Sunday, September 30, 2018

Chag Sameach

תּוֹרַת ה' תְּמִימָה, מְשִׁיבַת נָפֶשׁ, עֵדוּת ה' נֶאֱמָנָה, מַחְכִּימַת פֶּתִי

"The Torah of Hashem is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of Hashem is trustworthy, making the simple one wise." (Tehillim 19:8-Pesukei D'zimra for Shabbos/Yom Tov)


Thursday, September 27, 2018

Beware Of The Glib Frauds!



Excerpts of The Forward's interviews with David Zwiebel and Marvin Schick...

....“Until not terribly long ago, the issue was very much in the shadows,” said David Zwiebel, director of government affairs and general counsel of Agudath Israel of America. “The fact that there were isolated reports here and there of cases arising in yeshiva settings, it was known, but they were very isolated.”

“Sometimes they were dealt with correctly and sometimes incorrectly,” Zwiebel added, “but the severity of the problem and the possible magnitude were really things that most people, including myself, just didn’t understand.”

Marvin Schick, who has written extensively about Jewish affairs in his position as president of four Orthodox Jewish day schools, one of which is ultra-Orthodox, believes that Orthodox Jews at large are following the trends of larger society. Because there is greater attention being paid to this problem in the secular world, the Orthodox community is just following suit, he said.

Asked whether more people are now realizing that sexual abuse is a real problem, Schick said: “I don’t think [that’s] fair. I’ve been president of four schools for 36 years, and there hasn’t been a single situation.”

He also warned against the possibility of false accusations, which could ruin the lives of those unjustly punished.


My Turn:

From the distance, Zweibel and Schick seem like ordinary Homo sapiens. I do not believe that they run around naked at night in the streets of New York - or go dumpster-hopping for their lunch --- or urinate on fire hydrants... (I could be wrong on this last one.)

What did Zwiebel and the Agudath Israel do about the cases they were aware of? The cases that were handled improperly, did they intervene to right a horrible wrong? Did they apologize to Robert Kolker of New York Magazine for outright slander and character assassination? Will they publicly address the child-rape problem at this year's Agudah convention? Will they work with rabbis and lawmakers feverishly - to implement laws that will always put our childrens' safety first? Are they publicly going to admonish and even expel rabbis from their organization that knew and facilitated the child-rapist epidemic by covering-up for child-rapists?

Teach us O' wise ones! How were the cases that you claim were handled "correctly" --- tended to? Share with us O' great ones from 42 Broadway! How many cases were handled correctly? Where are the perpetrators? Are they still around kids? Are they being monitored by anyone? The last time I checked - the former rabbi employee of Torah Umesorah, who spent five years in jail for Internet predatory crimes against children - was up to his old tricks! Your Gedolim - what sayeth them? We want answers...! Your version of "trust daas Torah" is gone forever for the too few thinking Jews among us! We don't, and will  never trust you - we despise you for the churban that flamed under your tenure!

The human condition means nothing to you loathesome frauds. Your values are all tied to symbols, meaningless rituals and manufactured hardships - eccentric posturing; - a herd of moving mouths with no meaningful words.

Will Shmuel Kaminetzky publicly apologize for sending Moshe Eisemann from Philadelphia to Baltimore's Ner Israel some forty years ago - after numerous complaints from students that Eisemann, allegedly, not only fondled them, but actually "penetrated" them and had oral sex with students? Will he apologize along with his son in-law Tzvi Berkowitz of Ner Israel, for the child-rape of God knows how many students in Ner Israel over that forty year period?

Will the Agudath Israel expel Eisemann from their sister organization - Vaad L'Hatzolas Nidchei Yisroel - that sends Eisemann around the globe - promoting "Torah values" to unsuspecting teens? Will they follow the lead of the Yeshiva of Berlin, Germany ---- that terminated Eisemann " without government intervention" - knowing that a "shmua or verified rumor" is enough for them to keep Eisemann away from kids?

Let me get to Mr.RJJ - Marvin Schick - the lawyer putz who is in love with himself. You're a pathetic shyster excuse of a human being. This is not the time to play word games! There's a huge difference between not being aware of child-rape incidents and "never having any incidents."

Hey Marv, - by now you know that 95% of child-rape victims never come forward, and I'll take an educated guess - backed up by hard data, that in the Orthodox Jewish community, that number rises to greater than 99%!

Both of you - Schick and Zwiebel - had an opportunity - erev Yom Kippur - to - at the very least - acknowledge the pain of the victims and their families, and promise to "get involved" in addressing this most painful subject. Instead --- more of the same!

I'm deleting from my machzor (prayer book) and my tefillot - "k'rachem av al banim kein t'rachem Hashem aleinu" - I would not want the mercy, that we as a nation, extended to our children - bestowed by God on us!

We've failed our children - we've self-poisoned our genetic bloodline as a nation of baishonim and rachmonim - We have no right to expect God to extend us any kindness, more than we ourselves have extended to our children - His children - the future of the Jewish people.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

State officials want parents to know: Possible sex predators are using apps to lure children across New Jersey --- "We want child predators to know that we are on social media too – and the child they target may be the undercover officer who puts them in handcuffs."

NJ Parents, Beware: Child Predators Use 19 'Apps' To Get Children 

Authorities just made a bunch of arrests of alleged child predators who used a slew of apps that are well known to parents and children.

NJ Parents, Beware: Child Predators Use 19 'Apps' To Get Children

State officials want parents to know: Possible sex predators are using apps to lure children across New Jersey.

Following the recent arrests of 24 alleged child predators, the Office of Attorney General alerted New Jerseyans this past week that potentially dangerous people are using as many as 19 apps to lure children to have sex.

The New Jersey Regional Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, which is led by the New Jersey State Police, and the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office, recently arrested 24 people who allegedly used a slew of apps that are well known to parents and children.

They include the following chat apps: Kik, Skout, Grindr, Whisper, Omegle, Tinder, Chat Avenue, Chat Roulette, Wishbone, Live.ly, Musical.ly, Paltalk, Yubo, Hot or Not, Down, and Tumblr.
Arrests also have been made involving the gaming apps Fortnite, Minecraft, and Discord, according to the Office of Attorney General.

Read more: 24 Alleged Child Predators Arrested In Big Statewide NJ Bust

Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal urged parents to familiarize themselves with these apps and warn their children about sharing information with strangers.

"It is a frightening reality that sexual predators are lurking on social media, ready to strike if they find a child who is vulnerable," said Grewal. "To counter that threat, we are working collaboratively and aggressively across all levels of law enforcement to apprehend these sex offenders.

"We want child predators to know that we are on social media too – and the child they target may be the undercover officer who puts them in handcuffs."

Col. Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police said predators work behind closed doors "through great lengths to avoid detection online," frequenting social media sites with the sole purpose of targeting unsuspecting children. He said parents should closely monitor their child's online activity.

"Our troopers and partners on the ICAC Task Force are unfazed by the outward appearances of sex offenders and will continue to turn the tables on predators by luring them out of hiding and bringing them to justice," he said.

Some of the apps have an 18+ age requirement, according to nj.com, even though users are able to enter a birthdate that's older or younger. With Tinder, up until June 2016, a user only had to be 13 to sign up, but the company changed its requirement after being criticized by parents, according to nj.com and parentinfo.com.

Tumblr, Instagram and Snapchat also have a minimum age requirement of 13, according to nj.com. Some apps, however, don't have a guaranteed way of keeping children off the app.

Last week's arrest of 24 alleged child predators from across New Jersey – including a police officer who headed a county SWAT team – was part of a statewide bust known as "Operation Open House."
The multi-agency undercover operation targeted men who allegedly were using social media in an attempt to lure underage girls and boys for sexual activity, according to a release from the Office of Attorney General.

The underage "children" were, in fact, undercover officers, according to authorities. Most of the defendants were arrested when they arrived at a house in Toms River, where they allegedly expected to find their victim home alone.

