Sunday, June 23, 2013

When Is An Apology Not An Apology?


During the controversial controversy over my books, a certain former friend, whom we shall call Mr. X, in conjunction with a certain rabbi, was urging me to issue a public retraction/ apology for my books. It's not that Mr. X thought that my books were actually heretical; indeed, Mr. X himself believed that the world is billions of years old, and he did not believe in Chazal's descriptions of spontaneous generation. But Mr. X urged me to issue a partial apology, for errors in "tone" or "expression," as a tactical move, in order to defuse the controversy, and prevent damage to myself and others.

A rav that I was consulting didn't agree. He told me that there's no point issuing a partial apology - my opponents would be satisfied with nothing less than a complete capitulation, that my books are utter heresy. And a complete capitulation, while serving the interests of many rabbis/ charedi apologists associated with me or my books, would not be beneficial to me or to the people who so strongly identify with the rationalist approach. He told me that the people pushing me to apologize were looking out for their own best interests, not mine. I'd be compromising my integrity for no benefit to the people that count. And if I have to suffer the results, so be it.

I didn't apologize. In retrospect, I believe that the rav was completely correct, and I'm glad that I listened to him. But Mr. X was furious with me for not following his advice. In a public lecture that he later gave about the ban on my books, he criticized me as "a person who is not willing to listen to anyone."

(Of course, there are times when one should apologize even if one does not feel sorry - such as for shalom bayis. I am not referring to such cases.)

I was reminded of this when thinking about certain recent "apologies" that are not genuine apologies at all; instead they are just tactical moves to deflect opposition. This alone is disturbing enough; what makes it sadder is that some naive people seize upon these as examples of the moral greatness of the person issuing the apology. Whereas in fact, it doesn't demonstrate any moral greatness - just political wiliness.

How can one tell if an apology is sincere or merely a ploy? It's not always possible, of course. But sometimes there are clues that give it away.

First was Rabbi Avi Shafran's apology for his infamous article in which he said that Bernie Madoff is more worthy of respect than Captain Sully (because Sully was just doing his job, whereas Madoff went beyond expectations in apologizing). When there was uproar at this dangerously insane article, and many people calling for Rabbi Shafran to be fired from Agudas Yisrael, he issued an apology, but it seemed rather tepid. He spoke about having used an "unsuitable example" instead of admitting that the core idea was wrong. My suspicions about the insincere nature of the apology were confirmed when, in a personal email to me, he told me with pride about all the positive comments he had gotten on the article and about how he would love to discuss it one day.

Second was Leib Tropper's apology for having used his position at the top of a geirus organization to take advantage of female converts for the benefit of himself and others. His apology was carefully worded to not even be an explicit admission of guilt, despite the fact that audio and video recordings of his activities were freely available on YouTube. And I recently discovered that his devoted disciples still believe, presumably with his encouragement, that he never did anything, and that the recordings were elaborate fakes engineered by powerful adversaries.

But now we have perhaps the ultimate example of an insincere apology that is just a tactical maneuver. I'm referring, of course, to Jonathan Rosenblum's apology for slandering Rabbi Dov Lipman, as discussed in a previous post. Rosenblum, I'm told, received a tremendous amount of heat, with several people publicly responding and pointing out that his accusations were based on gross factual inaccuracies.

Rosenblum's apology starts out great. He goes into full details about his factual errors. He admits that "he had no business to make any assumptions, and certainly not to publish them, without clarifying the situation." He apologies to Rabbi Lipman and Mrs. Wolfson "for wrongly characterizing their actions as provocative, and for not having done adequate research."

Of course, one can ask, as did Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky, "I think it is important to examine how Jonathan Rosenblum, who 'had no business to make any assumptions, and certainly not to publish them, without clarifying the situation' did exactly that." A neighbor of mine, Menachem Lipkin, pointed out that, to make matters worse, he had already given Rosenblum the correct information a long time ago:
Rosenblum talks about the “assumptions” he made and how they were wrong. However, he and I had an ongoing email/phone exchange during the the Fall of 2011 when all this was going on. I gave him great detail of what was going on. I sent him a highlighted a map of the area showing him all the relevant buildings, “zones”, etc. I urged him to come down and I’d give him a tour of the area. I also urged him speak directly with Rabbi Lipman (who was not yet the “evil” man the Chareidi media has made him out to be). He did neither. Even articles he wrote at the time had factual errors which I pointed out to him.

