Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lipkin's Parallelogram

All of my steady readers know that I follow Emes VeEmunah. Not that I think anyone should read his blog, but, for my line of work, it goes with the territory. Rabbi Maryles has made it his mission in life to find, expose and amplify every "defect" in the chareidi world - real or imagined - and to criticize his poor misguided brothers.

Only he calls it - "making a macha'ah".

I don't want to digress too far from my subject and express what I think about it. Let's just say there are many issues that people don't know about, won't know about, and won't care to know about until people like him first broadcast it on the Internet just so that they can "make a macha'ah". I don't really think there is any mitzvah to first meet the classical pashut pshat of לא תלך רכיל בעמך (the heter of 3 people definitely does not apply according to the Chofetz Chaim in Shmiras HaLashon 2:2) just to be mekayem הוכח תוכיח את עמיתך . But that's just my opinion.

Still, in my line of work as official chareidi apologist, I have to know what he says. Whether his kavanos are לשם שמים or not, he is clearly a קטיגור a "prosecutor". And I am a סניגור , an "apologist". I will take the saneigor position over the kateigor position any day.

So I follow his blog and I comment on it when I feel I have something to contribute. I try to be brief. My method is to merely make a point, not to "prove" it. It never pays to elaborate in the comments section. So if I want to elaborate on a subject I do it here. If I need to impress a point on somebody else's blog (like Harry's), I try to draw the reader to what I may have already written in my own forum. (Play with home field advantage!)

I did just that about a week ago when Rabbi Maryles was "making a macha'ah" about recent incidences of violence in RBS-B involving some chareidi hooligans . As he often does, Harry took somebody else's post and used it as a launching pad for his fireworks display. In this case it was Rabbi Natan Slifkin's account as related on his blog.

I don't want to comment directly about the incident because (aside that, just like Harry, I wasn't there) that would sidetrack us. Kanaos is a very complicated subject. Let me state for the record, that I am just as apalled and ashamed that this violence is going on as is anybody. Even a trip to the emergency room that doesn't R"L go all the way to the morgue is sh'fichas damim. And Jews have no business encroaching on Uncle Eisav's territory.

I personally do not believe it is proper for anybody to introduce these incidents into the media. Not Rabbi Slifkin even though he lives there and certainly not Rabbi Maryles who doesn't nor anybody. I think that if somebody is close enough to do something - go do it. For those who aren't close, who needs to know about it?

And making sure that everybody - even those who can have no influence on it - knows about it is what Chaza"l call רכילות .

Now chareidim are by definition religious idealists and idealism is just one step away from zealotry. So kanaos comes with the territory. Some of it is לשם שמים and some of it is not. If it is not לשם שמים , it amounts to a street brawl. When brawls like this take place, it is obviously quite a Chillul Hashem. And Chillul Hashems are a no-no.

We learn the concept of Chillul Hashem from the pasuk in Vayikra 22:32 that says:

וְלֹא תְחַלְּלוּ אֶת-שֵׁם קָדְשִׁי וְנִקְדַּשְׁתִּי בְּתוֹךְ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

The transgression of Chillul Hashem and the mitzva of V'nikdashti (Kiddush Hashem) apply to all of Bnei Yisroel. This means that we are all responsible to see to it that there are no Chillul Hashems. All of us. Chillul Hashems are not always the work of individuals. Sometimes there are partners. When people are partners in Chillul Hashem, it doesn't matter who owns more shares in the partnership. 50-50, 60-40, 90-10. It doesn't matter. Just like a business parnership, every partner is 100% responsible the liabilities of the corporation from the perspective of the creditors.

And so, as I question the wisdom of Rabbis Maryles and Slifkin to discuss these issues in the public arena in the first place, I even more question their wisdom and authority to lace it with laying blame as to which partner is liable.

They both are.

