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New York - Harboring Some Admiration for Bernie, And Less For Sully

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Rabbi Avi ShafranRabbi Avi Shafran

New York - Something tells me I won’t make any new friends (and might even lose some old ones) if I confess to harboring some admiration for Bernard Madoff. 

And to make things worse, I can’t muster much for Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed a full commercial airliner in the Hudson River back in January.

Let me try to explain.  Please. 

Mr. Madoff committed a serious economic crime on an unprecedented scale for such wrongdoing, and in the process ruined the financial futures of numerous people and institutions, including charitable ones, worldwide.  There can be no denying that. 

Yet I can’t quite bring myself to join the large, loud chorus of those who have condemned him to – to take Ralph Blumenthal’s judgment in The New York Times Magazine – the Pit, the deepest circle of Dante’s Inferno.  Others have devised and publicly proclaimed creative and exquisite tortures of their own for the disgraced businessman – Woody Allen fantasized Madoff being attacked by clients reincarnated as lobsters, and Elie Wiesel wished the investor confined to a solitary cell and forced to watch his victims on a screen bewail their changed fortunes.  The fury of the bilked has yielded opprobrium and loathing that isn’t visited on mass murderers.

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I think the revulsion may say more about the revolted – and our money-obsessed and vengeance-obsessed society – than it does about Madoff.  His crime, after all, was really remarkable only for its longevity and its scope.  The Torah teaches that stealing is a sin, but it doesn’t differentiate between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime.  And as to the sheer number of people defrauded by the thief of the moment, well, anyone who cheats on his federal income tax is defrauding 300 million of his fellow citizens.  Few though, in such cases, invoke Dante.
What is more, Madoff likely began his crime spree in the hope of rewarding, not swindling, investors, and by the time it became clear he wouldn’t be able to do that, he was already deeply entangled – and daily becoming more entangled – in the web he wove.

None of that, though, is to belittle the great pain Mr. Madoff caused, and is certainly no cause for affording the iniquitous investment broker respect.  No, what I admire about him has to do with his owning up to his crime.

Think about it.  The man knew for years that his scheme would eventually come apart and that prosecution loomed, yet he took no steps to flee, huge bribe in hand, to some country lacking extradition treaties.  Idi Amin, we might recall, died of old age in luxury.  Madoff’s millions, moreover, could have easily bought him a new face and identity papers; he could spent his senior years tanned and well-fed among the sunbirds of Miami Beach.
Instead, though, he chose to essentially turn himself in and admit guilt.  He apologized to his victims, acknowledging that he had “deeply hurt many, many people,” and adding, “I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for what I have done.”
No one can know if those words reflect the feelings in his heart, but I don’t claim any right to doubt that they do.  And facing one’s sins and regretting them is the essence of teshuvah – which we are all enjoined to do for our personal aveiros, however small or large.
No such sublimity of spirit, though, was in evidence in any of the public acts or words of Mr. Sullenberger.  He saved 155 lives, no doubt about it, and is certainly owed the hakoras hatov of those he saved, and of their families and friends.  And he executed tremendous skill.
But no moral choice was involved in his act.  He was on the plane too, after all; his own life depended on undertaking his feat no less than the lives of others.  He did what anyone in terrible circumstances would do: try to stay alive.  He was fortunate (as were his passengers) that he possessed the talents requisite to the task, but that’s a tribute to his training, and to the One Who instilled such astounding abilities in His creations (and Whose help the captain was not quoted as acknowledging). Basketball players are highly skilled, too – and heroes, in fact, to some.  But I have never managed to understand that latter fact.
Sully has reportedly inked a $3 million book deal with HarperCollins, and is also planning a second book of inspirational poems; Bernie, likely for the rest of his life, will languish in jail.
That may make societal sense, but personally, I’m still unmoved by the pilot, and, at least somewhat, inspired by the penitent.


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1

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:45 AM End of Days Says:

What is up with this statement? Does this person not understand that Madoff's entire lengthy apologetic was solely an attempt to exculpate his family from prosecution.

You wouldn't write such garbage if YOUR hard earned $10m bucks was stolen and your family was reduced to poverty overnight.

Pathetic, unnecessary lamdus to prove a stupid point.

2

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:41 AM Anonymous Says:

AGREED!!!

3

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:46 AM Anonymous Says:

I agree 1000%.

4

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Stupid article.

5

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:47 AM BS Says:

WHAT NONSENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!
the fact that bernie admitted his crimes doesn't make him admirable!!!!!!!!!!
& Sully is non-jewish!!! No reason to expect him to believe in Hashem!
& u still have tainos?!!!!!!!!!!?????????
what a stupid opinion u have!!!!!!!!

6

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:51 AM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi Shafran is clueless! Bernie confessed, in order to save his family. No trail no further investigation. They were elbow deep in this crime, but by confessing and avoiding trial, he goes to jail and they get to keep secret millions, perhaps as much as a billion!
Rabbi Shafran just became another 'victim' of a Madoff fraud.

7

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:50 AM Anonymous Says:

The story of the Ben Ish Chai identifying a thief by accusing the one who sympathised with a thief is well known...

8

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:57 AM Anonymous Says:

I actually think this is article provides an interesting and thoughtful perspective. The best lesson to take away from this is who are we to judge?

9

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:55 AM Anonymous Says:

This articele is an embarassment to frum people. Why does every idiot with a pen need to put words to paper just to prove that he is such an amazing guy he knows how to drey zich out of the box. Sometimes the box is right, some people should spend more time in it!

10

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:13 AM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi Shafran,
You have exemplified the thinking of the current society in which we find ourselves: what's right is wrong and what's wrong is right.
Madoff will serve time for his wrongdoing and will lose much of his gashmius. Sully will be enriched b'gashmius as a result of an act of G-d and why shouldn't he ? Isn't this a perfect example of hashgacha protis ?

11

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:11 AM Call a spade a spade Says:

What an idiot!! The author revealed his true colors. It takes a certain kind of person to be able to handle landing a plane in the hudson . It takes a huge amount of dicipline and thinking of other people. He had to make a desicion not to jepordize lives on the ground. What made him a hero was him walking up and down the isles after the plane landed to make sure everyone was off .

Bernie Madoff, if he could have lived his life looking over his shoulder every second he would have. If he is no longer from the social elite and hiding in some country in south america, jail was a better option. He was cornered into a hole therefore he confessed.

How in the world can u insinuate that Capt Sully is not a admirable as Bernie Madoff. This is the shoresh of where some of us frum people have lost sight of what is right and wrong. And to think this pea brain represents the Agudah . What a shame!

12

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:11 AM Grammar Girl Says:

Something tells me that if a member of the Agudath Yisroel's Trustees' Circle Million Dollar Super-Rich Koved-Freser Round-Table was on US Air Flight 1549, the Agudah, with the support of Rabbi Shafran, would have hosted an elaborate dinner Lichvod Captain Sully.

This article can me summarized with one word: FEH, FEH, and FEH (albeit repeated three times).

13

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:10 AM Anonymous Says:

OY! Enough articles about Madoff!

14

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:08 AM Shmuel Says:

I hear, I wouldn't say I agree with every thing he says but I wouldn't call it nonsense either, but I hear what what he is saying (The author did make some good points).

15

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:17 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

This articele is an embarassment to frum people. Why does every idiot with a pen need to put words to paper just to prove that he is such an amazing guy he knows how to drey zich out of the box. Sometimes the box is right, some people should spend more time in it!

you make your own point wonderfully

16

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:16 AM CB Says:

While this article is not that well written (quite a surprise from Avi Shafran), I agree with his point about Madoff though not so much with the dramatical comparison to Capt. Sully. What Madoff did was sick but was not very different from what so many "respected" (by most) members of this community and others have done, it was just much larger in scale. No I don't respect Madoff at all (and neither, I suspect does Avi Shafran) but the point is we all love self-righteous anger. Let's not go to extremes but hold all to the same standards.

17

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:22 AM CBS Says:


some people will say anything to get quoted and see their name in print, but it is up to news organizations such as yours to weed such persons out and not to give them the ability to have their stupidity disseminated.

18

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:21 AM Anonymous Says:

abi gehacked in kup arein

19

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:07 AM Anonymous Says:

I have to agree with the previous 7 comments - this article is not only sad but illogical. Madoff knowingly stole for over a decade from thousands of people, he took innocent people's money knowing that he will never be able to pay them back. He ruined entire lives, businesses and foundations. One important thing the author forgot to mention is that Sully Sullenberger went back into the plane - twice - with below freezing waters up to his waist to make sure every passenger was off the plane. That was not about saving his own lives. It was about saving others.

20

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:05 AM Anonymous Says:

what are you talking about Bernie was still trying to steal after he was arrested i tried to mail the jewelry remember he didnt feel bad about anything hes a serial thief

21

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:03 AM Moishie Says:

I vehemently disagree with you on both points.

Bernie has already caused several people to take their lives. His apology is worthless to these dead people and to the lives he ruined. "Oni Choshuv K'Meis." He does not have the financial capacity to accept responsibility for his atrocities. The lip service apology cannot reverse an iota of the damage to society. He remains a villain that perpetuated unprecented levels of harm to society.

Captain Sully not only landed superbly with Hashem's help. He exemplified extraordinady leadership skills. He remained calm and collected throughout the entire ordeal. He kept the crew and passengers calm. The rescue and disembarkment was in an orderly fashion. There was no panic and pandemonium due to his skillful handling of the situation despite the numerous odds that those aboard faced. If you read or listen to his speeches, he conducts himself in a very humle manner and credits his crew for much of the glory bestowed upon him. He is a true hero whom we can all emulate.

22

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:01 AM Anonymous Says:

And... this guy is the Director of Public Affairs for Agudath Israel of America... oiy vey uz mir.

23

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:01 AM enough Says:

keep you stupid opinions to yourself. How could you be s insensitive to issue such an insensistive misinformed statement.

24

 Apr 03, 2009 at 08:48 AM Yossi Says:

Drayt vee ah litvak! Absolutely senseless!

25

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:32 AM One honest Yekke Says:

Dear Rabbi Shafran,
Your statement is ANTI-CAPITALIST---it stinks of envy of another citizen's book contract (in which an American publisher anticipates hugely popular sales and reasonably agrees to pass on part of the profits to the author).
Your statement is IMMORAL---it twists the Torah moral that pilfering one dime is as bad as stealing a million dollars (you turn it upside down! You claim that stealing a million is merely as bad as pilfering a dime!) so would you also make the crazy claim that Torah says murdering a million people is "merely" as bad as murdering one person?
Your statement is OBNOXIOUS--it shows no understanding of why good people admire and try to emulate all who excel in doing their jobs with skill & talent & perseverance (no matter how "ordinary" the job: in sports, or in medicine, or in carpentry, or in teaching, or in piloting an airplane).
You statement is UNCIVIL--it shows no rachmanes: the ideal that causes good people to give tzedakah to strangers (the same ideal that makes millions of strangers feel happy to read the story of a pilot landing his passengers safely on the water in New York during an emergency).
Your views are a SHANDA.
If only you had kept your mouth shut instead of telling the world that your nasty views represent other American Jews.
Sincerely,
------An honest Jew who behaves as though it is wrong to steal even one dime when no one is watching
(and I will probably buy the book about the pilot just IN ORDER TO REWARD a decent American citizen for performing his job in such a reliable manner).

26

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:29 AM Anonymous Says:

Strange article. Whether Shafran's right or wrong, the piece just makes him look bad. He should stick to discussing these issues at his shabbos table instead of potentially making a chillul Hashem. Some things are better left unpublished.

