'John Edwards is a sinner not a criminal'
Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield explains the distinction
- Duration 8:10
- Date Apr 27, 2012
Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield explains the distinction
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Former presidential candidate John Edwards is on trial in federal court.
For alleged in this -- of almost one million dollars in campaign money to cover up his affair with his mistress.
Miss hunter Riel hunter.
-- the salacious details of the trial show a man desperate to hide his affair from his wife Elizabeth.
Or is -- desperate to.
Continue on his personal campaign.
Well rabbi -- Hirschfeld is here and he when he says what Edwards is guilty of is is is -- being a sinner not a criminal.
So it and I.
I want you to explain.
I will I want to be clear though he may be both.
I have no dog in the hunt to defend this guy -- navy both just sit there.
And a criminal or that the decision will be left to courts of higher authority and I'm entitled to this but I do ask -- a great is that way past my pay -- especially on the -- side.
But there is an important distinction and -- is no moral or theological.
Or spiritual categories one you know I take seriously.
But it's not the -- legal.
Which is about a set of laws especially in our democracy.
That inseparable from what we may think of is the good.
So I actually this is distinction it's really important to maintain.
It's what keeps us from becoming a theocracy.
-- -- scene in the law are identical.
You end up with a theocratic state.
On the other hand if there's too much gap between the good and the legal then you end up with an amoral society.
So I think what's critical to do -- know that scene and legality or different and then figure out when and how to apply which way.
And and -- because you know one of the things that we talk about you know can you legislate morality.
And the promises that you know when you see a lot a lot more laws in the books and usually talks is an indication that a societies falling apart -- There's no question the one thing you know when you look at dimensional laws whether it's the profits of ancient Israel railing against the Israel light sport today.
You -- -- -- legislating against not tell you -- lots of people are doing.
And that is why we make the laws I think we can't legislate morality to the extent that.
There's a social cost to all of us what we can't do was legislate morality when it grows out of a personal code.
That some of us but not all of us subscribed to that.
OK so if he's guilty -- campaign funds to sort of go anywhere other than his campaign I don't even know what it's for a -- he'd -- -- -- -- -- -- the mistress in order but do it right -- from his wife.
Who was dying at a time out of cancer or if he was.
Trying to save his campaign and it's kind of the both the same thing.
That's it sounds like it's it's legal right.
-- sounds illegal and it doesn't matter.
I care about if -- if I care about as a human being the other scenes stuff is pretty Gray Davis.
I mean at the illegal the legal stuff is did -- misuse funds back.
Did he lie to people about where those funds were going those are serious questions they have to be sought out.
But the level of the punishment is really Wear -- we.
It didn't hit the level of our our our -- betrayal is really felt but that's kind of where we're getting.
That's really interest in the betrayal word I think we have to distinguish between the punishment we dole out for breaking the law.
Which is not about our emotions it's about the law and the feeling of betrayal when a public official.
-- -- that values that we believe make people good public servants there may not be as specific law you violate when you lied to the public.
But there should be a price to pay as you betrayed the public try.
Still do a lot of people -- could look at John Edwards and saying you know he was he -- -- -- -- on the 400 dollar haircut which now I -- -- that I'm able to forgive him out because he -- -- -- but now the 400 dollar haircut is coming out into the into the four.
Because of this.
Honor this whole trial about his mistress -- of the -- -- one -- like well this is starting to add up into a lot of different things and so.
He -- -- you can't legislate morality which means you can't.
I'm sentence for morality either.
Right you can't sentence morality.
But public opinion will be shaped by I think you write a pattern begins to emerge.
A pattern of entitlement a pattern of self indulgence a pattern of out of control behavior that feels I mean titled.
All of that stuff does speak poorly to a person now there's no law against any of it.
And there shouldn't be a law against any of it if by law we mean.
The public domain the stuff we as Americans all but should there be a -- on your own heart that you cultivate against that kind of behavior.
Yeah I think -- -- is -- fear for people to look at public servants who don't have a sense of the good that's larger than the legal and say you know.
I'm not sure you're fit to represent me.
We don't need to agree about that sense of the good but if you think the only thing you have to do is be responsible to the letter of the law.
One date I know you could do something they may be legal but it's gonna hurt me that's gonna.
Hurt us you think you -- I'm asking you to put on your cycle life psychologist hat right now.
You know from your -- because and theologians really do a place like you're does that as as well why didn't you get it.
I guess first what's the it's cheating why it wouldn't be -- share of the money.
I don't know.
The idea parent it woman's pregnant and I get a covered -- like but it -- just started the affair why would a man have a -- like that running for president.
He's running the highest office in the land.
And he's having an affair.
So this two pieces I think that elected officials that caught up in this because -- a certain amount of hubris connected to cheating.
-- train a personal relationship because you think I'll never get caught -- me.
Now the city I think it I think that's what you look at all the denials they all deny it won't get caught will do this move those dollars I'll make that phone call from influential friend.
I -- you'll be fine.
Instead wanted to wish I was first pregnant so.
It's only in third in which thousands lining agony as a kid maybe he.
It's just it she's -- she's kind of a loose woman anyway so the arrogance of little holes astounding.
Now the other side of that is a certain amount of Americans for anyone -- public office because they actually believe there because hey I mean I'm officially -- -- so it's like anything else the seeds of bad arrogance -- actually deep self confidence that let you jump out ahead in the lead.
But it becomes toxic.
When the self confidence becomes a sense I'm above the rules.
And I think that's what happens these guys come to believe in case it's women -- so -- guys generically.
That there above the rules.
And that's when they start to lose if not the legal ability to lead.
The moral authority to serve -- leaders and then I think you start to cover up because is a shame factor because that evil people who just messed up people.
And so they know they've done something wrong and there's no way to be accountable.
But there's no way to say yes I did this.
That a little bit up obligates the American public because if we want leaders will seek forgiveness.
And we have to create a more forgiving culture.
Do you think he might vote David and and that's you a story and that's really the one question went back to write it really I don't know -- -- an end.
I am sure gonna get Bible lessons from this guy and it's like -- wanna say two things -- -- -- hitting it really.
This is you should start with those lessons like before you got her bed between you me brother -- but we as a public would have to look at him and go out.
If leaders is great is can David.
Could fall like this.
And it's not unreasonable to imagine that our data -- leaders can.
Swiss is if the politicians need to assume greater personal responsibility.
And invoke those heroes less cause they're not so heroic.
And the public needs to match that if we really believe in these stories if we believe the Bible has a truth to teach us.
It does have to do with knowing that even great men and women have failings.
And part of our job is to learn how to balance holding them accountable with being genuinely forgiving -- -- really great words of wisdom thank you very much rabbi Brad Hirschfeld.
Talking about time -- thank you.