Pidyon Kaparot Now

Pidyon shevuyim for a person in jail

Question:

Al pi halacha how far does the obligation extend to help frum convicted white collar criminals get out of jail in a civilized country like America? By some ppl (like some chassidim) they treat it like it’s the biggest mitzvah in the world to be involved in freeing these people who could have stolen thousands if not millions from the govt., and if they are free they make huge kabalas ponim’s and celebrating events for them which can lead to huge chillul Hashem and increases sinas Yisroel all over. Obviously we’re happy when a Yid gets out but at the same time he deserves some punishment if he actually commited fraud. Are there any teshuvos from the gedolim how to deal with this issues? Or mekoros in halacha? Is there any tzad that someone is mekayeim the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim if he helps a tax evader get out of jail before he’s supposed to get out or is that simply making a chillul Hashem?

 

Answer:

Thank you for your question.
You are talking very critically about these people, but in fact you don’t know if the charges are correct or not, except from hearsay and the media. Secondly, in halacha a person that commits tax fraud etc. doesn’t necessarily sit in jail. If the person you are referring to is dangerous to be around, (a murderer, or someone who commits sexual offenses and is dangerous to society) then the correct place for him indeed is to be in jail. But for white collar crimes, although he should pay what he stole, according to halacha I am not aware the Bais Din would have out him into jail for 30-40 years, and ruin his and his families lives. In the time of Chazal, when a person stole money, he had to repay it, and often got a fine to pay back double. If he didn’t have any money he might have been sold, but his family came along with him and was given their parnossa by his owner. It should be clear, I do not in any way mean to condone or excuse a person who committed tax fraud, or any other white collar crime, but in what way is it helping the situation by him sitting in jail. Therefore I understand that it is the correct thing to try to get him out of jail, since he isn’t dangerous.
Regarding making a big celebration out of it, I agree with you, that it will cause a chillul Hashem and cause sina. However it is possible (I don’t know what story you are talking about) that whatever was done wasn’t so big, but the media pumped it up in order to make the Jews look bad.
May Hashem save us from such situations

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