Rosenblum makes an interesting statement: "For a Torah Jew, 'We regret the error' is insufficient." I'd expect that to mean that for a Torah Jew, it's not enough simply to issue an apology. There must be genuine contrition, a sincere effort to make amends with the victim, introspection as to how one did such a thing, and a change in one's ways.

Unfortunately, it seems that I misunderstood him. After a brief diversion to criticizing Yesh Atid, Rosenblum returns to yet another all-out attack on Dov Lipman. And to quote Menachem Lipkin:
Even if one accepts his "apology", he can barely get through the article before repeating the very transgression he so narrowly apologized for in the first place!
From JR’s “rebuttal” section:
“SADLY, RABBI LIPMAN has done little himself to provide secular Israelis in his party or beyond with a greater appreciation of the joy, the intellectual stimulation, or the cosmic power of Torah learning.”
From an assistant in Dov Lipman’s office:
1) E-mail Dov received from someone chiloni “True Story: I met on Friday afternoon with two successful young Israeli entrepreneurs — both secular IDC graduates and IDF special forces veterans. The issue of them having a meeting on Saturday (as they were leaving NYC Sunday morning) came up — and one said that he would not meet on Shabbat. He explained that he usually would have done so, as religion to him was personified by the haredi who did not share his values and with whom he did not identify at all. Then, he explained, Yesh Atid came along, with the Rabbi Dov Lipman — and showed him that he could embrace Judaism…that it was now owned and controlled by those with whom he disagreed so profoundly.”
2) Yesh Atid started the weekly Bet Midrash for MK’s – the first in the history of the Knesset. Every Tuesday at 3:00p.m. religious and secular MK’s study a section of Torah together and Dov is a regular contributor.
3) After a speech in a Jerusalem bar a girl raised her hand and said to Dov – “I just want you to know that you make me want to be more Jewish.”
4) Dov speaks a few times a week to secular students visiting the Knesset and each time he emphasizes the value of Torah study and he emphasizes the message of secular people respecting religious and vice versa.
5) After speaking in a bar in Tel Aviv, the young college students said that they never met someone chareidi who respected them and Dov explained that most chareidim would not force their ways on them. The outgrowth of that event was a Knesset taskforce for dialogue between chareidim and chilonim which Dov chairs.
Furthermore, if Rosenblum genuinely regrets having been motzi shem ra on Dov Lipman, then why on earth does his apology only appear on Cross-Currents, and not in Yated, where the original motzi shem ra appeared? In a heated email exchange that I had with Rosenblum last week, I asked him that question twice, and he did not respond. I also posted this question on Cross-Currents, but my comment was rejected. Since at least last Sunday, Rosenblum was aware that his accusations against Dov Lipman were false - plenty of time to put a retraction in the Yated, if he was genuinely sorry.

All of the above confirms a rule that I posted about a long time ago, which is neatly revealed in a statement that Rosenblum makes immediately following his expression of moral regret:
THAT HALACHIC AND JOURNALISTIC failure was a double patch in panim [smack in the face], resulting not only in a loss of credibility but serving to distract attention from the very real issues that divide me and Rabbi Lipman, who is now an MK in Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party.
Whenever someone gives two reasons for something, it's always the second reason that is the real reason. The first reason is given because it sounds better.

Rosenblum's expression of regret for a moral failure, a sin of bein adam l'chavero, was only urgently issued to Cross-Currents readers, not Yated readers. It was followed by exactly the same sin of motzi shem ra all over again. Because it wasn't a sincere apology at all - just a tactical maneuver, in order to enable Rosenblum to repair and reinforce his attack on Yesh Atid, and Dov Lipman.

Oh, and to return the story that I opened this post with. The real name of Mr. X who was urging me to apologize for my books, as a tactical move? I'm sure you can guess.

49 comments:

  1. "During the controversial controversy over my books,..."

    Just out of curiosity, when is a controversy not controversial?

    Yossi

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  2. I was trying to make the point that the ban was more controversial than the books.

