Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When Saying Sorry Is Not Enough

Everybody makes mistakes. Goodness knows I've made plenty myself. People who write or speak in public extensively are especially likely to write or say something, at some point, that they should not. In such cases, a retraction and apology is called for. When it is given, people should forgive and forget.


Still, there are mistakes and there are Mistakes. Sometimes people makes mistakes that reveal such appalling judgement, and/or have such potentially devastating consequences, that a simply apology, even a heartfelt one, is not enough. The person to make the error has to take a leave of absence from his or her public role. This does not necessarily entirely erase the damage, but it does show that the person is taking responsibility for it.

The latest such incident, which prompted me to write this post, is Andrew Adler's mindbogglingly stupid editorial in the Atlanta Jewish Times suggesting that the Mossad take out President Obama, and claiming that Israel is already weighing this option.

Watching an interview with Adler in tears, there can be no doubt that he genuinely regrets his mistake. But with a mistake of these dimensions, even a tearful apology is not enough. He had to resign - and he did.

Frankly, I think that there are others who should likewise take a leave of absence from airing their views in public, as a consequence of errors that involve particularly colossal bad judgment and/or have potentially devastating consequences:

  • Rabbi Dovid Kornreich for publicly suggesting that homosexuals investigate the option of suicide. His subsequent watering down of the suggestion, and his eventual claim that he never really meant it in the first place, are inadequate in light of what he actually wrote.
  • Rabbi Avi Shafran for his article claiming that Bernie Madoff is more worthy of admiration than Captain Sully, who safely landed his plane in the Hudson, on the grounds that Madoff went beyond what was expected in apologizing, whereas Sully was just doing his job. Rabbi Shafran did apologize, but his apology was somewhat lacking; and even a true apology should not suffice in such a case. Aside from the insanity of even just thinking that it is true, there is also the unbelievable foolishness of putting such a thing in print. Can you imagine if Gawker would have gotten hold of the article? "Prominent Orthodox Spokesman Praises Jewish Swindler, Disses Gentile Hero"?

  • And most of all: whoever at Ami magazine made the decision to run a cover photoshopped picture of of Nazis marching in front of the White House with swastika-flags hanging from it. What on earth were they thinking?! Even Rabbi Shafran was horrified at that one! Why are they so hesitant about properly apologizing?

Repentance doesn't just mean saying that you're sorry. It means taking responsibility for your mistakes.

(On a related note - I have been very uneasy with some comments that have been submitted lately by radical political right-wingers. I'm still weighing up a formal policy, but if you don't see your comments appear, you now know why.)

73 comments:

  1. I assume that Andrew Adler has right-wing leanings regarding Israel (I am not familiar with him at all and I assume that among mainstream American Jewish newspapers such right-wing leanings are somewhat of a rarity.)

    If his leaving will mean a loss of a strong voice against the outrageous pressure on Israel to give away land-then I regret this loss. May he soon be able to rejoin the battle for the survival of the Jewish State.

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  2. Repentance doesn't just mean saying that you're sorry. It means taking responsibility for your mistakes..

    True. And no one will ever apologize unless they realize that what they did or said was a "mistake" or "wrong." These folks will never do so because they believe their behavior is always justified and/or correct when it is "in defense of" their belief system and lifestyle. This should be no surprise to you, Rabbi Slifkin. You seem to be a significant cut above them all when it comes to menschlichkeit.

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  3. On a related note - I have been very uneasy with some comments that have been submitted lately by radical political right-wingers.

    This has been happening on your blog for some time, and I'm glad you are finally addressing it formally. It's amazing how "rational" most commenters are when it comes to interpreting Talmudic passages, understanding Midrash, and engaging in Jewish legal disputes, but any discussion about Israel, modern Jewry, non-Orthodox groups, President Obama, etc. often brings out a decidedly "anti-rationalist" (caustic, radical, semi-racist) tone in otherwise "rationalist" voices.

    KT!
    MS

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  4. M Singer,

    "Semi-racist" tones can occur when your State (the Jewish one) is in an ongoing war with bitter enemies who keep on getting more and more bitter. It is only natural and even rationally well-based that such conflict would engender appropriate generalizations just as to some degree it is rational to generalize about the haredi world when critiquing it.

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  5. Having Daas Torah means never having to say sorry.

    As Shafran, Menken and Adlerstein have all written on Cross Currents at one time or another, they don't think anything they wrote was wrong and if you were insulted it's because youjust didn't understand them and they're sorry for that, not what they wrote.

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  6. You cannot group Rabbi Adlerstein with the others.

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  7. Also, Rabbi Shafran DID say he was sorry. (Whether he meant it is another matter.)

    It's only the Gedolim who never admit to making mistakes (with the exception of Rav Shmuel Kamenetzky).

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  8. It might make an interesting and useful book to compile quotations from gedolim of present and past who admitted to making mistakes.

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  9. RNS wrote:

    "You cannot group Rabbi Adlerstein with the others."

    I agree with that. The first thing that I read by RYA was his attack on the "far-left" of orthodoxy. This made me think that he was simply a more eloquent version of Avi Shafran.

    From his reactions to what is happening in RBS I now see that he has a more independent view and is not just a knee-jerk Haredi apologist.

    Still, I think that he has an overly rosy, unrealistic view of the Haredi world as seen by his article on the Haredi Spring. Subsequent events have shown the article to be a serious misreading of much of the Haredi mood, at least in Israel.

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  10. Reading Avi Shafran (and Yaakov Menken who is his clone), I have come to realize an important dimension of much of the Charedi mindset.