One of them was Richard C. Conte, 47, who was busted earlier this month in Toms River as the result of the undercover operation, police said. Conte, who was off-duty at the time, believed he was going to be meeting a 15-year-old girl, police said.

"This investigation is one of countless examples highlighting the outstanding proactive cyber enforcement' capabilities developed through the partnership between the state and the Ocean County Prosecutor's Office," Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph D. Coronato said.

"We thank the Attorney General's Office and the New Jersey State Police for their constant investigative support aimed at apprehending sexual predators targeting our youth," he said. "When law enforcement works together seamlessly, as we did in this investigative effort, the safety of all citizens increases tenfold."


"AMERICA'S DAD"! Bill Cosby Sentenced To 3-10 Years Behind Bars For Sexual Assault!


Judge declares Cosby a 'sexually violent predator' 
(CNN)Andrea Constand was drugged and sexually assaulted by Bill Cosby at the TV icon's home outside Philadelphia in 2004, and she has testified about it several times, including in two criminal trials over the past year and a half.

Ahead of Cosby's sentencing, she wrote a 5-page letter to the court explaining how the assault -- and the nearly 15 years of legal battles since then -- have upended her life. 
"Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it," she writes.
Here is her full victim impact statement:
To truly understand the impact that sexual assault has had on my life, you have to understand the person that I was before it happened.
At the time of the assault, I was 30 years old, and a fit, confident athlete. I was strong, and skilled, with great reflexes, agility and speed. When I graduated from high school in Toronto, I was one of the top three female high school basketball players in Canada. Dozens of American colleges lined up to offer me basketball scholarships, and I chose the University of Arizona.
For four years, I was a shooting guard on the women's basketball team, scoring up to 30 points a game. It was an amazing time in my life, and I learned a lot, developed a circle of really good friends, many of them teammates, and traveled around the US to compete.
The only down side was that I missed my family, and developed severe homesickness. When it started to affect my studies and my training, my Dad came up with the idea to move his own father and mother to Tucson.
My grandparents were in their late 60s when they gamely agreed to move more than 2,000 miles to help me adjust to life away from home. They were retired after selling their Toronto restaurant business, and figured the warm, dry climate would suit them anyway. I had always enjoyed a special relationship with my grandparents. Not only had I grown up in their home, but I spoke Greek before I spoke English. They got an apartment close to mine, and I was there most days, talking and laughing over my favourite home-cooked meals. The homesickness quickly evaporated.
After I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Communications, I signed a two-year contract to play professional basketball for Italy. Going pro took my athletic training to a whole new level. Once again, I thrived in the team atmosphere, and enjoyed traveling Europe although we rarely saw more than the basketball venues and the hotel rooms where we slept.
When my contract ended, my former coach from the University of Arizona encouraged me to apply for a job as Director of Operations for the women's basketball team at Temple University in Philadelphia. It was a busy, challenging position that required me to manage a lot of logistical details so that others could focus on training the team for competition. I also made all the travel arrangements and went to tournaments with the team and support staff.
It was a great job but after a few years, I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the healing arts, my other passion. I also wanted to work closer to home, where I would be reunited with my large, extended family, and many friends.
I knew who I was and I liked who I was. I was at the top of my game, certain that the groundwork provided by my education and athletic training would stand me in good stead whatever challenges lay ahead.
How wrong I was. In fact, nothing could have prepared me for an evening of January, 2004, when life as I knew it came to an abrupt halt.
I had just given my two-month notice at Temple when the man I had come to know as a mentor and friend drugged and sexually assaulted me. Instead of being able to run, and pretty much do anything I wanted physically, during the assault I was paralyzed and completely helpless. I could not move my arms or legs. I couldn't speak or even remain conscious. I was completely vulnerable, and powerless to protect myself. 
After the assault, I wasn't sure what had actually happened but the pain spoke volumes. The shame was overwhelming. Self-doubt and confusion kept me from turning to my family or friends as I normally did. I felt completely alone, unable to trust anyone, including myself.
I made it through the next few weeks by focusing on work. The women's basketball team was in the middle of the Atlantic 10 tournament, and was traveling a lot. It was an extremely busy time for me, and the distraction helped take my mind off what had happened.
When the team wasn't on the road, however, I was in the basketball office at Temple, and was required to interact with Mr. Cosby, who was on the Board of Trustees. The sound of his voice over the phone felt like a knife going through my guts. The sight of the man who drugged and sexually assaulted me coming into the basketball office filled me with dread. I did everything my job required of me but kept my head down, counting the days until I could return to Canada. I trusted that once I left, things would get back to normal. 
Instead, the pain and anguish came with me. At my parents' house, where I was staying until I got settled, couldn't talk, eat, sleep or socialize. Instead of feeling less alone because I was back home with my family, I felt more isolated than ever. 
Instead of my legendary big appetite and "hollow leg" — a running joke in my family — I picked at my food, looking more like a scarecrow with each passing week. I was always a sound sleeper but now I couldn't sleep for more than two or three hours. I felt exhausted all the time. 
I used the demands of my new courses to opt out of family gatherings and events, and to avoid going out with friends. As far as anyone could tell, I was preoccupied with my studies. But the terrible truth about what had happened to me — at the hands of a man my family and friends admired and respected — was swirling around inside me.
Then the nightmares started. I dreamed that another woman was being assaulted right in front of me and it was all my fault. In the dream, I was consumed with guilt, and pretty soon that agonizing feeling spilled over into my waking hours too. I became more and more anxious that what had happened to me was going to happen to someone else. I grew terrified that it might already be too late, that the sexual assaults were continuing because I didn't speak out.
Then one morning I called my mother on the telephone to tell her what had happened to me. She had heard me cry out in my sleep. She wouldn't let me put her off, and insisted that I tell her what was wrong. She wouldn't settle for anything less than a complete and truthful explanation.
Reporting the assault to the Durham Regional police in Toronto only intensified the fear and pain, making me feel more vulnerable and ashamed than ever. When the Montgomery County District Attorney outside Philadelphia decided not to prosecute for lack of evidence, we were left with no sense of validation or justice. After we launched civil claims, the response from Mr. Cosby's legal team was swift and furious. It was meant to frighten and intimidate and it worked.
The psychological, emotional and financial bullying included a slander campaign in the media that left my entire family reeling in shock and disbelief. Instead of being praised as a straight shooter, I was called a gold digger, a con artist, and a pathological liar. My hard-working, middle-class parents were accused of trying to get money from a rich and famous man.
At the deposition during the civil trial, I had to relive every moment of the sexual assault in horrifying detail in front of Mr. Cosby and his lawyers. I felt traumatized all over again and was often in tears. I had to watch Cosby make jokes and attempt to degrade and diminish me, while his lawyers belittled and sneered at me. It deepened my sense of shame and helplessness, and at the end of each day, I left emotionally drained and exhausted.
When the case closed with a settlement, sealed testimony and a non-disclosure agreement, I thought that finally — finally — I could get on with my life, that this awful chapter in my life was over at last. These exact same feelings followed me throughout both criminal trials. The attacks on my character continued, spilling over outside the courtroom steps, attempting to discredit me and cast me in false light. These character assassinations have caused me to suffer insurmountable stress and anxiety. which I still experience today.
I still didn't know that my sexual assault was just the tip of the iceberg. 
Now, more than 60 other women have self-identified as sexual assault victims of Bill Cosby. We may never know the full extent of his double life as a sexual predator but his decades-long reign of terror as a serial rapist is over.
I have often asked myself why the burden of being the sole witness in two criminal trials had to fall to me. The pressure was enormous. I knew that how my testimony was perceived, that how I was perceived, would have an impact on every member of the jury and on the future mental and emotional well-being of every sexual assault victim who came before me. But I had to testify. It was the right thing to do, and I wanted to do the right thing, even if it was the most difficult thing I've ever done.
When the first trial ended in a mistrial, I didn't hesitate to step up again. 
I know now that I am one of the lucky ones. But still, when the sexual assault happened, I was a young woman brimming with confidence and looking forward to a future bright with possibilities. Now, almost 15 years later, I'm a middle-aged woman who's been stuck in a holding pattern for most of her adult life, unable to heal fully or to move forward.
Bill Cosby took my beautiful, healthy young spirit and crushed it. He robbed me of my health and vitality, my open nature, and my trust in myself and others.
I've never married and I have no partner. I live alone. My dogs are my constant companions, and the members of my immediate family are my closest friends.
My life revolves around my work as a therapeutic massage practitioner. Many of my clients need help reducing the effects of accumulated stress. But I've also trained in medical massage at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, and often help cancer patients manage the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. I help many others too — people with Parkinson's, arthritis, diabetes, and so on. Some of my clients are in their 90s. I help them cope with the ravages of old age, reducing stiffness, aches and pains.
I like my work. I like knowing that I can help relieve pain and suffering in others. I know that it helps heal me, too. I no longer play basketball but I try to stay fit. Mostly, I practice yoga and meditation, and when the weather is warm, I like to pedal my bike up long steep hills.
It all feels like a step in the right direction: away from a very dark and lonely place, toward the person I was before all this happened.
Instead of looking back, I am looking forward. I want to get to the place where the person I was meant to be gets a second chance.
I know that I still have room to grow.
I would like to acknowledge some of the people who have helped me get here today. I will always be grateful for their counsel, friendship and support.
First of all, my lawyers, Dolores Troiani and Bebe Kivitz. These two smart, courageous women have been there for me since the beginning. Without them, I would never have been able to navigate this legal and emotional minefield. 
I will also be eternally grateful to Kevin Steele, the District Attorney of Montgomery County, who had the guts to believe in me, in the truth, and for trusting that the justice system could get things right — even if the process had to be repeated. I also want to thank Mr. Steele's incredible team of professionals, including assistant district attorneys Kristen Feder and Stewart Ryan, detectives Richard Shchaffer, Mike Shade, Harry Hall, Jim Reape, Erin Slight, Kiersten McDonald, victims services, and many others, for their passion for justice, their skill, and their hard work and perseverance despite the odds. 
Thank you to the jurors for their civic duty and great sacrifices. 
Thank you to all of the friends, old and new, who have stood by me. You know who you are, and each and every one of you has made a huge difference. Please know that. 
Last but not least, I want to thank my incredible family: my mother, Gianna, and my father, Andrew, my sister Diana, her husband Stuart, and their beautiful daughters — my nieces Andrea and Melanie. Thank you for proving over and over again that if there's one thing in life you can always count on, it's family.


