Rabbi, I’m ashamed… you have lost me

February 13, 2015 by J-Wire News Service
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An exchange of letters between Sydney’s Rabbi Levi Wolf and one of his congregants.Dear Rabbi,

I am sitting here watching in shock and horror, the atrocities that many of the Rabbi’s to whom I looked up to and have done such good work, have committed. I feel stricken with a profound sense of loss. Where do we go from here? What does Judaism teach us and how do we sort this out?

Sincerely,

Distressed Congregant  

*********************************

Dear Distressed Congregant,

Rabbi Levi Wolff talks to his congregant

Rabbi Levi Wolff talks to his congregant

I feel so hurt myself to watch this tragedy unfold. I condemn, with the utmost conviction, the acts of the perpetrators and those who have protected them. I feel very much like you … but I think we need to keep what is important in mind.

Last Shabbos in Shule, I shared a thought that I think talks to the heart of our distress.

The moment of revelation at Sinai is the single most important event in the history of our people and our faith. Close to 3 million of us were present at Mt. Sinai when Hashem addressed the nation, and yet the Ten Commandments were communicated as though being addressed to one person. “Anochi Hashem Elokecha” I am the Lord your (singular) G-d. Why did G-d choose to transmit His most fundamental message in this fashion rather than clearly speaking to the entire nation? It should have said “Anochei Hashem Elodeachem” “I am the G-d of all of you;

I think one answer that is ever so poignant in our current predicament, trying to dispel frustration and confusion is the following:

In our personal journey in the service of the Al-mighty, we often rely on human mentors; on Rabbis and Rebbetzins, teachers, instructors, coaches, and gurus, who help us discover our path to Torah, something that, if done right, is healthy, and to a degree even necessary. But on occasion, our reliance can turn into quasi-dependence, something that is hardly ever productive. And sadly it can happen that if we discover flaws, shortcomings and defects in the lives and personalities of our mentors, we forget that these people too, are human – and just like us, they are on their own path of self-refinement and improvement. Given the centrality of their role in our relationship with Hashem, we then sadly feel disillusioned and can get turned off from our passion and zeal in Judaism.

The easy response is, “Hey! This is wrong; if this is what Judaism is all about, I want nothing to do with it”. But I contend that that too is wrong! It is nothing short of a scheme of our yetzer-hara, as well as the expectable result of an excess of dependence on another person.

Whilst advice from friends, sound leadership and wise mentorship is often crucial in many sectors of life, it can never become a determining factor of our commitment to any given cause, and our adherence to Judaism mustn’t hinge upon it. At some point in our journey, we ought to claim title of our individual faith, and forge an independent bond with G-d, irrespective of anyone who may have influenced us along the way.

At Mt. Sinai G-d spoke to us in singular, not plural form, because what is really important is that we develop our OWN connection with Hashem. G-d is your G-d, not your Rabbi’s G-d. Your closeness to Him must become individual and intimate.

Say hypothetically, that one day I were to discover that every rabbi who ever taught me Torah was leading a secret life contrary to the very faith he taught me, heaven forbid —will I then stop to put on Tefillin? If I found out, that the 20,000 religious Jews living in New York were all con artists (again, I am just using this as a theoretical idea to make a point), will I cease to pray and learn Torah and keep Shabbos? Of course not! I do not put on Tefillin because so many other Jews do it, though I am thrilled that many do it and hope many more will. I carry my own duty to G-d as an individual Jew.

And this notion must be internalised by every Jew. “Anochi Hashem Elokecha”—I am YOUR [individual and personal] G-d.

So I write to you and remind you that at this extremely difficult time, your faith, your Jewish identity, and your connection to G-d must remain intact and strong on its own. I am YOUR G-d… to YOU.

I hope this helps you. It’s helped me.

