Sunday, April 7, 2019

Consumerism and the Art of Denial - Part 2: Tunnel Vision and Narcissism


Welcome back to Part 2 of “Dassi Through the Looking Glass”. If you have not read Part 1, please do.

In this portion we will review the Facebook post that Dassi wrote about Harav Mendel Shafran Shlita on March 10, 2019. I intend to point out that, not only does the plague of consumerism spread the symptoms of the Tochacha – shigaon, ivaron, and timhon levav, but it also foments hostility and outright wickedness.

Dassi’s words will be in dark red and I will stay in default black. Here we go:

This past Friday we met with Rabbi Shafran in Bnei Braq to discuss why he was publicly supporting Leifer by asking the court to release her under his care.

Comment:
I have written in the past about superfluous adverbs. They are usually the first giveaway of a distorted perspective since they are distortions of the facts. 

The adverb “publicly” is out of place. Rabbi Shafran wasn’t supporting Mrs. Leifer publicly or privately. He was supporting her – period. If proceedings are held publicly and he participates, it makes his participation public. And if the proceedings are held privately and he participates, it makes his participation private. Rabbi Shafran did not choose the venue of the proceedings. He just participated in them where they were held. He did not make any public rallies or statements. 

That said, the only reason there is so much publicity about this saga is because Dassi Erlich and her sisters and supporters want it. They are generating the publicity, not Rabbi Shafran. In short, they are prosecuting her publicly. So, he is standing up for her in public because this is the place where Dassi and her sisters are prosecuting her.

Now, let’s ignore the word “publicly” and look at her leading sentence again:

This past Friday we met with Rabbi Shafran in Bnei Braq to discuss why he was [publicly] supporting Leifer by asking the court to release her under his care.

Comment:
In short, the Sapper sisters arranged a meeting in Bnei Braq because they could not understand why a Jew who does indeed observe mitzvos is willing to support a religious Jew who is being prosecuted in contravention to Halachic standards and who is being held in jail without being convicted of anything.

Our meeting was right out of the text book I am studying regarding abusive arguments.

Comment:
I would love to know the name of the text book, who wrote it, and is it available on Amazon (second hand)?

All kidding aside, this is one of the most despicable and belligerent statements in this post. I will explain.

What is Dassi Erlich saying with the term “abusive arguments”? What are abusive arguments and what kind of a “textbook” describes them? 

Sure enough, there are volumes of books and papers about criminology and personality disorders and abusive behavior by people who engage in crime and abusive behavior. We can call these people “abusers”. These “textbooks” and papers go to great lengths to analyze the “arguments” and justifications that “abusers” present to rationalize their behavior. 

Whose behavior?


Well, that of the abusers, of course.

And, I suppose Dassi’s favorite current pastime is to study such a text book. 


But, unbeknownst to Dassi and her cronies, Rabbi Shafran is not an abuser. Nor is Rabbi Grossman nor Rabbi Litzman nor am I. We are all Torah observant objective people who are evaluating a situation without prejudice of either side. We can see both sides as victims, both sides as aggressors and both sides as Jews. And we are all interested in protecting the rights of the accused regardless of who the accused is. And we do not live in an echo chamber and we do not have tunnel vision. We can see and hear both sides of the issue.

It is hard to believe that Dassi is studying any textbooks about community leaders (or bloggers) who are not abusers. I tend to doubt there are any such textbooks. 

That said, these “abusive arguments” are coming out of an ancient textbook. They are the textbooks of the Rambam, Shulchan Aruch and Chofetz Chaim. And you can bet your bottom Australian dollar that Dassi Erlich is not studying those. 

What makes this statement so utterly despicable is that, in order for this statement to make sense, we must say that Dassi is equating the Torah scholars with actual “abusers”! As consumers, Dassi and her lynch mob cannot tell the difference. They are in total denial that there are other “textbooks”. They are in total denial that HKBH has other methods of dealing with these things. Most of them are in denial of HKBH altogether.

I now understand why we were so deeply pained after leaving this encounter with him.

Comment:
If it was out of the textbook, why are you so pained? Isn’t it what you expected to get? After all, it’s in the textbook that you are studying to be a post grad! What were you expecting???

In my Post Grad Degree in Domestic Violence

Comment:

“Domestic” as an adjective to “Violence” means at the hands of family members. Anyway, it looks like Dassi is trying to make a career for herself as a professional practitioner of domestic violence. As far as I know the best practitioners of domestic violence never went to school. The skills of domestic violence came naturally to them. In any case, I do not wish her success. 

I am learning that abusive arguments usually have the following four characteristics:

Comment:
My primary objective in this post is to deal with these “four characteristics”. Here we go:

1- Denial in refusing to believe us. "I did not say I believe you, I will not say I believe you. I will not come to court to support you. I will not take sides".

Comment:
Dassi is certainly a post-graduate in denial. She is in total denial of the fact that she – Dassi Erlich (and her sisters) – is currently an accuser, prosecutor, aggressor and pursuer and her goal is to hurt, destroy and punish Mrs. Leifer. She justifies her actions by proclaiming that she is trying to protect potential future victims (and change the future). It is questionable if there are potential future victims at risk, but it is not questionable that she is harassing and pursuing (rodef) Mrs. Leifer.

Dassi Erlich is not saying “believe me that I was molested” so she can get therapy and help for herself to rebuild her life. She is also not saying “believe me that Mrs. Leifer molested me” so that she can get some legitimate restitution from Mrs. Leifer. She is not even saying “believe me that Mrs. Leifer is not safe with young women” so that she should be disallowed to be a teacher anymore. She is saying, “Believe me that Mrs. Leifer is an irredeemable fiend and should be punished without mercy”. 

This is what a Torah observant Jew such as Rabbi Shafran has to look at. Dassi is an accuser and, at this stage, she is the rodef. What are the rules of believing an accuser?

