Thursday, January 02, 2014

The Power Of Every Man

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz - Editor of Yated Ne'eman

Chanukah 2008

[In Part]


We have to be ever vigilant, for if we falter, the forces of Hellenism are waiting around the corner to ambush us. As soon as they sense us turning our eyes from the goal, they pounce upon us with cleverly worded propaganda to curtail our hallowed religious practices.

We live in an age when talk is cheap and positive actions are few and far between. People speak strongly, often with little thought or intelligence, but are very slow to act. Leadership is seriously lacking and too many positions of leadership are occupied by people who don't possess the ability to rally people and join them effectively for good causes.

In today's day and age, Yevanim hide behind the power of the pen, the web, blogs and populist demagoguery to attack us. Misyavnim offer wild accusations to back up their unfounded charges. They spare no effort to vilify and castigate us, as if they were paragons of virtue. The more growth our community experiences, the more scorn the misyavnim heap upon us.

It is interesting to note that no one has analyzed the religiosity of Bernard Madoff in an attempt to smear all who serve G-d as he does, or doesn't.

Just imagine if it was a chassidishe Yid or a Lakewood resident who had robbed good people, charities and banks of billions of dollars. There isn't enough newsprint available or gigabytes of memory to contain the invective that would be flowing in our direction, vilifying every frum Yid and blaming one man?s thievery on our way of life and value system.

But since he wasn't on the board of black hat yeshivos, and he mostly robbed the endowment funds of more enlightened charities, nobody dares insinuate that the hedonistic life he led and enabled had anything to do with the evil that lurked inside of the heart of that man.

It is high time we rose up and said that we're not going to take this anymore. Our community is blessed with able rabbinic leadership, devoted askonim, capable lawyers, public relation experts and lobbying groups. We ought to stand up to them and engage in a campaign to end the vilification and constant disparaging of our holy traditions.

The menorah and the Yom Tov of Chanukah remind us that we should not hesitate to defend Torah and mitzvos. The lights of the menorah proclaim to us to seek out the people who carry the flag of Torah and the Matisyahu ben Yochanan Kohein Gadols of our day and rally around them. As we light the menorah, we should remember the words of the Rambam that, in our day, every person who devotes his life to Torah is a ben Levi. We are all bnei Levi.

We should resolve to use our abilities to spread goodness and kindness in this world. We should seek to inject greater purpose in our lives. Instead of just sitting back and criticizing others, we should leave the comforts of our coffee rooms to join together and mightily wave the flag of truth and justice where it counts. We should be prepared to forsake some of our physical comforts and put ourselves on the line for the values we believe in and that matter.

When the call of Mi laHashem eilay goes out, we must all answer.

Whether the call is directed at our wallets, our minds, our time or our physical attendance, we must always be prepared to answer, Hineini. I have heard, I have prepared myself, I am ready to carry the banner of the bnei Levi.

The Gemara, in answer to the question of Mai Chanukah, states that the miracle of the pach shemen is to remind us that though we may view ourselves as being but a small pach shemen, a tiny vessel of limited value, if we commit ourselves to the service of G-d with the self-sacrifice of Matisyahu and the bnei Levi, the light of our lives can be enduring and everlasting.


Dear Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz,

I will reprint a post that I had previously written in 2006, somewhat modified, in response to your terribly misguided and confused rant.

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 some one thousand plus comments and e-mails per week, I am able to read and put up only a fraction of the comments and read only some of the e-mails. The masses of thinking ehrliche Yiden are incensed and want change --- now!

I am guilty... Guilty of letting it take years for me to transform, for maximum attention on the Internet, my mild-mannered personality into the "wild-man" UOJ. I'm watching this Jim Jones-like behavior (1000 people took their lives in Guyana because their leader told them to) for years, while trying gently to make a difference by attending board meetings, writing essays under pseudonyms, donating large sums of money through intermediaries, 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 friend, 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 the really ugly side of humanity. They steal, they lie, they abuse, they mislead, 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(s) wants to escape the Nazis...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, was more dangerous to his talmidim than Hitler? Yeshiva Torah Vodaath obtains hundreds of visas for his talmidim and he tells them NO THANKS!? Torah Vodaath was good enough for his son R' Simcha Wasserman, R' Yaakov Kaminetzky, R' Shlomo Heiman, R' Reuvain Grozovsky.... but NOT for his talmidim and the Yiden of Baronovich?


I was sitting at the hospital bed 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, cold and 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 uncontrollably; pleading with him NOT to go back to Europe, and to bring his talmidim to the United States, Torah Vodaath would take all of them in.

R' Elchonon was trance-like...he wouldn't budge. "HE KNEW WHAT HASHEM WANTED!" He in fact played God, hundreds if not thousands died against the wishes of Hashem and His Torah, which commanded us to violate Yom Kippur, Shabbos, Kashrut...do everything one must do to save a single life!

So generations of Yiden gone, along with millions of mitzvas and acts of chesed that could have been performed, untold thousands of kinderlach singing modeh ani l'fanecha - gone...! What Art Scroll will NOT tell you, is that Rav Yitzchok Sheiner shlita, 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 people banning Nosson Slifkin's works. {He admitted to me that he would have done it differently - in hindsight}

Wherever I travel around the globe, when the topic of the War and Torah Vodaath comes up (among religious Jews), everyone I meet knows someone or had a family member that had a student visa from Torah Vodaath. WHY NOT THE THE JEWS OF BARONOVICH?

So my passion is, in my opinion, well-founded, rooted in common sense, discovered truths, 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 intermediaries 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 shlita, to find out that he knew nothing of a virus called herpes, only for him to categorize the New York Department of Health as Goyim out to destroy Judaism (for their findings that a particular mohel, Yitzchok Fisher, was responsible for illness and death spreading herpes by way of metziza b'peh), 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 could think of to bring to light the cesspool of leaders that we have selected to guide us through these 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 fleeting reward. I would not want to sully any s'char that I may or may not receive from my Creator.

There will be more...much, much more; this Thursday [July 2006] I will go public with the next yeshiva cover-up and their in-house molester {Ner Israel-Baltimore.} I will not stop until we have an abuse-free yeshiva system and that includes their enablers. I will not give up the milchemet mitzva, until I am able to affect and realize, to the best of my abilities, "v'hashev lev avos al banim, v'lev banim al avosam."

Two years ago I was labelled a "Maskil", now I'm a "Misyaven" --- that's OK, actually my grandfather was called these exact names, it did not deter him nor was he intimidated, and it will not deter me, never!

I will let God judge me on my intent, my love for Klal Yisroel, my fervent passion in attempting to change a system that is broken, and the way I facilitate that change [when all else failed]; after all, I am human and have shortcomings.

I'm willing to take that chance.