It happened again. I opened the newspaper to find that an Orthodox "rabbi" was arrested on corruption charges, suspected of passing bribes to a local official. What is going on with these people? They hold themselves to be so pious, and then they stoop to the lowest level of society! Isn't it time we called them out on their hypocrisy?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
First things first: The Torah is the guidebook for ethical perfection. All the values that the Western world takes for granted – education, equal rights, sanctity of life – are from the Torah. That is an inarguable fact of history.
Being orthodox does not guarantee that a person has succeeded in internalizing what he has been taught.
I would say that all Jews – religious and not – do not follow the Torah 100%. Everyone does the best he can, some making more of an effort than others. But no one is perfect.
But I would also say that almost without exception, an individual will be more kind, charitable and moral because he learns Torah and follows it.
The question is not: Why do some religious Jews behave badly? The better question – and this is what I ask myself whenever I see an Orthodox person doing something wrong – is: Would the same individual behave worse, or behave better, if he was not religious?
Yes, the observant community has its hooligans and riff-raff.
Certainly the secular community has its fair share as well. A quick list of problems you might find there includes: adultery, substance abuse, robbery, teen pregnancy, suicide, objectification of woman, high divorce rate, violence in films.
The real question is: If you wanted to live and raise children in a moral environment, where is the best bet?
I would also argue that if you are looking for a role model of righteousness, you are far more likely to find it in a great religious person than in the secular world. The act of purifying oneself through prayer, study, mitzvah performance, and devotion to helping others to reach the heights of Godliness.
True, the observant community does not exist in a hermetically-sealed bubble protected from all negative influences. But given a choice of one or the other, I think the choice is clear.