Friday, September 21, 2018

U'shmartem Es Nafshosechem - Guard Your Health & Well-Being!

The UOJ Archives --- January 2009

This Torah-based edict, includes your emotional health. Quality of life is important in Judaism, and therefore prohibits doing anything that you know will affect your health negatively.

For example, there are halachic deciders that will tell you smoking is prohibited under this instruction. There are no normal rabbis that if asked "should I begin smoking?" would answer in the affirmative, regardless of the pleasure it would give you.

There have been perhaps millions of words and thousands of essays written on the "beginning" of life and the "end" of life in Judaism. Accordingly, one should interpret this that life is not to be toyed with.

I believe that the Orthodox Jewish community, world-over, has not yet conceded that mental illness is an illness. Even Maimonides, the brilliant doctor, philosopher and codifier of Jewish law, had not paid serious attention to emotional health; rather got it wrong on his claim of inferiority of non-Jews as compared to people of Jewish genetic makeup, one wonders, as a physician, how he would have interpreted pedophilia. (Not being critical just factual)

But we do know in matters of science and medicine, the world is ever-evolving. A very ignorant minority of Jews, within the Berlin Wall of Brooklyn, Lakewood, Jerusalem or Bnei Brak, believe the planet Earth and the universe is literally 5769 years old. Yet, the "holiest of rabbis" around the globe, will refuse to permit you to be buried in certain Jewish cemeteries, because you are deemed an heretic if you did believe that the world is older than the Jewish calendar.

Flat-Earthers are embedded in the rabbinic structure of Charedi Judaism. Mental illness leading to pedophilia, child-rape and other crimes against children are still deemed by this group of peasants as something that "repentance" or teshuva can heal. Therefore -- the rationale still is, why go to the police if teshuva is possible? So this intellectually handicapped group of mental midgets treat pedophilia like traffic court. Tell the judge you will never again press the pedal to the metal and do 90 on the way to the Catskills, and you're off the hook.

The damage done to our community by the rabbis -- never mind the child-rapists -- is beyond description. A child by the time he or she is five years of age, their personality is formed, unless some traumatic set of events transpires, like child-rape or other emotionally devastating events, then this human is damaged permanently with life-altering triggers. Every action for the rest of his life factors in the trauma he experienced as a child.

The damage is not limited to his/her views of sexuality, but the way these persons view EVERYTHING!

Last year The Big-Event concert was cancelled because they thought (the 30 some rabbis that signed the ban) they could get away with it. The list of bozos that signed the ban included child-rape enablers, a sick SOB that approves of sending kids to torture camps for disciplinary action if they Heaven forbid do not follow the Chaim Berlin manual for OCD. When the people rebelled (over a concert for a few hours - they know what's important) the gedolim-rabbi, Shmuel Kaminetzky changed his mind and blamed everybody but himself for getting caught doing something crazy, so this year he "blessed" the performer, the producer and The Event.

They are messing with your heads, because they can!

You - parents - grownups - have an obligation to yourselves and your family to guard yourselves and your community from being emotionally and tragically manipulated. Guard your children from these destroyers of a quality life, a life of healthy behavior and activities within the confines of halacha, not contrived psychosis. They know not or care not about your physical or emotional well-being.

If they did, they would issue a kol-koreh that every teenager must learn a parnassa/trade before they get married. One should never be able to stay in a yeshiva setting if they do not have any means of earning a living whether in the professions, the business world or in the rabbinate, (if they would be qualified) once they bring children into the world. And even then, one needs great siyata d'Shmaya!

The perilous winds of the 1930's are gusting, gathering hurricane strength every day. Ignore them at the great risk of destroying your children, their children, and your family.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

24 Alleged Child Predators Arrested In Big Statewide NJ Bust!

Volvi Lowinger, 23, of Lakewood (Girl, 15) Lowinger is a college student. Additional charges: Attempted Sexual Assault on a Minor (2nd degree), Attempted Debauching Morals of a Child (3rd degree), Attempted Showing Obscene Material to a Minor (3rd degree).

Twenty-four alleged child predators from across New Jersey – including a police officer who headed a county SWAT team – were arrested in a statewide bust known as "Operation Open House," authorities announced on Tuesday.

The multi-agency undercover operation targeted men who allegedly were using social media in an attempt to lure underage girls and boys for sexual activity, according to a release from the Office of Attorney General.

The underage "children" were, in fact, undercover officers, according to authorities. Most of the defendants were arrested when they arrived at a house in Toms River, where they allegedly expected to find their victim home alone.



"It is a frightening reality that sexual predators are lurking on social media, ready to strike if they find a child who is vulnerable,” said Attorney General Grewal. “To counter that threat, we are working collaboratively and aggressively across all levels of law enforcement to apprehend these sex offenders. We want child predators to know that we are on social media too – and the child they target may be the undercover officer who puts them in handcuffs. That is the message of Operation Open House.”

“We have no higher priority than protecting children, and we will remain steadfast in our pursuit of those who seek to victimize them,” said Director Veronica Allende of the Division of Criminal Justice. “Operation Open House is a great example of how law enforcement agencies work best when they work together. I commend our partners on the ICAC Task Force, particularly the State Police and Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office, who coordinated this operation with the Division of Criminal Justice.”

