Friday, December 7, 2018

The Most Powerful Man in the Charedi Litvishe World

Warning: This is an extremely disturbing post.

Who is the most powerful man in the charedi litvishe world?

Most people would say that Rav Chaim Kanievsky, the "Sar HaTorah" ("Prince of Torah") is the leader, or at least the most prominent figure.

Of course, like all charedi Gedolim, access to him is controlled by his gabbaim (handlers/ gatekeepers). The gabbaim decide which people get to meet with him and which information he finds out about. The gabbaim often presenting other peoples' cases to him, and draft letters for him to sign. If you're cynical, you believe that these gabbaim essentially control everything that Rav Chaim believes and says. If you're idealistic, you believe that he has selected good people, men of integrity, to suitably filter the information and causes that reach him. Either way, the gabbaim are the power behind the throne.

One of the most important of Rav Chaim Kanievesky's gabbaim is his grandson, Yanky Kanievsky. Just recently he decided to block the rabbis of a certain town from meeting with Rav Chaim regarding a political matter. You'll see Yanky Kanievsky in many photos of Rav Chaim in the charedi press, standing by his side or in the background:


Here's another photo of Yanky Kanievsky, that you won't be seeing in the charedi press:



This is Yanky Kanievsky at a party in Bnei Brak, on Tuesday of this week. But who is the person that he is sitting next to, and happily talking with?

His name is Yisrael Draiman. According to some reports, he was "merely" an honored guest, who gets to shmooze with one of the most powerful men in the charedi litvishe world; according to other reports (which seem to be more reliable, since they came before the backlash), the party was actually a farewell party in his honor. Because he is about to go to prison. Yisrael Draiman was charged with tens of counts of molestation, indecent sexual acts, and sodomy of four little girls, each around twelve years old.

(This was reported on the website Rotter.net, along with the photos, but the article has now disappeared. Jewish Community Watch spoke to one of the people present at the party, who clearly stated that it was an event in his honor.)

Now you can understand how it came to be that Rav Chaim Kanievsky signed a letter attesting to the righteousness of Elior Chen, the worst child molester in the history of the state. (The fact that Rav Chaim, after subsequently being told of Chen's crimes, defended signing on the grounds that he signs whatever other rabbis sign, is an even worse indictment.)

Similarly, Rav Yitzchak Silberstein wrote a letter attesting to the innocence of Malka Leifer, on the grounds that "trustworthy rabbis" told him that the 74 charges of child molestation are false. (The letter was also signed by Rav Chaim Kanievsky.)

Similarly, Leib Tropper had the support of dozens of Gedolim despite long-standing rumors of his being a predator, and even after video evidence emerged, Rav Elyashiv's grandson attended an event in his honor.

Don't expect to see any of this discussed in Yated, HaModia, Ami, Mishpacha, or even Cross-Currents. They do not exist to provide news that people actually need to know. They cover such things up and indoctrinate their readers with a false version of reality.

The chareidi structure of leadership and power - the elderly, sheltered Gedolim with their gabbaim and their Daas Torah pronouncements and their fawning press and their society of fear and the zero transparency or accountability - is fundamentally rotten. It causes untold harm to countless innocent people. If you defend or uphold the charedi structure of leadership, then you are complicit in this harm.

63 comments:

  1. Your points are valid and important.

    However, it is important to note that other types of leadership (secular, other religious, government, business) also have similar issues at times, so it is not proper to make it seem like such issues are limited to one particular stream or group.

    In a different atmosphere, the gabbai might be called a secretary. But the same issue could still exist.

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    1. In other societies, there is much greater transparency and accountability.

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    2. All Keep in mind that in the secular/ business world nowadays people are also accessible via social media and linkedin so that there are far fewer gatekeepers these days.

      And although there are other types of leadership isnt one of the claims of the charedi world that it is morally superior and cleaner than secular systems.

      I have never understood the charedi poskim apparent ideology of protecting sexual offenders, even from a halchick position. Arent the averot of arayus, sexual incest that goes on for years, far greater than any of the other ones you could possibly apply to reporting someone to the police?

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    3. And when you hold yourselves out as the very pinnacle of proper Jewish behavior, you have a problem indeed.

