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!
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • Are Michelangelo's paintings anti-Semitic? Meet the Jews of the Sistine Chapel: http://jd.fo/i4UDl
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • 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.