Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Rubashkin Contradiction

One year ago, Sholom Rubashkin was released from prison. (For an excellent discussion of the entire tragic story, along with many other fascinating topics in kashrut, I recommend the book Kosher USA.) Rubashkin's sentence was absurdly excessive and it was wonderful that it was commuted. Yet I bemoaned how the yeshivishe press was portraying him. Although Rubashkin didn't deserve the punishment that he received, he had nevertheless committed serious crimes that caused great harm. Yet the press were portraying him as a hero, the Sharansky of our era.

Several people (including a close friend) criticized me sharply. But their criticism was not all the same. Some of them criticized me for attributing any wrongdoing to Rubashkin. They insisted that he was entirely innocent of any wrongdoing. Others agreed that he had committed some wrongdoings, but insisted that he wasn't being celebrated as any kind of hero; people were just rejoicing that his unjust sentence was being commuted.

It is now one year since Rubashkin's release from prison. Tonight, there is an enormous party and concert, celebrating the "Baal Haness," pictured triumphantly clapping over the cheering crowds. During the last year, Rubashkin has been paraded as a celebrity, invited to speak at numerous venues. He also published a book of "inspirational messages and divrei Torah." As far as I am aware (and I would welcome being proved wrong), in his speeches and writings he does not bemoan making terrible mistakes that harmed many people. Nor does he use this opportunity to beg people not to break the law. Instead, he speaks about his great emunah and bitachon.

On the other hand, if you read the account of his sentencing, a very different picture emerges. Rubashkin was described as giving a "tearful apology." He told the court "I guess this is the time to apologize to my community, and especially to my dear wife and children, for the harm I have caused them. There are no words to express the grief that I feel and have caused them.” A psychiatrist spoke on his behalf, and attested that "Rubashkin expressed regret for the harm he had caused himself and others."

So was Rubashkin lying? Was all that merely in order to fool the judge? Or was he sincere - in which case, why does that sentiment appear to have gone out of the window?

Which is the real Sholom Rubashkin?

42 comments:

  1. You can tell the court before sentencing any bubbe maaisa that might lower the sentence. Especially, as we saw, the cruel judge anyways imposed an excessive and draconian sentence.

    What was said in court was to play to their ears. And rightly so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's exactly right. Who cares whether he was "sincere" or not. Is anyone ever sincere in pre-sentencing apologies?? You are trying to salvage your life, you'll say whatever you need to. Not that it mattered with this blatantly anti-Semitic judge, roundly criticized by numerous bi-partisan AGs. She ought to be removed from the bench.
      As for "Baal Haness" - yes, its a little over the top. Big deal. It's only one year since this man darn-near miraculously got his life and family back. That's something to be celebrated, as indeed it was. To look for things to complain about comes across as churlish and small-minded.

      Delete
    2. "As for "Baal Haness" - yes, its a little over the top. Big deal."After perpetrating this massive chilul haShem, Rubashkin should be hiding out in a hermitage not parading in public sight.Any people or groups who idolize him deserve him and the grief he brings down on them. Regrettably other innocent and outraged people will also suffer.

      Delete
    3. "Not that it mattered with this blatantly anti-Semitic judge". Evidence?

      "roundly criticized by numerous bi-partisan AGs." Right or wrong the appeals court considered the arguments upheld the sentence.

      I'm inclined to think that the sentence was excessive, but that is because the prosecutors were able to make a reasonable case that the judge accepted as to the extent of the losses. I don't see where the anti-semitism comes in. Prosecutors often don't go for justice, but for what they can get.

      Delete
    4. The "massive chilul hashem." Please, give it a rest. Outside of the Jewish community the only ones who even know the name Rubashkin are the members of the legal community, disgusted with the anti-Semitic Judge. Rubashkin committed a minor white-collar crime, were it not for that judge even you would never have heard of it. The only chilul hashem here is people looking to find ways to nitpick against their own brothers, and who are willing to overlook blatant anti-semitsim for fear of offending the goyim. THAT's a Chilul hashem, because people despise weakness. To adopt a "Zai Shtill" posture for the Gentiles, but not for one's own brother, is pathetic.

