Monday, January 10, 2022

Religious Resha'im

When Chaim Walder killed himself, the awareness of his terrible crimes had not yet become too overwhelming for anyone to deny. As is well known, there were various significant people and institutions maintaining his innocence (either because they genuinely believed it, or because they figured that they could get away with such a pretense). 

In the notorious obituary printed in Yated Ne'eman, it describes Walder's greatness in his Torah studies. As a child in Talmud Torah, he was known for being "blessed with talent," then in Mishkan Yaakov he was "greatly beloved to the Rosh Yeshivah." He then graduated to the famous Kol Torah yeshivah, where he "grew to glory." Then in Knesses Chizkiyahu he was "drawn to the deep shiurim of the Rosh Yeshiva."

A week later, Rabbi Moshe Meiselman claims that Walder "did not have much of a yeshiva background," didn't do well in either Kol Torah or Knesses Chizkiyahu, had "very little knowledge of Torah" and was not successful in yeshiva.

Well, which is it? I have no idea who is telling the truth and who is falsifying things; both the Yated and Rabbi Meiselman are notorious for falsifying matters to serve their agenda. But could it be true that such an evil person was successful in yeshivah? Could it be that he grew as a ben Torah, as a talmid chacham?

Before addressing that question, let us turn to another point. There is also a report spreading that in none of Walder's books is there any mention of God. This seems to be based on another claim by Rabbi Meiselman, that years ago it was already clear that there was something wrong with Walder, because "in 15 children’s books, he does not mention the Ribbono Shel Olam once, which is highly suspicious." Well, a commentator to an earlier post decided to actually investigate the claim, and randomly looked at two of Walder's books. He found that they were absolutely full of references to the Ribbono Shel Olam, as well as to religious themes in general!

Obviously Rabbi Meiselman's claim is false, though it well serves his agenda of arguing that Walder was a rasha because he wasn't a proper Ben Torah. But what are we to make of Walder's references to God? Was all this just part of his elaborately crafted manipulations? Or did he really believe in God? 

This is a broader question that goes beyond Chaim Walder. Do frum resha'im - those who attack women, those who steal from others - believe in God? And if not, is their entire frum appearance just a scam? I've been thinking about this topic for many years, and seeking insights of others. And my tentative conclusions are as follows.

It seems to me that it's comparable to the charedi purported belief that learning Torah protects from harm. A lot of people who purport to believe this act in such a way that clearly shows otherwise. During one of the Gaza wars, the Grodno yeshivah relocated from Ashdod to Beit Shemesh, and claimed that they were providing protection to Beit Shemesh (which, unlike Ashdod, didn't need it. They obviously don't really believe that Torah protects. But they nevertheless believe that they believe it.

It's difficult to know to what extent anyone - good or bad - actually believes in God. Some people have a high code of moral conduct, and they may believe that this is because they fear God, but who knows if this is really the reason. And even those who do act immorally believe that they believe in God.

The social psychologist Jonathan Haidt reports that overwhelmingly, evil people do not believe that they are doing evil. Everyone, even Nazis, rationalizes to themselves that they are doing the right and necessary thing. Accordingly, it does not conflict with their self-image. A women who confided in me about how she was molested by a prominent person in the American yeshivish community told me that when she asked him if Hashem wanted him to be doing this, he assured her that Hashem understood. And he probably believed it.

The Gemara tells us that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai's dying wish for his students was that their fear of God should equal their fear of man. The Gemara's point is that people's fear of God - even the disciples of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai - is generally less than their fear of man. (And the corollary of this is that what stops people committing crimes is not fear of God so much as it is fear of man.) But all such people certainly believe that they fear God!

In my life, I have known, to a greater or lesser degree, five sexual predators. All of them were rabbis. (This should certainly not be taken as any indication that all or most or many rabbis are sexual predators - I know many hundreds of rabbis!). With two of them, it was obvious from the outset that there was something seriously "off" about them. But with the other three, there was no indication. With one of them, even though I now know intellectually that he is a predator, I still can't begin to wrap my head around it. And all five rabbis were, and four still are, very frum. They sincerely believe that they sincerely believe in Hashem, and act accordingly in all areas of bein Adam LeMakom.

It's important for people to realize this. Because otherwise, people let their guard down. And people reject claims that "real" rabbis could be harming people. And if people are harmed by a very frum, very knowledgeable rabbi, they are inclined to believe that it must be they themselves who have a problem.

I would like to finish by reminding everyone that if you actually want to make a difference about all this, there is something concrete that you can do. You can support the efforts of the amazing but woefully underfunded organization called Magen. (It will also be nice for them to be receiving donations instead of the numerous death threats that they are getting lately.) You can learn more about their work, and send a donation, at their newly updated website http://magen-israel.org.


(If you'd like to subscribe to this blog via email, use the form on the right of the page, or send me an email and I will add you.) 

 

124 comments:

  1. "...people reject claims that "real" rabbis could be harming people."

    Chazal testified centuries ago that this does happen:
    מפני מה תלמידי חכמים מתים כשהן קטנים לא מפני שהן מנאפים ולא מפני שהן גוזלין אלא שפוסקין מדברי תורה ועוסקים בדברי שיחה

    אבות דרב נתן כו-

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    1. Only apikorsim learn Avot D'Rabbi Natan. :-)

      Or that was the case until Artscroll issued an edition. :-)

      (I mean, only apikorsim learn Tanach, Mishna, Tosefta, Midrash, Yerushalmi, any masechet in Bavli apart from about ten, etc., but the masechtot ketanot are *really* out there.)

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    2. Nachum,

      You feel that people think, perhaps especially in yeshivos, that since the yeshivos focus on certain mesechtos, then there must be a feeling that other parts of Torah are apikorsis.

      I dont know what planet you are living on but that is not the case, especially amongst anyone slightly intelligent. Don't get caught up by something a friend in high school told you, mkay?

      Anyhow, Slifkin likes to point to Magen is a great source. And that may well be the case...but I have a point to make.

