Times' Ethicist Tackles Is SABBATH SHMOOZING Jewish? and Is it Kosher to Hand Out $50 Bills During Kaddish?

Signs of a slow ethical quandary day. The ethicist at the Times, Ariel Kaminer, has to be scraping the bottom of the moral barrel with a question like the one he covered this past Sunday from one "NAME WITHHELD" writer. Read it in all its gory details and you will see why anonymity is so essential.

My synagogue is interviewing four rabbis. One, who lives nearby, comes every Saturday to pray and glad-hand. The other three can’t, because they don’t travel on the Sabbath. Isn’t it unethical of him to take advantage of his proximity? NAME WITHHELD

Attending those services isn’t unethical; it’s sensible. If you applied for a job at a bookstore, would you refuse on principle to visit until they made their choice? But if you find the rabbi’s behavior in the synagogue to be inappropriate (if, say, he hands out $50 bills during the mourner’s prayer), then cast your vote accordingly.

By the way, I get a lot of rabbi questions; priest and imam questions, not so much. Clerics of the world, tell us your quandaries!
A few Talmudic observations.

In a cold and nasty shul that we know, friendly glad-handing by anyone, including a rabbinic candidate, would be considered out-of-place, surely a negative in any search. And further, most people agree that it makes no sense to consider it an "advantage" for a candidate to appear in shul to campaign for a job. We all know that the rabbi with the most relatives on the board of directors will get the job no matter what. And what indeed is "inappropriate" about handing out $50 bills in synagogue? Are we still talking during Sabbath prayers here? Does Kaminer mean it is too little or too much for someone to hand out money in synagogue. And is it especially egregious to hand out money during the Kaddish? We'd think during the Shema or the Amidah would be a more questionable time to distribute cash.

Now lots of people complain about the Times' awful coverage of Israel. This ethicist query is a new low in their coverage of synagogue matters. We are considering canceling our subscription!

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