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  3. R' Yitzchak Adlerstein from Cross Currents commented that maybe Yated Neeman wouldn't publish Rosenblum's apology.

    If that is true than that is a huge indictment against Yated. How can they possibly not publish an apology when the author admits that he made a mistake and slandered religious Jews? This just confirms that Yated Neeman is as believable as Pravda was.

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    1. The Yated does not, under any circumstances, want its readers to think critically for themselves. Of course, many publications contain bias, but they generally present at least a way to access divergent opinions or facts. Yated does not at all. Case in point, when Yated attacked R' Gil Student's blog a while back, they made vague references to posts on that site but did not cite the url, nor even cite the blog's website itself. Pretty much SOP at that paper.

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  4. For whatever it's worth - I personally disagreed with the condemnation heaped on Rabbi Shafran for the Madoff/Sully article. I think he should not have written it when the wounds from the Madoff scandal were still fresh, but he was not saying that Madoff deserves more respect. His point, if I understood it correctly, was that the public outcry against Madoff may have been overdone in light of his apology, and the glowing praise of Sully may have been overdone in light of the fact that he was doing what he was trained to do. Again, I don't think the article should have been written, but I don't think it's fair to say that he was saying that Madoff deserves more respect than Sully.

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  5. He did indeed say that he admires Madoff than Sully. And I don't agree that the praise for Sully was overdone. But let's not get distracted here.

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  6. Oh, and to return the story that I opened this post with. The real name of Mr. X who was urging me to apologize for my books, as a tactical move? I'm sure you can guess.




    Rosenblum

    What do I win???

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  7. I'm a little unclear whether Rosenblum meant that the "double patch in panim" was his public and factually incorrect verbal attack on R. Lapid and Mrs. Wolfson or how Rosenblum perceived the public revulsion over his attack. In other words, is Rosenblum apologizing for his wrongdoing or talking about how hurt he was at having slapped himself in the face? If the former, see below. If it's the latter, some apology. It's all about him.

    Even if he really saw that what he did as wrong, as an apology it's geneivat da'at in that it claims to adhere to principles that in practice it doesn't.

    As has been said, it should have appeared in Yated (OK, "R' Yitzchak Adlerstein from Cross Currents commented that maybe Yated Neeman wouldn't publish Rosenblum's apology"...

    Maybe, but if so, Rosenblum should have

    1. Said so in Cross Currents
    2. Either there or in a separate public letter stated that inasmuch as Yated, which had published the original piece had refused to publish his retraction, apology and request for R. Lipman's mechila, (which, al pi halacha he was obligated to make) he was severing his connection with Yated.

    But that would require that he meant it when he called it a "halachic failure."

    What about his "journalistic failure?" Given what R. Slifkin brings from R. Karlinsky and Menachem Lipkin, it was a repeated and willful one.

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  8. Thank you for mentioning Rabbi Karlinsky's comment, which induced me to go back and read the entire comment. I was fortunate enough to study in Darchai Noam for one year, so I have at least some personal knowledge of Rabbi Karlinsky's constant quest to speak from knowledge of the facts rather than assumptions and wishful thinking. I think the only thing that's given me any satisfaction in this whole series of articles is to see someone of Rabbi Karlinsky's stature chime in and write some things which seem obvious to me, but should be stated loudly, clearly, and by people with stature.

    But really, the personal animosities here are not the point. The antagonism directed against Dov Lipman by so many people speaking for the haredi point of view tends to cheapen their arguments and wound their credibility, but the issues are out there for everyone to consider regardless of the personalities. Should haredi yeshiva students, or haredi young men registered in yeshivas, continue to be exempt from the army? Should it be considered a requirement of faith to disbelieve evolution and a universe that is billions of years old, despite overwhelming scientific evidence? Should the state fund an educational system that does not teach its students the skills they will need for the job market? Is it right for politicians to attack state cutbacks for these schools, and then to turn around and acuse that same state of starving the children who graduate from these schools becaue the state is reducing welfare benefits? These and many more questions, the answers to which have nothing to do with whether Jonathan Rosenblum has unfairly attacked Dov Lipman, or whether Dov Lipman was right or wrong to accept a place on the list of Yesh Atid.