Regards,

Rabbi Levi Wolff  [Central Synagogue]

Comments

38 Responses to “Rabbi, I’m ashamed… you have lost me”
  1. Liat Nagar says:

    Otto, Rabbi Y. Feldman’s statement regarding the possibility of a transgressor ceasing to perpetrate a particular offence due to the fact that he hadn’t done so over a period of twenty years since the original offence, and that perpetrator being ‘treated through Rabbinical means”, implication being problem likely solved, is flabbergasting in its ignorance to the point of being delusional, and, yes, completely unacceptable.

    No. 1, it ignores the crime already committed, which means it also ignores the victim!
    No. 2, usually ‘Rabbinical means’ of dealing with the issue wouldn’t comprise specialist knowledge of psychology in the sexual abuse area, or any other area for that matter.
    No. 3, how would it be known the offender hadn’t committed further crimes in the twenty year period?

    The ‘alternative method’, as you put it, which is the Australian police and court systems, is all we have, Otto. Your deeming it ineffective, which in some areas is the case, such as the drug scenario, which should be treated as the illness it is for those addicted, and handled in the way Portugal and Switzerland handle it, reducing crime in relation to it by 50%, is well and good. Still, this is where the crime of sexual abuse of children firmly belongs, full stop. I’m sure the system could cater to visits to prison by Rabbis if they want to use Rabbinical means to assist the perpetrator as a complementary thing. It would be cheaper than air tickets to the US or Israel, too.

    You need to finally and unequivocally separate Jewish law and ‘Rabbinical means’ from the Australian judiciary system – it’s not appropriate to compare them where criminal acts are concerned.

    • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

      in the case of child sexual abuse all informed and sane Orthodox Rabbinic authorities have and will continue to indicate that the victims should go directly to the Police and perpetrators should be reported to the Police without a second thought.
      “Rabbinic means”, whatever that implies, is irrelevant in relation to such heinous crimes, no one should entertain the idea that a Rabbi will cover up their criminality.

  2. Liat Nagar says:

    Dear Otto,
    Regarding the law of the land and Jewish law, the fact to be remembered is that they are separate entities in the nation in which we live, in Israel, too. And for good reason. I am not saying that Jewish law is in contradiction to the law of the land, that is not the issue here (although I would have to examine all the laws of both to know the definitive answer to that). The issue has been the poor practice by some Rabbis, people in authority, and many in the religious community of those Jewish laws and the weak, immorality of those concerned. The issue is to right a wrong done to victims of that behaviour, as well as expose how that happened so that it can be rectified for the future. Obviously that cannot be done in-house – we’ve already seen evidence of why that is so. Hence the need for a completely independent Royal Commission, as well as appropriate use of the laws of the land if that becomes necessary. The degree of transgression of ‘our Rabbis’ has become at the very least discernible and can now if you like be examined even further. Although as far as I know, none of them are in danger of going to prison! In the case we are speaking of, and any sexual abuse of children cases, the non-Jewish method must be used to deal with the issue, with the law of land being brought into force. The Jewish method leaves itself open to the secrecy and self/institutional protection we have just seen exposed, going back years.

    Nothing in life is ‘guaranteed’ when seeking to deal with a problem, Jewish or non-Jewish in method. Offenders who are jailed can be offered rehabilitation and if they genuinely reform hopefully live differently when out in society again. Yes, many do re-offend, especially people who have been in the pattern of sexual abuse offences. What would you do with them?

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat

      I admire the clear road you have taken in scrutinising matters legal in relation to ethics, due process and, most importantly the effectiveness in the process of remedy, correction of behaviour, ultimately social responsibility.
      I will remind that one of the more serious charges against a Rabbi’s statement’s at the Commission was the unacceptable – by commentators – that if a transgressor ceases to perpetrate a certain offense over a period of twenty years altogether that perpetrator may , logically, be ridden of whatever possessed him/her to commit the act in the first place. The proposition was deemed unacceptable solely in the context of the perpetrator being “treated” through Rabbinical “means”.
      My question addresses the effectiveness of the alternative method i.e. “normal” justice, courts, jails etc. in comparison to the “Jewish proposition” as forwarded by the Rabbi, for which he was promptly considered reprehensible. While I cannot profess loss of confidence in our religion and its highest “servants” , I would venture that it is not an abandonment of Jewish faith/face for our soiritual leaders, indeed respective institutions to work together with all other legal entities on a complementary basis. Even so, considering the success ratio of behaviour correction in the horrible area of child molestation, I cannot venture any suggestion in terms of effective punitive and/or desirable correction. Anecdotally, at least to me, jails are mostly places where immoral/criminal behaviour is festering ……. rather than offering hopes for changes in attitude/criminality.