27

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:26 AM Anonymous Says:

"rabbi" shafran- u are very "krum". go get some sense. Sullenberger is a hero and madoff will never get out of gehenom. Don't u know what is says "din prutah kdin mea'h " to show the severity of stealing even one penny??? have u lost your mind???? and by bashing sully who "SAVED" lives and supporting someone who "RUINED" lives you think yo're making ANY sense at all?????

28

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:26 AM Chacham Min Hamanishtana Says:

I find Rabbi Shafran's argument unconvincing and short sighted. I believe Madoff didn't run away since he thought the scheme would continue until he died. And although Madoff comitted the same issur of genaiva that others commit, there is no way he can pay it back. And teshuva for genaiva is not accepted until payback occurs. Furthermore, Madoff has not proven helpful in providing the government all the places that the money is kept. So his confession is just a means to protect his family, and is worthless to me.

Concerning Sully, Rabbi Shafran didn't mention that Sully also runs a company devoted to safety, http://safetyreliability.com. He deserves admiration not only for landing the plane safely, but for also taking the time to train himself and others on safety issues. He worked to be fully prepared to handle every unusual situation. He is a competent professional, and I don't encounter too many of those. I keep a picture of his plane floating in the Hudson in my cubicle at work; I too want to keep my company afloat despite challenging times.

29

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:38 AM Concerned Member Says:

This is a very upsetting article. I know of quite a few people who lost money to Madoff's theft and I know others involved in various charitable institutions who now have less money to help with because of Madoff's theft. Ask those people if they care that his PR person told him to read off some empty apology. I'll save you the time. They don't. Neither do I. Better not to apologize than to fake it. Madoff, his wife and his children were all involved and they are all criminals.

As far as Sully goes, Rabbi Shafran is upset that he didn't thank G-d? Who is he to discuss the man's beliefs? Maybe he doesn't believe in G-d? Does that matter? What matters is that the guy saved lives through his skills, made sure to check the entire plane before getting to safety himself, and insisted on his entire crew being given thanks and respect just as well as he himself. To me that sounds like someone deserving of our admiration.

I have no idea what the point of this article is. I have no idea why Rabbi Shafran would write this, and certainly no idea why he would have it published. It is bizarre, nonsensical and makes me question his motives and his sanity.

What a train wreck.

30

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:34 AM Anonymous Says:

BS"D

Avi Shafran is usually far more logical and coherent than this. I guess he is also busy with Pesach preparations. Sorry to say but this article should be burned with his chometz.

31

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:25 AM Tzudreiter Says:

Rabbi Shafran,
The following words from your article are probably the only words that make sense ...... "Something tells me I won’t make any new friends (and might even lose some old ones)"

In short ..... Se'yog La'Chochmo Shteeku

32

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:24 AM PMO Says:

We should be thanking H" over and over and over again the he put Sully on THAT plane... on THAT day.... at THAT time. It was no accident. This man had a presence of mind like most of us cannot even imagine, in the most dire of circumstances to think through 3 different plans in a matter of minutes while air traffic controllers were yapping in his ear about his options, he made a life and death decision and saved 150+ lives. H" gave him that ability... and H", through this man spared the lives of these people.

That kind of courage is not just survival instinct as the writer suggests. It is the hand of H" working through him.

33

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:52 AM Lets change seats ... Says:

if madoff would have been the piolt .......... (he didnt seem to crae about others)

if sully would manage the fund ....... (he DID seem to care about others ... remember he went twice to the back of the sinking plane to make sure everyone was safe)

34

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:59 AM si girl Says:

I think that the scale of the crime does make a difference. Quantity changes the quality and moves it on a different level. From the point of an individual morality there is probably no difference whether the crime is small or big but the results are not the same. This crime changed the mentality and quality of the Jewish Community as a whole.

In re to the pilot I think that Rabbi is wrong. Yes, pilot was saving his life as well as lives of other people on the plane but it is not just training it is his decision to make an unconventional move and be brave enough to make an extraordinary decision. I think that 99% of heroes belong to that category under the most stressful circumstances.

35

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:58 AM Moish Says:

Ohh Geshmack good chap. So you walked around the offices at Agudah telling everyone your daher, and they all told you how gaonis it is, and that it's mamish emes lahamituy the only issue is to get the reader halt kup.

One of the dumbest things ever written by anyone ever...period! Anti Torah and Anti G-D too boot.

Shafran...your'e a completly irrelevant asanine fool!

36

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:57 AM Z Says:

If this article had come out two days earlier I would have assumed it was an April Fools Day joke. I guess every day is April Fools Day for Shafran and the Agudah.

37

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:50 AM Anonymous Says:

Wow what a shame someone actually employed by Agudah has the audacity to write such a nonsense filled article.

Some people enjoy going against the grain, but this attempt was so inept and illogical its dumb to say the least.

Bringing in Sully to this was utter nonsense, are you also more proud of Madoff than a random fire fighter who saved a kids life because he didnt express in a newspaper that it was all about g-d?

The basketball player analogy makes zero sense to this matter.


PS- I saw an interview with Sully and he is a religious man

38

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:50 AM Anonymous Says:

Truly the article of a very disabled thinking mind. Disgrace to have him as member of Agudah and represent Torah Jews outlook on life,
Madoff's many investors came from "feeder" funds with specific assurances that the
monies "were not going to Madoff". The returns were purposely lower than most competitors and most individuals and institutions believed their monies were invested when in fact for over 13 years they were stolen. These people never stole on their taxes and those that do did not cause the death of many as the suicides
of madoff's victims are beginning.
Comparing the $50 billion fraud killing so few individuals and charities, to tax cheaters whose implications are so minimal(while equally wrong) affected is really distorted thinking. Also, saving peoples lives thru ability while also saving his own does not take away from the miracle and feat of keeping a cool head.
Admitting guilt and feeling remorse , when facing jail, means nothing when one did it for almost two decades. It was premeditated and carried out for many years so who cares what his original intention was!!!He destroyed forever the lives of thousands and caused the death of many. Rabbi Shafran should do more teshuvah for his article than Madoff can for his crime. The article is a SHANDA!!!!

39

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:49 AM chaim Says:

never in my life have i read such twisted idiotic and childish logic,
Avi you realy have made a complete fool of yourself,shame on you
you have given chareidi jewry a black eye with this to vomit article

40

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:48 AM sane Says:

And this man represents Agudas Yisroel? I am inclined to revoke my membership. Perhaps we need new blood there.

41

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Mr. Madoff never invested the money at all. He had no intent to do well initially. He just thought he would die first before he gets caught.

Sully recognized his responsibilities. Note his behavior after the plane landed to ensure everyone was safe.

When you have nothing to write write nothing

42

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:20 AM Anonymous Says:

This is a pure embarassment and a chillul Hashem. Shtus V'hevel.
Who is ever going to buy any of the clever "PR" coming from this drei kop's pen from now on ?????? What a fool. He must have had daled cosos before he penned this narishe drivel.

43

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:16 AM Anonymous Says:

R' Shafron may have a point...when Madoff started out, was his initial intention, lets fraud as many ppl as possible? Or, he started out sincerely getting a good return on investment, than his reputation blossomed. At some point he outsmarted himself. When he was giving high returns, did the investors care how he was getting it? They looked the other way. Suddenly when they lost their investment, oy vay ‘bernie is such a ganiv’
Ppl are greedy until it affects them.
What is the job description of Capt. Sully? Every airplane trip you take, the pilot has to use skill & perfection. He just did his job better.
The problem with the other comments, is they follow like sheeple to whatever the media
brainwashes. We don’t think for ourselves or logically anymore.

44

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:52 AM M Feldman Says:

Reply to #14  
Shmuel Says:

I hear, I wouldn't say I agree with every thing he says but I wouldn't call it nonsense either, but I hear what what he is saying (The author did make some good points).

I agree with you. Likewise I'm an open minded person and there are some very true points made in this artical. I go crazy when I see protests and rallies aginst a death penalty for a convicted mudere, asking for compassion, and the same people are making the most sadistic remarks on madoff.
I think his lawer should request he should be sent GITMO, then he will have the ACLU fighting for him

45

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:52 AM Anonymous Says:

this article must have taken alot of thought, he should of been helping his wife clean for yom tov he would have done better

46

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:58 AM Glatte Mensch Says:

Did evertone forget the fact that Captain Sully did not get off the plane untill everyone else was safely out?
Did we forget how he wallked up and down the aisle - twice - double checking the entire plane for people, all this with the plane rapidly filling with water? By the time he was finishing the water was up to his neck - he was a mere minute away from dying?
What exemplary cool-headiness, professionalism, and concern for others at the risk of his life!
Avi Shafran and some of the commenters here should read up on what exactly happened before they give opinions.
Captain Sully risked his life for others. No more need be said.

47

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:58 AM Anonymous Says:

The Bottom Line Please ... Madoff caused grief and hunger to so many people .... The pilot on the other hand did save the lives of so many people .... It is written that Tzedokah does not have to be Lishmoh ... cause the poor man gets it no matter the intentions. Could you understand the difference RABBI SHAFRAN ?

48

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:52 AM M Feldman Says:

Reply to #14  
Shmuel Says:

I hear, I wouldn't say I agree with every thing he says but I wouldn't call it nonsense either, but I hear what what he is saying (The author did make some good points).

I agree with you. Likewise I'm an open minded person and there are some very true points made in this artical. I go crazy when I see protests and rallies aginst a death penalty for a convicted mudere, asking for compassion, and the same people are making the most sadistic remarks on madoff.
I think his lawer should request he should be sent GITMO, then he will have the ACLU fighting for him

49

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:50 AM A (not The) Jewish Observer Says:

The Kotzker Rebbe said: "Not everything that is thought, should be said; not everything that is said, should be written; and not everything that is written, should be published."

The world could use more Kotzker Chassidim. This article needed to die somewhere in the 'thought,' 'said,' or 'written' stage.

50

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:49 AM Anonymous Says:

There is a serious flaw with this article that the many commenters above did not mention. We assume that we understand Madoff’s motives (whatever they could have been) and whether Sully has hakoras hatov to G-d for His assistance in carrying out his heroic actions. Even if Sully had openly stated that he is grateful to G-d, couldn’t we question the sincerity of that? All of this is none of our business. We cannot read minds, and those who think they can have some mental problems that require serious psychiatric treatment.

In the long run, Madoff gets his security guaranteed – behind bars. The many victims he ripped off are struggling to make ends meet. He created havoc among our community institutions and organizations that once had philanthropists that could support them. Sully gets fame and fortune. Perhaps HKB”H needs to read this article and change things around a bit. Who is smarter?

51

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:48 AM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi shafran,
I'm not really sure why you feel the need to defend Bernie Madoff, and that you have some kind of feelings for him, but for you to disrespect the pilot, Sully, and make some kind of compare and contrast, saying you are not impressed with him, it's shocking to me that you do this. And by the way, you give yourself away when you say he inked a deal to buy a book. That seems to be what is burning you. Somehow the fact that this man is being praised really gets under your skin.
Shameless

52

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:46 AM Satmar Man Says:

There is no way this rabbi actually means what he wrote. He is not "slow" nor "crazy."

So, why did he write such preposterous things?

Maybe to show us extremes. The pilot, though he did a commendable job, worked within his skill set and training, and do what he was supposed to do. It is like rewarding someone for doing his job. He did his job. He may have done it well, but he did his job. Has our society rotted so much that we are grateful when someone actually does what he/she is supposed to do? Maybe that is what Rabbi Shafran is saying. Sure, the pilot did well, just as each flight attendant, each baggage handler, and each mohel who does a good job twice a day. Or the brain surgeon who saved your father's life. He used his training and skill to do his job. We thank you, but we do not idolize him, and we don't shower him with the excesses this pilot has received.

