Saturday, April 17, 2010

Akavia ben Mahalalel & Corruption

With so much of the news in Israel currently revolving around Ehud Olmert and the Holyland bribery scandal, this brief passage I read in Rav Abraham Twerski's Visions of the Fathers really struck a chord:

We know that he [Akavia ben Mahalalel] stood head and shoulders above all his peers, who wished to appoint him as the Head of the Sanhedrin. However, Akavia differed with his colleagues on four halachot, and he was told that if he would retract his position on these four issues, the distinguished position would be his. Akavia stated that inasmuch as he was espousing the opinion of his teachers, he felt that this was the prevailing opinion of the authorities of the previous generation. He was therefore not at liberty to retract. Furthermore, he argued, if he did yield to his colleagues who now constituted a majority of the Torah scholars, he might be accused of having changed his mind because he could not resist the lure of the lofty position as Head of Sanhedrin. "I may be considered a fool for not yielding and thereby forfeiting this singular honor, but I would be considered unscrupulous if I did yield. I would rather people think of me as foolish than as corrupt," (Eduyot 5:6-7)

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