Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Memo to all Jews who attended yesterday's meeting at Agudath Israel

A commenter writes:

You all read this blog. You owe it to the klal and to UOJ himself to tell us what transpired at yesterday's meeting where the issue of child sex abuse was discussed.

Your children and grandchildren are safer today because of the activities of UOJ and some others. It is cliche, on the glatt kosher rubber chicken circuit, when giving an award to someone, to say, He tirelessly works for the klal.....Usually, its not literally true. He did some work, yes, but tirelessly, no.

In this case, it would be literally true to say that the activists have "tirelessly" worked. They are tirelessly fighting the good fight, and they are winning. And you owe them, big time.

In addition to hakaros hatov, it is a matter of pikuach nefesh. We must continue building public pressure. This is a public issue. The organizations, like Aguda, were doing nothing, until UOJ came onto the scene. The abuse incidents were covered up. Are you now going to pursue the same failed secrecy policy by covering up the potential solutions? This would be a disaster. This is a democracy, where problems get identified and solved in the public arena. Because you do not recognize this, that's why you failed in the past. You must now publicly rectify this problem by letting the people know what is happening. You can do so, with a few stroke keys, with the awesome power of communication that a blog provides.

If you will search your conscience, and do the right thing, you will tell us what transpired at yesterday's meeting. Tell us now and do not delay. The people have a right to know.

We want to protect our children.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Child Abuse Tops Agudath Israel’s Agenda at Meeting Tuesday

Thanks JWB:

Child Abuse Tops Agudath Israel’s Agenda at Meeting

From an e-mail to national officers of the organization:8 Adar, 5767

February 26, 2007


TO National Officers

FROM: Moshe Gold
Elly Kleinman
SUBJECT: Meeting Notice

This is to remind you about the forthcoming meeting of
Agudath Israel Officers, to take place, be’ezras Hashem:

TOMORROW, Tuesday evening,
9 Adar, 5767 / February 27, 2007
at 5:45 pm in the Rieder Board Room of Agudath Israel, 42 Broadway,
14th floor.


1) Child Abuse: a discussion of recent developments regarding this
sensitive topic, and some of the steps Agudath Israel
hopes to take in the weeks and months ahead
to help address this problem.

2) Rabbi Mordechai Biser, head of our Constituent Services Division,
will provide us with an in-depth report of this extremely important

3) Dialogue with Avi Schick: Avi, who was a high ranking official in
the office of Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, has been appointed by
Governor Spitzer to serve as President of the Empire State
Development Corporation and continue to serve as close confidant
of Mr. Spitzer.We will have a chance to discuss the
new Governor’s priorities, and some of his specific proposals
that could have a major impact on our community.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

"Catholic" Haredis - We Do Have A Catholic "Priest" Problem !

The Haredi Rabbis want us to believe that secularism is creeping into our lives, therefore they must ban the Internet and all forms of communicating outside the ghettos we live in.

Punkt farkert! - Just the opposite!

These rabbis are an example of what is wrong with the Jewish people.

They are every bit as corrupt as society at-large, the Catholic Church, their messengers of God; and guilty of the very worst sins heaped upon their flock in the name of God and religion.

When we examine the ruins of our civilization, what factors would you include in the utter destruction of our value system?

1- Theft of money from the government and their flock and hoarding it for their personal use

2-Corrupt use of power

3-Madmen running "religions"

4-The inability of clergy to control their sexual appetite

5-Common sense and common good are non-existent

6-Logic is irrelevant and discouraged

7-Power controlled by the few to the detriment of the masses

8-All heinous conduct is justified in the name of God and His Books

9-All the "commoners" are subject to penalty by the clergy

10-Forcing surrender of all reason to the guy with the blackest hat....................

11- Honoring thieves and violators of their own proclamations at their dinners

Israel Singer was HONORED by the Agudath Israel last year. Forced to pay back money he took under "questionable" circumstances from the WJC, he is not permitted to involve himself in any financial affairs of the WJC. Agudah saw fit to honor this facilitator of everything the previous Moetzes prohibited regarding interfaith dialogue.

Rot in hell, Shafran, Zweibel, Perlow & co.


From the Yated....

"Here is a report written by a YCT student on March 27, 2006 about an event that took place at YCT's campus in Manhattan.

Today, as part of a World Jewish Congress led-delegation, around 30 bishops and two cardinals came to our school.

The events began with an opening speech by Israel Singer;

followed by a speech by Rabbi Avi Weiss, then one by our rosh hayeshiva, Rabbi Dov Linzer, after which, we broke up into small groups and did some text studying of Berakhos 26b, where there is a discussion of the establishing of prayer.

After about 45 minutes of that, there were, again, a couple of little speeches,

then Cardinal Lustiger spoke for a little bit,

followed by a question and answer sequence, which was ended by lunch. Lunch, however, rather than ending the event, allowed for mingling among the students and bishops to talk. One point that was emphasized was that, although Vatican II has been around for forty years, it has only been in the last twenty that Catholic-Jewish relations have really been progressing.

Rav Ahron Kotler and Rav Moshe Feinstein would be proud of you mamzeirim at the Agudah!

Commenter adds:

UOJ, You're being too kind to Israel Singer. He set up a Swiss bank account with millions of dollars of WJC's funds that nobody in the accounting deptartment knew about. Singer himself sent the money there for his personal use. A deal was struck with Spitzer when he was Attorney General to keep Singer out of trouble; in part, the WJC would do what they could to get Spitzer elected governor.

This is what the Agudah saw fit to honor a minuvel who misused the WJC's money, and a violator of the halacha that Rav Aron and Rav Moshe said was yiharog v'al yaavor regarding interfaith dialogue.

Feel free to add your list of crimes. Be very specific....names and all!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Jewish Press Weighs In....&...A Letter To Torah Temima Parents...Scroll Down until the bottom........

R' Yitzchok Abadi was asked the following shaila:
May one take the Jewish Press into the bathroom?
His response; The correct shaila should be, may one take The Jewish Press OUT OF THE BATHROOM?...... UOJ

An Anonymous Flier (Pashkevil) In Brooklyn
By: The Jewish Press Editorial Board
Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It was doubtless inadvertent, but the author of the flier makes our point. Thus, the flier recites that "this mailing should not have been necessary," inasmuch as the target and his employer were warned in advance that if the individual either resigned or was fired, "th[e] mailing would be stopped." And on the Internet, the author has declared to one and all that he is about to "uncover" others if they do not accede to his demands. Plainly, this individual is engaged in an effort to fashion a weapon with which to impose his will on Klal Yisrael.

An anonymously written flier mailed recently to many Jewish homes in Brooklyn, containing lurid accusations of improper conduct against an individual in our community and railing against his employer for not firing him, should be taken as a serious warning of a cancer growing in our midst. The flier not only offers no substantiation of the charges themselves, but also reports uncorroborated – and, it turns out, vigorously denied – comments from the employer, which the flier’s unknown author offers as proof of a cover-up.

The mere circulation of the document has caused some, albeit limited, discussion as to the culpability of both the accused individual and the employer – this despite the lack of any evidence or the possibility of any follow-up with the accuser. But if even one person takes this sort of thing seriously, there is cause for concern. Compounding the problem is that the purveyor of this material seems fully at home with the Internet and has spread it anonymously on that medium as well, guaranteeing that it will be seen by all that many more people, both within and without the Jewish community.

Anonymous accusers effectively destroying their targets’ reputations, even before the truthfulness of the accusations are ascertained, cannot be the way of Klal Yisrael – and indeed has never been. Certainly it accords neither with halacha nor with common sense. It is precisely for this reason that for millennia we have invariably insisted that those making claims against another take the accused to a bet din in order to determine the facts and, if necessary, the halacha.

On another level, it is hardly engaging in hyperbole to suggest that if the notion takes root that an anonymous purveyor of unsubstantiated charges can get peoples’ tongues wagging, then none of us can count ourselves safe. It will enable anyone to exercise devastating power at any time and under any circumstances simply by choosing to do so, for whatever motive.

But it is not the excesses of one individual that are of primary concern. As a general proposition, before we even begin thinking about anyone’s having gone astray, we must have more to go on than mere innuendo and accusation flung about by nameless, faceless sources. It is incumbent upon each of us to resolve to give no credence to unproven charges and to urge their being discredited on a community-wide basis. That’s something that certainly should apply to this particular anonymous accuser.