      Frum Jews often wish to work with frum therapists especially regarding such sensitive issues where halacha plays a clear role.

      From the looks of it, Magen is a frum organization. But looking at the pictures of the various board members, there are some women who seem to violate halacha.

      Some have their entire chest area exposed! It seems clear that some do not cover their hair, (although its gotten harder to tell today or maybe those never married...).

      If they were at least border-line frum, wouldn't they want a picture on their company website(!) of them dressed according to commonly excepted basic halachic requirements among Orthodox Jews, like not leaving the entire chest area exposed?

      Don't tell me to just focus on the person, blah blah blah. We are Orthodox Jews, which means that such things are important to us.

      It makes a difference if someone is weak in such areas. It shows that Torah isn't too important to them, and likely their opinions reflect that too, which is human nature.

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    3. Ezra -

      problem was in Bnei Brak, the head of the child protection unit, which was frum, and appointed by the Mayor, was none other than Walder yemach shmo.

      that is why it might help sometimes to get advice from independent people from the outside world. It is this flaw in hareidi thinking , the "we know best" has been responsible for many disasters, - the Holocaust, Meron, Covid etc. And it continues. Why are they finally now listening to the secular scientists who discovered the virus, and then developed vacciens and other treatments for the covid?

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    4. The Holocaust? You have issues.

      It was the anti Torah elements that were most destructive of all.

      You are conflating issues.

      You are comparing a virus which is scientific in nature, rather than moralistic in nature, to moralistic values, such as a question such as; is it correct to dress in a certain fashion?

      That's not science.

      A lot of things that non Jews, and perhaps people like yourself too, consider to be "kosher" is forbidden according to halacha.

      So if someone abides by halacha, and they need guidance in an area like this...where halacha has much say, then aside for looking for someone who understands the scientific or human nature (or whatever you call it) subject matter and is also experienced, and is dedicated, they will also look for someone who strongly adheres to halacha.

      A woman with a very low cut shirt with much exposed demonstrats clearly that halacha isn't her strong point. Because if it was, she wouldn't do that.

      It really is a very logical point that I am stressing unless you have an axe to grind.

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    5. Their whole chest area!

      You're a sickie, Ezra.

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    6. Very erudite response, Nachum

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    7. Yaffed goofed the same way at first with pictures that turn off the very people they want to attract. But apparently thanks to flack, the offending pictures were later removed. https://yaffed.org/who-we-are/ This at least showed their sensitivity, which is the main thing, even if not their sincerity. I suspect that they still failed to attract their targets but at least there aren't offensive pictures to boot.

      Maybe Magen will also go that route. And as opposed to Yaffed, there's much insider sympathy for their mission.

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    8. Ezra, I want my refund...

      I went to the Magen website on your recommendation expecting to see females' whole chest areas.

      Nothing there! What a letdown.

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    9. Ezra: Regarding some of the Magen women and how they were dressed, is it possible it was within the tznius guidelines of their community and their Rav? If so, why would it show their lack of seriousness about halacha? Perhaps they're EXTREMELY serious about halacha and are dressing legitimately, this being a matter of their community's tznius guidelines vs yours?

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    10. I don't know if this happened in response to Ezra's observations, but I just now checked the Magen link that RNS provided, and there are no pictures whatsoever!

      Now, the website was a little glitchy, on multiple browsers, so maybe that's why there were no pictures...

      Anyway, the head of the Board of Magen is Rabbi Yosef Blau who has been Mashgiach Richania at YU for many years. Perhaps indeed there are women involved who are less concerned with high levels of tzniyus - which it would be nice if everyone adhered to - but the presence of Rabbi Blau to me is a great sign of being hashkafically trustworthy.

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    11. If they are adhering to the Halachic guidelines of their community, fine. The catch is that those guidelines might be an obstacle for them to win the trust of chareidim, who will then be left without any way to have such services available.

      BMNH shows sensitivity to chareidim by accomodating their Tznius wishes. It would be nice, it would be selfless, it would be maybe only a dream, if Magen itself or another organization provide Magen's important services within a context of maintaining Tznius in a way that can win the chareidim's trust.

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    12. AnonymousJanuary 12, 2022 at 7:08 AM:

      You are correct, of course.

      However, I was responding to Ezra's judgement that these women were obviously not serious about halacha, witness how they dressed.

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    13. @David, correct. I was bringing up a new point.

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  2. Some of Israel's fiercest enemies are "religious resha'im": Hamas, Hizbollah, the Ayatollahs in Iran, etc. In one way or another, they've cleverly phrased their evil "zealotry" in some way that absolves them of any accountability. People can therefore lie to, steal from, and (of course) kill "Zionist Jews", because it's all part of the "Palestinian cause".

    In CW's own words in that infamous recording, he thought that he was capable of denying everything. Who would believe a sprinkling of complaints, among so many thousands that admired and adored him?

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  3. The real answer, with all due respect to RMM, is that the Torah is not a guarantee against licentiousness. Chazal already tells us אין אפוטרופוס לעריות and כל מי שגדול וכו'. And the story of David. And Reuven. And Yehuda. Many of the Cohanim married goyim in the days of Ezra. And so even though the Torah is designed to guard against immorality, for example, by being against gatherings of men and women, there is no 100% guarantee.

    To what can this be compared? To the covid vaccine. Even though it's highly effective at preventing illness/death, it's not 100%.

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    1. Clearly MM was saying this to his Talmidim, impressionable Yeshiva Bochurim, knowing full well it's not true but doing so to prevent them doubting their path

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    2. You think MM is actively, purposefully, lying? And how will that help when these talmidim realize they've been misled?

      Seems like a recipe for later hashkofic disaster...

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    3. I didn't mean RMM was lying, just that his message could be misleading. Even if CW was the best, most devout bochur in Ponovezh (or wherever he went), that's not a guarantee that his yetzer hara wouldn't get the better of him. Especially when he becomes a trusted "mentor" for young girls. Like playing with fire in a California forest during a drought.

