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  KD MAGAZINE!         ב"ה              
 
 
     
 

Have a Safe Trip!
By Rabbi Shea Hecht, Posted: February 3, 09

RABBI SHEA HECHT

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Recently, three yeshiva students were arrested in Japan on drug smuggling charges. The three had been approached by a chassidic Jew, who had offered to pay their way to Lizhensk for the yartzeit of the Holy Rabbi Elimelech, so long as they make a stop in Japan to deliver antique books. The students were overjoyed that they would have the opportunity to take such a trip in exchange for doing a favor for this "chassidisher yid".

The way this story ends is sadly typical. The books were not ordinary books of course but full with drugs. The three boys had been unwittingly duped into acting as the mule for a drug dealer. The Japanese authorities, who have very advanced resources for dealing with smugglers, easily detected the three boys and arrested them with an "unprecedented" amount of narcotics.

These stories are becoming more and more common, unfortunately. Supposedly "religious" Jews are using their trusting and na´ve brethren to transport various types of contraband all over the globe, without any regard for the tremendous peril involved.

Religious Jews, it seems, have the perfect resume for this line of "courier" work. They are customarily trusting, non-threatening and discreet. Unfortunately for the hapless mule, and as the growing number of arrests confirm, this sort of "holy" demeanor is no longer a shield from suspicion. The methods employed by airport security and customs have become extremely advanced and no longer discriminates in the favor of the religious Jew.

The sad reality is that it's no longer acceptable to undertake the risk of transporting packages overseas for anyone, excluding immediate family. The risk of sitting in an overseas prison and being at the mercy of the laws of a foreign government is too great. The benefit, the free delivery of that box, bag or envelope for that "friend of a friend" is simply not great enough.

Many, the sender included, might say that refusing to do this simple favor shows a lack of Ahavas Yisrael, and you may in fact have a desire to help a Jew in need. If you decide to do so, I might recommend the following: Pull out your digital camera and take a picture of the individual holding his package. Then ask to see his drivers license and note his name and address. Then let him know that you intend to show the package to authorities on both sides of the border. If he's still standing there I think it's safe to say that he has an honest request.

Barring that, however, there's no reason that in an era where we have UPS, Fedex, DHL and a whole host of couriers fighting over our business that we need to accept the possibility of acting as a drug mule. The mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael is performed by acting in the best interest of another Jew, not by imperiling our own freedom and well-being.

 
Rabbi Shea Hecht is the Chairman of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education . His web site is: www.sheahecht.com

 
   
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