Judging Judaism by the Jews

Since people do, let's strive to be role models.

Comments (40)

(39) Anonymous, December 8, 2014 1:18 AM


As a father of 9 with 3 already off tge derech and one now on the way, I can't agree more as I've had those very concerns myself.

(38) Erin Maxfield, March 22, 2011 7:59 AM


People judge Judaism by the Jews, Jews judge Christianity by the Christians, and everyone else has whatever topic they judge by the practioners. Intelligent people know that a theory is different from its implementation.

(37) Kevin LaTurneau, March 13, 2011 8:46 PM

Judeo-Christian Values

The Ninth Commandment says You shall not bear false witness against against your neighbor. But man in our carnal state decieve ourselves and come to believe falsehoods are normal and necessary. This is why "old fashioned" Judeo-Christian Values must always be upheld in order to live God centered lives.

Ms. S.H. Waterford, MI., March 27, 2011 11:13 PM

People themselves are responsible for providing the tools and information with which they want to be judged

People themselves are responsible for providing the tools and information with which they want to be judged. For instance, when people choose to wear their religion on their sleeves - so to speak, then it is a fare game to judge them as the followers of that religion. However, I know of many people who are deeply religious but learn to relate to others by resorting to sound, scientific and rational thinking terms instead of referencing religious reasoning.

(36) david, February 28, 2011 5:55 PM

If not by Jews, who do I judge Judaism by?

As I stroll down Bayit Vegan I see abandoned bicycles tied to trees obstructing sidewalks for months. I see youngsters riding bikes speedily on sidewalks, severely endangering pedestrians. Everyone is Frum, who would rather starve than eat regular Rabbanut. I think modern Rabbinic leaders must realize that more than worrying that Torah be learned full time, they have a responsibility that it be implemented. I mean basic consideration towards your neighbor.

(35) Nechama, February 21, 2011 5:20 PM

We are Judged as a Group

I live in Israel. Several years ago, I took a taxi from Kaplan Hospital to my home. The minute I got into the taxi, the driver realized that he had a flat. He got out, apologized and changed the flat as fast as he could. There were other drivers there and they laughed at his misfortune. I got out and assured him that I would wait for him and not take a different taxi. When we got back in the car, he said, "I always said that the religious are the best people. I always said it". On the one hand, I was glad that I had made a good name for the religious and perhaps for the Torah itself, but I couldn't help thinking that if I had been in a real rush I might have taken another taxi. It was after all, my privilege. Then what would he have said about religious people? It's unfortunate but we are judged as a group. Let's learn the lesson and not judge others the same way.

(34) , February 21, 2011 3:04 PM

You start off saying you were in an auto accident but you wont assign blame then you almost immediately tell about the accident and how it wasn't your fault. Otherwise I agree with your feelings about honesty. Leonard Buckner

(33) Mike Lampard, February 21, 2011 2:02 PM

I agree!

Aaron has got this right! He not only talks sense but is prepared to admit that niether Jews or anyone else are immune from the terrible character flaws we all have. It is right that he makes the point that he does. I would make the point similarly on behalf of Christians also because it is equally applicable.Our rfespective faith is nothing without it making every difference in such scenarios. Aaron truly has got it right!

(32) TMay, February 20, 2011 9:39 PM


I consider Aron's comment #31 lashon hara.He smears Jews with no details that make the story findable and maybe the people were Jewish or not Jewish. I would like to hear both sides. Taking advantage of loopholes is what tax lawyers do, and national financial institutions, eg. when financing a billion dollar airplane, a profit from the financing can be created by taking advantage of the differences in tax laws between countries based on the difference of 1% between countries. You can say "bad banks" all you like, but do you want new airplanes financed and used for passengers or not? Yes I agree with the rabbi. It has taken a lot of time to get to the point of waking up. It seems like discussions about Judaism was just noise in the background. Maybe we can have discussions about what it takes to get a person's attention. It is not that I broke laws but if opportunity handed me something, I generally saw it as having been handed an advantage or a gift. This did not extend to stray pussycats who needed help, and I would be sure to look for their owner. A lot of people pass by because they consider it someone else's property or not their problem. And yes it costs money and time etc to help a stray. How do you know that you are not being tested on your treatment of an angel when you come across a stray cat or dog..in need of help? And no I am not talking about turning it over to Animal Control which keeps everything neat by killing efficiently, numbering in the millions.