Bernie, ... oy... what can I say about him. He probably set out to do good, failed, but learned a new skill, and performed it as skillfully as the pilot. There is no hakoras hatov due Bernie.... but to tear him apart with the extremes which others have shown him is a bit over the top. All those who invested with him and lost, love to blame him. But it was they, the investors, who failed at their responsibility.
CAVEAT EMPTOR. "Let the buyer beware." This is the expression penned years go in Common Law to indicate that it is the BUYER's responsibility to check into what he is buying or investing in. If I offer you a special deal on Ocean front property in Arizona and you buy it, you are a moron, an YOU failed to exercise common sense. If you were really that clueless to not realize that Arizona is not near any ocean, then you should have opened up a map.
Each of Madoff's investors had the buyer's responsibility to ascertain the viability, legitimacy and reality of the securities Madoff was supposed to be purchasing for him. Also, in Bernie's case more so. As there is an old maxim that teaches us "Anything which sounds too good to be true, is not true!"
What Bernie was promising was too good to be true. So, in a way, indirectly, Bernie was telling each investor, "I am taking you for a rid. I am swindling you. You better check this investment out; it is phony."
He warned the investors, time and time again, simply by offering what everyone should have known was too good to be true.
On top of that, many of his investors had a fiduciary responsibility to double and triple check, for they were entrusted with other peoples' money.

None of them did any due diligence. None investigated. All believed that Bernie can deliver returns "too good to be true"

If I offer you that great deal on Ocean-Front Property in Arizona, and you hand me the money without checking, are you not at least equally responsible?

These investors whp were investing others' money were criminally responsible by not checking. They are evading responsibility by turning Madoff into a Devil or Satanic person.

So, Since I do not believe this rabbi is a moron, and to take the article on face value is to consider him a moron, I offer this alternative explanation.

Have a gitten Shabbos.
They are over reacting to take attention away from their own criminal neglect.

53

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:45 AM Anonymous Says:

Disagree on the point about Madoff....But I do agree about Capt. Sully..granted, his skills were exceptional and he is certainly owed a debt of gratitude, BUT I personally did not hear ONE work of thanks to the one who saved all those people, Hashem!...not from Sully or any of the press or any people interviewed by the press afterwards. That is shameful.

54

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:42 AM Anonymous Says:

The good Rabbi could learn a the Medrash where Yaakov Avenu convinced Elifaz to take all of his money because a poor person is considered dead.

Based upon that Medrash, Bernie is a Rotzeach.

This post is one of the most obscene distortions of Torah values I have seen in a long time.

Shame on him and shame on the Agudah for letting such drivel be published for the world to see.

55

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:07 AM moishe z Says:

This Bracha is only according to Shmuels calculations. According to Rav Ada there will be no cosmic event on Erev Pesach. The Sun , Earth, Moon and Mazolas are not lined up as they were at the Bria. (which was before Rosh Hashana -- Hayom Haras Olam and with a different calculation all together) So why do we make the Bracha?

See Chasam Sofer O"C 56 and Chazon Ish

Chag Kosher V'Sameach to all

56

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:00 AM Anonymous Says:

What #25 said exactly!
I think the article is an embarrassment to Agudah and all yidden.

57

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:11 AM stay cool Says:

R. Shafran makes some good points. However, some people, as evidenced by some of the comments here, are so emotionally involved in things that they have trouble looking beyond the surface.

Evidently some of them have issues with R. Shafran's employer too, and are unloading on him.

He is a fine writer and generally decent guy. Even if you disagree with him, do so in an civilized manner.

58

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:36 AM Joseph Says:

Reply to #43  
Anonymous Says:

R' Shafron may have a point...when Madoff started out, was his initial intention, lets fraud as many ppl as possible? Or, he started out sincerely getting a good return on investment, than his reputation blossomed. At some point he outsmarted himself. When he was giving high returns, did the investors care how he was getting it? They looked the other way. Suddenly when they lost their investment, oy vay ‘bernie is such a ganiv’
Ppl are greedy until it affects them.
What is the job description of Capt. Sully? Every airplane trip you take, the pilot has to use skill & perfection. He just did his job better.
The problem with the other comments, is they follow like sheeple to whatever the media
brainwashes. We don’t think for ourselves or logically anymore.

"What is the job description of Capt. Sully? Every airplane trip you take, the pilot has to use skill & perfection. He just did his job better."

Following your logic, don't ever thank anyone who does you a service, because your attitude is "that's your job", even if he saves your life. It's such an immature, wrong, and at times "yeshivishe" attitude, and it's terrible and against real Da'as Torah.

And most of the commenters here are not following like "sheeple" as you put it. It's just they have a brain in their heads not to follow whatever the Agudah "heads" put out in print, unlike YOU who agree with "R' Shafron".

59

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:35 AM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi, Don't you understand that if Goyim read this they will just be more antisemitic to us??? I am not going into if I agree or not But How in the world can you take such Achraiyus?? Did you ask a Godul?? Or maybe you consider yourself a Godul.........

60

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:31 AM pathetic Says:

rabbi shafran,
there is an old yiddish saying which you should take heed of
loosely translated into english,
" not everything one thinks should he say,not everything one hears should he repeat,not everything written should be printed "
i think u as a writer and representative of agudas yisroel an organization claiming to represent orthodox jewry should pay close attention to the the last part of the quote above

61

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:26 AM Anonymous Says:

whats funny is that shafran obviously did not read or listen to madoff statement in court at sentencing. we all know he said exactly what happened, what he was thinking and what followed and what his intentions were.
yet, shafran seems to feel he knows that madoff must have really had in mind, despite madoffs own admission of what his intentions were.

62

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:12 AM Anonymous Says:

Calm down! He is not condoning Madoff's behavior at all as mentioned several times in the article. He's just stating some insights regarding his character and how he got to this point. If you just step back a minute and do some thinking before you fly off the handle it may make some sense to you. Whether you agree with it or not - that's your opinion, and he's entitled to his just as you are entitled to yours.

63

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:11 AM Anonymous Says:

This article is a disgrace. To have an article like this published with the author's name and photo clearly identifying him as a Jew is a terrible chilul Hashem. What kind of people are we if we accept the insincere self-serving apology of a thief who has ruined people's lives and fail to express our admiration to someone who saved lives and risked his own life to make sure others were safe?? If the unfortunate, endless phenomenon of Jewish names in the news involved in crimes of dishonesty and worse is not enough, this author apparently feels he has to add to the atmosphere of chilul Hashem.

64

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:10 AM Joseph Says:

Wow, I am so shocked at this article!

Commenter # 1 said it best: "Pathetic, unnecessary lamdus to prove a stupid point."


To think Madoff did "teshuva" and "owned up" to his crimes is naive at the very best.

But what surprised me even more is that he doesn't call Sully a hero. If Shafran would have been on the plane, would he have said, "Thank you", or would he have said, "Hey, you had to save your own skin ANYWAYS, so it's not like you did it for me"? If they would have had frum people on the plane, or some Gedolim from the Moetzes, I have a feeling he would change his tune, even though his point is the same.

Rabbi Miller ZT'L would say it all depends on intent. A bakery that supplies bread to customers makes itself money that way. But if the owner had in mind he's bringing food to feed Klal Yisroel and emulating the middah of Hashem that's "Nosein Lechem L'chol Bosor", he thereby elevates what he does to a whole new level. The fact that he's also making money thereby doesn't negate that. So if this pilot was thinking of others at the same time, which it seems like he was from the interviews and information that came out afterward, then yes, it would make him a hero too. I'm very surprised someone from Agudah, who officially represents frum Yidden, can be so base about something so simple.

If Shafran was my "life-coach", a job he advertises to help others, I'd fire him, Donald-Trump style.

65

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:16 AM Anonymous Says:

In the Torah, money is referred to as "damim". Stealing people's life savings is tantamount to spilling their blood. How one can make light of such crimes is mind boggling. Shafran also wrote several articles making light of the child sexual abuse problem we have. Like #56 correctly states, this article is an embarrassment to the Agudah and all yidden, and so is Shafran.

66

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:08 AM Surprised Says:

Very suprising from Avi Shgafran. Usually his articles are better worded, and much more logical.

It happens to be that I personally was very inspired by Captain Sully's tremendous humility. He downplayed his skills, and was clearly very uncomfortable with all the attention and publicity. In one interview he said that he realized that people feel the need to show him thanks and honor, and he found that it would be rude not to accept it graciously.

Madoff did not admit his guilt. He was caught.
Captain "Sully" showed level-headedness, focus, control over his emotions, responsibility (he checked the plane after), and humility. All attributes valued by Judaism. Bernie demonstrated none of these.

67

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:06 AM Anonymous Says:

The torah view: Berney should be sold as a slave and the money that he is sold for shall go to pay off his investors that he ahs stoled moey from. He can be sold to china, he is smart china would pay for him 20,000,000,000 dollars, sounds more creative then rotting in a cell and investors stay bilked.

68

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:05 AM GREAT ARTICLE Says:

WOW I have not read such a thought provoking article in a long time. It's so true yet so disturbibg as seen by many of comments, how it actually touched on a raw nerve, I guess people just feel it's true and the article is poking at them.

69

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:12 AM Anonymous Says:

the only explanation bernie paid the rabbi for the article

70

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:00 AM bitachon Says:

ksheim shemitza lomar davar hanishma
kach mitzvah shelo lomar davar sheaino nishma
Would The late Rav Moshe Sherer have written or allowed such an article to be printed?
Did the rebbe and nasi see this?
I am to confused to know if I agree or disagree. Thank you.

71

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:02 AM Anonymous Says:

Has anyone thought, that what Shafran is trying to do is make a Mussur-like observation (although I don't believe his role nor his position is for - a mashgiach for the frum world!). But think about what his meesage, putting aside the buzz words/headline making sentences that everyone is taking issue with. Everyone of us who cheats, or tries to cheat, on their taxes is no better than Madoff, he just did a better job (for a while) at it than any of us. The piece is supposed to be introspective, for us, not an opinion on the 2 subjects of the article (Madoff and Sully).

72

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:03 AM remove the article Says:

huge chilul hashem..... this should not be posted on the web

73

 Apr 03, 2009 at 10:04 AM Le'afrushei Me'isura Says:

All these posts are a bizayon. I don't care what you think about this article, there is absolutely no heter to mevaze a talmid chochom and osek bezorchei tzibor.

74

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:41 AM Andrew Says:

Rabbi Sharan should resign immediately from The Agudah.

He has shown that PR truly does trump Truth.

And this is purely a PR Publisist "spinning" out of control -- relishing in the knowledge that he can convince others that left is right and right is wrong.

This is a serious indictment against the Agudah, and they should fire him as a result.

I am not going to repeat the excellent comments already written.

But Madoff is a rasha-mammash and Scully is a true hero. (Yes, he not only landed the plane, but kept himself and the crew and passengers calm. He is the EXACT kind of leader we need more of. And he subsequent interviews and biographical picture points to just that. The fact that Rabbi Shafran can't see that is another indictment on himself and perhaps the ganza yeshivische velt.)

75

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:39 AM Moishie Says:

Reply to #52  
Satmar Man Says:

There is no way this rabbi actually means what he wrote. He is not "slow" nor "crazy."

So, why did he write such preposterous things?