We would also remind readers that President Bush recently signed into law a statute making it illegal for any person to use the Internet to post anonymous accusations designed to inflict pain and suffering on others. In this instance the anonymous accuser should be aware that if identified, he runs the risk of fine and imprisonment for violation of a federal statute.

Posted by The Un-Orthodox Jew - "UOJ" at Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Anonymous said...
** It is incumbent upon each of us to resolve to give no credence to unproven charges and to urge their being discredited on a community-wide basis. That’s something that certainly should apply to this particular anonymous accuser.**

I did NOT hear you voice your opinion when it came to shmearing Rabbi Nosson Slifkin
who is ruined as well as his fammily, for life, because of unsubstatiated accusation and by our *so called choshuva BIG gedolim*
There are plenty of Genuine gedolim who were not on those signed papers as i am sure you are aware of
Did you voice your opinion there too? if yes show it too us and if not then shut your FAT trap.

6:35 PM, February 22, 2006
UOJ'S cousin said...
Wow, it is shocking that The Jewish Press finally got an issue right!

FInally someone called a spade a spade, and a mesumad a mushumad, and an apikores such as UOJ and apikores.


It is rare that they are on the correct side of an issue, but they must get credit for saying what this is: a smear campaign.

kudos to the Jeiwsh Press and down with UOJ and those of his ilk

6:49 PM, February 22, 2006
boog said...
The fact that the JP sees fit to give public exposure to this blog is clear evidence that UOJ is having a major impact and that feathers have been ruffled. Good, Very Good.

Jason Maoz, and your predecessor, Steve Walz and the Klasses; where have you been all of these years on this issue of sex predators in our midst?

Answer: Nowhere.

You paid lip-service (pardon the pun) by running an Op-Ed article on this issue several weeks ago by Elliot Pasik, ESQ. Very little, very late. Your current editorial fulminations against UOJ and this blog would carry a lot more weight if you had been more front and center on this issue from the get-go.

Still time to repent, Jason.

If not go back to your weekly Overview column and diss The New York Times. No one could care less. They are what they are and and still have the best stock pages, which is all our chevra care about anyway.

7:39 PM, February 22, 2006
Das Torah said...
In this weeks parsha the Torah teaches us;

“Vichee Yuzid Ish Al Rayahoo Lhurgi B’urmah, Maim Mizbichi Teekuchenu Lumoos.”

The point of “Maim Mizbichee,” is that even if he is a Cohen doing the Avodah he is not Putoor for punishment for his sins. No matter how nice, ehrlich, choshuv and capable he may appear to be, and no matter how distinguished the institution that employs him, he must still face justice. As the Gemara says;

“Yeekoiv Hadin Es Hahor.”

Nor does Halacha recognize a time limitation which would allow the passage of time to blunt the impact of these issues.

The vilification of accusers by the accused is nothing new.

“Hereesem Ben Pooti Zeh Shpeetaim Avi Eemoi Agalim Laavodah Zorah.”

This is what the Bnai Shimon said about Pinchas after he killed Zimri. However, Pinchus’ Mesiras Nefesh was rewarded by Hashem. Chur was also killed by the Eirev Rav for being Moichah by the Maaseh Ho’egel. Hashem rewarded him by making his grandson Betzalel the Boneh Hamishkan. It is clear that true Avodas Hashem can only take place after there has been Mesiras Nfesh to cleanse Klal Yisroel from Avairos.

The Zohar states that in the days of Ikvasa Demeshicha the Eeirav Rav will be in leadership positions and will terribly oppress the rest of Klal Yisroel. It states further that they will build Butai Kenasiyos and Butai Midrushos and use the Sefer Torah itself as their Avodah Zarah. When we see agents of a Torah instution, rather than seeking the truth or justice, engaging in vindictive and vicious conduct, seeking to destroy more lives, attempting to sully the victims and bury the truth; we understand what the Zohar is talking about.

“Uz Nidbiroo Yiraai Hashem Ish El Rayaahoo Vayakshev Hashem Vayishma.”

Anybody who has true Yiraas Shomayim in his heart needs to step back and ask themselves “Haker Nu Limee Hochosemes Ulimee Hapseelim,” who is right and who is wrong. The victims, or the aggressor and his protectors. The sounds we are hearing today are the “Kol Dimai Acheecha Tzoakim Ailai Min Haadamah.”

Rather than engaging in unseemly attempts to silence these voices, we should unite to confront this problem head on. These voices will not be stilled and will not go away.

8:27 PM, February 22, 2006
tzebrochen said...
For those who don't take these accusations seriously. Watch this video and see how these predators affect our kids.
Very difficult to watch.


9:52 PM, February 22, 2006
boog said...
Yup, tzebrochen.

Remember Daniel Levin.

10:16 PM, February 22, 2006
Anonymous said...
As Albert Einstein stated:

"Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions."

Thus, the Jewish Press excoriates the methods used to expose a child molester while remaining silent about the underlying issue.

Will the Jewish Press have anything to say after Kolko is proven guilty?

Time will tell.

8:35 AM, February 23, 2006
gross said...
The case of Daniel Levin (and the other victims of Ephraim Bryks) really illustrates clearly how it is possible for someone to get away with such horrific crimes when the evidence is so clear. Not only did the Board in the Canadian congregation/school refuse to fire him but the accusers were shunned and their children asaulted. As the video shows, Bryks is a free man who enjoyed a prominent position as a member of the Vaad Horabbonim of Queens and continues to live with blood on his hands.

It's no wonder Kolko and others like him get away with murder while people are suffering, in the face of many who label them crazy, while defending these murderers.

9:15 AM, February 23, 2006
boog said...

You're right, truly incredible that this rotzeach bryks still walks with intact knee-caps.

Can you imagine if he was Italian? He would be lying next to Jimmy Hoffa, under the goal-posts in the Giants end-zone in the Meadowlands.

The CBC documentary on bryks and Daniel Levin's parents is heart-breaking.

10:19 AM, February 23, 2006
Anonymous said...
I posted proof that you didnt post a comment on shabbos.
The timestamps on endouj prove that they are 9 hours behind EST.

10:53 AM, February 23, 2006
Un-Orthodox Jew said...
Thanks Anon,

I know I did NOT post on Shabbos, God knows I did not post on Shabbos, everyone else can kiss my a**!!!!!

11:20 AM, February 23, 2006
Un-Orthodox Jew said...
There's a great article by David Kelsey at Jewshool.com, he's proven to be a great friend and a no nonsense in your face guy!

Thanks buddy!!!!!

11:32 AM, February 23, 2006
Un-Orthodox Jew said...

11:33 AM, February 23, 2006
shithead said...
Abaddai is a bathroom himself.

He is a Fucking ass whore piece of shit like yourself.


7:35 PM, February 23, 2006
boog said...

You sure do have an elegant way with words.

11:18 PM, February 23, 2006
posted on endouj said...
webe and endouj admitted publicly that he was wrong to accuse of mechallel shabbos.

ok, we now have mechallel shabbos out of the way.
Seems everything UOJ said to date is true.
Noone believed he would send letters, he did.
Noone believes he wasnt mechallel shabbos, even webe admits he was wrong.
next: apikores.
Please explain how UOJ is an apikores.
Making fun of jewish institutions and leaders who are corrupt is not proof.

There is a basis to believe that the zohar and kabbalah is bunk. See r' yaakov emden sefer on his investigation of zohar.
If you believe in that basis, and nowhere does it say that the zohar is one of 13 ikkarim, then you believe that chassidus is probably bunk as well.
does anyone think that any current rebbe is a real tzaddik?
Let me ask you.
How many of you lakewood guys make fun of YU rabbonim, or Rav Kook, or other MO rabbonim.
Imagine if MO is the correct derech, then Lakewood is a den of apikorses.

