Friday, January 4, 2019

The Rubashkin Bitachon Distortion

The international superstar, the Sharansky of our generation, the Baal HaNess, is going to England! Yes, the one and only, sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Reb Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin is going to London, to speak about "Faith, Trust and Hope."

In the past, I've written about the disgrace of celebrating an unrepentant convicted criminal as an inspirational hero. In this post, I would like to address a different disgrace: the very topic that he speaks about.

Reb Sholom Mordechai is speaking about emunah and bitachon - about how he was able to have it, and therefore Hashem was there for him. As he explains in his speeches, "We have to know that bitachon is not positive thinking; it’s not what you read about in self-help books. It’s a deep feeling that the Eibershter is with you and that He wants you to daven to Him and to know that He is listening to you... Emunah means believing that everything is l’tovah, even if you don’t understand it. Bitachon is a trust that Hashem will give you what you need."

That's a very nice explanation of emunah and bitachon. However, it misses out a crucial aspect, which in the particular context of Shalom Rubashkin is glaringly conspicuous by its absence.

Emunah and bitachon means that Hashem is in charge of our livelihoods. And the practical ramification of such a belief is that there is nothing to be gained by engaging in dishonest activity. Chovos HaLevavos (Shaar HaBitachon 5) explicitly lists this as one of the differences between a lifestyle with bitachon and one without. The Netziv builds upon this to explain Chazal's statement that dishonesty in business is worse than sexual immorality. He explains that dishonesty in business reflects a fundamental deficiency in emunah and bitachon. A person who trusts that Hashem is in charge of livelihood will not believe that engaging in dishonest business practices will enable him to make more money.

Netziv further explains that this is why the Torah's laws about honest business practice are followed by the account of Amalek. A person who engages in dishonest business practices is implicitly denying Divine providence. And it was the denial of Hashem's involvement that led to Hashem abandoning the nation to Amalek.

The only speech about emunah and bitachon that Shalom Mordechai Rubashkin should be giving is about how he didn't have it, and suffered as a result.

77 comments:

  1. Well, Rubashkin's speech could have been more than "should be giving is about how he didn't have it, and suffered as a result". It could in theory have focused on "but look what I learned in 'that place called "prison"'!" (That latter bit is an idiom of his. I don't know what he means by it, but I am assuming it's innocuous.)

    But the "bitachon" he learned in prison it itself so warped.

    To quote my comment from 3 weeks (a/k/a "forever", in internet time) ago:

    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.


    At least part of why his "bitachon" stories are popular because they give the audience a viollian to gloat over, "the goy". It's really horrible.

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    1. This is part of the larger trend that Rav Slifkin has written about before: the emphasis on how God controls everything, it's all about bein adam l'makom and therefore we can quietly de-emphasize bein adam l'chaveiro.
      If I give you money to help you out, you're not a fellow person in need. You're an object I need to get my mitzvah accomplished. If I want to see the Torah during hagbah and you're in my way, I can push you to the side because I need that mitzvah and you're keeping me from getting it.
      Rubashkin and his ilk have the philosophy - people aren't important, just God. Therefore even if it seems like the person helped you, there's no need for gratitude because the only gratitude you need to feel is for God who was really the helper.

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    2. Yep no credit to goyim who helped him. It would have been nice if Rubashkin would have asked a huge crowd to give Trump a standing ovation for helping him. Oh, he did. Oops.

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    3. Garnel, I disagree with your comment on a number of points:

      1- In a way, the mystical viewpoint creates a distance between man and G-d which rationalism does not. All those mystical mechanics provide ways in which we can obtain segulos or their antonym without directly involving providence.

      Bein adam laMaqom can be more pure in the rationalist's world than in a world where people can expect results from hanging Seifer Raziel haMal'akh in their baby's crib.

      2- Rubashkin probably thought of himself as acting philanthropically. Look how much he brought down the price of kosher meat! And in neighborhoods where kosher food is hard to come by, budgets are tight, or fealty to kashrus is weak, they cut the profits even further.

      His problem is not that his world was particularly me-and-G-d (but see 3) but that his definition of person when it comes to bein adam lachaveiro only includes Jews. So in his value system, it's okay to abuse Guatemalans if one is bringing affordable meat to Jews. But he is doing it to help Jews.

