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    Rabbis & ethics – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. Should rabbis be models of ethical behaviour?

    A. Of course. Moses learnt this when he hit the rock instead of speaking to it. Anyone else might have got off with a rebuke, but Moses was punished heavily. As the leader of the people he had to give an example. As the sages say, a Torah scholar who has a speck of dirt on his clothes is deserving of death: the language is hyperbole, but the message is clear. The rabbi forfeits his right to judge the conduct of others or to teach them ethical standards if people can say, “But you’re just as bad as we are!”

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