      I am still strong of the opinion that all our Rebonim had the best intentions in all they have done, otherwise why don’t people demand the sacking of the entire DPP, Dept. of Justice, jail Govs. etc. on account of the number of badly supported charges in courts and, then, even after legal due process, child molesters released from prison reoffend and that is not just in the child molestation area. Need I remind you of the tragic Martin Place recent tragedy and so many other similar cases of a justice system which failed !
      This is not at all to say that, as I said already, our spiritual, educational leaders must not refer all cases of child abuse/molestation, as well as any other crimes to the lay Australian law.

      LET’S TALK COMPARATIVE COMPETENCE !!!

      • Schneur Naji says:

        a number of Rabbis created the problems, a number responded inappropriately, both groups need to retire and let their untainted colleagues get on with reestablishing Rabbinic credibility in Australia.

  3. Liat Nagar says:

    Otto, It was your personal abuse of Ben I suggested you apologise for, not your views.
    Not sure where you get merriment and intellectual satisfaction out of the subject matter of the discussion. Also, many of your posts denote an almost apopletic state as well as anger and vituperative comments, so can’t see much merriment there. Won’t be trying it myself.

  4. Scneur Naji says:

    Otto,
    no one underestimates the wonderful work that Chabad does throughout the world, that does not mean that heads must roll from time to time.
    A few of those Rabbis need to find another job , preferably non- rabbinic

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Scneur (sic)

      ask people you trust to be reliable on matters logical if what you said makes sense at all.
      Your premise that they are the are doing a “wonderful job” does not sit at all with your conclusion that the same must be dismissed, not to mention the alternatives you consider…from wonderful to destitute just because you said so.

  5. Liat Nagar says:

    Otto, I wonder where your own appreciation of the fineness of Jewish ethics can come into it at all when I read the comments you have made on Ben. That you would say any human being is irrelevant is a complete negation of them and indication of your false sense of superiority and your personal malice. And to use Ben as a rhetorical punching bag indicates a bully. If anybody should be receiving an apology it’s Ben, from you. (Reminder here: I don’t know Ben – never met him or talked to him in my life.) How you can object so fervently to my impression of Rabbi Y Feldman being cold, arrogant and insular, I don’t know, when you’ve used such personal, abusive language yourself here. And, no, Otto, there is no reason not to compare the two – insofar as insult goes one person is as good as another.

    I am in agreement with your views, Serge Liberman. The law of the land is the law of the land and if it had been adhered to by Feldman and others quickly and efficiently, then the demise of these Rabbis and the shame their lack of action caused to Chabad, and to fellow Jews, would not have occurred. A question, are you the Dr. Serge Liberman who at one time was Editor of the literature pages of the Melbourne edition of ‘Australian Jewish News’? If so, I’m one of the writers you used as reviewer for Jewish literature. Liat Kirby was my name then – Nagar is from a second marriage, however, I’m now back to Kirby and all my writing is under name of Kirby. If you prefer not to answer that question online here, that’s fine.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      Dear Liat, let me tell you a) ben can take my comments and b) ben is getting away real cheap !!!
      Humans may not be irrelevant, depending on circumstances, but opinions uttered can be big time and , to mine, all those I disagree with are even bigger time irrelevant from where I am sitting and typing stuff merrily and with a very , very satisfied doze of confidence and respective intellectual satisfaction; you should try it !!
      Aaah, there is also a C: there is no way I would appologise for my views, particularly to ben – or anyone else for that matter – for obvious reasons, including that ben seems to be getting sustenance dialectically with opposing stands regardless if has a rational retort or not, hence the irrelevance I was talkin’ about.