    It involves a sense of victimization along with a smugness and sense of superiority that goes along with looking down on non-charedi Jews. I would say that looking down on other Jews is a defining feature of Charedi Judaism.

    This is one reason why Charedim in America love conservative evangelical republicans (who share the same victimization/superiority complex) and why Shafran is the perfect spokesman/apologist for the Agudah.

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  11. "Can you imagine if Gawker would have gotten hold of the article? "Prominent Orthodox Spokesman Praises Jewish Swindler, Disses Gentile Hero"?"

    Kinda hoping someone passes along this post to Gawker, aren't you?

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  12. You must be joking. I was only able to post about it after enough time had expired so that it was "old news" and there is no risk of it being picked up.

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  13. "an ongoing war with bitter enemies who keep on getting more and more bitter"

    I do not diminish in any way that level of bitterness and hatred. But the idea that it is worse today than in the past is not consistent with a rational view of history. The Arab world has with few exceptions been intractably hostile to the idea of a Jewish polity in the Middle East for at least 90 years. The idea that it is getting worse is in fact a canard by the anti-Israel crowd used to blame actions Israeli Jews for the terrorism of Arabs. The hostility was every bit as bad in the 1950s when the "occupied territories" did not include East Jerusalem, and also in the 1920s when the occupier was the United Kingdom.

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  14. Interestingly enough, while most of the writers on Cross Currents (with the exception of Rabbi Adlerstien) have been writing articles defending the charedi community and talking about media lynches, the comments there (when they are allowed) have been running the other way. This is true even for a majority of the charedi commentators. One gets the feeling that they are sick of the excuses coming from their own rabbis and PR people.

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  15. ""Semi-racist" tones can occur when your State (the Jewish one) is in an ongoing war with bitter enemies who keep on getting more and more bitter. It is only natural and even rationally well-based that such conflict would engender appropriate generalizations just as to some degree it is rational to generalize about the haredi world when critiquing it."

    Funny that, because if someone should have the misfortune to generalize about Jews or even to speak about a specific Jew as an Israel Firster, a perspective exemplified by your post, he will be immediately accused of anti-semitism. I assume you'll be there to defend the comment as "rationally well based" and as an "appropriate generalization" whatever those phrases mean.

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  16. RNS,

    Can I recommend that instead of censoring comments you simply post them and disagree? More labor intensive to be sure, but far more effective. Instead of allowing our racism to fester by allowing people to pretend its not there, you promote healing by openly disagreeing. Of course, this isn't so easy in our current environment.

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  17. Can we entirely cut out all that kind of political discussions. There are plenty of other blogs where right wingers and left wingers can fight it out however nasty they want to get. Lets keep this blog about Rationalist Judaism and internal Orthodox Jewish issues that it faces.

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  18. I agree for the most part, particularly about the latest quote about Obama. Some of the things I've heard privately about Obama are in this category, but at least they were private. I've heard people put him in the same class with Hitler and Haman - I mean, wow, what am I missing? Has Obama been planning a final solution and I missed reading the paper that day? But in private, at least you can just laught, or get into a screaming argument, or both, or have another drink and try to ignore what you're hearing or change the subject to Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez, and the future of the Jets. But to say something like that publicly? I think "mindbogglingly stupid" just about wraps it up. My only quibble is with your take on Rabbi Shafron's article or quote or whatever it was. I didn't read it, but it doesn't seem quite as outrageous as those other things. It sounds to me like the kind of thing where he had a point in mind, and it sort of came out twisted. And, after all, Captain Sully was just doing his job, along with the rest of his crew. Awesome professionalism worthy of the highest praise, but not necessarily heroism. But then again, maybe it's easy for me to give Shafran a bye on that because I didn't have money invested with Madoff.

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  19. I thought you were going to talk about the apology of Machon Meir for having Ruti Fogel's face blurred out due to "human error". I think that was a sincere apology, but I would still have like to have heard more about that human and how he is no longer in a position to be making those kinds of errors.

    But that is not part of Israeli culture. Then again, "Start-up Nation" suggests that this is not entirely negative, so maybe our ability to let people make mistakes and move on is more important than "accountability"

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  20. With very great respect, given your history with RDK and RAS, people may tend to discount any criticism you address toward them. It would be more effective if such criticism were raised by others, and you keep your powder dry for the issues that you have a personal interest in. Just a thought.

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  21. 'It sounds to me like the kind of thing where he had a point in mind, and it sort of came out twisted.'

    I guess if the captian had bailed out himself, and crashed the plane with everyone on board, and appologized for his actions after being send to jail that whould have impressed Shafran. Boruch, read the article it's a gem. This guy is a moron.

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  22. R' Slifkin, your answer was much better than my question.

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  23. Rabbi Slifkin, it is not good for you to engage in politics. Many still remember your article on "climate change", in which you patronizingly suggested anyone who disagreed with you was either ignorant or doing so for purely religious reasons.

    Your post today is cut from the same cloth. You think the people you mention should apologize - why? You dont believe these apologies anyway. And who made you the arbiter of good taste? And are there only three coloumns you've ever read so egregious as to warrant apologies in your eyes? Nothing written in Haaretz or Yediot has ever bothered you as much as what you cite? And if you can't, as you obviously cannot, serve as a one man media watchdog monitor, why then stoop to naming these in particular? Do you think we are unaware that Mr. Kornreich has publicly disagreed with you? That such a little fact, which you failed to mention, might be significant?

