• Gabbai

Rosh Hashanah – The Wordless Sound of the Shofar

They tell of a visitor who showed up in shul one Shabbat, and the Gabbai thought it would be nice to invite him up for an aliyah. When the Gabbai asked for his Hebrew name the man said, “Esther bat Yaakov.” The Gabbai gave him a puzzled look. The visitor explained that he had been experiencing financial difficulties so everything is now in his wife’s name.

A good friend of mine has not yet forgiven his father for putting the family’s failing business in his name so his father’s assets would be protected. He has terrible credit ratings as a result. Everybody does this, right? We don’t want a lien placed on our property – we need to keep it safe for our retirement, for our children, for anybody except the bank or government. So we transfer official ownership to someone who doesn’t face the liabilities we have incurred. The title of the car can be transferred to one of the children, the deed for the house can be put in the spouse’s name. And it’s legal. So why does it smell like a fish?

We have a natural tendency to dodge responsibility, and we were blessed with the wisdom to find ways of doing so. We like to pass the buck, avoiding accountability. I’m not disputing the legality of such practices, nor is my intent to judge its ethics. The point is that we don’t like to be accountable and we take deliberate steps to avoid accountability. Consider malpractice insurance. The very concept of such an insurance policy connotes an evasion of accountability. In practice it doesn’t mean one is immune from any effects of malpractice. We understand that a doctor can be doing his or her best, but a patient may sue and the doctor will then be bogged down with expensive lawsuits, prevented in the meantime from healing people. Malpractice insurance enables the doctor to practice in good faith without having to constantly second guess how the patient will react. Nevertheless, the ins