      Delete
    5. DF:

      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/kosher-king-sholom-rubashkin-influential-politicians-27-year-jail-sentence-article-1.140568&ved=2ahUKEwjX74mzyZrfAhVyUt8KHckJBqoQ2aoCMBp6BQgNEKUB&usg=AOvVaw2t1h2h6DlzjT8sBmu5m5Kx

      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.app.com/story/news/nation/2018/02/07/god-credit-sholom-rubashkin-donald-trump-lakewood-nj/306907002/&ved=2ahUKEwjX74mzyZrfAhVyUt8KHckJBqoQ2aoCMBp6BQgNEKkB&usg=AOvVaw3hnBxhIc02ftaxtP1bGsTO
      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/12/21/how-trump-came-to-commute-an-ex-meatpacking-executives-27-year-prison-sentence/&ved=2ahUKEwjX74mzyZrfAhVyUt8KHckJBqoQFjAcegQIAhAB&usg=AOvVaw0S0g1iqsksRpbJGW2Z5Qd7&ampcf=1

      https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.politico.com/story/2017/12/20/trump-commutes-sentence-kosher-meatpacking-business-executive-rubashkin-311389&ved=2ahUKEwjX74mzyZrfAhVyUt8KHckJBqoQFjAdegQIBhAB&usg=AOvVaw2h9QqmG9nBnIm8NgDd3KgY

      There's plenty more. These are just the recent headlines.

      Delete
    6. DF: "Massive chilul hasheim" would include those frum Jews who have their misunderstanding of what being an eved Hashem really means reinforced.

      Delete
    7. Israel, there's nothing about these headlines, if you want to call them that, which negates anything I said.

      Delete
  2. So was Rubashkin lying?
    How should we know if Rubashkin was lying of not

    ReplyDelete
  3. https://m.jpost.com/Blogs/Matters-of-Life-and-Religion/The-Facts-in-the-Rubashkin-Case-Speak-for-Themselves-520046

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His defenders claimed that he got an excessive sentence. The bank fraud is not a question. It happened (beyond a reasonable doubt).

      Delete
    2. And Agriprocessors was found guilty of child labor violations. Even if it couldn't be proven beyond reasonable doubt that any Rubashkin was involved. The foreman who doctored the records cut a deal with the feds and got 36 months.

      And most egregious to me, OSHA (federal) and Iowa-OSHA really did find numerous violations of worker safety laws and judged them to have a DART rate (days lost to injury per 100 workers) multiples of that of other meat plants. And before Agri, their textile mills in NJ also had a disastrous employee safety (and environmental poisoning) record. These didn't go to trial, they were handled administratively.

      Delete
  4. Did he express any apology before he was found guilty? I guess this is quite pertinent in order to make the argument that his apology is in any way sincere.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Of course anything he said at his trial and sentencing was just playing to the judge (not that it did him any good).

    RDNS,

    You say that Rubashkin "committed serious crimes that caused great harm". It would be instructive for all if you would care to comment on the JP article linked above by YA which disagrees strongly with that statement. (Concentrate on the facts therein, and ignore the rhetoric.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. His defenders claimed that he got an excessive sentence. The bank fraud is not a question. It happened (beyond a reasonable doubt).

      Delete
    2. Not easy to do. The article is full of ad hominem attacked on PETA and the people he calls "social justice warriors", comments about Rubashkins positive deeds which neither prove nor disprove his guilt, and a good deal of name dropping. It's hard to sift out the facts from everything else in there.

      Delete
  6. Satmar are now fighting for better conditions for all tax evaders.
    סאטמר מתגייסת לטובת הנשיא טראמפ
    בחודשים שאחר שחרורו של רובשקין מהכלא - התחילו עסקנים בסאטמר להירתם לטובת חוק שיביא רפורמה גדולה בכל מה שקשור למאסר על עבירות מס • 'בחדרי' עם כל הפרטים

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    יענקי פרבר , ב' טבת תשע"ט 10/12/2018 08:33
    תגיות: טראמפ , סאטמר , ארצות הברית , מס , חוק

    "תבוא לפניך אנקת אסיר"המהר"א מסאטמר והנשיא טראמפהמהר"א מסאטמר והנשיא טראמפצילום: ארכיון בחדרי, רויטרס
    כבר כמה חדשים עובדים העסקנים בניו יורק לחוקק חוק חדש בארה"ב - חוק לרפורמת עונשי מאסר לפשעים המוגדרים 'צאוורון לבן'.