When Jews fight Jews we must decry the violence by all means. But not by pointing fingers. Or laying blame. Because, as I have written in post after post after post, there is always enough blame to go around. And, unless the side you are rooting for had absolutely nothing to contribute, and had no alternative but to get involved, their involvement is just as voluntary as anyone else's. And they are a partner in the Chillul Hashem.

I have written numerous posts to try and impress this point. To follow is a brief list of some of the most celebrated entries:

And so, finally, I can get to the point of this post.

When Rabbi Maryles discussed this incident and used it as another pretense for a wholesale condemnation of the RBS-B chareidi (kanai) community, there were a few voices who pointed out that, in this particular incident, there are some valid grounds to assert that there was blatant provocation. Ensuing commenters quickly rejoined with the lame "excessive response" claim which they don't buy when the UN slaps it on the Medinah but it still needs to apply to the chareidim. "Just because I stomped on your toe doesn't mean that you are justified to kick me in the groin".

To weigh in on this, I entered a comment with nothing more than a link to my essay about Absolving the Casualty (link provided above). My site meter tells me that quite a few readers checked out the link.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch in Slifkin territory, the same debate was being played out led by an anonymous poster who later slightly modified his ID to Ani-Nimaas. This fellow, evidently an avid chassid of mine, was thoughtful enough to transfer my link onto Rabbi Slifkin's thread. When he did transfer the link, it was in response to a gentleman who calls himself Menachem Lipkin.

Well, Mr. Lipkin actually took the trouble to read my essay (which I appreciate) and here are his comments:

According to Hirshman, virtually no terror victim in Israel is truly a "victim" since the terrorists define our being here as a provocation. You realize how bizarre that is? If a woman is walking on the sidewalk in our neighborhood, but in view of theirs and she's not dressed according to their absurd Tznious rules then, according to Hirshman, she's not really a victim.

And this is what I want to comment on here and the subject of this post (finally). Mr. Lipkin is employing a device that I have encountered numerous times in my blogging career. And in the world of mathematics, it is known as Lipkin's Parallelogram. It means taking a concept that I wrote, and drawing a parallel to something that I didn't write and treating it as if I did.

This device was actually invented in 1864 by Yom Tov Lipman Lipkin in St. Petersburg. And, according to one web site, it is a "mechanical device for the change of linear into circular motion" (Wikipedia says the opposite). And ever since, people have been taking things that I have written straightforward (linear) and have been bending and twisting them and thus changing them from linear into circular reasoning.

Let's check what I wrote with the main points emphasized:

A victim is typically an unarmed or non-aggressive party who was the target of an aggressive event (attack) and was physically, financially, or emotionally harmed (as in massacred). A victim is one who had no personal control over the situation and did not have the resources, the opportunity or the presence of mind to avert or flee the scene of the harmful event. Typically, a victim was not confronted and presented with demands and ultimatums before being attacked. Someone is truly victimized when they have done nothing of substance to contribute to the event that harmed them. A true victim is somebody who was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Conversely, one who knowingly and needlessly exposes themselves to a hazardous situation or willfully engages in a physical confrontation (e.g. General Custer) and is harmed, is not known to be a victim but a casualty. Terrorists attack civilians and those civilians are victims of a massacre. Combatants confront each other and inflict casualties. We say that one is a victim of an attack but we do not say that one is a victim of a confrontation. In a confrontation, one is not a victim but a casualty. Thus I have a very hard time calling General Custer and his men victims. Nor would I call Riff of the Jets a victim of Bernardo. Especially since he is the one who called the rumble.

Mr. Menachem Lipkin is applying this device to what I wrote. And, unlike the original device devised by Mr. Yom Tov Lipkin, in this one there are two flaws in how my words are applied. One minor flaw and one major one.

The first flaw, Mr. M. Lipkin almost catches himself:

According to Hirshman, virtually no terror victim in Israel is truly a "victim" since the terrorists define our being here as a provocation. You realize how bizarre that is?