      3-R Wolbe defines "frumkeit" as an instinct toward holiness. And like all instincts, it's about the self. He calls it a detour too easy to make on the path to true avodas Hashem. Frumkeit is what drives a person to think of the recipient of their chessed akin to the way they think of their tzitzis or esrog -- an object to do a mitzvah with. And it warps their bein adam laMaqom as well, as it's not about His Will being done in the world but about self-interest.

      This kind of frumkeit is a real problem across the Orthodox community. Deeply so. I have been riling against it for decades. I just don't think is has a particularly central role in this fiasco.

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  2. Demonizing nice people who never did you any harm.

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    1. Hey, you always demonize me, and I'm a nice guy who never did you any harm!

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    2. Natan, we've all been ignoring him. It makes one's day so much nicer

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    3. He did a lot of harm to many people with his criminal actions and got rich off of exploiting his employees. I personally know one of Rubashkin's former employees who suffered greatly because of him.

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    4. I suppose you've forgotten, a while back you denigrated me and threatened to ban me from your blog for merely insisting on a different interpretation of malaih gairah than yourself!

      As an aside I have even defended one of your blog lynch victims Yaakov Shapiro who is one of my most vile ideological opponents!

      You had accused him of sex offenses, based on unsubstantiated allegations. If someone is wrong I will call them out regardless of who it is, you are certainly no different.

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    5. actually, rubashkin did do people harm. you should talk to kosher store owners from smaller jewish communities in the states how rubashkin and chabad ran them out of biz

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    6. GK-

      Not sure about that. I mean out-of-town still needs to sell the meat retail...

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  3. 20 pounds sounds very steep. who's raking it in?

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    1. 20 pounds is about as steep as the bottom of the flier where it says exactly who's "raking it in." Local Hachnosas Kallah.

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    2. So the local wedding halls and catering halls are raking it in.

      Last time I saw a "hachnosos kallah" appeal where they listed the money they needed raised for the wedding, it was more than twice the amount of my own wedding.

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    3. Shlomo,

      Hachnosas Kallah is not only for the wedding itself. It's also for helping to set a couple up with what they need after the wedding, such as an apartment, furniture etc.

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  4. One of your best posts ever Rav Slifkin! I had been focused on the massive chillul Hashem that many have made by making him into a hero. As usual, you point out the even deeper irony.

    This problem of not taking monetary matters as seriously as ritual obligations is a very troublesome one and this is just the latest example.

    I was recently dealing with a yeshiva that owed money to a merchant for services rendered and ignored repeated requests to pay. I called the Rosh Yeshiva and asked him “tell me, how about I sponsor a meal in your yeshiva - my only stipulation is that we serve each of the kids a little piece of pork, just a little”. You can guess his reaction. I told him he’s an am haaretz. When it comes to non-kosher food, chazal tell us that we shouldn’t say it’s dishusting, rather it looks good but Hashem said I can’t have it. When it comes to holding someone else’s money that doesn’t belong to you, that should be disgusting to you!

    עולם הפוך. It’s quite sad.

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    1. I always like to ask if Yeshivas that are Makpid on only using Chalav Yisrael milk, but are late on payroll can be considered Orthodox

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    2. RMF's heter (assuming you require such a heter) for non chalav yistael in America specifically does not apply to chinuch. See end of the last teshuvah

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    3. As a tangent... Few people are actually relying on Rav Moshe's heter whether they realize it or not. When Rav Moshe got here, the norm of relying on the US-FDA was already well established, with numerous rabbanim explaining why. What RMF brought to the table was that (1) his heter was published, and (2) Rav Moshe extended the reasoning so as to permit Chalav Yisrael even to those who follow the Chasam Sofer over the Peri Chadash.

      So, if we're not really relying on Rav Moshe, was can't assume schools are supposed to simply assume his ruling with regard to chinukh either.

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    4. My father tells me in Oberlander Hungary (meaning CS) they used to weigh the milk the non Jew brought into town. If it weighed a certain range per liter, it was chalav yisrael.

