Op-Ed: What’s at Stake in the Rubashkin Trial


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ywe1.jpgThe views in this article are solely the views of Avi Solomon and don’t necessarily represent the views of the Yeshiva World.

About nine months ago the Jewish world was buzzing over the arrest of Sholom Rubashkin, which ultimately led to the bankruptcy of his agriprocessing plant. Postville, Iowa, a little-nothing town in the middle of nowhere, became flooded with media reporters from almost every major news outlet. Eventually, the buzz died down and Rubashkin was no longer the center of Jewish conversation. However, the buzz is beginning to be heard again as Rubashkin will begin to stand trial in October.

In my opinion, the question in Rubashkin’s trial isn’t a question of whether he is guilty or innocent of the charges brought against him. The man faces over 100 charges ranging from an indictment of illegal immigrants to bank-fraud to money laundering. He would need a miracle to be acquitted of all the charges brought against him. Furthermore, the evidence seems awfully convincing that Mr. Rubashkin did violate immigration laws, if nothing else. Consequently, I believe the real question at hand is how long will Shlomo Rubashkin have to sit in prison for. Nevertheless, you have people such as Rabbi Pinchas Lipschutz (Yated Ne’eman) and others in the Jewish media who are determined to defend the idea that Rubashkin is 100% innocent and is a victim of the media propaganda. It is admirable that Mr. Lipschutz is willing to use his resources to defend his good friend and former chavrusa. However, friendship is not the most important thing to be defending in Rubashkin’s case. The Orthodox Jewish belief for respect in the law of the land is what is most at stake in this trial.

The media hasn’t even begun to buzz in the trial of Rubashkin. If the Jewish voice expressed in this case is that a Jew is innocent even if he is guilty then we will be creating a tremendous chillul Hashem. We can ask the courts to show Rubashkin mercy in their judgment. We can point out the fact that it is a bit discriminatory to try a man on the charges of illegal immigration violations in the face of a country that is flooded with illegal immigrants working in spite of the law. However, to say Rubashkin is 100% innocent is telling the world that we believe a Jew is above the law of the land. It is my opinion that Rubashkin should be condemned for any laws that he broke and that we m’chazak ourselves in the halachos of dina d’malcus dina. This is what is truly at stake in the trial of Rubashkin.

(Avi Slolomon – YWN)


  1. What disgrace- how is Avi Solomon sooo sure of himself that Rubashkin erred??? If this is your theory Avi- then I’ll make sure to tell FBI to check out everything you do to make sure you do everthing legal… You are soo worried about the law then we gotta check you out….

  2. Very well put, but these immutable truths won’t silence the inane “We must say T’hillim!”, “Hashem y’rachaym!” and “Moshiach, please come soon!” shrieking that will hit this board after the commencement of the trial.

  3. The opinion of Avi Solomon is a perfectly valid one. Let justice prevail. That being said, the entire case should be thrown out because an indictment regarding illegal immigrants is certainly “selective justice”, and, I am guessing, unconstitutional. America has an open-door policy that illegal immigrants are welcome and to be taken care of by our governmental and community institutions.

  4. AVI




  5. I ask that readers read my article carefully. Firstly, never in US history has a man faced over 100 charges and been aquitted of all of them. If I am wrong, please post a case in court that contradicts what I’ve said. I am not a posuk. However, I believe every Jew should be familiar with the halachos of Dina D’malkus Dina. Reb Yakov, Reb Moshe, and many other Gedolim hold that it applies to America. That being said I feel legitimate in criticizing any Jew who would show blantant disrespect for the law. If you want to check me out, feel free to give my name to the FBI. I pay my taxes completely on the books. I don’t lie on any of my paperwork. For that matter, I don’t even speed on the roads. No, I’m not perfect, but I try to be frum. Furthermore, honesty and integrity are halachos that need to be observed despite the halacha of Dina D’malkus Dina. By the way, I am not a lawyer, but close to having a major in political science as well as history. I’ve taken two classes on government law.

  6. Mr. Solomon, I do not know who you are, but I would suggest you look inward especially now before Rosh Hoshanah. How you judge others is how you will be judged in shomayim. Sholom Rubashkin is innocent. He was an easy scapegoat by the Gov’t, the unions, and PETA. Other plants were raided by the gov’t and the owners were only punished with fines. Mr. Solomon, stop keeping your head in the sand. Have rachmonus on the Rubashkin family. There is an excellent article about Mr. Rubashkin in the Mishpacha magazine. I strongly suggest you read it. If you already have, I suggest you read again.

  7. Please forgive me Avi for talking soo harsh..
    I’m sure you are great man..
    It’s just that before yom hadin- we are all seeking to be zakai badin & not chas vashalom to get opposite- so It really hurts me to see how one yid talks bad on another… tell me – was that soo important to right- how should Mr. Rubashkin feel towards you when he reads your article?

  8. Avi Solomon is being realistic. I feel for Mr. Rubashkin – he has definitely done a service for Klal Yisroel all these years. If he bent the rules or looked the other way, we should as yidden try to help him and be supportive. It is true that there are very few Americans who are perfect and within the law all the time. Unfortunately, for Rubashkin, he had enemies who probably did him in and everyone not only him will suffer for it – including the economy in the time of Postville.
    Let’s all be realistic and do what we can to be supportive and try not to make Chilul Hashems. As Yidden we are always held under a microscope and have to be extra careful whenever we do anything – even crossing the street at red!!!

