A Sophisticated Reader Writes And UOJ Responds.
I'd like to comment on the many opinions being offered whether the good that UOJ has accomplished is being "offset" by the bad.
UOJ - please listen. I can tell from some of your recent comments that you really care. The abuse of power, molestation, and cover-up that you know about does not allow you to rest peacefully. You have been very successful in changing our culture to some degree over the last months. Suddenly, a topic that was never spoken about is on the tips of our tongues. Yeshivas are wary of you. The organizations are on the lookout. The climate is right for change.
As you successfully point out the hypocrisy and evil in our midst, you and many other commenters should make a strong effort to:
1. Use appropriate language instead of the lexicon now used.
2. Attack only those that truly deserve to be attacked - the abusers of power and the molesters. The potshots taken at rabbonim, rabbayim, or even laymen that we have seen on this blog is not appropriate and needs to be curtailed.
3. Stop ridiculing anyone (including this commenter) who calls for a more civil discourse. I believe that most of us are parents. We would be the first to instruct our children that two wrongs do not make a right. We can't justify the feeling of gossip, frivolity and laxity that this blog is identified with on the basis that we are taking up a higher cause - especially when we can accomplish the same thing without resorting to these tactics.
Let's fight the issue of molestation in a strong, take-no-prisoners type of way, but keep foul language, off color, and insulting remarks out of the dialogue. I believe that as you call for a higher level of Judaism - a yearning for the holy religion that it once was - it is a critical error to allow and foster this type of dialogue which decreases individual holiness. As a group, the effect is contagious and more devastating.
UOJ, I respectfully ask you and your readers to think before you respond with knee jerk reactions. Please consider my words which are heartfelt.
I must specifically comment on Rav Elchonon Wasserman. Despite your strong feelings about the decision that Rav Elchonon made, going after him so harshly has left a bad taste in many people's mouths. Now, you have said that we should not read your blog if we don't like your opinions. You are missing the point which is that we like what you are doing. You are important to us. We would like to visit your blog which is the only vehicle where we can have an open discussion about abuse. However, we respect certain boundaries that you have crossed. It is very simple for you to tell us to leave the blog, but you would lose many interested and loyal supporters. Please reconsider your adamant position on certain Gedolim that you have severely criticized.
Regarding R' Elchanan, perhaps your point could have been that people aren't perfect and that you believe that his advice was wrong and that even Rav Elchonon may have realized this. You could extend that further with the Art Scroll type biographies where Gedolim are superhuman and explain why you believe that is dangerous. But the manner that you attacked him, conveys a message that G-D forbids R' Elchanan is in the same category as a Margulies. This is unequivocally wrong. As mentioned, the blog should criticize and publicize the real abusers - not Gedolim or laymen that make mistakes or are imperfect in one way or another.
To the readers:
It is time to get involved. Following the blog and making clever comments is not very difficult. Meanwhile, UOJ is fighting a one man battle. Are you ready to advocate for the independent board that UOJ has spoken about? Would you dare challenge your Yeshiva if an issue of abuse came up? It is easy to feel comfortable on this blog with UOJ as your super hero. It is convenient to wait for UOJ to "take down" the next molester, but where are the parents? You need to get involved in real life. I believe that UOJ has been saying that of late, but I haven't seen any responses. I'd like to see readers respond by name - no more hiding behind anonymous - and offer to support a parent advocacy group.
Let's continuously examine and reexamine our motives. It is easy to insult those who critique this blog, it is much more difficult to absorb good advice even if it is coming from those that you disagree with.
Let's clean up this blog so that it can be a place that we would be proud to take our children to visit. Let's support UOJ by becoming involved parents. Let's move forward by continuing with the positive aspects of this blog while filtering out the negative aspects that we know in our heart of hearts has no place in our very important dialogue.
The pain that all thinking people feel as well as the outrage, is expressed by myself and thousands of readers of this blog. Going through literally thousands of comments and e-mails per week, I am able to put up only a fraction of the comments and read only some of the e-mails. The one time I took off comment moderation as a test, there were 1030 comments until I started moderating again. Unprecedented in Blog history; Jewish or otherwise.
You do make some excellent points and your sincerity has captured the attention of my non-UOJ persona.
I am guilty...guilty of letting it take years for me to transform my mild mannered personality into the "wild-man" UOJ. I'm watching this Jim Jones like behavior for years while trying gently to make a difference by attending board meetings, writing essays, donating large sums of money, all with the proper intent to get a system in the yeshivas and Rabbanut that is guided by the beauty of our Torah. Not a system governed by individual needs, not beautiful edifices, not ostentatious dinners and conventions...simply a system run by yirei Hashem with no other interest than the needs of the klal first, foremost and only!