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  5. I wonder, Rabbi Slifkin, how one is able to so decisively determine that all gain attempted with dishonesty demonstrates a lack of bitachon while all gain attempted with honesty exhibits bitachon.

    It does seem very contrived.

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    1. Is this...sarcasm? Satire?

      What are you on about?

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  6. >Emunah means believing that everything is l’tovah, even if you don’t understand it. Bitachon is a trust that Hashem will give you what you need."

    Only when he got out of jail. When he was on trial, HaShem didn't seem to be around.

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    1. Oh, I would say that He was, and that He gave Rubashkin what he needed.

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  7. A guy is darn-near miraculously freed from prison after being railroaded by an anti-semitic Judge, reunites with his family on Chanukah, and then looks to promote Emunah, and all you can do is carp from the sidelines?? Pretty unbecoming, RNS. Pretty small-minded.

    Besides, should you not be learning a little from your own experiences? Plenty of people accuse you of things too. Yet from your own perspective, you feel you were unfairly treated, and you too, feel subsequent events were a sign from God to justify your position. (And let's not come up with meaningless distinctions here, for disinterested observers its for all intents the same thing.) Well, Rubashkin feels exactly the same way you do. כמים הפנים לפנים כן לב האדם לאדם

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    1. Rather than practically-a-miracle, it looks more to me like Hashem allowing the Rasha to enjoy Olem Hazeh, while saving the real punishment for the next world.

      I guess ones perspective is affected by whether they see this guy as a tzaddik or an unrepentant choteh.

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    2. I am very happy he was freed (even I don't quite understand what near miraculous does mean), but he really did dishonest things and the outrageous severity of the sentence doesn't take it away, and promoting him as a spiritual example is devious for the least, you can't compare him with Noson which only mistake was to believe that to get askomos on a book make it Kosher for everybody.

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    3. "Railroaded by anti-semitic Judge". I guess the presentations are working on the public. Too bad.

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    4. Whether a person acted rightly or wrongly is not a meaningless distinction.

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    5. Most certainly he was railroaded by an antisemitic judge. I am no fan of his, but the investigation, the charges, the trial and the sentence were all unjust. He was not convicted of anything that he was investigated in the first place. The judge barred him from selling his company, then sentenced him based on his failure to make restitution. States attorneys general, as well as former attorney general of the United States attested to that, so to suggest that believing that he was railroaded could only come after the fact is ludicrous.

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    6. Shlomo: Two things about the judge:

      1- Given that by the time his Bank Fraud case went to Judge Reade's court, she was already interviewed by the NY Times discussing her role in approving the ICE raid. Why was protesting the judge's conflict of interest held back until appeals? What were his lawyers thinking?

      2- Was it antisemitism, or outrage at his OSHA record and what she saw of ICE's findings. It might be wrong to sentence someone for something they didn't stand trial for, but it's not antisemitism?

      3- Or another likely possibility -- was it a need to prove herself immune to political pressure? By protesting and making the trial a political issue, we force the judiciary to do the most demonstrably unbiased sentence. And what could be less biased than giving the number of years exactly in the middle of the sentencing guidelines? So what if those guidelines are draconian and generally ignored -- how else can she show herself above political pressure?

      When daas Torah weighed in against protesting for Soviet Jewry, they were very wrong. Speaking with the benefit of 20:20 hindsight they didn't have then. And if I'm right.... When daas Torah weight in FOR protesting for Rubashkin and for Pollard, Agudah's mo'etzes also erred. When the subject is international politics, it pays to be political. When the subject is judicial, it pays not to be.

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    7. "Whether a person acted rightly or wrongly is not a meaningless distinction." - RNS, can't you see that a lot of people think YOU acted wrongly too? They think you're spreading heresy. I don't think that, and you don't think that, but many people do. And that's exactly how Rubashkin sees himself. He has the same legal arguments to back him up as you have sefarim to back yourself up. He, like you, sees himself as the victim.

      This is an elementary point, and a lot of people get it. If you can't it is because impossible for you to recognize. Truly, it is well nigh impossible for even objective people to apprehend how their situations appear to others. It's one of the reasons that someone who defends himself has a fool for a client.