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        Dear Liat
        re the second part of your comments, yes the law of the land, but you seem to dismiss the fact that Jewish law is also relevant and, most importantly that Jewish law is NOT in contradiction to the law of the land. There is no moral distinction between the two laws in regards to the matters discussed or any other matters. In both “worlds” transgressions occur and those transgressions do not define the laws.
        What we must look into is the degree of “transgression” our Rabbis are being accused of. I happen to believe that the Rabbis in question had the best intentions and even that their “method” was not inconsistent with the same good intentions.
        HERE YOU MUST address the most relevant: does the non-Jewish method guarantee the best method of dealing with the same problem !!! How many people accused and jailed for the same crimes are released only to offend again !!!

  6. Liat Nagar says:

    For me, Rabbi Levi Wolfe has distinguished between Rabbis and Judaism. I have always felt that the strength of Judaism involves one’s individual bond to G-d, no matter other influences prevailing. The use he makes of G-d’s commandment given on Sinai, ‘Anochi HaShem Elokecha’ is a fine way to reinforce an important reminder of the responsibility each person has to look to themselves as well as others for strength and moral behaviour. If each person takes moral responsibility there can be no excuses given for failures such as we have seen exposed during this Royal Commission.

    The issue Rabbi Wolfe was elaborating is possible loss of faith in Judaism through the weaknesses or mistakes of Rabbis, and it’s pertinent to our discussion. Our faith in Judaism should not rest on Rabbis, or fellow Jews in the community. They can be valuable for some support and for sharing the expression of our Judaism, as well as for providing thoughts and considerations that connect Torah in an ongoing way to our every day lives. But once the human balance shifts to neediness of others or blind faith in some as representatives of Judaism, then the wheels move elsewhere.

    When I have commented to Otto in other posts earlier that one does not have to defend the indefensible in order to protect Judaism, viz. seek to protect an institution and those who have administered it poorly instead of seeing proper assistance and justice for the abused, I have said Judaism per se is strong enough to take it, and it is. Rabbi Levi Wolfe’s remarks makes that clear. It is up to the individual, however.

  7. Eleonora Mostert says:

    It doesn’t make any difference if you are Jew, Gentile, Muslim, black, white, red or coffee coloured. God, or as some put it G_d, created us all. His word was given to His Chosen people, “People of the Book” so ALL would benefit, thus we ALL come under His Law/teaching and we All are held accountable for our actions. No matter what “Status” people have in there communities, punishment should fit the crime. The fact is everyone seems to have a bleeding heart for the perpetrators’, make excuses and forget the innocent victims, allowing the perps to run free to do it again. Covering it up only makes things worse and harms the victims more, and does more harm for Judaism, Christianity and other unspeakable religions!

  8. ben gershon says:

    unless chabbad influence is excised from the councils of the community.and encouragement to withhold any donations to any of the chabbad institutions

    it wont sell

    ben

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      ben, destructive, incapable to absorb wisdom, ridden with venom, hatred, not one ounce of neshama.
      Sincere words by Rabbis working to repair the wrongs mean nothing to you and that makes your stand irrelevant, to say the least.

      • Paul Winter says:

        Otto, you, Ben and Rabbi Wolff have missed several points.

        Ben is right to be angry; Chabad rabbis have behaved abominably. The Chabad movement has done wonderful outreach work and commendably brought back many Jews who would otherwise have been lost to the community, but they behave as though they were still living in ghettos. The closed society of the ghetto where matters were settled internally away from the eyes of the goyim and rabbis and scheine jiden ruled is gone. The Chabad and its rabbinate must join the 21st century and cease to act like a sect.