9:04 AM, February 24, 2006
Kyle's Mom said...
Jeez. If you have never been part of the physically, psychically, emotionally and spiritually abused members of the Orthodox Jewish Community in Crooklyn, you couldn’t possibly understand, especially if you are male, that you don’t drop a dime on the tribe. Legitimate or not, that’s how they brainwash you from day one…Teacher is hitting you with a stick ’cause you don’t know your place in chumash? Who is an 8-year-old gonna call if no one notices his black and blue marks? Had your ears twisted? Your parents, when you were little and went to complain, were told by the principles of the little two-bit child molesters that they would never find a yeshiva willing to take their kids if they “moisered.” Ten years ago, I ripped the lid off of this can of worms, and interestingly, todays’s Jewish Standard has an article on this very topic.
The toughest thing to teach Orthodox women to do, some of them beaten bloody, was to get them to call 911. And then there’s the statute of limitations, too. Someone should ASAP call Ed Gluck in BP and get hold of the persons in Hyne’s office who handled the three boys from Bobov who gang raped a kid who then committed suicide. They should be able to put this on the criminal track–and BTW, this menuval’s name popped up years ago, but no one would come forward. Do you guys know who to call for publicity? I do.

9:07 AM, February 24, 2006
tzubrochen said...
Bryks has a very prominent relative. How could this relative keep on preaching as if he has the answers to everything and he has this child molester in the family? Why doesn't he preach about this subject?

9:31 AM, February 24, 2006
tzubrochen said...
Who could watch the CBC documentary and not get enraged.

In Winnipeg which is not a right-wing chareidi community the whistleblowers were shunned and spat on.

We all know the reaction in our community, it would be difficult to marry of kids because the whistleblower would be accused of having a dirty mind.

If you listen to Rabbi Nossen Kaminetky's speach at Beth-El, his grandchildren are having trouble with shidduchim because their grandfather's book was banned. He wrote a book about people who are dead a half-century. Point a finger at a molester, you're doomed.

Bryks father-in-law. Lives around the corner from TT. Respectable guy, klal mensch, molester. They are all over the place. It has to stop!


P.S. poor Mrs. Bryks - husband and father are molesters.

9:44 AM, February 24, 2006
Anonymous said...
While I totally agree with your blog, in terms of pointing out the wrongs in the Jewish Community around the world and trying to get them to do what is right, how is the JP wrong about what they said?

To send out an anonymous letter, without showing any proof about it, is wrong imo. I think a letter demonstrating a lawsuit underway or an investigation about these allegation into the school and a teacher there might of been better.

Many people have probably dismissed/ignored or have enraged by the letter because there is no proof. For all they know you are trying to smear the persons name.

You should try and get some of these people to officially come forward and be able to take this publicly so therefore people cannot mistake what you are trying to do here.

Nothing the JP said was wrong, there might of been better ways of going about this.

11:28 AM, February 24, 2006
tt parent said...

Cutting through all the "noise", the main objection to the accusations on your blog is that despite the stories and first person accounts no substantiation of the accusations has been put forward.

To me the curious point is this: If the accusations are false, given the wide circulation the anonymous letter has had in Brooklyn, the heated discussions on this and other blogs (yeshivaworld, enduoj etc) you would think that out of respect for its parent body that RM and tt would put out an open letter to its parent body denying the accusations.

No denial has been put out as far as i know.

Can it be, that on the advice of his lawyers RM and tt cannot put out such a denial because if they do so and it is proven false they have exposed themselves to legal liability ?

Food for thought.

12:26 PM, February 24, 2006
Anonymous said...
TT Parent:

Margulies, Applegrad and Kolko have been busy. Busy attempting to intimidate and sidetrack victims and witnesses.

The issue of Kolko’s guilt or innocence is not even on their radar screen.

They simply don’t care.

3:27 PM, February 24, 2006
Anonymous said...
get with the program, no one has denied the accusations or called them libelous and false. No one has sued for defamation. People have a problem with two things: that the issue is raised at all, after all orthodox people don't sin or have sexual thoughts/activities; and that uoj didn't say his name. Of course if he did say his name they would point out that he once got a parking ticket and therefore lost his ability to accuse anyone else.

3:48 PM, February 24, 2006
Un-Orthodox Jew said...
TT Parent,

The accusations are irrefutable facts not speculation.

We have two very prominent attorneys putting their reputations on the line..this is getting international coverage.

Margulies knows his days are numbered, any more lies out of him will just increase his liabilty!

4:04 PM, February 24, 2006
Anonymous said...
Just curuious, what do think their game plan is? Margo is not stupid, what you think his next step is ?

9:57 PM, February 25, 2006
Anonymous said...
The next step for him is to look for a very tall building in NYC

10:01 AM, February 26, 2006
Anonymous said...
While we wait for something to happen, let's get back to some other issues in the orthodox community.

11:24 AM, February 26, 2006
Sunday, February 12, 2006

Dear parents of Yeshiva Torah Temimah students

I bring my readers a copy of a letter sent to Lipa Margulies by the group I’m working with to rid Yeshiva Torah Temimah of Yudi Kolko the child molester. If Margulies refuses the offer we move to the second step in our campaign to protect children from Yudi Kolko the molester.

Dear parents of Yeshiva Torah Temimah students, if Margulies does not remove Yudi Kolko the molester, Yeshiva Torah Temimah is finished. Either convince this evil old man to change his ways or enroll your children elsewhere. You will want your children to be very far away from Yeshiva Torah Temima when our second step hits (no, we are NOT threatening violence.) Your children do not deserve the stigma that will attach to them if Margulies doesn’t do the right thing very soon.

The Letter:

Rabbi Leopold Margulies
609 Ocean Parkway
Brooklyn, NY 11218

Rabbi Margulies:

This is to follow up on our earlier letters and telephone conversations.

To knowingly harbor a child molester is a crime. Despite your complicity in Yudi Kolko’s heinous atrocities and your continued refusal to remove this chronic child molester from our children’s classroom, we believe the greater good of our community is served by this matter being resolved without need for further action.

Accordingly, we are making the following offer. Our group and you will each deposit $100,000.00 [We suggest you fund your $100,000.00 contribution from the $1,900,000.00 you took from Yeshiva & Mesifta Torah Temimah on December 23, 2005.] with a mutually agreed upon major law firm. The law firm will have sole authority to spend the $200,000.00 investigating the charges of child molestation against Yudi Kolko and the charges against you of sheltering and covering up the child molesting. You will cooperate fully in this investigation. In the event Kolko and you are exonerated, we will reimburse your $100,000.00 and issue a public retraction and apology. In the event Kolko and you are found guilty, the report will be released to the public. For your causing countless families' lives destroyed, you must compensate them by setting up a five million dollar fund to be administered by Torah Umesorah.

As a condition of this offer, Yudi Kolko must be placed on immediate leave of absence.

You may announce your acceptance of our offer by contacting Rabbi Joshua Fishman of Torah Umesorah on or before February 16, 2006, 12:00 PM.

Please take heed and consider this proposal carefully for your business will not survive our next move. The progression of this campaign remains entirely up to you. We do not want to escalate this unfortunate situation to the next level. We are proud of our heritage and suffer greatly when scandal hits our community. Nonetheless, we will not sit idly by and allow you to devastate our children.

It is not our purpose to destroy you or Yeshiva Torah Temimah, but only when child molesters have been extirpated from our schools and camps will there be hope for a decent life for our children.

CC: Rabbi Joshua Fishman
Rabbi Shmuel Bloom

posted by The Un-Orthodox Jew - "UOJ" | Sunday, February 12, 2006 | 201 comments


The End Of Innocence

By: Shlomo Greenwald, Jewish Press Staff Reporter Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Confronting Sexual Abuse in the Orthodox Community

We are not immune. The Orthodox community has abusers — sexual predators, wife beaters, child batterers — in its midst. And while many may have once preferred to believe otherwise, growing numbers of Orthodox Jews now seem ready to acknowledge that a problem indeed exists.

If acknowledgment of a problem is half way to a solution, as a psychologist might say, where does the Orthodox community go from here?

"We lack a process," acknowledged Rabbi Yosef Blau, mashgiach ruchani of Yeshiva University and a leading advocate for greater communitywide awareness of abuse and assistance for the abused.

Rabbi Yosef Blau
"Our community doesn’t have a process, that’s the bottom line. If there’s an allegation, how does the yeshiva deal with it? Does the yeshiva know? Does the rosh yeshiva know?"
Rabbi Blau saw little likelihood of a single process being universally accepted in a fragmented Orthodox community, though "in order to have credibility, it needs to be widely accepted," he said.

