Treason II


Rabbi Joshua Maroof



Dear Mesora,

In this week's "King of Rational Thought" segment, the King comments on the source of the animosity we feel toward traitors. He concludes that it essentially relates to the violation of trust that treason entails. I believe that there is an additional dimension to the phenomenon that he has overlooked. Take, for example, the case of a foreign spy who has infiltrated our government. For some reason, even he is not despised to the same extent as a "traitor" who betrays his own government, religious group or family. Yet, both the foreign spy and the traitor undermine our trust and security. According to the King, they should be viewed the same way. For this reason, I would suggest that there is another element to "treason" that makes it particularly despicable: the fact that one hurts "his own" people. In other words, it is not just a violation of trust per se, but a violation of the trust of those to whom you would be presumed to owe a real sense of allegiance - the country that protects you, the family that raised you, etc. We expect those to whom we have shown kindness and offered support - our citizens, children, etc. - to deal considerately and honestly with us. Violating the trust of those to whom one owes a "debt" of gratitude is more reprehensible than simple dishonesty or unfaithfulness. A foreign spy owes us nothing, so we cannot characterize his abuse of our trust as ungrateful or selfish, while this is the signature feature of treason. A traitor repays the goodness we bestowed upon him by flagrantly hijacking our sense of trust and security.