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  9. One can add another name to the list of people who seemingly feel remorse for something albeit not really sincerely, no one other than Natan Slifkin!
    On June 13th 2012 Natan posted a picture of his bat cage with a newspaper picture of Harav Ovadia shlita as the lining to collect the dung.
    A year later on June 18th 2013 in a response to my query why his actions differ to flat hat Haredis who spit on girls, both seem extremely insensitive, Natan replied that he didnt really mean it and only realised the picture was there afterwards.
    I leave it to your readers if one can believe that, but lets posit that its true........
    If Natan did not mean that post in a degrading way, when he found out that there was the picture of Rav Ovadia why didnt he take it off?
    So here is another example of not really meaning what you say.

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  10. I never apologized for the picture being there. Because I don't think that there's anything wrong in using these papers, that are rotting in the streets, to line cages, as everyone does. I was merely pointing out that I did not deliberately use a picture of Rav Ovadiah.

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  11. Just out of curiosity, when is a controversy not controversial? --Yossi

    A controversial controversy would be a controversy whose emergence itself is puzzling and suspicious, as in, "why on Earth is this an issue?" A predictable controversy, such as one over logically or predictably contentious issues and one which is argued over fairly would be a non-controversial controversy.

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  12. West Orange, one remembers his grandfather carefully cutting away pictures of important communist functionaries, and even minor ones,from newspapers to be used as toilet paper. Not that my grandfather idolized these characters, or that he thought ink on newsprint had joojoo magic, but an informant could have had him hauled before a People's Tribunal. Rabbi Slifkin comes from a part of the world where such idiocies were unknown. Perhaps you can volunteer to check and kasher his scrap papers, after developing clear criteria and guidelines for selection of who and what deserves to be saved from the bat cage....

    And just as a reality check to your ethical struggles, most would say that spitting on little children ...real and very confused and frightened children, not images... is not just "offensive," kinda like inadvertently using an old paper with someone's image on it. Apart from it being criminal, it is disgusting and inhuman.

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  13. Temujin,

    Your Communist party story reminds me of another problem. What do you do to preemptively deal with a change in Party line. One year's party hero became next year's party villain so cutting out Trotsky make you a criminal.

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  14. Strange comments about your "controversial controversy" phrase. I actually smiled when I read that as I thought you were being playful, and it's okay to be playful every once in a while when writing -- especially in a blog post and especially when you're talking about something that people have been going crazy over for several years.

    Honestly, "controversial controversy" in this context is good writing. I'm surprised at all the comments criticizing it.

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  15. Yerachmiel, Temujin's granfather of good memory did what everyone did at the time, namely keep his eyes open. Thus, he consciensciously cut out the article on Stalin in his pre-Khrushchev Soviet Encyclopaedia and dutifully pasted in the replacement pages routinely sent out by the publisher. In time, the replacements started arriving on monthly basis andhis volumes began looking like Frankenstein's monster. The general attitude to such and other changes was to keep mum, as the party was infallible, its inspired rulings never wrong but merely misunderstood by the unschooled, a living representation of Marx, Engels and Lenin.

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  16. There used to be a saying, "One can be honest, intelligent and a Party member, but only two out of three."

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  17. R' Yitzchak Adlerstein from Cross Currents commented that maybe Yated Neeman wouldn't publish Rosenblum's apology.

    Actually, Rabbi Adlerstein's comments were uncharacteristically cryptic. He certainly did not say that Rosenblum tried to have his apology printed in the Yated.

    - Moishe Potemkin

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  18. "Furthermore, if Rosenblum genuinely regrets having been motzi shem ra on Dov Lipman, then why on earth does his apology only appear on Cross-Currents, and not in Yated, where the original motzi shem ra appeared?"

    " bluke said...

    R' Yitzchak Adlerstein from Cross Currents commented that maybe Yated Neeman wouldn't publish Rosenblum's apology. "

    The exact quote is:
    [YA - And do you have any indication that Yated would publish it? Why are so many commenters (we don't publish the redundant comments) assuming that not publishing in Yated was his choice or doing? A good indication of Yated's willingness is what appears on Matzav.com, which as everyone knows, is operated by Yated. It hosts Jonathan's original piece questioning the propriety of the RCA keynoting Dov Lipman, but does not have the follow-up apology. ]

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  19. "Anonymous said...