Dr. David Pelcovitz, a leading authority on abuse cases in the Orthodox community, sounded a somewhat more reassuring tone. "There’s no set organization that people know to call," he said, "but like any medical referral, people will ask around and find out." He noted that a number of communal organizations provide guidance and assistance to victims of abuse.
"I don’t know if it’s different for the secular world," said Pelcovitz, a professor of psychology at Yeshiva University’s Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and the former director of psychology at North Shore University Hospital. "If anything, it’s a little better in our case, because people are connected in our community."

Dr. David Pelcovitz
"If people are open to getting help," he added, "they will find their way to a specialist."
The question, of course, is whether many members of the community know of the availability of social service resources.
"I think for the most part the answer is still no," said Barry Horowitz, who formerly coordinated an Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services program treating sexual abusers and is now a consultant for Ohel.

Several mental health professionals emphasized the importance of victims receiving treatment from therapists with experience in abuse cases.

"I make an analogy to cancer, rachmana litzlon," said David Mandel, chief executive officer at Ohel. "When someone is told he has cancer, he seeks out the best possible specialist. It’s the same thing in an area like sexual abuse." He cautioned, though, that "very few people can treat it" because few therapists specialize in abuse.
In addition to finding the right therapy, Mandel said, it’s important to seek out a therapist who can deal with the religious dynamics, since Orthodox victims of abuse often struggle with their faith, wondering how God could let such a thing happen to them.
Important as it is for victims of abuse to get help, the hurdles for Orthodox Jews remain high. In the general population about a third of all victims never go public with their ordeal; Orthodox Jews, concurred the therapists interviewed for this article, are faced with even more factors that discourage them from coming forward.

"The community tends to be insular, to be wary of mental health support," said Dr. Pelcovitz.
The shanda, or shame, factor and the fear of affecting future shidduchim are driving forces in discouraging disclosure. Another factor is the place that modesty holds in Orthodox sensibilities.

Elliot Pasik
Statistics have shown that the more similar a sexual perpetrator is to his victim in background, the less likely it is that the victim will report him, according to Dr. Pelcovitz.
"Shanda, shidduchim, modesty — these are real issues," said Horowitz. "And they’re also issues in that they that make it easier for perpetrators to do what they do and get away with it."
He noted that when he asked molesters why they chose to victimize someone in the community, the answer invariably would be "Because I knew I could do it."
"It needs to be discussed more," he said. "Very sensitive topic, but there has to be more dialogue with rabbonim in the community and with law enforcement."

"Yes, [Orthodox Jews] are more reluctant, no question about it," said Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, bestselling author and founder of Gateway Rehabilitation Center in Pittsburgh, which treats drug and alcohol addicts. "The idea that there is abuse is something the community did not want to accept."

"To this day, many rabbonim are unaware and refuse to believe. And many women felt they couldn’t come forward because the husband is such a tzaddik in shul. It’s getting a little better, but still there are those who don’t believe."

David Mandel
Michelle Friedman, a psychologist with a private practice in Manhattan, has conducted research in an effort to determine whether the nature and frequency of abuse in the Orthodox community differ from what is found in the general population. Though she could not reveal the findings of her study, which are being peer-reviewed prior to publication, she agreed with the other specialists that Orthodox victims have more roadblocks to overcome.
"There’s an enormous emphasis on shame and stigma in the Orthodox community," she said. "Not just shidduchim, but that is a big one."

A practical solution to the problem, said Friedman, would be to educate Orthodox children about their bodies and personal integrity, something she feels is "not being done sufficiently." She also proposed training chatan and kallah teachers to speak about abuse.

Though sensitive to the widespread reluctance in Orthodox communities to discuss topics of this nature, Friedman was blunt about the consequences of silence.
"If we use modesty as a screen," she said, "we deprive our children of important information regarding their safety."

Despite the obstacles to disclosure, Orthodox Jewish victims of abuse are becoming noticeably more comfortable in seeking therapy. "It’s better than 25 years ago," Dr. Pelcovitz said. "Then, it was very hard to get people to face problem head on, hard to get schools and leadership to talk about it."

Horowitz noted that when he started working in treating sexual abusers, about a decade ago, there were far fewer cases being reported than is now the case.

One indication of the new realism is that the number of Orthodox social services dealing with domestic violence and physical and sexual abuse has grown over the past 10 or 15 years.
One of the oldest such resources is Shalom Task Force, which has an anonymous domestic abuse hotline. The phone counselors, or "hotline advocates," inform callers of their options and refer them to therapists who specialize in domestic abuse and are familiar with the Orthodox community — many of whom, like Barry Horowitz, are Orthodox themselves.

Hotline supervisor Sharron Russ said that while Shalom Task Force focuses more on domestic abuse, the number of cases involving sexual abuse has increased in recent years.

The Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services also deals with sexual abuse on a regular basis. Faye Wilbur, director of the organization’s Boro Park office, is concerned about public trust in the board’s promise of nondisclosure.
"I don’t think the community understands completely that when we say fully confidential, it means we won’t tell anyone," she said. Among the services offered by JBFCS are an outpatient mental health clinic, lectures to raise public awareness and workshops in schools.
"Most schools do not take me up on it," Wilbur said of her offers to conduct a free workshop on child abuse and neglect, which includes segments on sexual abuse. Administrators usually tell her they have too much to accomplish and not enough time, she said. She believes many of them are also in denial that the problem exists.
"I do it in such a tzniusdik way," she said. "People have been pleased. I give references — I’ve been in some very chassidish schools as well."

She said that while she sends out letters every August offering schools her workshop program, it’s "depressing" how few have taken her up on it. She estimated that she offers the program to 75% of the yeshivas and day schools in the five boroughs, using lists of schools from Torah Umesorah and the Board of Jewish Education. She also estimated that since she began in 1995, only 10% of the schools she’s contacted have heard her speak.

The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty placed more than 1,200 people in jobs in the past year, serves 13,000 families each month with the largest kosher food pantry in the world, and last September provided more than 30,000 kosher food packages to New York’s needy before Rosh Hashanah. As a small but necessary part of its services, Met Council also operates a family violence unit.
Though the unit is a relatively recent addition, the services it provides have been available throughout the decade-and-a-half tenure of Met Council Executive Director/CEO William Rapfogel.

Those services include a hotline similar to that of Shalom Task Force, a support group for victims of family violence, and crisis intervention and long-term counseling. Met Council is unique in that it can offer financial assistance in addition to therapeutic help.

Rapfogel said that while "today there is less denial than there was 10 years ago," more work needs to be done to combat physical and sexual abuse. He knows that fewer Orthodox Jews are in denial because Met Council has been "called into far more cases in the past four or five years than before."

According to Shana Frydman, director of Met Council’s family violence unit, most of the cases involve married couples. Like the other social workers interviewed by The Jewish Press, Frydman stressed that she and her coworkers strive to be culturally sensitive. For example, Frydman, who is Orthodox, usually counsels Orthodox victims.
"Everyone says Jewish women are more reluctant [to leave their husbands] because they have more kids and the shame in the community is compounded," she said. "Sometimes the right choice may be to stay, and we try to support that."
Women feel discouraged from leaving their marriages, she said, because they are worried about the effect it would have on their children’s shidduch prospects. Rabbis in the communities, she added, range from being "absolutely wonderful" to "not knowing the dynamics at play."

Shanda and shidduch concerns may be on the minds of many in the community, but perhaps the greatest obstacles to more Orthodox Jewish abuse victims coming forward are their feelings — as well as their rabbis’ positions — on four halachic issues: mesirah; bringing cases before secular courts; desecrating God’s name; and issues related to lashon hara (evil talk).

All four are intertwined in many ways. Mesirah refers to the rabbinic prohibition against informing on a fellow Jew to secular authorities — an act that in criminal cases will invariably lead to the second issue: bringing cases before secular courts.

Rabbi Michael Broyde, spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Toco Hills (Atlanta) and a dayan on the Beth Din of America, has written in the Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society that according to halachic authorities one may inform secular authorities about Jews who are "violent criminals or people whose conduct endangers other people or the community as a whole."
In a footnote, he quotes from Nishmat Avraham, the encyclopedic work on medical halacha by Dr. Abraham S. Abraham, that according to Rabbis Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, Yosef Sholom Elyashiv and Eliezer Waldenberg, one must report cases of child abuse, including sexual abuse. Rabbi Broyde also points out that no alternative opinion is quoted.