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    4. Nice to see you post under multiple pseudonyms.

      You wrote "knowing full well it's not true". If that ain't lying, what is?

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    5. HGLP thought you were responding to him, not to me, and responded in kind

      I will make it super clear I am not the same person as him

      And Yes I do believe RMM was liberal with the truth for the sake of his Talmidim

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    6. I Dont think RMM was purposefully lying, just rationalizing so as to avoid the undesirable conclusion. Bottom line is that indulging in talmid study doesn't in isolation make someone god fearing. Although all would agree to this in theory, they don't believe it in the sense that RNS is describing. One needs to focus on avoiding sheker and living an emesdik life. The charedi worldview doesnt prioritize this per se.

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    7. I'm sure Rabbi Meiselman would say that this is a mussar shmooze for his yeshiva. In general, these types of things are not too intellectually honest. It's the mussar that's important. I also don't think he cares that it's a publicly available video, since it's a video of a mussar shmooze.

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    8. That sort of lie does no service to the students. It guarantees more incidents like this because normal precautions will not be in place. It normalizes lying by religious authorities. It treats competent, educated young men as little children who cannot be trusted with simple truths. And it stunts the moral development of the next generation of rabbinic leadership

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    9. @Tellner, it's also about that someone can fake it. Hence be careful even with someone who appears devout.

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    10. Much worse than RMM's somewhat misleading (in this one regard, but otherwise excellent) message is the flagrant lie that secularism leads to truth, morality, or righteousness הטתו ברב לקחה בחלק שפתיה תדיחנו. הולך אחריה פתאם כשור אל־טבח יבא וכעכס אל־מוסר אויל. As discussed in previous posts.

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    11. GOOD GRIEF - everyone is flying off the handle here. RMM did not lie - he made a simple observation: a stellar chareidi bachur does not go to the army. He never said that a serious, successful learner cannot fall prey to the yetzer hara. He just said that is not what happened here. He ended the speech saying that even the tzaddik hador must maintain safeguards. Stop putting words in his mouth!

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    12. @Anonymous then we should be doubly skeptical of the idea that learning Torah protects from wrongdoing if it not only doesn't but makes it easier to pretend to be righteous and corrupts the impressionable by bad examples.

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    13. @happy: One interesting thing about David, Reuven, and Yehudah, was that they all admitted to doing wrong when they were confronted with it!

      Natan assures David that he won't die, after David openly admits, "חטאתי לה'". David really had sentenced himself to death by saying בן מוות האיש הזה, but his sentence was commuted because he admitted immediately that he did wrong.

      (What about cases where the sinner denies having done anything wrong?)

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    14. Yehudah, it's a good question. My *guess* is that if somebody refused to admit in public, we would consider him a rasha, even though there's a possibility he repented in his heart. But it's a big sugya, and I haven't looked into it deeply.

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    15. Tellner January 11, 2022 at 2:09 AM
      @Anonymous then we should be doubly skeptical of the idea that learning Torah protects from wrongdoing if it not only doesn't ...

      Chazal say that it does protect. Statistics from rehabilitated prisoners who became BTs say that it does protect. But it's not foolproof. Go be skeptical as needed.

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    16. @Happy & Yehuda, the contrast to study would be Shaul, who only confessed after a protracted conversation with Shmuel. I vaguely remember that this has been pointed out by Chazal/ Meforshim.

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  4. What is the definition of "religious" in the context of Judaism? Why is someone who bemeizid ignores some areas of halacha considered religious, while someone who is almost universally considered a tinok shenishba and doesn't know about other areas of halacha is not?

    Let's be clear: your average Reform rabbi is much more religious than Chaim Walder.

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  5. Whether Walder was, or was not, a talmid chacham is irrelevant. Who cares? Once a charedi enough person rises in power - no matter in wealth or educational institutions or even politics, he achieves the coveted title of HaRav Shlita, regardless of his prowess, or lack thereof, in Torah learning or knowledge.

    Was he truly God-fearing? This, too, is irrelevant. What is important was that he professed to be. To that end, it isn't surprising that it was found that his books do, in fact, contain frequent mention of the divine. He would require this public perception, or misperception, of his status as a yerei shamayim.

    Or, one could posit that he truly did believe in God. Because one may have weaknesses in certain areas does not preclude him from yirat shamayim. He may possess strong beliefs in God and religious dogma, but still fail in certain aspects. For example, despite the inherent dichotomy, there are many frum gay men, adulterers, tax evaders, and crooks. Are they 'really' frum? Who knows? I'm sure, though, that many are. Walder, too, may have been. We'll never know.

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  6. Many people have a problem with complexity, that the same person can be good in some ways and bad in others. It means the world is not black and white. But dealing with complexity is hard. So they choose to avoid that recognition.

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  7. We have a hard time holding two opposite ideas in mind at the same time. He's a person who presents and identifies as a religious Jew and he's a rapist. Both of those things are true. WE are going to define him as non-religious because his offenses are way worse than breaking shabbos. But when it comes down to it he considered himself and identified with that religious community. So our question is, how could he do so? How could he rationalize this?

    I think the answer is, as some of the previous commenters stated, hypocrisy is everywhere. We all have things that we do that are against our values. I'm guessing that his continued abuse had a lot to do with his belief that his position of power would protect him and enabled him to continue to abuse. And maybe he rationalized to himself that he has done far greater good than bad. (Obviously untrue) I have to think that this man's suicide has something to do with an understanding that he was wrong and there was no way out for him. I think we've seen abusers staunchly lie and defend themselves. Those ones perhaps may have felt that they were completely in the right. Perhaps his suicide is some form of admission of guilt. Not that his suicide is to be commended, it was cowardly, but I think he knew something was wrong in the end. I'm not saying that means anything or says anything about him, it's just an observation.

