My Reply to "Dear Wendy" of the Forward

I Saw My Rabbi at a Treyf Restaurant

I recently saw the rabbi of our Orthodox synagogue eating dinner at a nonkosher restaurant. I managed to hide behind a pillar so he wouldn't see me. I have always held him in the highest regard, but I now think he's a hypocrite. What should I have done in the situation? Do you think I should confront him?


ANSWER: How could you see what was on your rabbi's plate from behind the pillar? He may have been sipping a cold glass of water. Then the only thing your rabbi would have been guilty of is failing to instill generosity in the hearts of his congregants.

But for just one moment let's say you did discover the rabbi polishing off a shrimp cocktail. While the leader of a congregation should be held to a higher standard, how this man chooses to obey God's commandments is between him and God. As it is for you or me.

Go back now and confront him? No. But I do suggest you switch synagogues and find a rabbi you respect.

MY REPLY: I disagree with your final paragraph. According to the Torah - Lev. 19:17 - it is Disillusioned's obligation to approach the rabbi, albeit in a loving, nonantagonistic manner. Perhaps, the rabbi has a legitimate explanation. If so, not to ask him would deny him a fine teaching opportunity and deny Disillusioned a chance to become "Reillusioned."

If the rabbi is indeed guilty of having eaten unquestionably unkosher food, then Disillusioned's approaching him would afford him an incentive to perform teshuvah.

I hope that Disillusioned did not share any of the specific information with anyone else, lest s/he be guilty of Lashon HaRa - the spreading of true information about an individual behind his back and to his detriment.

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