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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Here's the Problem: We Aren't Stupid

There is a post up on BeyondBT by a Rabbi who recounts his remarks at a forum on the question: "What happens when there is a scandal by a rabbinical figure in our community? How should we react?. . . "

The response was one I'm sure that most of us in the frum community have heard over and over and over again:
1. Don't Believe It: "Just because we see something written in the newspapers or over the internet, doesn’t mean I have to believe it is true! Just the opposite! We should always look at the individual as innocent until proven guilty, right?"
2. Dan L'Chaf Zechut: "There is a mitzvah to judge someone favorably even if the circumstances may appear to be incredibly incriminating."
3. Humans Make Mistakes: "We have to remember that even Rabbis are human and can make mistakes. It is very important that we judge the action and not the person. As we know, we cannot judge someone unless we have been in their exact situation."
4. Don't confuse Jews with Judaism: "If some of our own leaders are caught doing something against the law, what does it say about the community? Nothing!" and "Just because one can walk the walk and talk and the talk in frumkeit, doesn’t mean that the person is necessarily frum. It just means that they know the lingo. We have to be careful not to mix-up Jews and Judaism. "

The Rabbi then precedes to make a reference the not too far distant Spinka Case (here and here) and the Legal Symposium that followed (here and here):
"Unfortunately, the Orthodox world has not been exempt from scandals and recently there was a great rabbi who came out and spoke at length at the great tragedy that occurred with his institution. He never said it was an oversight or tried to brush it under the carpet but admitted that it was a imistake and warned people that they themselves shouldn’t make the same one!
This was true gadlus! This great sage admitted to the masses that there was a mistake made and a price to pay."


As I wrote on BeyondBT (slightly edited), here is the problem with this response in a nutshell:

we, the Orthodox public, aren’t stupid. Many of us are professionals who work day in and day out with issues of compliance. Some of us know what types of hard evidence it takes to even bring a case to trial, much more so to secure a conviction.

We know the difference between a “mistake” and a CRIME, especially organized crime which takes tremendous EFFORT and DELIBERATION to perpetrate (the case you refer to wasn’t simply a matter of forgetting to dot i’s and cross t’s, it was a fascinating case of affinity fraud/affinity crimes, worthy of a case study in Continuing Education courses).

Furthermore, when these cases continue to come to light over and over again it most certainly does say something about the community! Sadly, there are some people among us who have simply lost their moral compass, probably in part because “whitewashing” acts is all too reflexive a reaction.

The first rule of public speaking is "know your audience." I don’t know the audience that was addressed. Perhaps the answers were satisfactory for them. But, this answer which we have all heard repeatedly is hardly satisfactory. I think we are far better off saying that something is amiss in frumkeit today and that it is time to place issues of yashrut right up there with issues of kashrut.

Another rule of speaking: "sometimes less is more." In response to another case that hit the newspaper and TV headlines, the Rabbi of the community I lived in at the time said: "Despicable." Despicable works for me and I imagine it would work a lot better for the audience asking such questions.

87 comments:

frumskeptic said...

Unfortunately quite a number of the frum people ARE pretty stupid. They do believe this... just read some posts in the YWN coffee room...
Or read the letters to the editor in the Yated.

Ok... maybe not stupid, but super naive?

frumskeptic said...

by "do" believe this, I mean they are like the Rabbi and all that Dan L'Chaf Zechus stuff is what they preach, and the turn away from anything that may have them believe otherwise

tesyaa said...

With regard to the 4 principles the original poster brought:

1. Don't Believe It

2. Dan L'Chaf Zechut

3. Humans Make Mistakes

4. Don't confuse Jews with Judaism


How many people who are quick to excuse an Orthodox rabbi using these principles, are also careful to apply the same principles when judging a non-Jew or a non-religious Jew, as the case may be?

Halachically, I think that dan lekaf zchus and "don't believe it" are only required to be applied when the subject is an observant Jew. So it's very easy for a halachic observant Jew to be cavalier in judging and dismissing a person who is not observant.

I find this bothersome, but I am not surprised when frum Jews act very differently towards people who are not frum Jews, secure in the knowledge that they are acting within halacha.

Avi said...

It disgusts me that this is something that needs to be discussed/prepared for in the first place.

Miami Al said...

There are roughly 12 Catholics for every Jew in America. There are roughly 10 Jews for every "Orthodox" Jew, and if we talk about actually observant Jews in a Jewish community (Frum), you probably are at 15:1.

So there are 120-180 Catholics for every Frum Yid in America.

Over 52 years, 4% of priests had sexual abuse allegations, 4392 priests involving 10,667 people.

Given that there are 150 Catholics for every Frum Yid, 10,667 Catholics that were involved (as victims) corresponds to 71 Frum Yidden.

Over a 52 year period, were more than 71 Frum Yidden victims of Rabbinic impropriety, or less?

We have a SERIOUS problem.

Regarding priests, 4392 priests is the equivalent of 30 Orthodox Rabbis. Over 52 years, have more, or less, than 30 Orthodox Rabbis been involved in major improprieties?

We have a MAJOR MAJOR MAJOR problem.

Pay no attention to the man with the beard said...

"True gadlus" is not when one admits publicly to being a crook (woops, I mean to to 'making a mistake'). It is not being a crook to begin with.

The stories of the above-and-beyong behavior of our real leaders are well known (ripping up unpostmarked stamps so as not to be tempting to anyone else to re-use; paying tax on gifts that would fly under the radar; telling students that getting jobs that pay them under the table so they can stay in Kollel is unacceptable, etc etc). The problem is that some think that every guy with a beard is a 'leader', and then get all updet when the so-called leader is arrested for some crime.

Simple question - how did Rav Moshe or Rav Yaakov or Rabbi Pam become leaders? First and foremost through studying Torah. How did the "rebbe" in your story become a leader? By having his father die.

And as far as the latest Rabbi going to jail, he became a leader by opening a for profit girls school and growing a beard.

Northward said...

At least some people seem to be fed up watching their Judaism ruined by organized crime...

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

Thanks for your comments.

I never claimed that people are stupid that we should whitewash open violations of the law. The questioned was addressed as a panel discussion in front of mostly secular Jews learning about Judaism.

Although you don’t like the points of dan l’chaf zechus or that humans make mistakes, I never said if people do things that they are convicted of that we should say it is ok. The point was if I hear about a scandal, what should my reaction be.

Do I have an obligation to believe everything I hear? I wouldn’t think so. Should I guard myself against such a person…etc if I hear certain things. Yes but I am still not allowed to believe it 100% unless it is proven. That is what comes out over and over again from The Chofetz Chayim in Shemiras Ha’Lashon.

I wholeheartedly agree that if the particular scandal is proven true, yes it is disgusting! The question is when it first comes out, do I have a mitzvah to trash the person without knowing all the facts or not.

Chaim Coffman

Orthonomics said...

Rabbi Coffman,
Thanks for writing.
Unfortunately, the example you brought not only does not support your answers, it completely undermined your point.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

That is exactly the point, and I am sorry that what I said was taken out of context.

I would like you to show me some sources where I have an obligation to believe something I hear.