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    1. You might be right that "his offenses are way worse than breaking shabbos", and indeed it is easy enough to build such a case, but you may well be wrong. We are insufficiently sensitive to chillul shabbos because we don't see a concrete harm. But, although we know that exceptions can be made when השעה צריכה לכך, the default rule of the torah is that forcible rape carries a fine, damages, and a forced life-long relationship, and even rape of an אשת איש carries חנק (except for a נערה מאורסה). רציחה gets הרג. But Chillul Shabbos is sekila, and a beis din would not bury the rapist of an אשת איש with a מחלל שבת, as it would be disrespectful to the rapist. Let us not allow our appropriate horror for, disgust at, and recoiling from Chaim Walder's actions dilute in any way the feelings we are supposed to have toward an intentional מחלל שבת. Sekila is a מיתת בית דין that seems in large part designed to express the disgust and recoiling of the community at large, and that is what is supposed to be expressed toward a מחלל שבת. Raping another man's wife and ruining tons of others' seems to be more or less in the wheel-house of what דוד המלך did (even in the derash, what he did was considered morally equivalent), but Hashem allowed him to be rehabilitated with a combination of teshuva and undergoing enormous suffering, owing to his overall dedication to Hashem, His Torah, and the Jewish people. Chaim Walder arguably could have fit this mold. Alas he didn't believe he would ever get a chance at rehabilitation and sadly that's probably true.

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  8. as I commented previously, the claim RMM made was that 15 [out of 60] of CW books have no reference to G-d. A "random" sample of 2 books, is not so random, if we are not told what set of books he started with in the beginning. Does he have the entire set of 60 ? Or just 4 or 5 of the most famous (which would most likely be the frum ones).
    For someone who purports to write about Torah and Science, I am surprised at your cack handed approach to sampling and statistics.
    I am not vouching for the truth of falsity of RMM's claims about those books, and i would not tocuh any of the CW books with a barge pole.

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  9. "And people reject claims that "real" rabbis could be harming people"
    I am not sure what you consider "real" but there are many fake ones in my view.
    It can sometimes be difficult to differentiate and one needs to be a rabbi himself to do the same.

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    1. True. Or no True Scotsman fallacy, applies in this case

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    2. Came here for this. Unfortunately, the people who most need to hear it would reject the idea of the No True Scotsman fallacy out of hand because
      1) they don't consider it a fallacy
      2) they rely on it to maintain the myth of their own purity
      3) the idea came from outside their community

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    3. A 'real' Rabbi is someone who has been appointed by Torah observant Jews to teach them or take responsibility for their Torah obligations.
      Not a zoologist, photographer, medical doctor, or street sweeper who happens to have once learned for the Semicha tests or someone with a beard longer than two inches.
      Walder was not a Rabbi by any metric. Neither are the religious Chavrei Knesset.

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  10. In yeshiva we were often regaled with a story (myth?) about a great philosopher, maybe Aristotle, caught in an undignified act, who responded "When I'm doing this sort of thing, I'm not Aristotle"

    In a similar vein a friend told me 20 years ago he knew a Chasidish man who loved porn and prostitues but davened with great Kavnonoh. My friend queried him on this. He said I am a frum man on the whole, with one major weakness.

    This sort of compartmentalisation can help a sinner rationalise his religious conduct with his sinful behaviour.

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    1. I try to refrain from bringing Chabad sources here, since Chabad is considered "anti-rationalist" in many ways.

      But the argument is brought in Likkutei Amarim, Chapters 20ff that אנכי is the source of all positive commandments, and לא יהיה לך is the source of all the negative commandments--because every sin, even minor ones, separate the person from G-d. They are "as serious" as denying G-d's existence. (Certainly not literally, but in their effect on the soul, until a person does teshuvah.)

      Why doesn't a person perceive that? Because of a רוח שטות that enters into him, deluding him that he's "just as good a Jew" after committing a sin, as someone who's scrupulous about every jot and tittle.

      תניא פרק כד:

      ולכן אמרו רז"ל על פסוק (במדבר ה יב): "כי תשטה אשתו": "אין אדם עובר עבירה [אלא אם כן נכנסת בו רוח שטות]", דאפילו אישה המנאפת, שדעתה קלה, היתה מושלת ברוח תאוותה לולי רוח שטות שבה המכסה ומסתיר ומעלים את האהבה מסותרת שבנפשה האלהית לדבקה באמונת ה' ויחודו ואחדותו ולא ליפרד ח"ו מאחדותו אפילו נוטלים את נפשה ממנה לעבוד עבודה-זרה ח"ו,

      I'm glad BT brought extensive quotes from CW's books, so that people can get an idea of the sentiment behind them. They don't seem to be the writing of a charlatan, just trying to cover for his crimes. And why the shock is now so great.

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    2. from my experience with a rabbi , many years ago, he was very good at repeating what he had learned in yeshiva and from frum books,. But his own behaviour was quite the opposite of what he taught. He was good at marketing, and this was just part of his marketing techniques, to spice up his books for the frum market, so gratuitously quote some Jewish sources, sprinkle a bit of chazal here and there to make it, and him appear as Jewish as possible.

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  11. "Religious" - people who are raised in religious families or even BT people can also have personality disorders, and many do.
    belief in G-d, presumably is widspread, although some may not relate to it, or even be closet agnostics.
    I say that rashaim are just rashaim, and the best they may do is to cover up their nature and sell the image of being religious. hareidism is actually part of this syndrome - it is about dressing in a certain way, and adopting certain dogmas. That does nothing to change the behaviour of narcissist. Many narcissists may be BTs, and they see Yeshiva life and being a rabbi as a way of expressing their narcissim, and in fact the perfect cover. look at the Catholic church, and the abuse.
    Then there is the problem of restrictions - ie sayyagim. The rationale is that sayaggim prevent violations of the Torah. Do they actually cause damage to the person? Perhaps these sayagim could create more problems, psychologically. Perhaps they do.
    RMM argues that they help a person avoid yetzer hara ,impulses.
    We have no idea what kind of persona and private life these people have, and that includes people who we do not suspect of abuse. Unfortunately, i have come across severa rashaim, who were Hareidi rabbis, although that does not preclude MO rabbis, since essentially the same principles of psychology apply.
    finally, Meiselman mentions a few examples of psychotherapists, and then points out that Walder yemach shmo was not qualified , and just self-appointed the-rapist. So even RM recognises that there is a field psychology whcih requires proper study and training, and that a regular rabbi is nto comeptent in these issues.

