Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Dassi’s Lament: The Pitfalls of Vengeance – Parts I-III


Part I – A Short Vort



והבור רק, אין בו מים (בראשית לז,כד)


And the pit was empty, it had no water in it.



ממשמע שנא' והבור רק איני יודע שאין בו מים אלא מה ת"ל אין בו מים מים אין בו אבל נחשים ועקרבים יש בו: (שבת כב.)

If the pit is empty, certainly it had no water in it! What does this teach us? The pit had no water in it, but there were snakes and scorpions in it. (Shabbos 22a)


I am a little late for Parshas Vayeshev. But since it is still Chanukah (final hours), I want to bring us back to this timeless chazal.

We have probably heard countless insights on the significance of this chazal. For our purposes, I want to weave a tapestry from three well known insights.

The first two are very concise and almost identical:



Insight 1 (מפי השמועה)

Nature abhors a vacuum. A receptacle cannot be absolutely empty. If there is no water occupying the space there must be something else. So chazal tell us there were snakes and scorpions.



Insight 2 (מפי השמועה)

Water is a useful commodity. Snakes and scorpions have no constructive purpose. The second insight is that when a receptacle is not being used for a positive purpose, it will not stand idle but will be used for a less than positive purpose. There is no neutral.



Insight 3 (אזנים לתורה)

The third insight is an extension of the first two, but we must first know three other teachings of chazal:



Baba Kama 17a

אין מים אלא תורה – When the pasuk refers to “mayim” - water, it is a synonym for Torah knowledge.



Yoma 22b

כל תלמיד חכם שאינו נוקם ונוטר כנחש אינו תלמיד חכם  - Any Torah sage who is not as begrudging and vengeful as a snake [for the honor of Torah] is not a true Torah sage. This tells us that the snake is the quintessential model of a creature that is begrudging and vengeful. Or, in other words, one who is unjustifiably begrudging and vengeful is imitating the attributes of a snake. As such, a “nachash” – snake - is a synonym for one who is begrudging and vengeful.



Avoda Zara 13b

העובדי כוכבים והרועי בהמה דקה; לא מעלין ולא מורידין - The idol worshippers and those who raise sheep and goats in Eretz Yisrael (and allows them to graze indiscriminately), we do not raise them out and we do not lower them down.

Raise them out from where? And lower them down to where?

Rashi there in Avoda Zara 13b tells us: We do not lower him into a בור – “bor”, a pit – so that he will die; but if he fell into a pit by the Hand of G-d, we do not rescue him,  either.

This last teaching tells us that there are three status levels of people.
(1) A regular normal upstanding person. For such a person, if he should fall into a life threatening situation, the basic din is maalin v’lo moridin. We must do everything we can to raise him out of his “pit” and certainly to prevent him from falling in.
(2) A menace to society and a threat to others. Here, the din is moridin v’lo maalin, we may even initially lower him into the pit thus bringing about his demise.
(3) One who is not a confirmed threat (a shepherd who is not careful about grazing) or his sins are only to G-d (an idol worshipper). Here, the din is lo maalin v’lo moridin, i.e. “hands off”. If he is in danger, we do not save him but we cannot put him there if he isn’t already.

So the reference of maalin and moridin is relating to an allegorical bor – a pit. Hence, bor is a synonym for a ruling of administering or saving from death.

To review: mayim - water - is a synonym for Torah knowledge, a snake is a synonym for one who is begrudging and vengeful, and a bor – a pit –is a synonym for a life threatening situation.

Now let us put it all together.

The ten brothers were judging Yosef’s status regarding the din of “bor”. Is he upstanding - “maalin v’lo moridin”? Is he reckless - “lo maalin v’lo moridin”? Or is he wicked - “moridin v’lo maalin”? Their ruling was the most extreme, “moridin v’lo maalin”. He can be actively lowered into the “bor”.
They passed a sentence of bor.

But the pasuk is informing us that the “bor” was empty, void of mayim. Their verdict was void of Torah principles. Their motives were not sanctioned by true Halacha. Chazal follow up on this to add: not only was there no “mayim”, Torah principles, but there were “nachashim” and “akrabim”. There were emotions of grudging and vengeance.

So says Rav Zalman Sorotzkin, ZT”L, in Oznayim L’Torah, Breishis 37:24. This is the third insight.

When we bring this back to the original two insights about “nature abhors a vacuum”, we understand that no human action or judgment is done without motives. One’s consideration of “bor" status must either be driven by the “waters” of Torah and be justifiable as “L’shem Shamayim” or, for lack of “water”, it inevitably will fill with “nachashim” and be driven by personal whims of grudging, vengeance and self-gratification.