(31) Aron, February 19, 2011 11:00 PM

All Canadian readers will identify with this...& it's a Jewish issue

Every Canadian who does income tax must answer this question on the T1: "Do you own any property outside of Canada worth more than $100,000?" The reason for this unusual query is that, not too long ago, a family of Canadian-Jewish billionaires found an obscure crack in federal tax law, enabling them to somehow use their offshore holdings to trick the govt. out of at least $800,000,000 of income tax due. This forced the Can. govt. to raise overall tax rates to make up the loss, causing the average worker to pay at least $50 more tax. Do most Canadian workers know about the Jewish connection to this situation? Perhaps not. But--I can assure you--every accountant, every banker, everyone in the financial industry does know about that. And yes...cdertain remarks have been made...as you can imagine. Isn't that just great?

(30) David, February 16, 2011 3:21 PM

Today, I was drinking coffee in a Haifa gas station while on a break from traffic patrol, and a man walked up to me to ask for some legal advice. I explained that I am a just a volunteer traffic cop, not a lawyer, but the guy persisted, maybe thinking that my police uniform endows me with some kind of special knowledge. He said that he had just received a formal notice to report to trial for cheating National Insurance (similar to US Social Security). The notice explained that he might go to jail if convicted. He admitted to evading tens of thousands of shekels in payments, and he wanted to know how to escape imprisonment. Of course, I told him to get a lawyer as quickly as possible. But what I found most incredible (besides the fact that he would talk to me in the first place) was that he seemed surprised that he might be punished for committing a crime. He thought that if he paid what he owed then he should be left alone. This gentleman wore a black kippa, a beard, peyot, and a dark suit, leading me to conclude that he was an orthodox Jew. My feeling is that some of us are willing to do anything to make buck, and we become indignant when forced to face the consequences of our actions. If a person living a lifestyle based on halacha (as my interlocutor appeared to) doesn’t understand values of honesty and responsibility, how can others be expected to do so?

(29) Frances, February 16, 2011 2:18 PM

It took me a long time to understand that life is mostly about being moral , not about getting ahead. Perhaps it is only after we experience mistreatment and injustice ourselves that we truly see how important decency and rightousness really are . Thanks for such an important message.

(28) HY Cohen, February 16, 2011 9:32 AM

Insurance and Jews

I agree with you, and the insurance companies just pass these costs back to us in higher premiums! Yes, Jews are judged by actions of other Jews! How often I have heard a so called compliment from non-Jews who say, You are different than other Jews I have known! I ask them in what wat? And they quickly change the subject!

(27) Anonymous, February 16, 2011 4:23 AM

I couldn't agree with you more!

(26) Joanne, February 16, 2011 4:03 AM

Do The Right Thing

Because it's the right thing to do, and not because of others' judgements. It does hurt when someone like Madoff is so prominently in the news. He is a bad man, and of course, a bad Jew. One the other hand, Hadassah, the women's Zionist Organization, is giving back $45 million to those Madoff hurt.

(25) Anonymous, February 16, 2011 1:30 AM

Not only are correctly ethically, but who do you think eventually pays these claims. Insurance rates go up. SD

(24) , February 16, 2011 12:55 AM

integrity is not a four letter word

Today we need more people who are willing to simply take responsibility. When your wrong you admit it and pay restitution. Too many other people think that if they have to pay out for their mistakes that they get to take vengence upon someone else. Liken it to the man who owed the master a great deal of money and after pleading is given mercy. After escaping with the hair on his head and being "covered" by the Master he then goes out to strong arm some other person who is less indebt than he and forces him to pay something out. Its almost as though they think that they will feel better about themselves. Unfortunately all too many people are under this illusion. I say. "keep up the Tzadekah!" Regardless of what the others are doing.

(23) Linda, February 16, 2011 12:48 AM

Judaism and Integrity

Rabbi Salomon.. I have to agree with you but the behavior of a few should not tarnish the image of the entire group, unfortunately as you pointed out this is not the case. I am so sorry you had to go through what happened but It was a blessing you survived it all, and yes G*d was with you that day! I went through the same type of situation many years ago, the other driver hit my car with minor damage yet HE sued ME for $1.2 million!! Needless to say, it never got to court. People have no integrity these days, and even back then.

(22) ruth housman, February 16, 2011 12:39 AM

the big Crash

I have experienced and many people I know have experienced exactly what you're talking about. I find the insurance companies unconscionable. I was in an accident caused by a woman who hit another car, and then her car hit me and a friend, both of us pedestrians. I was hurled into the street and badly bruised. In fact, the accident report read: seriously visibly injured. I lay in the street and prayed to God and suddenly, the pain, an excruciating pain in my jaw, totally lifted. But my friend, suffered head injury and speech problems. She was hounded by the insurance companies. Prove this. Prove that. It was really upsetting that a victim was then victimized. When I was taken to the hospital, I heard the woman who had done all this damage, not once, inquire as to the fate of us, those she had hit. So yes, there is a severe problem in all of this. And yes, to act with conscience in all that we do, to care, deeply, for one another is an important ethical issue that does bear deep and ongoing conversation.