“It is disturbing that some of the alleged child predators from this operation held positions of public service and authority, but behind closed doors they went through great lengths to avoid detection online, frequenting social media sites with the sole purpose of targeting unsuspecting children,” said Colonel Patrick Callahan of the New Jersey State Police. “Our troopers and partners on the ICAC Task Force are unfazed by the outward appearances of sex offenders and will continue to turn the tables on predators by luring them out of hiding and bringing them to justice. These arrests serve as a sobering reminder that parents should closely monitor their child’s online activity.”


Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Kol Nidrei


In Every Single Case I Have Been Made Aware Of --- A Sexual Predator Leaves A Trail Of Victims And Destroyed Lives...Is This Case Different?

The #MeToo Kavanaugh Ambush

A story this old and unprovable can’t be allowed to delay a Supreme Court confirmation vote.

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testifies during the third day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., Sept. 6 
The woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh of a drunken assault when both were teenagers has now come forward publicly, and on Monday it caused Republicans to delay a confirmation vote and schedule another public hearing. Yet there is no way to confirm her story after 36 years, and to let it stop Mr. Kavanaugh’s confirmation would ratify what has all the earmarks of a calculated political ambush.

This is not to say Christine Blasey Ford isn’t sincere in what she remembers. In an interview published in the Washington Post on Sunday, Ms. Ford offered a few more details of the story she told anonymously starting in July. She says she was 15 when Mr. Kavanaugh, who would have been 17, and a male friend pushed her into a bedroom at a drinking party, held her down, and pawed her until the male friend jumped on them both and she escaped to a bathroom until the two boys left the room.

Mr. Kavanaugh denies all this “categorically and unequivocally,” and there is simply no way to prove it. The only witness to the event is Mr. Kavanaugh’s high school male friend, Mark Judge, who also says he recalls no such event. Ms. Ford concedes she told no one about it—not even a high school girl friend or family member—until 2012 when she told the story as part of couples therapy with her husband.

The vagaries of memory are well known, all the more so when they emerge in the cauldron of a therapy session to rescue a marriage. Experts know that human beings can come to believe firmly over the years that something happened when it never did or is based on partial truth. Mistaken identity is also possible.

The Post reports that the therapist’s notes from 2012 say there were four male assailants, but Ms. Ford says that was a mistake. Ms. Ford also can’t recall in whose home the alleged assault took place, how she got there, or how she got home that evening.

This is simply too distant and uncorroborated a story to warrant a new hearing or to delay a vote. We’ve heard from all three principals, and there are no other witnesses to call. Democrats will use Monday’s hearing as a political spectacle to coax Mr. Kavanaugh into looking defensive or angry, and to portray Republicans as anti-women. Odds are it will be a circus.


The timing and details of how Ms. Ford came forward, and how her name was coaxed into public view, should also raise red flags about the partisan motives at play. The Post says Ms. Ford contacted the paper via a tip line in July but wanted to remain anonymous. She then brought her story to a Democratic official while still hoping to stay anonymous.

Yet she also then retained a lawyer, Debra Katz, who has a history of Democratic activism and spoke in public defense of Bill Clinton against the accusations by Paula Jones. Ms. Katz urged Ms. Ford to take a polygraph test. The Post says she passed the polygraph, though a polygraph merely shows that she believes the story she is telling.

The more relevant question is why go to such lengths if Ms. Ford really wanted her name to stay a secret? Even this weekend she could have chosen to remain anonymous. These are the actions of someone who was prepared to go public from the beginning if she had to.

The role of Senator Dianne Feinstein is also highly irregular and transparently political. The ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee knew about Ms. Ford’s accusations in late July or early August yet kept quiet. If she took it seriously, she had multiple opportunities to ask Judge Kavanaugh or have committee staff interview the principals. But in that event the details would have been vetted and Senators would have had time to assess their credibility.

Instead Ms. Feinstein waited until the day before a committee markup on the nomination to release a statement that she had “information” about the accusation and had sent it to the FBI. Her statement was a political stunt.

She was seeking to insulate herself from liberal charges that she sat on the letter. Or—and this seems increasingly likely given the course of events—Senator Feinstein was holding the story to spring at the last minute in the hope that events would play out as they have. Surely she knew that once word of the accusation was public, the press would pursue the story and Ms. Ford would be identified by name one way or another.


Democrats waited until Ms. Ford went public to make public statements. But clearly some were feeding the names of Ms. Ford and her lawyer to the press, and now they are piling on what they hope will be an election-eve #MeToo conflagration.

“Senator [and Judiciary Chairman] Grassley must postpone the vote until, at a very minimum, these serious and credible allegations are thoroughly investigated,” declared Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Sunday. “For too long, when women have made serious allegations of abuse, they have been ignored. That cannot happen in this case.”

His obvious political goal is to delay the confirmation vote past the election, fan the #MeToo political furies until then, and hope that at least two GOP Senators wilt under political pressure. If Republican Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker think a hearing will satisfy Mr. Schumer, they are right to retire from politics.

GOP Senators should understand that the political cost of defeating Mr. Kavanaugh will likely include the loss of the Senate. Democrats are already motivated to vote against Donald Trump, and if Republicans panic now their own voters will rightly be furious. They would be letting Democrats get away with the same dirty trick they tried and failed to pull off against Clarence Thomas.

It would also be a serious injustice to a man who has by all accounts other than Ms. Ford’s led a life of respect for women and the law. Every #MeToo miscreant is a repeat offender. The accusation against Mr. Kavanaugh is behavior manifested nowhere else in his life.

No one, including Donald Trump, needs to attack Ms. Ford. She believes what she believes. This is not he said-she said. This is a case of an alleged teenage encounter, partially recalled 30 years later without corroboration, and brought forward to ruin Mr. Kavanaugh’s reputation for partisan purposes.

Letting an accusation that is this old, this unsubstantiated and this procedurally irregular defeat Mr. Kavanaugh would also mean weaponizing every sexual assault allegation no matter the evidence. It will tarnish the #MeToo cause with the smear of partisanship, and it will unleash even greater polarizing furies.

Appeared in the September 18, 2018, print edition.


Monday, September 17, 2018

This Speech Was Given by a Conservative Rabbi - When Was The Last Time You Heard A Soulful Message of this sort from an Orthodox Rabbi?

A Sense of Decency

 "No different than the Church, we have sins of commission and omission for which we must answer. Jewish leadership has proven just as capable of carrying out all the abuses of our #MeToo era and worse."

Rabbi Elliot J. Cosgrove
Rosh Hashanah 5779

(lightly edited)

There are people, explains the Talmud, who koneh olamo b’sha·ah ehat (Avodah Zarah 10b), who “acquire eternity in a moment,” and for Joseph Welch, that moment occurred on June 9, 1954. The context was a post-war America unnerved by fears of Communist influence and subversion. Seizing on the popular mood, Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy famously brandished a list of supposed Communist agents within the federal government and set into motion a crusade that would dominate American politics for years to come. McCarthy’s panels and hearings spread far beyond any single list of government employees, stigmatizing and sanctioning thousands of law-abiding teachers, screenwriters, housewives, lawyers, and other public citizens.

The combination of McCarthy’s zeal, the complicity of men and women who condoned the violations of civil liberties as an acceptable evil relative to the perceived Communist threat, and the timidity of so many others who either feared risking their own political or financial self-interest or being perceived as soft on Communism, or both, provided an ample platform for McCarthy’s crusade to take hold. As for the Senator himself, even in the estimation of his own inner circle, it was political opportunism more than ideological conviction that drove his agenda. McCarthy was an ambitious, superlative-loving, bellicose showman and provocateur who could pull on the levers of the public imagination, and most of all, had mastered the media. As historian Jon Meacham writes: “McCarthy needed the press and the press came to need McCarthy.” (The Soul of America: The Battle for our Better Angels) Between 1950 and 1954, the number of TV sets in America quintupled from five to twenty-six million and McCarthy’s crusade came to dominate the rhythms of public consciousness.