Well, our Torah and Halacha give us clear rules of “neemanus”. And I elaborated on them in my post Thinking Like a Jew. The obvious rule is that nothing can be accepted as a fact if it cannot be corroborated by a second person. We are allowed to be choshesh (suspect) to implement protective measures but not to believe for the purposes of punishment. 

Plain and simple. 

Rabbi Shafran knows this, Rabbi Litzman knows this, I know this, and I wrote it. Dassi and her fellow consumers knew that I wrote it when I wrote it 2 ½ years ago, but they were in denial then and are in denial still. To some it just isn’t there and to others, it must be “misguided”.

But don’t all victims need to be believed?

We have a principle called פלגינן נאמנות – dividing the credibility. This means that we can believe what an individual says for what affects themselves but not for how it affects anybody else. For example, if a woman claims that she had extramarital relations so her husband must divorce her, and there are no objective witnesses, we believe her to invalidate her ketuba, but we do not believe her to force her husband to divorce her or to render her child a mamzer.

If somebody says they were molested, we should absolutely fully believe them that they were molested and do all we can to help them out. But when they say they were molested by "Abe", we can suspect "Abe" but we are not allowed to believe that part.

This is Torah, but the consumers want no part of it. 

2 - Excusing of ones beliefs." Leifer taught my two daughters and nothing ever happened to them".

Comment:
Like I said, this phrase is to me incoherent. For the life of me, I cannot figure out how this is different from the previous “characteristic”. 

In any case, I wonder if this was said by Rabbi Shafran. He certainly did not have any daughters studying in Australia. Perhaps he did say it and it refers to when Mrs. Leifer was teaching here in Eretz Yisrael before she went to Australia.

Regardless, if somebody says something like this, they are saying that they themselves have had some level of interaction with the accused person and there was nothing about this interaction that supports the accusations of the accusers. Yes, it can be used as basis to be skeptical about the allegations, but it is quite a rational observation being made by a rational person. Again, we are talking about a non-involved person who must make a personal judgment. It does not prove the accuser wrong, but it is meant to tell the accuser that they need to furnish some objective evidence to support their claim. 

Note that Dassi does not even pretend to claim that she presented any objective evidence to Rabbi Shafran. So if the score is that Rabbi Shafran brings the weight of his observation, as limited as it may be (give it a value of 1) and Dassi Erlich brings absolutely nothing (value of 0), the nay-sayers win by a 1-0 shutout! 

So, I ask Dassi, why is such a comment worthy of criticism??

3- Minimisation of ones worth as a Survivor.
"You were abused already, somebody else hurt you".

Comment:
Dassi is an expert distortionist. Although she, at the receiving end may feel that such a statement minimizes her worth as a survivor, she cannot claim that this is the intent of the one who said it. To me, the clear implication of this line is to minimize the worth (i.e., impact) of the alleged abuser. The message is that you cannot honestly claim that all of your tzaros are a result of this alleged abuser since, by your own admission, you have repeatedly acknowledged that you underwent 15 years of real domestic abuse before encountering the one you are accusing. 

And we notice that you did not walk into the Victorian Police station and file any charges against the initial abusers.


Again, Dassi is in total denial that she is not petitioning to be recognized as a victim. She is petitioning to have Mrs. Leifer branded as an abuser. As such, any statement that is made by Rabbi Shafran relates to how he views the perceived culpability of Mrs. Leifer, not the victim [survivor] status of Dassi Erlich.

4-Justification. Writing a letter to the Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and turning up at court to support Leifers bail, "It's my duty as a rabbi to support a fellow Jew".

Comment:
I got a good chuckle out of this one. Her keyword is “Justification” and her definition is “Writing a letter to the Justice Minister”. Cute.

Again, we see that Dassi is in denial that she is pursuing and prosecuting another Jew. From Dassi’s temperament and those of most of her commenters, they are in denial that Mrs. Leifer is a Jew and must be treated like one. And these people find it so very abhorrent that a non-consumer wants to do just that.

Once again, they are in denial of the Halachos of mesira and extradition. Dassi does not recount in her post a hint of asking Rabbi Shafran about Halachos. But, isn’t this what people go to rabbis for? 

When asked why Leifer's Jewishness deserved his sympathy over our own??
He refused to answer us.

Comment:
Such a question does not deserve an answer. The question itself is a display of total arrogance, immaturity and narcissism. 

It is clear to people like me and Rabbi Shafran that there is no need for us to prosecute or harm (destroy) Mrs. Leifer in order to be sympathetic to Dassi. We onlookers can afford to be sympathetic to everyone involved. They are not mutually exclusive. Thus, if in Dassi’s eyes, another Jew (a Shomer Mitzvos one, at that) needs to be harmed as a show of sympathy to her, there is something inherently wicked about Dassi (and her sisters). Dassi is playing the spoiled child that demands from the loving parent to “choose” between me and the rival sibling. “If you love him/her, then you don’t love me!” or “If you won’t help me send her down the river, then you love her more than me”.

I think this is utterly detestable! 

Let’s first note that the issue at hand here is not that Rabbi Shafran or anybody wants to condone any sexual misbehavior that Mrs. Leifer may have committed more than a decade ago and it is certainly not an effort to enable her to resume these activities. The Sapper sisters are going ballistic over the prospect of Mrs. Leifer being released from prison to house arrest so that she can continue a semi-normal family life and to live like a human being and a Jew – i.e., keep Shabbos and Yom Tov and Pesach Seder – as all Jews who are religious and observant of mitzvos are entitled and required to do, while all the proceedings are going on.

This does not interfere in the lives of these saintly sisters nor does it put children at risk once she is being watched. 

Still and all, these saintly sisters cannot countenance allowing Mrs. Leifer to live like a human being and must fight tooth and nail to prevent it. Then they even confront people like Rabbis Grossman and Shafran for "asking the court to release her under their care". 