    At times you remind me of celebrities who spout off their unsolicited opinions on matters political, nearly always left-wing. People like to see such celebrities acting; no one is interested in their politics. The same is true here. Readers identify with your cause of rationalism. By contrast, this business of demaanding apologies from selected critics, and the concurrent "right wing" and "left wing" comments is your personal opinion, and has nothing to do with rationalism.

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  24. Problem is, the trashing of rationality for the sake of peace fantasies and the throwing of brothers under the bus (certain types of settlers some of the commenters here can't stand) to promote that peace fantasy agenda IS one of the major internal orthodox Jewish issues that rationalist Judaism faces.

    And there are definitely leftist leaning commenters here who provoke the types of rightwing comments referenced, either consciously or subconsciously by using very obvious rhetoric against their brothers and very obvious insinuations about how gloriously righteous all the oslo supporters are while anyone who opposes that agenda or does anything to defend themselves from attacks is some kind of obvious creep or criminal who should be equated to so-called chassidim that spit at little girls. The comments that are "too rightwing" for your site probably wouldn't arise if not for these kind of unfair attacks and self righteous oslo posturing by other commenters which provokes them.

    I say this as someone who has felt provoked by the leftist junk being trotted out in the comments here, and I hope you don't refer to my comments as the extreme offensive ones you're referring to, but you say it so general that I don't know if I'm an "offender" here. Am I ?

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  25. Carol, I'm no particular fan of Shafran. I'll try to find the article and read it - I guess I shouldn't comment about stuff I haven't read, but from the snippet, I could imagine that he was trying to make what may have seemed like a decent point - or at least less outrageous, by a lot, then calling for a president's assassination! I don't get your point about Capt. Sully and his crew, though. I think it's apples and oranges. They did a great job, for sure, but there was no moral component there to compare to anything Madoff might have done - just 2 or 3 trained professionals showing a calm and cool ultra-professionalism. Praiseworthy to be sure, but still apples and oranges. By the way, I spell it "Baruch," not "Boruch." :)

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  26. The articles are all linked in the post.

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  27. There is a big difference between writing something stupid or offensive - which merits an apology but nothing more - and endangering people's lives by suggesting that they should be assassinated or commit suicide.

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  28. OK, I took a minute to read Shafran's article. Yeah, pretty bad. I don't completely disagree with what he said about the pilots, but the tone was all wrong - he seemed to be putting them down, which seems really inexplicable to me. But the main point I still agree with - what they did refelected great professionalism and training, and ability to act properly under intense pressure - a credit to them and to their trade - but not really a moral values thing, although I guess you can argue that doing your job as a skilled professional does certainly reflect a moral quality, as we can learn from Ya'akov Avinu's skillful and honest approach to his job as a shepherd for Laban. Anyway, I still stand by my earlier opinion - I don't like Shafran's article, but I don't think it belongs in the same realm of shockingly irresponsible stupidy in which the suggestion to assassinate the president belongs - the point Ilana just made in her comment.

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  29. In Judaism, people deserve praise for saving lives, even if it's part of their job. We are supposed to have hakaras hatov even to inanimate things that assist us! Kal v'chomer for Sully, who not only saved lives, but did so in an incredibly caring and professional way, using a safety protocol that he himself developed.

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  30. Charlie Hall,

    If Jews really were trying as a group to hurt the U.S, which they are not then appropriate generalizations would indeed be just fine.

    Carol,

    I consider our enemies to be becoming even more bitter since Islam is on the rise throughout the Middle East which adds extra potency to their struggle against us.

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  31. I think that the blog should be praised for having thus far dealt with both halakhic and hashqafic issues of all types. The issue of whether the Jewish State should concede land is no less relevant unless one assumes that Judaism is only relevant in the kitchen and bedroom.

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  32. Please explain what comments you mean, and which "Radical Right Wingers" you are referring to.
    do you mean anarchists? that is what you get when you go ALL the way to the right. Fascism is a Leftist invention, the ideology stems from the same theory. it is a variation of Marxism.

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  33. "There is a big difference between writing something stupid or offensive . . . and endangering people's lives by suggesting that they should be assassinated or commit suicide."

    "Endangering lives." Right. Because Jews are going to read some guy's op-ed and immediately rush out to assissinate Obama. Puhleeze.

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  34. "I consider our enemies to be becoming even more bitter since Islam is on the rise throughout the Middle East which adds extra potency to their struggle against us."

    Since the Koran says that Jews deserve Israel, the rise of Islamic religiosity is a good thing. It's when Islam is coached in societal terms of dictators and oppressive governments that it causes problems. This isn't any different than Sikirim thugs who abuse Judaism for power and influence.

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  35. Amateur-

    The growing power of Islamic regimes makes them more anti-Israel. That is my point. I also have not seen any examples of newly relgious Muslims thereby becoming more pro-Israel. This is a pipe dream.

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  36. It's not really the lack of a leave of absence which bothers me.

    If somebody's retracting, I need to know 1) that he thinks what he wrote was wrong and 2) why he thinks what he wrote was wrong.

    Anything else isn't really a proper apology. Saying you were wrong about something you wrote and not telling us what it was isn't really an apology. Saying that maybe the cover of your magazine was inappropriate means maybe it wasn't.

    (Lehavdil since I'm thinking in a more political context these days: if u apologize for opposing Civil Rights legislation or the suffragist movement, I need to know how your underlying theory of government changed. Why were these things constitutional? Why were they right?)

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  37. The issue of whether the Jewish State should concede land is no less relevant unless one assumes that Judaism is only relevant in the kitchen and bedroom.