By 1953 McCarthy’s sights had turned to the defense establishment, a move that prompted a showdown with an Eisenhower administration and Pentagon which would not countenance attacks on Army morale in the midst of the Korean war. The public spectacle of the Army-McCarthy hearings was carried live on television as the Army Counsel, a Boston lawyer named Joseph Welch, withstood the bully tactics of McCarthy and Roy Cohn, an ambitious young lawyer whose Jewishness, incidentally, served to protect McCarthy from charges of anti-Semitism. On the thirtieth day of the hearings – June 9, 1954 – the denouement arrived. McCarthy sought to impugn a young lawyer on Welch’s own legal team as having ties to a Communist organization. Famously, Welch responded “Until this moment, Senator, I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.”

When McCarthy barreled forward, Welch stopped him, uttering the immortal lines: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?” Even Cohn signaled to McCarthy it was time to back off and the session came to an end. It was at that moment that the tide turned, and Welch entered the annals of history. His words, among other factors, prompted McCarthy’s support to evaporate. The Senate, led by the senior Senator from Connecticut, Prescott Bush, voted in favor of censure, with twenty-two of the Senate’s forty-four Republicans voting to condemn McCarthy. Ignored by the press, ostracized by his party, McCarthy was finished. A heavy drinker, he died of an inflamed liver three years later at the age of forty-eight, a broken man.

Some people believe that ours is an unprecedented era – a dystopian society, the likes of which we have never seen, worthy of a Philip Roth alternate-history novel. Others point to past precedent, the McCarthy era, the Japanese internment camps of WWII, the combustible events of 1968, the Sedition Act of 1918; our nation’s history does not lack for the Longs, Lindberghs, Wallaces, and Coughlins and the movements they represented. Some claim that our moment is an aberration that will soon pass, while others contend that the last seventy years was the aberration and our moment signals a return to the norm. Regardless of your historic sensibility, whether you believe history repeats or merely rhymes, the challenges of our age are self-evident: the toxic discourse, the media feeding frenzy, the peddling of fear and hate-mongering, the populist strain of nationalism, the attacks on our institutions of democracy, the blurring of lines between dissent and disloyalty, between truth and untruth. As we usher in this new year and take the pulse of our country, we know that the diagnosis is poor, that our fears far outweigh our hopes.

My concerns, to be clear, are not directed at just any one individual. McCarthyism did not begin with McCarthy, and our present challenges neither began with any one election nor for that matter will they end at the conclusion of any given political cycle. There are hyperboles and hatreds, here and abroad, emanating from all sides of the political spectrum. I read the news and am reminded of Ghandi’s response when asked what he thought of Western Civilization. “I think,” he replied, “it would be a good idea.” But more to the point, in a democratic society, be it here, in Europe, Israel, or anywhere, to assign blame solely to any one person is to abdicate our responsibilities as citizens – the voters, enablers, and bystanders who make possible elected leadership.

 To live in a democracy means that we concede that the fault is not in the stars but in ourselves; our leaders are symptoms, not causes. As Harry Truman once said, “We get the government we deserve, and we deserve the government we get.” We are all contributories – our actions and inactions calling us to account today. Today my concerns are not directed at any one person, nor for that matter at any one policy. My concern is more fundamental, as an American, as a Jew, as a human being, and most of all, as a father of four, saddened and distraught at raising children in an age of which it can be asked “Have you no sense of decency?” Ours is a vulgar age, with a public square lacking in moral leadership. On our watch there has been a degradation of discourse, in the value of truth, and in the belief in the infinite worth of every human being. We suffer from a paucity of decency, of acts of kindness, and most of all, of holding fast to the fundamental importance of being a mensch.

There are two – at least two – remarkable things about giving a sermon about the importance of decency. First, that we live in a time when to remind people to be a mensch may be understood to be a partisan political act. Second is the very fact that such a sermon needs to be given at all! “Rabbi,” I imagine someone here thinking, “for this you went to rabbinical school? . . . To tell us to be kind? Today is Rosh Hashanah; there are people here in this room but once a year. Tell them to support Israel, teach them to light Shabbat candles, encourage them to give to Jewish causes. With such a small window, is this really how you want to allocate your leadership capital? To being decent?”

My answer, having stipulated that you should all support Israel, light Shabbat candles, and give to Jewish causes, is yes, absolutely. There is no more important message for you to hear this year. “What is it that the Lord requires of you?” asks the prophet Micah, if not “to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly before the Lord?” This is the calling of the day – to make manifest the goodness of humanity, to cause decency – ours and that of others – to emerge.

If for no other reason, on this Rosh Hashanah, we need to be reminded to be decent and kind because it is a message that is not being championed with the frequency and volume that it demands. It is not just those individuals who, for reasons of self-interest or political survival, have, despite possessing the political or financial capital to make a difference, chosen to remain on the sidelines. Let someone else do it, they say, the markets are up, it is an election year, better to play it safe. But religious leadership, too, for a variety of reasons, has been rendered mute.

The Catholic Church, we know, has their own tsuris of late, diminishing their ability to elevate our nation’s moral discourse. On the other side is the deafening silence or even outright support from so many in the Evangelical community who have made a utilitarian and ultimately Faustian bargain in abdicating their moral pulpit in order to secure judicial appointments or other packages of political benefits. Of these leaders, we are left to wonder, as one ancient (sort of) Jew rhetorically asked: “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the world and lose his soul?”

And lest we Jews make the mistake of misplaced schadenfreude or smug self-congratulations, we too have our own fair share of moral reckoning to do. No different than the Church, we have sins of commission and omission for which we must answer. Jewish leadership has proven just as capable of carrying out all the abuses of our #MeToo era and worse. But it goes further. Far too many in the Jewish community, like the Evangelicals themselves, have provided moral cover and absolution to those individuals, no matter their indecencies and ethical lapses, as long as they remain committed to the security of Israel. 

Finally, and perhaps most perniciously, is the emergent and increasingly audible riff that Jews must make a choice between observance and ethics or, if you like, survival and moral decency. That it is somehow untoward for a Jew to champion deeds of kindness, to seek to mend the world and work to improve our common humanity. It is an Orwellian hijacking of Judaism, nothing short of a McCarthyism within our ranks, that if you are committed to decency and humanity as a whole, then your commitment to the Jewish future must be suspect. Such thinking is dangerous, and, no different than for our Evangelical friends, risks the possibility of our one day waking up to a Judaism and Jewish people that are no longer worth defending.

It is wrong, morally and historically, to pit Jewish observance and decency as antithetical to one another. It has never been “either/or”; it has always been “both/and”! The High Holiday mahzor teaches that it is repentance, prayer, and tzedakah that avert the evil decree, not Jewish law or Jewish defense. On Yom Kippur, the prophet Isaiah makes clear that we have a commitment to observe the fast and feed the poor. The nineteenth-century Lithuanian rabbi Israel Salanter founded the Mussar movement in response to Jews of his own era who, though they would never think of eating non-kosher food, would be unscrupulous in their business practices. Mussar was a movement of ethical renewal, driven by a desire to promote a life of both mitzvot (Jewish observance) and middot (character traits), such as anavah (humility), savlanut (patience), tzedek (righteousness), emet (truth), nihuta (calmness), and metinut (deliberation), among others. Each of these character traits is as important as any other aspect of our faith. Mitzvot and Middot, Torah with Derekh Eretz.