Maybe to show us extremes. The pilot, though he did a commendable job, worked within his skill set and training, and do what he was supposed to do. It is like rewarding someone for doing his job. He did his job. He may have done it well, but he did his job. Has our society rotted so much that we are grateful when someone actually does what he/she is supposed to do? Maybe that is what Rabbi Shafran is saying. Sure, the pilot did well, just as each flight attendant, each baggage handler, and each mohel who does a good job twice a day. Or the brain surgeon who saved your father's life. He used his training and skill to do his job. We thank you, but we do not idolize him, and we don't shower him with the excesses this pilot has received.

Bernie, ... oy... what can I say about him. He probably set out to do good, failed, but learned a new skill, and performed it as skillfully as the pilot. There is no hakoras hatov due Bernie.... but to tear him apart with the extremes which others have shown him is a bit over the top. All those who invested with him and lost, love to blame him. But it was they, the investors, who failed at their responsibility.
CAVEAT EMPTOR. "Let the buyer beware." This is the expression penned years go in Common Law to indicate that it is the BUYER's responsibility to check into what he is buying or investing in. If I offer you a special deal on Ocean front property in Arizona and you buy it, you are a moron, an YOU failed to exercise common sense. If you were really that clueless to not realize that Arizona is not near any ocean, then you should have opened up a map.
Each of Madoff's investors had the buyer's responsibility to ascertain the viability, legitimacy and reality of the securities Madoff was supposed to be purchasing for him. Also, in Bernie's case more so. As there is an old maxim that teaches us "Anything which sounds too good to be true, is not true!"
What Bernie was promising was too good to be true. So, in a way, indirectly, Bernie was telling each investor, "I am taking you for a rid. I am swindling you. You better check this investment out; it is phony."
He warned the investors, time and time again, simply by offering what everyone should have known was too good to be true.
On top of that, many of his investors had a fiduciary responsibility to double and triple check, for they were entrusted with other peoples' money.

None of them did any due diligence. None investigated. All believed that Bernie can deliver returns "too good to be true"

If I offer you that great deal on Ocean-Front Property in Arizona, and you hand me the money without checking, are you not at least equally responsible?

These investors whp were investing others' money were criminally responsible by not checking. They are evading responsibility by turning Madoff into a Devil or Satanic person.

So, Since I do not believe this rabbi is a moron, and to take the article on face value is to consider him a moron, I offer this alternative explanation.

Have a gitten Shabbos.
They are over reacting to take attention away from their own criminal neglect.

You are about as Satmar as I am.

Rabbi Shafran, if this is your response, why hide behind Satmar man and wish us a "gitten" Shabbos. Confess, take responsibilty for your error in judgement and own up to your meek explanation. Even Bernie eventually confessed. We are all human. People will retain more respect for you if you don't hide behind this pen name.

76

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:39 AM Joseph Says:

Reply to #73  
Le'afrushei Me'isura Says:

All these posts are a bizayon. I don't care what you think about this article, there is absolutely no heter to mevaze a talmid chochom and osek bezorchei tzibor.

So what should we do? Accept this drivel and be silent? Silence can be misconstrued for agreement, which it most definitely is not.

Osek betzorchei tzibor? Yes.
Talmid chochom? Possibly.
Common sense? Absolutely not.

77

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:28 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #73  
Le'afrushei Me'isura Says:

All these posts are a bizayon. I don't care what you think about this article, there is absolutely no heter to mevaze a talmid chochom and osek bezorchei tzibor.

the article is a bezayon

did shafran think about being mevazeh sully and the chillul hashem he is causing.

i showd the article to a gentile friend and he said
"sure the Rabbi defends Madoff, many jews steal so they see no difference between stealing a dime and 65Billion"

78

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:24 AM Conspirator Says:

This must be one of those leftist groups forging an article in Avi's name just to make him look bad

79

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:20 AM Anonymous Says:

shafran@agudathisrael.org

Give this fool a peice of your mind please. And call your local Aguda-affiliated rov and demand he be ousted from that sorry irrelevant org.

80

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:45 AM Apology Warranted Says:

The rabbi, with all due respect, should issue a formal apology for having written this article. The article deeply exacerbates the tremendous pain inflicted upon the convict's many, many victims.

81

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:07 PM Anonymous Says:

This guy has been around for years. its sad that he just ruined his career with this article.

82

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:00 PM Bewildred Says:

After reading Rabbi Shafran statement i really am bewildred. rabbi Shafran is respectable individual from teh Agudath Israel. Has anyone from the Moeizes gedolei hatora read this statement. Was the article written on Purim. bernie Madoof is a ganov. To say outright that he is to be respected because he admitted being a ganov, only because he got caught does not mean he accepted guilt. nor does it mean thathe is doing teshuva. he still is a Rasha.
The gemara in Bava kama ( ibeleive around 61aor b)discusess the inyon of mazil nafsho bmamon chaverei, regarding dovid hamelech. Doid hamelech sent during battle asked a question if one may do so. the sanhedrin came back with aanswer, that since he is melech a melech has right od eminent domain and can do so. "only because he is a melech". Dovid hamelech so even so heis going to be machmer. (of special note the hsala was a temprary one since he palnned to pay back with property he acquired from th plishtim.Still Dovid hamelech said no and was macmer.

i am not comparing bernie Madoff to dovid hamelech, thathe palneed to pay back . Bernie Madoff only hoped to repay if he scored big. That was never to be. He stole money fromother investors to appear that he was paying back.

The world was sdestroyed because of Chamos. rtashi states chamos meand geneiva.. period
Does rabbi shafran not learn daf Yomi. Maybe he ran through the recent gemora and did not delve into the emora. Does he not know that is a shita that aside from the 3 mitzvos of yahruk val yavor that geneva is also included.

to compare him to Sully is a disgrace. Whether Sully is enriching himself now is irrelevent. His humilty is what is important. How he handled himself after teh fact is what we need to emulate. When we have people that do chesed and do for others and do not expect any reward and we emulate and say wow do we belittle him by saying that is his job. when gedloim went to save Jews in hatzlos nefesh do we say "that it was there job'

rabbi shafran while i respect you , there is something wrong in yur thought process.

next time i think he shoud run such a article by the gedolim for approval

In conclusion am i ato assume that the Agudath Yisroel approved of such a statement. he repersents Agudath Israel. are wes ending a message that echta vashuv ( i will sin and repent) is Ok?

83

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:54 AM Moish Says:

Reply to #62  
Anonymous Says:

Calm down! He is not condoning Madoff's behavior at all as mentioned several times in the article. He's just stating some insights regarding his character and how he got to this point. If you just step back a minute and do some thinking before you fly off the handle it may make some sense to you. Whether you agree with it or not - that's your opinion, and he's entitled to his just as you are entitled to yours.

Your wrong on two accounts.
A) It's a form of condonment. Its starts off with theres much silver lining and the next thing you know its become a good deed.
B) He speaks on behalf of an orginazation that is percieved to be representative of Orthodox Jewry

84

 Apr 03, 2009 at 11:53 AM Funny Says:

Reply to #80  
Apology Warranted Says:

The rabbi, with all due respect, should issue a formal apology for having written this article. The article deeply exacerbates the tremendous pain inflicted upon the convict's many, many victims.

I guess the article really hit home. You can see by the comments how true his words are!!!!.

85

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:28 PM David Says:

This article is total DRECH!!! Once again it demonstrates why the Agudah and its spokesperson is totally out of touch with what is appropriate and proper. Fighting against bills to protect our children, speaking up in public against common sense actions to improve our neighborhoods and lives.
To praise a self admitted criminal whose admissions were only for self preservation, and denigrate a modest, brave person, who EARNED AN HONEST LIVING, even if only in a poorly reasoned pilpul example, gives the wrong impression to the world about what we hold to be right.
I'd much rather have a son who turns out to be a Captain Scully. I'd die of shame if my son turns out to be a Madoff, even one who did teshuva!

86

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:22 PM Retarted! Says:

This is by far the most ridiculous article have every read! I hope his stupid speech write wrote it and not him... Hevay Don es Kol Haodam Lechaf Zechus :)

87

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:36 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
Anonymous Says:

you make your own point wonderfully

I would just like to point out that according to Torah Madoff doesn't deserve any of the punishments brought against him or those people wish to bring against him! He has only to return the money x2 (understandeably not an easy feat) and if unable to has to dedicate the rest of his life to do so (even to sell himself as a slave...!)

All these hate comments against him are not in accordance with Torah.

He did something wrong and should fix it. But at the end of the day he is still a Jew!
He didn't murder anyone for heaven's sake! And all those who committed suicide because of the whole scandal that's on their heads...they had a problem that they were too obsessed with money and money was the only thing they lived for!

88

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:42 PM Babishka Says:

I usually enjoy Rabbi Shafran's articles, but this one is purely idiotic! Bernie Madoff the thief deserves no praise and (l'havdil) Sully Sullenberger, the pilot whose skills and talent saved the lives 155 human beings, deserves all the praise and rewards that a grateful public will provide.

89

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:33 PM Anonymous Says:

The myth of "Daas Torah" takes yet another crushing blow...

90

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:50 PM lavdafka Says:

I SENT THIS EMAIL TO : shafran@agudathisrael.org .......
You have made a tremendous chillul Hashem with your article … PLEASE RETRACT AND SEND OUT A FORMAL APOLOGY!
S---- L----
13-- E 3-- th St, Brooklyn, NY

91

 Apr 03, 2009 at 12:47 PM One of 'em Says:

the writer of this article is one of those who try to get the attention to their writings by being controversial...!!

Ehr Redt Nisht tzu der zech!! and is casuing a chilul hashem too!

The pilot is a hero! even if his own life was on the line too, and Bernie deserves NO compassion for his crime.

sorry! Mister you got your priorities all messed up, but u got waht u wanted, people are reading and talking about u.

92

 Apr 03, 2009 at 01:21 PM merkin Says:

This is one of the most seriously stupid articles I have ever read. Capt. Sullenberg was a hero who put others lives ahead of his own. Bernie M. was a crook who ruined peoples' lives and stole their money. This is the kind of fakrumpte thinking that we find in the frum community. This is how frum THIEVES rationalize stealing. And you know it does happen. Steal, rationalize, daven, dance with the rabbi. See it all the time.

93

 Apr 03, 2009 at 01:13 PM scrubbing Says:

Whoever saves a life has saved a whole world. People committed suicide when they found out about their losses with Madoff. The people saved by Sully now have another chance to devote their lives to Hashem. A person who wants to inspire a teenager will probably say to behave like Sully and be a level-headed hero and not be greedy like Madoff.

94

 Apr 03, 2009 at 01:10 PM Meatloaf Says:

No one need look further then Rabbi Shafran to understand why the frum community has such trouble with the concept of ethical behavior. For a man with such a limited, narrow understanding of right and wrong to sit in a position of power at the RCA speaks volumes about the moral bankruptcy of that organization.

95

 Apr 03, 2009 at 01:04 PM Askupeh Says:

After reading all 80 comments, I feel that I must also add my opinion and stick up for Rabbi Shafran; his blood is not Hefker. I know that my opinion might not be popular among many VIN readers, but I’ll have the guts of saying it anyway. My guts is nothing compared to Rabbi Shafran’s guts where he writes what he thinks “under his real name” and will either admit some errors or stand by what he wrote and explain them. I agree with some of his comments but not all. I also realize that after gaining some insight by some of the 80 comments, I can now be “Ah Held” because I now know more about this subject then what he knew before he wrote his piece. Most comments against Shafran are more off base then Shafran’s essay itself. Rabbi Shafran makes some good points regarding Madoff, but IMO he could have done it without making the reverse point about Sully and without bringing in the “Din Prutah Kedin Meah”. I know that writers, when they have a need to draw parallels, they sometimes see what is not there; and similarly commentators who have a dying need to show “righteous indignation” will create stories and twist facts to fit their agenda; (the water up to his neck is one of them). Others have an ax to grind with Rabbi Shafran and Agudah, and I don’t envy him for having to stand up to so many Falshe people. Ich Dank Dem Bashefer that I never entered public life, and having to put up with the crazed world.

