Jewish Journal


August 25, 2009

Bernard Madoff’s cancer



Yesterday the venerable New York Post reported that Bernard Madoff—yep, $65 billion Bernie from Cell Block C—was dying of cancer. I’m not sure who was the more accomplished conman in this short story: Madoff or the Post’s reportorial standards.

But first, it’s worth considering whether God might punish Madoff for his sins. Here’s what Rabbi David Wolpe said about Madoff back in December:

Maimonides lists sins—following the laws of the Mishna—that cannot be fully forgiven.  Common to most is an inability to make restitution (another example is one who coldly assumes “I’ll sin, be forgiven, sin, be forgiven” etc.).  Madoff cannot conceivably make restitution to the unnumbered he has hurt—from lost personal savings to people dependent on the bone marrow registry whose holdings he squandered.  Perhaps someone of purer soul might be persuaded to find redemption possible for him.  I confess I cannot.

Some have reserved for Madoff a special place in hell. But might God be expediting that sentence?

Well, I tend to believe those days of divine retribution are gone. And Madoff is thus far not proving otherwise. Despite the New York Post’s report, which was confirmed by the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons denied yesterday that Madoff has cancer:

“While the NY Post story is full of inaccuracies, and we can’t specifically address all of them, we can tell you that Bernie Madoff is not terminally ill, and has not been diagnosed with cancer.”

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