    עד היום בתי המשפט שלחו אנשים על עבירות מס ושאר עבירות של הלבנות הון לעשרים עד חמישים שנות מאסר. או במילים אחרות: ל'כל החיים'.

    השיא היה המאסר של ר' שלום מרדכי רובשקין, שקיבל גזר דין של 27 שנות מאסר על עבירות כספיים, כשבדיוק לפני שנה הוא שוחרר באורח נסי על ידי הנשיא טראמפ, שקצב לו את עונשו כנגד כל הסיכויים.

    בחודשים שאחר שחרורו של רובשקין מהכלא - התחילו עסקנים בסאטמר להירתם לטובת חוק שיביא רפורמה גדולה בכל מה שקשור למאסר על עבירות מס, והוא נקרא PRISON REFORM BILL.

    החוק אמנם עבר כבר לפני כמה חדשים בקונגרס, אולם עכשיו הוא תקוע בסנאט, שם חלק מהרפובליקאים לא מוכנים להעביר את החוק מאחר והוא מנוגד לעמדת המשטרה.

    בנוסף, חלק מהדמוקרטים לא מוכנים להעביר את החוק מאחר וזה יביא הישג גדול לנשיא טראמפ "האהוב" עליהם כל-כך.


    יצוין כי הנשיא טראמפ כבר יצא כמה פעמים בקריאה לסנאט שיעביר את החוק במהירות וכי גם חתנו היהודי של הנשיא (שאביו ישב בכלא על עבירות מסוג זה) עובד קשה מאוד על מנת להעביר את החוק.

    לפי החוק בארה"ב, אם זה לא יעבור עד 24 לדצמבר - בעוד שבועיים - החוק יבוטל וחקיקתו מחדש תצריך להתחיל את כל התהליך מחדש.

    אי לכך, העסקנים עובדים מאוד קשה עם טובי עורכי הדין והמשפטנים וכמובן עם ארגוני הלובי החזקים בווישנגטון - הכל על מנת שהחוק יעלה להצבעה בשבוע הקרוב.

    כמובן שזה עולה המון המון כסף, ולכן יצאו חברי קהילת סאטמר על פי קריאת האדמו"ר המהר"א שליט"א, בקריאה דחופה לתרום למצווה נדירה זו, הכוללת פדיון שבוים למאות יהודים יחד.

    ואכן מתקיים בימים אלו קמפיין ענק של 3 ימים, שמטרתו להשיג סכום של חצי מליון דולר.

    ל'בחדרי חרדים' נודע כי בשבת האחרונה, בעת שהאדמו"ר מסאטמר שבת בשכונת ווילאמסבורג לשבת חנוכה, הוא ביקש להכריז לפני קריאת התורה שחל חיוב על כל אחד לתרום למצווה הנדירה הזו.

    כפי שדווח ב'בחדרי חרדים', הקמפיין הענק לאסירים, שהוא חוק שייטיב עם אסירים 'צווארון לבן', וכאמור מגיע אל הישורת הסופית, הוא לטובת אסירים שנשפטו לתקופת מאסר ארוכות לאחר שהעלימו מיסים או לא דיווחו על הכנסות.

    ראוי לציין שהחוק הוא רק לגבי עבירות צווארון לבן, ולא לעבירות ש'בין אדם לחבירו'

    ReplyDelete
  7. Here is Rubashkin's open letter a year after being released.

    https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/general/1637289/open-letter-from-r-sholom-mordechai-rubashkin-baal-haness.html

    It is interesting to note that he failed to thank or even acknowledge the president for releasing him.