Barry Horowitz, the Ohel consultant, said there should be guidelines in place for those in the community to decide "when to use therapy and when to call in law enforcement." In any case, he added, the Orthodox community should build up its relationship with secular law enforcement officials,.
"Our community is extremely uncomfortable with going to the police," agreed Rabbi Blau. "What is and isn’t mesirah? Seforim will tell you that if a person’s life is at risk, there’s no [prohibition]. Mesirah is more than an issur. It’s something Jews don’t do. Police officials will tell you the community generally doesn’t cooperate."

To encourage more Orthodox Jews to engage secular authorities, Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes set up Project Eden, which runs programs in concert with many Orthodox social services and attempts to engender cultural sensitivity in the DA’s office and the NYPD.
"We’re not trying to push the criminal justice system on anyone," said Chana Widawski, a social worker who runs Project Eden, "but our concern is safety….The idea is to educate people to all the resources."

Project Eden has a hotline for victims of domestic abuse. Widawski said that Project Eden staffers work with the caller to figure out the best solution. "It might not always be calling the police."
Rabbi Mark Dratch
"If they do call," she continued, "then the system goes into action."

Widawski agreed with the perception that the Orthodox community is more reluctant to report sexual abuse cases to secular authorities than the general population.
Henna White, Hynes’s Jewish community liaison, while agreeing with others interviewed for this article that "there is some hesitance" in the Orthodox community to speak out about abuse — mainly due to concerns about modesty and children "not getting a good shidduch" — said she did not necessarily believe that

Orthodox Jews come forward less frequently than abuse victims in the general population.
"Abuse is very hard for people to talk about," she said. "It’s embarrassing. Nobody wants to come forward."

The efforts of Project Eden notwithstanding, there are those who wonder why the Orthodox community needs to handle abuse cases in a manner that differs from the more traditional route: adjudicate the cases in batei din; minimize the chillul Hashem; and if a person is found guilty, publicize his name far and wide while seeing that he receives treatment.
The counterargument is that such a system is not nearly as effective as the threat of jail in stopping an offender from striking again. The best a bet din could do, say advocates of utilizing secular courts, is award compensation to the family and issue a proclamation prohibiting the perpetrator from working in a yeshiva. They also point to the high rate of recidivism among abusers – which, they say, might be ameliorated by incarcerating offenders.

Asked about the halachic permissibility of going to secular courts, Rabbi Broyde noted that "batei din do not get involved in cases involving what American law considers a crime" — they never, for example, adjudicate murder and violent theft cases. He added that while abuse, sexual and otherwise, encompasses a large spectrum of offenses, he believes that no halachic authority "thinks a violent rapist should be summoned to a bet din."
"We don’t have jurisdiction over criminal cases," said Rabbi Yona Reiss, director of the Beth Din of America.

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb
Elliot Pasik, a lawyer who has been at the forefront of system-wide change in the ways yeshivas and day schools handle sexual abuse allegations, said the situation is different from what it once was. Then, the community "didn’t need a national system. Clearly, now we do."

Rabbi Blau put it this way: "The old Israeli, Meah Shearim solution of posters telling people to stay away from so and so" will not work today.
"I’m not convinced we have batei din at the present time that are able to deal with it," he said. "Who will investigate? Who is able to? Who is trained and sensitive to all the ramifications?"Batei din, he explained, would have several difficulties to overcome, a major one being a lack of expertise in the field of abuse. Would all dayanim, for instance, possess sufficient understanding of the deleterious long-range effects of abuse on victims?
While the above is easily solvable — batei din could work in tandem with experts — a more difficult problem, said Rabbi Blau, is the lack of a set of accepted criteria. "What kind of testimony will be used? How much trust will be afforded the testimony of victims? You can’t use regular halachic criteria. Halachic expertise alone is insufficient."
A third difficulty, he said, is that batei din will have to define key terms ranging from age of consent ("according to halacha, a girl is an adult at 12," he pointed out) to what kind of touching constitutes abuse.

Any attempt to fix the latter two difficulties would prove to be daunting, he said. "Who would be in charge? Who would set up the system?"

Rabbi Blau also raised the issue that outside of Israel, batei din have no investigative powers.
"We know there are cases of charismatic people who are able to bring lying [witnesses to appear before a bet din]," Rabbi Blau said. "No consequences if someone lies in front of a bet din."

Some of these problems could be solved if there were a national bet din in this country, he added, but of course there is none. Over the centuries, he pointed out, rabbinic authorities came up with ways of dealing with difficult accusations — i.e., a lack of two witnesses — but that such solutions require "a society we don’t have, where a bet din can bring things to bear."
"In Israel," he continued, "if X doesn’t give his wife a get and we feel he’s [obligated], he can be thrown in jail. These methods are not available to batei din in America."

Others, meanwhile, maintain the problem is not so much going to a bet din as it is in deciding which bet din to go to. "There is no one arbiter," said Ohel’s David Mandel. "I think it’s naïve to ask why we can’t have one bet din. People ask me. I tell them it’s not going to happen. I don’t think it’s realistic."

One bet din that has been actively trying to adjudicate sexual abuse cases was set up in Chicago some 10 years ago. Rabbi Zev Cohen, of Congregation Adas Yeshurun, set up the bet din after a couple of local molesters came to the surface. Sitting on the Chicago bet din, in addition to Rabbi Cohen, are Rabbi Avrohom Chaim Levine, rosh yeshiva of Telshe; Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, head of both the Chicago Rabbinical Council’s bet din and the Beth Din of America; and Rabbi Shmuel Fuerst, rav of the Agudah of Peterson Park and a dayan of Agudath Yisroel of Illinois.

Rabbi Cohen expressed ambivalence about the bet din’s existence. "Is it something we’re proud of?" he asked. "Yes. Is it something we wish would not have to exist? Certainly."
He said the bet din’s main purpose is "to defend and protect children in the community." He also said Orthodox communities across the country need to wake up to the reality of abuse in their midst and support rabbis who are trying to fight it – a process that is, in his view, already well under way: "Klal Yisrael is maturing and backing up rabbonim who take on these molesters."

Dr. Pelcovitz believes it’s important to stress to the community that when dealing with sexual abuse cases, "we are dealing with life and death situations."
"There’s a failure sometimes on our community to realize the negative effects," he said, noting that children who have been molested have higher rates of depression and suicide.

In more than one way, Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb is uniquely qualified to speak about how the Orthodox community has evolved in its approach to reports of sexual abuse. Rabbi Weinreb, who worked as a psychologist in both the public and private sphere for several decades, is the executive vice president of the Orthodox Union — a job he took after the group purged several of its leading professionals following the Rabbi Baruch Lanner abuse scandal.
"I’m sitting where I’m sitting now because of how the whole Lander scandal broke," Rabbi Weinreb said.

The OU, he told The Jewish Press, has undergone considerable change in an effort to prevent future abuse cases from occurring within the group’s organizational jurisdiction. Among those changes: personnel are trained in the basics of sexual abuse and harassment, and both children and parents can now contact an ombudsman with any complaints about staff behavior.
David Frankel, associate national director of the OU’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth, said that in the nearly two years he’s been manning the ombudsman telephone hotline, no calls have come in regarding physical, emotional or psychological abuse or harassment.

Rabbi Weinreb feels that all Jewish organizations serving "children and other vulnerable populations" need similar procedures. Yeshivas, he added, need to cooperate more with procedures that may help curtail incidents – careful background checks, for example. And children and teenagers in the community need to learn what is and is not appropriate behavior.
But at the same time, he said, that the community should be careful not to move too far to the other extreme. "Not everyone who strokes a kid’s back is a pervert," he said, noting that an unfortunate byproduct of the community’s increased vigilance is that many teachers, camp counselors and others who work with children are afraid to show even appropriate affection. What was once a friendly pat on the back might today be interpreted, mistakenly or with malice, as abuse.
When dealing with abusers, Rabbi Weinreb cautioned, it’s important to distinguish among different levels of abuse: "It would be unfair to lump them all together. There are pedophiles, those who are power hungry, those whose actions are inappropriate but not necessarily criminal. If people speak about it intelligently, that’s half the battle."