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    4. Not really. Think of R Druckman et al. with Moti Elon. It happens all over. The reform CCAR is dealing with their own problem right now.

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    5. I wonder what would happen in other secular societies were the chief of staff of a governor/PM/etc went to a honorary dinner for a pedophile.

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    6. R. Druckman is being called out throughout the Dati Leumi world. Not so in the charedi world.

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    7. Called out - so whatDecember 9, 2018 at 10:56 AM

      Is R Druckman still teaching in Or Etzion? Is he still head of Yeshivot Bnei Akiva? Did Bennett not say, "I don't rank Rabbis" or something to that effect? Have you put up a post demanding his resignation for all education-related matters? Do you know that he did the same thing for Koppelovitz in Netiv Meir? And this is not his handlers - it is him - personally, knowingly, and dumbly. Hot air protests and zero accountability. You'll vote for Bayit Yehudi and call for others to do so, with him as their rabbinic leader and the honorary number 120 on their list.

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    8. The Charedi public is different, yes. The Rabbis across all streams and indeed leaders across all segments of society act the same way. They cover for their own. Elon is not some exception. Child sexual abuse unusual for any individual Rabbi, but not rare in the aggregate. See the Catholic Church. I’ll believe Rabbis of this or that stream are different when they start outing their own. I haven’t seen it yet.

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    9. I have to agree with "Called out". This post is very good. But (especially) if you consider yourself a member of the RZ sector, please add your voice to a call for resignations and investigations. To tackle the abuse problem, we need each group to take responsibility for their own. The RZ can show how it is done. Unfortunately, in this area, there is no difference so far.

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    10. Just the fact alone that the yeshivish velt is defending themselves with such statements as "...other types of leadership (secular, other religious, government, business) also have similar issues at times", shows that they consider themselves equals only when under srutiny, but all other times, not so much. They need to hear the words coming out of their own mouths. Stop being tone deaf!!! Wake up and realize that you need to start from scratch and reassess what being the nessim and an ohr l'goyim is all about. We have no hope to improve our ways if we lie to ourselves constantly.

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  2. You are a very courageous Tzadik, Kavod HaRav! An example for all who knows what is right and just in this world.

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  3. While they may have gatekeepers, it doesn't mean that they don't issue correct pronouncements and psakei din WHEN (and only when) they are presented with the facts. Every intelligent person knows Rav Chaim has gatekeepers, however, when if one meet him one and one and tell him things without his Gabbai, he would find Rav Chaim's thinking is quite sharp.

    I don't have personal experience with R CHaim, but I can testify firsthand that Rav Shteinman Zatzal's critical thinking skills were amazing

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    1. And yet Rav Shteinman stated that there is no correlation between secular studies and parnasah, which is very clearly false.

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    2. True, but he had an agenda when he said that...

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    3. Does it really make sense to judge someone by 1 speech that you know about? Why not study a broader sampling of Rav Shteinman and Rav Chaim's works and then decide how sharp they are/were, instead of the constant references to one incident each time you want to make your point. Your cherry-picking reminds me of some of the anti-vaxxers from your other posts

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    4. So they issue correct pronouncements and psakei din when they are presented with the facts *and* when they don't have an agenda? Even if these were the only conditions, which they won't be, that still doesn't leave very many cases.

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    5. "Does it really make sense to judge someone by 1 speech that you know about?"

      I could add several more, all in the same vein.

      If you have examples of their wisdom which would negate my examples, please feel free to share them.

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    6. This “one” is pretty sickening all by itself.

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    7. Before I get "sickened" from R' Shteinman's remark, can you give the full context? No offense, but you aren't the most reliable when it comes to quoting people's statements, as was most recently evidenced in your money tree post

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    8. No offense, but I disagree with your characterization of my reliability, and I think that my money tree post was perfectly accurate. But as per your request, the transcript is here: http://lifeinisrael.blogspot.com/2012/05/rav-shteinmans-bet-shemesh-speech-makes.html

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    9. Therein lies the problem. Just about everyone who actually took the time to read the pamphlet disagreed with your portrayal of the message. The fact that you feel you were perfectly accurate despite that says a lot about you. I don't think you realize how clouded your judgment is sometimes (I'm sure I would be the same if I went through what you did btw). I also don't think you have a great sense of how your writing comes off, and I actually mean that in a positive way towards you. Because people I speak to often think of you as arrogant based on some of your writings, but it is clear to me you are not, but for those that don't know your style and intentions, you appear to put yourself on a level greater than some of the greatest sages of the past generations. For example, you may quote someone like Rashi (like his mermaid pshat?) and then say something like, Rashi is wrong, the gemara really means a dolphin...You may be 100% correct, but it's not the style many are used to hearing a modern person saying definitively that Rashi is flat out wrong. There's usually a certain reverence involved with arguing with great rishonim/achronim. Just thought I'd throw that out there, ramble now complete.

