Sunday, 7 January 2018

Rubashkin: a seven-year-old post from the files

From RRW

Guest Blogger: Rav Dov Fischer

Rubashkin: a seven-year-old post from the files
From: Dov Fischer []
Sent: Monday, May 03, 2010 10:25 PM
Subject: Rubashkin
. . . .

My personal P.S. on Rubashkin – I had a person in my shul who needed a kidney transplant and was on dialysis.  He approached me and told me he needed to eat meat, but he could not eat kosher meat because it has too much salt from the m’lichah process.  I never heard such a thing before; I assumed that the hadachah does the job of adequate de-salination.  So it sounded to me like a bubbe maisa.  Nevertheless, I asked and phoned around, and – although I still was not satisfied with the notion that non-kosher meat was OK for him but kosher meat was not – I decided to believe the problem and analysis was legitimate.  The guy explained to me that, for the first time in his life, he was eating mamash treifus.  So I told him that we have an alternative: let’s get some unsalted kosher-slaughtered meat, and we can kosher it by broiling it.  No salt.  And then we found that, unlike my bubbe’s days, it is not so easy anymore to find kosher meat that is unsalted.  Like, impossible.  So he was back at treifus. 

I mentioned the situation to a highly placed contact I have among entrepreneurs in the kosher food industry, and he put me in direct contact with Rubashkin.  Rubashkin explained to me that he was flying out of Iowa to New York or California – I don’t remember – because one of his kids was getting married, like the next day or so.  And he told me that he would bring unkashered, unsalted meat with him to my courier who would pick it up from him at LAX.  And if the situation worked well, he said – on the virtual eve of his kid’s wedding – Rubashkin and I would explore further what we could do for this guy.  I asked Rubashkin the price, and he responded:  “There is no charge to help this man stop eating treifus and to return to eating kosher meat.”  He made me promise not to tell others about this because he did not want to be inundated with such requests for unsalted meat.  So I never told anyone, until this email.  He is no longer in the meat business, and the last thing anyone will be asking him now is for some kosher-slaughtered unsalted meat.  In time, the fellow in question got his kidney transplant.

That, too, is the Rubashkin whom the Government would put away for a life term or for 25 years (which, basically, is the same thing at his age in his 50s).  We all should sign the petitions.  We all should write brief, one-paragraph notes to the judge.  I was the very, very first person on this RCA Forum, in the Forum’s nascent days, to demand that we condemn the news of the ethical lapses and the employment of illegal immigrants, etc.  But this life-sentence business is outrageous.  In California, where the prisons are overcrowded, they are busy releasing rapists and other convicts after a couple of years of good behavior.  (And, yes, the first group of recidivists already have re-raped and are en route back to their m’komot k’vu’ot in San Quentin or wherever.)  So this thing is Kafkaesque.

To answer another question some have asked -- Most normal judges will not be offended or threatened by such notes but, instead, will be moved or even deeply moved by such notes.  There are no guarantees, and it could be that Rubashkin is before the rare judge who hates such notes.  But, having served as a federal appeals court clerk for a year, during which time I worked on several appeals stemming from applications of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, and actually got to read confidential case files that included letter-writing campaigns on behalf of certain white-collar federal convicts, and the sentencing opinions by the deeply moved district judges, it is my first-hand observation that such letter-writing campaigns literally can peel years off the sentence pronounced by the sentencing judge.  The trick is to keep the letter to one paragraph or so – short and sweet – and to let the judge know that this Rubashkin is not a cookie-cutter person.  And it is worthwhile writing the letter on your rabbinical stationery.

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