End of sermon.




Part II – Dassi’s First Post



I haven’t written anything about the Malka Leifer episode for over two months. Out in the real world, nothing significant has happened for quite some time. But on the social media, there has been a great deal. The primary “victim” in the case, one Dassi Erlich, has been trying to make as much noise as she can and, in so doing, she is exposing a lot about herself and her two sisters.

This sudden surge of publicity began on September 23 (two days before Rosh Hashannah) when R. Dovid Lichtenstein aired a public interview with Dassi Erlich which I found to be enormously disturbing. I will explain what was so disturbing as we continue. At the time, I considered devoting a post to this interview, but the time wasn't ripe for it. I merely wrote a short note on my Facebook page.

Dassi Erlich made some startling revelations in the Headlines interview, which I will discuss later, and what she posted over the past week was even more startling, with more revelations. In between, there were two additional very disturbing podcasts by R. Dovid Lichtenstein on the subject of Mesira. For now, all that I can say about Dassi Erlich and R. Dovid Lichtenstein is: 

The pit is empty. There is no water.

Let’s quickly review the background. (See HERE for my initial post.)

Malka Leifer, an Israeli woman, was employed by a chareidi girls’ school in Melbourne, Australia from 2001-2008. In 2008 she was accused by some students of improper sexual behavior. She was immediately dismissed and sent back to EY. She has not admitted guilt nor has she been accused of any inappropriate behavior from that point on.

Since 2012, there has been an active campaign led by Miss Dassi Erlich to have her extradited back to Australia to be handed over to the non-Jewish judicial system for the purposes of punishment.

In past posts I have written that as tragic and damaging as the initial misbehavior up to 2008 may have been, it is now 2017 and this person lives in EY. There is no indication that she is currently any kind of rodef even here in EY and most certainly not in Australia where she hasn’t set foot since 2008 and has no intention to do so ever again. 

Consequently, for lack of a status of rodef, there is no conceivable justification to extradite her to Australia and hand her over to the non-Jews. Any effort to do so constitutes full blown mesira and a host of other heavy transgressions.

The Halachic foundation for all this – the “water of Torah” – was painstakingly laid out in this post (Thinking Like a Jew). So far, the only challenge I have received to anything that was written there was some fine-schmekker who had a problem with my description of nashim daatan kalos.

In addition to the long list of serious transgressions that would be in effect, I added that since there is no Halachic justification for this, this illicit media campaign and all the publicity it is generating is a colossal Chillul Hashem. What can be a bigger Chillul Hashem than setting up a FB page dedicated to mosering a Jew to the non-Jews and trying to recruit the “empty pit” masses to participate??

Now, let us get up to date and look at the two most recent Facebook posts of Dassi Erlich (update - she has since added two more posts).

The first of the posts comprises only three lines which I will number for reference purposes. Here is what she wrote:

1.   They tell me it's a chillul Hashem. My media campaign to #bringleiferback - a desecration of God.
(Messages received on a fairly regular basis)

2.   It makes me wonder how many people are messaging Malka Leifer with the same sentiment??

3.   Why is the onus on the survivor to remain silent and not on the perpetrator to expeditiously face the consequences of their crime?



In Line 1 she notes that she is receiving these messages “on a fairly regular basis”. Evidently, I am not the only person who sees her campaign as a big Chillul Hashem. Note that I am only a single person and I have not broached this topic for about two months and, outside of my blogs, I certainly have not messaged her, nor have I encouraged anybody else to do so.

Everything else she wrote both in the post and in response to comments indicates that she doesn’t take these messages seriously. So, why did she need to post this?

Something is obviously gnawing at her and she is desperate for support. So she turns to her mindless choir and, in one voice (except for a lone dissenter), they soothe her conscience. Of course, there is no mention of who “They” are. Even worse, she does not tell her audience on what basis “They” tell her it is a Chillul Hashem! She does not give her clueless audience a premise upon which to evaluate whether or not there is merit to this charge. And not a single member of her support choir seems to be interested.

Let’s move on to Line 2. She is wondering if people are sending the same messages to Mrs. Leifer.

Now, it’s pretty clear that Mrs. Leifer does not have a Facebook page and is not running any campaigns. Currently she is only going to Meron on Lag B’Omer and calling in sick to her extradition hearings. I didn’t really comprehend the question. At first glance, I thought that Dassi is asking if others are also telling Mrs. Leifer that Dassi’s Facebook page is a Chillul Hashem. Like, is Mrs. Leifer getting direct support from the “audience”? 

