Thursday, January 28, 2010

What On Earth Is Going On Here?

Last week, Rabbi Dovid Ribiat, in a 5TJT interview, stated that the reason why no condemnation of Tropper has occurred is that there is not sufficient evidence of wrongdoing; but "once there is incontrovertible evidence, appropriate measures will be taken." Today, Rabbi Avi Shafran emphasized that he is only "allegedly" guilty.

Am I missing something here? Didn't Rabbi Tropper release a public statement several weeks ago to Vos Iz Neias in which he admitted his guilt? It stated as follows:

Rabbi Leib Tropper’s response to recent allegations has been delayed until now in deference to his legal counsel.
Events of recent weeks have caused Rabbi Tropper great anguish, in particular given his recognition that the high standard of ethics in the Jewish community is one of its most treasured principles.
He wishes to express his regret for the turmoil caused by his departure from the Eternal Jewish Family organization and for what has appeared to be conduct not within our significant laws of modesty. Rabbi Tropper now looks forward to a return to both his studies and time with his loving family, as well as to personal introspection. He thanks those outside his closest circle of friends for respecting his privacy.

So why all this talk about how his guilt is not confirmed, and that's why no action has been taken?

Finally, and more importantly, here is a comment that I submitted seven hours ago but which has not yet been posted:

Rabbi Shafran, thank you for attempting to address the readers’ concerns. But with all due respect, you seem to have missed the point of many of the criticisms. People aren’t just asking why the Gedolim did not condemn the rabbi concerned. They are also criticizing the Gedolim themselves for endorsing him and his organization which were both highly questionable even beforehand, and in light of the revelations needs to have all its past operations seriously re-evaluated. On Cross-Currents itself, Rabbi Adlerstein wrote an excellent article pointing to some of the problems; the Badatz and the Conference of European Rabbis has also not been silent. Furthermore, there is criticism of the Gedolim for there being no visible attempt whatsoever to address any aspect of this situation after the revelations, which looks especially bad in light of the large financial donations that were directed to the yeshivos by this individual. Rabbi Aba Dunner explicitly accused the rabbinic establishment of having been bought off. There is clearly substantial grounds for concern and criticism, and yet your article gave the strong message that any such criticism is “evil speech.” Is it not the case that sometimes public criticism is necessary and valuable rather than being “evil speech”? Is it not the case that sometimes silence can be evil?

UPDATE: My comment has now been posted, along with a number of others that raise some very sharp criticisms.


  1. Rabbi Slifkin,

    I agree with the thrust of your comments. Clearly innocent people do not issue the kinds of statements issued by Tropper after he resigned. Nevertheless he has technically avoided any admission. He acknowledges things that appear to be misconduct."

    But yes, we know darn well that the old Tropper would have sued away. I assume he got sound legal advice that suing would invite a counter suit and that would mean access to his records via discovery. Those that know of his misconduct realize that would have exposed him to many more revelations.

    Once again we are getting cover-up. When will those who do this grasp that the public is losing patience.

  2. When you put "rabbi leib tropper" into google and hit the video menu, you get a display of a bunch of depressingly not-nice telephone calls that are purported to be him. I would imagine that somebody who knows the fellow could tell you if it is the male speaker has very unique mannerisms.

    But if it is Tropper I would definitely say that commenting on the sad state of affairs is not lashon hara. These very sad conversations are in the public's face. It would be stranger if EJF were to refrain from commenting because one must ask what the purpose of EJF was or is. Its leader certainly appears to be involved in easily avoidable situations that lead to very Temporary Jewish Families.

    It is curious that Tropper's public persona has been so vituperative toward people he would not consider ideological allies. Perhaps there is a lesson in there about the value of moderation as a personal trait and its value in allowing one to access his common sense on a regular basis.

    Gary Goldwater

  3. Y., I don't see how it can possibly be construed as anything other than an admission. Which conduct is he apologizing for, if not that exposed in the "events of recent weeks"? Sure, it's weaselly worded, but it's still an admission of guilt.

    Besides, all that's needed for the Gedolim to do is to call him and ask him to clarify his statement.

    It seems to me that the conclusion is obvious. The Agudah/ Gedolim know full well that he is guilty, as does everyone else. However, it suits them to say that his guilt has not been clearly established, because then they can supposedly justify keeping silent (although of course nobody else sees it that way). So they do not want things to be further clarified.

