|BELSKY THE KRUM|
GUEST POST by Michael Lesher Esq.
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld once informed me (by email) that my accurate reporting on Orthodox rabbis who cover up child sex abuse was “one of the most treacherous acts…of modern times.” So perhaps it’s fitting that the one nugget of truthful information contained in Schonfeld’s encomium to Rabbi Yisroel Belsky, who died January 28, is that Belsky had a crooked mind.
“I asked him,” writes Schonfeld in an obituary posted February 2 on an OU website, “what was the secret to being able to do the [New York Times crossword] puzzle, and so quickly.” Belsky explained that he had trained his mind “to think as krum (crooked) as the puzzler!”
Indeed he had. How else explain a man who recently condemned the family of a young sex abuse victim for bringing the criminal to justice (anyone who “inform[s] upon a fellow Jew to the hands of the secular authorities…has no share in the world to come”) while, in the same open letter, falsely accusing the boy’s family members of being child abusers themselves?
In Belsky’s case, crooked morals went hand in hand with crooked thinking – a pattern Schonfeld appears to emulate. “His solid grasp of mathematical equations,” writes Schonfeld of his hero, “allowed him to compute in his mind some of the complex formulas necessary in kashruth computations.” Belsky displayed his “solid grasp of mathematical equations” by ridiculing overwhelming medical evidence that a mohel infected with herpes can endanger newborns by sucking blood orally from the site of the incision (m’tzitzah b’peh).
“Mathematically,” Belsky claimed, “the number of kids getting infected from metzitzah is so low that it doesn’t even weigh in as a percentage…. When the numbers are that low it is impossible to determine the true cause of herpes.” At that time, over an 11-year period in New York City alone, two infants had died, two had suffered brain damage and ten had been hospitalized from herpes following the use of the procedure Belsky defended so flippantly.
But what are a few dead or maimed children as against a rabbi’s ego? Belsky was incensed that New York City health authorities would dare to “come in and tell mohalim what to do,” given that “[t]hey don’t have any understanding of this field.” And just in case anyone doubted Belsky’s superior knowledge of that “field,” he told Ami Magazine that he himself could never infect an infant because he always rinsed out his mouth with Listerine before sucking blood from the penis.
According to Schonfeld, Belsky held as a “principle” that “what we do conforms to common sense.” Where was Schonfeld when Belsky was claiming – publicly – that Switzerland outlawed kosher slaughter “before the war” because legislators had spotted a Jewish lawyer, who had argued against the ban, eating in a non-kosher restaurant? Someone who actually believed in common sense might have consulted the facts before inventing fanciful stories about the history of kashruth. (Switzerland’s ban was inserted into its confederal constitution in 1893, long “before the war” and without any reference to a Jewish lawyer who ate treif.) But if Belsky preferred to make up facts, that must have been his version of “common sense” – right?
“He was also a kind and caring person,” writes Schonfeld. That will come as news to the child abuse victims Belsky slandered. It may also surprise others who, for various reasons (usually telling the truth), found themselves on the receiving end of Belsky’s venom. Shameless in his defense of convicted child molesters Yudi Kolko & Yosef Kolko, Belsky was just as shameless when he lied about the dangers of m’tzitzah b’peh and campaigned for a practice that kills Jewish babies. One might reasonably question the humanitarian credentials of a man who did those things. But hey – if you think exposing child abuse cover-ups is “treacherous,” as Schonfeld does, maybe letting kids die really does strike you as the act of a “kind and caring person.”