Instead, we have a system that is corrupt from the mail-room person up to the decision-makers, and everyone in between. How did we get here? Where did this disease of abuse of power and utter corruption come from? Are we students of our holy Torah or are we just a bunch of people dressed in dark clothing, hats, wigs, and tzitzis? (some fools wear more than one pair at a time)
The answer my friends, is the pass we gave to our rabbis that are no more than mortal humans. They have the same temptations that all of us have, and many of them, not all, fall victim to their humanity. They steal, they cheat, they are corrupt. You know why? There is no system of checks and balances that all humanity requires. They are the rabbis/gedolim...who is going to keep them in check?
We have erred. We have turned our rabbis into Gods..they are not, not at all. They are influenced and corrupted by money and power just as we are. We are scrutinized by our peers, they get a pass.
Therefore the trembling anger I have displayed towards R' Elchonon Wasserman. He was a Torah giant; but he was not God, just a mere human, fallible just like any other human. Was he brilliant in Torah? Absolutely! Therefore what exactly? A student wants to escape Nazi Germany...and he writes him back to stay put? Pikuach nefesh replaces a personal theory or opinion that "Y.U.", R' Yitzckok Elchonon in those days, is more dangerous to his talmidim than Hitler? Rabbi Gedalya Schorr and Mike Tress obtain hundreds of visas for his talmidim and he tells them, NO THANKS!?
I was sitting at the hospital bed several years ago of a true "tzaddik gamur"; he was nebach at the end of his life. He was at one of the meetings where his family hosted a reception to honor R' Elchonon in the late 1930's. I was holding his frail, trembling hand as he described to me what transpired after that meeting. The host and the hostess threw themselves at the feet of R' Elchonon in the living room, sobbing and begging uncontrollably...pleading with him NOT to go back to Europe, and to bring his talmidim to the United States.
R' Elchonon was trance-like...he wouldn't budge. "HE KNEW WHAT HASHEM WANTED!" He in fact played God...thousands died against the wishes of Hashem, which commanded us to violate Yom Kippur, Shabbos, Kashrut...do everything one must do to save a single life! For everyone's information, what Art Scroll will NOT tell you, is that Rav Yitzchok Scheiner, the present Rosh Hayeshiva of Kaminetz in Israel, was a talmid of Y.U. at that time. Not too shabby a black hatter I might comment. He was right up there on the infamous list of fools banning Noson Slifkin's works.
So my passion is, in my opinion, well-founded, rooted in common sense and Torah inspired fact. No Chassidic rebbe or any rabbi has Godly powers, they are mere mortals. Remember we are Jews NOT Christians; there are NO intemediaries in our religion. WE have a direct line to God, not one bit less than a person who is wearing eighty pairs of tzitzis, fur hats, round hats, square hats, velvet ones, silk jackets, white Kabbalah coats or any of the cult-like dress that we have succumbed to like children lost in a store full of toys and costumes.
We have let the Pied-Pipers flute us into a generation of meaningless rituals and chumras that are nothing more than the works of dangerous and foolish power grabbers.
Some rabbis do this intentionally, and some are led to this madness by a circle of their leidegayers; people who are human parasites..eating off the flesh of the naive and trusting. When I met with R' Shteinman, to find out that he knew nothing of a virus called herpes, only for him to categorize the New York Dept.of Health as Goyim out to destroy Judaism, I knew this gedolim thing has to go.
When R' Shmuel Kaminetzky responded in the Kolko matter, that we MUST assume Kolko did t'shuva if a recent victim, that was not victimized in the last few months, did NOT come forward, I knew that it was a mitzva to come out with the heavy artillery; lawsuits, secular media, private investigators, the D.A....and anything else I can think of to bring to light the cesspool of leaders that we have selected to guide us through difficult times. When Aaron Twerski disgraces the very essence of our intellect by calling Lipa Margulies an honorable man...there is no stopping me!
So I am upset to the point of being a " crazy person" and every other adjective my detractors can think of. But my accounting will be given to Hashem, not some earthly human; and whenever that day comes, I will go proudly, knowing full well my intentions were pure; no money, plaques, chicken dinners, or any other human reward. I do not want to sully any reward I may or may not get from my Creator.
There will be more...much, much more; this Thursday I will go public with the next yeshiva cover-up and their in-house molester. I will not stop until we have an abuse-free yeshiva system and that includes their enablers.
I will let God judge me and my language; after all, I am human and have shortcomings. I'm willing to take that chance.