Bintel Blog

What Do Gangsta Rappers and Hasidim Have in Common?

By Daniel Treiman

  • Print
  • Share Share

They’re not snitches. The N.Y. Daily News reports:

Long before the first rapper stopped snitching or any Mafiosi swore an oath of omertà, there was the Jewish law of mesira.

The tenet that forbids Jews from informing on fellow Jews is one of the hurdles facing Brooklyn prosecutors probing the April 14 attack on a black man by two Jewish men, sources told the Daily News.

Authorities - invoking a complaint long cited in cases involving rappers - said the initial probe was hindered by the local Hasidim’s refusal to cooperate.

One source suggested the Orthodox community was taking a page from the rap world’s “stop snitching” handbook. But it was actually lifted directly from the Code of Jewish Law.

“The Hebrew word is mesira, which means basically you are not allowed to be an informant,” said Rabbi Shea Hecht, a well-known figure in Crown Heights.

“In essence, I am not allowed to snitch, period.”

Let the record show, I was way ahead of the authorities with this analogy. The difference, of course, as I pointed out, is that we should hold religious authorities to higher standards than gangsta rappers.

Hat tip: dnA via Ta-Nehisi Coates

UPDATE: I just came across this analysis from Rabbi J. Simcha Cohen, in which he makes the case that “reporting Jewish violators of law is not necessarily a violation of Jewish Law, but, rather, a means of openly demonstrating that Orthodox Jewry will not tolerate criminal action. As such, it is a form of Kiddush HaShem, sanctifying G-d’s name and accordingly permitted and even to be extolled.”


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Mesira, Crown Heights

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Eric Leibman Wed. May 14, 2008

You can reference my comment on the first story you wrote on this subject. But I will say, briefly, that for very clearly demonstrated historical reasons, no government authority must ever be allowed for one second to think that they can get Jews to testify against or inform on each other. Governments have historically viewed this as the crack in the open door that allows them to force their way deeper and deeper into the Jewish community, using people against each other. Governments seem well intentioned and often are not. Governments seem to have the right motive and often have something else entirely in mind. The Rambam states, and he is a far greater and smarter man than Mr. Tremaine, to say the least, that informing on a fellow Jew is absolutely forbidden. The only exception is when a qualified religious court grants permission or the risk of physical danger is real, immediate and can't wait for consultation.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.