Torah For Today: Tainted money

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Torah For Today: Tainted money

Rabbi Ariel Abel takes a topical issue and looks into Jewish texts for an Orthodox response

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Rabbi Ariel Abel is based in Liverpool

Oswald Moseley and his grandson Ivo Mosley
Oswald Moseley and his grandson Ivo Mosley

Ivo Mosley, grandson of the British fascist leader Sir Oswald Mosley, says he does not see why Oxford University should not accept a £12million donation from the family foundation. So, what does Torah say about tainted money?

Elijah the prophet scolded Ahab, King of Israel, for the conspiracy he facilitated to falsely accuse Naboth and take his vineyard. “Have you murdered and also inherited?!” fumed the man of God.

Apart from legal objections to unjust enrichment and proceeds of crime, the Torah explicitly rules out benefiting from morally forbidden occupations. “Bring not into the temple a gift from prostitution…
for this is an abomination before God.”

Are the proceeds of an estate infamously connected with antisemitism, racism and xenophobia to be so treated? Should they be shunned forever and excluded from the budget of a house of study – a bet midrash – or of a university, forever?

The strength of feeling to steer clear of such ‘tainted’ money is perfectly understandable. However, there were two views taken regarding the money allocated as post-Holocaust reparations to thousands of survivors worldwide. Is this comparable? On one hand, thousands of vehicles were accepted by Israel to modernise their Egged bus fleet in Israel, a move that had been staunchly opposed by Menachem Begin.

A lot depends on the current views of the rightful donors of the monies. Ivo Mosley is politically far from his grandfather’s views, which he finds repugnant. Our scriptures encourage us to abjure inherited blame: “Let not children be put to death for the sins of their father; each must bear the guilt of their own sin.”

Perhaps then it should follow that a descendent of one who has sinned against the public should be allowed to make amends to
the public.

υ Rabbi Ariel Abel CF works at Liverpool Legal, a legal practice in Liverpool associated with E. Rex Makin & Co Solicitors


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