The Chofetz Chaim in his laws on lashon hara show nothing to back up your point of view. Not only that, when I do believe things that are not substantiated I have transgressed a number of lo ta'aseh's!

Chaim Coffman

conservative scifi said...

Rabbi,

With all due respect, I think you are failing to appreciate the nature of the American legal system vis a vis Lashon Hara.

Any discussion of an arrested Rav is probably going to be lashon hara, since after the arrest he is no longer a danger and most people have no good reason to share the information (and my understanding is that sharing even truthful, but negative, information can be lashon hara when there is no greater purpose).

However, whether you choose to "judge favorably" or not, being arrested means the person is guilty almost all of the time. Are there corrupt cops, sure, but the vast majority are honest.

Finally, I take orthonomics true point to be that the arrested or convicted Rav always claims "mistake", not deliberate action, and that claim is false. The Rav knowingly entered into behavior that was criminal, which not only ensnares them in sin, but desecrates the name of God.

Dave said...

Al,

Additionally, although there are far more Reform Jews than Orthodox Jews in America, I don't recall anything to rival Spinke, or Deal, or Balkany from the Reform Rabbinate.

Interesting, no?

Anonymous said...

"We should always look at the individual as innocent until proven guilty, right?"

The presumption of innocence is often confused with how we as individuals should look at the accused, when it is actually a rule of evidence in court. All the presumption of innocence means is that the defendant doesn't have to prove anything, the prosecution (the state) has to prove its case, then the defendant has the chance to rebut the plaintiff's evidence. But to go around saying "we should" judge someone innocent until proven guilty is totally a misreading of the presumption of innocence rule. The rule has nothing to do with "us" and what "we should" do or not do. It applies to the courtroom, not to the personal judgment of individuals.

Noodle said...

Dave: I think you and Miami AL are making a math mistake. There may be more Reform jews or Catholics than Orthos, but we have more "rabbis". If Madoff would have worn a yarmulke or had a beard the papers would be calling him Rabbi Madoff. Owning a gilrs school does not make you a Rabbi. In fact, in my opinion, neither does get smicha. (I can say this because I have it, and unlike my professional designation it requires no continuing ed, nor does it have any other 'requirements' beyond that of any other orthodox jew. When people refer to me as "Rabbi" - usually a fundraiser trying to butter me up - I tell them that I didn't renew and it expired. But I do know that if I am ever arrested CHV the papers would call me Rabbi.)

Orthonomics said...

Rabbi Coffman,

I'm not sure I can really have a discussion on your points and the example that you brought to *support* your point because our understanding of the substantiation and "mistake" are light years apart.

Just a note: my first formal introduction to crime in the Orthodox community didn't come through newspaper articles or radio stops. It came in an introductory accounting and auditing class when the professor presented some history on changes in audit conduct and standards. My next discovery

Dave said...

Noodle:

That would make sense if it were Yaakov Ben Ploni, Sales Manager (who happened to have semicha) who was embezzling funds.

But in all the cases I mentioned, the criminals were Rabbis, acting in leading roles in Jewish religious organizations, who were committing crimes.

Or is the Spinke Rebbe not a Rabbi? And are you seriously arguing that Milton Balkany did not only depend upon but use his semicha as a cornerstone of his career (both legitimate and criminal)? Or that Eliahu Ben Chaim never headed Congregation Ohel Yaacob?

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

I am not interested what goes in the court, the prosecution and all that, that has nothing to do with what I said. Not only that, the point of what I said is when you hear about the scandal how should we react.

Take a look at Rabbenu Yonah, Shaarei Teshuvah siman רט"ו who holds that even if the evidence appears overwhelming that the person is guilty, it still a safek in your eyes unless it has been proven.

Once it is proven, then there is nothing to talk about. There are many seifim in the Chofetz Chayim on hilchos lashon hara that bear this out that many people will transgress.

I have known personally about a number of scandals among non-frum people who went to jail, not one had any remorse whatsover.

Whether what the Spinka Rebbe did was too little too late, at least he admitted he did something wrong.

Chaim Coffman

Dave said...

The Spinke Mosdos is funded with fraud and crime, and you think that it might be possible that admitting fault after you were caught might be considered "too little"?

Anonymous said...

The chofets chaim was written over 100 years ago. It has now to be rewritten. None of his conclusions really apply today. He wasnt talking about monetary matters, but about avieros where the gemoro says even if you see him do it he has definitely done tshuva. Yes rabbis are human they do aveiros but also do tshuva. In monetary matters they certainly do aveiros but they never do teshuva. Just saying 'mistake' isnt tshuva. One has to give double the stolen money back and so far no one ever offers it. Why dont you realise that really truthfully they dont consider this to be an aveiro. And if they would not have been caught (which is what they really consider to be the aveiro) they would still carry on. They may not consider withholding tax stealing or any other heter they can come up with but 'muttar' it stays. In such a case the chofets chaim would agree that you can accuse him of it. Again what a person considers muttar is not loshon hora to say he does it. This whole chofets chaim lark is over the top. He never meant it at all for such people or such cases. He would tear up a postage stamp so the story goes, would this rebbe do that. Maybe if you were watching. Its about time to realise that one shouldnt keep quoting seforim and use common sense instead. If you do this i am sure you would improve your kiruv work. If anything its a chillul hashem to quote seforim (wrongly like you do) which gives the impression that they had no idea of real life.

Anonymous said...

On all the blogs, of all the comments, Anon 6:17 is the best yet.

Miami Al said...

Rabbi Chaim Coffman,

What might have to rethink the conclusion if the process is such that you can never deal with fraud...

Until proven it is Lashon Hara to discuss.
After proven, it is Lashon Hara to discuss.

Therefore, you can never discuss it. Therefore, the victims can not prepare or protect themselves from it.

Sorry, Halacha is NOT a suicide pact. The problem is not with the Halachic system, but those that stretch it into a protection racket for criminals to make certain that there are always victims in the Frum world ready to exploit.

Dave said...

Al,

And while it's going on, you cannot involve the authorities who could prove it, because that would make you a moser.

rosie said...

This time I have to say that I agree with Al. We must stop crime. Read this week's Hamodia Magazine article about the children who have grown up with out a father because he has been in jail for 10 years and has another 17 years to go. The article starts with the disclaimer that people don't always calculate the consequences of their actions and therefore we should always give to pideon shuvuim. I could understand giving where a person was arrested by mistake and is totally innocent and therefore we need to know the details of the case. If he was guilty, he is still entitled to a fair trial but that is where it gets sticky. What is fair and is a frum Jew going to get a fair trial? If he frum cheated Jews, a bais din could deal with it and he could avoid jail but if he cheated non-Jews, he is at the mercy of the secular courts.
We need to get the word out loud and clear to follow the law, even if it means that the yeshiva closes or we have to reduce our lifestyle.
It was understandable that Jews in oppressive governments did black market business to stay alive but those days are over and we have to teach that to an insular society that still thinks that we are living in those days. Maybe that mentality is what must be explained to those who seek frumkeit. Maybe we should also be warning them that when they come into the frum community, beware of those who try to teach them to live beyond their means as a way to demonstrate their bitochon.

Chavi Beck said...

"Maybe we should also be warning them that when they come into the frum community, beware of those who try to teach them to live beyond their means as a way to demonstrate their bitochon."

