When a Leader Sins

From my 2010 archives

When a  nasi (cheftain of a tribe of Israel, i.e., a political leader) sins by doing anything unintentionally which according to G-d’s command should not be done, and he realizes his guilt, or the sin of which he is guilty is brought to his attention, he shall bring  . . . a sin offering (Leviticus/Vayikra 4:22-24).

Notice that the, the torah says when, not if. Also notice that a leader is responsible for paying attention when he is told [or reminded] of misdeeds.

The mishnah deals with these issues at length in Horayot. At the end of Horayot we are told about matters of yichus.

A Cohen is before a Levi, a Levi before a Yisroel, a Yisroel before a mamzer . . . This applies when they are all equal. But if a mamzer is a talmid chacham and a Cohen gadol is ignorant of the Law, the mamzer  (product of illicit/incestuous parentage). . . precedes . . . the Cohen Gadol.

What an extraordinary way to end horayot. In various ways we are reminded that yichus is not an unlimited claim to privilege, nor is leadership an exemption from responsibility. In fact leaders have an even heavier responsibility to recognize, confess, correct and atone.

In my book, a menschlich mamzer am haaretz (ignorant decent person) comes ahead of a menuval talmid chacham (lecherous scholar).

(Hat Tip to B)


5 thoughts on “When a Leader Sins

  1. “In my book, a menschlich mamzer am haaretz (ignorant decent person) comes ahead of a menuval talmid chacham (lecherous scholar).”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    • I join “Seriously?” but would add, don’t say “in [your] book,” but rather “in our book,” our Torah. Is not a “menuval talmid chacham” a contradiction in terms, a walking chillul Hashem, who accordingly comes behind everyone else?

  2. Re leaders sinning, has anyone in US or in Israel brought criminal charges against the Meisels minuval?? and if not, why not? I know that it is extremely traumatic, but please, any victims reading this, find a way to bond together, and mostly pay attention to the SOL. Statute of limitations. Do not let the opportunity to sue the er miscreant pass. I myself do not know the law, but YL and Kevin in Chicago and others do. Do not wait until the opportunity has passed. Don’t go it alone, there is strength in numbers, and for sure, the victims can find others, perhaps TruthSeeker can set a goal of uniting the victims for the matarah of temichah and strength in numbers in suing the minuval meisels. Having him m’sulak from the seminaries, even if legit, and not a sham, is not satisfactory. he will most likely worm himself back in, And, and, afilu im lo, he needs to face the judiciary, as all criminals do, his being one of the worst crimes imaginable. I beseech TruthSeeker to organize the victims, i have the impression that she is very capable, and knows enough of them to get the ball rolling. TruthSeeker, not that you have not already established your holy place in Olam Habah, but this is, perhaps, why you are here, in this Dor, your task, perhaps, to make certain this happens. I can only hope. Perhaps there are obstacles about which i know nothing…….

    • As Meisels’ crimes were committed in Israel, it would be a matter of Israeli law, of which I am ignorant. So far I have not heard any one say that any of Meisels’ victims has gone to Israeli police or prosecutors. Because of their business activities in the US and solicitation of American students, Meisels and/or the seminaries could probably be sued for money damages in US civil courts, but that is not criminal prosecution. Since each plaintiff would have to pay her own attorney’s fees in order to bring suit, I doubt it will happen.

      Meisels’ has lost his reputation, his career in chinuch, and, assuming the Chicago BD and HTC stick to their guns, his family has lost a good deal of money — unless the buyer was a fool and assumed the Israeli Beit Din “kashered” everything. Maybe not enough punishment, but those victims who testified before the Chicago Beit Din, overcoming their own feelings of shame in order to protect other young women, have done enough and more should not be asked of them.

      • Kevin in Chicago,

        It is always possible that someone will willingly pick up the expenses of a civil suit in the US with the support of the Chicago Beis Din . If that happens, others could join the suit without the obstacle of legal expenses.

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