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    1. So Chazal that said ועשו סייג לתורה got it wrong. And that is based on a derasha from a possuk - ושמרתם משמרתי.

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    2. There are cases when the Gemara says they got it wrong - the day Beit Shammai passed a bunch of gezeiros , was like the day of golden calf.
      And also the Avot d/rabbi nathan who tells the story of Adam or Chava making a sayag not to touch tree - which actually led to the sin of eating the forbidden fruit. These were statements made by Chazal, not by me.

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    3. Wow!
      Your meshalim are so wildly off, it's scary!
      The reason it was like the day of the golden calf is not because of the Gezeiros, it was because of the violence.

      Your second Mashal is slightly, but not much, more relevant. A סייג is wrong when it is confused for the Issur, not of its own accord.

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    4. On the Adam and Chava story, wasn't the problem also that Adam told Chava the s'yag as if it was the mitzvah, leading to her not being able to argue properly with the snake? Seems to be that Original Sin is paternalism!

      Or even worse... mansplaining!

      Or being Overly Frum and saying that minhagim and s'yagim are Halacha L'Moshe MiSinai and Yehareg V'Al Yaavor.

      So I would say that s'yagim themselves are fine. It's the heavy emphasis and the lack of awareness of distinction from the actual mitzvos that are the problem.

      A clearer understanding of a s'yag and its place next to the mitzvah could then lead to a wise posek removing or reducing a s'yag in an individual case if - as in Kalonymous's hypothesis - the s'yag "causes damage" to a specific person. But I would imagine that said wise posek would need a lot of evidence in order to go that route...

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  12. I would argue the opposite re: his sucide. Yes, he realised the net is closing in on him, since 22 complainants in a court would make him cell mate with Goel Ratzon.
    But I don't think he accepted that he was wrong, his letter was still part of his narcissism, ie everybody else is wrong, the dayanim are wrong and there is no fair trial , so he will meet up in the great BD in the sky, to prove his innocence! The no way out was no way out of prison, getting beaten by real hardened criminals, instead of the cushy lifestyle he enjoyed in Bnei Brak, and being on the receiving end of abuse. That is the most likely reason he killed himself.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, if I would be judged by Rabbi Moshe Meiselman I would not expect a fair trial too.
      If someone is aware about significantly better dayanim please let me know, because I am not.

      Delete
  13. .גַנבא אַפום מַהתַּרתא רחמנא קרי

    Yes, people believe, but they make allowences for their uncontrolable desires or the life situations where they feel forced to compromise. Morality, like everything else, is genetic. If a person doesn't have the right genes, no amount of learning can change that. Learning can only take you to the limits of your ability, after that it's all genetic. Morality is no different then any other intellectual, artistic or physical activity, where the genes determine the limitation of the achievement.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Seriously? So you deny freedom of choice, don't you?

      Delete
    2. He has no choice in how to answer

      Delete
    3. Reuven ben Ya'acovJanuary 10, 2022 at 6:04 PM

      As I've said before this is more like Calvinism than Judaism and pseudo-scientific also.

      Delete
    4. Morality is genetic? What drivel!

      Delete
    5. If I believed in predestination, the Elect, and all the rest I'd be a Christian Calvinist. In case you aren't familiar with Judaism its fundamental ideas include the idea that we are capable of moral judgement, can learn from the teachings of others, and are responsible for our actions. Your local rabbi should be able to expand on these concepts and give you suitable instruction.

      Delete
    6. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    7. @ Brodsky. See חובות הלבבות שער עבודת אלוקים
      פרק ח' - במחלוקת החכמים בהכרח ובצדק והדעת הקרובה אל האמת מן הדעות בזה. It's just one example. I'm studying the subject, but it seems that our freedom of choice is very limited.

      Delete
    8. There is a lot to be said about how one was raised and what influences one has had during one's formative years. Changing one's perspectives and attitudes after the mid-teens might be much more difficult - not impossible, but more difficult.

      Nurture as well as nature.

      Delete
    9. No need to turn to Kalvenism. Kuzari believes that the Jews are superior breed that Gentiles can never be equal to. This is genetic. Tanya is a sefer shel benonim, because tzadikom are born, no one can become one. Breslov believes that the only path to salvation and olam habo is through the tzadik Hador, i. e. Rabbi Nachman. There is no other way. In general chasidim believe that to become a rebbe one has to come from the right lineage. In other words according to them the limits of one's spiritual level are predetermined. Can't have olam habo, can't be a tzadik, can't be a rebbe. There are plenty of variety of this theme in Jadaism and in other religions because, again, people are basically the same and their spirituality, with all it's variations, is genetic.

      Delete
    10. Reuven ben Ya'acovJanuary 12, 2022 at 3:10 PM

      Yakov wrote "Jews are a superior breed that Gentiles can never be equal to." This is racism and also denies the possibility of a Gentile converting - becoming a ger tzaddik. It's quite against basic tenets of Judaism. Man is made in the image of G-d.

      Delete
  14. Agreed, although rambam reckons each person can be as righteous as Moses.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Only in initializing his capabilities to the utmost.

      Delete
    2. Utilizing, not initializing

      Delete
  15. Unfortunately in the last generations Torah became strictly theoretical science. The connection between what people learn in Gemara/ShulkhanArukh etc and what they learn to do is slowly yet steady perishing.
    Do you think it's about "Ben Adam le-havero "? It's everywhere.
    Let's take the most trivial topic: "netilat yaddaim ". ShulkhanArukh explicitly says that the blessing should be done before the action, like in any other case. But who cares? And in the same time many baseless and meaningless rituals are getting introduced, annual visits to Meron for example.
    Therefore the fact that a person is a Gemara expert means nothing regarding his (or her) behavior. It's just like a legend about Aristotle already mentioned by someone before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a bizarre comment about netilas yadayim. Did you finish reading that se'if in SA? Did you peek at the MB? Aruch HaShulchan? This site sure attracts a lot of strange birds.