        Otto, Chabad rabbis have sinned and shown moral turpitude and your unqualified support for them, your outrage on their behalf, is illogical and, dare I say it my friend, immoral. None of us can ethically, Jewishly if you will, defend the illegal and immoral acts of anyone Jewish of non-Jewish, rabbi or congregant.

        Rabbi Wolff is wrong in failing to adequately distinguish between rabbis and judaism. Rabbis are interpreters of our holy books and our traditions, the learned people who show us the ways of our religion and its traditions. We Jews do not worship rabbis even if we respect and even revere some of them. However badly a rabbi acts – and, as we have seen, some of then do – the purity and nobleness of Judaism remains; it forms the basis of Western civilisation and it is our enduring gift to humanity.

        • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

          A recent video featuring a number of prominent Sydney Chabad Rabbis indicates they Chabad finds it abhorrent on any level to try and minimize the pain and suffering that sex abuse causes to victims. The Torah demands that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes , be flushed out, tried in the “courts of the land” and be incarcerated to the full extent of the Law.
          We live in a time where openness and transparency is demanded, as it should; all religious and civic groups without exception need to operate democratically.
          We are not living in feudal times or subject to the conditions of the Ghetto.
          Any leader either cleric or layman who cannot synchronize herself/himself with these principles needs to vacate themselves from leadership positions.
          The age of “appointments” is fast become an anachronism, every leader and committee/board needs to gain its mandate through open elections.
          May G-d in His mercy bring succor and comfort to all victims and their families.

          • Otto Waldmann says:

            Rabbi Woolstone.
            The syntax of your first phrase is all over the place.

            The notion of ghetto is completely false as Chabad “operates” in a multitude of places scattered all over our large cities and also in cities where there have never been Jewish ghettos, such as Calcutta, Montevideo or Perpignan where I found the most welcoming Chabad family, not to mention the only place in that provincial French town where I could buy matza at Pesach.

            “Democracy” in the context you use it is like a saddle on a cow.

            While all Rabbis in question have admitted that they were wrong in not referring cases of child abuse to the non-Jewish legal authorities, we must appreciate that there have been obvious references that those horrible cases have been debated within the confines of the Jewish legal entities with the result of the deliberations of a reliance on the Jewish legal concepts and practices, obviously dominated by the fear that , if such criminal acts would be revealed outside the Jewish strict confines, they would affect seriously the image of the Jew as such, thus attracting unwanted antisemitic reactions, provoking the traditional imputations of a religious entity riddled with abominable people, type of behaviour worth only disdain, hatred and why not elimination etc.

            Seeing how many JEWS have been reacting in such a hateful way, one is inclined to agree with that feeling. It was, however, counterproductive of the Rabbis in question to adopt that attitude, one which now has been addressed by the same Rabbonim and convincingly undertaken to be changed. I am not, however, at all satisfied that ONE single rabbi, Rabbi Yossi Feldmann has been singled out as an unreliable character in spite of his explicit expressions of regret, of teshuva. It is highly regretable that another Rabbi, yourself, has jumped on the bandwagon of public lynching.

            • Dr Serge Liberman says:

              Paul Winter,

              Your concluding remarks would be fully correct and acceptable if it were not compromised in action by the fact that these very rabbonim, some of whom might themselves not be so personally kosher, appropriate to themselves in full the religiously-invested authority (I would even call it power) over a Jew’s milestone events throughout his/her life, eg. getts, which renders such dominance not acceptable.

              • Paul Winter says:

                Hi Serge,

                I am in full agreement with your observation regarding the roles that (some/many) rabbis arrogate to themselves.

                I would however point to the context of my comment; it was a response the Ben’s seeming to abandon Judaism because of the actions of a rabbi. I was not ignoring that rabbi’s disingenuous and callous comments, I was simply making the point that Rabbi Wolff had not sufficiently separated the rabbinate from Judaism.

            • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

              Mr Waldmann thank you for your comments regarding my syntax.
              I was not able to follow your train of thought in the following paragraphs, possibly a lacking with my powers of comprehension.
              My comments about Chabad were prompted by the video I mentioned.
              My reflections were aimed at the structure of Chabad in many locations, many of our Rabbis have made regrettable statements.
              Contrary to your false assertion I was not targeting any individual.

              • Otto Waldmann says:

                Rabbi Woolstone, your sincerity regarding deficiencies of comprehension confirms what was inherent in my original comments, anyway.
                Further and consistent, yes you do not target “any individual”, ergo I was right again, you are targeting in an unqualified manner a whole group, once again WITHOUT any specific “charges” cum explanations. If left at that level of unspecified generalities ( a bit of of a pleonasm, why not ) it becomes synonymous with prejudice, something I was alluding to consistently as well.

                • Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone says:

                  Mr Waldmann, you assessment of my motives is completely erroneous, but can I expect.
                  I have been a Lubavitcher Chosid for nearly 40 years, the welfare of Chabad is in my DNA.
                  I speak and worry about my ” family” whom I love dearly.
                  I am not an outside community member analyzing an organization’s activities.

        • Otto Waldmann says:

          Dear Paul
          I will address your most salient points.

          – “illegal acts” – describe the “illegality” of Rabbi Yossi Feldmann’s acts and, please refer to actual laws not a spectator’s opinion.

          – “unqualified support” not all all. What I am addressing here is the unqualified vilification of a man in face of the evidence they have of Rabbi Feldmann’s statements at the Commission. If you know more about his activities in other places as distinct from other people within his immediate institutional responsibilities, be so good and bring them forward. But they ought to be the same kind of “illegal acts” which ONLY the named Rabbi is singularly responsible for, simply because he is the only one found “guilty” of facts unfolded within an institution lead by a number of people some of who, if not all, are now accusing ONLY him of all those adjectives you used.

          – just like everyone who refuses to distinguish between individuals within a group and the profile, “ideology” of the group, I can only see here a dedicated effort to vilify the same people you start by saying that they are contributing to the strengthening of our identity.
          Also, this 21st Century is not to be a time in which valid Judaic principles are supposed to be abandoned.

          • Otto Waldmann says:

            Incidentally, if anyone has committed ANYTHING illegal DPP would be taking action in a jiffy, or the affected party could commence legal action. That’s what defines “illegal”.

          • Dr Serge Liberman says:

            Ghetto or not – it can be argued both ways, for wide dissemaination between cities is not the same as suburban concentration – one halakhic principle over-riding even Jewish law is “The law of the land is the law” and far greater discredit and scandal is done to Jewish communities by the late discovery of wilful side-stepping of due procedure through assorted means than by early reportage of comitted offences to the rightful civil authorities. Sadly and deplorably, the Australian Lubavitch community bothin Sydney and Melbourne, by being a law unto itself, has shot itself publicly in the foot. Its ensuing vituperative comments against, and ostracism of, the abused and their families scarcely endears them to the community at large.
            What would Hassidim’s grand ancestror the Ba’al Shem Tov have said or, more recently, the venerated Rabbi Shneersohn had they been around to witness the scandal? Or would their bones now be turning in their graves?

            • Otto Waldmann says:

              Tell you what, Dr. Serge, if you would check the pulse of your prejudice before committing it to “paper” the damage to the Jewish image you decry would be much lower.
              Variables for personal convenience based on fallacies as per what constitutes a ghetto, not to mention the respective “mentality”, are but a laughable attempt at hoisting with impunity personal gripes, once again, at the expense of a group you obviously have as much contact with as Marilyn Monroe had with that top bloke Cliff Young, the potato farmer who walked barefoot from Melb. to Syd. I mention him because your thoughts are pretty similar to his imagine for, just like you dwell happily on very personal impressions/images of spiritual values, so do I fancy to image people and the way they venture into flights of fancy.
              If you think top bloke Cliff not quite fit (sic) for comparison, please do tell me because I have others in mind.
              On the other hand, please tell us how do you compare with Chabad in terms of what has been achieved for Judaism !!!