Excellent suggestion, Rosie. Perhaps such a discussion would be appropriate for standard frum schools' chinuch curricula.

Incredible blog, SL. I'm a long time lurker, first time commening.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

I didn't know that the Chofetz Chayim and Rabbenu Yonah's Shaarei Teshuvah were irrelevant today when most of the Yeshiva world as we know it learn their sefarim.

I would like to hear one gadol who holds such a thing

Chaim Coffman

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

And in Beis Din, there isn't fraud? Who says don't deal with it and not have the perpetrators dealt with?

Think a beis din would survive with that attitude? They have to get to the truth and hear the arguments of what is being said.

Obviously there will be lashon hara, but you have to do derisha and hakira and one side will say the other is lying, it is beis din's job to decide.

Halacha isn't suicide, it is what we base our lives on. Most people are not sitting in a situation as being on a beis din to decide things, they are too busy convicting.

What I do see, which people fail to be missing is that halacha guides speech as well and is clearly laid out by the Chofetz Chayim.

The bottom line is either we hold by halacha or not and giving it lip service in the name condemnation is just a cop out

Chaim Coffman

rosie said...

To Rabbi Coffman,
Rabbi, in all due respect, why is it that we are more warned about the possible loshon hara ramifications than we are warned by rabbonim about the dangers that are produced by crime? Of course we must extend the benefit of the doubt to everyone in every circumstance while at the same time protecting ourselves, but why are so few rabbonim with the possible exception of Rabbi Stephen Weil of the OU speaking out against financial fraud? I agree that news reports are often biased and have numerous inaccuracies and can only be believed to the extent that we know that the person in not in a good matzav, but why are rabbonim silent about dishonesty? Is it less of an aveira than believing the loshon hara in a news report? Can a person listen to possible loshon hara in order to protect himself? Shouldn't the frum public learn what dangers lurk?

rosie said...

I do understand the concept of avoiding passing judgment on others because when our 120 years are up, the way that we judge others is the way that we will be judged. I also know that news won't sell unless it is sensationalized.
Be that as it may, every frum Jew should read this week's Hamodia article that I mentioned above. Those children, whose father is alive and who loves them, but cannot be with them whether in sickness or at a time of simcha, are constantly heartbroken. I am sure that they would have gladly forfeited whatever luxuries were provided by their father's fraud, in order to have him home with them. It is a heartbreaking and unforgettable story and anyone who could buy or borrow this week's Hamodia magazine should make the effort. Read it and understand what the ramifications are.

Anonymous said...

Of course these seforim are revelant. The torah doesnt change. The problem is that today rabbis have 'adapted' these seforim for their own ends. Like I wrote which you did not reply to. An example, if someone thinks its muttar to steal from the government is it loshon hora to say so. I will repeat that unless one does tshuva and that means paying back or being sold as a slave there is no loshon hora involved.
The chofets chaim did not expect that rabbis today would use his sefer to cover up their misdeeds. That is why it has to be rewritten for our generation. I might add the mabul which was the worst catastrophe ever came because of stealing. And the gemoro says they found a heter less than a pruto. So it was done using a heter and still the mabul came. Would it be loshon hora to say someone stole less than a pruta.

RAM said...

It's frightening when the Jewish public can't be told which people and institutions to stay away from for their own spiritual and financial good. There are all kinds of "frum" ways to learn about a questionable hechsher, but very, very few "frum" ways to learn about this questionable moral and financial behavior---if all discussion of it is said to be prohibited. We need fearless rabbinical leaders to sort this out and root it out.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

You are the only person I have ever heard of except for maybe some Reform or Conservative people calling for a reinterpretation or "adaptation" of such sefarim.

If someone thinks it is mutar to steal from the government, whether we say dina d'malchusah dina and expresses that in public, the person is not speaking lashon hara he is just stupid.

Who is using the Chofetz Chayim to cover misdeeds, may I ask?

I think it is pretty clear when you are allowed and not allowed to say such things. If everything would be asur to say then we wouldn't get very far, would we?

That wasn't the point of his sefer, not being able to say anything but what is permissible to say and how to say it, big difference.

As for the mabul, it wasn't a heter, a technicality that you can't prosecute on, big difference!

If you KNEW for sure the guy is a thief you are allowed to guard people against him.

If you know someone is a mazik, we can't turn him over to the police?Or better yet, if a woman is drowning and she is naked, pritzus, can't save her, that comes under this heter also?

Loshon Hara has guidelines; the Chofetz Chayim knew who he was writing for. We don't need any revisionists who think they know better than the gedolim.

Chaim Coffman

Anonymous said...

With all due respect you have not understood my post although I thank you for replying.
I said the rabbonim today are adapting the chofets chaim not that I say they should adapt or reinterpret it.
I wrote it should be rewritten.
I did not discuss my opinion of the person saying it, what to call him. I asked can one say that this person steals from the government would that be considered loshon hora seeing he holds its muttar.
Considering you have utterly misunderstood my post is it not conceivable that you and others can also misunderstand a chofets chaim.
That is why I say it should be rewritten in a language that can be understood today.
The mabul you are right was not a heter, but i wanted to prove to you that stealing yes from goyim even if you dont give back, with a heter not to, brings about the mabul. What heter have these rabbonim and there are many, not to give back. They have buildings worth millions they could easily return their stolen gains and dont have a heter not to. I appreciate that you dont have to answer for them but why do you call them now tsadikim. Just because they said sorry. Do you realise that people I know are now sitting in prison for misdeeds of rebbes. If they would pay back they would get lesser sentences. But no, they seem to think that it is part of chassidus to jump in the fire for the rebbe.

Anonymous said...

"If someone thinks it is mutar to steal from the government, whether we say dina d'malchusah dina and expresses that in public, the person is not speaking lashon hara he is just stupid"
I agree. What you are saying is all rebbes were stupid before they were caught. But I cant see them agreeing with you, they would be saying they were stupid for being caught.

Anonymous said...

I must add you write the yeshiva world learn their seforim.
Yes they learn chofets chaim but non keep it.
I am referring to a boy who goes out with a girl and for some reason does not want her. He afterwards goes round to all the other bochurim and tells them. This happens with girls as well.
I cannot think of a worse loshon hora. Even if he doesnt give a reason, this girl/boy has now been 'cheapened' in the eyes of others who will think, then he/she is not good for me either.
Its no use just learning chofets chaim it has to be kept as well.

Orthonomics said...

rosie-please get me the identifying info for the Hamodia insert. I must take a look at this. For years already I've been screaming that these schemes have real victims (namely the wife and children) and that one should never, ever sign a 1040 that they don't understand. And that includes signing something your accountant hands you.

rosie said...

The magazine is:
Hamodia Magazine
vol.XIII Issue 635
17 Kislev 5771
November 24, 2010
Parashas Vayeishev

Name of article: "A father's sentence, a family's pain" page 50

Charlie Hall said...

"I don't recall anything to rival Spinke, or Deal, or Balkany from the Reform Rabbinate"

Reform rabbis can be counted on to keep at least the basics of seder Nezikin. Why can't Orthodox rabbis?

"most of the Yeshiva world as we know it learn their sefarim"

It appears that that learning was at the expense of Chosen Mishpat.