I’ll end with saying thanks to Rabbi Shafran who I have come to respect, and encourage him to ignore most naysayer’s, who don’t have in their head what he has in his pinky finger. Besides some facts which he didn’t get exactly right IMO, his real mistake was to think that the audience is enough broadminded to comprehend his points. From now on it would serve him good to choose his audiences more carefully.

96

 Apr 03, 2009 at 01:50 PM The Corrector Says:

Reply to #94  
Meatloaf Says:

No one need look further then Rabbi Shafran to understand why the frum community has such trouble with the concept of ethical behavior. For a man with such a limited, narrow understanding of right and wrong to sit in a position of power at the RCA speaks volumes about the moral bankruptcy of that organization.

Shafran is with the AGUDATH ISRAEL, not the RCA.

97

 Apr 03, 2009 at 02:12 PM David Says:

Whose Olam Haba woud you rather have?
A) Capt. Sully
B) Bernie Madoff
C) Avi Shafran

98

 Apr 03, 2009 at 01:54 PM voideslove Says:

so much bittle zman for this silly article!!!!! 95 comments

99

 Apr 03, 2009 at 02:44 PM Boruch Says:

Please get your facts straight. Madoff plead guilty only after his sons went to the SEC. The likelihood is that he is taking the bulk of the blame for his Ponzi scheme to protect his wife, sons and his secretary.
Captain Sullenberg appeared on 60 minutes with his wife soon after the river landing. Among the many indications of gratitude he offered and were offered to him he focused on one letter written to him by the child of a Holocaust survivor. The Captain welled up with tears as it was read. The man is a humble, talented, highly trained and dedicated professional. Madoff is nothing more than a goniff.
To misrepresent them is to make a lie the truth.
So sad.....

100

 Apr 03, 2009 at 02:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Whatever happened to the chazal, he who saves one life is as if he saved the whole world? Captain Sully saved 155 worlds!!

101

 Apr 03, 2009 at 02:24 PM Anonymous Says:

this article makes me embarrased to be frum

102

 Apr 03, 2009 at 02:24 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #87  
Anonymous Says:

I would just like to point out that according to Torah Madoff doesn't deserve any of the punishments brought against him or those people wish to bring against him! He has only to return the money x2 (understandeably not an easy feat) and if unable to has to dedicate the rest of his life to do so (even to sell himself as a slave...!)

All these hate comments against him are not in accordance with Torah.

He did something wrong and should fix it. But at the end of the day he is still a Jew!
He didn't murder anyone for heaven's sake! And all those who committed suicide because of the whole scandal that's on their heads...they had a problem that they were too obsessed with money and money was the only thing they lived for!


Why times 2. If he were a ganav, he was modeh and is patur to pay kofel and there are no witnesses. If he were a gazlan he just has to repay the money, If he were a loveh same thing.

This is all bedinei adam however. How is going to answer the first question they ask him when he reaches 120,?
. .

103

 Apr 03, 2009 at 03:44 PM Proud to be naturalized American citizen Says:

Two outstanding medos that from Capt sully have not been mentioned by anybody yet and reflect the unselfish person he is

1) that he took off his shirt in freezing weather and gave to a man who fell in to the freezing water “quote when I was pulled out if the freezing water in to the raft the Caption said to me sir you have to take your shirt off I will give you mine “
2) in his 60 minute interview he said I accepted my role as hero because I did not want the deny the public the good feeling in such tough times

I know another supposedly very smart person who is on the board of Augdath Yisroal
And has a similarly twisted mind I have to listen to his statements in soul

104

 Apr 03, 2009 at 03:01 PM yitz Says:

this is my first disap[ppintment with R. Shafran after reading dozens of earlier ones and silently applauding. For this one : syug lachachmah sh'sikah.

105

 Apr 03, 2009 at 02:50 PM Anonymous Says:

I agree with Rabbi Shafran

106

 Apr 03, 2009 at 02:50 PM Anonymous Says:

This man has made one insensitive public statement after another. First when he was asked to respond to the Kolko arrest his answer was, "why should we comment?" Then he wrote a totally obnoxious and degrading piece calling the allegations of Jewish sexual abuse victims "tawdry tales" and saying that the whole scandal is based upon "anecdotal evidence". Now he spits in the face of the thousand of Madoff victims, including those that were driven to suicide, by this idiotic article. Also, Captain Sully whose actions were nothing short of heroic, both during and after the crash. I think it's time that Shafran resigns from the Agudah and that they find someone who is a lot more caring and sensitive to other people's feelings.

107

 Apr 03, 2009 at 03:59 PM Anonymous Says:

"To save a life is as if one has saved the world" Captain Sullenberger did just that for the 155 people on his plane. Two people have killed themselves because of Bernie Madoff and hundreds are devastated by his misdeeds. Whom would I rather have at my Shabbos table as an example to my children? No question Rabbi Shafran.

108

 Apr 03, 2009 at 03:55 PM Anonymous Says:

"inspired by the penitent. "
How is he "PENITENT"????

DID HE RETURN WHAT HE STOLE?????? in fact his "act" in court was probably staged so that he would not have to return -- or at least keep --as much as possible!!
If he were TRULY PENITENT.... he would 1st return ALL the money that was left and then 2nd.. say "I'M sorry!"

I'm sorry Rabbi .... He's a goniff and will remain so until he is truly penitent!

As to Sully, he is a HERO pure and simple....He saved lives...at the moment of the landing... and after when he went back in the sinking water filled plane to double check if everyone was off....HERO pure & simple...!1

I think Rabbi You need to recheck your moral compass!





109

 Apr 03, 2009 at 06:07 PM Yankel Says:

Reply to #98  
voideslove Says:

so much bittle zman for this silly article!!!!! 95 comments

There should be 1095 by now its that troubling. Words matter and as a percieved representative of Orthodox Jewry, people ought to be fuming. Thank G-D there is common sense out there.

110

 Apr 03, 2009 at 06:07 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #52  
Satmar Man Says:

There is no way this rabbi actually means what he wrote. He is not "slow" nor "crazy."

So, why did he write such preposterous things?

Maybe to show us extremes. The pilot, though he did a commendable job, worked within his skill set and training, and do what he was supposed to do. It is like rewarding someone for doing his job. He did his job. He may have done it well, but he did his job. Has our society rotted so much that we are grateful when someone actually does what he/she is supposed to do? Maybe that is what Rabbi Shafran is saying. Sure, the pilot did well, just as each flight attendant, each baggage handler, and each mohel who does a good job twice a day. Or the brain surgeon who saved your father's life. He used his training and skill to do his job. We thank you, but we do not idolize him, and we don't shower him with the excesses this pilot has received.

Bernie, ... oy... what can I say about him. He probably set out to do good, failed, but learned a new skill, and performed it as skillfully as the pilot. There is no hakoras hatov due Bernie.... but to tear him apart with the extremes which others have shown him is a bit over the top. All those who invested with him and lost, love to blame him. But it was they, the investors, who failed at their responsibility.
CAVEAT EMPTOR. "Let the buyer beware." This is the expression penned years go in Common Law to indicate that it is the BUYER's responsibility to check into what he is buying or investing in. If I offer you a special deal on Ocean front property in Arizona and you buy it, you are a moron, an YOU failed to exercise common sense. If you were really that clueless to not realize that Arizona is not near any ocean, then you should have opened up a map.
Each of Madoff's investors had the buyer's responsibility to ascertain the viability, legitimacy and reality of the securities Madoff was supposed to be purchasing for him. Also, in Bernie's case more so. As there is an old maxim that teaches us "Anything which sounds too good to be true, is not true!"
What Bernie was promising was too good to be true. So, in a way, indirectly, Bernie was telling each investor, "I am taking you for a rid. I am swindling you. You better check this investment out; it is phony."
He warned the investors, time and time again, simply by offering what everyone should have known was too good to be true.
On top of that, many of his investors had a fiduciary responsibility to double and triple check, for they were entrusted with other peoples' money.

None of them did any due diligence. None investigated. All believed that Bernie can deliver returns "too good to be true"

If I offer you that great deal on Ocean-Front Property in Arizona, and you hand me the money without checking, are you not at least equally responsible?

These investors whp were investing others' money were criminally responsible by not checking. They are evading responsibility by turning Madoff into a Devil or Satanic person.

So, Since I do not believe this rabbi is a moron, and to take the article on face value is to consider him a moron, I offer this alternative explanation.

Have a gitten Shabbos.
They are over reacting to take attention away from their own criminal neglect.

As mentioned above;
it takes a crook and a thief to sympathize with one.
When someone takes yous seat in shul, you're ready to rip his head off.
But because Bernie didn't take any of your money, only yenem's, you're ready to justify, defend, be moichel and pontificate.
Ain l'cho 'moron' godol mizeh!!!!
gitten shabbes

111

 Apr 03, 2009 at 06:07 PM Anonymous Says:

good point 108. he gave all the money to his wife and even tried to mail out some expensive items *after* he confessed. Rabbi Shafran ignored some of these salient facts and made a fool of himself. Let's see if he's a mensch and will retract.

112

 Apr 03, 2009 at 06:05 PM Yankel Says:

Reply to #95  
Askupeh Says:

After reading all 80 comments, I feel that I must also add my opinion and stick up for Rabbi Shafran; his blood is not Hefker. I know that my opinion might not be popular among many VIN readers, but I’ll have the guts of saying it anyway. My guts is nothing compared to Rabbi Shafran’s guts where he writes what he thinks “under his real name” and will either admit some errors or stand by what he wrote and explain them. I agree with some of his comments but not all. I also realize that after gaining some insight by some of the 80 comments, I can now be “Ah Held” because I now know more about this subject then what he knew before he wrote his piece. Most comments against Shafran are more off base then Shafran’s essay itself. Rabbi Shafran makes some good points regarding Madoff, but IMO he could have done it without making the reverse point about Sully and without bringing in the “Din Prutah Kedin Meah”. I know that writers, when they have a need to draw parallels, they sometimes see what is not there; and similarly commentators who have a dying need to show “righteous indignation” will create stories and twist facts to fit their agenda; (the water up to his neck is one of them). Others have an ax to grind with Rabbi Shafran and Agudah, and I don’t envy him for having to stand up to so many Falshe people. Ich Dank Dem Bashefer that I never entered public life, and having to put up with the crazed world.

I’ll end with saying thanks to Rabbi Shafran who I have come to respect, and encourage him to ignore most naysayer’s, who don’t have in their head what he has in his pinky finger. Besides some facts which he didn’t get exactly right IMO, his real mistake was to think that the audience is enough broadminded to comprehend his points. From now on it would serve him good to choose his audiences more carefully.

Now hes the victim. No one forced him to write this drivel. The mans a fool!!!

113

 Apr 03, 2009 at 06:04 PM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi Shafran, For a bright man you are so off the mark. I wonder what you'd be writing if one of your children lost all his money with Madoff, and another was on Sully's plane.