    R' Yitzchak Adlerstein from Cross Currents commented that maybe Yated Neeman wouldn't publish Rosenblum's apology.

    Actually, Rabbi Adlerstein's comments were uncharacteristically cryptic. He certainly did not say that Rosenblum tried to have his apology printed in the Yated.

    - Moishe Potemkin"

    It would be a waste of time as Rabbi Adlerstein said they chose not to print thge apology on Matzav. Is Rabbi Adlerstein the only one who can figure out if they would print an apology? If Rosenblum was so determined to not have his apology published by Yated he should have been the force to not have it published by Matzav.com. Instead Rabbi Adlerstein says it was Yated that that did not want to publish it. Which implies that Rosenblum was not blocking its existence from Yated and that it was Yated that decided to not publish it. Rabbi Adlerstein obviously knows more behind the scenes.

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  20. No, Rabbi Adlerstein (who I am in touch with) does not know anything behind the scenes re. the Yated. He was just speculating.

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  21. "Natan Slifkin said...


    No, Rabbi Adlerstein (who I am in touch with) does not know anything behind the scenes re. the Yated. He was just speculating."

    Is it safe to assume he knows Rosenblum and communicates with him? So why don't you ask him about Rosenblum's intentions and his apology? Have you asked Rabbi Adlerstein about your speculations and assumptions?

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  22. Yes to all. Remember, people don't necessarily want to reveal their friends' shortcomings.

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  23. The the feeding frenzy going on with Rav Lipman and Rav Stav, the increasing animosity between the various sides, the intramural politics which kill any chance of reconciliation or even cooling down of temperatures, are all portents for absolute disaster. The attack on Rav Stav is just a small taste of what will/could happen.

    someone, and i am not sure who, needs to stand up and get the various sides to take a time out, breath, and get together for a sulha, a cup of coffee, or something similar. maybe this could be rabbanim such as rav kook or rav shar yeshuv cohen, maybe other people not completely identified with this or that group.

    and in this case, sooner will be better than later. both sides have much too much to loose.

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  24. "Natan Slifkin said...

    Yes to all. Remember, people don't necessarily want to reveal their friends' shortcomings."

    True but if he would know that Rosenblum didn't want to have his apology on Yated he would not lie by laying the blame on Yated and yes in this case it would be a lie as he would be otherwise defaming Yated's action as an indication for something that it would be no indication of. He could simply say nothing. If he does know whether or not Rosenblum wanted to have his apology on Yated it would mean Rosenblum did want to do so.

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  25. "as he would be otherwise defaming Yated's action as an indication for something that it would be no indication of"

    Indeed. Such is the power of friendship.

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  26. I don't think its fair to blame JR for the fact the apology did not appear in Yated. It is ultimately the editors decision. While I agree with everyone here that the original article was out of line. However, as far as the apology not appearing in Yated, we should give him the benefit of the doubt.

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  27. Aharon,

    You realize that by implication you are not giving Yated the benefit of the doubt. If Rosenblum asked Yated to print it and they refused, then what does that say about Yated?

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  28. If JR asked them to print it and they refused, he could have said so. He didn't.

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  29. Moshe Feiglin says repeatedly that it's better for religious people to be part of the "secular" parties, so as to try to instill them with Jewish values from within.

    But isn't Jonathan Rosenblum's criticism also valid, that with Yesh Atid, there's also a concern that R. Lipman will be "batel b'rov" on really problematic issues, like civil, or even gay, marriage, or public transportation on Shabbos? Not just being "batel", but even being compelled to vote with them on these issues?

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  30. You mean, like all the New York charedim who voted for Bloomberg, who legislated gay marriage?

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  31. "someone, and i am not sure who, needs to stand up and get the various sides to take a time out, breath, and get together for a sulha, a cup of coffee, or something similar."

    Yes, that's a common reaction from people raised in a calm, rational environment when faced with senseless hatred and people who *want* to see the world burn. Has it occurred to you that those who attack R' Lipman, R' Stav, and so on have absolutely no interest in a cup of coffee and calming things down?

