Monday, March 15, 2021

Combating Corruption

Like many people here in Israel, I was absolutely stunned at the news that Yehuda Meshi-Zahav - a person that I described just two months ago as a national hero - has been exposed as a predator of the worst kind. (Though apparently it was pretty much an "open secret" in certain charedi circles for decades.) This horrific story follows on the heels of the news that the founder of the Borough Park Shomrim, Yanky Daskal, was arrested for a similar crime. 

What do these two men have in common? They were both the heads of large organizations which had a moral mandate. As such, they were in positions of power, and were also supposedly of an impressive moral character. Power corrupts; and assumptions of moral superiority enable this corruption to avoid suspicion and discourage victims from reporting it.

In any organization in which people have power, there needs to be checks and balances on that power. And this is equally true for organizations which themselves have a moral mandate. That's why every police force needs what's popularly known in England as an AC-12 - an anti-corruption unit.

Not every organization can have an anti-corruption unit. But another important tool is the combination of a free press and public accountability. These enable dirty deeds to be reported, and consequences to result.

It's for all these reasons that abuses of power are probably particularly prevalent in charedi society. There is a lethal combination of factors: people amassing great power over the lives of others; assumptions of moral superiority; the lack of a free press; and little public accountability.

Rabbi Sacks, in Convenant & Conversation for last week's parashah, notes that Chazal ascribed great importance not only to legislating procedures that would prevent corruption, but also to preventing things that could even give the suspicion of corruption. No less than Moshe Rabbeinu himself had to give a financial accounting to show that he had not misappropriated any Mishkan funds - and the accounting was done by independent auditors.

In the absence of contemporary rabbinic leadership with the courage and clout of Chazal, we have to enable other checks and balances - of which freedom of speech plays a crucial role. None other than Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, Executive Vice-President of Agudath Israel of America, admitted that what really got them to start taking child abuse seriously was the exposés and criticisms in various blogs. Notwithstanding the many very real problems and dangers of the internet, it plays a crucial role in combating corruption.

The fundamental Torah principle, which we must always keep in mind, is Lo taamod al dam reyecha - Do not stand idly as your friend's blood is spilled. On an individual level, this requires us to speak up and take action to prevent corruption and abuse. On a societal level, this requires us to have systems and policies that enable corruption and abuse to be exposed and corrected - not suppressed by those who are more concerned about their society's image than by people's pain.

It has to be acknowledged that the so-called "laws" of Lashon Hara (which are really supposed to be ethical principles to be applied on a case-by-case basis) have been abused endlessly to stifle important criticism and whistle-blowing. For more on this, see this very important post, When Lashon Hara is a Mitzvah

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108 comments:

  1. Considering the Motti Elon episode, and to go further afield Harvey Weinstein, others as well, I would hesitate to say that "abuses of power are probably particularly prevalent in charedi society." I am not denying that they are found there to no lesser degree than other places, just that similar episodes occur in all societies.

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    1. Huh? I am not denying that they are also found in other communities, I am just saying that there are factors to make them more prevalent in charedi society.

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    2. But you shouldn't say that they are more prevalent in charedi society without real data to back you up.

      Religious / charedi society is certainly not immune to this problem, that's for sure. But let's be precise as to the exact scope of the issue.

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    3. And I am saying that you have no evidence for that claim.

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    4. I agree with Yehoshua. It is not politically correct to say that it is "probably prevalent" without statistical evidence.You can't tarnish a entire community on supposed probabilities.

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    5. E.S. - It's great to be precise, so please be precise. I didn't say that it's "more prevalent". I said that it's probably more prevalent. And I gave four reasons for that. Nobody has challenged those reasons.

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    6. RNS
      Your reasons can easily be refuted by the following:
      1)The checks and balances are flawed as was evident at the Jimmy Saville scandal where even when detailed cases were reported they were very quickly hushed due to his power.The same can be said about alleged allegations on Prince Andrew etc.
      2) One can assume that at least some potential abusers have fear of Hashem which may stop them from abusing and this may counter the supposed lack of checks and balances.
      3)One in 5 woman have experienced date rape or abuse see: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01614576.1993.11074089
      It is highly likely that this is far less prevalent in the Hared society where dates are almost non existent and would therefore balance out the suspected/speculated higher rate of abuse of power . Date rape is a form of power the male has on the female. The checks and balances of the free press are very weak as it wouldn't necessarily be a "story".
      4) Celebrity's also have great power and victims are scared to report them, they are more protected by the authorities than Charedi ppl with power as evidenced by Jimmy Saville, Epstein ,allegedly Prince Andrew etc.
      5)It is unclear why you even mention that it is probably more prevalent in charedi society when most of M'Z victims are no longer Charedi and can easily go to the press.
      6) To say abuse is probably more prevalent is not helping the cause in any way. It may even scare victims from reporting as they might think they won't be listened to. There is a change in Haredi society where most Rabonim currently advice reporting to authorities this should be commended.
      7) The only benefit of your speculation is a tabloid style attack on a entire community with no benefit other than satisfying your personal grief.

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  2. Almost everything in this post is the opposite of the hashkafas haTorah. And not just the chareidi hashkafas haTorah, I have absolutely no doubt that RHS would say the same thing. Lashon hara is actually bad, not good.

    And no, not everybody gets a license to spew lashon hara to his heart's content just because he wants "frank discussion about social issues". Almost every ba'al lashon hara will tell you he has only the best intentions.

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    1. At least half of this post is about checks and balances for people in power. Is that the "opposite of hashkafas Hatorah?"

