Thursday, March 12, 2009

Madoff Mess

I can't imagine the horror and emotions of the thousands of people around the world who had invested their life savings with Bernie Madoff.  What investors thought was one of the elite investments in the world turned out to be a $50 billion fraud.  What should happen to Mr. Madoff?

Let me begin with a quote yesterday from Mr. Madoff.

"I am actually grateful for this opportunity to publicly comment about my crimes, for which I am deeply sorry and ashamed," he said.  "As the years went by, I realized my risk, and this day would inevitably come. I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for my crimes."

I am absolutely shocked and amazed that Mr. Madoff actually confessed his guilt before a judge.  Why am I amazed?  Because a confession is so rare these days even when a person is caught red-handed! So for that, Mr. Madoff, thank you for doing what so few choose to do these days.

What should happen to Mr. Madoff? Since Mr. Madoff is Jewish and many of those he defrauded are Jewish, let me quote the Jewish Torah . . .

Numbers 5:6-7 "Say to the Israelites: 'When a man or woman wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the LORD, that person is guilty and must confess the sin he has committed. He must make full restitution for his wrong, add one fifth to it and give it all to the persons he has wronged.

Mr. Madoff has done the first step . . . he made his confession.  The second part of the Law is the most difficult: restitution.  I don't know how a man who has defrauded $50 billion from investors worldwide can make restitution plus one fifth (that's an extra $10 billion).  This will be impossible for someone who will be spending the rest of his life in jail.
But, if Mr. Madoff is truly sorry for his crimes and if (I don't know that he does) believes in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the God of the Torah, then is it possible that this God is powerful enough to rectify Mr. Madoff's mess?  In other words, are there messes too messy for even God to clean up?

Mr. Madoff, for some eternal reason, God has allowed you and your crimes to come to the forefront of the entire world.  The world expects you to go to prison for the rest of your life; your assets to be sold; investors to receive maybe one penny of every dollar they invested.  But is it possible that if you truly humbled yourself before God and called upon His name, that God would reveal Himself in your situation by providing the means to fulfill the Law: make full restitution plus one fifth.

Now to the rest of us . . . if Mr. Madoff humbled himself before God and called upon God's name and all his investors received full restitution plus one fifth, what would we say?  We'd have to say that we've witnessed something truly miraculous.  We might even be compelled to say that we've seen God's hand at work.

So, Mr. Madoff, I urge you to toil your remaining years in this most noble pursuit to obey the Law.  The way I see it you have nothing to lose- you've already lost everything.  But, maybe, by endeavoring in this most noble quest of seeking God and seeking to obey His Law, you might provide a blessing to the world that no amount of money could ever afford . . . you might provide an opportunity for the world to witness God!

So the ball is in your court, Mr. Madoff, and it's your serve.  You can either call out to the LORD and possibly witness a miraculous act for all the world to see or you can do what the rest of the world expects from you- nothing.