      There's been some over the top rhetoric about Rubashkin, yes, but at core, there is nothing more here than a man and a community celebrating his release and wanting to spread the good word of faith. And there is absolutely nothing in the world wrong with that.

      Regards,

      DF

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    8. Right or Wrong isn't just a matter of what people think.
      Or else one could say that all of Orthodoxy is wrong, sexist, corrupt and ignorant of Jewish history.
      Is it? Or would you like people to have to bring evidence to back up claims that like?

      And your last paragraph about Rubashkin says a lot more about you than it does about him.

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  8. 'Meaningless distinctions ' like 'right and wrong'?

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  9. Reports state that Hasmo girls school (venue) has cancelled the event booking.

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  10. Point being is that as a frum community. We can and should find better role models than embezzlers and cheats.

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    1. Can you?
      Anyone who reads the news recently would have to wonder.

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  11. For those who cares about facts rather than spreading loshon hara and motzi shem ra about frum Jews, Rubashkin never had intention of wronging anyone. His fault was overstating company income to draw more funds from the credit line. However, the company always paid the interest to the bank, so the bank actually benefited from this. And Rubashkin himself never personally benefited from anything. If not government persecution resulting in bankruptcy, the bank likely would not lose any money, but would actually make more with the interest payments.

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    1. He committed bank fraud and hoped not to be caught. That's exactly R Slifkin's point.

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    2. Thank you for sharing that. He was never charged with the counts he was originally investigated. No child labor laws, no illegal workers.

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    3. A Bal Bitachon would NEVER have a reason to commit fraud.

      Fow a LONG while, Madoff paid everyone that wanted their money...

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    4. Shlomo: While what you say is technically true, it's not how your presentation implies.

      The child labor charges were dropped against Rubashkin after Agriprocessors as a corporate entity pled guilty. This saved them from trying to prove the guilt of a man who apparently was going to jail the rest of his life anyway. But if Argi is guilty, how likely is it that the boss was unaware of their hiring children.

      And the illegal workers... um... hundreds of people were arrested and didn't do anything wrong? In any case, the charges were dropped without prejudice. And to define "without prejudice"... it's a legal term that means the case can be reopened without the dropping of charges implying anything that would prejudice the case. And this too was also after he was supposedly going to jail for the rest of his life.

      But once the president got involved, who would reopen those charges?

      In other words, in the case of every one of the charges against him, there is clear proof that they were dropped for technical reasons, and indeed point to his guilt.

      As do Agti's records with OSHA and Iowa-OSHA. It takes skill to run a plant in which injury is multiple times as likely as the rest of the meat industry. And it's not just Agri... The Rubashkins' textile mills in NJ also closed under lists of charges of safety violations. This is a long-standing pattern.

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  12. So Lazer the facts are that he lied to get money from a bank that they wouldn't have given him had he nit lied. And you justify thus by saying its OK since he returned it. You need to learn the sugyos and teshuvos on lignov al menas lehachzir, sheker leto'eles and gezel akum. It's all assur, and it is exactly the bitachon test that the original article said. Thanks for clarifying.

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  13. I really don't know what was so terribly dishonest about what he did. He inflated some receivables and hid some payables to borrow more from the bank. Money that he was good for and that he would have been able to repay had the courts not stepped in and shut him down.

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    1. What could be so dishonest abut having weights that are just a LITTLE bit off?

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    2. chaim,
      it's not dishonest if the customer is aware that the weights are off. in this case the bank was aware of the inflated receivables, and was happy to lend the money. this is actually a common practice, a lender wants to lend money when it is profitable to do so, and it seems secure, they don't care about the collateral. but they can't have the loans on their books without the collateral, so they cooperate with the client to inflate the value of the collateral for the sake of the "books". there are hundreds of banks that where doing this with home mortgages, which was a contributing factor to the recent mortgage crisis (circa 2008). prosecutions for this type of activity are not unheard of, but they are rare. they are generally reserved for people whom the prosecution is out to get.

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    3. "it's not dishonest if the customer is aware that the weights are off."

      Oh yes it is!

      "which was a contributing factor to the recent mortgage crisis (circa 2008)."
      Which is exactly why it's wrong!