This “wonderment” does strike as a bit bizarre, like, why should she care? 

I then realized that I misunderstood her question and she was really asking if anybody from “her” (Dassi's) camp is telling Mrs. Leifer that her something-or-other is a Chillul Hashem?

This is even more bizarre (which is why I originally discounted this position). What is Mrs. Leifer currently doing that can possibly be called a Chillul Hashem???
Assuming the alleged activities are true, they occurred more than nine years ago and ended then. A thing of the past. As noted, Mrs. Leifer has not posted anything on social media for or against anybody. The only thing happening now that is relevant to the past is that she is not cooperating with those who want to extradite her and prosecute her. In light of the fact that her official position is one of innocence, whether true or not, there is no obligation for her to cooperate with those who are rodef her, with no Halachic license, to boot.  It certainly is no Chillul Hashem for her to avoid incriminating herself or to be incriminated.

Dassi Erlich alone is running a public media campaign to facilitate the mesira, nekama, Gonev ish, Lo tasgir, and any other transgression that is involved and is urging other uninvolved people (many of whom think they are observant Jews) to join her. And this is in the face of not only I but others who are warning her of her folly “on a fairly regular basis”!

Line 3 is the Makkah b’patish. Dassi wants to know why she must remain silent and there is no onus “on the perpetrator to expeditiously face the consequences of their crime”?

At the simple level these are two distinct questions. The answer to the first one - Why must she remain silent? - is quite obvious to a devoted Jew. We have rules about malshinus. If there is a clear and present danger to people and a constructive toelles to the malshinus, then one need not remain silent. But if nobody is in any kind of danger and the malshinus serves no useful purpose, as is the case here, then malshinus is forbidden.

The second question about why the “perpetrator” doesn’t need to “expeditiously face the consequences of their crime” is a very silly one. “Perpetrators” are not prone to do these sort of things just because their accusers want them to. Even if the accuser asks nicely like Dassi did in her Headlines interview (37:10).

So the answers to her questions at this level are really quite simple to one who knows how to think logically and to think like a Jew. One whose “bor” is filled with “water”, the water of Torah. But we have seen that if the “bor” is void of water, then it gets filled with “nachashim”, only thoughts of vengeance. And a vengeful thinker cannot think rationally. And so, she laments at being baffled by these questions.

But clearly, on a deeper level, she is asking a different question in Line 3. I will get to it in Part III where we examine her second recent post.



Part III – Dassi’s Second Post

Before I get back to her inquisitive post, we should examine her following post which was essentially a link to an interesting supportive write-up in the Age of Victoria authored by one Rachel Kleinman.

I mentioned that both her interview with R. Dovid Lichtenstein and her recent Facebook posts were full of revelations or “confessions”.  Many of these confessions are really only confirmations of significant details that were already presented by other sources. Until now, I dealt with them as unconfirmed speculations, but now she is herself confirming all of these details. In the Headlines interview, she said these things straight out and in her recent Facebook post, she is linking to a report in the Age of Victoria for which she herself provided almost all of the details – so everything written there carries her imprimatur.

Here is the short list of revelations:

1.   She came from an abusive home (Headlines 22:30 and 28:55). The Age article puts it this way:
Sadly, the seven children lived in a physically and emotionally abusive home, where they existed in constant fear of their cruel and extremely controlling mother.

With this, she confirms my charge that she had emotional issues for 15 years before Malka Leifer came into her life. Even if Malka Leifer did everything she is accusing her of, she is certainly not the sole cause of her problems.

2.   The school “had no idea” that something was going on (Headlines 31:30) and “no one had ever dealt with anything like this before” (Headlines 32:20).

With this, she is confessing that there is no justification for her to sue the school and to take any money from whoever it is that is paying it (which is not Mrs. Leifer).


3.   The three sisters gave their initial statements to the Victorian police only in 2011. (Age article).

This raises two very important questions:

a.  Malka Leifer was already gone from Australia for three years. As such, there was no rhyme or reason certainly from a halachic standpoint and even from a logical standpoint to involve the Victoria police. She is gone. If she can be considered an active threat in Eretz Yisrael in 2011 then it is perhaps justified to give a statement to the Israeli police, but to the Victorian police? Why? Did they do this on a whim or did they get any professional or Rabbinic guidance to do this? Why are the masses applauding this wanton behavior?

b. As long as no "statement" was given to the Victoria police, then she can certainly not be considered a potential or wanted criminal - or fugitive. Hence, when the Adass people shipped her out of Australia in 2008, they weren't shipping out an official fugitive and there was no act of obstruction of justice. As such, what is the justification of anybody to take them to task for doing the responsible thing and getting her out of Australia? And what are the grounds of Justice Jack Rush to incriminate them and fine them money?