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    10. Speaking as a yeshiva guy: Moshe, you may be shocked to discover (as I was, a few yesrs ago) that society at large and a very large number of learned and observant Jews would be taken aback at hearing that you WOULDN'T say Rashi is wrong if he says mermaids are real. It's very freeing to embrace that fact, you'll find.

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    11. "Just about everyone who actually took the time to read the pamphlet disagreed with your portrayal of the message."
      Wow. I just re-read the comments to make sure. You have radically distorted things. (I also think that some people did not read my portrayal of the message very carefully, and assumed that I was saying more than I actually said.

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    12. I am amazed that a religious Jew could say that R. Steinman's statement is "very clearly false"! It is a core tenet of Judaism that ALL our hishtadlut is only apparently effective to give us the impression that "kochi ve-otzem yadi assah" etc., as a nisayon to our emunah, but that it is really Hashem's personal hashgacha that brings (or doesn't bring) the desired result.

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    13. Israel, I don't think you are understanding my point. I am not claiming Rashi is not wrong. I am saying in the yeshivish world there's a certain way of saying that Rashi is wrong, i.e. in an overly respectful way, and explaining why Rashi may have come to such a mistake for example. Same goes for saying certain gedolim are wrong. So if RNS is looking to make an impact on such people, he would need to be more sensitive to that style, otherwise he will be dismissed as being arrogant.

      RNS, I haven't kept up with all the comments on that post, but at the time I read it with the comments, that was my impression. If you are interested in clarifying this matter, I suggest you find someone who is not biased either way and have them read your post and then read the actual pamphlet and see what they say. I am open to the idea that I am wrong in my assessment, but coming from you I am not convinced since you are not impartial (I'm sure I'm not as well). And for your second point, you are kind of reinforcing my point when you say that ppl assumed you were saying something you didn't mean. I don't know if that concerns you or not, but your style of criticism often comes off as pretty extreme and lends to that type of misunderstanding.

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    14. Moshe, you are kidding yourself if you think that in the yeshiva world it is acceptable to say either that Rashi or, say, Rav Elyashiv is in error. My source is personal experience. R. Natan is obviously not addressing the yeshiva world, quite clearly because he is speaking in the fashion that he speaks. Critical thinking is simply no longer prized in the Lithuanian yeshiva world, except in its ritual form (in which one reads particular traditional books and repeats particular traditional descriptions and distinctions.)

      It was only yesterday that I was chatting with an (highly intelligent) acquaintance in BMG, and he was excoriating a rabbi we both knew (not from the Lakewood world) viciously for having publicly stated that the midrash about all the liquids in the world splitting at the time of krias yam suf may not be historical. "Who does he think he is?" he fumed. "We grew up in yeshivos, we know that it really happened. Does he think he knows better than the whole world?"

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    15. Israel, we will have to just agree to disagree, because my experience has been that if done in the proper way, it is acceptable to assign error to them. It must come from a starting point that you have the utmost respect for them and assume that anything they said was well thought out by someone extremely intelligent - which should hopefully be true, not just an act. Imagine a university science professor wants to prove that Einstein was wrong about something. How would he go about doing that? I know it's an extreme example, but I feel that's essentially how it has to work. If that Rav in your story said something like, "the words of the Midrash are obviously kodesh and are teaching us some important lesson....but based on xyz source that not all midrashim are to be understood literally...", I suspect his comment would have been accepted better.
      And if RNS is not intending to be heard by the yeshiva world, then he can ignore my comments. I just get the sense that at times he is trying to get messages across to that sector as well.

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  4. Natan

    who do you think has a higher iq . you or rav steinman.?