    "maybe this could be rabbanim such as rav kook or rav shar yeshuv cohen, maybe other people not completely identified with this or that group."

    Do you mean Simcha Kook? He's prominent in the anti-Stav forces.

    The good news is that the attack on R' Stav by R' Ovadia seems to have brought out the better side in many of R' Stav's non-charedi opponents. R' Aviner, for example, personally contacted him (and wrote publicly) that he disagrees with the attack completely, and while he may not be in favor of R' Stav, he thinks he's a great guy and rav. R' Stav said he appreciates that.

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  32. There used to be a saying, "One can be honest, intelligent and a Party member, but only two out of three."

    Kevin (from Chicago), I think this quote wraps up the whole situation perfectly.

    Here's one from George Washington:

    ... One of the expedients of Party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions & aims of other Districts. You cannot shield yourselves too much against the jealousies & heart burnings which spring from these misrepresentations. They tend to render Alien to each other those who ought to be bound together by fraternal Affection.

    Now there was a real gadol! But the quote you bring is just as good, and shorter.

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  33. "Natan Slifkin said...

    If JR asked them to print it and they refused, he could have said so. He didn't."

    Not engaging in a useless project is not to be condemned. But suppose he did ask them. Why should we assume he would be willing to have them subject to be attacked even more by you because of him telling you of their conversation?

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  34. Do you mean Simcha Kook? He's prominent in the anti-Stav forces

    it is completely legitimate to oppose rav stav's candidacy. i myself would have preferred rav ariel. rav druckman opposed rav stav, but he also understands the insanity of the attacks on him.

    i would hope that rav kook is also able to make that very simple differentiation.

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  35. Do you even understand how warped these people are? Picking apart their apologies is like trying to figure out why a Mayan from the 11th century ate a pig's heart. They are so nuts. They are not worthy of your time. Not saying that we don't hope the best for them, that they become normal someday. The charedi world is a break off cult from Torah Judaism. It is far worse than what they used to say about Chabad.

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  36. There's a difference between a mayoral election and Knesset votes. R. Lipman will have to either abstain or go with Yesh Atid on any votes in the Knesset.

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  37. I'll go with Rabbi Adlerstein and not make assumptions against Rosenblum. If he is innocent then God will be on his side and reward him in this world and in the next for his apology. That I guarantee.

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  38. The focus of the post and of the comments is whether Rosenblum is right about Rabbi Lipman. I believe that the most important issue is whether Rosenblum is right in his claim that the Haredi world is reforming itself in changing its curriculum to include english, math, etc and that the government must be sensitive in any intervention with the Haredi curriculum. I believe that, notwithstanding certain minor exceptions, the trend for the last thirty years for the Haredi curriculum to provide less and less secular instruction and only the withdrawal of government support could change this. A good article showing this trend would refute Rosenblum's claim that Rabbi Lipman is "rocking the boat."

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  39. This post makes little sense. Jonathan Rosenblum apologized because he got a fact wrong: he wrote that the men in Beit Shemesh were standing in front of a shul, when in fact they were in front of the school. He wasn't apologizing for the substance of his criticism of Dov Lipman, nor should he. What did you think he would do, retract it?

    This is no different than your attack of Avi Sharfran's magazine last year, when you got a fact wrong. You asserted his magazine wouldnt publish a letter of yours, when it actually did. You rightly apologized for it, yet in the very same post you repeated the substance of your attacks on Shafran and/or his positions. EXACTLY what JR did here.

    Your passion is leading you into mistakes you should be avoiding.

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  40. If Jonathan Rosenblum’s original article with lies about Rabbi Lipman appeared in the Yated newspaper, then Rosenblum's apology can appear in 100 different places, but if he means the apology sincerely then he would demand that it appear in the Yated. If the Yated refuses to publish it, then if he means his apology sincerely, he would write very clearly, and in more than one public place, that Yated refused to print his retraction and apology. If this is the case, he would also resign from Yated, because Yated is clearly using his words to lie and misrepresent him by virtue of their not being willing to publish his follow-up retraction and apology.
    The problem is that Yated’s mission has never been to deliver truth or honesty. Yated’s mission is to feed its readers that which they want to hear, which is limited to that which is acceptable to be said and heard in Chareidi circles. This is especially true when it comes to any issues where there exist facts, or there are opinions that are different than those of Chareidi leaders, no matter how wrong, uninformed or misinformed those leaders may be. Yated therefore needs to follow its own Chareidi party-line, which demands that Rabbi Lipman get bashed and get accused of things he never did or said, regardless of whether or not they are true. If Yated prints Rosenblum’s retraction they have failed in their mission, because the Chareidi public does not want to hear that Rabbi Lipman is not evil and has not done or said all the things Rosenblum accused him of in his original Yated article.
    This is all conjecture, but it is in answer to those who are trying to rationalize that Yated is not printing Rosenblum’s retraction/ apology.