"It's frightening when the Jewish public can't be told which people and institutions to stay away from for their own spiritual and financial good."

We speak lashan hara regarding kashrut all the time. Without a word of protest from any prominent rabbi.

We would never tolerate a yeshiva that served lobster in its cafeteria. But we tolerate yeshivot that don't pay their employees on time -- an explicit torah violation. How is such a school Orthodox?

Anonymous said...

I used the word rewritten. You understood that to mean reinterpret and therefore accused me of going against the chofets chaim.
In my eyes this is a perfect example of loshon hora.

YoelB said...

Speaking of the Chofetz Chaim, will the individuals who got their 90% kickbacks and fraudulent writeoffs for donating to Spinka mosdot be machmir about lashon hara? You think their families and friends won't hear things like "even big rabbis are crooks, just in it for the money?" Those stories won't go on for generations?

Rabbi Coffman, I keep coming back to I’d like to tell you that we’ve learned it’s possible to lead Torah and chessed organizations in accordance with the law because it still seems to me that you're not taking it seriously.

Here's why. Unpacking it and rephrasing it more fully and bluntly: "until I was arrested, charged, and pled guilty, I, and everyone I knew of involved with Torah and chessed organizations was breaking the law." (Bad enough a child should say "but everybody did it." A sixty year old rebbe? Feh.)

Up until now, I know that if I read about someone saying "everyone involved with Torah and chessed organizations is a criminal" I would have thought he was an anti-Semite. Wouldn't you?

Yes, no question, much better he attempts to mitigate the harm he has done, but there is no good way to spin this. If an Orthodox rabbi, let alone a respected rebbe, can in effect say: "For decades, for my whole life in chinuch and chessed, everyone I knew who was involved with Torah and chessed organizations was a criminal" and have that be considered praiseworthy, the rot is deep and widespread.

Chas v'shalom it should be true. Worse, given who he was and his long-standing involvement in chinuch and chessed, who can help but wonder if chas v'shalom maybe it is true?

Worse yet, if it's not true, didn't he (at least implicitly) publicly defame any honest individuals he may have come across in chinuch and chessed, besmirching them in a speech that R"L passed for teshuvah in an assembly of Orthodox leaders?

So. One way, the whole world of chinuch and chessed has been criminal since forever. The other way he's motzi shem ra. I still don't see the gadlus.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

So now we see that all the mosdos are on the take, no one does anything truthfully anymore so basically we just give lip service to Judaism and all its principles?

I am still an idealist at heart and would like to believe there are still some honest people out there and growing spiritually day by day.

When I was in the states, I saw my own share of things in the frum community that made me want to puke. In many cases there was no one to talk too or people just shrugged and said, "Well, what can we do about it?"

Again, being a frum Yid doesn't mean you will be moral. You have a better chance than a secular person I would think but at the same time, no guarantee. That would depend on how of the Torah one puts into their life and really live by it.

People can abuse the Torah and use if for their own purposes. If people, rabbanim included hide behind hilchos lashon hara then that is a terrible thing.

The Chofetz Chayim's sefer stands upright today, and I would suggest if people can't learn it on their own, they should find someone who can teach it to them.

You can't bring people to drink, if they learn the sefarim and they don't keep what they have to then there is a serious problem.

Just because people don't live up to the standard that they should means we should rewrite the sefer.

The problem is not with the sefer, not with the translations or understandings, the problem is what we as individuals do with the information and integrate into our lives.

The Jewish people have a long way to go. The only solution I see is to steep yourself in Torah and keep a strong kesher with a rav.

Da'as Torah goes a long way and I wouldn't be where I am today if not for the great rabbanim I learned under.

Chaim Coffman

Dave said...

You are avoiding a key question.

Why is it that we aren't seeing this problem in the Reform Rabbinate?

After all, if Orthodoxy made one more moral, we would presumably see a lower incidence amongst the Orthodox.

But we don't, at least not in the Rabbinate.

What does that say?

Anonymous said...

I am sorry I cant agree with you.
The mishne berura is now being rewritten by oz vehodor.
The talmud is being rewritten by artscroll, steinsalz and mesifta. Including rashi and tosfos.
The pri megodim is being rewritten on orach chaim by D Rubinfeld and on yore deiah by others.

Many more seforim need to be rewritten since our generation seem to understand things differently to how they were meant to be understood. And one of the best examples is the chofets chaim.

The background to his sefer is that similar to Frankfurt where there was the Kahn and Kulp feud with no one even knowing how it started, this was commonplace in Radin and most places. It started as a small stream and ended as a raging river all because of some trivial loshon hora. He tried to stem the flow with his sefer.
This has absolutely nothing to do with what today is classified as loshon hora which harms no one and everyone anyway knows all about it.
Once it is in the public domain it isnt loshon hora anymore.

Anonymous said...

I must add the mosdos seem to have the same mindset as you.
Like you in kiruv, you are prepared to tell them anything however untrue or should I say not the acceptable truth, just to convert them.
They also believe that anything for their chassidus or what they call Torah goes even stealing.

rosie said...

Dave, the question has been answered by those who have analyzed what is occurring in the frum world. As yidden began to solidify in America into "movements" Orthodoxy took shape to emphasize certain key mitzvahs such as Shabbos, Mikveh, Kashrus, and Torah Study. Other groups focused on humanism, egalitarianism, and Judaism as a cultural experience. At the same time, many Jews had immigrated from countries where one had to fraud the government in order to live and non-Jews were usually considered the enemy and therefore it was a mitzvah to outsmart them.
The areas of emphasis, plus the past experiences is hostile countries, plus insularity, led to civil laws becoming relatively unimportant to many.

Dave said...

Rosie,

So, when it comes to picking and choosing what commandments to follow, your argument is that Reform are fine with treif, mechalel shabbos, and intermarriage, but shtark when it comes to issues of probity, and the Orthodox chose to be shtark for Kashrus and Shabbos, but are fine with fraud and theft?

Fortunately for the Orthodox Rabbis in question, if they are right, the first question at the final Din is "Nu? No pork or shiksas?"

Wait.

Miami Al said...

Rabbi,

"The problem is not with the sefer, not with the translations or understandings, the problem is what we as individuals do with the information and integrate into our lives."

Nope. The purpose of the Sefer -- as a current book, not a museum piece -- is either to impart knowledge to the reader or to serve as a work of literature. Since it is being used as the former -- by every Yeshiva according to you -- and the knowledge is not being imparted, the problem is with the sefer.

This "we're not good enough to understand our books/tools/schools" argument is total crap. If the school isn't imparting the knowledge in the students, that IS in fact that fault of the school. If the school can't impart knowledge because of some deficiency in the students, than the school is a failure and you should shut it down, and hope the next school does better.

If the Sefer is NOT teaching students how to be moral people, it is NOT serving its purpose. Either find a new way to impart that knowledge in students, or retire the Sefer as an educational instrument and find one that works.

Further, "The Jewish people have a long way to go. The only solution I see is to steep yourself in Torah and keep a strong kesher with a rav."