      Delete
    2. @Mario Sure I did. But detailed analysis of what they wrote would be too big for a comment.

      Delete
    3. So for the sake of brevity you decided to be motzi laaz on klal yisrael even though we are absolutely following the halachah of netilas yadayim properly.

      Delete
    4. @Mario Of course no :-) I meant what I said. For the sake of brevity I decided to rely on your reading skills to peek at the MB and look into it closer. And probably I was wrong.
      I promise to write out the detailed answer if our dear blog owner promises to publish it.

      Delete
    5. MB and Aruch hashulchan both sanction the way we do it, ergo you were wrong, and being motzi laaz on gantz klal yisrael as not caring to do it right.

      Delete
    6. 1. Shulkhan Arukh (!!!) explicitly rejects this sanction. I only can add that this "sanction" is baseless.

      2. Of course if too many people do something than someone will attempt to invent some sanction. If many people will want to hang you and me for guilty of reading a rationalist blog, more than two prominent rabbies will sanction the execution, I guarantee.

      Delete
    7. 1. So, the MB and Aruch Hashulchan also "don't care" about keeping halachah? Good luck with your new religion.

      2. RaSaG also says to make the berachah after washing. Is that also baseless?

      Delete
    8. "RaSaG also says ..." The exact source, please.

      Delete
    9. Siddur pages 136 and 145 (similarly on p. 259)

      Delete
  16. And all five rabbis were, and four still are, very frum.

    Well, we know who the odd rabbi out is.

    ReplyDelete
  17. תְּחִלַּ֣ת חׇ֭כְמָה יִרְאַ֣ת יְהֹוָ֑ה - The starting point is fear of god and the willingness to pursue truth regardless of how that fits with the current cultural religious framework. The problem with the charedi worldview is it is gufa the Charedi hashkafa that "determines" if one is god fearing - everything else must shtel tzu to this framework. Hence if Walder checked off all the boxes, we must label him god fearing and ignore the obvious signs to the contrary. RMM takes the approach that he didnt check off the boxes, the skeptics here take the approach that he did check them off but they are irrelevant (in this situation) to weather he is god fearing.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Since when is this unique to sinful chareidim? RCS has shmuezen about the mix of light and darkness naturally found within every person. R Lopiansky cites this. https://mishpacha.com/for-this-we-weep/

    Then there are those on the fringe of religion, selectively observant. Let's pick their brains.

    There is also an alleged institution known as the Tefillin date. Let's pick its members brains.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Anonymous Rabbi Lopiansky + RYB are yechidim in the charedi leadership and are in clear conflict with the general approach from charedi leadership in this scandal. (Not sure who RCS is). This wasn't a fringe response.

      Yes it's true that they *conceptually* believe each person has darkness and light. They also *conceptually* believe gdolim are imperfect and leaders can err. They don't actually believe it, litmus test being when they obviously err.

      @Avraham, you are right we all have cognitive dissonance. The only aspect that is unique to charedim is that they specifically can't address cultural issues honestly.

      Delete
    2. @Big Mouth: "The only aspect that is unique to charedim is that they specifically can't address cultural issues honestly."

      Maybe there is some actual תועלת to this whole parshah: People normally don't want to have to talk about sexual abuse with their children, and all the more so charedi parents don't want to discuss it with their children.

      This, unfortunately, will force everyone to speak about it, whether they want to or not.

      Delete
    3. @BM, I wasn't talking about RL. -But about RCS who happens to be mentioned by RL. If you (re)read RL's post you'll see who RCS is. And then you can read RCS's own words in his sefer

      The point is not to be in denial if a light person shows darkness or a dark person shows light, when under the weight of sufficient evidence against the denial.

      There are too many varieties of chareidim to thoroughly respond to your conceptual-actual dichotomy.

      Delete
    4. I once met a man who was a member of an Orthodox congregation who seemed to be serving kosher but who said "But I don't keep Shabbos." We have all heard of chassidim (American chareidim? Yeshivish? I don't know the term) who go on the Internet on Shabbos afternoon because that is when nobody is looking at them.

      ...homosexuals.

      ...religious Jews found guilty of financial crimes.

      Do we consider people in these cateogries Frum? How do we decide who does or does not get an aliyah in shul? Does being public about something change the answer?

      Does violating something only in private imply hypocrisy or "at least there is some shame and therefore awareness that this is wrong"?

      Delete
    5. "at least there is some shame and therefore awareness that this is wrong"?

      IIRC this is why מומר לחלל שבת בפרסיא מומר לכל התורה כולה whereas מומר לחלל שבת בצנעא אינו מומר לכל התורה כולה

      Delete
  19. What's so new about this? The average religious Jews does not bother to learn halacha sufficiently to keep hilchos Shabbos in all its complexity but happily sings "Hashomer Shabbos" at the table. The average religious Jew is ignorant of hilchos lashon hara but regards himself as shomer mitzvos. The average religious Jew will read Rav Falk's book of tzenius or Rav Vei's book on bugs, realize he's not keeping a big chunk of what they say (e.g. not speaking at length even to cousins and nieces) and go veiter not because he thinks they are too machmir but out of life's momentum. And so it goes on.
    Okay, Walder is an extreme. But the principle's the same. What do they call it? Cognitive dissonance.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not everything written in a sefer needs to be followed.

      We have something way bigger. It's called MESORAH. We learn from our parents and teachers how to live life.

      This was a very glaring omission in the 'From BY to MD' essays.

      Delete
  20. Whether he was thoroughly trained as a rabbi or learned in storage is irrelevant. The particular form of religious fanaticism holds a closed worldview which cannot admit any imperfection. The System must be perfect or faith and obedience are brought into question. So he must have failed the System.