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    1. Rav Steinman.
      Now your turn to answer a question: Who do you think has a higher iq, you or the late Stephen Hawking?

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    2. obviously hawkings iq is about 50% higher than mine.

      you say "yet Rav Shteinman stated that there is no correlation between secular studies and parnasah, which is very clearly false."

      Your point is. (1) He is dumb (2) out of touch with reality (3)indulges in pious lies (4) all 3 (chv)
      (5)This is a known unknown, but best keep away from charedi leadership.

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    3. Either 2 or 3.

      (Incidentally, there are, unfortunately, several shittos that justify "pious lies.")

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  5. I posted the following on your page nine years ago:
    Near the end of Sotah 49b, it is written: “The face of the generation (of the Chevlai Moshiach) is like the face of a dog …” Interesting analogy. The Talmud offers possible explanations for this expression:


    “Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman in Kuntres Ikvos Meshicha quotes an explanation heard from the Chafetz Chaim. The face of the generation are the leaders (Bereishis Rabbah 79:6). A leader must guide his people authoritatively and teach them right from wrong. But in the period before Moshiach, the ostensible leaders will first check to see if their views will be popularly received, like a dog that looks back to see if his master follows.”

    Usually, vorts that include this teaching from R' Wasserman refer to politicians, but I wonder if Bereshit Rabba could've been talking about /Torah/ leaders. Oy, I wish it weren't true. On the bright side, it /would/ be a sign of Moshiach, now, wouldn't it? Please let that be the case.

    Let's not forget how the statement of Sotah ends:
    “Upon what, then, can we lean? Upon our Father in Heaven!”

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  6. This Times of Israel article raises similar issues with chareidi politicians attitude to Australian Leifer case:

    Residents of Haredi settlement of Emmanuel only vaguely familiar with, and not particularly disturbed by, allegations against former Melbourne girls’ school principal Malka Leifer
    By JACOB MAGID
    Today, 6:19 am
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    514
    shares
    EMMANUEL, West Bank — The last time the Sapper sisters saw Yisroel Aron Leifer, they had been responsible for taking him to school in Melbourne, Australia.

    Over ten years had passed and the ladies were now confronting him under starkly different circumstances.

    ......
    Former Australian principal Malka Leifer, who is wanted in her home country for child sex abuse crimes, is seen at the Jerusalem District Court, on February 14, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)
    “What justice system that is, I couldn’t tell you,” she added, positing that Leifer chose the northern West Bank settlement to get as far “off the map” as possible.

    Leifer lived in Emmanuel for roughly three years before she was arrested in 2014 after Australian authorities officially submitted a request for extradition. However, she was subsequently released to house arrest, with her attorney arguing that she was too mentally ill to stand trial.


    .....

    “This is a city of refuge. Anyone in the Haredi world who has gotten himself into trouble winds up moving here,” he said, dropping his finished can of Coke onto the street. “Someone who needs the money will come and collect that,” he explained, unwittingly demonstrating the level of poverty in the town.
    .......


    The only two factions whose members refused to meet with them were the ultra-Orthodox parties — United Torah Judaism and Shas. The sisters were hoping to sit down with UTJ chair Yaakov Litzman, whose role as deputy health minister is relevant to their case.

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  7. I agree wholeheartedly with your general criticism of the chareidi structure of leadership. It is fundamentally flawed and invites abuse by those close to the gedolim.

    However, with regard to the specific story here, a quick perusal of rotter.net, and especially the "scoop forum" where this post seems to have been made, does not fill me with confidence as to the accuracy of it's "reporting", to say the very least. This could easily have been made up by one of the many sensationalist contributors to the site (especially given that the post has now been taken down).

    Can you post any independent confirmation of this story? Or of the fact that this is a genuine and recent photo? And is this Yisrael Draiman so well connected politically that Yanky Kanievsky would actually attend a party in his honor? (I assume he doesn't travel up and down the country giving his support to every convicted chareidi Joe Shmoe.)

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    1. My friend from JCW spoke personally to people in attendance.

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  8. Called out - so whatDecember 9, 2018 at 11:04 AM

    "The fact that Rav Chaim, after subsequently being told of Chen's crimes, defended signing on the grounds that he signs whatever other rabbis sign,"

    SHEKER!

