The Term for This Is Chillul Hashem*

In this case, it’s “Rabbi” Moshe Zigelman, who is refusing to testify in a money laundering and tax evasion trial:

As U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow contemplated federal law from her bench Wednesday morning, more than a dozen ultra-orthodox Jewish men with yarmulkes and sidelocks looked on in the courtroom. One held open a gilt-edged, elaborately embossed copy of the Shulchan Aruch, a book of Jewish law, tracing lines of the Hebrew text with his finger.

Appearing before the judge was Rabbi Moshe Zigelman, a 64-year-old devout Hasid who was refusing to testify before a federal grand jury, citing an ancient Jewish principle that forbids informing on other Jews.

Zigelman was ordered to testify in a tax-evasion case involving his Brooklyn-based Hasidic sect Spinka. He had earlier invoked the same principle, known as mesira, when he pleaded guilty to his part in the scheme in 2008 but refused to cooperate with authorities or testify in trial. He was sentenced to two years in prison.

What was going on here is that they were accepting “donations”, which the donors declared on their taxes, and then, after taking about 10-20% vigorish, they funneled funds back to the donors via an Israeli bank.(Wiki here)

First, lets be clear that clergy privilege does not apply here. This creep was a co-conspirator, not someone providing counseling.

What’s more, according to Shmarya Rosenberg’s excellent analysis, as well as those of normative Jewish scholars, mesira does not apply:

There are textbook exceptions to mesira even for those who hold that mesira applies in a democracy.

One of those exceptions is when the government knows certain people are guilty but needs testimony from one of them or another Jew to convict or capture the others. (In other words, there is a difference between speculation and knowledge.

Another exception is when refusing to give the government the information makes it seem as if Jews (or Orthodox Jews) do not follow or respect the country’s laws.

Hasidim use mesira to hide crimes and to enforce order in their communities.

It has nothing to do with the original intent of the mesira law, which was meant to save Jews from unjust punishments meted out by antisemitic governments, and from the unscrupulous Jews who used informing to hurt business opponents and social enemies, to extort them, and to gain favor from antisemitic government officials.

But in a democracy like the US, the fear of antisemitic unjust punishments does not apply.

The law of mesira would then only apply to spiteful informing done to settle personal grudges and the like, and it would not apply if the government was already convinced the subject is guilty.

In Rabbi Moshe Zigelman’s case, the government already knows Zigelman is guilty of money laundering, and it has already put the Spinka rebbe and others in prison. And it knows there are dozens, if not hundreds, of other co-conspirators, and it knows many of their names.

This is actually far more charitable than I would be.

Zigelman is not just a witness, he is an active co-conspirator, who is using mesira to cover his own corrupt tuchas.

It is also, of course a Shanda before the Goyim, in that it allows the antisemites of the world to claim that Jews consider themselves above the law and cover up for each other.

This makes a mockery of the concept of Or LaGoyim,, which stipulates that Jews are to be held to higher standards, and not cover up each others corruption.

*Literally, a ““Desecration of God’s Name.”
Light unto the nations.

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