But, evidently, he let it slide. Yes, I also think it's bizarre. So bizarre that I would expect an intelligent person to immediately ascertain that it is not what I meant, especially since it is not what I wrote. Since when did I make any definitions contingent on what the attacker - terrorist - thinks (or "defines")? My definition was totally based on what the victim/casualty does! I wrote that if the subject is non-aggressive, had no personal control over the situation, or nothing of substance to contribute to the event, then they are indeed victims. This definition is not to be mitigated by overly sensitive, trigger happy terrorists.

Now, there was another commenter who called himself "Distant American" who also noticed how bizarre Lipkin's Parallelogram by expanding the naarishkeit even further:

You could argue further and say that according to Hirshman unless you denounce being jewish, there are no victims of anti-semitism. A person who's property is stolen is not a victim, only a casualty because by having the property accessible to a thief, they enabled the thief to take it.

Though I will never know if his intention is to point out to Mr. M. Lipkin his folly and he is a rational thinker or if he is agreeing with him and is just as asinine (oh my gosh, there's two of them?), but I will give him the benefit of the doubt. What I do want to point out is his mashal about stolen property. Because to illustrate my point, just approach your local insurance agent (I did).

To the unendowed, the circumstances in my definition of a non-victim (knowingly and needlessly exposes, willfiully engages) as opposed to the victim (no personal control, etc.) can be summarized in one word:


When somebody is negligent, they are not a victim. Thus, if somebody has a car and a thief breaks into it and steals it, his insurance will cheerfully reimburse him becasue he wasn't negligent. But, let's suppose he leaves the door unlocked, the keys in the ignition and the motor running, unless he can make a good case for human error (which is covered), he will have a pretty hard time collecting from the insurance because they will claim gross negligence.

Since I have noticed that many people including Mr. M. Lipkin and perhaps Distant American have trouble with this concept, I have written these two posts:

Now, that was the minor flaw. But here is what I consider a more significant flaw in Lipkin's Parallelogram:

According to Hirshman...

According to Hirshman?

Does anybody ever notice that Hirshman bases his ideologies (all of them) on pasukim and chazals and whenever Hirshman writes things like this , Hirshman always brings down the sources that he is basing it on?

Many people don't. Lipkin doesn't, Harry Maryles doesn't, Dallas Jew doesn't and two of the fellows who commented on my previous post do not. And the list goes on.

So let's discuss the essay on hand. In this case, when I discussed the Torah's view on victimhood I made a casual reference to the story of Dina in Breishis and the Rashi on pasuk 34:1. There Rashi does not spell out that Dina carries some measure of blame, though it is implied, but my major source is the story of the betrothed virgin in Devarim 22:23. There Rashi (from the Sifri) spells it out in big bold letters. (Other sources I could have brought and did not are Devarim 4:15 and Mishlei 22:5 - see Kesubos 30a).

Though I really wouldn't mind taking credit, if I learn something from Rashi (and Sifri) and use it as my model, then it is truly Rashi's concept. So my question to Mr. Lipkin is twofold:

1) According to Hirshman?? You mean according to Hirshman and not according to Rashi?? What do you have against giving credit to Rashi?

Oh, I know the obvious answer. According to Hirshman I can make a ridiculous extrapolation that I myself call "bizarre". But Rashi obviously doesn't mean that. It is too bizarre.

2) Well, Mr. Lipkin, if Rashi doesn't mean it that way, why on earth do you assume that Hirshman means it that way?

So let me give it to you straight. Hirshman means what Rashi means. If Rashi doesn't mean it, then Hirshman doesn't mean it either. If it's too bizarre for Rashi, it is too bizarre for Hirshman.

Now many people in the blogosphere seem to be intimidated by Hirshman. Hirshman is arrogant and condescending and polemical and satanic and has a "harsh attitude".

For what?

For reminding people what Chazal and Rashi say.

What is the problem?