    Can't argue with this. But what's the hook for "Rationalist Judaism"? There are a lot of issues to sort out - do we go with a pragmatic approach of considering what is best for the state of Israel, where does pikuach nefesh fit in, is it simply assur to give up parts of Eretz Israel no matter what, are there messianic considerations to take into account, should and to what extent should international pressure be considered? One could argue that all of these considerations lead to the same conclusion, but clearly not everyone agrees with this. Moreoever, even if the pragmatic approach might seem to suggest not giving up land today, future events, such as increased international pressure or the threat of sanctions that could endanger our ability to maintain a strong army, or even cripple the economy, might lead to a different conclusion in the future.

    Rabbi Slifkin, in some future post, I'd love to see you try to sort these issues out according to a rationalist/non-rationalist paradigm.

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  38. fkmaniac's suggestion seems somewhat more halakhically plausible than the recent guest morethodox blogpost which suggested that rabbis should not dissuade homosexuals on the grounds that they are אנוס רחמנא פטריה. putting aside all other absurdity, this leaves out the one small problem that homosexuality is ייהרג ואל יעבור. why not suggest that blog resign en masse?

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  39. Here is a link showing the entire 4 webpages of Rabbi Dovid Kornreich's original blog post suggesting suicide for homosexuals (scroll down past the blog owner’s commentary to view the original 4 webpages of the blog post):

    http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2009/05/haredi-kiruv-rabbi-advocates-suicide-for-homosexuals.html

    Here are some of the highlights of his post, the last 3 paragraphs of his suicide suggestion:

    It seems to me that never has such a severe and openly stated commandment of the Torah like the prohibition of homosexual activity come under such attack in recent memory. Killing one's self publicly in order to prevent it's violation and re-enforce its prohibited status in the minds of the rest of the Jewish community seems to soundly qualify as dying Al Kiddush Hashem.
    In Summary:
    The candidate for halachicly assisted suicide must be a very special individual. He is a great Jew who is so distraught over the prospect of violating this most severe of the Torah's commands. He feels that he has the courage to voluntarily sacrifice his very life in order to make a public statement that God's command is more important than life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
    In short, he is ready to answer to the Torah's immortal call of "Kedoshim Tihyu". (Double-entente intended)

    I suggest reading the whole thing to anyone who hasn't. It is priceless in its despicableness. Nothing other than a full and unconditional retraction of it, explaining why it was wrong, as well as a straightforward apology for it, is acceptable. Nevermind the irresponsibility of it. Who knows how many kids read that (once it went viral) and hurt themselves because of it, or how many went through with killing themselves. One would be too many.

    I just looked up Rabbi Kornreich’s blog to see if he ever put up retractions of any sort. I found 2 posts about it. Here they are:

    http://fkmaniac.blogspot.com/2010/09/modest-proposal-for-orthodox-homosexual.html#!/2010/09/modest-proposal-for-orthodox-homosexual.html

    http://fkmaniac.blogspot.com/2010/12/why-it-will-probably-get-worse-before.html#!/2010/12/why-it-will-probably-get-worse-before.html

    Neither are a complete and full retraction of his original statements. He originally claims that suicide is okay if it is for the sake of a Kiddush Hashem, or to avoid a Chillul Hashem, or whatever. But in his supposed retraction, he said that a homosexual is not allowed to commit suicide if he is doing so because he feels he will not be accepted by the community. He says nothing about his original reasons (of suicide by homosexuals making a Kiddush Hashem) where he tries to show it is not just allowed, but a good thing to do, even a mitzvah!

    And in case anyone does a search for the original article on his blog, they will find the beginning of his original blog post, where he then cut it off before the post’s first mention of suicide, put in a link to one of his follow-up posts, and then has there a Mishnah in Sanhedrin, together with Rashi saying:

    One is permitted (even without a Sanhedrin) to prevent an act of sodomy by any violent means** at one's disposal.

    He then goes on to include vigilante killing as being permitted to PREVENT certain acts. I don't know whether to laugh or cry. But if he thinks he is engaging in "kiruv" with posts like this, he is delusional.

    Here's the link:

    http://fkmaniac.blogspot.com/2009/04/radical-solution-for-orthodox.html#!/2009/04/radical-solution-for-orthodox.html

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  40. ""Endangering lives." Right. Because Jews are going to read some guy's op-ed and immediately rush out to assissinate Obama. Puhleeze."

    Right. Because a Jew would never assassinate anyone for political reasons. Not a UN peace mediator who saved ten of thousands of Jews from the nazis (Folke Bernadotte), not a Jewish war hero/founder of Israel/peace maker Israeli Prime Minister (Yitchak Rabin), and certainly not some black secret Muslim fake born-in-another country President usurper who threatens our security.

    And as long as we're on the topic, please note that while Palestinians with "blood on their hands" are unfit for leadership and cannot be bargained with, Jewish leaders such as Yitchak Shamir, who was a terrorist leader and authorized Bernadotte's assassination, are wonderful leaders. Also, while Palestinian police are to be blamed for not preventing terrorism, despite their very questionable ability to do so, it's perfectly okay for Israel to celebrate terrorism with the lehi ribbon, because, like you implied, Jewish terrorism could never exist.

    As long as I'm on my soapbox, I'll add that of course this is a fair topic for a blog concerning itself with rational Judaism. Do you really think that religious ideas of chosenness, visions of the messianic era, and belief in God-given land do not contribute to reckless infatuation with Greater Israel? Do you think this is a republican versus democrat discussion about appropriate tax levels?