Across the country a handful of people have begun fighting the other half of the battle. One is the aforementioned attorney Elliot Pasik, who feels the Jewsih community is in dire need of a standardized process, particularly in yeshivas and day schools, and has been working for years trying to fix the problem.
When it comes to handling charges of abuse and trying to head off problems before they occur, each school operates on "an ad hoc basis," he said. "Each has its own rules, policies, procedures, and not linked to each other. If a rebbe or teacher is credibly accused of a sexual or violent incident, we don’t have a tracking system."
The lack of such a system, Pasik said, "allows the rebbe or teacher — who usually is only dismissed and does not face secular authorities — to seek a teaching position in another yeshiva, a phenomenon that’s been dubbed "passing the trash."

Pasik pointed out that the yeshiva process — or lack of one — stands in sharp contrast to the process followed by the nation’s public schools, which share a database that lists every teacher credibly accused of sexual abuse and enables administrators to run background checks before hiring a new teachers. (Credibly accused refers not only to teachers who have been found guilty in court, but even those who have been found administratively guilty in a school’s internal disciplinary hearing.) Pasik said that Catholic schools employ a similar system.
Pasik, who’s trying to convince the approximately 700 yeshivas and day schools in the U.S. and Canada to commit to background checks on teachers, was instrumental in getting the New York State Legislature to pass a bill last year allowing private schools to run background checks on their perspective employees. Prior to that, state labor law prevented such procedures.

Currently, 10 states — Alabama, California, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Washington — have laws requiring non-public schools to run background check before hiring new teachers. Several of those states have appreciable numbers of children enrolled in Jewish day schools. But according to Pasik, some yeshivas and day schools are not complying with the law. How does he know? "Because I’ve spot-checked."

The New York law allows yeshivas and day schools to run background checks but doesn’t require them. Pasik said the most effective way to convince yeshivas to start running background checks on teachers would be through parental pressure. A yeshiva parent association that would raise awareness about sexual abuse in schools would be ideal, he said, as would be some sort of system whereby a teacher accused of abuse would face a hearing, under the auspices of rabbis and other professionals from the community, and if found guilty would be registered in a database accessible to day schools and Jewish groups serving young people.

"It’s unacceptable that a child in public school is more protected than a child in yeshiva," Pasik said.

JSafe, a new organization started by Rabbi Mark Dratch, is working to systemize the process by certifying participating yeshivas and organizations. Before granting certification, JSafe educates staff members about sexual abuse — specifically how to identify it and assist victims. In addition, participating schools and organizations must run background checks before hiring new staff members, oversee the conduct of all employees, and help support victims of abuse, among other requirements.
"Mark Dratch is working on a process. I don’t know how successful he will be in selling that process in haredi circles," said Rabbi Blau, who believes it’s critical that J-Safe gain acceptance in all Orthodox communities.

Debbie Fox
"He’s the only one doing it. It would be helpful if someone from the haredi community openly supported his efforts."
One of the most unique approaches to dealing with allegations of abuse in yeshivas is found in Los Angeles.

Four years ago, two troubling incidents of sexual abuse in the course of a few months led Debbie Fox, director of the Aleinu Family Resource Center, effectively the Orthodox division of the Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles, to call together a group of eight rabbis. She told them, as she recalled, "You can’t sit back. You have to act. You have to prevent this." They agreed that a course of action was needed, and together with local parents and mental health professionals wrote up a policy of conduct and behavioral standards for yeshivas and day schools.
"It had very clear standards," Fox said. For example, teachers and other school staff were not allowed to touch children below the shoulders. The rules were compiled from the standpoint of "being respectful to teachers, but putting children first."

The guidelines also included some less specific rules, such as prohibiting physical, verbal and emotional abuse. Fox conceded that the term emotional abuse is vague, but added, "Our rabbonim felt it was important that the teachers should know we don’t allow any denigrating or abusive behavior to children."
Fox sent the guidelines to all 30 Orthodox yeshivas in Los Angeles; those opting to participate have every employee who comes into contact with children sign on.

Echoing Pasik, Fox said she "feels parents will influence schools" by asking them to accept the guidelines. "We can’t force any school, but we can create pressure." She added that the eight rabbis on the halachic advisory board come from just about every segment of the Los Angeles Orthodox community. That, she said, has helped prod some schools to act. More than two-thirds of the yeshivas have signed on.
What also helped is that Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetsky, one of the most prominent haredi leaders in America, gave his stamp of approval to the guidelines. A letter to that effect accompanied the guidelines when Fox sent them to the schools.
Fox realized, however, that guidelines alone were not sufficient to protect Los Angeles’s yeshiva students. She wanted to take a proactive approach, mostly by educating schoolchildren about personal privacy and how to behave in a number of safety-related circumstances.

Fox found an educational program created by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but she ran into problems using the material because some of the program’s video presentations were inappropriate for Orthodox students.
Then about three years ago Fox received $50,000 from the Julis family, prominent local philanthropists. With the money, and with training from the NCMEC, Aleinu Family Resource Center and its halachic advisory board created a complete program with an Uncle Moishy CD, an educational video presentation for parents, and an interactive video presentation for children starring a hero named Safety Kid, played by a local Orthodox youth.

The Safety Kid video features three basic scenarios, the third of which is about a child who’s reluctant to tell his mother why he doesn’t want to join the coach for extra practice. With Safety Kid’s encouragement, he finally informs his mother that the coach has been touching him and making him feel uncomfortable.
The latter storyline required several viewings on the part of the rabbis before they approved its inclusion on the video, said Fox. For that, she’s particularly grateful because the lesson is one of the three pillars of the program’s message to children: "Say no, run, and tell a responsible adult."
Rabbi Kamenetsky pre-approved the script, and Fox is working on showing him the final product, which Fox has just begun presenting in schools.
Aleinu plans to take the program national. Fox has already received inquiries about it from schools in New York, Chicago and Montreal.
Asked whether the guidelines may make it difficult, if not impossible, for rebbeim, teachers and counselors to touch or hug children in purely appropriate ways to help forge close relationships with students, Fox nodded. "That is true. It’s sad. Times have changed, and it’s sad."
She paused for a moment before adding, "It’s for the protection of counselors and teachers as much as it’s for the protection of the kids."

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Daat Emes Vs. "Daat Torah"- You Decide!

from Talk Reason

Response to Rabbi Segal
By Naftali Zeligman

Dear Rav Segal,

Some time ago you published a brochure Zachor Cherpatcha Mini Naval ("Remember Your Shame of a Villain") as an attempt to answer the claims of the Daat Emet pamphlets. Maybe your intention was to defend our Torah and to sanctify the name of G-d, but you missed the mark because of your lack of knowledge in the matters spoken of, because of arrogance and grumbling, and because of even more severe things, as we shall show. You wrote 53 pages to answer 5 Daat Emet pamphlets and even complained that doing this is a bitul Torah, but half of the things written are abuse, cursing, and bad language.

You called the author of the pamphlets "a villain," "a sick person," "a crazy one," compared him to Hitler, and used many other harmful and offensive titles hardly conceivable for the Sons of Israel, "bashful, merciful, and performing charity" (Yevamot 79a). All this writing is a definite bitul Torah and isn't a way to sanctify G-d's name, nor does it help to answer the Daat Emet questions, so it's a pity for us that a rabbi wrote this.

Maybe the fact people you wrote about left the way of Torah frustrated you so much you had no control of your instincts, but even this does not come from piety nor from love of Torah, but rather from a lack of knowledge in those matters, unforgivable for a person writing about them.

You should know about the responsa of the Ridbaz, part 4, section 187, in which the Ridbaz was asked about a preacher in a synagogue whose speech seemed to emit an air of heresy. In his answer he agreed that the things spoken were heresy, and then wrote in these plain words: "And I have not found a reason why he should be exempted from the punishment except that he is mistaken in his deductions, and his hope is his failure. This is surely no more severe than somebody who makes mistakes in any of the fundamentals of the faith because of his erroneous deductions, yet he isn't called a heretic for this.

Hillel was a great man, yet he erred on one of the fundamentals of the faith when he said, 'There's no Mashiach for Israel, for they had already devoured him in the days of Hezekiah.' Despite this mistake he was not thought a heretic, G-d forbid, for if he was, how could we learn from his words? And the reason is clear -- for his heresy lies only in thinking his deductive conclusions are true, so he is like one compelled to do a sin and therefore is exempted." Until here the words of the Ridbaz, and the conclusion is clear: one who leaves the way of Torah because of his logical conclusions is not a heretic, and the author of the pamphlets should be compared to Hillel rather than to Hitler.