 The story is told that once during the Days of Awe, Rabbi Salanter encountered a pious Jew who was so engrossed in prayer that he failed to greet Salanter, whereupon Salanter chided him: “Because you are so pious, does that give you the right to deny me a simple ‘Good Morning’?” One does not acquire middot overnight. Life is a constant battle between our good inclination (yetzer ha-tov) and our evil inclination (yetzer ha-ra). It takes study, reflection, practice, and constant self-correction to make sure our good inclination – in Lincoln’s words, our “better angels” – carry the day.
 We can all be more decent, we can all perform acts of kindness. As Anne Frank famously wrote: “…no one need wait a moment before making the world better.” The power of an act of kindness, when it serves no ulterior purpose, is, in the words of a dear friend, that it is a “net happiness aggregator.” Both the person doing the kind deed and the person receiving the kind deed feel better for it.
 It causes a ripple effect and virtuous cycle that knows no end. It could be something momentous – like the sound of the shofar, u-vashofar gadol yitaka, or it could be the still small voice of a quiet deed kol d’mamah dakah yishama. It is the hours I recall my mother willing to spend with a friend in need. It is my memory as a child, of watching my father perform CPR on a man in the parking lot of Dodger stadium. It is the bit of advice, counsel, and maybe an introduction you give to a young man or woman looking to get a foothold in this world. It is the act of tzedakah you extend to help someone make ends meet or maybe even go to college.

Some sources argue that the highest form of kindness is when it is done anonymously. We may be familiar with of the Talmudic tale of the Lamed-vovniks, the thirty-six people whose selfless deeds of kindness, performed in anonymity, sustain this world. Myself, I believe there is a place for both private and public acts of kindness – not because of the need for recognition, but because conspicuous role models are also important.

These days people are wondering who will step up and lead by example. Someone needs to be first, a someone who may be you. As Rabbi Salanter taught: “. . . when there is much evil in the world, and people are in great need of models of goodness, why would a truly righteous person want to keep his acts of goodness hidden?” (Joseph Telushkin, A Code of Jewish Ethics: Vol. 2, p. 148).

Being decent is not necessarily easy. It takes strength and courage. It is not just about being nice. It means doing things that make you and your interests vulnerable. Decency is Senator John McCain in that 2008 town hall meeting grabbing the microphone away from that woman making racist remarks. Decency is Senator Abraham Ribicoff going off-script in order to stand up to the Mayor Daly machine at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Decency is the unprecedented move of Teddy Roosevelt inviting Booker T. Washington for dinner at the White House no matter the political cost. Decency is not only the refusal to gossip about another, but the act of telling the gossiper that you want no part in what they are doing and that it is wrong. It could be as simple as a kind word or a gracious and undeserved act of forgiveness. It could also be telling someone you love a truth that he or she needs to hear – not, God forbid, to cause them hurt, but because better they hear it from you – someone who loves them – than from someone who doesn’t.

 Acts of decency will not necessarily make you popular; they can be impossible calls of judgement that force us to dig deep. Lest we forget, the abiding image of these holidays is Abraham, who was asked to sacrifice that which was dearest to him in order to serve the calling of the hour. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

 Or, if you like, and a bit closer to home: במקום שאין אנשים השתדל להיות איש, b’makom she-ein anashim, hishtadel lihiyot ish, “In a place where there is no humanity, strive to be human.”

Is it enough? If each of us in this room commits to acts of kindness, small and large, mundane and extraordinary, anonymous and public, will it turn the tide? I don’t know, and I can make no promises. But given the state of play in our world today, it is as good a place to start as any.

It was Rabbi Salanter who once wrote:
When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world . . . Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself . . . But I’ve come to recognize that if long ago I had started with myself, then I could have made an impact on my family. And, my family and I could have made an impact on our town. And that, in turn, could have changed the country, and we could all indeed have changed the world.

Friends, years from now our children and grandchildren and our history books will ask what we did in this decisive hour. We have arrived at synagogue today to dig deep, knowing that we are living through history. We seek to be reminded not of who we are, but of who it is we aspire to be, our best self, and we commit to being that person. We commit to taking that commitment into our families, into our city and into our world. Today, tomorrow, and the next day, in private and public, to close the gap between the world as it is and the world as it ought to be – and in so doing, to make this indecent world of ours a little more decent.


Friday, September 14, 2018

UOJ & Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz Of Yated Ne'eman Collaborate On A Shabbos Shuva Drasha Heard 'Round The World!

A UOJ Archived Parody! September 21, 2009

Agudath Israel

The fascination with this group's downfall and the manner in which they hoodwinked shrewd, intelligent people seems bottomless. Why is the public appetite for details about how they defrauded people so insatiable?

The thousands of people who were wiped out spiritually when the web of deceit ripped apart, have yet to be quantified. Is it because they abused the trust of so many? Is it because they took every last dime of emunah? Is it because they took the lies from rabbis/gedolim when they knew that, and passing it off to the next sucker in line? Is it because of the unprecedented number of people whose trust they abused and lost?

Is it the spectacular amounts of cover-ups that they supposedly gobbled up that is driving the public's obsession with this group?

They are not the first group of crooks and sociopathic liars, and they won't be the last. They are not the first persons to look into people's eyes and lie to them. The world is, regrettably, full of fast-talkers who sweet-talk people into a variety of schemes aimed at fleecing them.

Most of us have had the experience of talking to habitual, bold-faced liars - and realizing that we are being lied to. Most people are intelligent enough to at least be on the lookout for charlatans.

It is true that we live in a period when we are more susceptible to those who are blessed with the gift of oratory and the ability to offer glib optimistic promises. It is doubtful if the current president-elect would be in his position if he wouldn't have been blessed with the gift of oratory. There are many other individuals in leadership positions who are looked up to by a variety of people strictly because of the way they communicate and not necessarily because of their superior knowledge or intellect. Can it be that the fascination with Agudah is that people are enamored by their salesmanship abilities?

What is so different about this group of rabbis? Why is everyone so fascinated by their capers?

These fabulously pathetic Jews generally view themselves and their lives as more important than those of the little people who have to sweat over a blatt gemora. The culture of power and privilege that comes with their immense phony emunah makes these Jews feel superior to common folk. With a multitude of subordinates like Zwiebel, Shafran and Weinberger catering to their every need and want, and a way of life that defies description, they seem to inhabit a parallel universe.

But it's more than that. The delusion of superiority enjoyed by the rabbis is reinforced by the masses who pay homage to them. Even rabbis who speak out against the worship of money, defer to the rich and bend over backwards (very far) to please the wealthy in their community.

Why?..... Speak to any Swiss banker!

A rabbi commands respect and attention wherever he goes. People point him out when he walks into a room and seek his counsel on various matters, most of which he often knows nothing about.

Everyone wants to be associated with gedolim and, more often than not, the barometer of tzidkas is the size of the rabbi's beard and hat. Usually it matters not how corrupt the rabbi is.

With very few exceptions, this is the way of the world. Honesty is viewed as naivete. One who declines to participate in an Agudah Convention because of the dubious ethics of that group of child-rape enablers, or refuses government benefits he may not be entitled to, is scorned as a fool.

The hardworking electrician or craftsman who works from early in the morning to late at night, never overcharging and remaining fastidious about paying his taxes, may not earn any one's admiration. It's the one who cuts corners, gives dishonest answers on government forms, overcharges and plays fast and loose with the rules who often seems to be more respected for his accomplishments.

An honest middle class man who pays his tuition and is punctilious in the giving of maaser and charity to the less fortunate isn't respected enough for his integrity and reliability. The same goes for the kindhearted fellow who doesn't push his weight around trying to dictate what others should do and does not let child-rapists run loose in his Borough Park two inches of backyard.

We have in our midst people of sterling character, individuals who are intelligent, capable and resourceful, who can envision solutions and follow through on a project to completion. These people realize that all their talents and possessions are gifts from Hashem. They remain humble and G-d fearing. It is this kind of person whom we need in positions of leadership, not the idiots we have now.

Unfortunately, however, we don't appreciate these people. We look for people with glitz and glamour of shtreimels, spudiks, Borsalinos, and the ganovim surrounding them. Awed by their success in duping people to buy them huge amounts of yeshiva real estate with private toilets and basements for their rebbes, we put our trust in these people, imagining that they possess the brilliance and competence to lead us to success.

Then, suddenly, our eyes are opened when we see the rabbis taken down by the cheapest UOJ tricks in the book. We are astounded. How were successful Jews taken in by these thieves? How did they allow themselves to ignore the most basic laws of trust that relatively unsophisticated people are familiar with?