114

 Apr 03, 2009 at 05:44 PM Anonymous Says:

Next year Rabbi Shafran should clean the house for Pesach and thereby relate more meaningfully to what it means to work hard while celebrating the Exodus, and let his wife write an article condemning a monster ganif for stealing the life savings out of thousands of hard-working people's pockets and praising Captain Sullenberger for leading a successful exodus out of a sinking plane.

115

 Apr 03, 2009 at 05:31 PM Shaul in Monsey Says:

Reply to #97  
David Says:

Whose Olam Haba woud you rather have?
A) Capt. Sully
B) Bernie Madoff
C) Avi Shafran

Great vort! What's next? Shafran condemning Hatzoloh for "just doing their job" while lauding hookers for "making the best of a really tough socioeconomic situation?" I think this article really demonstrates why smorganizations like RCA and Der Agoodeh have really relegated themselves to a societal value somewhere just barely above the New Skinheads for Change Organization but definitely beneath Save the Whales.

116

 Apr 03, 2009 at 05:28 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #45  
Anonymous Says:

this article must have taken alot of thought, he should of been helping his wife clean for yom tov he would have done better

Be dan lekaf zhechus. Maybe he was helping his wife clean and the fumes from the cleaning products got to him.

117

 Apr 04, 2009 at 07:41 PM FVNMS Says:

Not all thoughts need to be regurgitated for others to admire. Shtissim mit borscht. Keep it in your stomach please.

118

 Apr 04, 2009 at 05:12 PM Anonymous Says:

He may have had some valid points, but he lost the validity by comparing two completely different scenarios, and by switching the hero of one story with the destructer of the other story.

119

 Apr 03, 2009 at 09:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Please let me slip in from outside the fold to express my admiration of the rabbi's provocative style of argument, while totally disagreeing with his choice of examples. If I understood it correctly, the rabbi notes that the remorse of an evil-doer is of more value than good acts by those expected to perform them. I just can't help being reminded of the parable of the prodigal son taught by someone whom my Jewish friends call a renegade rabbi.

120

 Apr 03, 2009 at 05:01 PM WOW Says:

This is the kind of thinking that enables one to pull off a Ponzi scheme. This fardreyte farkrumpte thinking. They should investigate Rabbi Shafran he must be hiding something with the ethics that he displays in this article!

121

 Apr 04, 2009 at 08:40 PM David Says:

This article is a perfect example of "ad d'lo yada". Sober up.

122

 Apr 03, 2009 at 05:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Does R.Shafran know something about Madoff & Sullenberger that the public is not privy to?? Nah!

One important note - those who disparage the "frum" community based on a few, are no better than this article.

123

 Apr 03, 2009 at 05:06 PM Anonymous Says:

I agree with Rabbi Shafran regarding the pilot. He is a wonderful human being, an exceptional aviator, and was unbelievably calm under an enormous amount of pressure. Does this earn him the title of hero?

124

 Apr 03, 2009 at 04:07 PM mkarpas Says:

Reply to #103  
Proud to be naturalized American citizen Says:

Two outstanding medos that from Capt sully have not been mentioned by anybody yet and reflect the unselfish person he is

1) that he took off his shirt in freezing weather and gave to a man who fell in to the freezing water “quote when I was pulled out if the freezing water in to the raft the Caption said to me sir you have to take your shirt off I will give you mine “
2) in his 60 minute interview he said I accepted my role as hero because I did not want the deny the public the good feeling in such tough times

I know another supposedly very smart person who is on the board of Augdath Yisroal
And has a similarly twisted mind I have to listen to his statements in soul

#103

You have succinctly described the difference between Sully and Madoff

Sully gave the shirt off his back to a freezing man, Madoff stole the shirts off countless peoples' backs.

On another site Rav Shafran's article is dubbed Bernie,Sully and Me
I guess its a take-off on Coffee Tea and Me a book wrtten by a stewardess.

It would have been better titled Bernie Silly Me (for writing such an article)




125

 Apr 04, 2009 at 09:10 PM Satmar Man #52 Says:

Reply to #110  
Anonymous Says:

As mentioned above;
it takes a crook and a thief to sympathize with one.
When someone takes yous seat in shul, you're ready to rip his head off.
But because Bernie didn't take any of your money, only yenem's, you're ready to justify, defend, be moichel and pontificate.
Ain l'cho 'moron' godol mizeh!!!!
gitten shabbes

A gitte Voche,

You know, in my post, I attacked no one. I insulted no one. I called no one names.

You do not know me. Well, since I don't know you, I can't be sure of that, but if we do know each other, we are not aware of it here online.

Do YOU get angry at someone who sits in YOUR seat in shul? Angry?
Fahkert. Occassionally someone does sit in my seat in shul. When I am the baal tefillah, they don't know the seat is taken. When I get back, I NEVER tell the person he is in my seat. Instead I try to stand elsewhere. Usually someone who sits next to my seat will then point to me, then to my seat, letting the guest know it is my seat. I usually signal for him to remain there. Happily.
Get angry? ????

Bernie may not have taken any of my personal funds. But he did hurt me. He hurt all of klall Yisroel in many ways, including loss of funds to programs and institutions which I support.

There are no Jews who did not lose anything from Bernie's crimes.

Also, if you actually read what I wrote, I did not justify his actions, nor was I moiche.

I only related how OTHERS were equally responsible by not protecting the owners of the money for whom they had fiduciary responsibilities, in my opinion.

Sort of like contributory negligence, or in this case contributory criminality.

But, just as in contributory negligence, when we say the other guy is not TOTALLY at fault, but YOU share in the negligence, we are not saying the other guy is innocent. We are only admitting the truth, that the fault is not one sided.

It is when we can put "ANGER" in it right place, and not let it control us, can we think clearly, and we willing to admit that sometimes there is more than one fault.

If you give me a precious piece of jewelry to hold for you, and I leave it out on the dining room table, and have 20 people over for a party; resulting in the items loss. is the theif who stole the item the only one at fault? Or do you think I was equally at fault. How dare I leave your precious item out in the open around people?

It was my job to protect it.
Like a shomer sachar. Clearly the halacha says those others were equally guilty.

Plus, if you read carefully, I did not even say those were my opinions. I said that MIGHT be what Rabbi Shafran meant or had it mind.
I also opened my remarks with the comment that the poshut reading of his words was preposterous. Certainly that showed that I was not in as much agreement as you seemed to think I am. But, I have respect for a good-hearted man of intelligence, and sought to find a teretz.

For this you attack me? YOU I am moichel. Bernie not.

Have a gitte Voche.

126

 Apr 04, 2009 at 09:05 PM Anonymous Says:

It reflects very badly on the Agudah that this is by their official spokesman.

127

 Apr 04, 2009 at 09:23 PM Anonymous Says:

"The Torah teaches that stealing is a sin, but it doesnt differentiate between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime" this twisted reasoning is one of the reason why many "frum" get corrupted. They are taught that they will go to hell or come back on earth for stealing a penny. when they see that people cheat the goverment a few bucks they think the whole stealing business is a jok. THINK ABOUT IT!

128

 Apr 04, 2009 at 09:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #123  
Anonymous Says:

I agree with Rabbi Shafran regarding the pilot. He is a wonderful human being, an exceptional aviator, and was unbelievably calm under an enormous amount of pressure. Does this earn him the title of hero?

Yes what earns him the title of hero is his composure as well as his resposiblity to


his people on the plane. He alerted them only when it was absolutely necessary and he went back twice before he left the plane. Also credit to the people on the plane who were praying very hard to the one Above that Srully be successful. Have a wonderful Kosher Pessach and a Chag Somaech. W

129

 Apr 04, 2009 at 09:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Re Madoff: Teshuva is good thing, no matter what. As for all the people who lost money, it's a terrible thing. However, Any person or organization with the funds required to join into Madoffs investments, and found themselves wiped out, made a very basic investment error. Never, NEVER, put all your eggs into one basket. No one should have become poverty stricken because of this. They made bad investment decisions. The ONLY one to whom all your faith should be put into is H- Sh-m! Money comes and goes. Who you are as a person and what you do when no one is looking is the real you. The amount of Loshon Horoh over all of this is mind boggling.
Re Sully: H-sh-m made him His Shaliach. How could anyone refute that. And THAT alone defines him as a hero. He stepped up to the plate when he had to. He was not on autopilot. It was his actions and reactions that saved those people. G-d landed the plane through him, but he wasn't asleep at the wheel when he did so.

130

 Apr 04, 2009 at 10:34 PM Joshua S. Says:

A few questions for you and me!

Where was this spokesman when the more than 8,000 plus Jewish men woman and children were being THROWN out of their homes in the Gush Katif area?

Where were his organizations clear-call for mercy and or proper relocation for these poor uprooted and wandering Jews that had everything taken (stolen) from them?

Why was this organization and the other official organizations (ORTHODOX and YESHIVISH and CHASSIDIC) mostly them quiet or only gave little murmurs of protest?

At the not-yet Torah observant organizations we cannot complain about, as they do not recognize Da'as Torah or subscribe to Shulchan Arukh and the Talmud.

Where is the outcry on the total genaiva -theft of these people's family life, community life, respect and personal dignity, and most of all for many of them a lifetime of hard work and toil to build their lives etc. ?

As it is before Passover let us be more sensitive to all the Jewish people especially fellow Jews in Eretz Yisrael and ask of our organizations and leadership to come together as one and to help already these Jews from Gush Katif with real support both financial and moral.

We need to say to them publicly “please forgive us for our silence in your time of need. We were wrong and we want to make amends by coming together in support of you"

I think this will be a good correction for all of us. I.e. organizations, public relations people responsible for bringing the word of Torah values to all and for all of us as individuals.

I think this article by Rabbi Shafran - really conveys the power of the printed word.

Imagine had our articles both before the "gerush" and after the destruction of Gush Katif would have been hollering without letup that the Jews of Gush Katif be helped, we would not have to be so angry on an unpopular article.

We could and should be riled up on a real shame and scandal-- namely the allowing the Jews of Gush Katif to be ignored even to this very day. Ad Mosai!

Joshua H.

131

 Apr 05, 2009 at 12:21 AM Chossid Says Says:

Take a chill, if you analyze his article in depth you will realize that Rabbi Shafran doesn't actually side with this opinion. He is just demonstrating a broader viewpoint by coming in a different angle and clearing up some valid points very logically.

132

 Apr 04, 2009 at 10:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #125  
Satmar Man #52 Says:

A gitte Voche,

You know, in my post, I attacked no one. I insulted no one. I called no one names.

You do not know me. Well, since I don't know you, I can't be sure of that, but if we do know each other, we are not aware of it here online.

Do YOU get angry at someone who sits in YOUR seat in shul? Angry?
Fahkert. Occassionally someone does sit in my seat in shul. When I am the baal tefillah, they don't know the seat is taken. When I get back, I NEVER tell the person he is in my seat. Instead I try to stand elsewhere. Usually someone who sits next to my seat will then point to me, then to my seat, letting the guest know it is my seat. I usually signal for him to remain there. Happily.
Get angry? ????

Bernie may not have taken any of my personal funds. But he did hurt me. He hurt all of klall Yisroel in many ways, including loss of funds to programs and institutions which I support.

There are no Jews who did not lose anything from Bernie's crimes.

Also, if you actually read what I wrote, I did not justify his actions, nor was I moiche.

I only related how OTHERS were equally responsible by not protecting the owners of the money for whom they had fiduciary responsibilities, in my opinion.

Sort of like contributory negligence, or in this case contributory criminality.