    At the same time, he was a trusted Insider and authority, so his reputation must be protected against any criticism from outsiders. And his contact with the outside world must be to blame.

    Seen it many times,not just in the charedi world. It's a common human failing among insular groups which rely on the myth of their own superiority for psychological self defense.

    But, as they say, on the Gripping Hand, none of it matters. He did monstrous things, and his community is willing to stand idly by the blood of its own children. He and they are condemned before the world and the Almighty for it.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm still waiting to hear about the book Ani Maamin... I feel like CW is just an annoying interuption, anyone else?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Funny, good point!
      As they used to say on TV and Radio "We will now return you to our regularly scheduled program already in progress"

      Delete
    2. For you, it may be nothing more than "an annoying interruption," but for other people, it is literally life and death.

      Delete
    3. I stand corrected. C'v I didn't mean it that way.

      Delete
    4. I guess I just meant that I heard a lot about this already and in my own selfish, personal life there is no point in just hearing the same things again and again. In the meantime I'm looking forward to hearing about Ani Maamin. If you feel that you are helping people with these posts about CW, kol hakavod, I apologize for my selfish comment

      Delete
  22. The irony is that great people may be more prone to falling as Chazal tell us that the greater one becomes, the greater his yetzer hara becomes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't hear it that way. Rather that the yetzer hara grows at the same pace as the force of a person's "mitzva goreres mitzva" and keeps things balanced as before.

      Delete
  23. Wow, just realised that
    Therapist
    Has the same exact letters as
    The rapist

    Was the writing on the wall all this time?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Saturday Night Live's "Celebrity Jeopardy" did that one years ago: "I'll take 'The Rapists' for $100, Alex." "That's 'Therapists,' Mr. Connery."

      Delete
  24. You don't know that he was guilty. Was there an investigation? Was there a trial? Did the man have a chance to defend himself against his accusers? Do you know any of the accusers? Have you heard any first-hand accounts by reliable people? The so-called Beis Din didn't speak to him. You are relying on gossip basically.

    It’s more than a little strange that the controversy erupted at the same time that the government has engaged in a major push to give kids the COVID shot. In the past, Walder has served as a spokesman for the health Ministry in its push for masks, gloves, and social distancing. Did they pressure him to push the jab to children? Did he say no? Are the abuse allegations a setup as they have been with many others? Was he assassinated as may have been activist Hai Shaulian, who was famous in Israel for opposing government COVID policy. He claimed to have been beaten and poisoned by the police. רב דב ברקוביץ , who also countered the government’s COVID narrative and policy, passed away recently from a “sudden illness.” Remember journalist Barry Chamish? Chamish had claimed that a conspiracy emanating from within the Israeli government plotted the Rabin assassination. He also claimed that Zionists poisoned/radiated 100,000 Sefardi Jewish children in the 1950s. He was found dead in his apartment in 2016. “Relatives say Chamish was found lifeless in his Florida apartment on Tuesday.”

    So we really don't know what happened here. Let's not toss around the word rasha so quickly.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Readers: I let the above comment through, but I hope that nobody will waste their time responding to it.

      Delete
    2. RNS, I'll spend no more than 10 seconds on this guy.

      JNN - how do you explain the suicide.

      And coincidentally just after the police opened their ivnestigation, not in the weeks before when rumours were swirling around already

      Anyone with half a brain cell can see what happened here. Innocent men don't blow their brains out.

      Delete
    3. I think that the fact that Barry Chamish was both "dead" and "lifeless" points the finger of suspicion at an organization engaging in overkill.

      Delete
    4. It's also very suspicious that Chamish was once the Israeli Scrabble champion. They may be a plot afoot by the government to eliminate board games! We should look into whether all the other people you mention were, say, fans of Parcheesi or The Game of Life.

      Delete
    5. @JNN Yes I personally know someone who is a victim of CW and I knew about this years before accusations against CW came out.

      Delete
    6. @Moshe, why did you and anyone else who knew about it years before, including the victims and rabbis, remain silent till now. Actually, just answer for yourself please.

      Delete
  25. Scotland is considering pardoning the 1000s of women who were tortured and killed for being suspected of witchcraft centuries ago. How gracious of them. It reminds me of the much of the Orthodox Jewish community today. They don’t appear to have a justice system. Guilt is declared by rabbis who base their conclusions on gossip from other rabbis and secular newspapers that relish scandal in the Orthodox community. And that seems to be good enough for many people who, lacking hobbies and regular sports, have made a sport of pointing their fingers and yelling “rasha!” I don’t imagine that 16th century Scotland was any different.

    Don’t you all find it strange that 22 accusers just appeared one day? How did the so-called Beis Din find them? Was an ad run in the papers? It’s not as if they are all students of a single school. Actually, we don’t know who these accusers are. I haven’t heard anything from a single one. I couldn’t tell you if any sound credible. I couldn’t even tell you if they exist. No matter, the Safed Beis Din never interviewed Walder either. He was called to appear, but he refused since the guy in charge had been excoriating him in the press, not exactly showing himself to be impartial.
    So there’s no trial, no defense attorney, no due process, no facing accusers, no discovery, no impartial judges. That’s all so goyish. All we need are rabbis. They are magic men. They just know.

    And we in all our righteousness trust them because we have been trained to do so. If we don’t, we risk having fingers pointed at us and being called “rasha!”

    Nobody here, despite all the self-righteous shouting, knows if Walder was guilty of anything. All you have is gossip. He might have been guilty. But he might not have been. This could be a frameup for all we know. It’s happened before.

    It doesn’t matter if you tend to think he is guilty. It doesn’t matter if it SEEMS that way to you based on what you have read on Internet blogs. Without a thorough investigation and impartial judicial process of some kind – the Jewish kind, the goyish kind, the Martian kind -- anything -- you don’t get to say it out loud. Not only does it hurt his family, but it trains the community in witch hunting. And who knows, maybe someday they’ll hunt you.