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    4. Aside from the fact that there is no proof for his assertion, MY favorite part-

      "It is not dishonest"-" BUT "prosecutions for this type of activity are not unheard of..."

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    5. This discussion of fraud would not be complete without quoting the opening of the Seifer haChinukh #602 (tr. Sefaria):

      שלא להשהות משקלות ומדות חסרות - שנמנענו שלא להשהות את המשקלים והמאזנים החסרים בבתנו, ואף על פי שלא נשא ונתן במקחנו ובממכרנו בהן, פן יהיה לנו למוקש, ועל זה נאמר (דברים כה יג) לא יהיה לך בכיסך אבן ואבן גדולה וקטנה. וכן (דברים כה יד) לא יהיה לך בביתך איפה ואיפה. וכן אמרו זכרונם לברכה בבבא בתרא (פט, ב) אסור לאדם שישהא מדה חסרה או יתרה בתוך ביתו, ואפילו הוא עביט של מימי רגלים.

      To not hold over deficient weights and measures: That we have been prevented, that we not hold over the deficient weights and scales in our homes - and even if we don't take and give (measure) with them in our purchases and in our sales, lest it be a snare. And about this is it stated (Deuteronomy 25:13), "You shall not have in your pouch alternate weights, larger and smaller." And so [too] (Deuteronomy 25:14), "You shall not have in your house alternate measures." And so did they, may their memory be blessed, say in Bava Batra 89b, "It is forbidden for a person to hold over a deficient or oversized weight in the midst of his home, and even if it is [used as a] bedpan for urine."

      The pasuq calls owning dishonest weights a "to'eivah". The Chinukh likens it to washing up with a full bedpan. The comparison is between homosexual relations and OWNING the tools to be fiscally dishonest. Even if those tools are never used!

      So, that bit about what the customer is aware of? Irrelevant. We're against all this stuff even without a customer.

      A Torah-True community wouldn't possibly be eschewing gay people while making excuses for someone who not only owns the to'eivah, but then makes things worse by using it to steal from others!

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    6. Where is your evidence that the bank agreed to be defrauded?

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    7. David Ohsie:

      The evidence that the bank agreed to be "defrauded" was provided by the testimony of two leading CPA's at the trial. Unfortunately, however, the judge did not allow the jury to be in the room when they testified.

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    8. "the chinukh likens it to washing up with a full bedpan." Really? where is that in the chinukh?

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    9. Levi Yitzchok, are you claiming that if the bank agreed, then it's less wrong, or that it's not wrong at all?

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    10. R' Natan:

      If the bank agreed to the setup then he did not defraud the bank and no one was cheated, so I don't see why it would be wrong. And as Micha Berger quotes from the Chinuch, false weights are forbidden to have around only because they might come to be used to cheat someone - פן יהיה לנו למוקש. Micha Berger apparently did not notice those words in the Chinuch because they contradict the very point he was trying to make. (The Chinuch is based on the Gemara in Bava Basra 89b - that says very clearly that it is only forbidden when they might be used to cheat)

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    11. Levi Yitzcho, the laws do not only exist to protect the decisions-makers in the bank. They exist to protect everyone associated with the bank and the general public. They exist precisely to prevent the sort of financial disaster that occurred here.

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    12. Are you actually proposing that, ideally, the law should be changed such that bank loans should not require collateral, if the bankers don't want it? Do you know what the ramifications would be?

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    13. Levi Yitzchak, I am not clear what point you're trying to make.

      Do you agree that lying and cheating in business are sins?

      Do you agree that the Chinukh says that the sin the pasuq calls a to'eivah are the owning the tools for such sin, even without them being used?

      Then how does pointing out the reason for the lav change the fact that the lav was violated. Making the cooked forms was itself as assur deOraisa as eating shellfish (to pick another to'eivah) regardless of why HQBH prohibited it.

      Again, note that the parallel Hashem makes with the word "to'eivah" is not to owning gay porn because it might lead to mishkav zakhar. Cooking the books, according to the Chinukh: leaving around things which could be used for theft, is itself a to'eivah. The theft itself is something worse.

      I do not understand how someone who aspires to Torah values can exclude someone from their community because he has desires for a particular sin. But when that same community that does indeed exclude them makes excuses for another to'eivah, the disconnect from actual Torah values is all the more blatant.