    In response to some of the other comments here, Rubashkin's sentence was commuted. He did not receive a pardon nor did he have his criminal record removed. If he wishes to clear his name the only way he can truly do so is by going back to federal court and mounting a corruption case against the judge who convicted him. It is not up to social media keyboard warriors to attest his innocence, we have courts and a justice system for a reason. I imagine Rubashkin has no shortage of funds and representatives for which he could easily launch his case.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "It is interesting to note that he failed to thank or even acknowledge the president for releasing him."

      The President was strongly thanked/blessed/applauded, etc., at the event last night, multiple times, by various speakers.

      Delete
  8. Actions speak louder than words

    ReplyDelete
  9. Where's the nuance? He might've apologized sincerely to his wife and kids at the time, since his actions caused him having to deal with all this, but that doesn't mean he apologized to do judge in terms of the law. Most of what he did wouldn't be an issue at All in NY or any other 'sanctuary State". And the bank defaults were after the government shut him down forcefully yet requiring him to continue payments and accruals - which was added as fraud charges for lack of payment post shut down. A real fiasco the way they handled it.

    ReplyDelete
  10. He has apologised. feels regret and now is the time to move on.

    ReplyDelete
  11. gosh
    https://www.facebook.com/frumwatch/videos/530562103971390/

    ps your verify tests are too hard.

    ReplyDelete
  12. About the only public issue he's addressed in this year is people davening from cellphones because I suppose being reminded when it's time to say tal umater makes it too easy.

    https://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/general/1453727/watch-this-rubashkin-blasts-people-who-use-smartphone-to-daven-in-shul.html

    ReplyDelete
  13. There's an alternative approach for criminals described at https://gettingtorahright.org/honesty.html

    What about the criminal himself? Considering the chillul HaShem involved, is teshuva still possible? Perhaps it's unreasonable for such a person to expect his life to ever return to the way it was before his fall.

    Many decades ago, a senior member of the British parliament - a war hero from a noble family - was caught engaged in a disgusting act. From the day of his public shaming until his death years later, this man retreated from public life and abandoned positions and honor. Instead, he worked as a volunteer in a soup kitchen serving a poor neighborhood in London. That's not a bad model to follow.

    Contrast all that with the way contemporary yeshiva communities seem to respond to their criminals. Recent history has seen convicted felons having their faces triumphantly pasted on the covers of magazines and newspapers, being paraded through a series of highly publicized visits with yeshiva leaders, and having enormous sums of money raised to pay their lawyers and court-mandated penalties.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Naftali Anon -

      You make great points, thanks for speaking out.

      You do err in your language however, when you write "contemporary yeshiva communities", implying that such challenges are located solely in the 'yeshivish' world. That is not true (and not all such communities are the same, marching in lockstep in that regard either).

      A more accurate term to use could have been Haredi.

      Delete
  14. Anybody who doubts that he committed crimes should watch this.

    American Greed: Sholom Rubashkin (2011)
    http://crimedocumentary.com/sholom-rubashkin-2011/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All those "crimes" he was accused of, he was later acquitted of in court. None of the labor "abuse" claims stood in court. May God judge you as you judge others.

      Delete
    2. MO: This isn't true. His worker violations were dismissed without prejudice after the bank fraud issue looked to have him locked up for life anyway. "Without prejudice" means that they can be reopened; no per-judgment of innocence or guilt. But who would retry someone the president already supported?

      He was found innocent of the child labor violations because there was no way to prove beyond reasonable doubt that Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin was personally involved. The corporate entity was found guilty, and two people served time for it -- after making a deal with the feds to reduce their sentence.

      And he wasn't acquitted of violations with OSHA and Iowa-OSHA, and before that (with Cherry Hill and Montex Mills) NJ-OSHA. The number of maimings at Agri as per I-OSHA records didn't shrink down to the level found in other Iowa meat plants. Nor the number of days lost to injury per 100 employees -- the "DART rate".

      Delete
  15. No ffense Natan, but this is a dumb post. People change, especially in jail.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "how the yeshivishe press was portraying him."

    Why do you write "yeshivishe press", implying that the Hasidic press is different, when that is not correct?

    A good portion of the publications involved (and shown in your illustration of front pages above) are Hasidic actually. A more correct term for you to use would be Haredi.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Rubashkin Messianism?December 11, 2018 at 12:24 AM

    Another question people might consider relates to Rubashkin's Lubavitch beliefs, and particularly if he holds their long departed Rebbe to be alive, and the Messiah.