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  41. ""Endangering lives." Right. Because Jews are going to read some guy's op-ed and immediately rush out to assissinate Obama. Puhleeze."

    That's not the point. The point is the enormous antisemitism that it causes.

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  42. Yes because the world generalizes when it comes to the Jews. 'Atem kruim odom v'ein ummos haolam kruim odom' means that the actions of one Jew reflect on everybody as if all the Jews are one person, whereas the nations of the word are judged as individual people.

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  43. Carol - where is that quote from?

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  44. See http://midreshet.org.il/pageview.aspx?id=221

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  45. " That is my point. I also have not seen any examples of newly relgious Muslims thereby becoming more pro-Israel. This is a pipe dream."

    Harazieli,
    You haven't been looking obviously, because I know of many.

    As long as you tell other people what you expect them to do, you will never meet people who act otherwise.

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  46. "Because a Jew would never assassinate anyone for political reasons. Not a UN peace mediator who saved ten of thousands of Jews from the nazis (Folke Bernadotte), not a Jewish war hero/founder of Israel/peace maker Israeli Prime Minister (Yitchak Rabin)"

    I was waiting for some deep thinker to bring up Rabin. Leaving aside the fact that Rabin was a war criminal and certainly not a hero, read what I said. Rabbi Slifkin was castigating some no-name guy who wrote an op-ed, saying it could endanger lives. What I said was that Jews dont just read op-eds and become convinced to kill, just like that. In the cases you mentioned, the assassins did so because of a cause. No one guy's op-ed had anything to do with it. (Watch, now he's going to say this one op-ed creates a "climate of fear.")

    "That's not the point. The point is the enormous antisemitism that it causes."

    I dont believe it causes anti-semitism at all. How about those Jews who called George Bush a war criminal and "Bushhitler"? They even made fun of his Christian faith, which is a LOT worse than calling for Obama's assination in the eyes of most people. Did that cause anti-semitism? Neither will this guy's op-ed.

    To Michapeset - I express no comment here about Dovid Kornreich's article. But the fact that you quote it from failedmessiah, a virulent anti-semite, and thus apparently read it, would lead some to question your judgment in Jewish matters.

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  47. @HaRazieily, Ameteur, so which is on the rise - le-jit islam that grants Israel to the Jews, or the aggressive oppressive one?

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  48. whereas the nations of the word are judged as individual people.

    Just because you quote something doesn't make it true. How many people (including Jews) harbor stereotypes and judgments about various ethnic, racial, and national groups?

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  49. "I was waiting for some deep thinker to bring up Rabin."

    Were you? Because the list goes on: Jacob De Haan, Lord Moyne...

    "Rabin was a war criminal and certainly not a hero"

    That's probably true; he appears to have ordered the ethnic cleansing of both Lod and Ramleh. But you must have had some other understanding of his war crimes.

    "What I said was that Jews dont just read op-eds and become convinced to kill, just like that.... No one guy's op-ed had anything to do with it. (Watch, now he's going to say this one op-ed creates a "climate of fear.")"

    Do you think that anyone "just reads op-eds and becomes(s) convinced to kill?" Do Jews have some special can't-be-influenced genetic superpower? Everyone is influenced by his surroundings, and the fool who called for Obama's assassination didn't do it in a vacuum. Did the op-ed "create a climate of fear?" No; it is both an expression of and a contributor to such a climate. I do my best to stay clear of the nut-jobs, and, despite that, I've heard otherwise intelligent people compare Obama to Hitler and seriously discuss the possibility of his concentration camps on several occasions.

    "In the cases you mentioned, the assassins did so because of a cause. "

    Yes; political assassinations usually happen for a cause.

    ""That's not the point. The point is the enormous antisemitism that it causes."

    I dont believe it causes anti-semitism at all."

    This is a pathetic discussion. You don't call for Obama's assassination because it's wrong. You're like the guys who yell, "Chillul Hashem" when one of us is found to have committed fraud. It demonstrates an insensitivity to the actual problem and sensitivity for how it affects you.

    "But the fact that you quote it from failedmessiah, a virulent anti-semite...."

    Oh good, it's not just those who dare to question Israeli actions who get to be labeled anti-semites, but those who dare to criticize the actions of some frum Jews as well. Please refrain from watering down the meaning of anti-semitism until it means, "Any criticism of a Jew, Jewish belief, or Jewish entity coming from a more liberal perspective."

    "...and thus apparently read it, would lead some to question your judgment in Jewish matters."

    It would probably lead individuals incapable of reading material with which they are not a priori assured of agreement to do so. Try to get out a little.

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  50. At Beiles' trial the chief rabbi of Moscow Rabbi Yakov Maze appeared as an expert witness for the defense. He was asked by the prosecution to explain the above Gemorah and the above explanation was his answer. He also added that if Ivan steals people say Ivan is a theif, if Moishe steals people say all Jews are theives. What I meant to say here was that all of us, Jews, bear a collective responsibility for our individual actions. If Madoff was Japanese, Chinese, Italian and we can go on and on nobody would say that those are nations of theives or crooks. So when a PR rep of Aguda comes up with that article it's a real PR disaster for the Jewish people.

    Mechapeset, I don't have the exact source right now.

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  51. "@HaRazieily, Ameteur, so which is on the rise - le-jit islam that grants Israel to the Jews, or the aggressive oppressive one?"

    As much as things are on the rise, both.

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  52. To Michapeset:
    After linking to Kornreich's two follow-up posts, you claimed the following:
    Neither are a complete and full retraction of his original statements.