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    2. The point of this post is that in the absence of checks and balances that meet the approval of any particular person, that person is allowed to publicly spew as much lashon hara as he wishes. I think it's indefensible, but I would be interested to find a major posek (either chareidi or MO) who is mattir, for example, the actions of Failed Messiah.

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    3. The "point" of this post is combating corruption. Slifkin's suggestion of how to do that is only one part of it. There's ample room to suggest another way of accomplishing that goal.

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    4. No, combatting corruption doesn't justify the proposed "solution", which is very large and numerous aveiros. It's as if I knew there's a problem of people not being able to afford enough tuition, so I suggest they work on Shabbos.

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    5. happygolucky, Do you have a better idea? What is your version or idea to confronting corruption? What have you done to stop abusers? What have you done to improve charedi society?

      Also that’s not what he said. He didn't endorse Lashon Hara on a regular basis. Scroll up or read the essay again. Did you even read the essay? As usual, you misinterpret his views. Typical of someone who enjoys putting some else down.

      King Solomon's words of wisdom: There is a time to eat, and a time to dance, a time to sleep, and a time to pray. There is even a time for lashon hara. There is a time for everything. So you deny King Solomon’s words.

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    6. "I think it's indefensible, but I would be interested to find a major posek (either chareidi or MO) who is mattir, for example, the actions of Failed Messiah."
      I was attacked by Failed Messiah, and it wasn't right and it wasn't pleasant. But I wonder who gets more Olam Haba - the blogger who exposes and thereby corrects child abuse, or the major posek who enables abusers?
      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2016/12/the-legacy-of-rav-elyashiv.html

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    7. Lashon hara has become the last refuge of a scoundrel. What evil has not been protected and coddled, if not encouraged, by the invocation of this tool? In this day and age, supression of speech is at least as evil as the speech. Lashon hara has the potential to harm individuals, but supression harms people en masse and destroys whole communities.

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    8. There is no "blogger who exposes and thereby corrects child abuse". There is no such hero. There are just bloggers who post endless amounts of lashon hara, some true, some not, some well motivated, some motivated by revenge. If it happens in one case in a million that they "expose and correct" child abuse, it is like the poison gas that kills the people in the house but also the rats.

      It is just a crazy, arrogant, and pathetic vanity that such a person thinks he gets more olam haba than Rav Elyasiv. (My phone autocorrected to olam haha, he certainly gets more of that).

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    9. happy, Completely avoided my question.

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    10. Happy, "one case in a million"? Failed Messiah's batting average was probably well over 90%.

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    11. Strongly disagree. Most of it was just random lashon hara, nothing to do with abuse. And when "exposing abuse" becomes "exposing every rabbi whom I disagree with how he handled the alleged abuse case, and exposing all rabbis who share that mindset, and all such communities, which I believe lends to the tolerance of abuse", then it further descends into the realm of pure lashon hara. And of course, he didn't "correct" anything.

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    12. Happy, King Solomon said there is a time for lashon hara. There is a time for everything. So you deny King Solomon’s words. Are you going to avoid my question entirely? Why are you running?

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  3. You should be ashamed of yourself. Writing like that about someone as though his actions are a fait accompli and his guilt already proven.

    You know very well that he's denied the accusations against him and hasn't yet had the opportunity to present his side of the story. Yet you have already condemned him as a man exposed, as though the long and drawn out investigation that has just about been officially launched is not even needed.

    Maybe what we really need is some checks and balances on people like yourself who feel that they've been granted free reign to write whatever they want about whomever they want, not caring how many people they ruin in the process.

    This mans life is ruined before anyone has even heard his response. Why? because of articles in a newspaper made by people such as yourself with little to no accountability, and whose sole purpose is to ruin the lives of others.

    I don't think the women's claim shouldn't be taken seriously and yes an investigation should be launched. But how dare you condemn him without even acknowledging that he himself has denied the yet unproven allegations being made against him!


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    1. This isn't "journalists." It's an investigation by Magen.

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    2. Oh!

      As of now all that is known to the public is that there is an unproven yet serious allegation.

      Magens investigation not withstanding, no proof has come to light, the accusers nor the specific accusations have not been made public, and the one that stands accused denies wrongdoing.

      Magen is an organisation about protecting women. Establishing guilt is the job of the police and the courts.

      Magens policy is to keep all of the details of any of their investigation under wraps - rightly so - as their job is about protecting the victims not about passing judgment on the alleged offenders.

      Yet you, breezily confirm a man guilty of the most heinous of crimes all the while knowing he has denied the accusations that have been levelled against him.

      How disgusting you must be to not even mention the fact that an official investigation has only now been launched.

      You're obvious glee over finding yet another negative anti-Charedi post to write about, lets you get ahead of yourself at times - and with serious ramifications!

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    3. 5 of the 6 case are past the statute of limitations and won't come to trial. The notion that the facts can only be proven in a court of law is ridiculous and not how anyone leads their life.

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    4. And today's official response from Meshi-Zahav is that although he had relations with multiple women, it was all consensual. What a tzaddik!
      https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/1615906550-report-top-zaka-officials-worked-to-silence-sexual-abuse-claims-against-zaka-founder

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  4. https://www.facebook.com/yakov.horowitz/posts/2247009148764412

    Rav Yakov Horowitz makes important points in the above video.

    (signed) Catriel Lev, Rmamat Bet Shemesh Alef

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  5. Your sentence about Lashon Hara is senseless.

    If you wrote "the laws of Lashon Hara have been abused..." that would be one thing. True or not, the idea would be that people abuse the good laws of Lashon hara by claiming that they apply where they don't.

