Letter to RCA Membership – Glatt Yosher

The following letter was sent to RCA member rabbis:

Dear Rabbonim Chashuvim,

We know that, like us, you were sickened and embarrassed by the recent scenes of religious Jews being led off in handcuffs, charged with corruption, money laundering, and even organ trafficking.  What makes things worse is that this is only the latest of innumerable such scandals involving illegal and unethical behavior in our community. The words of hatarat nedarim ring depressingly true: iy efshar l’fortam ki rabim hem.

The distortion of Jewish values, the reinforcement of negative Jewish stereotypes, and the massive hilul Hashem call for equally massive efforts at Kiddush Hashem.  No doubt each of us has been addressing this issue in his own way among his own kehillah… We must all affirm that:

  • 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.
  • Dina d’malkhuta dina-the secular law of the land is binding on the Jew.

  • We gratefully acknowledge the beneficence and justice of American courts and laws which allow our community to prosper here both materially and spiritually.

  • Jews must sacrifice financially rather than enter situations that have the potential to result in hilul Hashem.

  • Jews must lead in efforts to promote and 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.”

  • To use the phrase coined by Rabbi Joseph Breuer, zt’l:  A Jew must not only be Glatt Kosher – He must be Glatt Yoshor.

… This is not a time for splitting hairs over possible dissenting views in poskim on this or that point. It is an et la’asot la-Shem, when we must make the ethical demands of the Torah and the day clear in the most public of ways. We strongly urge you to join with us and loudly declare, to our own communities and to the world, that we, representing Torah, will not tolerate any but the highest standards of ethics.

We do not mean to imply that this problem is new, or even necessarily suddenly more prevalent in our communities. It has always been there, more than we cared to admit, testimony to the frailty of human nature. This most recent public manifestation, however, gives us an opportunity to make a real tikkun in an important area, and is the sort of opportunity we look for during the Yamim Noraim season…

May our efforts be blessed from above by Hashem, and may they restore some fraction of the luster of the Shekhina so tarnished by recent events.

Wishing you a ketiva va-hatima tova,

Rabbi Moshe Kletenik


Rabbinical Council of America

Rabbi Basil Herring

Executive Vice President

Rabbinical Council of America

Richard M. Joel

President, Yeshiva University and RIETS

Rabbi Kenneth Brander

The David Mitzner Dean

Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future

Rabbi Steven Weil

Executive Vice President

Orthodox Union

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb

Executive Vice President Emeritus

Orthodox Union

See here for R’ Breuer’s short essay on “Glatt Kosher – Glatt Yosher” as mentioned in the letter.

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