    The second link contains the following:
    "This post is serving as an apology of sorts for not being clearer in my previous posts on the subject.
    So, to be perfectly clear—
    No, it is not, in any imaginable way, theoretically or otherwise, halachicly permissible to commit suicide because one is gay and finds it difficult to be accepted in the Orthodox community. It is NOT permissible. Your life is valuable beyond description and you have the religious duty to live it out to the end as a good, moral, deeply spiritual, productive member of the Jewish community."


    This is the only post where Kornreich addresses Ortho-gays directly. I do not see him "publicly suggesting that homosexuals investigate the option of suicide".
    On the contrary, I see him as pleading with them not to commit suicide.

    In the two posts prior, he is clearly engaging in an elaborate halachic discussion with an extensive, detailed analysis of original Jewish sources. He even placed a clear red warning at the top to this effect, and he said so explicitly here:

    http://bpvsfkm.blogspot.com/2010/10/rebuttal-to-baruch-peltas-presentation.html

    "His minor reference to my alleged advocating of homosexuals committing suicide is also a serious distortion. The original post and comments made it clear that it was a theoretical exploration of the halachic permissibly only. I have never made this suggestion on a practical level to anyone. I clearly presented it as a polemic againist the liberal Jewish movements which condone homosexually on pseudo-halachic grounds.
    Later clarifications on the original post made this even more explicit. After further research into the topic I formally retracted from this possibility even on theoretical grounds, over a month ago.


    So it is clear what Kornreich himself views his position to be. I suppose if you were neutral on the subject, you could reasonably argue about how these post read differently to you.

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  53. 'Atem kruim odom v'ein ummos haolam kruim odom'

    Source: יבמות סא based on יחזקאל לד:לא

    Readers might find interest in the lengthy exposition on this of the תפארת ישראל in Avos ch. 3 בועז אות א where he praises gentiles such as Jenner. Reuchlin, and Guttenberg.

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  54. in case i made a typo, it should say יחזקאל לד:לא

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  55. "A Reader" - it's pretty clear that Rabbi Kornreich was backpedaling. The original post suggested it as a genuine option. Sure, he said that you should confirm with a rabbi/ therapist first - but that proves that he meant it as a serious option!

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  56. "What I meant to say here was that all of us, Jews, bear a collective responsibility for our individual actions. If Madoff was Japanese, Chinese, Italian and we can go on and on nobody would say that those are nations of theives or crooks. So when a PR rep of Aguda comes up with that article it's a real PR disaster for the Jewish people."

    This is also apparent from the responses to the Andrew Adler video, where you have comments like, "No one can say from now on that *the Jews* don't run the media...."

    --

    Another point is the extent of blaming all Jews for the alleged sins of an individual - pogroms, pillages etc. What provoked Kristalnacht, for example? One Jew shooting one minor official of the German gov't - then thousands [millions?] were punished for that.

    Certain ethnicities get bad PR when one of theirs sins, but progroms we haven't seen, AFAIK.

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  57. A Reader –

    I formally retracted from this possibility even on theoretical grounds, over a month ago.

    R’ Kornreich CLAIMS that he formally retracted, although in reality, he did not.

    No, it is not, in any imaginable way, theoretically or otherwise, halachicly permissible to commit suicide because one is gay and finds it difficult to be accepted in the Orthodox community. It is NOT permissible.

    He only says that committing suicide is not halachically permissible if it is for the specific reason of the homosexual finding it difficult to be accepted in the Orthodox community. He did NOT retract his original thesis and statements – that it is not only permissible, but is even admirable, for a homosexual to commit suicide if he was doing so in order to make a Kiddush Hashem. He NEVER retracted that thesis. He NEVER apologized for that. He just deleted the post after it went viral (and it made a Chillul Hashem).

    His original post publicly suggested that homosexuals investigate the option of suicide based upon certain criteria. His follow up statement made conditions on the halachic impermissibility and did not remove that criteria as being a permissible situation where it would be permissible and advisable for a homosexual to commit suicide.

    And even if he posted warnings in his original post to ask one’s rabbi about it, the very FACT that he publically engaged “in an elaborate halachic discussion with an extensive, detailed analysis of original Jewish sources” and then came to the conclusion that it would be making a Kiddush Hashem for a homosexual to commit suicide under certain conditions, is deplorable. His never having apologized for that, but rather his excuses for it, are equally deplorable.

    To then say “Under other conditions it is not halachically permissible” is not a full retraction of his original thesis.

    His statement of “I have never made this suggestion on a practical level to anyone” is ridiculous – he made the suggestion publically to EVERYONE. Saying that he was speaking “theoretically” and NOT saying “I was wrong in even suggesting it theoretically” is simply not a complete and full retraction.

    Nor is it an apology.

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  58. Gershon Pickles – I did not “quote it” from the failedmessaiah website, I rather referenced it as a place to VIEW a complete 4-page picture archive of Rabbi Kornreich’s original article, where I found it after doing a search for it in Google. Your misstatement that I quoted from it, as opposed to referenced it as a place to view an archived picture of the original article, and more so your assumption that I read the website referenced, together with your subsequent judgments, would lead some to question your own judgment in general matters, not limited to Jewish ones.

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  59. Michapeset - same difference. You are not ashamed to cite an anti-semite like failedmessiah as a reference. If you had a body of work, perhaps it could be taken in context. But you're just an anonymous commenter, using anti-semitic material as a reference. It disqualifies you from any consideration.

    Avi - you make no sense, and I wont bother dealing with you further.

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  60. So if Google was run by antisemites, it would be wrong to quote from something found using Google?