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    Replies
    1. No, it's in his own handwriting. Scanned and posted at the linked post above.

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    2. Called out - so whatDecember 10, 2018 at 9:20 AM

      It doesn't say what you say it says. There is a huge difference between "whatever other rabbis sign" and "what MY RABBEIM sign." I wouldn't fault R' Amnon Bazak for signing something signed by R' Lichtenstein without looking into it.

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    3. I would!!!

      (Incidentally, if you think he only meant his personal mentors, who do you think falls into that category - and how did he sign the Leifer letter?)

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    4. Called out - so whatDecember 11, 2018 at 9:17 AM

      It doesn't matter that you would; it is not the same thing at all, and your quote of RCK is simply a lie.

      And if you would, how do you trust (and quote!) anything researched by anyone anywhere if you haven't personally researched it? And if you aren't going to trust the research of your mentors, whose will you?

      I don't have to expand who he relies on beyond his personal mentors, and Rav Zilberstein.

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    5. I was writing from memory and I accidentally wrote "other rabbis" instead of "my rabbis." Apologies for the error, but that's all it was.

      You are correct that everyone ultimately relies on other people. The question is whether we make sensible, wise, responsible choices in who we rely on. Relying on the signature of Rav Elyashiv or Rav Zilberstein that an accused pedophile is in fact innocent is not wise or responsible.

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    6. Pray tell who in your opinion are "wiser and more responsible" than R. Elyashiv or R. Zilberstein??

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    7. Gosh, lots of people. R. Zilberstein believes that Jews and non-Jews have different numbers of teeth. R. Elyashiv frequently signed off on things that he was misled about.

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    8. And Rav Chaim Kanievsky made a bracha (with Shem U'Malchus) on a "king" who was a fraud, because he was misled. Wouldn't have happened to me or to anyone I know. Likewise, he signed that Elior Chen is a tzaddik!

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    9. And the most powerful example is Leib Tropper. Pretty much all the Gedolim were misled by him. Whereas most regular people could tell immediately that there was something off with him.

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    10. called out - so whatDecember 11, 2018 at 7:47 PM

      So I understand that you deem Rav Lichtenstein not reliable, since you would fault R' Bazak for signing?

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  9. Doesn't the article you gave as a link on the charge say it was published in March 2017?

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. But what was he convicted of?December 10, 2018 at 1:12 AM

    Extremely disturbing, but please explain: Yisrael Draiman is "about to go to prison" after being "charged" with many counts of terrible deeds. But what was he convicted of? (You link to an article that's all in Hebrew.) Thank you.

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  12. Yes....but it wasnt this way of rav steinman זצ"ל

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  13. Many are wrongly convicted. courts are not perfect. I assume Yanky investigated the case and believed draiman to be innocent.
    Why should draiman be punished twice?


    https://www.innocenceproject.org

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    Replies
    1. So why isn't he yelling about this "evidence" from the rooftops, to save an innocent man?

      Give me a break.

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  14. European style it could be it's saying it was published on January 3, 2017. I fail to see anything written in it about later than 2015 and it is saying he was convicted. It's a second hand site too. I would want more info.

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  15. "Draiman was charged with tens"

    Be more specific.
    According to your link, 70 anal rapes and 70 oral rapes.
    What a tzaddik!

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    Replies
    1. To be technical, "maasei sodom" is the Israeli legal term for what would be called "sodomy" in English legal terms, which would include, but not be limited to, anal rape. Oral rape would also fall under it, as would other crimes.

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  16. "There is no Yisron for the Ba'al Halashon" Natan you indulge in gossip and may very well be the source of the destruction of innocent lives. Nothing can excuse the peddling of slander - under the so called guise of "ltoeles".

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  17. 70 and 70? Only now going to prison and the guys in the picture look so relaxed and who is this guy and why are all the links from second hand sources? Is the guy in the picture the same guy even? We have little to go on.

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  18. We have no way of knowing one way or another about the case from what you've presented. It raises far more questions. It really should be either backed up or removed.

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  19. Now we can all "understand" how much credence Dr. Slifkin gives to sources.....I suppose all the science that is "fact" comes from equally as reputable sources....call a spade a spade....

    ReplyDelete

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