Again, this isn't meeting the facts as we are seeing it. We see rampant crime amongst the Orthodox Rabbinate. In the non-Orthodox streams of Judaism, crime is EXTREMELY rare (not non-existant, but relatively rare), in the Orthodox streams, it's more common. Amongst the Orthodox Rabbinate, the most "steeped in Torah," according to the "apology" in this case, apparently, everyone is a criminal.

So given the facts: the most "steeped in Torah" as we understand the terms are heavily criminal, and the most ignorant of Jewish law amongst the Jews (unaffiliated and Reform Jews) we see very little crime, then how can you conclude that being "steeped in Torah" makes one more moral?

This leads to one of two conclusions:
1. Extensive Torah Knowledge makes one a criminal, heaven forbid
2. Our methodology of imparting Torah is doing such a poor job that it is being imparted in a corrupt manner that it makes one less moral.

Or can you propose a third scenario?

If the answer is one, then the anti-semites are/were right. If the answer is two, we need to fix our methodology of imparting Torah knowledge.

rosie said...

Dave, let's put it this way. Most of us would not steal from someone that we felt connected to and Orthodox Jews do not feel connected to the outside world while Reformed Jews do.

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

I don't steal because it's wrong... Hashem told us that, so it's not just a secular world view.

I don't eat shellfish because Hashem told us not to, despite the fact that eating shellfish isn't morally wrong, it's morally neutral, but it's something that we don't do as well.

I can accept that Yeshivish and Hassidish Jews do not feel connected to the outside world and therefore don't feel personally connected in terms of stealing from them. I get that.

What I do NOT get i why they wouldn't eat shellfish, or shave with a straight razer, but would steal. Even if there are no moral/emotional connections because they aren't "connected," why would they seemingly violate the third of those commandments and not the first two.

Dovy said...

>Additionally, although there are far more Reform Jews than Orthodox Jews in America, I don't recall anything to rival Spinke, or Deal, or Balkany from the Reform Rabbinate.<

Well you did have the reform rabbi in Cherry Hill, NJ who murdered his wife (after conducting an illicit affair for years).

Dovy said...

>Take a look at Rabbenu Yonah, Shaarei Teshuvah siman רט"ו who holds that even if the evidence appears overwhelming that the person is guilty, it still a safek in your eyes unless it has been proven.<

Is that the same Rabbi Yonah who urges Talmidei Chachamim to take revenge for slights?

(I recall seeing that with my own eyes!)

tesyaa said...

Well you did have the reform rabbi in Cherry Hill, NJ who murdered his wife (after conducting an illicit affair for years).

Dovy,I've been following this discussion and as I have, that rabbi (who ordered a hit on his wife) was the only example I could think of. Can anyone think of any others?

Dovy said...

Tesya:

Here's an example: > During his 30-year career, Sidney I. Goldenberg taught math in the New York schools, served as cantor at two synagogues on Long Island and became the rabbi of a Jewish congregation in California. He was a respected teacher, a man of learning -- and a child molester.

Before he was convicted and sent to prison in 1997 for sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl during bat mitzvah lessons, there had been numerous complaints against him. But each time allegations arose, he moved to a new community, leaving a trail of whispers and shattered lives. <

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A12421-2003Feb1&notFound=true

I'm sure there are many others if you have the patience to look.

Dovy said...

Interesting Tidbit:
> Goldenberg arrived in California in 1996 with glowing recommendations. Leaders of Congregation B'nai Israel, a small Conservative synagogue in the farming town of Petaluma, say they checked the 58-year-old rabbi's references, and no one hinted at any improprieties.

The rabbinate, however, was Goldenberg's second career. He had been ordained a year earlier at an independent Orthodox seminary, Tifereth Yisrael in Sayville, N.Y. Before that, he was a public school teacher and a cantor, or prayer singer, at synagogues on Long Island. And there had long been trouble. <

Anonymous said...

I recall a story about a reform or conservative rabbi who took off with the discretionary fund. Was reported in the Washington Post.

rosie said...

Miami Al,
I think that the disconnect in regard to stealing is because immigrating to America was just a tactical maneuver to stay alive. It was not because of a desire to be part of a democratic society where all law abiding citizens are equal. To American cheredim, American law does not apply any more than Russian law applied because they don't see themselves as citizens. They feel like they have their own country.
If you ever visit Kiryat Yoel in Monroe, NY, your first question will be to ask for the exchange rate on the American dollar. That is how European it feels.

rosie said...

Also,
According to Alef institute, only a small percentage of incarcerated Jews identify themselves as Orthodox. Some Jews are unaffiliated until they go to jail and see that Jewish jail mates get perks from Alef Institute and B'nai Brith.
I don't know what percentage of Reform clergy go to jail but then maybe I am just not reading about it. Also remember that just because someone is not caught, does not mean that they were always honest. We are assuming that the Reform are tzadikim in Choshen Mishpat but they might just be luckier or smarter; not necessarily more honest.

tesyaa said...

It was not because of a desire to be part of a democratic society where all law abiding citizens are equal.

So why do they now STAY in America when they can go to Israel under the Law of Return? The benefits must be better here. They ARE participating in society, as takers, not ever as givers.

Miami Al said...

Rosie,

For every Orthodox Jew, there are 2.1 Reform Jews, 1.9 Conservative Jews, and 5 unaffiliated Jews, so I would expect Orthodox Jews in jail to be a small percentage of American Jews in jail. That said, growing up Reform, I NEVER knew of a Jew going to jail, not something that is the case being Orthodox. This is also a survivorship bias, because a Reform Jew that goes to jail is shunned, while an Orthodox Jew is martyred.

That said, I'm NOT talking about "Secular law," last I checked, the 8th of the 613 commandments... don't have to get too far into Torah learning to pick up that one...

conservative scifi said...

As a conservative jew, I may be more tied in to the reform/conservative community, so I am aware of a couple of conservative/reform rabbis who were child molesters, the famous murder case mentioned above, but the only case which even touched on financial misdeeds was the washington area rabbi who was accused (but was never even charged by the local civil authorities) of misusing his Rabbinic discretionary fund. Based on my knowledge, he probably did not commit a civil crime, but also probably did not distribute the money consistent with halachah or tzedakah (and to be fair, is now the Rabbi of a breakaway congregation with many wealthy members who trust him, so perhaps he did nothing wrong).

It's an interesting question why there appears to be less financial crime among conservative/reform Jews. For rabbis, there are arguably three reasons, only one of which is ethics related. First, in conservative/reform institutions, money (other than Rabbi discretionary funds) is more tightly controlled by lay leaders and a fraud would be more difficult to carry out. Second, I suspect that the pay is better for most conservative/reform rabbis, so perhaps there is less incentive. Third, there is, in my experience, a much greater emphasis on commandments between adam lehavero than adam lemakom in the reform and conservative movements (in fact this is the only emphasis in reform, pretty much).

For the lay members, who are much less likely than their rabbis to observe ritual commandments, the ethical commandments may be all that they observe. Even in conservative congregations, where there is a push for observance of shabbat, kashrut, etc., the overwhelming majority of members are much more likely to participate in a "mitzvah day" which is social action of helping the poor, the elderly, israeli soldiers or other groups than to attend shabbat services. So part of the difference may be a difference in focus of what they learned (probably in Hebrew school), as discussed by others previously.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

True, there are books being reprinted, like the Tur, Shulchan Aruch and the Pri Migadim because the print is so small, makes it easier to learn. Reprinting is one thing, reinterpreting is something else.