(21) David Tzvi, February 16, 2011 12:23 AM

Insurance Pays?

I agree with Zvi #16. Now about the comment, "Insurance pays, nobody gets hurt!" That's ridiculous. Insurance never pays, it collects--PREMIUMS! Then satisfies claims. We all pay when juries make these stupid and irrational payouts. Are people deaf? Is there not now a national outcry over the cost of Medical Insurance? Yet what do doctors do? They tell patients, don't worry, your insurance will pay for this. I repeat, Insurance companies don't pay, they collect premiums, then satisfy claims. WE ALL PAY!!!

(20) Anonymous, February 15, 2011 10:36 PM

Lies hurt the lier too

After being a lie teller for much of my young life,I can tell you that it wasn't worth it,

(19) Fernando Gautreaux, February 15, 2011 10:28 PM

Jewdaism true valious

I reside in the Dominican Repúblic, I am the head of the investigations department of one of the biggest fanacial institutions in the country, (I am a lawyer), and also witness that people have that attitude, and to them do'nt really matters right or wrong, much less stablish responsabilities on anything, they think the insurance company have to pay for situations they bring upon themself. Baruj H'shem, I teach my kids that to take responsabilities for our actions, is the right thing to do, no matter how anybody else call you, so, it is OK to think different. I AGREED WITH YOU! Shalom Alehem!

(18) Joshua Davenport, February 15, 2011 10:18 PM

Missed Point

I respect your input on this matter, but quite frankly, whether or not we are being judged or are judging ourselves, we should be honest! Honesty does not only matter when you are being watched, and in fact, when aren't you being watched? God is always there, so too should be honesty!

(17) peter kraynik, February 15, 2011 8:24 PM

Doged a bullet !

Rabbi, I'm so glad you are here to help us on our journey! Mazel Tov !

(16) Zvi. H, February 15, 2011 7:30 PM

Honesty and integrity because it's the right thing to do.

Rabbi Salomon, I'm almost in disbelief about some of your views! Yes, as you state, the reality is that "people do judge Judaism by the Jews" and then you advise that it is "our responsibility to put our best foot forward and to be honest and to be sure that we are making a good name for the Jewish people in whatever we do." Excuse me! What!? I need to watch what I do because of how others may interpret my actions, and because of how this may project on my tribe? I try to be honest, and I try to be a man of integrity and I try to instill these qualities in my children because IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO! And not because I'm preoccupied with what the others may think. I've learned long a go that people who pass judgement on Jews on the basis of whatever it is that individual Jews do - hate Jews! They hate us because we breath; they hate us because we live; they hate us because we prosper despite the obstacles placed in our path. My actions are guided by the constant question that I ask myself, 'What does G-d want?' Once, in a heated exchange between BenGurion and his then minister for foreign affairs, Moshe Sharett, where the latter expressed concern about international reaction to a savage Israeli attack on an Egyptian unit that was helping Palestinian Arab terrorists kill Jews, saying, "this will further isolate Israel," BenGurion replied "we were isolated when we were pure as doves." The lesson: do the right thing , because it is the right thing to do and if the others approve, well, then it's just a bonus.

(15) , February 15, 2011 7:21 PM

Honesty in the heart, in the soul, and in the substance has the potential to overcome the horrific obstacles. We must never give up in the sweet, driving force to make a better place for everyone in this world. Julia D. Goldman

(14) Anonymous, February 15, 2011 7:14 PM

I am happy to know that you feel, as I do, that truthfulness/integretiy are to be valued for their own sake, and not to be altered to fit the situation. If more people lived byi that standard I believe that the world would be a more livable place. It might not have an outcome we would want, but knowing I have not deceived anyone, gives me a sense of peacefulness. Thank you for speaking out about this. And, thank you for your other commentaries.

(13) Anonymous, February 15, 2011 6:55 PM

100% agreement

I am in 100% agreement with you.

(12) Adam, February 15, 2011 6:07 PM

Of *course* people judge Judaism by the Jews

There is a simple rabbinic principle at play here: anything good done by a Jew is kiddush HaShem, a sanctification of G-d's name, while anything bad done by a Jew is hillul HaShem, a desecration of G-d's name. Beyond whether or not people judge Judaism by the actions of Jews, they're also implicitly judging G-d, chas v'shalom, by our actions. Let's be sure that our actions are always to sanctify, not, chas v'shalom, desecrate G-d.

(11) David, February 15, 2011 5:30 PM

Why not judge Judaism by Jews?

With all the talk we hear from our own leaders about how we're chosen, or how we're special, and how we're different (she lo asanu k'goyei ha-artzot...), it seems that we're basically asking to be judged by a different standard. Anyone who claims to be chosen by God must embrace this different standard, or give up the claim.

(10) Natalie, February 15, 2011 4:52 PM

I agree 100% with you!!!!