But, just as in contributory negligence, when we say the other guy is not TOTALLY at fault, but YOU share in the negligence, we are not saying the other guy is innocent. We are only admitting the truth, that the fault is not one sided.

It is when we can put "ANGER" in it right place, and not let it control us, can we think clearly, and we willing to admit that sometimes there is more than one fault.

If you give me a precious piece of jewelry to hold for you, and I leave it out on the dining room table, and have 20 people over for a party; resulting in the items loss. is the theif who stole the item the only one at fault? Or do you think I was equally at fault. How dare I leave your precious item out in the open around people?

It was my job to protect it.
Like a shomer sachar. Clearly the halacha says those others were equally guilty.

Plus, if you read carefully, I did not even say those were my opinions. I said that MIGHT be what Rabbi Shafran meant or had it mind.
I also opened my remarks with the comment that the poshut reading of his words was preposterous. Certainly that showed that I was not in as much agreement as you seemed to think I am. But, I have respect for a good-hearted man of intelligence, and sought to find a teretz.

For this you attack me? YOU I am moichel. Bernie not.

Have a gitte Voche.

Yes, I do know you, and I am paraphrasing a specific incident with the moshol of your seat in shul. If you recall the incident to which I refer, you will likely know who I am as well.
Your comparison of an investor who gets duped to a shomer sachar who is poishaia is ridiculous at best.
Take it a step further and save taxpayer dollars by eliminating the police force. Because, after all, the victim is at fault - because he should have installed a better security system. Why bother catching and prosecuting the thief? He is only a 'participant' in the crime! We should start by punishing the victim for encouraging crime!

133

 Apr 05, 2009 at 02:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Shafran! You idiot ! Needed some extra attention before Pessach cause your wife couldn't give it to you for she was too busy cleaning? Go find it elsewhere, you moron!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

134

 Apr 05, 2009 at 02:05 AM Anonymous Says:

The Gemara in Makkos teaches that bad things happen through the actions of bad people, and good things through the actions of good people. If so called 'Rabbi' Shafran would learn a little more instead of writing stupid articles, we would all be a little better off.

135

 Apr 05, 2009 at 01:58 AM The Winter Rider Says:

How many people are going to bring up this twisted piece of pilpul on google and say "If that's Torah, I'm going out for a cheeseburger ! How dare you profess any admiration for a person who has ruined people's lives and made NO restitution. You clearly enjoy doing intellectual gymnastics and don't give a damn about people.There is no reason to discuss the pilot saving lives in the same article. Shafran's article is a chillul hashem. I can imagine my non religious relatives holding this article up as an example of orthodox stupidity.
I have lost any respect I might have had for Shafran

136

 Apr 05, 2009 at 09:47 AM Anonymous Says:

#135 - there is boruch hashem a decent article by rabbi hoffman also on vinnews - give that one to your non-religious relatives

137

 Apr 05, 2009 at 10:32 AM shlomo zalman Says:

Shafran, you no longer deserve the Rabbi title.

138

 Apr 05, 2009 at 11:50 AM LT Says:

Reb Elya zt"l would have tossed him from the Aguda about 3 minutes after reading this article

139

 Apr 05, 2009 at 12:38 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #138  
LT Says:

Reb Elya zt"l would have tossed him from the Aguda about 3 minutes after reading this article

I agree with Number 138 but i think it would have taken 3 seconds at most.

140

 Apr 05, 2009 at 12:20 PM Anonymous Says:

What a chilul hashem this article is!

141

 Apr 05, 2009 at 02:14 PM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi Avi Shfran according to your reasoning

Bernie Madoff who managed to fill his pockets with O.P.M., and then opted for the safety of jail rather then run and risk being killed by the underworld. He is to be admired.

Capt Sully, who saved 155 lives, was saving his own life, and when he saved others in the process. That’s his job he is trained for that and is paid for that. He is no hero.

Unlike you, I admire Capt Sully, a remarkable selfless heroic individual with extraordinary skills, His actions prior during and after are outstanding heroism.

1)His Cool and calculated decision not to endanger more lives in the process of saving his own and others, was executed flawlessly in a situation deteriorating by the second,

2) Walked the plane twice not once at the risk of going down with the aircraft.

3) Took off his shirt in freezing weather and gave it to a man who fell in to the freezing water Quote "when I was pulled out of the freezing water in to the raft the Captain said to me sir you have to take your shirt off I will give you mine (showing the shirt with captain stripes) I will never part with this“

4) In the 60 minute interview he humbly said I reluctantly accepted my role as hero, for I did not want to deny the public the good feeling towards a hero, in such tough times.

5) Insisting that his crew and other heroes be given recognition for their heroic acts.

142

 Apr 05, 2009 at 02:21 PM B. Sigler Says:

I don't think that is correct. As far as I understand the prohibition of stealing, the more "prutos" you steal the greater in number is the sin. Although you might be right that in a Jewish court we judge the stealing of a dime with the same stringency as the stealing of millions of dollars, in the heavenly court that convenes on crime and punishment that is not the case.
Also, why do you look up to and admire a person that does what he is supposed to do? Why don't you thank your neighbor for not murdering you when you are asleep? Just b/c someone else does worse does not give credit to someone who does the baseline minimum, what we would expect is human decency.
I think your complimenting anything that man did, especially in the name of the Torah is a disgrace to the Torah and any Jew that considers himself it’s keeper. Why do you help pollute the world’s already poor image of us with this sensational filth?
-Binyamin Sigler

143

 Apr 05, 2009 at 03:16 PM Nuchem Says:

Wow.... this is utterly ridiculous. Mr. Shafran, no not Rabbi, a real Rabbi should not spew such filth, nor harbor such jealousy and animosity, should have his internet privileges taken away for this.

144

 Apr 05, 2009 at 03:39 PM Anonymous Says:

I doubt Shafran was hired to spew his filth under the Agudath Israel banner.

145

 Apr 05, 2009 at 03:26 PM Anonymous Says:

this was an april fools joke by the agudah and rabbi shafran
nobody in his right mind would write this article

so please just realize it was a simple april fools joke

nice work

146

 Apr 05, 2009 at 03:55 PM Anonymous Says:

This article makes me want to cry. That a Rabbi can say that Madoff is a decent man because he didn't flee? Is this the standard that we have? No wonder there are so many white collar crimes in the Orthodox world-it's just about accepted that as long as the person apologizes it's a fine thing to do. What did rabbi (small r on purpose) Shafran teach his own children about getting along in this world? I would NOT want to do business with them, that's for sure. You have just embarrassed yourself and all orthodox jews along with you.

147

 Apr 05, 2009 at 05:03 PM LT Says:

Reply to #139  
Anonymous Says:

I agree with Number 138 but i think it would have taken 3 seconds at most.

The 2 minutes and 57 second difference is only because he would not have believed what he read and would have read it again.

148

 Apr 05, 2009 at 06:08 PM the junior Says:

shafran, you're a tosser.

149

 Apr 05, 2009 at 06:07 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #132  
Anonymous Says:

Yes, I do know you, and I am paraphrasing a specific incident with the moshol of your seat in shul. If you recall the incident to which I refer, you will likely know who I am as well.
Your comparison of an investor who gets duped to a shomer sachar who is poishaia is ridiculous at best.
Take it a step further and save taxpayer dollars by eliminating the police force. Because, after all, the victim is at fault - because he should have installed a better security system. Why bother catching and prosecuting the thief? He is only a 'participant' in the crime! We should start by punishing the victim for encouraging crime!

Now I am SURE I don't know you, unless you are from Rodney, and I almost never daven there.

You do not believe that a trustee for a charitable foundation has an obligation to investigate where he invests the foundations funds?

If someone comes to you and offers you 3x the normal rate of return do you actually believe it is completely on the up and up? You do not think said trustee was obligated to thoroughly research BEFORE investing money which was not his?

I never said, by the way, that Madoff was a good guy, or that he was not guilty, or that he was not deserving of punishment.
I was only suggesting that he was doing so with the "help" of the investors who were negligent in performing their obligatory duties.

Also, a person is responsible for protecting his own money, at least to a basic extent. To leave it out in the street unprotected would, by all opinions, be foolish, and certainly would give him a share of the blame.
But what is the extent of his obligation.
The security system comparison is not valid, as there the person is still in a home with at least normal security, like doors and windows, hopefully closed and locked.

Basic tasks of protecting one's property are accepted responsibilities of the owner, or keeper of such properties.

I believe that checking out the investment, when one is offered a 3x the going rate of return, is a normal basic task.

By the way, if you really do know me, then come up to me and tell me in shul. I will not be near Rodney for the next few weeks. I will be in Monroe.

150

 Apr 05, 2009 at 06:01 PM barryk Says:

why is that a rabbi gets such prominence? Yet a man of such calibre as Capt Sully, get no right of reply? Perhaps one can sympathise (if at all possible) with the anti-semites that read this garbage & try & explain the logic to their children?

151

 Apr 05, 2009 at 06:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #147  
LT Says:

The 2 minutes and 57 second difference is only because he would not have believed what he read and would have read it again.

or maybe because he had trouble reading english.
the moetzes would support anything coming from the mouth of aguda no matter what!
oh, but wait; wasn't he thrown out of the moetzes at the convention of '98?
these gedolim sagas are so confusing!

152

 Apr 05, 2009 at 08:51 PM someone affected by madoff Says:

what madoff did is reprehensible. at the same time the unique outrage and hatred toward him is disturbing as well. murder (including the unborn), rape, and slander are all worse crimes that often do not inspire madoff-like outrage. the unique outrage exists, in part, because many people feel that they could have been vulnerable to his deception as well. and we feel violated. however, while it personalises the crime it doesn't make it the most heinous ever committed. in that context Rabbi Shafran is right to minimize the hype by looking at some of the redeeming features of the madoff story - if only to bring people back to earth and not get sucked in the "madoff makes hitler blush" frenzy.

153

 Apr 05, 2009 at 10:37 PM shaff Says:

This article has got me thinking that maybe we should view suicide bombers differently

If Sully is not to be praised for having saved other lives because he was saving himself as well, then it follows that a suicide bomber should not be criticized for murdering others because he is killing himself as well.

Furthermore, the suicide bomber usually confesses to the crime (by video) even before it is committed which is a level above that of Madoff who only confessed afterwards.

Finally from a halachic perspective, since the suicide bomber dies (an instant) before his victims do then maybe he cannot be held responsible for their deaths since he did not exist when they died (an extension of "ein get l'acher misa" to "ein rechiza l'acher misa")

Something to think about

154

 Apr 06, 2009 at 04:16 AM Anonymous Says:

Could it be that Agudah defends white collar criminals because they have honored them in the past at their dinners? If so, shouldnt they be ever more careful to avoid chilul hashem???

155

 Apr 06, 2009 at 07:09 AM feivel Says:

"That while doing it skillfully - all he really did he was save himself and the passengers were the inadvertent beneficiaries of that."

The Rabbi has unintentionally dishonored every person who has acted heroically in a moment of crisis. I guess Rabbi Shafran believes that there are no more heros.

156

 Apr 06, 2009 at 11:39 AM Anonymous Says:

While I disagree strongly with the article and wish it had not ever been written, I am cheered to see that so many others share my negative opinion of it. I fear our rabbis are becoming ever more unhelpful and irrelevant in matters of true importance.

157

 Apr 06, 2009 at 11:37 AM Ric Says:

This Rabbi's logic is attrocious.

