Don't Be Corrupt

The International Corruption Perceptions Index of 2013 (according to their counting) was just published.  Our standing is not stellar.  Out of 177 countries, the State of Israel placed 36th, i.e. there are 35 countries more ethical than we are.


The definition of corruption is "the misuse of public power for private benefit", or in the words of the prophet Yeshayahu (1:23): "Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves, every one loves bribes, and pursues rewards", or in the words of Pirkei Avot (2:3): Be cautious with authorities, for they bring a person close only for their own purpose, appearing as friends when they stand to profit, but not standing by one at his time of need."


The highest ranked country is Denmark, then New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, Holland, Australia and Canada.  Germany places 18th, USA – 19th, France – 22nd, United Arab Emirates – 26th, Qatar -29th and us – 36th.


Although we were in 39th place last year and therefore moved up, this is no consolation since we have fallen significantly over the years.  In 1996, we were in 14th place, '97 – 15th, '98 – 19th, '99 – 20th, and so on.


As is known, 2000 years ago we lost our national independence and were exiled on account of corruption between one person and another.  Baruch Hashem we have been redeemed, which is a sign that our integrity has returned.  It is forbidden for us, however, to fall asleep while on guard.  When we see out leaders taking advantage of their authority in an improper manner, we are obligated to rebuke them, even if we believe that their actions are furthering our ideals.  The goals do not justify the means.  One does not fulfill a Mitzvah through a transgression.


"And what does Hashem require of you?  To act justly, to love kindness and to walk humbly with your G-d" (Michah 6:8).