How dare Rabbis Grossman and Shafran ask that this unconvicted monster should be treated like a Jew and a human being? Or, as these paragons of virtue put it (publicly):
“What kind of G-d are they praying to that protects abusers?” (Haaretz March 7, 2019).

Our G-d does not want anybody to languish in prison. But, evidently, these sisters (two of whom abandoned observance) don't worship the same G-d. They worship a god who would not allow such compassion. A god of Vengeance!

As I said, I think this is utterly deplorably wicked! 


Let’s add to this that, I have previously speculated, based on JCW’s own statistics, that it is more than likely that Mrs. Leifer is herself a victim of abuse and, if so, should be entitled to some measure of sympathy (which does not need to be construed as coming at the expense of the alleged victim). Of course, to acknowledge this likelihood is such a game-changer to the consumer lynch mob that their denial is absolutely deafening. When I brought this up to a woman emailer from Australia who claimed to be a victim of Mrs. Leifer, she refused to answer me.

It goes both ways.

An immature narcissist can only see their personal interests. To a narcissist, there is no such thing as looking out for the interests of all sides. It is either “you are on my side or you are against me”. A narcissist is in perpetual denial that it is possible for an objective bystander to be out for the welfare of both sides. This is because they are in denial that anybody else’s wellbeing matters. Only theirs. 

Dassi stated publicly at the JCW event on Nov. 25, 2018 (3:12-3:26), “We continue to be told that we are doing this for revenge or some sort of victim fame, which I don’t understand, but nothing could be further from the truth. We are here for nothing else than to try and change the future.

Well, if it’s not a personal vendetta or a quest for revenge, why does she take it so personal if a renowned Talmid Chacham is looking out for both sides and doesn’t think that being moser Mrs. Leifer to goyim in Australia is a positive step in changing the future?

I see no small measure of hypocrisy here.

In any case, I clearly wrote in my post in June 2017:
...contrary to all appearances, I really do have a lot of ahavas Yisroel. I don’t want to see Malka Leifer destroyed and I don’t want to see Dassi Erlich destroyed. There is no need for it. As far as I know, they are both victims. I think it's a better idea to try to fix wounded people than to try to break them. But I have yet to hear a single voice echo mine!

The lynch mob consumers are in denial that people such as I and Rabbi Shafran may actually be sincere and want what is best for all sides. They have no clue what sincerity is. My claim to “ahavas Yisroel” was ridiculed publicly without it being substantiated. Just like what Dassi is doing to Rabbi Shafran in her post.

He did explain the importance of supporting the abuser because he saw them as the underdog.

Comment:
I wonder what the real words were. I thought Dassi wrote that he didn’t believe her that she is an abuser. Anyway, what he obviously meant is she (Mrs. Leifer) is the pursued and accused. She is entitled to all the rights of an accused person. 

Dassi denies this. She is a professional victim so even when she is the aggressor and pursuer, she has to be the underdog. It’s just not fair that anybody can think that the person she is pursuing to destroy is an underdog. 

This is tunnel vision.

I looked at him incredulously and asked him if he had ever been to court when an Ultra-Orthodox predator was the accused. On which sides was the court swollen with supporters?

Comment:
I believe he was to court when an Ultra-Orthodox predator was the accused back on February 18, 2019.  It seems that the court was swollen by supporters of the accusers and the accused was undeniably the underdog.

But Dassi can always deny it. This is why she was incredulous.

Again he refused to respond.

Comment:
It’s clear that Dassi, who has left observance, is not now and never was interested in the Halachic viewpoint of accusations. She was not too receptive of this viewpoint when I wrote it and she has shown no inclination to be receptive now. Dassi’s response to Rabbi Shafran (about if he had ever been to court…) along with her incredulous look was a disputation of his statement, not a sincere request for him to qualify it (as in “What do you mean by that?”). 


When people contact me with the sole intention of disputing what I have said and with no intention of trying to come to terms with it (the vast majority), it does not pay to try to respond.

Rav Shafran is heralded as the Rabbi who instructs complainants to report to the police. He shared an example of a woman who called him up recently. "Go to the police", he told them, "know though your children will expelled from school, you will be barred from your synagogue and you life will be ruined".

Comment:
This paragraph doesn’t flow. In our language we say: קשיא רישא אסיפא (the first segment contradicts the second one) or מעשה לסתור? (do you bring a case example that is contradictory?). But, as I already wrote, I do not give Dassi a medal for coherency on this post. 

Anyway, it is not possible to comment on stories like these because their brevity leaves way too much to the imagination. We have no clue exactly what the recent woman in question was complaining about and what, and whom, she wanted to report.

I need to reiterate that way before I knew about Malka Leifer or Dassi Erlich, I wrote a summary of Hilchos mesira called the 3 Ps (and 3 Cs). 

The 3 Ps basically said that there are three incremental steps to dealing with suspected molesters – (1) Prevention (Protection), (2) Publicity, and (3) Police (Punishment). The steps must be taken in that order. If step 1 resolves the issue, it is forbidden to advance to step 2. If not, then step 2 is indicated, but it is still forbidden to advance to step 3 unless even step 2 does not resolve the issue. Hence, going to the police is only permissible if it is absolutely necessary in order to resolve the problem. And even that is governed by the 3 Cs.

The case of the woman who called Rabbi Shafran is unclear. If she had other options (P1 and P2), she has no business resorting to P3 and should be subject to the consequences. Perhaps, this was what Rabbi Shafran was telling her. If she had no other recourse than P3, these consequences are uncalled for. I do not condone them and I very much sympathize with this woman.

