Sep 30, 2009
Over the course of the 5770/2009 High Holiday season, rabbis around North America and beyond joined together to promote ethical living in their communities under the auspices of a new “Glatt Yoshor” initiative.
Sickened and embarrassed by the recent scenes of Jews being led off in handcuffs, charged with corruption, money laundering, and even organ trafficking, and frustrated that this is only the latest of innumerable such scandals involving illegal and unethical behavior in our community, Rabbis Moshe Rosenberg and Asher Bush decided to take action. They reached out to the leadership of the Orthodox Union, the RCA, Yeshiva University and its Center for the Jewish Future to found the “Glatt Yoshor” project, and found eager partners.
The project name is taken from a saying of Rabbi Joseph Breuer, zt”l
: “A Jew must not only be glatt kosher – he must be glatt yosher!” Jews must comport themselves with careful attention to both the ritual and ethical aspects of halachah, Jewish law. Rabbis from North America and beyond participated first stage of Glatt Yoshor by dedicating a sermon or class to the topic of kiddush shem shamayim
(the Sanctification of God’s name) through ethical living. In order to restore a fraction of the luster of the Shechinah
(God’s presence in the world) so tarnished by recent events, each presentation emphasized the following points:
• We gratefully acknowledge the beneficence and justice of American courts and laws which allow our community to prosper here both materially and spiritually.
• Stealing, whether from Jew or non-Jew, individual or corporation or government, is a Torah prohibition. Stealing includes not charging or paying taxes that one is legally obligated to charge or pay.
• Jews must sacrifice financially rather than enter situations that have the potential to result in chilul Hashem
• Dina d'malkhuta dina
(the secular law of the land) is binding on the Jew.
• Jews must lead in efforts to promote an honest and law-abiding society; that is the true ethic of the Torah as well as the Prophetic charge of being an "ohr la-goyim
Sadly, this problem is neither new nor suddenly more prevalent in our communities. It has always been there, more than we cared to admit, a testimony to the frailty of human nature among other factors. The most recent public manifestations, however, give rabbanim an opportunity to make a difference in this critical area.
Glatt Yoshor plans other ways of promoting the Torah’s requirements of ethical and moral conduct over the coming months. For more information, contact Rabbi Moshe Rosenberg
. (A JTA article about Glatt Yoshor, "Orthodox Focus on Jewish Ethics at High Holidays
", appeared on October 5, 2009.)