    But that is not what you wrote. You added quotes and you added the words "so-called".

    "It has to be acknowledged that the so-called "laws" of Lashon Hara have been abused..."

    Aha. Reading between the lines yields a fruitful bounty. In your world view there really aren't any laws of Lashon Hara. To you they are "so-called" but not really.

    And that is because if you do accept ALL the laws (not just some) as per the most widely accepted authority on the subject, the Chofetz Chaim, then you are in deep trouble.

    Because you can't honestly say that you haven't violated those laws. That would be bizarre. Many posts are motivated by revenge. And it isn't spoken to one person. It is read by many.

    The RMBM says that a Baal Lashon hara (a habitual one) has no share in the afterlife.

    I guess you will just have to wait until your time is up to find out where they will be sending you.

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    1. You don't appear to have studied this topic. See Benjamin Brown's "From Principles to Rules and from Musar to Halakhah: The Hafetz Hayim’s Rulings on Libel and Gossip," which you can read at https://www.dropbox.com/s/738lsg4d35waxtf/From%20Principles%20to%20Rules%20and%20from%20Musar%20to%20Halakhah%20-%20Benjamin%20Brown.pdf

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    2. What a terrible essay. It's indistinguishable from anything that comes from the Reform movement. One could have written an essay justifying driving to shul on Shabbos, and it would be better supported. Needless to say, there are no Rabbis, save perhaps for the furthest reaches of OO, who would agree lashon hara is not an issur.

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    3. Thank you for your learned refutation of Dr. Brown's essay.

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    4. Let us use Prof. Brown's logic regarding corruption prevention techniques and methods.

      For many years, Jews have had communal organizations, chadorim and Yeshivos, powerful national unions and Rabbinical groups. Nobody ever created anti-corruption units, and nobody thought it important to discuss the possibilities of corruption inherent in such powerful structures.
      So therefore, anyone who says it is necessary is wrong, and has fabricated a need for no reason.

      How does that work for you?
      Well, Brown does a worse job about Lashon Hara than I did for corruption.

      Brown has shown himself to be a less than mediocre scholar, from his book about the Chazon Ish, in which he relies on spurious source material, material that anyone who knows their authors knows to ignore. To this foolish job on Lashon Hara, trying to refute halachos with academic 'scholarship'. He brings a broken drill to repair a valve in the heart.

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    5. What in the world are you talking about; it has nothing to do with driving to shul on Shabbos. That is a clear halachic issue with clear halachic texts. The case of lashon hora is mostly a mussar issue with scant halachic texts. You can disagree with whether that distinction matters but you can't argue that the same applies to driving on Shabbos. Did you even read the article?

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    6. And it's certainly *distinguishable* from the Reform movement. I assume you are being rhetorical, because that's an absurd statement.

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    7. There really isn't much to refute. It's just pages and pages of obfuscation. The only point of substance I found, after wading through reams of endless tedium, is that the Shulchan Aruch doesn't bring the prohibition of lashon hara (although the Rema does). But this a very puzzling (not to mention problematic, and extremely so) argument, after all, there are many other things the Shulchan Aruch doesn't bring such as לא תקום ולא תטור, לא תקים לך מצבה, כל אלמנה ויתום לא תענון ,לא תאבה לו ולא תשמע אליו. Are we to say all those are not mitzvot?

      By the way, I found a wonderful essay permitting homosexuality, by Dr. Doron Kalir. His arguments are far more convincing than Dr. Brown's in support of lashon hara. It can be found here https://engagedscholarship.csuohio.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1815&context=fac_articles

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    8. "Are we to say all those are not mitzvot?"
      Good grief. Nobody is saying that these, or lashon hara, are not mitzvot/ averot. Try to understand what is being said.

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    9. "You don't appear to have studied this topic. See Benjamin Brown's "From Principles to Rules and from Musar to Halakhah"

      What an absolute joke!

      So we have on the one hand the foremost Halachic expert of the previous century, who has written a Sefer which unequivocally sets out all of his various Pesakim on the subject on L"h, which you seem to agree are breached countless times in this blog.

      Your response: If you think I've been transgressed the Issur just by looking at the Chofetz Chaim then you obviously haven't studied Hil Loshon Horo properly because you haven't read the paper by Brown. An academic analysation of whether Loshon Horo is a part of the Mussar genre or of standard Halacha.

      How telling!

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    10. Shlomo, lashon hara is in fact a clear halachic issue with clear halachic texts. That the CC expounded upon it more than his predecessors cannot possibly take away from that.

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    11. I understand very well what is being said. What is being said is that people are trying to defend very improper behaviour that they have engaged in for years and plan on continuing. And trying to justify it with a משענת קנה רצוץ, with the most pathetic arguments possible, that don't even fit the definition of arguments as they are just word games.

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    12. I said "scant" halachic texts, and that remains true. You ask if anyone would argue that לא תקום וכו are not mitzvos. That has no connection to the argument at hand; Brown isn't arguing that LH isn't a *mitzvah*. Clearly you don't get what he is saying. But I do wonder how the CC explains why such an incredibly widespread, extremely serious aveirah (among the laypeople and the elite) was not subject to a lengthy, detailed halachic treatment, until his day. He notes the fact (and many of the halachos don't even appear in the Rishonim either!), but I don't see his explanation for it. Of course, this is NOT to say it's not an aveirah, but that perhaps its parameters aren't subject to the ordinary halachic guidelines (similar the other aveiros you mentioned).

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    13. Considering how expansive the laws of lashon hora are, happygolucky - aren't you badmouthing Brown? Isn't that a form of lashon hora? You are not simply disagreeing with his arguments, you are imputing evil motives to him to a very public audience. Why is that permissible?