158

 Apr 06, 2009 at 11:35 AM Anonymous Says:

With Rabbi Shafran's views, we will have neither moral behavior nor skilled pilots doing their jobs properly. The rabbi cheers a thief who admits that he was a thief, apparently unaware that the thief confessed only when he is about to be caught anyway because he had no way to continue his criminal ways when his Ponzi scheme began collapsing around him. Rabbi Shafran, you are acting as if you are gullible. Madoff didn't run because he had nowhere to go. You give him credit for nothing at all.

Why, Rabbi Shafran, do you dismiss the success of Sully? Are you jealous? Is it religious intolerance? Would you really have a religious thief picking your pockets than a man who does not speak of religion saving your life? Why?

159

 Apr 06, 2009 at 12:06 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
One honest Yekke Says:

Dear Rabbi Shafran,
Your statement is ANTI-CAPITALIST---it stinks of envy of another citizen's book contract (in which an American publisher anticipates hugely popular sales and reasonably agrees to pass on part of the profits to the author).
Your statement is IMMORAL---it twists the Torah moral that pilfering one dime is as bad as stealing a million dollars (you turn it upside down! You claim that stealing a million is merely as bad as pilfering a dime!) so would you also make the crazy claim that Torah says murdering a million people is "merely" as bad as murdering one person?
Your statement is OBNOXIOUS--it shows no understanding of why good people admire and try to emulate all who excel in doing their jobs with skill & talent & perseverance (no matter how "ordinary" the job: in sports, or in medicine, or in carpentry, or in teaching, or in piloting an airplane).
You statement is UNCIVIL--it shows no rachmanes: the ideal that causes good people to give tzedakah to strangers (the same ideal that makes millions of strangers feel happy to read the story of a pilot landing his passengers safely on the water in New York during an emergency).
Your views are a SHANDA.
If only you had kept your mouth shut instead of telling the world that your nasty views represent other American Jews.
Sincerely,
------An honest Jew who behaves as though it is wrong to steal even one dime when no one is watching
(and I will probably buy the book about the pilot just IN ORDER TO REWARD a decent American citizen for performing his job in such a reliable manner).

This was very well put, OHY. By comparing Madoff's actions to stealing a dime, Rabbi Shafran trivializes the suffering inflicted by Madoff on others. The suffering inflicted by Madoff has not been limited to only his investors, but it extends to all those who were benefiting from the activities of the various charities that were unfortunate enough to invest with Madoff.

I would hope that Rabbi Shafran might consider your words, and reconsider his position.

160

 Apr 06, 2009 at 11:53 AM Oh, please Says:

So, a man who lies, cheats and steals in order to finance his own personal lavish lifestyle is a saint, and a different man, who saved 155 lives through amazing skill and rational action isn't, because he was on the plane as well. Nevermind that he was the very last person off the plane, having made sure all others were safe, he's worse than a filthy, selfish thief because he didn't feign the vapid, empty piety that pleases the Rabbi.

Despicable piece, Rabbi. immoral, despicable crap.

161

 Apr 06, 2009 at 12:37 PM K. Signal Eingang Says:

Reply to #153  
shaff Says:

This article has got me thinking that maybe we should view suicide bombers differently

If Sully is not to be praised for having saved other lives because he was saving himself as well, then it follows that a suicide bomber should not be criticized for murdering others because he is killing himself as well.

Furthermore, the suicide bomber usually confesses to the crime (by video) even before it is committed which is a level above that of Madoff who only confessed afterwards.

Finally from a halachic perspective, since the suicide bomber dies (an instant) before his victims do then maybe he cannot be held responsible for their deaths since he did not exist when they died (an extension of "ein get l'acher misa" to "ein rechiza l'acher misa")

Something to think about

#153 is brilliant. You really can argue anything this way!

162

 Apr 06, 2009 at 12:34 PM K. Signal Eingang Says:

Sounds to me like a compelling argument that something's gone horribly wrong with your worldview, Rabbi. What kind of fool would rather have been one of Bernie's customers than Sulley's passengers?

163

 Apr 06, 2009 at 12:29 PM Anonymous Says:

By this logic, Hitlar was a saint, because he believed in God and preached about him to the poor masses. Also, he was ensuring that God's will was carried out by exterminating all of the infidels from the planet.

164

 Apr 06, 2009 at 02:16 PM Anonymous Says:

This is the most ignorant opinion piece I have ever read.

165

 Apr 06, 2009 at 01:53 PM scooter Says:

Another sick plot ruined by a mere mortal.
No wonder the clerics are steaming.
It was, after all, the old raggedy, omnipotent Abrahamic god who shoved the birds into those jet engines in the first place, to test somebody's faith, or act in mysterious ways or something.
Sully foiled the murderous old diety's plot, and someone finally has the courage to point that out, thanks safran.

Now you better go hide, because yahweh has just put on his allah hat to seek revenge, so I wouldn't want to be in NYC, speaking of falling jets. That god is a real p****k when he wakes up on the allah side of the bed.

166

 Apr 06, 2009 at 02:37 PM Anonymous Says:

The author asserts, in his defense of Madoff, that "The Torah teaches that stealing is a sin, but it doesn’t differentiate between misappropriating a million dollars and pilfering a dime." Does that mean the author believes there would have been no moral difference if Hitler murdered only one Jew instead of murdering the six million, of blessed memory?

167

 Apr 06, 2009 at 03:40 PM Sophist Says:

"And as to the sheer number of people defrauded by the thief of the moment, well, anyone who cheats on his federal income tax is defrauding 300 million of his fellow citizens. Few though, in such cases, invoke Dante."

Facile sophistry. No charities go bankrupt because a waiter doesn't declare their tips. No retirees end up eating dogfood if someone gins up a couple fake business expenses. The outrage is caused both by the number of people harmed, and the degree of harm caused. Peoples lives have been destroyed, and that causes understandable anger.

"What is more, Madoff likely began his crime spree in the hope of rewarding, not swindling, investors..."

Mr. Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme, by it's very nature, cannot be started with good intentions. It is structurally impossible to operate a Ponzi scheme and not defraud someone. No matter what happens, someone is always left holding the bag. If Mr. Madoff really went into this intending to do good, he was either delusional, lying to himself, or stupid. I doubt it is the latter.

Another fact you blithely overlook is that the fraud caused so much suffering because Mr. Madoff allowed it to go on for so long. Every day that passed saw more people ensnared in this trap. And what did Mr. Madoff do? Nothing. He could have come clean long ago, he could have simply let the whole thing go under back when he had to make the choice between committing fraud to keep his enterprise afloat and letting it fail. Sadly, he did not. He took the easy way out, the cowards way out. He shut his eyes and stopped up his ears and hoped that the problems he had created would just go away on their own. And how many people have suffered for his cowardice?

This is your man of "sublimity of spirit"? This is the man you admire?

168

 Apr 06, 2009 at 02:56 PM It makes sense Says:

Sullenberger?
That's the problem here eh Rabbi? At best, a gentile, but considering the fact that, given the opportunity, he gave credit to his crew rather than YHWH, what if he is an atheist? What if we go on thinking he's a hero only to discover he's godless?
I know it's been murmered in hushed tones. No God fearing person wants to believe that an atheist could be heroic.
Is that the problem here Rabbi?
I think it's best to play it safe. Just in case he turns out to be an atheist let's try to damage his good name now. Like I said, at best he's a gentile. And while we're at it, let's attempt to elevate the reputation of that wonderful Bernie. He's a good Jewish boy.

169

 Apr 06, 2009 at 02:56 PM Anonymous Says:

It's morally bankrupt sentiment and moral relativity of the type found in this article that sends a few more running to atheism.

The rabbis, the priests, the pastor should stick to ministering to their flock and stop writing already. We have all the scripture we need.

170

 Apr 06, 2009 at 07:00 PM Anonymous Says:

Absolutely. Moreover, is not teshuva required to be sincere? Anyone looking at Mr. Madoff's endless smirk can see it is not. He simply knew the game was up. And if a person steals from thousands of people, you really mean to tell me the Torah does not consider it worse than stealing from one, especially when people are driven to poverty and Jewish organizations (and others) that should be helping people have their hands tied? As for Mr. Sollenberger, perhaps the glory has gone to his head in accepting a book offer, or perhaps he simply wants to secure his family's future. He certainly didn't seem to seek the limelight at the time of his heroic action. And is there something wrong with wanting to save oneself along with others? Didn't Moshe do that at the Sea, to cite a Pesach example. Did not the defenders of the Warsaw Ghetto or of Israel do the same?

171

 Apr 06, 2009 at 09:17 PM brigand Says:

Rabbi, I now officially announce that I am an atheist. There cannot be a god if people like you can become a rabbi.

172

 Apr 06, 2009 at 09:57 PM Anonymous Says:

you are insane. clearly you flipped your lid.

173

 Apr 06, 2009 at 09:56 PM GalapagosPete Says:

It seems that my earlier post got lost somewhere, so if it shows up later I apologize for double-posting...but not for the sentiment.

Rabbi, You are dumber than a bag of hammers.

174

 Apr 07, 2009 at 05:05 AM Anonymous Says:

No, no, guys! You got it all wrong! This Rabbi doesn't really believe in all of this. He's just trying to have a few laughs at your expense.

It's all just a practical joke. I just can't believe it to be serious, guys. Can you?

175

 Apr 07, 2009 at 09:32 AM Juan Says:

Dear Rabbi, you have just summed up the logic of religious views: You can do anything you want as long as you ask God for forgiveness. And it doesn't matter if you do good things, if you don't thank God you are going to hell. One of the many reasons I became an atheist.

176

 Apr 07, 2009 at 01:25 PM Anonymous Says:

Rabbi, by your logic Hitler was a moral man because he started his pogrom with good intentions (save the German "race") and accepted final responsibility by blowing his brains out in his bunker. What a crock!

177

 Apr 07, 2009 at 01:21 PM Slaughter Says:

Hoo-ee, there is a ton of batsh*t crazy in this piece. Rabbi, the reason Madoff didn't flee is because he didn't think he'd get caught! He was at this for years and years without any trouble. (Hey, maybe he thought he was too big to fail!) The idea that Sully was out to save his own butt is as laughable as your logic is deplorable, and it's WAY deplorable.

178

 Apr 12, 2009 at 04:40 PM logic police Says:

Rabbi,
You may no longer use the logical conjunctions of “if”, “and”,” but”, “therefore”, and,”because”. These words are the powerful tools of intelligent thought, and their misuse by the uninitiated is fraught with danger... as you so eloquently demonstrated.
How shameful to see, that the minds we trust to make decisions for us in matters of our religion in which they are better versed than we, do not have the bare requisite cognitive horsepower, to put two and two together.

179

 Apr 23, 2009 at 01:21 PM Anonymous Says:

The two men and their exploits are apples and oranges and to make a comparison is foolish. It is true that Sully did nothing moral. He did his job, what he was trained to do; much like a blood hound can sniff out a lost hiker... its instinct and training. But that is not in the same category as someone who says he's sorry for making the wrong moral choice to begin with.

180

 Apr 23, 2009 at 01:31 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #73  
Le'afrushei Me'isura Says:

All these posts are a bizayon. I don't care what you think about this article, there is absolutely no heter to mevaze a talmid chochom and osek bezorchei tzibor.

Who exactly decided that he is a talmid chochom and asken? His article says all you need to know about him and the Agudah! Krum, Ganovim, Attention fressers that do absolutely nothing for klal.

181

 Aug 12, 2009 at 03:51 PM Anonymous Says:

It is hard to believe that an Orthodox Jew has sympathies for someone who caused enormous Chillul Hashem and purposely stole from charities. Would your position change if the theft was from an organization you support.

182

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