This week, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi from Maryland pleaded guilty in federal court to mail and wire fraud -- subjecting him to a prison sentence of up to 40 years -- because he made up stories of having unique Torahs that date back to the Holocaust, and sold them to innocent believers for more than $862,000.
Rabbi Menachem Youlus, 50, made up some fantastic, dramatic stories to prospective customers, saying that he had gone to Auschwitz, Poland and other parts of Europe to obtain invaluable Torahs. The fact is that Youlus had never even gone to Europe.
Many of those who purchased the Torahs from Youlus were children and grandchildren of some of the six million Jews who had been killed during the Holocaust in the 1940s. Youlus, however, felt no shame in deceiving these innocent believers: His only concern was to get as much money from them as he could.
What makes this scenario even more frightening and incredible is that Youlus was a rabbi -- and an Orthodox Jewish rabbi no less -- when he committed these heartless, selfish, and disgusting crimes.
Somehow, we feel that Youlus' deception of his fellow Jews can be closely associated with Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Judas -- one of the 12 Jewish apostles of Jesus -- betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas betrayed Jesus despite the fact that the Jews were God's chosen people.
Judas betrayed Jesus for the silver bribe by identifying Him with a kiss -- often referred to as the kiss of Judas -- to arresting soldiers of the High Priest Caiaphas, who then turned Jesus over to Pontius Pilate's soldiers, resulting in Jesus' crucifixion.
In both the Judas and Youlus situations, an obsession for money was the primary reason for their inhumane and disgusting actions.
It was nearly 2,000 years ago when Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Today, the Youlus scenario conveys that man has still not changed his priorities to respect the life and integrity of his fellow man, instead of deceiving him to attain money.
Indeed, it is now time for man to show more respect toward his fellow man -- a respect in which love, kindness, and integrity transcend any selfish desire an individual might have to illegally amass money by deceiving someone.