Well and good, but all this is chit chat. The Sapper sisters met with Rabbi Shafran “to discuss why he was publicly supporting Leifer by asking the court to release her under his care.” The Malka Leifer case does not qualify for P3. And even if it did, there is no reason to oppose, and every reason to support house arrest. Specifically, if there was no violence in the alleged abuse as is true in this case.

Imagine how hard it is for survivors of abuse in his community to speak up. This man is considered a standard bearer on these issues. What hope do these people have?

Comment:
In a sense, Dassi does have a point in her closing paragraph. It isn’t easy to speak up. But much of it depends on who do you want to speak up to. What do you want to achieve by speaking up? Are you doing it to protect somebody who is currently in danger or to prosecute somebody for what he did yesterday (or a decade ago)? Are you trying to fix a specific problem in the here and now or trying to make a public spectacle to do “nothing else than to try and change the future”? Are you doing a kiddush Hashem or a chillul Hashem???

Before one can answer these questions, they must be able to hear them and see the different angles. But you’ll never hear them in an echo chamber and you won’t be able to see them if you have tunnel vision.


Post Script – I would love to be able to enter a link to this post on Dassi’s Facebook page, but alas, Dassi Erlich does not allow comments from any dissenters, only from supporters, and so I am blocked!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Consumerism and the Art of Denial - Part 1: The Echo Chamber


My book is titled One Above and Seven Below and has a subtitle: A Consumer’s guide to Orthodox Judaism from the Perspective of the Chareidim.

This subtitle reveals the mindset that I have been battling ever since I took on this project. It is the plague that infects what can be termed as the “left wing” of Orthodox Jewry. The plague of “Consumerism”.  My primary goal in writing my book and my blog is to improve people’s lives by helping them combat this frightful plague.

In my book, I listed about six “hazards” to which consumers are vulnerable. There is no need to review the entire list, but two of them have been very dominant throughout my analysis of the Malka Leifer episode. They are:

·         A consumer [of Judaism] allows Western norms and philosophies to shape his/her thought process instead of the philosophies of our Talmudic sages. So much so that they are totally oblivious that the Talmudic sages – and the Rabbanim and poskim throughout the generations – think differently.

·         A consumer tends to view the more Halachic minded sector as a separate nation that they have nothing to do with.

The first hazard is way more important and is actually the instigator of the second one. I emphasized this first hazard as the reason why I needed to write a preamble post to my initial post about Mrs. Leifer. The post was very aptly titled Thinking Like a Jew. Its purpose was to list and describe the Talmudic principles that compel us Halachic-minded people to think differently and to advise the masses to learn how to think as Chazal teach us. This is for everybody’s benefit.

Alas, consumerism is a very tough opponent. Along with the hazards come the usual symptoms. And these symptoms are all but impossible to cure.

At the top of the list is Tunnel Vision. Tunnel Vision is a blindness to everything except what one wants to look at. He or she can see nothing else. This is what the Tochacha in Parshat Ki Tavo calls “ivaron” – blindness. This is accompanied by denial. When one is in denial of reality, he or she becomes irrational. This is what the Tochahca calls “shigaon” – irrationality. Hence the consumer is left with “timhon levav” – cluelessness.

The Timhon Levav is the saddest part. It’s a dementia to a point that the patient doesn’t know he/she is unwell. He/she is in total denial. There is no way to talk to him or her. To reach them. They can’t see you or hear you. They only hear themselves. They are in an echo chamber.

The only cure for this malady is “ameilus b’Torah”. This is what our sages tell us at the Tochacha in Parshat Bechukosai. But only the chareidi world prioritizes ameilus b’Torah. The irreligious, the democrats, and even the religious left all suffer from these horrific symptoms because they are not connected to ameilus b’Torah.

Such is consumerism.

My agenda with One Above and Seven Below is to prescribe the cure for consumerism, for it is rampant among us. And my agenda with my posts about Mrs. Leifer is to point out how much it is driving this debacle.

Amazingly, between 16 and 17 thousand people supported the two petitions advocating Western style justice (intentional double entendre). Most of them are Jewish and many of those are shomrei mitzvos.

All consumers.

Likewise, Dassi Erlich’s #BringLeiferBack Facebook page has, to date, accumulated 3,552 people who “like this Page”. 3,552 [mostly] Jewish consumers!

Of course, I find this very distressing. So many of my fellow Jews! It hurts. But there is not much I can do. A consumer/leftist/democrat/atheist cannot be cured unless they want to be. But they first need to acknowledge that they are consumers (leftists, etc.). And before that, they need to know that there is such a condition. But when one lives in a soundproof cocoon where they surround themselves by people who only tell them what they want to hear, there is no getting through.

At the head of all this is Dassi Erlich, the queen of the hive. It is her “honey” that is attracting this swarm. Consumerism is very contagious.

The Malka Leifer affair is progressing the way a rational person should expect it to progress. The Sapper sisters are accusing, pursuing, persecuting, and prosecuting another person. The accused-pursued-persecuted-prosecuted individual is resisting and fighting back.

It doesn’t matter how true the accusations may be. This is how people behave. Accused people do not just “turn themselves in” and let themselves be prosecuted unless this course of action holds some personal benefit for them. They are not in any hurry for “results” and they are not interested in making anything easier for their accusers-pursuers. And if “the system” contains essential safeguards which can be exploited to delay this persecution, they will make the most of them.

This is natural and is to be expected in the real world by realistic people.

So, as I check the comments on Dassi Erlich’s perpetual Facebook posts and see Dassi and her supporters unanimously whining that the accused is not cooperating with their persecutors, and is taking advantage of the benefits of “due process”, I see a homogeneous crowd of consumers who suffer from the tunnel vision, denial and dementia that come with it. Out of touch.