    Jonathan Rosenblum might have a moral dilemma on his hands at this very moment. Does he stay with Yated to save his income from Yated, regardless of the fact that Yated is willing to be motzei shem rah using Rosenblum’s own words by virtue of the fact that they are (possibly) not printing his retraction and apology? This might be an even greater moral dilemma because Jonathan Rosenblum writes in more than one Chareidi publication. Perhaps he is being threatened to lose his income in ALL Chareidi publications in which his writing appears. And because Chareidim tend to consider as “outsiders” those who disagree with issues they consider important, perhaps Rosenblum is afraid of losing important friends or important work contacts in Chareidi circles.

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  41. (continued)

    Much of this is one of the basic dilemmas and risks in journalism – speaking the truth and avoiding lies and falsehoods. It is proving to be especially challenging for Rosenblum when there are “Gedolim” or other Chareidi leaders who say things that are perhaps based on misinformation, while Chareidim want to believe that “The Gedolim” are infallible in their every utterance and in their understanding of issues.
    Rosenblum’s job may have gone from “journalist” to “Public Relations Apologist.” “Public Relations Apologists” (sometimes known as “hacks”) do not need to be truthful, and very often their jobs require them to avoid the truth and to use lies or misrepresentations in order to do their job. Of course they may claim they are truthful, but that is not a job requirement for their positions. Unlike lawyers, they cannot be “disbarred,” and unlike journalists they do not lose their jobs for blatant lies and fabrications. Hacks are not held to any standard of conduct that includes avoiding lies and untruths. But Rosenberg is also a religious Jew.

    I would venture to guess that Jonathan Rosenblum believes that one’s parnasa (livelihood) is determined by God, and not solely by his own actions and efforts. I would also venture to guess that he believes that one’s parnasa is generally determined by God on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I’ve in the past been curious as to how people who claim to believe these things are able to simultaneously do things like cheat on their taxes, lie on government forms to obtain government benefit monies, withhold payment due to a non-Jew, and other such cheating and lying for money or even for their whole parnasa. Perhaps they think that Hashem is not capable of giving them a parnasa without their lying. Or perhaps they really do not believe that which they claim is a basic part of their belief system.
    Jonathan Rosenblum said blatant lies about another person, a fellow religious Jew, one with some differences of opinion than his own. He didn’t say these lies to one person, but rather said them in a newspaper sent to hundreds of thousands of homes, which is read by countless people. Is he willing to risk losing his job for demanding a retraction of his lies? Or is he willing to be a “hack” and sell his name and his integrity in exchange for money?

    I believe that people generally want to do the right thing, but sometimes (or often) we get in our own way. I get the feeling that in this case Rosenblum is trying to “please” everyone or “keep the peace” in some twisted and unethical way. Someone may want to remind him that you cannot please ALL of the people ALL of the time. Sometimes you have to choose. Silence is a choice. But “Shtika k’hodaya.”

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  42. This post makes little sense. Jonathan Rosenblum apologized because he got a fact wrong

    That's not correct - he apologized for making assumptions and publishing them without clarifying the matter. The apparent insincerity is reflected in the fact that the rest of the apology column consists of unclarified (but easily clarifiable) assumptions.

    - Moishe Potemkin

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  43. Moishe - what assumptions do you refer to? To the contrary, if anything JR ers on the side of being overly apologetic. He apologized for saying Lipman was being provocative, when there's no evidence to say otherwise. [That is not a fact, which can be called true of false.]

    Lipman and Rosenblum see things from different perspectives, and have the right to criticize the other's point of view.