As for the Artscroll Talmud, it was a translation to English so people with no background to tap into Talmud learning.It has a good commentary as well. Sorry, not a reinterpretion, just a translation, big difference.

I don’t know who you are referring to, but I certainly haven’t sold out for the sake of kiruv and I know of plenty of people who work for kiruv organizations that also haven’t sold out. For me, just the opposite, I paid a price for not wanting to water it down and because I stood up for what is right, I got blackmailed and blackballed for it. No, this place was not Yeshivish or Chassidic either.

The Torah can certainly be abused as we have seen; people can misquote and turn it into a pretzel. If that is case, we throw out the Tanach because some people are abusing it and getting the wrong message. Not a problem with the book, problem is if people take its teachings to heart and live by it. As the old saying goes, you can’t bring the horse to drink if it doesn’t want to, doesn’t matter how thirsty he is either.

Sorry, Torah books are learned to be lived by and have their values upheld. I think everyone would agree with that. You can be the best speaker, most charismatic but if someone wants to go in a different direction, no matter what you say, whose fault is it? It’s the books? It’s the schools? I can see many reasons why kids and adults don’t live up to the expectations of what they should but at the end of the day, I find it hard to believe that you can just blame the school for not imparting proper values because you never find a school where everyone is a failure and steals and is a criminal, but rather “some” must be getting the proper message and continue to be fine Torah Jews and others, for whatever reason don’t.

Chaim Coffman
c

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

If everyone that belongs to an institution gives what they are taught as lip service and no one is moral or breaks the law then we can see a pattern of where it starts from but I have not found one institution as black and white like that.

I haven’t taken a survey but I can assume that the vase majority of the orthodox rabbinate are not criminal. You would have to show me statistics on that. I know and have known thousands of “the Orthodox Rabbinate” and not one I know is a criminal, gone to jail or has a trial pending.
You would make it sound that for dorei doros this has been perpetuated and all the Orthodox rabbinate is sitting in jail. I don’t think so.

One of the main issues as I see it, again only my opinion based on my experience is that we are losing many kids and adults for that matter that go off the derech not because they grow up to be criminals and are taught that way and go to jail but because they have never tasted the sweetness of Torah.

There are other reasons as well but I have seen my share of corruption in almost all aspects of Jewish society, not just the Chassicic/Yeshivish camp so yes, there is a problem in all circles.
I am not blind but the problem is a much deeper problem of why people would want to leave the fold. You can focus on the negative and bad mouth these mosdos as much as you want...

In my work with geirim, I could fill up a book of all the stupid hurtful comments rabbis in communities and people have made to them. So are all these communities krum where people are not taught the basics of derech eretz or don’t know what it means? And almost all of my geirim are part of smaller more out of town communities that are much less Yeshivish and Chassidic. That says a lot as well.

So these people convert and regardless of what happens in the frum community, they understand the bigger picture of human nature.
Bottom line: Criminals and anyone acting in criminal activity should go to jail. One person who is caught and causes a chilul Hashem is too many. Yes we things on a daily basis in the frum community besides this that want to make us want to puke. Are we working on ourselves to be better or just venting and complaining about others?

At the end of the day, as the Zohar says, you are going to see two movies after you die, one what you did in this world and one what your potential was. We can jump up and down all we want and condemn people, communities….
The time is to take a stock of who we are as individuals and not worry what others are doing.

Chaim Coffman

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

If everyone that belongs to an institution gives what they are taught as lip service and no one is moral or breaks the law then we can see a pattern of where it starts from but I have not found one institution as black and white like that.

I haven’t taken a survey but I can assume that the vase majority of the orthodox rabbinate are not criminal. You would have to show me statistics on that. I know and have known thousands of “the Orthodox Rabbinate” and not one I know is a criminal, gone to jail or has a trial pending.

You would make it sound that for dorei doros this has been perpetuated and all the Orthodox rabbinate is sitting in jail. I don’t think so.

One of the main issues as I see it, again only my opinion based on my experience is that we are losing many kids and adults for that matter that go off the derech not because they grow up to be criminals and are taught that way and go to jail but because they have never tasted the sweetness of Torah.

There are other reasons as well but I have seen my share of corruption in almost all aspects of Jewish society, not just the Chassicic/Yeshivish camp so yes, there is a problem in all circles.
I am not blind but the problem is a much deeper problem of why people would want to leave the fold. You can focus on the negative and bad mouth these mosdos as much as you want...

In my work with geirim, I could fill up a book of all the stupid hurtful comments rabbis in communities and people have made to them. So are all these communities krum where people are not taught the basics of derech eretz or don’t know what it means? And almost all of my geirim are part of smaller more out of town communities that are much less Yeshivish and Chassidic. That says a lot as well.

So these people convert and regardless of what happens in the frum community, they understand the bigger picture of human nature.
Bottom line: Criminals and anyone acting in criminal activity should go to jail. One person who is caught and causes a chilul Hashem is too many. Yes we things on a daily basis in the frum community besides this that want to make us want to puke. Are we working on ourselves to be better or just venting and complaining about others?

At the end of the day, as the Zohar says, you are going to see two movies after you die, one what you did in this world and one what your potential was. We can jump up and down all we want and condemn people, communities….
The time is to take a stock of who we are as individuals and not worry what others are doing.

Chaim Coffman

Miami Al said...

Rabbi,

When an Orthodox Rabbi lies and steals, it is bad. When he goes before people and says, "I made a mistake," that's a good if understated point. However, when he implies that EVERYONE was doing the same thing, this presents one of two possibilities:

1. He was speaking factually incorrect and leveling a SERIOUS false accusation, and the lack of rebuke was telling
2. He was speaking correctly, and the corruption is endemic

From my experiences with the Rabbinate regarding friends with conversion issues, business issues, and Kashrut issues, it seems that #2 is more likely the case than #1...

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

And if it is, so what? How on a daily basis does this effect your life?

I saw my rebbe answer to disgusting questions on the phone and I sat there incredulously and thought to myself, how does such a gadol stay tahor and naki when he has to deal with all this schmutz.

After he finished answering the questions, he gave a big sigh and went back to learning.

As my rebbe always says, it is easier to die al kidush hashem than live it.

Chaim Coffman

Anonymous said...

You point out that the print in certain seforim like the tur and shulchan oruch has improved.
That was not my point at all.
Artscroll and all the other seforim I mentioned (maybe you havent heard of them)are not translations at all. They are not reprints either.
These are all seforim being rewritten for todays generation.
Yes we had rashi till now. What did they do before rashi. They were such big scholars that they managed without.
Today one cannot learn a gemoro correctly without using one of the seforim I mentioned. That goes for the mishne berura as well and the pri megodim. Or now on zevochim the present daf yomi for rashi either the mesivta or piryoi beitoi.
My point is again. That today most people who learn remain am haarazim. R Meiselman in an article in Yated said all MO rabbonim are. I say that all yeshiva bochurim are wasting their time, because their RY dont allow them to use artscroll or similar seforim that I have mentioned.
The chofets chaim sefer the one misquoted more than any other ought to be a prior candidate for being rewritten like his mishne berura.
Every post I have written so far on here has been miscontrued.

