Tuesday, December 23, 2008

YU Learns Mussar

The NY Times has an article today about how Yeshiva University is trying to learn lessons from the Madoff Scandal (link). At the risk of pointing out the obvious, let me say what lesson should NOT be learned from this crime: That Yeshiva University graduates and/or Modern Orthodox Jews give priority to money over true religiosity.

That may or may not be true, but it is certainly not a lesson from this alleged crime. The reason is that the alleged perpetrator, Bernard Madoff, was neither a YU graduate nor a Modern Orthodox Jew. He was not religiously observant.

Click here to read moreWhile it is always important to try to learn lessons from anyone and anything, our mussar attempts should not be mistaken as confessions.

The direct lessons from this episode are regarding investment guidelines and due diligence. Everyone should be paying close attention to that.

All other lessons are indirect and are not specific to YU or the Modern Orthodox community. Did misplaced values hit close to home? Yes, because Madoff was on the board of YU. But he was never a role model of proper values to begin with so it is difficult to see how the revelations of his alleged crimes can change that.

Nevertheless, I applaud YU's attempt to learn lessons from this because, as above, we should try to learn from everything. Items in the news, especially when they hit close to home, are excellent teaching materials. And when our study of ethics is reported in the news, that's a Kiddush Hashem. So kudos to YU for finding a positive side to this unfortunate episode.

As an aside, the article quotes Josh Harrison as saying that no one in the community wants to be a professor. In my experience, there are too many professors in the community and not enough positions. I'd love to be a professor and even, at one time, attempted to leave Finance for Academia. However, I quickly realized that there would be no local jobs for me so I gave up that attempt.

Further aside, I believe that the picture above is of R. David Hirsch.

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