4.   Her sister Nicole is two years her senior (Age article).

This was a real shocker!  Until now, I thought Dassi was probably the oldest. Earlier articles claim that she was abused from the age of 15-18. I found this to be perplexing in itself.  For four years into adulthood she didn’t know she was being abused? All this was non-consensual? But now I discover that for all this time she had a sister that was even two years older! 17-20! Where was she during all of this? Wait, there’s more! Another sister 12 years older! (Passed away three years ago at 39. Dassi is 30.) Where was she? Didn’t Dassi say in the Headlines interview (29:20) that she has six siblings and “I am very close to all of them”?

Something definitely does not add up here.

5.   And the last thing is something that I had heard from unverifiable sources and strongly suspected but was only now confirmed. In the Headlones interview she mentioned twice that she “was struggling with my religion” which is not conclusive, but the Age article closes the issue:
She had already endured the tricky transition from a life in ultra-Orthodox Judaism, where every move was governed by severe rules and rituals, to a secular life in Melbourne's suburbs. (Age article)

It’s confirmed. Dassi is no longer religious!

Actually, this was quite obvious to me from the start. Back in my post about Judging the Judges I wrote, "My suspicion is that she is no longer religious." And I wrote it again in my post about Flirting with Danger. After I repeated for the third time the list of issurim that are involved, I commented:

All of the above should rile up any yarei shamayim, people who believe in the 11th principle of emunah that HKBH will punish people for their transgressions. There is serious danger here… I was hoping this alone would reach the Australian Jews. But it seems to me that most of these Jews, the victims and their supporters, are not really yarei shamayim. So they will not acknowledge this danger.


In short, Dassi is not fazed by her involvement with mesira, and gonev ish, etc. She is not religious and no longer believes in Heavenly retribution. She does not use Torah principles to make her judgments. Her “bor” is void of water. By default, it is full of vengeful snakes and scorpions.

We can now return to her earlier post about Chillul Hashem, and I have a question of my own:

If she is no longer observant, why does she care if “They” think her campaign is a Chillul Hashem?

She has left the frum community, so it would seem that she is not really interested in what “They” think. She is docheh “Them” with both hands. There is no Torah. In her [secular] book, there is no Halacha. There is no mesira, malshinus, Lo Tasgir, Gonev ish. No nekama and no Chillul Hashem.

So, what’s her problem?

Her problem is the makka b’patish in Line 3.

Even though she is asking two separate questions, emotionally it is really only one question:
Why do I have to stay quiet and (at the same time) she doesn't have to give herself up? It isn't fair!

Why are “They” telling only her that she is perpetrating a Chillul Hashem. What about Mrs. Leifer (who hasn’t crossed any lines in over nine years)? Aren’t “They” also telling her she is doing a Chillul Hashem? Why only Dassi? Why can she go to Meron on Lag B’Omer? (Note - Dassi can go, too!) How can she get away without being extradited? Why are “They” protecting/supporting Mrs. Leifer and not her?

Oh, Teacher, why do I get sent out for disrupting the class?? She's the one who was making the funny faces!

It’s not fair!!!

She is tormenting herself. She cannot sleep nights. She sees Mrs. Leifer everywhere she looks (evidently, she looks everywhere for Leifer). Just like I wrote in my post about Judging the Judges, after the confirmed abuse from her mother and the alleged abuse from Mrs. Leifer, Dassi is abusing herself. She has no peace. And why?

Because she has no “water” in her “bor”. It is full of snakes and scorpions.

So she goes into her Facebook sanctuary and listens to her choir sing her praises. They unanimously tell her she is a tzadeikes. She is amazing. Strong. Inspiration. Chillul Hashem? How dare “They”? Everything she is doing is a Kiddush Hashem! The only one making a Chillul Hashem is that “vile vile animal”. Keep it up! Hatzlacha Rabba! Etc. etc. etc…

They are soothing her injured psyche. They are easing her pain. They are encouraging her and empowering her…for today.

But for tomorrow (and the next day), they are helping her abuse herself and helping her to perpetuate her torment. And they are helping her to lose both worlds – chas v’shalom – and to take her daughter and two sisters and everyone else with her!

Snakes and scorpions are very dangerous creatures. They will destroy her. I wrote in my June 7 post: Nekama always destroys its master. It’s a boomerang!


הוא שטן הוא יצר הרע הוא מלאך המות



End of Part III

To be continued…


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