Anonymous said...

You write that geirim suffer terribly. I have of course no experience in these matters. But there are many blogs where geirim complain bitterly.
My question is to you who are involved with them.
Do you tell them in advance to read these blogs that they should see for themselves what they are in for.
Or do you think its a mitsva to make geirim at all costs.
Most geirim in these blogs seem to think a shidduch with an FFB who has never been married is waiting for them round the corner. And after a few years are sorry for their mistake of becoming Jewish.
for example
http://www.aish.com/d/a/Dating_Maze_322_Divorced__Available.html

YoelB said...

When an Orthodox Rabbi lies and steals, it is bad. When he goes before people and says, "I made a mistake," that's a good if understated point. However, when he implies that EVERYONE was doing the same thing, this presents one of two possibilities:

1. He was speaking factually incorrect and leveling a SERIOUS false accusation, and the lack of rebuke was telling
2. He was speaking correctly, and the corruption is endemic


Either way, he said "I’d like to tell you that we’ve learned it’s possible to lead Torah and chessed organizations in accordance with the law. Yes, it is possible. People think it cannot be done, but we’ve learned this the hard way. There are now charedi lawyers and accountants who are experts in this area to ensure everything is run according to the law. When in doubt whether or not something is legal, we cannot make that determination on our own, chas v’sholom. We have to ask a lawyer how to conduct ourselves properly in that situation.”

How many people reading this need to consult a lawyer to know there's something wrong with taking $10,000 from somebody, giving him a receipt for $10,000 from your charity and kicking back $9,000?

Yet the heads nod at the asifa, and this contemptible performance gets kavod and is called gadlus as if he were a kindergartener bringing home his fingerpainting.

On the other hand, maybe Rabbi Coffman is right, and in Agudahworld, this is gadlus. (Though how he can use the word gadlus both for this conduct and for his own rebbe whom he clearly respects is beyond me.)
The thing is, if this crazymaking behavior took place in a family it would be viewed as deeply pathological, even abuse.

Anonymous said...

His own rebbe who has written many seforim (mainly criticizing previous poskim) and has a title in the bedats, is not considered a world godol. The bedats today is not considered more than a kashrus supervising agency and a charity haskomo service. For reasons I wont go into, this 'godol' has alienated himself from the real gedolim like Rav Elyashiv, and his views, usually very right wing are not accepted even by his own 'chasidim'.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

Maybe this post will also misconstrue what you said as well, here goes.

I am trying to be medayek in your lashon so either my diyukim are bad or the lashon is vague or not clear what you meant.

Artscroll did a tremendous job bringing the Gemara and other sefarim to the vast majority of people who can't learn on their own. The Mesivta made it also easier to follow the shakla v'tarya easier as well. That has a tremendous toeles, depending on how you are usihg it.

At the same time, I think it is ludicrous to say that all Yeshiva bochurim can't learn and should be learning from Artscroll. Artscroll helps to a point but the real yegiah is going through the rishonim and achronim. That's what Yeshiva is and supposed to be.

Maybe all the am haratzim of the Modern Orthodox Rabbanim according to Rav Meiselmana should start using Artscroll, could be an improvement.

If people use these sefarim as the majority of their learning, then it is a crutch, that is why people don't like them.

As for the Av Beis Din of the Badatz, I don't know too many people, maybe you are a gadol and can argue with him, that doesn't consider him as a bonafide gadol.

I don't need to defend him, his creditials speak for themselves but not everyone has to agree with his psakim.

Someone who shaychus with the Chazon Ish, the Brisker Rav, the Steipler Gaon, Rav Eliahu Lopian, Rav Dessler, the Minchas Yitzchak, a student of Rav Moshe Shneider, he himself a talmid of the Chofetz Chayim. Did you have halachic discussions with these people?

Do you know of any of his chasidim that don't accept his psak?

He published Moadim Uzmanim when he was in early 30's, the first sefer of its kind that are in most Yeshivas and kollelim.

Hard to say that his creditials lack over here.

If that is not loshon hara, not sure what is

Chaim Coffman

Anonymous said...

Thanks for replying.
He is not the av bes din. That honor belongs to R T Weiss.
His credentials are not in question. I think his main rebbe was R Shneider's son in law a R Semiatitski.
author of 'sdei yitschok'.
It is surprising that they both turned up on the bedats. He is also married into the brisk family and claims lineage from the gaon. His son in-law is called Schreiber and is the son of the oldest son of the oldest son of the oldest son of the ksav sofer and has written extensively on ribbis. But to my knowledge his chidushim l'halacha which asser todays heter iska have not been accepted.
I never mentioned his credentials at all. I wrote he is not accepted like R Elyashiv. But all this is neither here not there and unimportant.

Anonymous said...

Now to the main point
Rashi is also a crutch.
And again artscroll is not just a translation. The authors have gone through all the seforim that exist on the mesechta and applied it to the gemoro. Most people do not have all these seforim and even those who do, would find this impossible.
The same and even more so the mesivta.
Let us be clear. I was in university as well. There the professor or lecturer knew his subject inside out. (He had me to contend with). Before the semester he had to provide the university all his lectures and also the exam he would be giving. He didnt study it as he went along. Now contrast this with a RY. Has he learnt the whole mesechta before he gives his first shiur. He prepares and makes it up as he goes along. Usually finding the next day that he was mistaken. Can he really look up all the seforim, or does he even bother. The only way is to use a sefer that has already done this like 'nachalas moshe'.
So my point is that most yeshiva RY get it wrong and by extension their talmidim. He may come up with a good sevoro. But without the background knowledge which he doesnt have, by not using the mesivta its meaningless.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

So what is your solution to the Yeshivah problem where people know nothing and can't learn?

Chaim Coffman

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

btw, Rav Sternbuch Shlita is called the Raavad, Rav Av Beis Din and Rav Weiss is called the Gaavad
or Gaon Av Beis Din

Chaim Coffman

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

Rashi is not a crutch, without Rashi you wouldn't be able to read the gemara at all.

I haven't found too many talmidei chachamim or gedolim that just learned artscroll or mesivta. If that is your solution, then it won't take long before we are all am haratzim.

Roshei Yeshiva and others don't like these sefarim if you are learning how to learn because it spoon feeds, that's why people don't use it.

On the Artscroll gemara it calls it "an aid to Talmud study" not Talmud study itself, not that it should be the only thing you learn!

Also, if you have bothered to read any of my rebbe's sefarim, he doesn't spend every other line criticizing other poskim, read the sefarim and see for yourself.

Even if people disagree with him, he is a bonafide gadol, I think yu are seriously mistaken about that one.

Chaim Coffman

Dave said...

You keep ducking the question.

Tell me, did the Spinke Rebbe really think that a complex scheme of rebating 90% of "charitable donations" while providing a full donation letter was Kosher?

If so, so much for the Gemorah Kop I hear so much about.

If not, then why aren't you addressing that (and the passive-voiced pseudo-apology). An entire Mosdos funded by fraud, and you want everyone to just move on.

