The Mafia enforcer who joined a Kollel
(and other Halachic conundrums)
Case 1: A mafia enforcer is South Tel Aviv decides to become religious and join a Kollel in Bnei Brak. Let's call him Yaakov. He marries and has a small child. But he also has a large debt to his old crime boss, who threatens to blow up the debtor's motorcycle if the monthly payment is late again. Yaakov chains his bike to the bottom of the apartment's public staircase, thinking that this will protect the bike from the crime boss' vicious henchmen. The plan backfires, and the thugs blow up the bike after the payment due date, causing extensive damage to the apartment's stairwell. Yaakov tells his neighbors that they have to chip in with him to repair the damages, but they respond by saying he brought this evil upon them due to his past associations. Who must pay?
Case 2: A boy ("Yoel") survives the Holocaust with his father by hiding on a farm owned by a young Polish widow. His mother was already killed by the Nazis. Meantime, his father falls in love with the Polish woman who saved them and has a son with her ("Philip"). Yoel moves to Israel, and his father and his new wife and son move to the States where they become fabulously wealthy. The woman dies and then the father dies. Yoel wants to pay his last respects and give his father a Jewish burial. Philip says, "fine, on one condition. You give me your entire $25 million share of the inheritance; otherwise he gets buried near my mom at the St. Barnabas cemetery." What should Yoel do?
Case 3: A young man ("Shimon") gets jilted by a young lady in Israel ("Leah"). He decides to get even, and take down a 'nerdy' friend while he's at it ("Reuven"). Shimon fabricates to Reuven that Leah is interested in dating him, and he even tells him to show up at the door. Leah's father answers and has no clue who Reuven is. Reuven is humiliated, but Leah's father finds him to be a great guy. He ends up dating Leah and getting engaged! At the engagement party, Shimon shows up and asks for shadchanus! (matchmaking fee). Must they pay it? After all, without him, they never would have met!
These are just some of the cases which have crossed the desk of great rabbis such as Rav Yitzchak Zilbershtein of Israel and others. The cases are presented with Shlomo acting out all the parts. The audience is then asked to weigh in, after which the rabbi's decision-making process is shared. This program has received an enthusiastic response, with audiences of men and women literally shouting out answers in excitement.