Despair is one word we can use to describe how we feel when a giant among men, a man with an extraordinary mind and insight into the law, Jewish and secular, self-destructs before our very eyes. Are these implosions of character caused by hubris or mental illness? Richard Nixon comes to mind.
Last week, Dr. Michael Broyde, an outstanding dayan at the Beth Din of America, professor of law at Emory University in Atlanta and a major Torah scholar, was exposed by The Jewish Channel for creating alter egos on the world wide web to boost his own reputation. In the ensuing chaos, we commend Rabbi Shmuel Goldin and Av Bet Din, Rav Gedalia Schwartz, for their swift and transparent response in this case. Dr. Broyde has taken a voluntary leave from the RCA, and the Beth Din has suspended him indefinitely, pending further investigation. We also commend the rabbis for keeping Dr. Broyde’s decisions in place. It is a compassionate and fair method of handling a very problematic case.
As Rabbi Goldin reminds us, the Torah already understood, from the pesukim he mentions in Vayikra, that power often corrupts those who have it. Human nature does not change, he reminds us, and we must carefully scrutinize those we choose to lead us. We agree.