Monday, November 3, 2008

Redeeming capitives - and jail

The following is from Rabbi Broyde's excellent article concerning informing on others found on JLaw

16. ...The question that is worthy of pondering is the relationship between the obligation to redeem captives (found in Yoreh Deah 253) and the prohibition to inform. In cases where there is no prohibition to inform (as informing is permitted, see Darkai Teshuva 157:53 and more generally Part III of this article) a logical case can be made that there is no mitzvah to redeem captives (as they are in prison properly) when there is nothing wrong with informing. This exact observation is made in the name of Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach in a recent work, Ve'aleyhi lo Yuval, volume 2:113-114, which recounts in the name of Rabbi Yehuda Goldreicht:
I asked Rabbi Auerbach about a particular Jew who stole a large sum of money and he was caught by the police in America. He was sentenced to a number of years in prison in America. Was it proper to assist in the collection of money for him [we were speaking about a large sum of $200,000] in order to fulfill the mitzvah of redeeming captives to have him released from prison? When Rabbi Auerbach heard this he stated "Redeeming captives?! What is the mitzvah of redeeming captives here? The mitzvah of redeeming captives is only when the gentiles are grabbing Jews, irrationally, for no proper reason, and placing them in prison. According to what I [Rabbi Auerbach] know, in America they do not irrationally grab Jews in order to squeeze money from them. The Torah says "do not steal" and he stole money -- on the contrary, it is good that he serve a prison sentence, so that he learns not to steal!
Rav Sternbuch told me that the Chazon Ish was asked about aiding a Jew who had been imprisoned. The Chazon Ish replied that no effort should be made since upon release he would be together with his wife. Since the couple didn't observe the laws of nidah, it was better if the Jew remained in jail.

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