    Now there have been a few voices of sanity, some of them rabbis, asking everyone to cool it. But who listens to them. We only listen to the rabbis that encourage us to shout "rasha!" It's so much more fun than self-control.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He more or less admitted guilt in the suicide letter he left.

      Delete
    2. you still haven't answered my question why such a paragon of virtue committed suicide

      Delete
    3. @A reminder for everyone besides JNN, who is too far gone to talk to.

      The web has the Safed BD's response to the complaint that Halachic protocol wasn't followed. Namely that in this type of case you don't follow protocol. As RMM cites from Rambam, וְכֵן יֵשׁ לְבֵית דִּין בְּכָל מָקוֹם וּבְכָל זְמַן לְהַלְקוֹת אָדָם שֶׁשְּׁמוּעָתוֹ רָעָה וְהָעָם מְרַנְּנִים עָלָיו שֶׁהוּא עוֹבֵר עַל הָעֲרָיוֹת וְהוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה קוֹל שֶׁאֵינוֹ פּוֹסֵק כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ וְלֹא יִהְיוּ אֵלּוּ אוֹיְבִים יְדוּעִים שֶׁמּוֹצִיאִין עָלָיו שְׁמוּעָה רָעָה. וְכֵן מְבַזִּין אֶת זֶה שֶׁשְּׁמוּעָתוֹ רָעָה וּמְחָרְפִין אֶת יוֹלַדְתּוֹ בְּפָנָיו:

      There is no need for witnesses, only that the folk speak so without letup and there are no known (as opposed to those conveniently concocted) enemies. This is an extrajudicial process.

      Delete
    4. I still don't understand why many people believe r. Shmuel Eliahu and his clique (or court, or "vaad", whatever name you want to use) more than CW (and his friends until they became too frightened by the media and left him). What they did does not answer to any requirement of fair justice.

      What Gemara cited by Rambam cited by RMM says is different aspect. If there are gossips, the court should assume that the man apparently did something to be punished for, not strictly the same thing on which he is accused.

      And what Safed BD *was need* to do is yet another topic: it was obliged to openly claim CW as "hashud", to issue a prohibition for him working on personal treatment and for others to be treated by him. To find a person dangers to to prevent him damaging does not require the same level of fair justice as to claim him guilty.

      The fact that Safed BD does not distinguish between these aspects disqualifies them from being a court into a being a clique.

      (Please notice: as usual, I don't have any intention to insult anyone, I simply note a fact.)

      Delete
    5. Irrationalist JudaismJanuary 12, 2022 at 10:37 PM

      There was plenty of gossip, plenty of evidence, testimony
      illict photos, recordings etc. There was also reference to other Batei din of his adulterous affairs. Of course, Mr Brodsky, "i won't mention any names", you probably believe the Walder stories, and you think his "hazmana" to the BD shel maalah was fully compliant with the Rambam and Gemara..

      Delete
    6. @Irrationalist Judaism, not at all. I don't believe the Walder stories and his "hazmana to the BD shel maalah" is absolute sin with no excuse. Moreover, his last sin is not his personal sin specifically, it represents the illness of the system he represented.
      Walder was good solider of a bad system, and a solider fighting for bad system is hardly deserves a name of good boy, even if his respective enemies are even worse. I would not praise NKVD officers even for catching true Nazi spies.
      But I do my best to be objective towards everyone and everything.

      @LES AYM I am glad I made you laugh. Keep doing! Am I quack? Okay, contact RMM: he is pro.

      As on my side, I also laugh much to see how some people that claim themselves rationalist don't hesitate to put their rationalism aside when that suits them.

      Delete
    7. Irrationist JudaismJanuary 16, 2022 at 8:05 PM

      Brodsky, define good soldier /bad system.
      Rommel was such a soldier, a professional military expert, who did not round up any jews in the towns he occupied, and planned an assassination of their leader, yemach shmo.
      Your hero walder was actually a rasha, who abused the chesed and trust of naiive families in bnei brak.

      Delete
  26. Lol, we all waste our time reading your drivel.....

    ReplyDelete
  27. Very interesting that you choose to side with the newspaper that martyred this individual. Shows how desperate you are to find an ally to justify your ridiculous views.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Irrationalist JudaismJanuary 12, 2022 at 10:39 PM

      and that you side with this menuval rapist, adulterer, and rotzeach - shows how desparate you are to find an evil person to idolize.

      Delete
    2. I actually know one of his victims personally so no he was not martyred as you say.

      Delete
  28. WOW!! Rabbi Slifkin, based on the few quacks like JNN and brodsky that you allowed through so we can see the peculiar breadth of comments that come across your desk.
    I have a great idea.
    I think you should create a secondary blog where you would post all these wacked blocked comments.
    They would make great bathroom reading material. Hey we all need a good laugh at times!
    Much Hatzlacha, from a fan.

    ReplyDelete
  29. There is no like button here, so I just wanna say how much I appreciated your words of wisdom in this post. Every word is gold, just like your other posts.


    שְׂפָתַיִם יִשָּׁק מֵשִׁיב דְּבָרִים נְכֹחִים

    Keep on your good work, and may God bless you.

    ReplyDelete
  30. I have heard that this so-called Beis Din didn't speak to 22 women. It heard about 22 women. It didn't speak to the alleged abuser and didn't speak to the alleged women. Didn't it seem a little strange that they just magically in a matter of days had 22 women appear? Well, they didn't.

    ReplyDelete
  31. I blocked a whole bunch of comments from someone called JNN who believes that Walder retains the presumption of innocence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You go for censorship of anyone with a view different from yours? Then all that complaining about the book ban is hypocrisy then?

      Delete
    2. A man who didn't have a trial has a presumption of innocence. Sorry to spoil your lashon hara parade.

      Delete
    3. We have reached a low state when a person who argues for a proper hearing before a beis din aka a fair trail are deemed fit to be censored. Is this Sodom and Gemorrah? Are you going to block people who propose that we do chesed? Are there any other mitzvos from the Torah that you object to?

      Delete

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