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    14. Shlomo, I don't know what you mean by "ordinary halachic guidelines". There is a prohibition on saying lashon hara. One can quibble about the exact parameters of the CC, however, Dr. Brown is certainly no bar plugta of the CC.

      AJ, I am not attributing evil motives to Dr. Brown, I am simply saying that the essay is very, very wrong. And he is simply not on the level to argue with the CC or any of the rabbis who affirm the prohibition of lashon hara. And from reading through the essay, I can see firsthand that I am definitely on the level to dispute him in this matter (although I am sure he greatly exceeds me in many other matters).

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    15. you got to be kidding meMarch 16, 2021 at 4:30 PM

      That write up from Brown is a joke. He wants the rules of Lashon hara to be categorized as mussar and not halacha. Huh?

      Chofetz Chaim brings down many sources from earlier halachists.

      His introduction focuses on specific aseh and lo saseh that are violated when speaking LH.

      RMBM discusses the rules of LH too in a few places.

      So along comes someone almost nobody heard of in halachic circles and he does away with all the rules of Lashon Harah!
      And he goes up against the world renowned expert on the subject who is also the author of the Mishna Brurah. And it isn't on one specific point. That would one thing.

      It is on the entire concept of Lashon Hara being a sin!!!

      If you wrote this on Purim I would have thought it was Purim Torah.

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    16. Happygolucky
      You write that Brown is trying to defend committing a sin in the past and one he plans to commit in the future with pathetic arguments. That is not a bad thing to do? You are saying he is doing something bad, which I think makes it lashon hora. You clearly indicate he is not arguing in good faith, which, again, is a bad thing to do. Again, lashon hora.

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    17. AJ, I am sorry for being unclear. I did not at all mean Dr. Brown when I said that. I meant a hypothetical blogger who happily admits to spreading all types of lashon hara constantly and uses Dr. Browns unfortunate essay to justify his behaviour.

      For the record I do think Dr. Brown is arguing in good faith, but his arguments are seriously deficient. I think his essay is Exhibit A in an illustration of why yeshiva and kollel are so important.

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    18. Happy,
      We're not discussing being a bar plugta of the CC but whether the CC is in agreement with the authorities that preceded and surrounded him. What to make of the fact that until the CC's day, the amount of proper halachic writing on the subject is probably shorter than the introduction to the CC. Why would such a prevalent din with myriad details be omitted from the Tur, Beis Yosef and Shulchan Aruch? It was terrible disservice to klal yisrael that we went all those years without an authoritative text on the subject. And lest you think otherwise, LH is not a modern invention but was extremely common throughout the doros. (Agav, is everyone a mumar l'teiavon, befarhesya, because of this?). Does the Aruch HaShulchan, who wrote about practically every topic, even those not nogeiah, dedicate much/any space to it? It seems a mind-boggling problem, that the halachists had little to no time for possibly the most widespread and serious aveirah being committed by otherwise observant Jews. There is no issur that comes close to it, and yet they didn't legislate it. Most mysterious.

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    19. Shlomo, the answer is presumably that since it is a moral issue with an enormous number of variables that depend on the particular circumstances, then it's better to give over values (mussar) rather than trying to delineate halacha.

      Here's something else to consider:
      כל ספרי המוסר מרעישים העולם על עון לשון הרע, ואני מרעיש העולם להיפוך עון גדול מזה, וגם הוא מצוי יותר, והוא מניעת עצמו מלדבר במקום שנצרך להציל עשוק מיד עושקו וכו' לענין ממון הוא בכלל השבת אבידה וכו' וכן בעניני שידוך, והוא יודע שהוא איש רע ובליעל ורע להתחתן עמו - כולן בכלל השבת גופו וממונו.
      Pischei Teshuva, Orach Chaim 156, cited in Tzitz Eliezer 16:4.

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    20. Shlomo, these are good questions. The Chovos Halevavos is similarly bothered by the lack of previous scholarship on mitzvos he wrote about. The answer is NOT that this לאו is just "mussar".

      As for that Pischei Teshuva, it would be laughable to use it to justify the lashon hara blogs. Not every "exposing corruption", or so-called corruption, is להציל עשוק מיד עושקו, most of it is just indiscriminate lashon hara that causes great harm to communities, far more than whatever dubious marginal benefit comes from these blogs.

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    21. Shlomo, I think the real question is why the Gemara itself doesn't devote more space to the details of lashon hara, this is the root cause of the poskim not devoting more space to it. Rabbi Slifkin may be correct when he says "it is a moral issue with an enormous number of variables", and so Chazal didn't see fit to explain every case. But that doesn't make it any more lenient or any less of a prohibition!! And that doesn't make the CC wrong when he did see fit to explain many different cases.

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    22. happy,
      I don't think it's comparable to the CHHL because he was asking about lack of stress on certain mitzvos. Lack of stress is a problem, but lack of halachic *rulings* is crippling. Essentially the halachists left us to fend for ourselves regarding perhaps the most major aveirah the nation faced. Furthermore, while the CHHL's question may have been pressing to him, it's far less pressing than the one I raised. The number of seforim before his time was miniscule in comparison to the mass of missing literature I'm talking about. Lastly, I don't think anyone is saying it's "just mussar." Rather, that since it's mussar it is not subject to detailed lawmaking.

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    23. "perhaps the most major aveirah the nation faced" Seriously??? Come on!

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    24. RDNS, from the perspective of the CC? Absolutely. I'm arguing l'shitaso.

