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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 22, 2007 / 10 Mar-Cheshvan 5768

Big Ban

By Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir


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I want to avoid a scandalous relative


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Q: A relative of mine took out a truly scandalous personal ad. A family discovered it and persuaded him to stop, but I feel I should distance myself from him anyway to show my shock.


A: Distancing someone from normal social contact can indeed be an effective sanction. In fact, for hundreds of years the most severe punishment Jewish courts could administer was a nidui, or ban, ordering community members to isolate the person judged. Prison sentences and corporal punishment were seldom in the authority of the Beis Din, or Jewish court; yet the threat of a ban was enough to maintain internal order and cohesion.


However, precisely because of the great power of this sanction, Jewish communities knew the importance of limiting its use to prevent it from becoming unproductive or even counterproductive.


Bans were imposed for limited times (generally a week), and for carefully defined transgressions, to ensure that punishment could not be imposed arbitrarily. If a person desisted from the forbidden behavior then the ban would be lifted or at least not renewed. I know of no precedent for imposing a ban on someone who merely sought to engage in sanctioned behavior, and even when a person did transgress bans were not imposed when a person desisted from the transgression, as you say your relative has done.


Even when the conditions for a ban were fulfilled, the rabbinical leadership often reviewed its application to see if it might not be counterproductive. A leading Renaissance-era authority, Rabbi David HaLevi, emphasizes two considerations which should give the judge pause before imposing a ban. The first is that a ban may distance the wrongdoer from the Jewish community altogether. Instead of convincing him to mend his ways and be integrated as a full member, he may decide that since he already has one foot out the door he may as well leave. The second consideration is that a ban effectively punishes not only the parents but also the children. The children will also suffer from isolation, which will have a harmful educational influence; furthermore, they will eventually find out what caused the parent's isolation and in your case this will hardly contribute to their healthy upbringing.


It is true that what you are considering is only a private decision to avoid someone, which doesn't have the same impact or danger as a formally imposed punishment. But the same principles are at work. It's hard to see how keeping away from your relative will convince him his desires are unacceptable. Keeping in close contact (as well as keeping an eye on him) will in most cases be more effective. Any change in your behavior will be noticed by the community and may lead to rumors flying, whereas in fact the best thing is for the entire sordid story to be forgotten as quickly as possible.


Certainly you would not want the children to suspect that their parent is a sordid or disgraceful individual, so long as their perception of him is of a respectable and normative parent and community member.


G-d created us with many strange desires; He also gave us a way, through the Torah, to overcome them. When someone is tempted to express or even act on these desires, the appropriate reaction is generally not to exclude and isolate but rather to act as a positive and elevating influence to the greatest possible extent — especially when children are involved.

SOURCES: Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Dean 334 and Taz and Pischei Teshuva commentaries

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JWR contributor Rabbi Dr. Asher Meir, formerly of the Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration, is Research Director of the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem, Jerusalem College of Technology. To comment or pose a question, please click here.

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