The biggest expenses are salaries — shall we cut teacher’s salaries? They already get such a low salary that it is hard to attract good teachers – just ask any principal. When building new or doing a major renovation, building green will have a major impact on operating costs, but mostly in the long term (that helps because capital campaign funds are easier to raise than operating funds). But the community needs alternatives, so the all out opposition to charter schools or a revamped talmud torah program IN SELECT AREAS, is, imo, short sighted and damaging.

JOEL RICH POSTS: "Interesting juxtaposition of the call for transparency and the desire to keep internal RCA dialog internal."

Y. Aharon posts: I agree that actions are required as well as words. Being that the RCA is the rabbinic arm of the OU, it should prevail upon the parent organization to disclose its income from kashrut and how those large amounts of money are spent. Since day-school education is deemed vital for the continuation of Orthodoxy, it is of interest to learn how much money, if any, the OU contributes or is prepared to contribute to such schools.

MJ posts: Can they just come out and say that the NCYI needs to fold? It’s a redundant, non transparent, meddling organization.

HAGTBG posts: I agree that its hard to take this seriously. The only thing the RCA here said it would itself do is that its members would try to first yell at each other in private before doing it in public.

ANON POSTS: I have mixed feelings about the ethics resolution. On the one hand, this is a great resolution and is long over due. I have great respect for the overwhelming majority of the Rabbis of the RCA and I believe that they honestly believe in the language set forth in the resolution.

However, the hypocrisy of the few leaders of the previous RCA administration is astounding and this would be comical if it were not so serious. As has been discussed on this blog before, they are well aware that a Rabbi on their most important halachik committee (the Vaad Haposkim) has publicly told people that they could engage in tax evasion. In addition, this same Rabbi tells people that you can steal from gentiles and that one can ignore all of the halachos in the Shulchan Aruch to the contrary on the theory that these laws were probably only codified because of fear of the goyim. Of course he says that you should not engage in such behavior if there is material chance that you will get caught.

How could the RCA ask shuls and schools to give up funds from a donor who engaged in unethical behavior when they have no problem with having a Rabbi on their Vaad Haposkim who tells people that they can ignore the halachos in Choshen Mishpat that prohibit such behavior? The RCA resolution is wonderful but the real question is whether they will abide by it themselves.

I hope that this resolution was not drafted by the RCA leadership that was involved in this issue, because if it was no one could take it seriously, and it is obviously a PR stunt that they do not belive in.

SR POSTS: I too am very troubled by the fact that the RCA is preaching (properly) about the issue of ethics in monetary matters, and yet there is a problem in the organization about this very matter which would be an incredible chilul hashem if the Jewish Week would do a story on this. It seems that the only way the RCA will get its own house in order on this matter is when an expose appears, and then we will hear all the apologies. This same thing happened with the OU and the Lanner scandal. The OU was warned over and over to clean up their house. They refused and when it finally made the papers, we all know what happened.

HONESTLY FRUM POSTS: At their most recent convention the RCA put forth a number of resolutions. One of them deals with ethics in business and how communities should not give honor to those who are known to engage in questionable business practices. We should commend the RCA membership for passing this resolution.

I know that there are members of the RCA that read this blog and I ask you this: will you follow your own guidelines and give kavod to a Rabbi who tells people that they can engage in unethical behavior? As I have blogged about on a number of times in the past, it is well known that a number of years ago R. Dovid Cohen from Brooklyn was brought to Bergenfield for shabbos and during a question and answer session he said publicly that if there is no material chance of getting caught then there is no issur in cheating on ones taxes. Further when questioned on this privately, he said that theft from gentiles is also permissible and that one can ignore the halachos in shulchan aruch regarding tax evasion and gezel akum because these halachos were probably only codified because of fear of the goyim.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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