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    25. And I use "major" in the sense of accounting for both severity and prevalence. (Although it's possible the CC considered it the most serious kpshuto, like the maamarei Chazal that compare it unfavorably to the big 3 and similar. I'd have to go through the CC carefully to determine that.)

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    26. Shlomo, as I said before, the fact that there aren't extensive halachos about lashon hara does NOT mean it isn't a very serious prohibition. Consider כל אלמנה ויתום לא תענון, which likewise has a dearth of halachos, yet the next pasuk says וְחָרָה אַפִּי וְהָרַגְתִּי אֶתְכֶם בֶּחָרֶב וְהָיוּ נְשֵׁיכֶם אַלְמָנוֹת וּבְנֵיכֶם יְתֹמִים. A very serious prohibition indeed. So too with lashon hara, as the CC proves extensively.

      As for why there are so few halachos about it (pre-CC, besides for the Shaarei Teshuva), I said above it's possibly because there are so many different situations, that Chazal didn't see fit to explain each one. It's truly לכל תכלה ראיתי קץ רחבה מצותך מאד. Or so I would say b'derech efsher.

      But in no circumstance does any of this make lashon hara more lenient than other prohibitions. It just requires more individualized judgement. And by that judgement, there is not the slightest doubt that every single "exposing corruption among the rabbis" blog is easily yotzai
      mitzvas lashon hara, bemehadrin min hamehadrin. Even before we bring in the CC.

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    27. Happy,
      You clearly don't understand what I'm saying. I have made no effort to minimize the severity of the issur. You keep stressing how severe it is and I am not disputing that whatsoever. All I (and I think Brown) am saying is that it's not subject to detailed lawmaking. I have expressed no opinion about RNS's proposed use of blogs.

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    28. Shlomo, calling something "morality of aspiration" vs. "morality of duty" carries the implication that it is less severe. "We are not referring here to a duty to commit a concrete action, but we are talking about a duty to aspire" (Brown). But this is a terrible mistake. Lashon hara does in fact create a duty (not) to commit a concrete action, that is to not say lashon hara. Based on his mistaken idea, Brown makes the claim that the CC is being too severe. He could not be more wrong.

      The fact that this severe prohibition was not subject to detailed lawmaking may just be a reflection of the fact that such an undertaking would be too extensive, considering that there are too many unique situations. However, CC saw his generation making light of the prohibition, so he wrote a sefer showing how severe it is, and illustrating many different situations that people think are permitted but are actually prohibited.

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    29. As I mentioned above, I doubt there has been a generation that has not made light of the issur of LH, so that excuse doesn't hold water. And the fact that there are too many cases to write any seforim or seifim about it, can be easily refuted by the CC's own mashal about the overturned applecart.

      As a separate matter it could very well be that the CC took LH more severely than it warranted. But we can reach that (possible) conclusion independently of the question of whether it can be legislated or not.

      Delete
    30. No, Shlomo, it's not an "excuse". There is no need for an "excuse", it's just a question, why did previous generations not write a book of hilchos lashon hara? As I said, there are too many cases to write. The CC felt that מקום הניחו לו לגדור, and he came up with a sefer that has many illustrative examples and halachos that STILL don't reach a fraction of all the cases one could come up with. Why did nobody else think of writing a sefer of illustrative examples (rather than a regular halacha sefer which I contend would be impossible)? You may as well ask why nobody wrote the Mesilas Yesharim before the Mesilas Yesharim, or the Rambam before the Rambam. It's a nonsense question.

      As for the contention that CC took lashon hara more severely than it warranted, that is pure, totally unfounded speculation. Maybe he took it less severely than it warranted? Neither I, nor you, nor Dr. Brown have any standing to argue with the CC on that.

      Delete
    31. Your response has descended into polemics. Earlier you thought the question was good and now it's nonsense. Of course, your comparison to the Rambam and Mesilas yesharim is ridiculous. There were halachah seforim before the Rambam and there were mussar seforim before MY. The CC is a unique kind of sefer in a way that those are not. Of course, you ignored the CC's mashal with the applecart because you have no actual answer. So in sum: you have no idea - and it's frankly astonishing - that no halachist for a thousand years bothered to write more than a page or two delineating guidelines for the laws of LH, until the CC who wrote huge amount on it. This is not some obscure area of halachah but a very, very common issue. And yet no one gave more than the tiniest bit of hadrachah (and the Tur, BY and SA gave zero). To call that a nonsense question is naked polemics.

      Delete
    32. Shlomo, I am sorry for the polemics. I think this is a good discussion and you are a reasonable, knowledgeable person. Let me explain what I thought was the good question and the not-good question. The good question is why Chazal didn't bequeath us extensive hilchos lashon hara, the same way they did with hilchos yibum, for example. That is the root cause for why the Tur and Beis Yosef don't bring them, just like they don't have extensive hilchos לא תקים לך מצבה. I gave a possible answer, you may accept or reject it as you wish.

      The not-so-good question was, I believe, why would somebody write extensively about something that Chazal, or his predecessors didn't write extensively about? I think Mesilas Yesharim is a good example. Yes, there may be other musar sefarim, but Mesilas Yesharim is an extended explanation of one ma'amar of R' Pinchas Ben Yair. How many sefarim are there that explain that one ma'amar? Now you may say, the Mesilas Yesharim uses that ma'amar to bring in other musar concepts. Well, the CC also uses the lav of LH to bring in other concepts such as ona'as devarim, bizayon talmidei chachamim, halbanas pnei chaveiro, bitul Torah, hilchos eidus, etc. He shows how careless speech is related to many different prohibitions,and he elaborates on wide variety of dinim. So I agree that CC is a very different type of halacha sefer. But under no circumstances does that make any of it wrong, or LH more lenient.