    There is a letter online that he wrote while in prison containing the words 'the Rebbe shlita'. This was over fifteen years after Rubashkin's (Lubavitcher) Rebbe passed away.

    The letter can be seen at https://collive.com/show_news.rtx?id=7485

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Any potential messianism is less relevant to his crimes than the question of whether he takes the Tanya's position on nakhriim and their supposed lack of G-dliness and yeitzer hatov at face value.

      (By the way, mainstream Chabad today does not. C.f. Lessons in Tanya, the last paragraphs of ch. 1.)

      Delete
  18. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239689
    Set up financially for the worse and then convicted on how he handled it.

    ReplyDelete
  19. http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239689
    Set up financially for the worse and then convicted on how he handled it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Rubashkin's release from prison is a stark contrast from that of the Alter Rebbe and the other chabad rabbis of the past who were jailed. While I myself oppose the notion of an annual celebration of someone being released from prison (no tachanun on these days, but yes tachanun on more national historical events such as yom ha'atzmaut), Lubavitchers themselves should recognize that celebrating Rubashkin as a "baal ha'ness" puts a major stain on their pre-existing "yomim tovim" of their tzaddikim being baled out of jail.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, Lubavitch as a whole was not as involved in the case as some people may think, especially when the going was rough and the outlook seemed bleak.

      Who was very involved? The Litvak publisher of Yated Ne'eman, R. Lipschutz, various Satmar type askanim, Kapitshnitzer lawyer Appel (okay, SMR thanked Lubavitcher Reb Mayshe Kotalarsky too). That was on display at the gathering Sunday night where the attendees were not primarily Lubavitch. The gathering was not in Crown Heights, but rather in B.P., where SMR grew up, and where his parents reside.

      Despite the fact that they (successfully) tried to portray it as a general miscarriage of justice and generally anti-semitic, rather than an attack on Lubavitch in particular, Lubavitch evidently couldn't resist taking advantage of the adulation for SMR among others to try to spread the Lubavitcher gospel, playing their songs such as uforatzta, eimasai ka'asi mar, and others for the revelers Sunday night after the speeches concluded.

      Delete
  21. First, note he apologized to "my community" -- his apology is for getting caught and causing / being a chilul hasheim. Even in court he doesn't pretend to feel guilt for wronging his non-Jewish employees. I think they simply don't even cross his mind.

    Second, all his talk about bitachon and hashgachah peratis is about giving credit to G-d at the expense of the human beings who helped him. Guards are described with negative stereotypes, as savages who only cared enough to help his shemiras hamitzvos, minhagim, and personal hanhagos because G-d intervened. And they put up with demands from him that weren't even required by halakhah!

    (Typical story... A guard not only let him light a Chanukah menorah, not only let him stand around for 30 min to watch it, the guard stood there with him the entire time the lamps burned. Because it is Rubashkin's practice to do so, and he yelled and screamed when it look like he couldn't do it in prison. For which HQBH to the exclusion of the guard, was thanked.)

    Rubashkin simply has not yet learned that non-Jews are also people.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Not only has https://hamodia.com/2017/04/02/new-sefer-kol-sholom-mordechai-brought-gedolei-yisroel/ been published, but there's even a sequel (https://seforimdeals.com/store15/index.php/kol-shalom-mordechai-vol-2-yiddish-qvl-wlvm-mrdki-2-aidiw.html/ ) which actually pictures on its cover the חובות הלבבות. Perhaps they're trying to portray themselves and Rubashkin as kindred "Brethren of Purity."

    ReplyDelete
  23. My issue is with the title 'Baal HaNess'. While I understand what it means literally - the man for whom a Ness was done - in Jewish history we refer to one person as 'Baal HaNess' - Rabbi Meir Ba'al HaNess. Like him or hate him, Rubashkin is no Rabbi Meir. In truth, none of us are.

    ReplyDelete
  24. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJj-rdCXVxE&feature=youtu.be

    ReplyDelete

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