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  61. "So if Google was run by antisemites, it would be wrong to quote from something found using Google?"

    What the ---??? Failedmessiah is not just RUN by an anti-semite, it IS an antisemitic site. There's no comparison to Google whatsoever.

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  62. So if Failed Messiah were to reproduce a screenshot from a sefer, it would be wrong to quote the sefer?

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  63. "So if Failed Messiah were to reproduce a screenshot from a sefer, it would be wrong to quote the sefer?"

    Maybe it is your Socratic method of asking questions, rather than simply making your point, but I think we are speaking at cross-purposes. My point is this: Failedmessiah is a website that exists solely and only to portray Jews, and particularly religiously identifiable Jews at that, in the worst possible light. It is the very definition of anti-semitic. Yet your commenter felt no compunction at citing this website.

    Perhaps you dont care or dont have the sensitivity, but I would NEVER cite Der Sturmer for even so much as a weather report. Even a child should understand, you dont associate yourself with filth, no matter how tenuous the connection. Thus, to repeat, I express no opinion about the article she (and you) were citing, but it reflected very poorly upon her that she failed to see problems with quoting that website.

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  64. You can't compare FM to Der Sturmer. Sure, there's plenty to criticize. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't have value. The fact is that if it wasn't for FM, nothing would have been done about New Square, just like if it wasn't for UOJ, nothing would have been done about child abuse.

    All this originated with your claim that Michapeset must have poor judgment if she reads FM. I know plenty of fine rabbonim who read it. No, they don't like it. But it's an important source of information. Such as reproducing blog posts of rabbis who suggest that homosexuals commit suicide.

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  65. "All this originated with your claim that Michapeset must have poor judgment if she reads FM. I know plenty of fine rabbonim who read it."

    The equivalent of saying "I'm not anti-semitic, I have plenty of Jewish friends." A very hollow defense.

    As far as your claims that "nothing would have been done" about various ills - who says? The issue of abuse had been brought to the forefront by court cases, not websites. And what exactly did that website contribute to New Square? The arsonist was arrested by the police, not by the wesbite. And the New Square case had nothing to do with the larger jewish community to begin with, anyway.

    Sometimes you have to take a step back and call something for what it is. The website in question, as its name suggests, was started by a pathetic failure. A failure in life, if you know his history, and a failure in spiritual life. To strike back, he flings mud at religious Jews. Not at Christians, not at Muslims, but only at JEWS, RELIGIOUS JEWS. It makes no difference even if your highly dubious claims are correct that "he has caused good" , a premise I dispute. All attacks on Jews force us to look inwards and examine ourselves, because there is often some grain of truth in attacks upon us. It doesnt remove the stench of antisemitism from the braying fools, and to conclude, it doesnt excuse one from linking to it.

    By the way, there's a nice discussion on the Torah Musings site about the Exodus, and the actual amount of people who left Egypt.

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  66. His original post publicly suggested that homosexuals investigate the option of suicide based upon certain criteria.

    For the second time, this is not how Rabbi Kornreich viewed his first two posts.
    Discussing an options' halachic permissibly/preferability "out loud" in a very text-intensive exposition may have been extremely unwise, but it is simply NOT identical to suggesting that the homosexuals themselves investigate this option.

    He was very clear that on a practical level, it is for one's rabbi to investigate his arguments. That's why he doesn't feel the need to retract his view. He truly doesn't believe he ever made this suggestion to the homosexuals at all.

    (Even Rabbi Gil Student posted a similar idea of penitential suicide-- and no-one thinks he was making any suggestions to real penitents in the real world. But according to you, Rabbi Student should make an apology for even posting a halachic discussion on the permissibly of suicide under any circumstances.)

    It seems like Kornreich regrets his posts were misconstrued exactly as you and Rabbi Slifkin are misconstruing them-- as being practical suggestions aimed at the homosexuals themselves. And that's why he ultimately decided to take down the original post.
    He apologized for writing in a way that was misunderstood, but why should he apologize for his well-argued convictions?

    I think you are willfully distorting Kornreich's intent at this point in an attempt to vilify him.

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  67. Gershon Pickles – Again, the only place I was able to find which showed the original 4-page picture of R’ Kornreich’s original post where he suggests homosexual commit suicide, was on the FM website. And so that was the link that I posted. The fact that it is hosted on a website that you find offensive, does not take away from the point of my comment, even if you would like it to. It also does not mar my judgment, even if you would like to think that you are proving that it does. And no, I am not ashamed to link to the only website that currently is hosting a 4-page picture of the original shameful blog post that Rabbi Kornreich authored. I think it is Rabbi Kornreich who should be ashamed for having written what he did in the first place, and that was the point of my comment. Perhaps we can agree to disagree. This back and forth seems to serve no further purpose.

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  68. A Reader –

    I have no intention of vilifying Rabbi Kornreich. I do not know him any more than I know you and it serves no purpose of mine to vilify him.

    At the same time, I am horrified by the fact that someone who calls himself a rabbi, publically wrote on the worldwide web something extremely harmful, for which he did not issue a complete and full retraction and apology for.

    A full retraction and complete apology does not include qualifications, and has no “ifs, ands, or buts”. It looks like this:

    I apologize for my inappropriate post suggesting that there is a halachic basis for homosexuals to commit suicide. I retract everything that I wrote in that post. I was wrong for having written it, and its content was wholly inappropriate and wrong.

    There is never, under any circumstances a halachic or Torah based reason for homosexuals to commit suicide.