      Are negi'ah or yichud permitted when they don't end up leading to illicit sex? And those prohibitions are gezeiros derabbanan. All the more so a deOraisa!

      Then, to give a variant of what RNS pointed out: The defense that the bank officers involved allegedly agreed to the deception would just mean that there were more parties to defrauding the shareholders, the FDIC, and the people who think their money is safe in their bank.

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    14. So, Levi Yitzchok, your "evidence" is witness testimony on behalf of the defendant that:

      A) Was inadmissible in Court
      B) Based on speculation and assumption rather than any knowledge of what really happened?

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  14. London's Jewish Chronicle reports that the talk has been cancelled for the reasons you give. Nice to see that at least some of London's Jews have seichel.

    www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/hasmonean-school-cancels-talk-by-kosher-meat-boss-convicted-of-fraud-1.478118

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    1. Rabbi Prusansky gave a shiur last year, and quoted a headline from the Jewish Week (which loathes him, as well as other orthodox rabbis) triumphantly screaming that a shul in Israel had "disinvited" him because he's terrible, awful, etc etc, the usual leftwing nonsense. The truth was that the venue had just been changed for logistical reasons, but went on as planned with the same sponsorship.

      So, maybe its true, maybe it isn't. Believe what you want to believe.

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  15. While I generally agree with almost everything Rabbi Slifkin writes on this blog, I see things differently on Rubashkin. It is well documented that:

    1. Agriprocessors was subject to wave after wave of negative PR coming from PETA, Hispanic workers who sought to unionize and receive other concessions from business owners who were part of an unpopular minority, and their allies in the media.

    2. This negative PR included false rumors of Agri's use of child labor, other gross labor law violations, and horrible mistreatment of animals.

    3. This resulted in a military style raid on Agri's facilities in 2008 and the bankruptcy of Agri a few months later.

    4. After the government's case on immigration and labor law violations fell apart, Prosecutors were still seeking to nail Rubashkin at any cost and used the overstatement of reporting of receivables to achieve this goal.

    5. It was documented that the judge colluded with prosecutors. She may also have been motivated by anti-Semitism. For example, she initially denied Rubashkin bail on the grounds that he may flee to Israel.

    6. Prosecutors threatened anyone related to Rubashkin against purchasing Agri's assets in bankruptcy. This resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses to the bank which Agri with its line of credit as the eventual buyer paid millions less for the assets than they were worth.

    7. This resulted in Rubashkin being eligible for a far higher sentence as the sentence for bank fraud is based on how much money is ultimately lost by the bank.

    8. Worse, prosecutors concealed this fact from the defense.

    While Agri was wrong to overstate the receivables in its reports to the bank, it is clear that the actual damage to the bank was caused by the government's actions, not the overstatement. Rubashkin's business was forced into bankruptcy based on labor law crimes he didn't commit, was nailed on a technicality and then sentenced to 27 years due to the damage that he did not cause but was in fact caused by the government. The government's actions were also very likely tainted by anti-Semitism.

    For this reason, dozens of former federal prosecutors (including five former AGs) and federal judges (who are not Hareidi apologists) thought that this case was handled unjustly.

    I agree that Rubashkin's actions in running Agri do not make him a hero. However, there is no doubt in my mind that he was dealt with extremely unjustly and perhaps he does deserve our admiration for the way he persevered in the face of this ordeal.

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    1. You brought up something that hadn't been mentioned before - animal cruelty. I am no fan of PETA. But the fact is that there was tremendous cruelty to animals at Agriprocessors, caused by a desire to increase the slaughter rate. It wasn't a false rumor.

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    2. Correct, only it wasn't PETA or Hispanic workers, it was the UFCW. They staged a well-financed corporate campaign to try to force unionization down the plant.

      But this is already well-known. Likewise, the bipartisan AG letter. And Rubashking hasn't even gone on a "victory" junket, he is simply talking about faith in God. And yet a few people are STILL muttering. One has to wonder - is it simply because he identifies as a Charedi Jew?

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    3. DG, as someone who stopped buying Agri meat almost two years before the ICE raid, I want to clear up a number of mistakes in your comment.