Not only did you not know this, despite being a Rosh Yeshiva, you also do not know lot of more trivial and well-published things you wrote about in your brochure, and we shall explain each one in turn.

On the first page of your work you stated that the sun sets in the west, as proof of what is written: "And the host of Heaven bows down to You," for the Divine Presence is in the west. But this you forgot: the moon moves around the Earth from west to east, in just the opposite direction to the sun (Encyclopaedia Britannica, moon). Is the moon not part of "the host of Heaven"? Or does the Divine Presence move from west to east at night? This whole claim is ridiculous and worthless; why do you write about things you haven't even begun to study?

On page 5 you cited the prophet Amos' famous words as referring to the outreach movement in our days: "A time is coming -- declares my Lord G-d when I will send a famine upon the land: not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of the Lord." True enough, this is Amos 8:11, but for some reason you forgot the next verse, Amos 8:12 -- "Men shall wander from sea to sea and from north to east to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it." Rashi writes about these verses: "The Divine Spirit will leave them." It's clear that Amos described not a return to G-d, but G-d leaving his people helpless and losing holiness; the prophet's intention was the opposite of yours.

Then you went on, and like a peddler, pulled out all those arguments for "Torah from Heaven" given at seminars by Arachim and similar organizations.

You did this several more times, without any connection to the Daat Emet questions, fulfilling our rabbis' saying ,"he was called about wheat and confessed about barley." Regarding the matter of rational proofs for the Torah, there is a book titled "Guidance for the Yeshiva student from the letters of Rav Ya'akov Yisrael Kannevsky," which includes a letter to the Steipler Rebbe from a yeshiva student who had questions in matters of faith, asking for a solution. The Steipler's answer was that there's no rational solution for this problem, only meritorious suggestions. He advised the student to study Torah assiduously and to observe the Sabbath in all its nuances. If this young man was ready to observe the Sabbath stringently and with all his might, surely he didn't want to become an apostate. At that point, had there been any rational proof for Torah from Heaven, the Steipler would have given it to him; since he didn't give it, it means there's no such proof.

But even in those "proofs" you made many mistakes. First you wrote (on page 6) that on Mount Sinai G-d revealed Himself to all the People of Israel in a prophetic vision, which is above the vision of the senses. Then they passed this knowledge on to all their sons, and their sons to their sons, etc. until our days, so that for us it has more validity as a historical event than World War I, which only some people saw and reported to their sons. Until here are your words, and in only these few sentences you erred at least three times:

1) Rambam describes the Sinai Revelation as an event experienced by the senses alone: "Our eyes and not a stranger's saw, and our ears and not another's heard the fire and the voices and the torches" (Laws of the Torah Fundamentals, 8:1).

2) The fathers told this to their sons not as a personal testimony (we do not have 600,000 personal testimonies nor any other number), but as the performance of a commandment. What they must say is also strictly defined by Halacha, not by what they heard from their fathers. All that recitation of these stories testifies to is that the teller has accepted the yoke of the Torah and commandments for his own reasons, not necessarily because of this or any other historical event.

3) About World War II we know not only and not mainly from personal stories, but from historical evidence: documents, chronicles, news items of the war period, and so on. All this evidence has come from different sources, not always with a personal interest in the content of their testimony. All the evidence has been thoroughly cross-checked; the picture we have today is the result of all those verifications, so that it is quite an objective description of reality. Not so for the Sinai Revelation, which is not reported in any independent historic sources whose validity may be verified, nor is there any archeological evidence it really happened. For example, there's not a single remnant of the altar and the twelve stone pillars Moses built at the foot of Mount Sinai (Exodus 34:4). In short, the Sinai Revelation clearly fails to meet the criteria of a historical event.

You made all these mistakes in just a few lines of your work. There are many other places in which you didn't understand the matter you were writing about. On page 6 you claimed that the Torah contains Halachic guidance even for the age of modern technology, as brought by the later poskim. But you must understand: if you accept any specific document as a guide for all times and make all your conclusions based on it, it is you (or those whose authority you accept) who find the connections between the letter of the law and the current situation; the law itself, though, says nothing about it. Neither the Torah nor the Talmud mention a motor car and both of them are full of regulations on how to deal with oxen and donkeys, but when the motor car was invented, people asked their rabbis about it, and they tried to find something similar in the Torah and Talmud -- not always successfully.

Concerning the drashot of the Sages and their derivation from the rules of grammar of the Holy Tongue, another grievous failure was made. First, no one before Malbim (19th century CE) mentions that opinion; the Rambam, in comparison, recognizes only "the 13 ways in which Torah is elucidated, and similar things." But even Malbim's opinion is too problematic to rely upon as you do. The first of Malbim's 613 rules is: "The opinion of Chazal agrees with the opinion of the linguists that there's no root in the Holy Language longer than three letters. It is said that those of four are composed of two or three words and some of them came from other languages." This clearly contradicts what is claimed by the Jewish tradition, that the whole world was created in the Holy Tongue and it is the source of all languages.

In rule 259 Malbim states: "The word nefesh includes the adult and the minor, males and females…" But what can we do? In Exodus 12:16 it is written -- "For seven days should you eat matzot… for everyone who eats leaven, that nefesh will be cut off from Israel, from the first day till the seventh." It is the law of Torah that any punishment for sin, including "cutting off the nefesh," is only meted out to those over the age of 13. Here the word nefesh does not include the minor, and so Malbim was clearly wrong. But even these "rules" of Malbim's are not really rules, and Chazal did with them as they pleased, as we shall see immediately. Rule 613 states: "In the place where the word et or any preposition was expected and it is absent, we may interpret it as we want. And thus, since it is written three times ve-samach yado without an et, they elucidated three laws as though it were written ve-samach be-yado, and this is the rule for all such cases." According to the rules of the Holy Tongue G-d gave us the freedom to interpret such cases as we want, yet Chazal came and took this freedom from us by elucidating from these words of the Torah three very specific laws -- "his hand (yado) and not his son's hand, his hand and not his slave's hand, his hand and not his emissary's hand" (see Malbim on parashat Vayikra, paragraph 28).

Concerning the principles you claimed the Torah first formulated and which now have become the basics of world morality, you should know that all the commandments "between a man and his fellow", including the ban on killing and the ban on stealing, charity, loving one's neighbor, care for slaves and disdain of slavery, and even the returning of lost property, are, according to the Torah, between Jews only. One may not cure Gentiles on the Sabbath nor return their loss, and there is a commandment to enslave them forever (Leviticus 25:45-46). This is hardly the basics of world morality.

About "deep Halachic definitions for all the matters of Torah" (page 7 of Zachor Cherpatcha), we wonder how you did not know that the rule of chazaka, for example, was very commonly accepted in the Roman legal system as presumptio (even now in all the European languages it is called by variants of this name) hundreds of years before it was stated in the Mishna.

The "practical recommendations" of the Torah are also not very practical. Ikvota Di-M'shicha, paragraph 27, advises dividing one's money into three parts: one third should be buried, one third invested in business, and one third kept as cash on hand. The economic effect of following such advice is rather doubtful; the money buried will certainly be eaten by inflation in a few years. If everybody followed this advice the amount of investment in the economy would decrease, and the economy's growth would come to a stand-still.

Maybe in Talmudic times this advice was clever, but it clearly contradicts the rules of a modern economy. In general, isn't it wiser to consult a stockbroker when investing money, and a doctor when ill? Incidentally, how much time did you invest in studying geometry? You are so amazed by the Vilna Gaon's Ayil Meshulash, quite a primitive description of the simple Euclidian geometry taught in any high school in the Gaon's era.

This is not the place to discuss prophecies in the Torah, but it should be noted that the contemporary "Ingathering of Exiles" was accompanied not by a return to Judaism, but rather by massive leaving of the faith which has created a clear secular majority in modern Israel. It is also useful to remember that hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews left the country seeking a better life -- is this the "Ingathering of Exiles" the Torah wrote about?