The very people who inspired so much envy and hero-worship, and who we turned to for advice and guidance, have been exposed as fatally blinded by their hunger for more money and power. It fascinates people to realize that the rabbis are no smarter than they, and may even be less intelligent. Middle class people are amazed to see that the wealth they so covet is fleeting and meaningless, while the money they have given to fraudulent rabbis was used for the thieves own gain at the expense of the community.

The media will get over its obsession with child sexual molestation in the Jewish community; the public will soon lose its fascination with this story. Yet, long after the allure of these criminal incidents fades, we must remember its lessons.

Don't rush to respect these rabbis again. Don't become enamored by people who seem to to tell you the truth no matter what the situation. Don't judge a person by the black clothing he wears. Be a true Jew -- eliminate the middleman - go direct to the manufacturer! What kind of Jew buys retail?

Remember that sechel - common sense is a Divine gift intended for the recipient to better mankind and those around him. He who uses his gifts wisely has fulfilled his obligations and accomplished what is expected of him. The one who disburses his largess to worthwile mosdos of Torah and chesed has earned eternity for himself and his loved ones. He who squanders it in selfish pursuits or phony tzedakas and thieving yeshiva owners, leads an empty and purposeless life. He fritters away the benefits he could have accrued in this life and wastes numerous opportunities for eternity.

People who lead honest lives don't chase after phony promises and empty words of fraudulent rabbis behind the rainbow. They have their emunah the old-fashioned way - the Torah hakedosha. They avoid subterfuge and dishonesty. When asking sheilos, they take great care to diversify, never putting all their eggs in one rabbinic basket.

They know that nothing works in a straight upward curve; life has its ups and downs that affect every sphere of faith. Now its the down --- kick your kids out of kollel and force them to go to work.

Enough with these bums hamming it up in the Lakewood coffee room. Stop the checks to them and to the Kotlers --- tell Malkiel and Aron to get real jobs. Shenky can get them traffic cop jobs in a jif! You - parents - are expected to work yourselves dead so your kids can putz around in Atlantic City?

Even though your kids are devious, lazy bandits, don't become broken and give up hope when things are pointing down. Maintain your emunah and bitachon. In the good times, don't flaunt your success and don't force others to conform to your meshugasin of attending lavish yeshivah dinners and conventions. Remain committed to the greater good at all times. Tell the rabbis who knock on your door with their hands out, to kiss off!

We are currently experiencing a spiritual depression as well. Many good people are losing not only their emunah but their savings and the possessions they worked so hard to earn. Everyone we know seems to have been forced, at least somewhat, to lower their standard of living. In the dark as to what tomorrow will bring, many are now cutting back on all forms of spending and holding on to what they have.

People upon whom charitable organizations depended to continue their work are no longer in a position to be of much financial assistance. People with hearts overflowing with the desire to help, and who formerly supported yeshivos and enabled them to maintain genaiveshe real estate holdings, the golden chain stretching back as far as the thief was able to deceive you, are themselves broken-hearted and in need of support and mercy. Nothing like a good molesting by a rabbi to get them to appreciate how lucky they really are.

In difficult straits, rabbis, yeshivas and Jewish organizations will find themselves various unethical schemes to attain wealth and success by taking moral shortcuts. When tempted by dishonesty and duplicity, one has but to remember Margo's downfall. In the end, the truth always emerges, but the rabbis' have short memories, are short on brains, and have been shortened by untrained mohelim.

Frauds and lies will only get you so far. Eventually, the treachery will catch up with you. Together with your wealth, all those adoring friends who couldn't do enough for you will disappear.

Everything temporary comes to a crashing end. Only truth is enduring. Shidduchim for your kids will disappear unless you create some new fraudulent Ponzi scheme -- and Agudath Israel will get the government's money to teach you exactly how to pull it off! Project Dope!

At times like these, we search for things that will uplift and inspire us positively. Neginah, song, has the power to do that in unparalleled ways. Good Jewish music is intended to reach the recesses of our neshamos and make us into better people. Simple poetic words of timeless truth when combined with proper music have a way of doing just that.

Sing and declare "Toras Hashem Temimah" loud and often! Beseech God with "Achas Shoalti", and remember our only source of sustenance when singing "V'yiten L'cho Elokim M'tal Hashomayim...."

[The Lord's Torah is perfect, it restores the soul. The Lord's testimony is reliable, it makes the simple person wise.

Track Title: Toras Hashem
Composer: Feivel Mendlowitz
Ensemble: The Choir of Pirchei Agudath Israel of America
Conductor: Stanley Sperber
Language: Hebrew
Album/Collection Title: Pirchei Sings - Ani Maamin
Label: Pirchei Records
Country of Publication: USA
Archived by the Trustees of Dartmouth College

There is one thing I ask the Lord, one thing that I desire --- That I might dwell in the Lord's house all the days of my life, witnessing the Lord's goodness and contemplating in His sanctuary.

And the Lord giveth from the dew of the Heavens....


As these hit songs proclaim, let us stay strong and cling to our beliefs. Let us cast aside the alma deshikra that tempts us every day from the bowels of 42 Broadway, and strengthen our connection to the One Above and His Torah. In that merit, we will be zoche to greet Moshiach Tzidkeini, may he come speedily, in our day.

{Contact the Yated for the original undoctored article - Pinny you owe me one --- a check to Survivors For Justice would be a good start!}

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Joseph Karo, the renowned author of the Shulchan aruch (a code of Jewish law) called kapparot “a foolish custom that Jews should avoid.”

The Non-Jewish Origin of Kapparot 



 On Sunday, I posted remarks about the horrible practice of mistreating chickens. The following is a shortened version of what I wrote about kapparot generally in my book “Maimonides: The Exceptional Mind.”

Many Jews recognized that the kapparot ceremony was based on superstition, that waiving a chicken over one’s head a magical number of times would erase all past misdeeds. This is probably why Maimonides did not mention kapparot in his Mishneh Torah, his code of Jewish law. 

The term kapparot means “atonement” and “make void.” It denotes an offering tendered in the hope of gaining forgiveness for past misdeeds. Many Jews currently practice the kapparot ceremony on the eve of Yom Kippur. A fowl is waved counterclockwise around the head of men and women and words are recited requesting that the person’s sins be transferred to the fowl. “This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement. This rooster shall go to its death, but I shall go to good, long life, and to peace.” The rite concludes with the slaughtering of the fowl, although too many Jews toss the chicken into the trash.

The ritual is not mentioned in the Bible or the Talmud. 

 Virtually all ancient sources recognize that the practice was originally designed, just as the Jewish masses understood the biblical Yom Kippur Azazel ceremony in Leviticus 16:8, as a bribe to Satan to keep him from accusing Jews for their misdeeds during the past year before God. The Machzor Vitri, composed by Simcha of Vitri, France, a student of Rashi (who died in the same year as his teacher, 1105), admits that the purpose of the kapparot is exactly the same as the scapegoat sent to Azazel; both are bribes for the devil. This was also the opinion of Yaakov Hayim Zemach in Nagid u’mitzvah, Isaiah Horowitz in Sh’lah, and J. Z. Lauterbach in HUCA 11, “Tashlich.”

The Origin of Kapparot
The earliest mention of the kapparot service is in a Responsa (a written answer to a question submitted in writing to a rabbi) written by Amram bar Sheshna, also known as Amram Gaon, the head of the academy of Sura, Babylonia, around 850 C.E. Amram mentions that the custom of kapparot is quite old. We can therefore safely assume that kapparot began at least a couple of centuries earlier.

An Ancient Version of Kapparot
The Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 81b, reports a third-century practice that is remarkably similar to kapparot and shares the same superstitious basis and goal. A basket of beans or peas was taken, turned around one’s head seven times and then tossed into the water. The practice was called parpisa, similar to the English word “propitiate,” to make someone favorably inclined to one’s desires. The uneducated masses considered seven a magical number, moving in a circle a magical rite that produced a desired result, and water the dwelling place of the demons. Thus food was tossed in the water as a bribe for the demon.