The problem is that people don't want to hear what Rashi and Chazal say. Because they will have a tough time ignoring them and calling themselves legitimate. So if they pretend that Hirshman is the one who is saying it and it is not really the words of the Tanach or Chazal or Rashi, they can twist it so it sounds bizarre and soothe their consciences. Much harder to do that with Rashi.

There are shelves full of books that remind people about what Chazal say. Things people don't want to know or be reminded about.

They are called mussar books.

For the past 150 years there have been a few brave Jews who are not afraid to study the polemical thoughts of Chazal. And the movement to do so was initiated by a man named Rabbi Yisrael Lipkin.

He was the father of the musser movement. And he was also the father of Yom Tov Lipkin, the creator of the Lipkin Parallelogram. That parallelogram was proven to work. But the parallelogram that was introduced by Mr. Menachem Lipkin has two flaws. The first, as I said, is, instead of changing circular motion to linear (the real effect as documented in Wikipedia), it changes straightforward, linear "motion" to circular.

And the second flaw is that he has trouble acknowledging the basis in Chazal. Sadly, Mr. Lipkin is afraid of Rabbi Lipkin.

There were a number of points that I wanted to make with this post. That said, let me repeat that I am also distressed at what has been going on in RBS-B. My definition of chareidi is one who does mitzvos with ameilus b'Torah and kanaos that is not לשם שמים can have no part in it.



Beit vegan said...

Briliant post r hezkal...thank g-d we have you to look at these laitzim marles, dov ber and slifkin...i dont look because of with emannual, i am hashas to sheker in addition to lason r tzvi meir (and you)say, we were not there and dont know...

Anonymous said...

"This device was actually invented in 1864 by Yom Tov Lipman Lipkin in St. Petersburg."

The son of Reb Yisroel Salanter! See

Harry Maryles said...

Yecheskel, I must say that I am flattered by your obssession with me.

What is interesting about this particular post is that you just did what you accuse me of doing - spreading Lashon Hara. You have added to the number of people who now know about this incident in RBS. (...unless you think only my readers read your blog - which is possible I suppose. But I doubt it.)

In any case, thanks for all thosee free plugs. Keep them coming. I invite all readers who haven't done so yet to go over to my blog at:

and spend some time there. You won't be disappointed.

dman said...

You wrote:
"I personally do not believe it is proper for anybody to introduce these incidents into the media. Not Rabbi Slifkin even though he lives there and certainly not Rabbi Maryles who doesn't nor anybody. I think that if somebody is close enough to do something - go do it. For those who aren't close, who needs to know about it?"

My response, or rather, the response of Justice Brandeis (
"Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman."

Anonymous said...

How much to blame the woman in cases like Dina in Bereshis is actually a dispute between the descendants Yitzchok and Yishmael.
In the case of Dina, she was not punished by her family. Similar events occur this very day in the Arab world and "honor" killings are done. Often only the woman is punished.

While you bring down a death penalty in Devarim, the Gemara concludes that a court that executed once in 70 years is considered a "bloody" court.
Many of the death penalties mentioned in Devarim very likely were never actually executed by any Beis Din.

Dallas Jew

Beit vegan said...

Maryles....i saw mamash apikorsus on your blog which u deleted...maybe u still have children to marry off... When u know 1 above 7 below by heart maybe ill talk to you ...but at least u have a name not like your haver DB...1 a this weeks parsha...

Beit vegan said...

Rebbi vamori rav avigdor miller ztzl was told by his rebbis in slabodka in lita to read NT.koran, etc in order to tashiv...

Anonymous said...

Tochechah (the rebuke or warnings of Bechukosai and Ki Tavoh) is part of Judaism, not its central theme that this site makes it to be. We read it in a lower voice and only call one person to the Torah for the reading of the warnings.

Dallas Jew

Yechezkel said...

To Rabbi Harry --

>>Yecheskel, I must say that I am flattered by your obssession with me.