              • Serge Liberman says:

                Otto,

                In my own spheres of communal activity, although for the benefit of different Jews, I have achieved more than you can begin to know.

                The remainder of your response is nisht ahin und nisht aher. It’s so all over the place that it eludes the most basic comprehension.

                • Serge Liberman says:

                  Oh, and Otto,

                  In keeping with your suppositions, even if they are grasped at random and without clear thought from the air, it is tue that I have had no contact with Marlyn Monroe, except for a comedy in which she performed, nor would I recognise Cliff Young if I fell over him on one of his running circuits.

                  BUT I HAVE HAD contact with Habad Jews, even attended a succession of shiurim, had them come to my door after which, on my inviting them in, engaged in most interesting and lengthy exchanges, responded to their request to lay tephillin – in Melbourne, Tel Aviv and, most recently, in Paris – while, over many decades I have kept returning to books on my very ample shelves to hasidism from its beginnings to the present – with the Lubavicher Rebbe’s writings amongst them. So, how you can draw such absurd untutored surmises as you appear to draw from the ether or from your own free-roaming fantasies confounds all my sought-for sustainable explanations.

                  Please don’t deduce wildly from what is not clearly before you. If you must reply to what is written, make sure that it is directed precisely at the material before you – e.g. in my penultimate post, the very real halakhic dictate that “The law of the land is the law”, a command which has kept being circumvented to their dishonour by the very people – the rabbonim who, legally, politically, and even through conscience – should have been observed that dictate.

                  Anyway, genug shoyn.

                  Don’t keep alluding to things about me and others what you do not begin to know or read carefully in our mailings. More than they discredit their targets, they discredit their haywire abusive author.

                  • Otto Waldmann says:

                    Very interesting Serge the manner in which you ornate with irrelevant frills your open disdain for the essence of Chabad.
                    I will pick you on the significance of “Dina’ de-malkita dina” and advise you that your assessment of its relevance is a very common and totally mistaken interpretation and that seems to be precisely the source of your awareness of it, common and mistaken.
                    Throwing unrelated, totally imaginary, therefore false qualifications such as “dina etc. ” being a “command” which would be “circumvented”, escalating the incongruity to ethical levels of “dishonour” of Rebbonim, traversing once again into the farcical perception of “illegalities” , all these denote a dangereous superficiality hinging on feeble and irrelevant, however medium rare rich, lexical reliance. In other words, you make up stuff simply because you reckon that confidence of the ease with which you feel that you can pick up arguments in circumstantial tumbles of serious philosophical and historic fields is good enough to shine on a regular blog.
                    Unlike you, I worked hard as a historian and proud student of perhaps the greatest Jewish Australian sociologist, Sol Encel, to sharpen my wits at the behest of reliable sources and only put pen on paper when I know what the hell I’m talkin’ about.
                    So, ” dina de ‘ malkita dina” has never been conceived and never functioned as a “command” of any sorts from one authority – non Jewish – unto the Jewish communities when mutually agreed upon. Here circumventing the term with some smart and convenient interpretation won’t do. You simply have proven that you have no idea why and how the principle was adopted.
                    Briefly , it was a PRIVILEGE afforded to Jewish communities whereby they were ALLOWED to run their own “in house” judicial system in parallel with the non Jewish ones and with such allowances whereby Jewish “courts” and there were not just one but TWO Jewish courts functioning within the same communities, religious and lay, were allowed to run based on strict principles according to Torah, had their own jails and even had in their books the death penalty. Non Jewish courts WERE NOT to interfere with their Jewish counterparts. So, the legality or otherwise of the Jewish courts is not debated or debatable. “Dishonourable circumvention” is what you made up to fit the current debate, once gain due to lack of knowledge of historic AND chalachic facts. It is true that certain indictments or finds were transfered to non Jewish judiciaries, but that does not impinge on the relative autonomy of the Judaic laws being instituted within the communities. Such courts existed from the 16th century fro Holland, Germany, Moravia, Hungary and quite prevalent in Lithuania and later the entire Pale.
                    Traversing now to the current issue, right here Rabbi Yossi Feldmann can be found within the proper chalachic principles of relying in good faith (!!!)on his interpretation of the juxtaposition of the reciprocal legal allowances and/or mutual undertakings of the legal systems thereof. Thus, his “transgressions” are of the good faith and that is precisely why and how he DID persuade his fellow Rebbonim in congress on the issues we are discussing, that the principles he espoused DO HAVE a basis in chalacha. Your surmasing, however, DOES not and deep down inside you know it ( and if not, start doubting yourself as of now ) , while all those details of caressing books and of intimacy between you and the Rebbe are cute little sipurim which I am sure make you very popular well outside MY circle.