Amram Gaon’s Explanation of the Kapparot Tradition as He Knew It
Amram Gaon explains that male Jews took a rooster and female Jews a hen on the day before the holiday of Yom Kippur. He writes: “He places his hand upon the head of the rooster, as a sort of s’mikhah [the biblically required placing of one’s hands upon as animal that is being brought as a sacrifice in the Temple]. He lays his hands upon it and slaughters it immediately, following the rule prescribed for sacrifices, which is that the slaughtering of the sacrificial animal must follow immediately the ceremony of the laying of the hands.”
Significantly, Amram states that a rooster is the preferred animal because it has horns.

Why is Kapparot Seen as a Sacrifice? Why Must the Animal Have Horns?
Amram sidesteps the question of the purpose of the ceremony, probably due to his embarrassment about its pagan origin. He states that the animal should have horns to remind the Jew of “the ram that was offered instead of Isaac [when his father Abraham brought him to be sacrificed in Genesis 22].” However, this comment by the Gaon is a late rationalization of the true reason for the ceremony.
Originally, as previously stated, the ceremony was seen as a bribe that was offered to Satan, similar to the Azazel bribe described in Leviticus 16. A rooster was chosen for the bribe because (1) it was an animal that was not allowed to be sacrificed to God, and therefore an appropriate sacrifice for a devil, and (2) the masses thought that this bird resembled Satan: it had horns like Satan and its feet resembled the demon’s feet. The rooster was slaughtered with the sacrificial formality of laying of hands so that it would be accepted as a suitable sacrifice/bribe by Satan to induce the demon not to disparage Jews before God during Yom Kippur when Jews believed that their future fate was being determined by God in a heavenly judicial proceeding in which Satan served as prosecutor.

The Ancients: The Yom Kippur Azazel Ceremony as a Bribe
Many rabbis shared the belief in demons held by the less sophisticated population. The mystic Bible commentator Nachmanides, Rashi and many others believed in the existence of angels and demons, both of which they viewed as corporeal and having powerful positive and negative impacts upon humans and the ability to alter their lives. God, they said, instructed Jews not to seek the assistance of these intermediaries in various biblical passages including Leviticus 17:7.

Yet, remarkably, in his commentary to Leviticus 16:8, Nachmanides, like many others, states that God told the Israelites to bribe Satan by sending him a goat that resembles him every year on the holiday of Yom Kippur. This was the Azazel goat. The purpose of the bribe, as stated earlier, was to stop the demon from traveling to heaven on this day, when decisions were being made concerning the future life and death of Jews, and persuading God to punish the Jews for their sins during the past year.

The purpose of kapparot according to Nachmanides and many others was identical. Although the destruction of the Temple in 70 C.E. stopped the public ceremony of Azazel, the bribery continued by individual Jews performing the kapparot rite.

Other rabbis spoke out strongly against the wrong-headed notion that angels and demons act as intermediaries between humans and God. Maimonides calls the idea stupid. Saadiah Gaon, before him, states that Azazel was not a demon, but the name of a mountain. The goat was sent away as an open public symbol to teach people to remedy their misdeeds. Elijah Gaon of Wilna highlights his objection to the superstition that angels and demons can act as intermediaries by objecting to the recitation of “Bless me with peace” to angels in the Friday night song Shalom Aleichem because angels, even if they exist, are incapable of bringing blessings or of acting as intermediaries between humans and God.

Why Was the Kapparot Ceremony Performed on the Day Before Yom Kippur?
One would expect that kapparot, like its predecessor Azazel, should have been performed on Yom Kippur itself, the day when the Jews petition God for forgiveness. However, the original procedure was to slaughter the animal before giving it to the demon; slaughtering was forbidden outside of the Temple on this holy day. Therefore, the ceremony of the slaughtered kapparot was shifted to the day that preceded the holiday.

What Was Done to Kapparot After They Were Slaughtered?
Commenting upon the Babylonian Talmud, Hullin 95b, Asher ben Jehiel (known as Asheri, c. 1259–1328) states that the ancient custom of kapparot was to toss the entrails of the sacrificed rooster on the roof of one’s house. Like the water, the masses were convinced that the roof was a dwelling place of demons.
The practice of leaving food for Satan as a bribe was altered in ancient times to disguise its original superstitious intention. Natronai Gaon, the ninth-century head of the academy in Sura, Babylonia, reports that in his time food was no longer thrown into water or placed on roofs but was given instead to the poor. This was a somewhat subtle subterfuge since the masses were convinced that Satan frequently disguised himself as a poor man in order to test people. Thus the food was expected to end up in Satan’s hands.

Opposition to the Practice in the Middle Ages
Several Jewish sages, including some mystics, opposed the kapparot ceremony. In the thirteenth century, the halakhic authority Rabbi Solomon ben Adret, known as Rashba, recognized that it was pagan superstition. In the sixteenth century, when his colleagues in Safed were contending that the killing of the rooster would weakening Satan, Joseph Karo, the renowned author of the Shulchan aruch (a code of Jewish law) called kapparot “a foolish custom that Jews should avoid.”

The ceremony is still practiced by many Jews today. Those who recognize the quasi-magical aspect attempt to defend it by calling it “magic for a good purpose.” Others have stopped using an animal for the ceremony and substitute money, which is then given to the poor. Those who do so probably do not know that the ancient masses thought that Satan would disguise himself as a poor man to test the Jews. Thus, the bribe is still being given to Satan, albeit surreptitiously.


Kapparot is not mentioned in the Torah or in the Talmud. The custom is first discussed by Jewish scholars in the ninth century. They explain that since the Hebrew word gever means both “man” and “rooster,” punishment of the bird can be substituted for that of a person.

The Mishneh Brurah, an eminent contemporary commentary on Rabbi Joseph Caro's classical codification of Jewish law, explains the significance of the ritual. Judaism stresses that a person can't obtain purity from sin, and thus obtain higher levels of perfection, without repenting. Through God's mercy, we are given the Divine gift of repentance, so that we might abandon our corrupt ways, thereby being spared from the death that we deserve for our violation of the Divine law. By substituting the death of a fowl, one will (hopefully) appreciate G-d's mercy and be stirred to repentance. By no means, however, does the ritual and the slaughter of the bird eradicate one's misdeeds, even though the bird is donated to the poor.

Rabbi Israel Salanter, one of the most distinguished Orthodox Rabbis of the nineteenth century, failed to appear one Yom Kippur eve to chant the sacred Kol Nidre Prayer. His congregation became concerned, for it was inconceivable that their saintly rabbi would be late or absent on this very holy day. They sent out a search party to look for him. After much time, their rabbi was found in the barn of a Christian neighbor. On his way to the synagogue, Rabbi Salanter had come upon one of his neighbor's calves, lost and tangled in the brush. Seeing that the animal was in distress, he freed it and led it home through many fields and over many hills. His act of mercy represented the rabbi's prayers on that Yom Kippur evening.

(b) Consistent with Rosh Hashanah as a time when Jews are to "awaken from slumber" and mend our ways, using money for the kapparot ritual shows that we are putting Torah teachings about compassion into practice.

(c) Acts of kindness and charity are consistent with God`s "delighting in life" on Rosh Hashanah, since, unlike The Kapparot Ceremony, it doesn`t involve the possible cruel treatment and death of animals.

4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we should remind others that kapparot is not biblically or talmudically ordained (as is tsa'ar ba'alei chayim), that the custom arose at a later period in Jewish history, that it has been condemned by many Jewish sages, and that the important goal of increasing our sensitivity to the importance of repentance and charity can be accomplished as well, and perhaps better, by substituting money for a bird.



READ: https://theunorthodoxjew.blogspot.com/search?q=kapparot