      1- Agri's problems with OSHA started the day they opened. It didn't wait until union involvement, nor PETA agitation. Take a look for yourself at OSHA's database and compare to Hormell, another meat plant in Iowa with orders of magnitude more employees. Or with Empire.

      To quote the gov't https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-110shrg41699/html/CHRG-110shrg41699.htm :
      "The plant has been the center of controversies for a variety of issues, including health and safety and environmental issues. In the period of April 2001 to February 2006, OSHA records show no less than 20 violations at AgriProcessors Postville plant. Of these, 12 were identified by OSHA as serious. An examination of the Postville plant's OSHA 300 logs reveals five amputations along with dozens of other serious injuries such as broken bones, eye injuries and hearing loss."

      It takes some skill to be grossly more dangerous than the rest of the meat packing industry.

      And I wrote more of the same sort here http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2017/12/how-to-save-orthodox-judaism.html?showComment=1514680680647#c3833572129326712685

      It doesn't start there. Montex Mills and Cherry Hill Textiles, to corporations the Rubashkins owned before Agri, both closed amidst clouds of safety violations.

      At some point, I was eating my chicken Friday night, and realizing what kind of immoral treatment of human beings went into making my dinner affordable, I just put down my fork. I couldn't enjoy Agri meat anymore.

      People who were on the Areivim email list at the time (including R Natan Slifkin), might remember my writing something on-list about my discomfort, about 1-1/2 years before Agri was in the news with union troubles.

      2- Agriprocessors, Inc. pled guilty of the child labor charges. It was Rubashkin himself for whom charges were dropped. As for "gross labor law violations", see #1.

      4- The case didn't "fall apart". It was "dismissed without prejudice". Without prejudice about whether or not to prosecute in the future; explicitly NOT about implication of innocence.

      Why would they do this? Because at the time, it would be a waste of taxpayer money to prosecute someone just given what would amount to a life sentence.

      5- It was documented before the trial that Judge Reade assisted the prosecution, eg in the ICE raid. Why his lawyers didn't apply for a change of venue is beyond me.

      The petition was about sentencing someone based on crimes they never even stood trial for. The length of the sentence. Unlike what you're implying, none of them were making excuses that minimize Rubashkin's guilt.

      But being the victim of misjustice doesn't make someone innocent.

      Delete
    4. "But the fact is that there was tremendous cruelty to animals at Agriprocessors, caused by a desire to increase the slaughter rate. It wasn't a false rumor."

      Until this moment, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Have you no sense of decency?

      https://oukosher.org/blog/news/setting-the-record-straight-on-kosher-slaughter/

      Delete
    5. Natan, prove that there was animal cruelty. Slaughtering animals is not cruel if done for food purposes. Keeping birds in confined quarters, we'll that is practiced everywhere. Prove that Agriprocessors was in violation of animal cruelty more so than any other place.

      Delete
    6. Richmond, you simply don't know the facts of the case, and the OU is hardly an unbiased observer. Agri was rushing the processing and had reversed the techniques that had been agreed upon with Temple Grandin. She was furious at the deception.

      Delete
    7. You are absolutely correct I do not know the facts of the case,
      and the OU may very well not be an unbiased observer.

      However are not an unbiased observer either.
      You start with answers and then go searching for "the Truth".

      Delete
    8. Well, the OU declared that Grandin is an unbiased observer, and she was furious that Agriprocessors went against their agreement!

      I strongly resent your accusation.

      Delete
    9. Wasn't the link we saw from the OU before or after the OU told Agri to stop removing the cows' tracheas and to stun any animals that remained conscious after the actual shechitah (2004) and when PETA showed Temple Grandin that Agri didn't actually comply (May 2007)?

      In any case, given how they treated human beings, I just couldn't get worked up about their treatment of animals.

      Delete
    10. I would like to see your source for: "Agri...had reversed the techniques that had been agreed upon with Temple Grandin". I did not see any record of such an agreement.

      I do not argue with the fact that they may have changed their normal procedures when Grandin visited or that Grandin was furious.
      I do not even disagree with your point in this post.
      I wont even argue that there was no requirement for them to listen to Grandin's suggestions.
      What I argue with is the veneer of earnestness and pure intellectual pursuit you display.