In my opinion, Dassi’s Facebook page is one big tunnel. It is a forum for supporters but not a forum for open debate. Any dissenters get blocked. I know this first-hand. All of the voices repeat the same thing – how amazing these righteous sisters are, how they are saving the world, how irredeemably wicked is the accused as well as anybody who stands up for her, and how corrupt is the system. The great echo chamber.

Some of these consumers are even so pious as to invoke the Name of G-d as if G-d really wants Israeli Jewish miscreants – real or imagined – to be extradited to goyim in Australia. They are actually “davening to Hashem” that Hashem should allow the Jewish nation to do what He clearly prohibits in his Torah and Shulchan Aruch.

The brashest display of consumerism that Dassi and her sisters display, is when they denigrate and vilify the non-consumers – those that acquired the clarity that comes with ameilus b’Torah. The consumers cannot fathom the clear thinking so all they can do is try to bring the ameilei Torah down to their level. And they incite all their supporters to follow suit.

As Rabbi Akiva said about his years as a consumer: “I would say, ‘Who can bring me a scholar and I will bite him like an ass!’”

Anybody from the One Above, ameilus b’torah camp is going to think differently than the consumers and, as such, anyone from this camp is a target. I have gotten my fair share and later it was Rav Yitzchok Dovid Grossman. More recently, it was Rav Yaakov Litzman. But the one that inspired this post, is their encounter with Harav Mendel Shafran, Shlita. This episode is recounted in Dassi’s Facebook post from March 10, 2019. (Sorry, my inspirations take a while to come to fruition.)

Dassi and her sisters just happened to be visiting Eretz Yisroel to celebrate more of the shameful extradition hearings that they feel will save the children of the world. A renowned Talmid Chacham, HRHG Menachem Mendel Shafran, about 72 years old, attended the hearing and offered to take responsibility for Mrs. Leifer is she is released to house arrest.

The Sapper sisters and all those saintly child abuse advocates were clearly aggravated by this show of compassion. It goes without saying that Mrs. Leifer is not entitled to any. So they decided to go all the way to Bnei Brak to have a face to face meeting with Rabbi Shafran. I think it is a safe assumption that Rabbi Shafran did not call this meeting and it was the initiative of the Sapper sisters.

Needless to say, these sisters did not come away from the meeting with a sense of accomplishment. In fact, Dassi writes: “we were so deeply pained after leaving this encounter with him”. And this begs the question:

What in Heaven’s name were they trying to accomplish? What were they expecting??

To qualify this question, let me remind my readers, new and old, that I have been writing about this episode for close to three years. I began with Thinking Like a Jew to present the Halachic foundation and I went on to apply these Halachic principles to this case. These Halachic principles are found in Shas and poskim and anybody who is an ameil b’Torah and is familiar with the Shas and poskim should undoubtedly reach the same conclusions. The Sapper sisters and the Child Abuse Advocates are all quite aware of what I have written. I am sure of that.

Moreover, in June of 2017 I expressly wrote (Flirting with Danger):   

This episode does not seem to be on the radar screen of the Eidah or Gur and Vizhnitz.  so we haven't heard from them. Why? Because it hasn’t reached a critical point…But, if this thing isn’t dropped, it will…The Eidah and Gur will not support this mesira; especially if it is perpetrated by the “medinah”. Trust me on this. I do not stand alone.

So, more than two years ago, I proclaimed that Gur will not support this mesirah. They all know I wrote this. Yet, a short time later, they saw that Rabbi Grossman wanted to help Mrs. Leifer – and the consumers were in shock! Then, on their previous visit, Rav Litzman told them that he will not support this mesira – and the consumers were in shock! And now Rabbi Shafran tells them that he does not support this mesira – and the consumers are in shock!

What were they thinking?

I should be shocked, but I am not. I have known consumers my whole life and that is why I decided to write a book to try to help them become a little more shock resistant. But, as I wrote, there is no getting through to tunnel vision sufferers who live in an echo chamber.

And when they cannot avoid seeing or hearing, they live in a state of denial.

The people who can, avoid my posts. The irreligious or non-Jews can ignore me. But the few who claim to be observant are quite stuck. Because Rambam and Shulchan Aruch and Chofetz Chaim and even Rav Elyashiv say exactly what I say they said. So I get people who profess to be Torah observant Jews and pretend to be Rabbis say the Halacha I present is “misguided”, “misapplied” and “pseudo-Halachic”. Even when it is quoted verbatim.

Denial.

And when other folks who are as learned as I am (and more, although perhaps not as articulate and outspoken) take the same position, they are just as misguided. The consumers all know better!

Denial.

So now, let’s have a look at Dassi Erlich’s Facebook post from March 10, 2019 and we can see how far reaching this plague really is.

As I often do, I will first reprint the entire post and then analyze it in segments. Here goes:


This past Friday we met with Rabbi Shafran in Bnei Braq to discuss why he was publicly supporting Leifer by asking the court to release her under his care.

Our meeting was right out of the text book I am studying regarding abusive arguments. I now understand why we were so deeply pained after leaving this encounter with him.
In my Post Grad Degree in Domestic Violence I am learning that abusive arguments usually have the following four characteristics:

1- Denial in refusing to believe us. "I did not say I believe you, I will not say I believe you. I will not come to court to support you. I will not take sides".

2 - Excusing of ones beliefs." Leifer taught my two daughters and nothing ever happened to them".

3- Minimisation of ones worth as a Survivor.
"You were abused already, somebody else hurt you".

4-Justification. Writing a letter to the Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and turning up at court to support Leifers bail, "It's my duty as a rabbi to support a fellow Jew".

When asked why Leifer's Jewishness deserved his sympathy over our own??

He refused to answer us.

He did explain the importance of supporting the abuser because he saw them as the underdog.

I looked at him incredulously and asked him if he had ever been to court when an Ultra Orthodox predator was the accused. On which sides was the court swollen with supporters?

Again he refused to respond.

