Our great state of New York has been completely absorbed in the details of a scandal, whose details are still emerging, that will be ending the relatively brief career of Governor Spitzer. Whether what we will learn in the days ahead will prove to be a simple sex scandal (unlikely), or one that will involve some financial wrongdoing and possible misuse of public funds and public office, remains to be seen.
What it does do for me is remind me of how, back in the day, when I was a rabbinical student, we used to have aveirah (sin) contests. The concept was a simple one. Knowing what we knew about Judaism and its laws, what is the situation that we could dream up in which one person could break the largest number of laws concurrently. So, for example, one of the better ones would be a situation in which a person was having sex with a married, menstruant woman while smoking a cigar on Yom Kippur. Total: at least four.
Since I hadn’t played this game for decades, the guv gave me a chance to stretch those brain muscles again, and to show that I hadn’t lost it.
Below are a list of the aveirot that might (allegedly and all that jazz) have been crossed:
- chillul ha-shem – Actions that a Member of the Tribe does that cast aspersions not only on him/her personally, but on the Jewish people and, ultimately, God.
- tzedek tzedek tirdof – We are commanded to pursue righteousness. When a person who has spent his entire career ostensibly pursuing justice turns out to have been regularly involved in illicit business himself, it calls into question anything that anyone might be doing to pursue righteousness and justice.
- kedusha – Anything we do either adds to the holiness in the world or detracts from it. There’s no neutrality in Judaism. Frequenting hookers detracts. This falls under the general mitzvah that “you shall do the good and the upright.”
- shemirat ha-guf – The commandment to guard one’s body and health. Unprotected sex is not only unsafe for you, but it puts the first lady of this great state at risk, and sends a really crappy message to the young people of the state.
- Not paying retail prices – The guv was caught because of large financial transactions that sent up a red flag to his bank. Thus proving that, if you betray thousands of years of Jewish history and practice by paying undiscounted, full retail prices, and don’t even ask for a volume discount, punishment is sure to follow.
The Notorious R.A.V.