  9. Curious if some here has ever used the services of an illegal immigrant cleaning woman, gardener, or mover. For that matter, have you remembered to give your (illegal) cleaning help and gardener a 1099? No? You forgot? I’ll bet the FBI investigators forgot too…

    Hundreds of thousands of Americans benefit from illegal immigrant labor, many hiring these individuals directly. Americans in glass houses should not throw stones.

  10. Hey Avi, since you expressed the desire to learn more about Dina Demalchusa, you might be interested that most of what is thought about this famous Din is a hoax. Yes, we must follow the law because of Hilchos Derech Eretz and Chilul Hashem and at times Gezel Akum and so on, but Dina Demalchusa applies to monetary laws. For example, even if in Halacha we wouldn’t divide a certain property, if the law of the land is that you do divide it than that is valid for Halacha too. Also, if the government confiscates property because of a non discriminatory law and gives or sells it to someone else, the original owner can’t grab it back claiming it was stolen from him.

  11. Once again anyone who expresses an opinion has their character absolutely assaulted in a most vulgar fashion.

    I really don’t understand why anyone bothers anymore.

    The man expresses his opinion on a hot issue and gets replies like “why don’t you get investigated by the FBI” or “who do you think you are”.

    It gets worse by the day.

  12. To all those who are decrying “selective justice” in this case, may I call to your attention the fact that even if a particular offense is charged “selectively”, that does not prevent the courts from enforcing justice, as with Martha Stewart.

  13. Concerned Member,

    I’m concerned too. “why don’t you get investigated by the FBI” or “who do you think you are” are not vulgar or assaults of character.

    That is wild rhetoric. Comments such as “who do you think you are” may not be highly sophisticated, but they are quite benign expressions of protest against what amounts to a judgment without trial or jury on a public site.

    If you disagree, and support the OP, that is fine. All points are valid in some context or another.

    But terming the “who do you think you are” an assault on someone’s character and vulgar is beyond puzzling.

  14. #15, good point, but I dont think anyone alluded to the fact that the law is not entitled to enforce a law even when “selective enforcement” seems to be the case. However, “selective justice” seems to ring of injustice. No?

    So the point of “selective justice” should have a bearing as jurisprudence is anything but a recipe with exact measurements applied to each “recipe” (case).



  16. A quick google search turned up the following, and as a lawyer I can tell you this far from an aberration:

    United States v. Zeller, Minneapolis, Minnesota (defendant, his corporation and his wife found not guilty on all 100 felony counts of mail fraud, ERISA fraud, false statements)

  17. reb avi, have you gone through the halochos of dina demalchusa dina? let me quote you something i saw in halacha berura anumber of poskim approach the issue of copyright from the standpoint of dina demalchusa dina- the requirment to follow the laws of the land as they relate to CERTAIN matters. the Rama rules that the law instituted for the benifit of the general public must be adhered to. Fair trade practices are definitely included in this category. some poskim are a bit more lnient on this issue and maintain that there are certain limitations. firstly, those matters which are laws but are not actively enforced, halacha does not mandate that one must adhere to them. the lack of enforcement of the specific law demonstrates that the government does not intend to treat the law seriously. every government must have a book of laws; not every law, however is taken seriously or enforced by the government. Additionally, even where the law is technically enforced, nevertheless, if there is a widespread lack of adherence to the law by the general public the halacha does not require a Jew to be more religious, in this sense, than the general public. A few common examples of this are: coming to a complete stop at a stop sign during the middle of the night, pulling up for a few minutes at certain no-parking or no-standing zones, going in moderate excess to the speed limit, etc. This would give mr rubashkin a strong basis, on the assumption that he did violate immigration laws,to have done what he did because A) the government is really not makpid, look around, and see for yourself, and B) even if they are makpid, everyone does it,therefore, BOTH reasons apply!!! the main point is, i agree with you that we cant run around doing illegal things thinking, we, as jews, are above the law, but we, as jews, must not jump to conclusions about other yidden, no matter how many things theyre being indicted for. think it through. ksiva vchasima tovah to all

  18. I’m sorry YWN posted this, especially, (as someone mentioned earlier) this time of year. Even if the writer adamantly believes this, which he has every right to, I dont think its right for a news source like YWN to post it.

  19. At this time of year, when the message of הוי דן את כל האדם לכף זכות is so pertinent, how can anyone assume that the charges against Rubashkin, which so clearly reek of an agenda other than justice, are true? The Supreme Court has dismissed quite a number of the charges already. The very newspaper founded by Maran HoRav Schach Zz”l comes forth to cogently defend the Rubashkins who have provided affordable Kosher Meat and poultry for the last decade and a half to thousands of unaffiliated Jews. At the very least, stay silent in the face of the adversity Rubashkin faces! By the Way, Rabbi Pinchos Lipshutz had never even met the Rubashkins prior to the raid. when there is an עת צרה ליעקב even divergent groups join ranks!