Rav Shafran is heralded as the Rabbi who instructs complainants to report to the police. He shared an example of a woman who called him up recently. "Go to the police", he told them, "know though your children will expelled from school, you will be barred from your synagogue and you life will be ruined".

Imagine how hard it is for survivors of abuse in his community to speak up. This man is considered a standard bearer on these issues. What hope do these people have?


So Dassi is setting out to tell us about her encounter with Rabbi Shafran which, evidently, pained her deeply. As we will see, her words are somewhat incoherent. In addition, there are some general points that we must keep in mind throughout her post. Mainly, we are only hearing her presentation of the conversation.

·       She does not tell us how long the meeting lasted and what amount of it is being told over.

·       We cannot be certain if she is verbatim, if she is not distorting some of it, adding words or phrases or leaving some important ones out.

·       In the course of her post she puts things in quotes. We cannot tell if these are exact quotes from Rabbi Shafran or common lines that she has heard from other people in the course of her copious meetings and is attributing them to Rabbi Shafran even if he himself didn’t say them.

·       When she says “he didn’t respond”, we cannot be sure if he really not respond at all, or she does not want to acknowledge his response. 

Basically, Dassi is showing us what she wants us to see. We don’t really know how the conversation went. One thing is clear, Dassi does not seem to have a positive opinion about Rabbi Shafran nor much respect for him. And she wants to make sure that her readers and supporters share her disdain.

Based on the Likes and comments, she is tremendously successful. As many say, she is an amazing woman and an inspiration for us all. What they say about Rabbi Shafran (and Rabbi Grossman and Rabbi Litzman and, of course, me) cannot be reprinted.

But when we look a little deeper into her post, we see the ivaron (tunnel vision), shigaon (irrationality and denial), and timhon levav (cluelessness) that personifies a bona fide consumer.

I have it all written up but it is quite a bit winded, and we all have to make Shabbos and Pesach (Sheh”i-Peh”i), so I will cut it short here and continue in the following post.

To be continued...

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Kosher by Association: Intro (again) and Part 2 - Jewish Community Watch and the Love Triangle


Author's note - This post is the second installment, and primary portion of this two-part series. The Intro is identical to that of the previous post. I am reprinting it here for the benefit of readers who have not read Part 1. Skip it if you read the previous post. It is also recommended to see my earlier post on this subject - Your Friendly Jewish Community Kangaroo Court.
Disclaimer - All of the information presented in this post (with the exception of the non-public lawyer's letter) is sourced from information freely accessible on the Internet. If anything claimed here is inaccurate, please contact me and I will be happy to update the information.




Intro


The gemara in Sanhedrin (91a) tells us an ancient fable.


Antoninus told Rebi (Rabi Yehuda HaNasi) that on the day of judgment, both the body and the soul will be able to exonerate themselves. The body will blame the soul and claim it is the soul’s doing, for “from the day it left me, I have been lying motionless in the grave like a rock”. The soul will blame the body and claim it is the body’s doing for “ever since the day we parted I have been floating around aimlessly like a bird”.


Rebi responded with the following fable:


A king had a luscious orchard and needed reliable guards. He stationed a blind man and a cripple to guard the orchard. The cripple would tell the blind man how beautiful are the fruits of the orchard but he is paralyzed and can’t get to them. The blind man said, “I could get to them if I could see them but I can’t see”. The cripple suggested, “If you let me ride on your shoulders, we can reach them together. Let’s do it.” And they did.


When the king noticed that his orchard was pillaged, he accused the guards. Each guard was able to present a defense. “I can’t even see them”, said the blind man. “There is no way I can access them”, said the cripple. But the king caught on to their scheme and understood what they did. So, what did he do? He mounted the cripple on top of the blind man and judged them as one.


Rebi concluded: This is what HKBH will do on the day of judgement. He will throw the soul back into the body and judge them as one.


What we learn here is literally one of the oldest “tricks” in the book. Two parties team up to do some mischief and when the mischief is found out, each one claims the other guy did it and he has nothing to do with it. In fact, he is not even capable of it.


There is more than one way to pull off this trick. One way is the case of Rebi’s fable. The two culprits spent all their time in public as two distinct entities. They only teamed up to do monkey business when nobody was looking. The minute they were done, they went back to being two separate disabled people. Their purposes were served by the illusion of being two separate restricted entities.


The other variation is the exact opposite. It’s a case where the two parties want to appear in public as if they are one entity. The illusion that they are one entity is what serves their purposes at the outset. It is only after the monkey business is discovered that they try to split to two different directions to stay out of trouble. (This is actually closer to Antoninus’s case.)

We all know the term “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”. It’s just that sometimes the sheep’s clothes is not just a wool jacket, but an actual live sheep. It’s the sweet old lady or cute little kid in the graft scheme that distracts the jeweler while the sneaky accomplice steals the goods. The “sheep” makes the “wolf” look respectable, but really both of them are wolves.

Part 2 – Jewish Community Watch – We Cannot be Silent
It’s time to move on. The BDA and RCA are not the only “blind” and “crippled” watchmen that are pulling the wool over our eyes. And they are not even the main ones that I wanted to discuss in this 2-part series. 

Recently I have been writing a great deal about an organization called JCW (Jewish Community Watch). In the wake of the Malka Leifer episode they have done a great deal to put themselves on my radar screen, so I have been looking at them quite a bit.

Last November, I wrote a post about JCW titled Your Friendly Jewish Community Kangaroo Court. The post was written in the wake of a podcast interview of JCW Israeli Office COO, Shana Aaronson. In the interview, Mrs. Aaronson was extolling the virtues of JCW and one of her praises was that JCW has “never been sued”. [Side note – I am not so certain that this statement still holds true.]  In my post, I took exception to this claim and wrote that I believe it to be deceptive and misleading (a “half-truth”). This is because, in most cases, there are so many legal, financial, and practical obstacles to filing a defamation suit as to make it too prohibitive to carry out. I went on to present a list of said obstacles. 