    I made a mistake, and I had no intention of hurting anyone. I apologize for any hurt or damage my words may have caused, and ask and hope for forgiveness from anyone to whom I may have caused any sort of harm by what I wrote.


    As a self-described kiruv rabbi, it would be expected of Rabbi Kornreich to have some knowledge of general current events and recent history. One would expect him to know that in American society at large, homosexuals are especially prone to suicide, even more so in religious circles. And even if he did not know, his lack of a complete retraction after being informed of such, is inexcusable.

    Additionally, if Rabbi Kornreich had thought for but a moment of the plight of a young frum person who finds himself struggling with issues of homosexuality, he would realize that no frum person WANTS to be a homosexual or would choose to be one in a million years. But after years of trying everything they could to change and be like everyone else, if they find they can’t be, depression sets in and suicide seems to them to be their only option of escaping from their painful plight.

    Suggesting suicide for homosexuals, even “in a very text-intensive exposition” is not a valid excuse for discussing “out loud” in a public, worldwide forum, something which is a matter of pikuach nefesh and a common problem for homosexuals - for both Jewish and non-Jewish.

    And that is the difference between Rabbi Gil Student speaking about suicide in general and Rabbi Kornreich writing about homosexuals and listing it as the third option in a list of options that Orthodox homosexuals have to deal with the fact that they are frum and homosexual.

    He truly doesn't believe he ever made this suggestion to the homosexuals at all.

    Again, the fact that Rabbi Kornreich doesn’t believe he ever made a suggestion, does not take away from the fact that he did!

    He apologized for writing in a way that was misunderstood, but why should he apologize for his well-argued convictions?

    Because his convictions have lead too many young Orthodox Jews struggling with homosexuality to kill themselves. And Rabbi Kornreich should know better than to publically air his “convictions” about something that could make the difference between a young, frum Jew going through with killing themselves or not. And then, to add insult to injury, instead of fully retracting his statements, he tries to defend them and say he didn’t mean them in the way they were understood. But his not fully retracting them is further proof that he DID indeed mean what people were understanding him to mean.

    To conclude, we seem to disagree on this issue. You keep repeating your points, and I keep repeating mine and there does not seem to be any more value to these discussions. Let the reader decide where he stands on these issues. And let Rabbi Kornreich’s words, and lack thereof, speak for themselves.

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  69. I entirely agree with your final paragraph, but before I sign off on this thread I want to nit-pick on a few "minor" points:

    Suggesting suicide for homosexuals, even “in a very text-intensive exposition” is not a valid excuse for discussing “out loud” in a public, worldwide forum, something which is a matter of pikuach nefesh and a common problem for homosexuals - for both Jewish and non-Jewish.

    As a matter of fact, he never suggested suicide (even theoretically) to all homosexuals. Not even to Jewish Homosexuals. Not even to Orthodox Homosexuals.
    It was *only* to Jewish, Orthodox Homosexuals who are certain to commit an act which traditional Judaism already requires one to give up one's life rather than commit. Kornreich's sole "hiddush" was that one can give up his life actively instead of only passively in order to avoid sinning.
    Just to put things in perspective.


    And that is the difference between Rabbi Gil Student speaking about suicide in general and Rabbi Kornreich writing about homosexuals and listing it as the third option in a list of options that Orthodox homosexuals have to deal with the fact that they are frum and homosexual.

    There is no such difference.
    If you can get a hold of the original post, you'll see that Rabbi Student was discussing people who committed sins which require the death penalty in Jewish law, people who are naturally consumed with guilt! He said that the halacha approves such a guilt-ridden individual to commit voluntary suicide to effect an atonement for his capital crime!
    How is this different from Kornreich?
    And Rabbi Student even put up the same warning to first consult one's rabbi before taking any action on the basis of this post!


    "He apologized for writing in a way that was misunderstood, but why should he apologize for his well-argued convictions?"

    Because his convictions have lead too many young Orthodox Jews struggling with homosexuality to kill themselves. And Rabbi Kornreich should know better than to publically air his “convictions” about something that could make the difference between a young, frum Jew going through with killing themselves or not.


    This is news to me.
    Please provide documentation for any such consequences of Kornreich's posts.
    If you can find ONE, I'll retract everything I've said.

    And to be honest, I don't see how a retraction could erase the effect of the suggestion-- once it was publicized by FM.
    If a reader is convinced by Kornreich's arguments, how will a retraction and apology afterward convince someone to change his mind?

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  70. "Avi - you make no sense, and I wont bother dealing with you further."

    I'll leave it to the reader to decide whether my comments actually make no sense or whether you are simply not prepared to deal with them.

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  71. And for those who are not sure if suicide by frum homosexuals is a problem, see here:

    http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/editorial/the-jewish-press-wont-be-silenced/2012/01/31/

    And here:

    http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/surviving-bullying-silencing-and-torment-for-being-gay-in-the-frum-community/2012/01/25/

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  72. I entirely agree with your final paragraph, but before I sign off on this thread I want to nit-pick on a few "minor" points

    A Reader – You say that you agree with my interest in ending the discussion, but then go on to raise more “minor points”.

    I will allow you to have the last word, and will not address your points, not because I do not have answers to your questions or what to say on your points. I will allow you to have the last word and will not address your points because I do not find this discussion to be productive any longer, and it is clear to me that this may never end unless you have the opportunity to end with “a few minor points”. Well, now you have ended with those points.

    So now that we can agree to disagree, let us leave it at that.

    Readers can decide from all that has been written, both by ourselves and by Rabbi Kornreich.

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