      I think a better way of thinking about it would be, do you disagree with any specific halacha in the CC? Which one? Do you think because the Tur/BY didn't bring that specific halacha, they must dispute it? Surely you wouldn't say such a thing, as there are many halachos not brought by the Tur/BY, and nobody suggests they disagree.

      Delete
  6. The comic you chose to use for this story is misleading and unfair. In the context of the page it came from, the Prime Minister actually berates this man for suggesting media censorship. It is an example of ministers looking to correct others and not looking at themselves for areas to fix.

    It is actually an example of a haredi comic that admonishes the idea of media censorship, and yet you bring it as an example of haredi interest in promoting that censorship.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is not correct. The comic endorses it as a good idea, but says that the focus needs to be on improving ourselves, not others.

      Delete
    2. Based on the full page screenshot of the comic you posted previously, it isn't clear at all that the it is endorsing it as a good idea. The Prime Minister says he agrees with the notion that we should stop baseless hatred and stay far from Lashon Hara and turns that right around on them, telling them that the way to do that is by focusing inwards, not outwardly through mandates intended to fix the behavior of others.

      Delete
  7. Daskal at least has been arrested. No presumption of innocence for Yehuda Meshi-Zahav ? You must know about the false accusations of "nick" and against Salmond

    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jul/22/how-nick-the-serial-child-abuse-accuser-became-the-accused

    https://news.sky.com/story/salmond-and-sturgeon-battle-an-a-to-z-guide-to-the-explosive-scandal-at-the-top-of-scottish-politics-12226647

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm going to just quote Shana Aaronson, the incredible director of Magen:

      "A frankly shocking number of people have taken to social media over the last 18 hours to share their belief that exposing these allegations was some sort of coordinated effort (by us? by Haaretz?) to prevent Meshi Zahav from receiving the Israel prize.
      I think anyone that has ever had even a glimpse into Magen's investigation process, or the process of investigative journalism, knows how long something like this takes.
      The idea that we or anyone woke up a week ago and simply decided to "go after" Meshi Zahav is so absurd it would be laughable if this weren't so devastating.
      Investigating allegations like these, identifying victims (who don't know each other and have nothing to do with each other), giving them enough support that they feel safe talking, verifying their allegations- takes months or years, not days or weeks.
      Meshi Zahav, like everyone else, has a legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.
      That doesn't mean that his victims are not credible. That doesn't mean that anyone is "out to get him". And frankly, I am relieved that he will not be receiving the prize, because his alleged victims don't deserve to have to watch that happen."

      Delete
    2. Mr Salmond's lawyer admitted in his criminal case (where the case against him was found not proven, rather than not guilty, distinct findings in Scots law) that his client could have been "a better man on occasions."

      It was not disputed the the Scottish Civil Service had special arrangements to avoid female members of staff being alone with Mr Salmond arising from concerns about his conduct.

      Notwithstanding the subsequent Scottish Nationalist Party banana republic antics - that Mrs Sturgeon may have milked the accusations for her own political ends, that the employment investigation into Mr Salmond was procedurally flawed, and that the supposedly apolitical Crown Office's threat of prosecution to Scottish MPs investigating the matter was wholly inappropriate, Mr Salmond is, by his own counsel's admission, quite a naughty man who ought to have kept his hands to himself.

      Delete
    3. Ok good point. I find creepy his consensual comments. It would make him at least a creepy menuval.

      Delete
  8. In general, RNS is completely right. I was a witness of a lot of immoral actions carried out by the Haredi rabbanim.
    But we should be careful with cases of children abuse and molestation, because a part of them is fabricated and falsified. For example, the case of Moti Elon is clearly falsification. (One such the case was opened again me; fortunately I succeeded to prove my innocence quickly enough.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The case against Moti Elon was entirely accurate and not falsification. There were recordings and he confessed. Please don't spread lies. http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2018/12/a-stain-on-religious-zionism.html

      Delete
  9. Rabbi Slifkin--

    In your article above you wrote as follows:

    "No less than Moshe Rabbeinu himself had to give a financial accounting to show that he had not misappropriated any Mishkan funds - and the accounting was done by independent auditors."

    This is an intriguing idea. Today we are used to the idea of an independent auditor reviewing financial statements of large, publicly traded companies. This would have been a revelation in the time of Yetziet Mitzraim. The Torah doesn't specifically say there was an audit done, just that the funds were tallied up by others. (Shemos 38:21 - "Which were counted at the word of Moses") Do you have a source that these individuals were independent from Moses' ovresight?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not researched, but it seems to be common sense even in ancient times to have somebody watching the assets. ACJA

      Delete
  10. RNS
    I don't like to call ppl hypocrites but this post certainly smells
    that way. When Pogrow (your friend) was convicted by a Charedi Beis Din of being a sexual predator you wrote a apologetic post pointing out how nice he was when he helped you out when you moved to BS etc. When Motti Elon was convicted we heard not a peep from you. Motti elon was being protected by MO rabbis who knew exactly what he was up to. When MO Rabbi Barry Freundel was convicted we heard nothing from you. Do you have unconscious bias? Where is your intellectual honesty gone? Or did you never have it?
    PS I commend people who report abusers. I just think abusers should be condemned wherever they are even when they are of your own /affiliated community.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't write an "apologetic post" about Meir Pogrow. I wrote about how that the fact that his family had done kindnesses for me made the news of his activities particularly shocking and distressing.
      And I most certainly wrote about Moti Elon - and criticized Rav Druckman for not apologizing for defending him. http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2018/12/a-stain-on-religious-zionism.html

      Delete
  11. All humans are corrupt. It's human nature. We need the freedom of speech and the press to combat corruption. It's sad and very telling that these abusers are not G-d-fearing people. Yes, the Bible does not change human nature but their actions are bad for religion.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Maybe I'm being too cynical here but... this is too much of a coincidence.