      I even more strongly resent the accusation of the most serious charge against Rabbi Yaakov Shapiro with no real evidence.
      What will your reply be to this? I should think making such a charge publicly without real knowledge of any wrongdoing is at least as bad as what Rubashkin did according to you.

      Delete
  16. I'm not sure if the allegations were true or not. PETA is definitely an opponent of both meat consumption and kosher slaughter so it's hard to know the actual circumstances of those videos. There are claims by those who toured to plant that everything was up to standard - see https://www.ou.org/news/prof_grandin_is_satisfied_with_agriprocessors_slaughter_practices/ and https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-backstory-of-sholom-mordechai-rubashkin/. But then again, perhaps Agri cleaned things up when they knew someone would be touring the plant and the videos exposed what happened when no one was looking. Prof. Grandin, cited in the OU press release, later reversed her position.

    If Rubashkin was tried and convicted on charges relating to animal cruelty, no one would see him as an inspirational speaker. However, Rubashkin was subject to prosecutorial and judicial misconduct and was probably a victim of anti-Semitism. Nat Lewin expressed it better than I could - https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/13-outrages-in-the-rubashkin-prosecution/

    This is what draws people to Rubashkin, despite any of his flaws in the management of Agri.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The allegations were most certainly true. There was video evidence. Agri had reversed the changes introduced by Temple Grandin. She was furious at the deception.

      Delete
  17. Rabbi Slifkin, do you think that the bitterness and hate which clearly (to everyone) torment you will be enough to obsolve you of this constant onslaught of ill-disguised rancor against so many of your brothers? I assume this prejudiced animosity is deeply rooted in your past unfortunate experiences with the "chareidi" world... and if your first mental reaction to this is something like "well what about their animosity with which I was targeted?", then that is the greatest proof of what drives you. Do you honestly think you come across as an unbiased, rational jew? Please do some thinking; after, all only two beings can be sure of what lies at the bottom of this- yourself and your creator.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Natan, seems you have an effectuation with sensational posts and headlines. How unbecoming however to do so at the expense of another Jew.

    Only someone so filled with hate for a fellow Jew would sink to such lows. You need to differentiate between those that actually harmed you (book banning ) vs those do wear black hats but had/have nothing to do with that sort of nonsense.

    ReplyDelete
  19. For what it's worth its extremely common for banks to collude in their being 'defrauded'. This is because first the government suppresses the market rate of interest to encourage banks to give out too many loans, then creates a web of regulations to stop banks giving out too many loans, the authors of which then becoming consultants to banks explaining how to circumvent them. (This is the cue for your crimestop to kick in and start mumbling something about the worst system apart from all the others).

    With that said, I'm dismayed by the comments of the right-wingers on this and other posts. Rubashkin moved into a sleepy small town, he brings in hundreds of Latin Americans who inevitably bring with them the violence, drugs, dysfunction and prostitution characteristic of their home countries. Then he makes the town a dumping ground for every dropout and nutter in the NY Lubavitch community. When the completely predictable reaction to his appalling behaviour comes to pass he confounds his sins by crying anti-semitism, thus channeling the anger rightly focussed on him onto the Jewish people as a whole. Taking into account his behaviour before, during and after prison it seems clear that he is a textbook psychopath. It is extremely concerning, to say the least, that the orthodox Jewish community keeps getting taking in by people like Pollard, Elon and Rubashkin. While there is a lot of realism about human nature and different personality types written into halacha, it is past time to start supplementing this with explicit psychological education to stop malignant people weaponizing halacha in support of their behaviour disorders.

    The only discomfiting thing about the Rubashkin case is that he was convicted of one crime and punished for a bunch of other crimes. That's a distasteful practice and obviously liable to abuse, but it's just how the Anglo-American justice works and, moreover, it's the only way it can possibly work given the near impossibility of convicting anyone except IQ 70 delinquents for anything. If you don't like the justice system you have, get a new one (cue mumbling...), but don't complain about an ordinary example of its functioning.

    ReplyDelete
  20. On the plus side, Hasmo cancelled the event

    ReplyDelete

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