That's right. I see your blog posts in my sleep. That's because I fall asleep when I read them (okay, this time I am joking!)

>>You have added to the number of people who now know about this incident in RBS.

How true! But you tell over these incidents to tell your readers how evil everybody is. I do it to tell my readers it's not as bad as other people make it look.

>>In any case, thanks for all thosee free plugs.

I wouldn't think of charging for them. Enjoy!

Yechezkel said...

>>Tochechah (the rebuke or warnings of Bechukosai and Ki Tavoh) is part of Judaism, not its central theme that this site makes it to be.

As I wrote somewhere else, every time I see a comment from you it is like a flashing neon sign that says: "I haven't read your book and I haven't a clue about your shitos."

Anonymous said...

"Still, in my line of work as official chareidi apologist"
The yeshivish / chassidic world has far better advocates than this blog. They just do not have the time.
Prosecuting a 50 year old lady for sitting at the front of a bus, and wide use of the NCOJ label is not the way to represent the yeshivish / chassidic communities.

Dallas Jew

Yechezkel said...

>>The yeshivish / chassidic world has far better advocates than this blog. They just do not have the time.

I mentioned this on page 20 of my book. Man, you haven't read anything.

>>Prosecuting a 50 year old lady for sitting at the front of a bus,

I don't think you really read neither my material nor hers. I don't want to get into it here. I've written enough in the posts.

>>and wide use of the NCOJ label

I totally lost you here.

Dov said...

Yechezkel my friend, I told you even before you published your book that if you want to maintain integrity in reverting to the Tanach's definition of "chareidi," as distinct from the modern-day self-selected group that chooses to call itself chareidi, you need to avoid siding with anyone who calls themselves chareidi and opposing anyone who does not call themselves chareidi.

There is no question that if you were here in person you would conclude that:

1) Mr. Lipkin is chareidi according to your definition of the word, and
2) The RBS-B hooligans are not chareidi according to your definition of the word, and
3) Mr. Lipkin's opposition to the RBS-B hooligans is in fact completely in line with your own quest to oppose those who hurt the religious Jewish world.

As such, there is no difference between Mr. Lipkin commenting on-line about the RBS-B hooligans, who are creating tremendous chillul Hashem in their aveiros le'shem chareidi'us, and your own commenting on-line about a semi-Orthodox female basketball player who you think is causing a chilul Hashem in her own actions le'shem "Orthodoxy."

You've chosen to write your modern-day mesilas yesharim using a word that has a lot of modern-day connotations that are contrary to your ideals. Imagine if a book on Mitzvas Yishuv HaAretz tried to claim that every Jew living in Eretz Yisroel is a "zionist" because the root meaning of "zionist" is being a support of Tzion. Would every frum Jew who is mekayem mitzvas yishuv ha'aretz support my calling them a zionist? I don't think so.

You can of course use words however you want to. I have no opposition to your calling me chareidi since I am chareidi by your own (and the Tanach's) definition. But if you're going to the Tanach's definition, you need to look carefully at other people's uses of the word, and be sure that you're not associating with the word in conflict with your own principles, as I think you are in this case.

Yechezkel said...

To Dov --

From the book as published (page 59):

>>It is important for me to clearly stress that I am not categorizing people. I am not relegating anybody to one camp or another. My purpose is to define what is a chareidi - not to define who is a chareidi.

I don't apply labels. I just print them out and let everybody apply their own.

The issue of this post is somebody callously distorting my written words and misrepresenting them. I will counter anyone who does that regardless of who they are or what they are.

Incidentally, I am really confused about your comment because all through the post I did not apply any "labels" to anybody that I referred to. The only label I gave to Mr. Lipkin was "Gentleman".

SA said...

Aside from your unnecessary ad-hominom attack on me, I find your post interesting.

However, I stand by my comment. If you look carefully at the paragraphs you quoted of yourself regarding "victim" you'll see that any Jew living is Israel now, and certainly anyone who has made aliyah in the past 60 years would not fit your definition of "victim".