(9) Rachel, February 15, 2011 3:39 PM

Kingdom of Priests & a Holy Nation

Rabbi, I could not agree with you more. In a world where people can engage in all manner of dishonesty and cruelty, the Torah ideal is that we must be honest in business and compassionate to others. Nothing is more important than us Jews giving God a good name; we are His ambassadors in the world. People delude themselves all the time. They think they won't get skin cancer from too much sun, they think they won't get heart problems from too much fatty food, and they think insurance companies - other people's money - is a big pot of money that ought to pay them for what they want. Like you, I am frustrated and angry at people's dishonesty and meanness, but unfortunately, I am not too surprised by it. L'Havdil, I am heartened and impressed by good people!

(8) SusanE, February 14, 2011 3:45 PM

I am still Learning about Stuff. Hope I live long enough to get it Right.

About Judaism.....Judaism is what if not for the Jews? Without people living according to the Laws, it is simply a concept of the Laws. I think Judaism is judged by the actions of the Jewish people, solely. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As for the lawsuit, if you have full coverage, your insurance company will handle the mans charges. We pay for no fault insurance, and for underinsured motorists, and for uninsured motorists, here in PA. We take a known risk each time we are on the highway, that an accident is likely. We can't choose the ethics of the other motorists we encounter. We insure ourselves well and decide to take that risk everyday. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ You asked if we feel as you do about this type of situation. I used to feel indignant and argued that I was 'right' in all situations. (what a pain in the neck). Now I consider that life isn't always fair, and we can't always be right, and I'm trying to learn how to 'see' other sides of every issue. (Rabbi, it ain't easy)

(7) Chavi, February 13, 2011 10:28 PM

midvar sheker tirchak -- distance yourself from falsehood

And where are the insurance companies getting the money from, to pay out the claims? From YOU and ME!! There's no pot of money at the end of the rainbow. When insurance companies have to pay out, it is OUR premiums that go up. But aside from that, and even more importantly, what does G-d want us to do? Tell the truth, of course. This one is a no-brainer.

(6) Anonymous, February 13, 2011 9:06 PM

Honesty, integrity, justice, are all part of the Jewish mitzvot.

Honesty, Integrity, respect & justice are an interegal part of our Jewish culture. Let us not forget that we are the "chosen people" not because we are better than other peoples or nations, but chosen to be the light unto the world for others to follow G-d's commandments. The Bernie Madoff's in the Jewish world have tarnished the Jewish community., Yes, I t am ashamed of his greed and the pain he has caused to all who trusted him. Hopefully the Jewish community will become a positive example and demonstrate to the world once again right from wrong.

(5) Rosen, February 13, 2011 2:53 PM

life is all too unfair

Seems like honesty and the truth is merely relative and not so absolute in order to resolve conflict. People expect a desired outcome falling into their favor, which is human nature. Life is all too often unfair, and the Civil Rights Act (in America) can only do so much. Even so, if life really was fair and that fairness was the law of the land, then things could be either more boring or less challenging.

(4) Lisa, February 13, 2011 12:58 PM

"Defending bad Jews"

I've developed an effective way to deal with the fallout from misconduct by Jews; for example, Bernie Madoff. I say to the critics, whether in person or online- "Madoff wasn't super-greedy, and didn't lie and steal because he's a Jew; he did so because he completely strayed from Jewish principles. He ignored the 10 Commandments". It works beautifully.

(3) tzipporah, February 13, 2011 12:04 PM

Best to be honest

I agree with you Rabbi. The truth is worth fighting for and we must do what we can to speak up for what is right, otherwise, if we stand by while a lie is being told, part of the blame will fall on us because we chose not to act. That is what it boils down to, do we act or not, and that defines who we are.

(2) Alan S., February 13, 2011 10:51 AM

Rabbi, you are too honorable to deal with the "mishegos" of the world today. (Me too!) You are the one who could have sued the person at fault, if that's where your head was at. Of course it wasn't -- you were just thankful to have walked away alive from your accident. But unfortunately, other people are not like you (and me). Sadly, many people are just not as honoroable or moral or as ethical as you, and they often figure that they will try to 'game the system'. Naturally, the pot of gold lies at the end of their ways. The person suing you has no morals, and has flipped the natural order of things upside down, like much of the world today. While by nature you are not a litigious person, nonetheless, you must defend your name. While there will be aggravation, you must protect yourself, if only to right a wrong.

(1) Sam, February 13, 2011 10:27 AM

There Should Be No Question

There should be no question, Most certainly, honesty and integrity are most basic to both Jew and Gentile who wish to live G-dly lives. Sadly, honesty and integrity are too often missing in today's general society. As a people with a convenant with G-d, Jews must be an example to the world in honesty and integrity and in all G-dly values.


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