    It was maintained as an "open secret" for exactly as long as it took for him to become a critic of haredi leadership, and then suddenly the secret got exposed?

    I'm glad any time a predator gets taken down, but it sickens me that certain people seemed willing to tolerate this for so long as a "secret" and do nothing about it, but then when he openly criticized gedolim, that was the last straw for some presumably powerful people and he got exposed.

    Someone please tell me I'm wrong about this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He has been critical of Haredi society for many many years. Even before social media was a thing.

      Delete
    2. @Zichron Devorim - Ok, that is reassuring then, in that way.

      Delete
  13. Natan, have you ever been accused of something that you didn't do?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure! But I've never had multiple people falsely accuse me of specific actions that they claimed to have first-hand knowledge of.

      Delete
    2. Interesting! You've had dozens or more on your very own blog claiming that you were/are being mevazeh Talmeidai chachomim. And your response?! ........

      Delete
    3. That is not a dispute about actions. That is interpretations of what I wrote here. I'm not disputing the words that I wrote!

      Incidentally, Meshi-Zahav confirmed all the sexual acts today, but claimed that they were consensual.

      Delete
    4. When you have that many people interpret your actions as mevazeh Talmeidai chachomim, it makes it harder to interpret them as anything else.

      Delete
    5. "but claimed that they were consensual."
      That might be an admissible claim in an Israeli court of law--but, how can an Orthodox Jew engage in a sexual act (in a permitted manner, that is) with someone with whom they're not married?

      Delete
    6. "When you have that many people interpret your actions as mevazeh Talmeidai chachomim, it makes it harder to interpret them as anything else."

      When all these people are charedi, and every non-charedi person (and plenty of charedim too) have no issue with what I write, it's very easy to dismiss those that have a problem with it.

      Delete
    7. @Yehudah P.: An 'orthodox' man - as we see time and time again - is as virtuous as any non-orthodox man but of course now that his goose appears cooked, he's willing to sacrifice his facade to minimize the legal consequences.

      Delete
  14. I'm going to just quote Shana Aaronson, the incredible director of Magen:

    "A frankly shocking number of people have taken to social media over the last 18 hours to share their belief that exposing these allegations was some sort of coordinated effort (by us? by Haaretz?) to prevent Meshi Zahav from receiving the Israel prize.
    I think anyone that has ever had even a glimpse into Magen's investigation process, or the process of investigative journalism, knows how long something like this takes.
    The idea that we or anyone woke up a week ago and simply decided to "go after" Meshi Zahav is so absurd it would be laughable if this weren't so devastating.
    Investigating allegations like these, identifying victims (who don't know each other and have nothing to do with each other), giving them enough support that they feel safe talking, verifying their allegations- takes months or years, not days or weeks.
    Meshi Zahav, like everyone else, has a legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law.
    That doesn't mean that his victims are not credible. That doesn't mean that anyone is "out to get him". And frankly, I am relieved that he will not be receiving the prize, because his alleged victims don't deserve to have to watch that happen."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I'm going to just quote Shana Aaronson, the incredible director of Magen: Meshi Zahav, like everyone else, has a legal presumption of innocence until proven guilty in a court of law".....that's of course aside for on blog posts written by Slifkin who didn't even mention that Meshi Zahav denied the allegations made against him and that they have yet to be proven in a court of law.

      Delete
    2. Actually, today he changed from denying them to admitting them.

      Delete
    3. Natan, never expected such inaccurate reporting by you!
      https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.jpost.com/breaking-news/meshi-zahav-says-contact-with-accusers-was-consensual-sometimes-for-money-662210/amp
      "Someone close to him"

      Delete
    4. Sorry, I had looked at a different article which stated that he admitted to it.
      https://www.i24news.tv/en/news/israel/1615906550-report-top-zaka-officials-worked-to-silence-sexual-abuse-claims-against-zaka-founder

      Delete
  15. So for those who take a strong, broad view of the prohibition of lashon hara, are you saying we must accept the results (such as the cases mentioned) as a feature of the halachic system, or is there some other way of rooting these cases out earlier on?
    kt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a complicated question, because so much of this is a matter of "I disagree with how the rabbis in a certain community handled (or didn't handle) a certain case, so they must be corrupt, therefore I am justified in posting constant streams of lashon hara about them." Such is the usual justification. And most of these "exposes" are coming from people with *very* questionable motivations, to say the least.

      I would think that somebody who is actually interested in rectifying the problem would do better to work with those rabbis to get rid of the evil in their midst (the actual abusers), rather than trying to "expose" the rabbis as corrupt. Yes, that may be slow and frustrating, and he may frequently find that he disagrees with the rabbis.