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  44. The real problem with JR's coloumn is neither his apology nor his critique of Lipman - it's that he tries to turn it into a HALACHIC debate. Read his concluding paragraph:

    ------------------

    In an important letter, the Chazon Ish famously observed that the division of the Torah into two separate parts – one having to do with issur ve’heter and the other to do with guidance in other areas of life – with the determination of the chachmei hador binding only in the first section, is the ancient system of German Reform that led to the near total assimilation of German Jewry.

    Here is Rabbi Lipman in response to a question as to whether he sought rabbinical guidance before agreeing to run on the Yesh Atid list: “Halacha is: Is this pot kosher or not kosher. If you don’t know the halacha yourself, you ask the rabbi for that.” Anything else, it seems, is beyond the realm of Torah scholars; their decades long immersion in Torah offers them no more insight than the next guy.

    ---------------------

    That's JR's problem, right there. Attempting to turn support for or against Lipman into a litmus test of das torah. JR is going to lose that game, every time. Because most orthodox Jews [not necessarily in sheer numbers, but in most locations] do not share that belief. JR is both a good and highly intelligent man, no one disuptes that. Yet he is a ba'al teshuvah, and, it seems to me, he not only bought the "daas torah" concept, but also bought the claim that "daas torah" was always accepted.

    You can choose to support Lipman oc criticize him. You can accept his party's platform or not. But dont turn this into another da'as torah thing. That is not going to convince anyone.



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  45. DF - I meant the following:

    1) SADLY, RABBI LIPMAN has done little himself to provide secular Israelis in his party or beyond with a greater appreciation of the joy, the intellectual stimulation, or the cosmic power of Torah.

    2) To whom was this brilliant insight directed? To all the chareidi yeshiva bochurim who have “friended” him on Facebook? Or was it directed to the secular community to feed their stereotypes of selfish bochurim concerned only with their own learning and contributing nothing to society? Had Lipman really been concerned about the street sweepers he would have started knocking on his neighbors’ doors, not posting on Facebook.

    3) Nor apparently, does Lipman see Talmud learning as offering much refinement of middos:

    4) I’m not sure how much time Lipman has spent in the great Israeli yeshivos, but he’d like the secular public to know that there is little to show for the miraculous growth in lomdei Torah:

    5) What is the point of all this pandering to the secular public other than to assure them that there is no dedication, no mesirus nefesh, no intense intellectual effort, no shviros hamiddos in the tents of Torah?

    I have no problem with anyone disagreeing with what Rabbi Lipman is doing. I think it's amazingly dishonest to pretend to know his motivations, and that are all base. (It's also irrelevant if, as Rosenblum concludes, "Rabbi Lipman is not the issue.")

    - Moishe Potemkin

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  46. Moishe, those are not assumptions, those are perspectives. I happen to share much of that perspective. Nothing dishonest or insincere about them.

    And he's right that Lipman is not the issue, but Limpan is out there claiming to be charedi, so from JR's point of view, its important to expose him as having no clothes.

    Bottom lie, Lipman is now a politician, and you know what the mishna says about them. Some of his parties positions will eventually carry the day [despite Lipman] because their time has come. Factual misrepresentations should be avoided, but second guessing his motivations are fair game. Heck, some of the guys jumpin on JR on this blog were themselves second guessing JR's motivations at the same time! All depends on whose ox is being gored, I guess.

    Best,

    D.

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  47. They struck (and strike) me as attempts to impute only te most nefarious motives to Lipman, and in some cases (like the assertion that Rabbi Lipman has done little to expose secular Israelis to Torah), quite false.

    Of course, different people see things differently. That, as we say, is what makes a market. Have an easy fast season.

    I did appreciate the Freudian slip at the start of your third paragraph, when you began talking about politicians. :)

    - Mooshe Potemkin

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  48. "Yoel B said...


    What about his "journalistic failure?" Given what R. Slifkin brings from R. Karlinsky and Menachem Lipkin, it was a repeated and willful one."

    No. He was making an assumption on a separate video that he assumed was not a part of what he was told. I'll stick with Rabbi Adlerstein and not make assumptions on JR. I'll check out Cross Currents.

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