The Right Thing

October 7, 2012

As a community we face many distressing dilemmas, the majority of which arise from external pressures. But there are also numerous cases of internal debate, in which the conflict between a natural inclination to deal with our own problems can come up against the demands of a civic, secular society.

There was, for instance, anguished discussion within a north London strictly Orthodox community over whether to report some of its youngest sons to the police in relation to a number of alleged crimes. Jewish law is clear: the principle of dina d’malchuta dina (“the law of the land is law”) recognises secular law as binding on Jews, provided that it is not contrary to any laws of Judaism.

So the rabbis who advised the families to report the alleged criminals to the police were doing exactly as halacha directs. We have criticised strictly Orthodox rabbis when they have, in our view, not behaved sensibly, so it is good to be able to report that they were not just following halacha; they were doing the right thing.

Last updated: 3:50pm, October 7 2012