Telling lies is dirty work. Being asked to lie on someone else’s behalf is harder still. Not everybody can — or wants to — do it.
The spokesman for the chief rabbi of France, who has refused to quit his post despite admitting to plagiarism and lying about his qualifications, quit himself on Wednesday, French news agencies reported.
The spokesman, Rabbi Moché Lewin, did not give an explanation for leaving his job and did not comment on the case of the chief rabbi, Gilles Bernheim, though he praised him for his work in creating “a Judaism of openness.”
Openness in all respects, except for coming clean about his thievery and deception. Quick recap:
• Bernheim plagiarized parts of a book;
• smeared the deceased writer he plagiarized from, by saying the dead guy had copied him;
• lied about it until the lie was exposed in the press;
• without giving particulars, then cowardly blamed the affair on an assistant or ghostwriter who had supposedly hoodwinked him (notice a pattern here?);
• lied about having earned a particular Sorbonne University degree; and
• plagiarized an essay on the immorality of gay relationships.
There are credible allegations of additional literary theft on Bernheim’s part. We’ll find out more, I’m sure.
Yesterday, Bernheim went on Radio Shalom and opined that he had made “mistakes,” but had not not “committed fault in the exercise of my functions.”
“To resign,” he said, “would be an act of vanity and desertion.”
To resign would be an act of vanity? Are you sure you’re familiar with the definition of vanity, rabbi? Unlike you, I’m not paid to be a beacon of moral authority, so please forgive me, but I would have thought staying might be more vain.
Staying, in this case, is the mark of a man with an inflated sense of self-worth who values his own interest more than his followers’. And that man, possibly for years to come, will make those followers gaze in pained embarrassment at a false accuser / con man / thief / fabulist / liar who still claims the authority to tell other people about right and wrong.
UPDATE, Friday morning: He’s gone.
[image via lavie.fr]