                    • Otto Waldmann says:

                      Correction.
                      I said “command” in place of your choice “dictate” which is even worse…that’s how mistaken you are, Serge and thanks for allowing Chabadniks in your place of abode. No doubt , top bloke ….

            • Scneur Naji says:

              The Rebbe would be extremely irate at the utterance of a number of Rabbis, some have resigned others need to be removed, including Feldman senior and Telsner.

          • Paul Winter says:

            Otto, you ought not punch hot computer keys until you yourself have cooled down.

            If you had read what I wrote before you responded to what you wanted to believe I said, you would have noted that my descriptors of “illegal” and “immoral” referred not to and act by Rabbi Feldman, but rather to his disowning and distancing himself from such acts. Sexual abuse – especially of vulnerable minors – is illegal and immoral, end of story! It is unconscionable that a rabbi should try to worm his way around that. Rabbi Feldman’s resignation destroys your argument.

            Your logorrhoeaic defence of Rabbi Feldman testifies to your unconditional support. The rabbi might be a saint and he might be a sage. But his confession and his demeanour at the commission indicates that he is neither. He needs to reflect, reorient his thinking and priorities and through good acts and sensitive words try to help the victims of abuse and in doing so, help himself.

            Sorry, Otto, your accusation of blind stereotyping is baseless. It is, if anything, evidence of the closed ghetto mentality against which I inveighed. I do not believe that all Chabadniks are bad because one of them is, but neither does the goodness of Chabad – even if somewhat insular and anachronistic – make all Chabadniks good.

            • Otto Waldmann says:

              Sorry Paul, my good and real friend, but length of statement has nothing to do with it’s quality, it’s content and you know that unless you mathematicians have found a way to measure “quality” on whatever nominal scale of measurement. Same applies exactly to the “quality” of Jewishness in Chabad and, last, the quality of my own appreciation of Jewish values. Anyways I am satisfied that I am nudging you closer to mine opinion of the otherwise previous “worthless Chabad” you ventured.

              • Paul Winter says:

                Otto, if you can at any part of the exchanges locate anything that states of implies that I called Chabad “worthless”, I will walk into Lakemba mosque and lay tefillin.

                • Otto Waldmann says:

                  Paul, in that particular case the inverted comas were not a quote but a deduction of mine and you must agree that your opinion of Chabad is very close to what I put within those signs, discretely as you feelings may be expressed.
                  Just to clarify the other associated claim that Chabad would promote a “ghetto mentality”, from my own experience and the stated “mission” of Chabad, they are reaching out rather than being “insular”.

    • Samuel Terry says:

      Reading all the following comments, I am wondering if any of you folk really answer Ben’s remarks…

      • Otto Waldmann says:

        ben’s been told a few times while I have been struggling to keep the answers printable, but he seems half illiterate, he can only write ( just) but cannot read. Essentially, ben is incredibly irrelevant and I, for one, only use him as a rhetorical punch bag; need to keep meself in shape.

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