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God tell Moses in this week’s Torah portion, Emor, to instruct Aaron and his sons “to be scrupulous about the sacred donations that the Israelite people consecrate to me.” There follows a list of how the priests could be corrupt. In essence, the priests could be corrupt by sacrificing the animals the Israelites brought to the Tabernacle, and later to the Temple, in a state of impurity.
In the modern sense of corruption, people who have a fiduciary responsibility to other people breach their fiduciary responsibility. Lawyers dip into their trust accounts and lawyers live in fear that the New Jersey Supreme Court’s auditors would discover a trust account being overdrawn. Politicians and other public officials are stealing money that they are supposed to be safeguarding. I am remembering two cases from my tenure in the Prosecutor’s Office, one a volunteer firefighter stole money that was destined for a food pantry, and one a municipal tax collector who embezzled $200,000. In my tenure in the Prosecutor’s Office I encountered cases which involved youth leaders and coaches involved in sexual abuse.
Maybe the Torah was onto something. The most heinous corruption is that do by the representatives of God.
We all know that the Catholic Church has priests and higher-ups mired in sex scandals. Judaism is not immune. I had a case where a rabbi sexually molested a nine-year-old, and the rabbi did not come clean: his explanation was that he was putting sunblock in the little boy’s penis. The courts did not buy the explanation.
A person who brought the sacrificial animal wanted to know the that priest was in a state of purity, so that the sacrifice would be accepted by God. Nowadays, a person wants to know that men of God would act on the straight and narrow, and not seduce young men and women on the pretext they are men of God.