At the end of the list, was the following:
In Israel, it is easier to prove defamation but here we have another problem that Mrs. Aaronson has not revealed to us. JCW is not a legal organization in Israel as they have not registered in their business or non-profit registry (Rishut HaTaagidim). Officially, in Israel, JCW only exists on the cloud.

What this is saying is that, here in Israel, JCW has been trying to stay off the government radar screen while trying to make a lot of commotion with the public. As an official “Amuta” (NPO), they do not exist. As such, if somebody feels they have been unjustly maligned and want to complain or call a Din Torah or sue, not only is there nobody to complain to, but there is nobody to complain about!

So, let’s assume that you are a fine upstanding G-d-fearing Israeli citizen named Avrohom Rosenberg or Zalman Cohen or Shimon Amar. There is not an abusive cell in your body. However, you get taunted, maligned and/or find doors closing in your face for jobs or shidduchim (for you or your children) because your name happens to be identical to some alleged offender that is posted on the JCW Wall of Shame without a photo – so nobody can tell by looking that you are not the offender. And if somebody Googles your name, the first thing they get is a link to JCW's Wall of Shame.


Let us even say that this really hasn’t caused you any grievous harm and you are a bit laid-back about it, but your wife or mother has discovered this “coincidence” and she is losing it. You are totally Israeli, you cannot really speak English and you have no connections to the US.

What are you going to do?

Will you call Meyer Seewald in Florida to a Din Torah? So that he can respond, “No problem, let’s go to the RCA Beit Din (of which, Rabbi Blau, who is a board officer of JCW, is a member)”? 

Will you complain to the Rabbinic advisors – to Rabbi Tauber, ten time zones away in California or to Rabbi Soloveitchik, only a mere eight time zones away in Chicago? (Note - JCW does not have a “Rabbinic advisor” or a legal advisor in Israel.) Will you track down Shana Aaronson who is totally unlisted (and will anyway claim that she is just a lowly staff member)?

The reason that foreign based businesses that operate in Israel need to be registered, is to establish a documented presence. This is so they can be held accountable for upholding local laws and local business practices and, of course, to maintain fiscal responsibility. This is essential to protect the public from damages and to protect other businesses and NPOs from unfair advantages. And so, like many other developed countries, the State of Israel has Section 9, Chapter 2 of the Corporations Law (1999) which, in paragraph 346, mandates any foreign enterprise that conducts business within the borders of Israel to register the name and address of the business, to name a director and (paragraph 348) to file an annual financial report.

Government oversight agencies for business practices is an integral part of any civilization. So much so that our Halacha mandates it as well. It’s right there in Choshen Mishpat 231:2 and 231:20 (see Bava Basra 89a). Just like real estate laws, health codes, building codes, fire codes, and traffic laws, we are Halachically duty-bound to comply with them. Ideally, the local Beit Din should oversee these things. But when Beit Din does not run the show, we must comply with the regulations of whoever does. This is where dina d’malchusa applies.

As it stands, there is currently no indication that Jewish Community Watch is in compliance with Section 9, Chapter 2 of the Corporations Law. This non-compliance insulates them from being sued and it also protects them from filing those pesky annual reports where they need to show how much money they took in, where it came from, and where it went to.

Now JCW is undoubtedly an impeccable organization. Just listen to the glowing praises of Shana Aaronson. JCW claims the hechsherim of Rabbi Elchonon Tauber and Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik, and, of course, they are under the direction of Rabbi Yosef Blau. So, it goes without saying that everything they do is on the up and up. [Coincidentally, Rabbi Yosef Blau is also a member of the RCA although he does not seem to be a board member or officer at present. Nevertheless, his son, Binyamin, is indeed an officer – Vice President, Midwest – so, it would seem that the elder Rabbi Blau is an influential player. Small world.] 

It’s unthinkable that such a virtuous organization as JCW should be in violation of Israeli law. With such a hechsher they must be strictly Kosher. But how do they pull this off?

Well, perhaps we can say that they are “Kosher by association”. 

And who might this association be?

Enter…Lo Tishtok (Do Not be Silent).

Lo Tishtok is a relatively nascent, unimposing, Israeli based CSA advocacy group. So unimposing, in fact, that they don’t have any web site at all, and certainly not a physical office. There is nothing more than a Facebook account. They seem to be operating out of someone’s studio apartment in Jerusalem. Their contact is an email address and the personal cell phone number of Racheli Roshgold. They do not seem to be heavy on resources or personnel. Very low key and very low budget.


Moreover, they have no endorsements of any kind whatsoever - Rabbinic or otherwise. Likewise, no Rabbinic or legal advisors. The few staff members have, at most, very superficial professional credentials. (One has a certificate in "sexual health counseling" and another is studying for a Master's in Clinical Psychology. No sign of any professional practice.)


In short, they are a crew of unaccredited amateurs. What we Jews call "heimishe".


But…Lo Tishtok does have one strong point. They are officially registered in the business registry as an Israeli Amuta – Amuta No. 580633840

Lo Tishtok is very closely affiliated with JCW. How closely? 

For one thing, their two main players – Rachel Roshgold and Tzviki Fleischman – happen to appear on the Staff Member page of JCW’s US web site. I call this “sharing resources”. [Note - It seems that the JCW website was briefly offline recently and appears to have been hacked. As of now, they have managed to restore most of their original website. The rare exception is the Staff Member page which, to date, shows no display.]

Moreover, the Israeli JCW website names Lo Tishtok as a “Project” of theirs. A recent article in the Israeli Yisrael Hayom named Lo Tishtok as its “Israeli Branch”. Recent banners, pamphlets and Child Safety booklets that JCW has been distributing in recent events in Israel all display Lo Tishtok as a co-sponsor of their activities.

