Monday, November 14, 2016

Mesira XVII: Current Headlines and an Open Letter of Praise to Reb Dovid Lichtenstein

I just finished listening to the latest posted broadcast of Headlines (okay, it was yesterday). It is - to quote him - a fabulous show. So much so that it inspired me to write him an email of praise. It's a bit long and I don't know if he will read it (he asked me not to send him more emails when he disagreed with me on the Malka Leifer issue and he unsubscribed from my blog email list), but this is an open email, so, maybe, somebody will.

Here it is:

Hello Reb Dovid, LOY”T

Shalom u’bracha.

I was very impressed and gratified by your broadcast of November 5, 2016, Victims and Prevention and dealing with criminals in our midst Part 1. (Thus far I have not heard Part II).

The two Rabbinic guests that were interviewed, Rav Sorscher and Rav Eisenman, Shlita(s) were both very clear and effectual in presenting authentic daas Torah on how to deal with these regrettable circumstances.

Rav Sorscher clearly pointed out the proper Halachic procedure in accordance to the psakim of Rambam (Rotzeach 1:7), Shu”A (Ch”M 425:1), Chofetz Chaim (Hilchos Lashon Hara 3:10) and Rav Moshe Feinstein (IgM O”Ch 1:8) all of whom maintain that, if at all possible, the initial approach is to confront the accused and demand that he desist from his actions and comply with community demands and likewise to forewarn the suspected offender before one can take extreme measures. Also that these measures can only be undertaken by those who have firsthand knowledge of the issues. And, finally, this is only after other less extreme measures have been tried and/or ruled out.

Likewise, Rav Eisenman opened his discussion by stating that “each case is different and each case has its own complexities and nuances”. In other words, each case must be evaluated individually. He goes on to say that the most crucial element is to evaluate the stance of the accused offender to see if he admits to wrongdoing or not and if he is compliant. Obviously, this can only happen as a result of a direct confrontation.  Further, he says that if there is no true evidence there must at least be a “kahla d’lo paska” that should be “substantiated”.

All of this is in concurrence with the well-known teshuva that Rav Elyashiv, ZT”L wrote to Rav Feivel Cohen, Shlita as far back as 2004. In his closing words, Rav Elyashiv, ZT"L, writes that each case must be evaluated separately by a qualified chacham before one can be moser to authorities.

I also found the firsthand account of Reb Motti Weiss to be very touching and toellesdig.

Lastly, I felt that in this broadcast your role as a moderator was top notch.  You seemed to come across very objective and balanced. More so than in many of your past broadcasts on this subject.

As you may be aware from some of my articles, it appears to me that this consensus of daas Torah has not been universally reflected on this sensitive issue. In your interview with Harav Dovid Cohen, Shlita in Sept. 2015, Rabbi Cohen seemed to advocate immediate mesira to non-Jewish authorities  for all cases regardless of the “complexities and nuances” of any specific case. This seems to contradict directly with the psak of Rav Elyashiv, ZT”L. Further, he initially made no mention of confronting or forewarning the accused and intimated there is no need for it. (Six minutes later, in the most marginal manner, he mentions having a “consultation” with the accused.) This seems to directly negate the guidelines of Rambam, Shu”A, Chofetz Chaim and Rav Moshe, ZT”L that were meticulously observed by Rav Sorscher.

Moreover, it is interesting to note that the correspondence of Rav Elyashiv, ZT”L was included in a kuntress compiled by Rav Zvi Gartner, Shlita that he called: Kuntress Dam Re’acha and was published in the anthology Yeshurun Vol. 15 in 5765. This kuntress includes teshuvos from four other contemporary gedolim including Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg and Rav Asher Zelig Weiss, Shlita(s). One common thread among all the teshuvos is that they were all giving instructions to other Rabbanim (of lesser stature) in when to pasken that mesira is allowed. None of these gedolim was giving instructions to the general public. In fact, Harav Yehuda Silman, Shlita in the last teshuva has a summary of “Effective Rulings” where he states clearly (#4): This determination [to be moser] is not to be put into the hands of any [regular] individual, rather only into the hands of a dayan or “adam chashuv”.  The argument can be made that Rav Silman, Shlita speaks for all of the gedolim who wrote teshuvos (certainly for Rav Elyashiv, ZT"L).

Thus, it is very puzzling to hear Rav Cohen, Shlita openly defying this proviso by publicly declaring, “You don’t need to ask a Rav… go straight to the police”.

I am likewise puzzled at how, in 2015, 107 prominent American chareidi Rabbanim could defy the rulings of the Israeli rabbanim of ten years earlier as well as the psakim of the Chofetz Chaim and Rav Moshe Feinstein by signing a Kol Koreh that does just that. The Kol Koreh calls for “every individual” to promptly notify secular authorities of suspected abuse. No need to distinguish the nuances and complexities of the case and no need for confrontation, confirmation, forewarning, or exhausting other avenues. Just go ahead and be moser, and “every individual” can (must??) do it!

When this was printed in Mishpacha in August of 2015, I assumed that most of the signatories did not really scrutinize what was written. Surely, they will eventually either clarify or withdraw their approval. But it seems that these Rabbanim were willing to allow this faulty Kol Koreh to be republished in Mishpacha of October 13, 2016  - the gala Sukkos edition - with the identical terminology - not a single change (except for the email address of the organizer). And not with 107 signatures, but with 108.

I thought that perhaps the organizer managed to get one other young Rav to sign on. But the fact is that there were four new names on the Kol Koreh. Three are young rabbanim from Lakewood and the other a medical chaplain from Brooklyn. This means that three Rabbanim actually did remove their names. It seems that both Rabbanim from the Kollel in Cincinnati and one Rav from Los Angeles are no longer signed on.

I am most curious about why these three rescinded. I doubt it is due to anything that I wrote (they don't read my posts, do they?). But if it did have to do with the Halachic flaws of the letter (primarily enumerated HERE and HERE), why only these three?  

Do you have any thoughts on this?

What is most puzzling is that Harav Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, who so eloquently expressed the true positon of Rav Elyashiv and the prominent Rabbanim in Eretz Yisroel in his interview, is signed on both appearances of the Kol Koreh. If he supports the Kol Koreh, why deal with the complexities and nuances of the case and who cares about the stance of the accused?

I understand that only Rav Eisenman can answer this question, so I suppose I will send him a CC copy of this email.

All told, I really do want to commend you on your November 5 broadcast which was true to daas Torah and exceptionally well done. I wish all of the previous ones were as much. I am looking forward to hearing the Part II broadcast when it is posted.

You do have a great show and, over the months, I have learned a tremendous amount from it.

Keep up the good work and try to get those broadcasts posted a bit quicker!

Chazak v’ematz.


Your old friend and roommate (for about a week),

Yechezkel Hirshman

P.S. Did you really vote for Hillary?

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