The Zionist Conspiracy
Monday, December 26, 2005
Ben Brafman and Shabbos
In his article in the new Winter 2005 issue of Jewish Action (not yet online), criminal defense attorney Benjamin Brafman recalls the not guilty verdict after the trial of Sean ("Puff Daddy") Combs, whom Brafman represented with Johnny Cochran.
Brafman writes that "With shabbat rapidly approaching, I left the courtroom where hundreds of reporters waited to discuss the verdict. I was very conscious of the fact that every word I said would be quoted all over the world, but also well aware that it was already very late." Brafman then says that he gave a very short statement to the media, concluded by saying "Shabbat is coming," and "then jumped into a waiting car and sped away."
Brafman then writes that "for months following the trial, people I did not even know would stop me on the street to tell me how my public announcement about not working on Shabbat made it much easier for them to explain observance issues to their own employers."
Without going into too much detail, suffice to say that the Puff Daddy trial ended after the start of shabbos. By the time Brafman "jumped into a waiting car and sped away," it was not only "very late" but shabbat had, by any standard, already come.
In an interview last year with The Jerusalem Post, Brafman was described as "a modern Orthodox Jew who says he tries not to work on Shabbat."
According to a 2000 feature about Brafman: "Being an observant Jew, says Brafman, can at times impact on his professional obligations. Then he'll make compromises.
"When a trial is in critical posture during a religious holiday, it might be impossible for him to be at Beth Sholom Synagogue in Lawrence, Long Island, where he is a trustee. He'll stay in a hotel and walk to court so that his client not suffer from his absence."
My purpose in writing this post is not to discuss Brafman's level of religious observance, but to question his offering of himself as a role model for frum professionals, many of whom pay a professional price for their faithful observance of shabbos.
Toward the conclusion of his Jewish Action piece, criticizing frum people who violate secular law, Brafman writes: "You cannot be frum if you are not frum. It is that simple. You cannot be strictly observant yet pick the rules you live by. Torah Judaism does not allow for selective enforcement of halachah."