But the most important thing is that JCW held a marathon 36-hour crowdfunding campaign last December. The campaign was hosted by Charidy.com which seems to be a New York based enterprise (with a branch in Australia, of all places). 

Charidy.com interfaces their site in several languages. The English version of this campaign only mentions JCW and no other organization. This ensures that the funds are for the US based JCW (which probably includes their Israeli “office”) and no one else. I would also assume that the first stop of the money is their American based war chest which is probably some American bank account. [Interestingly, the English language campaign page does not display any kind of Tax ID number for Jewish Community Watch – not US or Israeli (there is no Israeli number, remember?) nor does it even mention Lo Tishtok!]

But if you look at the Hebrew language version – which comes up automatically if you are running on an Israeli ISP – it looks a bit different. The text of the campaign rhetoric starts with a headline that says: Lo Tishtok. It goes on to give some background of the two organizations such that JCW was founded in 2011 and Lo Tishtok was founded in 2014 and the two organizations have “recently united with the understanding that each organization has its own knowledge and capabilities and the alliance between them will maximize their capabilities…, etc., etc.”

What they are saying is that JCW can see and do, but it is not Israeli, so it is a bit crippled. It needs a pair of legs. Lo Tishtok can get around in Israel. They are legal. But they, as unaccredited, unendorsed and unsupervised amateurs, are not so equipped to really see what’s going on. They need some eyes. So, here’s Shana Aaronson and Jewish Community Watch. [Note – Their campaign page includes an embedded action filled YouTube clip of all of the players – Meyer Seewald and Shana Aaronson of JCW and Racheli Roshgold and Tzvika Fleishman of Lo Tistok – having loads of fun playing detective.]

So, the blind man and the cripple get together to collect money in Israel that is [presumably] being banked in America. Is this allowed? 

Well, perhaps it would be okay if the Israeli JCW is registered as an Amuta in Israel. But this does not seem to be the case. Or perhaps it is okay if Lo Tishtok, the legal Amuta, is collecting money for Lo Tishtok. But this does not seem to be the case. Unless

…Lo Tishtok is JCW in Israel. And this is what they seem to be claiming to the public. 

But if this is so, then a disgruntled Israeli who wants to sue JCW, can file the suit against Lo Tishtok!

Can he?

Well, for the moment, there does not seem to be any legal documentation that unites Lo Tishtok with JCW. Also, I am privy to a non-public statement that a lawyer for JCW in Israel has denied any formal alliance. 

Ah-hah! When they are campaigning for money, the cripple and the blind man are “united”. But when they are not campaigning for money, the crippled one stays crippled and the blind one stays blind!

Now, let’s thicken the plot. Lo Tishtok is certainly not collecting the money for Lo Tishtok. They say they are collecting the money for JCW. But, are they?

Well, in the Hebrew version of the campaign page, they do display a tax ID number. An Israeli one. The number is 580528230. But this number does not belong to JCW, nor to Lo Tishtok. It belongs to an organization called Magen Child Protection.

Magen Child Protection is an earlier incarnation of the JCW model first established in 2010. As far as I can tell, the only difference is that it did not maintain a “Wall of Shame”. But this organization has been totally defunct since the summer of 2015. Absolutely no website (except an inactive blog) and a totally blank Facebook page. No office. Emails bounced. All phones disconnected. Nothing. They did indeed file a 2016 financial report in May of 2018 claiming NIS 206,000 (about $55,000) of revenues and operating fees – about half that of the previous year – but no telling what the money was used for. So far, no 2017 financial report and the 2018 report is already due.

One more thing about the now defunct Magen Child Protection. When they did operate, who was their Social Service Coordinator? 

You guessed it – Shana Aaronson

[Update - After publishing this post, a very thoughtful reader informed me that Magen officially closed for business in August of 2017 (again this is after at least two years of inactivity). They sent out an email with this announcement to all their followers. The email states that, "Magen's Victim Services Department has been adopted by the Israel office of Jewish Community Watch..." You can see the email HERE.
So, now it looks like the blind man and the cripple have recruited a third partner - a dead man.
Who do you think each one is going to blame?] 


So we now have Racheli Roshgold and Tzvika Fleishman who work for both JCW and Lo Tishtok, and Shana Aaronson who works for JCW and Magen Child Protection. This is some love triangle!

And now, Lo Tishtok, acting on behalf of JCW, is telling donors to chalk up the donation to Magen Child Protection

Is this legal?

Well, JCW is a fine upstanding organization under the leadership of Rabbi Yosef Blau and has Rabbi Elchonon Tauber and Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik as Rabbinic advisors and Leah Klein, Benny Forer and Alex Zalkin as legal advisors, and in their FAQs they write how much they are dedicated to creating a Kiddush Hashem – so all this must be legal.

Though I am a bit surprised (I am not a Rabbi or a lawyer.)

As I wrote from the gemara in Bava Basra 89a (Choshen Mishpat 271:2 and 271:20), a Beis Din must set up oversight agencies to monitor associations. This is for the purpose of combating “ramah’im” (swindlers – see Bava Basra 89b). Associations team up to share their “capabilities”. If one association is more “kosher” than another, it gives the illusion of making the other one “kosher by association”. 

This actually is how we “kasher” mikvaos; by attaching a “pasul" one to a kosher one. The kosher one makes them both kosher just by virtue of being attached to it. 

But the purpose of a mikveh is to purify people. People come out of a mikveh clean, so nobody has any reason to want to sue a mikveh. But for an entity that is bent on declaring people to be impure and "pasul" and seeing to it that they stay that way, the rules are different.

A love triangle is only as strong as its weakest link. And, in my personal opinion, Lo Tishtok may have a good reason to remain silent.

והייתם נקיים מה' וישראל!