      Delete
    2. from what i understand there have been cases where that worked but also where not
      kt

      Delete
  16. I personally was heartbroken to hear the allegations about meshi zahav, and hope they are not true. But pushing that aside, I want to say that anti defamation laws (aka the lashon hara law) in Israel are particularly severe. Despite it's good intentions, this is a prime reason there are problems in the building industry in Israel. If a building contractor provides inferior quality, you can never be public about it, even if 100% true, because you will get sued by the building contractors for defamation--and they will win. Consequently, people are afraid to tell the truth about a lousy contractor when asked for a recommendation. Having just built a house, I can tell you stories that would make your blood curl about the ineptitude of foremen, contractors, subcontractors, architects, engineers...all could have been avoided had people been forthcoming about their own negative experiences when asked for recommendations, but they were intimidated by the loshon hora law, and even afraid of sabotage against them or their property (sadly experienced by many). And no, it makes little difference if the builders are Jews or Arabs...there are good and bad people in both sectors) I've had many olim beg me to write a book, Building a Home in Israel about our experiences good and bad, that would guide people through this process. I decided against it, because I didn't want to guilty of lashon hara when talking about Israel, and also because I didn't want to get sued, because it would be obvious to builders which people I'm talking about, even under the guise of anonymity. Israelis have come to accept inferior work as "that's just how it is". Lawsuits against contractors take years and years, and rarely does the homeowner come out ahead.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For clarity's sake, it should be pointed out that Israeli defamation law simply translates as "Lashon Hara." Only in cases with no precedent does the Supreme Court sometimes consult the works of the Chafetz Chaim.

      Delete
  17. I suppose someone should mention that AC-12 is a fictional TV drama. It dramatises the real life work of the Directorate of Public Standards of the Metropolitan Police.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Stalinist USSR had a tremendously balanced Constitution, with all sorts of checks and balances. But humans gonna human. Institutional controls are a defensive legal strategy, not a proven effective mitigation.

    The fundamental vigilance every INDIVIDUAL needs to exercise as to the intentions of ALL AUTHORITY FIGURES is the correct answer. A culture of trust let Jimmy Saville and Harold Shipman hide in plain sight.

    ReplyDelete
  19. And that's now our second Jewish suicide in London in the last 2 months. This time a teenager. This LOCKDOWN has been MAGNIFICENT for the young, fairly safe from Covid demographic.

    If you need to speak to someone, call the Samaritans on 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I'm reminded of an incident in which the menahalim of a Charedi mosad in the diaspora were confronted with evidence of their unlawful behaviour. They breezily responded that transparency and accountability are goyish concepts to which they do not subscribe.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sexual abuse and its cover up happen in all societies. The Charedim may deal with it in a particularly bad way, but there isn't any evidence that it happens any more there, although it is possible given the greater opportunity and fewer checks and balances.

    Also the American Agudah still doesn't take abuse seriously; they require reporting of abuse to Rabbis and not to the civil authorities.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Some serious intellectual laziness on show here.

    If you want to generate clicks, hear, and no light, I suggest you go ahead and breezily opine that Charedim are more likely to be sexual abusers or that a blogger was "probably" right 90 percent of the time. You affirm an anti-rational habit of confirmation biases / ingroup heuristic by this kind of discourse. The tribe who agree with you will agree with you, the tribe who don't won't be seriously challenged, and will pick up the sloppiness, and nothing changes.

    If you want to do something useful, go out and get the facts. Look at what FailedMessiah did and did not get wrong. Look at the percentage of those jailed for sexual abuse from the Charedi community. Look at the academic research. Sure, it takes an hour longer, but facts are sacred.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If Meshi-Zahav is convicted, will you also go and do something 'useful'? Perhaps by limiting your responses here to maybe one or two per blog entry?

      Delete
    2. Here are the facts.
      In every sect/hashkafa/stream of Orthodoxy, be they folks who identify as Chareidi, Chasidish or Modern Orthodox, halacha mandates that only the husband may validate the divorce. The simple truth is that all compassionate people consider this an ill-conceived formula that oppresses women and dismisses the notion that rabbinic Halacha has any legitimacy. Loopholes are legion in Orthodoxy. You have eiruv, sale of chametz, etc. etc. but rabbanim cant trouble themselves to find a loophole to assuage the agunah travesty.
      Wonder why most Jews aren’t Orthodox? Just look at your reflection in that Orthodox mirror and ponder: does the architect of the universe want you to treat women in this contemptible fashion?

      Delete
    3. Hi Meir Moses, I tend to cite facts. Those are always preferable to opinions.

      For example, on this page I cited the fact that 1) a teenager died, likely from LOCKDOWN. That seems big news, like the pregnant woman who sadly died from COVID 2) that Rabbi Dr doesn't cite facts 3) that the Rabbi Dr is so sloppy in his research and subject to confirmation biases that he mixed up fact with fiction 4) that the Stalinist Constitution had checks and balances and it helped not a joy to achieve ACCOUNTABILITY and 5) this is a factual not an opinion post as well. If you don't like being corrected, do the research first.

      Delete
    4. As in, obviously my posts aren't spell checked. That's sloppy. But Rabbi Dr's posts aren't fact checked. That's ranting.

      Delete
    5. The Hat talks about "ranting?" Irony, thy name is The Hat.

      Delete
    6. The reason you perceive me that way when the actual ranter is launching a culture war at children's books, lauding fictional police procedural dramas as a solution to sexual abuse, making bigoted comments about poor people, is your own cognitive biases.

      I'm here to upset the smug middle classes with rational facts. I've got lots of them. Buckle up.

      Delete
  23. Now I just saw news of the passing of the conductor James Levine--unfortunately, his Wikipedia page has as much information about sexual abuse allegations as it does about his achievements in conducting...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Was he a hero, or just a guy who got tired of doing crimes? I mean the crimes he admits, not the latest charges. I don't consider the ghouls of ZAKA to be a contribution. If they want to engage in their body parts fetish, let them do it to the corpses of people who care. I find them as heroic as some lunatic going around sprinkling lion powder.

    ReplyDelete

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