Look at your bold words:

A person who makes aliyah from the US:

- Is likely non-aggressive
- Had personal control over the situation, (He didn't have to move)
- Was presented with demands and ultimatums. (Look at the PA or Hamas charter.)
- Again, contributed to the event by moving.
- And of course, such a person knowingly and needlessly exposes himself to the situation.

Bingo. A lot of people blown up on buses in the early 90's were not victims according to R. Hirshman. This is not some theoretical parallelogram, this is exactly what you are saying.

As to the more heinous crime I committed of, C"V, disagreeing with Chazal. Of course I did no such thing. You're playing a bit a straw-man game on that one. I never really defended the actions of these teens. However you'd be hard pressed to apply that Rashi in to-to to this case.

Negligence is not binary. The law recognizes levels of negligence and in tort cases often awards damages based on percentage of negligence. You even allude to this in your stolen car example by mentioning the concept of "gross negligence". Conversely, victim-hood is not binary.

Should these kids have spray-painted Jewish stars in Bet? No. I cringe every time I hear someone mention that we should do things that bring us down to the level of the terrorists. Is walking through Bet with an Israeli flag negligent? I say no, you may say yes. Regardless, you cannot, in all fairness, use that Rashi, to say these kids were not victims.

I wish you could see how your thinkin is really a page right of the playbook of the world's radical liberal left and the Islamicists. They constantly use your negligence/victim logic to turn terrorism on it's head.

The main issue here in Beit Shemesh is not about levels of negligence or victim-hood. If the case at hand were to be brought as a tort case you could make an argument for reduced damages based on the behavior of these kids. But do you really intend to mitigate the criminal behavior of a bunch of grown men who claim, by their dress and label, to be exemplars of Jewish piety?

Of course this is one case of dozens, in which there was no "provocation". Rabbi Slifkin's main point is that if these creatures are allowed to continue their terroristic behavior someone is going to get killed. By being a self-proclaimed Chareidi apologist you're helping bring that day, c"v, closer.

Stick with your definition of "Chareidi". Don't defend these people. And leave out your little caveat about Kanois. There is simply nobody alive today who we can trust to instigate Kanoyis L'shem Shamayim.

Btw, I'm sure you're aware that the famous mathemtician you quote was Rav Yisrael Salanter's son. Unfortunately, we're not related.

Menachem Lipkin said...

That "SA" above was me.

Yechezkel said...


Baruch said...

I just wanted to post a comment (against my better judgement). The comment is that something Yechezkel wrote above is not true:
It is important for me to clearly stress that I am not categorizing people. I am not relegating anybody to one camp or another...I don't apply labels. I just print them out and let everybody apply their own.

I refer the reader to the following link:

In said link, Yechezkel makes the following assertion:
The definition that the chareidim (e.g., myself, Rabbi Moshe Grylak, Rabbi Noigershall, Yeshaya HaNavi, etc.) give thmeselves is the one I presented at the beginning of this post and it is generally a large heterogeneous group consisting both of R"Y minded and RaShb"Y minded chareidim.

The definiton that the non-chareidim (e.g., Harry Maryles, Gil Student, Natan Slifkin, Naomi Ragen, and others) give us is typically limited to RaShb"Y minded chareidim and the most extremist among them, to boot.

Yechezkel clearly classifies R' Maryles and the others as what his book describes as NCOJs. My understanding of the "1a7b philosophy" as expounded in his book and blog is that it is entirely inconsistant. Yechezkel wants to claim he is only espousing Torah values and not labeling people while OTOH...well...labeling people.
--Baruch Pelta

Yechezkel said...

Indeed, I have taken the liberty on occasion to agree with people who have publicly distanced themselves from the chareidi appelation. I try not to be a disagreeable person.

I mentioned it in this post:

The Critics Rave

Stay in touch, Baruch.

Baruch said...

You never write :(