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Rabbi Freed From Custody After Seven Months For Refusing To Testify Before Federal Grand Jury

Rabbi Moshe Zigelman, an orthodox rabbi was called to testify before the grand jury as a witness in a federal prosecution. He refused to testify citing the Jewish principle of “mesira” which forbids Jews from testifying against other Jews in a court of law.

When the rabbi refused to testify a federal judge placed him in custody for almost seven months. However, a Los Angeles judge recently reversed the order and he was released from custody.

This issue raises the very interesting issue of whether religious beliefs can ever allow a person to refuse to follow California or federal laws. Some people believe that to force a person to violate their firmly held religious beliefs is wrong. Others would argue that you first are a citizen of the state and country where you live and that you must be bound by the laws of that state or country even if those laws conflict with your religious beliefs.

No matter what you personally believe this man spent seven months of his life in jail because he refused to violate his religious beliefs. Can you imagine any situation where you would put your religious beliefs ahead of the laws of the state where you live?

Do you think the judge was correct in putting the rabbi in jail for 7 months?

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