What Do Gangsta Rappers and Hasidim Have in Common?
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.
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.”