I guarantee you, had the Spinke Rebbe instead been funding things my agreeing to eat treif on a regular basis with a wealthy donor, he would be in Cherem.

Why is it that selling people treif chicken has someone run out of town, but funding shuls, and kollels, and mikvahs with treif money gets someone kovod and the embrace of the Rabbonim?

Miami Al said...

Anyone else able to imagine a 12th Century blog, where traditionalist are decrying this new invention by Rashi, and how dare he suggest a commentary that can be copied instead of sitting and learning in Worms?

Or a 16th Century debate about the "mass produced" goyish Hebrew script based on the Sephardic handwriting (now known as Rashi script), decrying how terrible it is for Ashkenazim to use Sephardic typesetting, and even worse, a typeset created by a gentile?

Now those two inventions are so serious that Rabbi Chaim Coffman suggestions that you can't learn without them... OTOH, if you use the newer works like Artscroll, all Jews are on their way to being Am Haaretz...

Rashi's commentaries made his knowledge available to all Yeshiva students, not just those able to attend his Yeshiva. Rashi "script" created an ability to mass produce his works, making it available to more Yeshiva students.

The English Artscroll Talmud set makes this available to all American Jews with an interest. Will that make you an expert in Gemara, absolutely not, but it will give you a foundation.

I don't see any reason why students couldn't master things at a high school level using Gemara, anymore than I was able to master high school math with standard textbooks and teachers, not needing a research University professor to teach it.

You might not be able to master String Theory with a "dumbed down text," but you can master the basics of Physics with standard text books. No reason for Gemara knowledge to be any different.

tesyaa said...

You keep ducking the question.

Tell me, did the Spinke Rebbe really think that a complex scheme of rebating 90% of "charitable donations" while providing a full donation letter was Kosher?


Rabbi Coffman has written voluminous comments on this thread but is indeed ducking this question. It seems to me that he does not want to answer, because, possibly, he does not want to answer untruthfully, but if he answers truthfully he is afraid he will violate some prohibitions. If that's the case, there's your answer.

Rabbi Coffman, if I'm wrong, please either answer the question or explain why you're ducking it.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

Before I get to the big question, I never said Artscroll was assur to use, but that people use it as a crutch and should only use it as a reference, it doesn't replace real learning. If people only have time to use that or they wouldn't learn or understand anything, then I think it is a good thing. For people who can learn, it should be used as a reference.

Even on the Talmud itself it calls it an "aid", what does that tell you?

As for the question everyone wants to know about,what was the Spinka Rebbe thinking? That's a tough one, I am not a mind reader, don't know.

I am not going to answer for him, that he can do for himself. If you do something that is assur on all sides,what are you going to say about?

If I could read minds I wouldn't be on this forum now, would I?

Chaim Coffman

Anonymous said...

I think the title is rosh beth din not rav av beth din.
The other title is plain av beth din the gaon at the beginning is not part of the title.
By criticizing I mean he doesnt do it with the normal derech erez, but considers himself a contemporary to them.

Anonymous said...

Now to the more important question about artscroll.
Rashi is a crutch, how did they manage without him for nearly a thousand years.
They say the gra first learned without rashi.
The answer is that the generations before rashi didnt need him.
today we need artscroll like then we needed rashi.

"I haven't found too many talmidei chachamim or gedolim that just learned artscroll or mesivta. If that is your solution, then it won't take long before we are all am haratzim."
We already are!

"Roshei Yeshiva and others don't like these sefarim if you are learning how to learn because it spoon feeds, that's why people don't use it."
No the reason they dont like it is because first of all some use it themselves and dont want their talmidim to know.
And for those who dont use it they dont want their talmidim to realise how mistaken their shiurim are.

"On the Artscroll gemara it calls it "an aid to Talmud study" not Talmud study itself, not that it should be the only thing you learn!"
Well the artscroll doesnt cover tosfos does it. So there is more to learn.

To the other poster. gemoro is not like other subjects and needs to be taught. Rarely can one learn on ones own. Almost all gedolim had rebbes although they were quite capable of learning gemoro by themselves. The mind has to be trained for it.

I think you will find that anyone who learns on his own and afterwards uses artscroll or mesifta or now piryo beito on the daf yomi. Will realise that he originally learnt wrong pshat and missed many points that he did not think of. This is happening in all yeshivot today.

Second of all and much more important. In artscroll there is usually a summary sometimes in chart form. Find me a kollel person who can make one.

Most have no idea how to even glance at a gemoro, never mind learn it.
The way I learn and what i consider to be correct is.
First look through the gemoro and find out all the cases the gemoro is talking about and write them down.
For example in kesubos. A woman recieved property before she was engaged, after engagement after marriage.
This is not as easy as it sounds.
Then add on anything you can think of what the gemoro has not mentioned.
Once you have that ready you can start learning.
Make a chart of all the cases.
Write them down in a column as many rows at it takes.
Now make new columns with the names of tanoim or amoroim and give a tick or cross if its chayiv or potur. Add on the hava amina as well.
This is the basic method.
Once you have all that in chart form in front of you, you can then go on to the reasons.
All I can say is that even after artscroll or mesivta there is still plenty of yegiah left.

Anonymous said...

Now to the more important question about artscroll.
Rashi is a crutch, how did they manage without him for nearly a thousand years.
They say the gra first learned without rashi.
The answer is that the generations before rashi didnt need him.
today we need artscroll like then we needed rashi.

Right down the middle said...

Bottom like is that DAVE has hit the nail on the head. Sell traife chickens and you get run out of town. Steal millions? No problem. In fact, you get to be called a gadol for admitting publicly that you made a mistake and feel bad. (And no I am not sure if he feels bad about getting caught or about doing it to begin with.)

There were two luchos to equate ben adam lchavaeiro to ben adam lamakom. Neither one is "bigger" than the other (something that RW and LW seem to have a problem with), although I do need to point out that ben adam lchaveiro may be more important if it causes a chillul hashem when it is violated.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

Artscroll is only as important as Rashi for people who would never be able to learn on their own. Once a person learns how to learn, they shouldn't be using artscroll,
period.

Rashi is not a crutch because people can't learn the gemarah without him. Very simple, people before Rashi knew quite a bit more than we do and know what these cases are talking about.

Try and learn the gemara without Rashi today, impossible. I have never heard of anyone saying that Rashi is a crutch,that is a chiddush to me.

Chaim Coffman

Mark said...

Rabbi Coffman, should people also not use those Rashi's in which he used a word in French to explain something from the text?

Anonymous said...

"Rashi is not a crutch because people can't learn the gemarah without him. Very simple, people before Rashi knew quite a bit more than we do and know what these cases are talking about."

I can only state of the yerida of the dor in my own lifetime.
Read many of the blogs here. Most have no idea how to learn a gemoro.

Rabbi Chaim Coffman said...

True, many don't know how to learn, so using Artscroll according to that wouldn't be a crutch, agreed. Once you know how to learn, that is a different story but that point has been made many times before.

If Rashi uses old French, there is a book put out by Leibowitz-Kess that has a translation for it.

Sorry, that doesnn't make Rashi a crutch because he used old French

Chaim Coffman

Dave said...

Sometime in the past 12 hours, the entire article and all comments disappeared from BeyondBT.