  4. Observer from AfarJanuary 28, 2010 at 4:31 PM

    "Today, Rabbi Avi Shafran emphasized that he is only "allegedly" guilty."

    Please check the embedded link. Apparently, you intended the link to be to the following:

    Thank you.

    Other than that, I would only point out that even the carefully drafted and legally approved statement that Tropper issued is inconsistent with the repeated claim that the tapes are forgeries which Guma paid for and that Guma paid off Ms. Orand, or that R. Ribiat needs an investigation into whether the tapes are real. R. Ribiat can go directly to step 2 that he said he would do if they are real and condemn Tropper. It seems that the results of Tropper's introspection (that the statement said he needed time for) has been to stonewall everything, and to let the chareidi rabbinic establishment go down with him. I understand his motivation. I don't understand theirs.

  5. You see, if Rav Tropper had worn a bobby pin in his yarmulke or occasionally listened to a Beatles Greatest Hits album or been a 15 year old yeshiva bochur seen talking to his friend's sister it would be klohr that he was krum. But he never did that, so it's extremely ambiguous.

  6. I believe Tropper is claiming that he spoke in an untzniusdik fashion that is being misrepresented. Read his apology with that in mind and you can see that he did not admit to anything horrible.

  7. "Which conduct is he apologizing for..."

    does he really apologize for conduct? "He wishes to express his regret ... for what has appeared to be conduct not within our significant laws of modesty."

    that is, he regrets that something appears to be conduct. a very clever way of seeming to apologize, while admitting nothing and telling people to butt out. heh.


  8. Rabbi Slifkin,
    Your observation about the "Gedolim" (whoever they are) raises a fundamental question about who really holds the power in the Chareidi leadership, particularly in Israel. The "Gedolim" don't appear to me to have any power, if it is not sanctioned, and supported, by underlings in the Chareidi establishment.

    You can speak more from personal experience than myself, but who was most instrumental in causing you all the grief about your books? It's seems to me that, while the prominent Rabbinic names attached to the bans "legitimized" the action taken against you (the importance of which I don't want to minimize), the main facilitators of the ban were underlings, like Tropper.

    If a 100 year old Rabbi cannot get much younger men, who constitute the real muscle in the Chareidi establishment, to rally against Tropper, than it's simply not going to happen. I'm not sure such attempts have been made, but I find it hard to believe that any of the current "Gedolim" are supportive of sexual misconduct.

    Personally, when I'm 100 I'll be focusing more on keeping breathing, and enjoying my final days in Boca, rather than picking fights with sketchy characters. But that's just me.

  9. As usual, this is just a game that you play. The Roshei Yeshiva have to issue a publich statement criticizing an adulterer and a cheat because you say that they must! And if they don't dance to your tune, and issue a public statement for your internet world, that implies that they somehow approve of the Menuval, because you say that is what is implied? I have another possibility: they are not paying any attention to your or your friends and could not care what you say about them. Anyone who cares to speak to any of the Roshei Yeshiva personally knows exactly what they think about Tropper and his organizations.

  10. Why don't you try actually reading the post? My point was that condemning Tropper is NOT the main point!

  11. R Slifkin,

    I think your post is excellent. I would, however, suggest sending an email to R Shafran. He's always pretty good about replying.

    If you need his address, please feel free to contact me.

  12. An excellent post.

    Tropper's admission was worded carefully. Yes, it was an admission, but not one which could incriminate him in a court of law and/or beis din.

    Shafran is good about answering emails. But he never yields an inch and is quite arrogant. He is a spokesman for the Agudah and he acts as a propagandist.

    (btw: Read Shafran's own apology about his insane piece on Madoff & Scully -- no real apology there either. How far we've fallen from Dovid HaMelech who says clearly "Chotosi".)

    Cross-Currents has become irrelevant. They usually only publish from a small group of authors. Shafran is one of them, and in his latest posting he admits that he rarely read's CCs comments because the readers are nasty.

    CC also denies many comments. Even you, R. Slifkin, cannot get your comment posted. (I think i'm black-listed. Mine never make it through.)

    It's time for someone to start a new site, like CC but more open to other authors and respectful comments which disagree.

  13. "Finally, and more importantly, here is a comment that I submitted seven hours ago but which has not yet been posted"

    I think you can now add an Update to your post to include this link, so that people won't think that CrossCurrents is nefariously hiding your comment:


Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.