“Why is he not in prison?”
“How can he be allowed to sit on his couch in his penthouse while the rest of us are scrambling?”
Vanity Fair unleashed on Bernie Madoff this month, with a chilling look at how he betrayed his closest friends, and, online, a video documentary that looks at the stories of several of his victims.
The anger, loss, shame and despondency are apparent in their testimonies. Last week, when Madoff victim Elie Wiesel said the only fitting punishment for the man would be to sit in a jail cell the rest of his life watching video-taped testimony of the people whose lives he devastated, must have had something like this in mind.
In the introduction Rabbi Marc Gellman reflects that perhaps what the Madoff crime all came down to was the desire on the part of Madoff and his victims to be part of the in group. This may be rabbinic reductionism—when he says it it sounds much more profound—but his last line is particularly resonant:
“The only valid way of understanding who is in and who is out is this: Who is kind and who is not?”