And after this foreword, let us move on to your arguments against Daat Emet. The whole issue of the hare eating its excrement is an insult to the Torah and should certainly be considered a public desecration of G-d's name. That phenomenon has nothing to do with the concept of ha'alaat gerah, which quite clearly assumes something is brought up, not thrown down like excrement. About this sort of claim Ibn Ezra said in his commentary on Daniel 1:1 "How is it possible that a man should say one word and mean another; one who says this would be thought mad, etc., and it would be better were he to say he does not know than to twist the words of the Living G-d." You remarked that "ma'aleh gerah does not necessarily come up from the bowels, because according to Rashi's gerah is the chewed food itself, and ma'aleh gerah means eating the chewed food."

This is simply a lie, for Rashi himself (on Leviticus 11:3) stated that "Ma'alat gerah means that [an animal] brings its food up and vomits it from its bowels and returns it to its mouth to pound it and to grind it well." Nowhere does Rashi state that gerah is chewed food, nor do any of the Bible commentators. What happened to "Keep away from lies" (Exodus 23:7)? The eating of excrement is very common in many kinds of animals, including lemurs (a kind of monkeys); if this is considered ha'alaat gerah, there are many more than four species of animals with one sign of kashrut.

But how far shall we go with ignorance and lack of thought? On page 15 you wrote that "Were the hyrax permitted for eating because it is ma'aleh gerah, it would be possible to say that the question… is a good question … and the only reason the Torah gave signs of kashrut was so one who sees that animal will not mistakenly say the animal is kosher for it is ma'aleh gerah." Yet how could one say the hyrax is kosher when it doesn't have split hooves?

The shesu'a (an animal with a split spine) is also a very problematic issue, one you don't seem to have the slightest clue about. Why do you write about things you don't understand? The Malbim on Leviticus 11 paragraph 73, which you cited as a source, was seriously mistaken, perhaps because he did not study the matter either, and the deeds of the fathers are a sign for the sons. He wrote about a South American animal called tayassu which has two spines; he meant the animal named peccary, whose Latin name is indeed tayassu. But this animal doesn't have two spines; it has one, like all other animals, and Malbim simply was wrong. Since this animal is not a pig but a different species (peccaries divide into three species, actually), and yet has split hooves and is not ma'aleh gerah in any way at all, the words of the Gemara that "there's none with split hooves and impure but the pig" (Hulin 59a) are false, and the wise one will fall silent.

Concerning fish, you cited the Mishnah in Nidah 51: "All that have scales have fins", and to prove this you wrote (on page 18) that there's no edible fish which has scales and doesn't have fins. But the Mishnah didn't speak of edible fish only, nor only of all fish, but of all the water creatures in the world ("All that have scales…") Surely your intention was to the case described by the Ma'adaney Yom-Tov on Hulin 66b about stinkus marinus -- a fish with scales and without fins. The Ma'adaney Yom-Tov himself asked how this can be reconciled with the words of Gemara, but his explanation is totally different from yours. In any case, if you take the text of the Mishnah literally, it is not true. If you have arrived at a question, why not give a halachic source where it is discussed, for the one who quotes a matter in the name of its author...?

You made another very large and serious mistake when you wrote, after once again listing all the "proofs" for Torah from Heaven: "But what are all those things compared to the hare's calmly chewing jaws… See what can be done to somebody by one small hyrax…" (page 20). This is a complete misunderstanding of the scientific method, and certain to lead to the disgrace of the Torah and its scholars. Any research in our world is based on facts discovered through experiments; even if we have a strong, well-based theory which explains all the experiments done until now and then a completely anonymous student comes along and conducts one small experiment that cannot be explained by the theory -- the theory isn't right, no matter who constructed it and how many proofs there are for it. If a theory doesn't correctly describe reality, it is wrong, period. All its proofs must still be dealt with, but this doesn't convert wrong to right.

In particular, the "Torah codes" to which you appealed as a rescue from "questions on Torah" are completely ridiculous.

No one in the mathematical world today takes it seriously; it is mere trickery and fraud. The mechanisms of the trickery perpetrated by Witztum et al. were thoroughly described by Prof. Brendan McKay et al. in their paper in Statistical Science, June 1999, and there is even a letter signed by more than 50 of the world's most prominent mathematicians (PhDs and senior academic personnel) calling the "Torah codes" "a theory without foundation." Among those who signed this petition are G-d-fearing Jews, and the issue doesn't make any difference in their faith. Maybe you didn't study the matter properly before writing about it, but now you can get the relevant information. The petition is published at http://math.caltech.edu/code/petition.html.

It is also not clear why you again and again number the great sages of Israel of different generations like some peddler, recounting their praises and returning again and again to the idea that it's impossible for all of them to be liars. As though it were impossible for good people to mistake complete lies for truth!

Even Rambam himself considered Ptolemaic astronomic theory, which had Earth in the center of the Universe and the sun and stars and planets rotating around it, true. Rambam even gave his Halachic verdict that this picture of the world is true in Laws of Torah Fundamentals, chapter 3. But now every schoolchild knows this theory is wrong, and Earth rotates around the sun. Was Rambam a liar? No, he was just mistaken.

You wrote that Chazal could err, as could any other person, and proved this by plain words from Halachic sources. Then you cited the Sefer Hachinuch as saying that "even if [the Sages] err in any matter, it is not appropriate for us to argue with them; we shall follow their error. It is better to make one mistake as long as everybody is obliged to follow their always good opinion." But this is the whole issue -- if they can err like anybody else, is their opinion really "always good"? Isn't the opinion of those who do not err in these matters better? Forget Einstein's complicated formulas -- if he would say that 2x2 are not 4, would he still be considered a wise man, and should we follow his theories blindly? See what we wrote above about the scientific method.

Ramban did write that Chazal received their knowledge in matters of nature from Moses our Teacher: "All that was said through prophecy, from the matter of the chariot and the matter of creation, and what was received of them by the sages, with the four lower powers -- mineral, vegetable, the mobile soul and the speaking soul -- all were said to Moses our Teacher" (foreword to Ramban's commentary on Genesis), and all your shouting at the Daat Emet author that he faked Ramban's words is nothing but a lack of attention and bad character. Then you sinned once more through a lack of attention when writing (on page 23) that Chazal could not know the whole truth in "other wisdoms [not Halacha] that are less practical."

But Daat Emet showed clearly that not only did the Sages err in "external sciences," but that based on their errors they made Halachic verdicts for generations; if the laws of Shabbat and kashrut are "not practical," what is practical? Then you again peddled all the good characteristics of Chazal, this time from the Steipler's Hayei Olam: holiness, awareness, piety, etc. What has this to do with their lack of knowledge on matters of reality?

Not only did you lack attention, you even distorted the explicit words of our sages. Igrot Moshe on Even HaEzer, part 2, paragraph 3 which you referred to on page 26 as something to rely on, does state that the laws of treifot in animals were determined according to reality at the time of the Sinai Revelation, but he clearly determines it for treifot in animals only! For treifot in people, concerning the laws of a murderer, it is actual reality which determines, and this is even more true for other laws which have no connection to treifot at all (like the killing of lice on Shabbat, which that section of your work deals with).

Is somebody who cannot repeat his rabbi's words worthy of being a Rosh Yeshiva?

You wrote many more ridiculous things about those lice. You totally misunderstood the whole matter of parthenogenesis. Parthenogenesis is regular sexual reproduction except that the female provides her own impregnating material for the egg she produces. Is this "creation from mold"? Is this reproduction in which there is no resemblance between the inanimate material which births and the living thing which is born? Something born through parthenogenesis is exactly like the being which birthed it, with its genes. On the other hand, what similarity is there between mold (or flesh, sweat, or rags) and a living, crawling louse? The lice which reproduce by parthenogenesis exist mainly on birds, and a few exist on mammals; there is no way they can survive on humans. Therefore, of course, they have no relation to this topic, which deals with lice on people's heads and clothing.

And what knowledge does one need to say that lice reproduction "is not like the reproduction of rams which can grow in all circumstances" (page 28). Can the red rams grow on the North Pole? Or in the depths of the Sahara desert? Surely not, for they can not accommodate themselves to such places. Maybe we should say, following your logic, that red rams are born from the plants they eat?

"The whole lice species" cannot be "a less vital creature," as you write, for there's no connection between one species of lice and another. To refer to all lice as a "lice species" is like referring to cows and camels as one species -- the absurdity is clear. Moreover, there are other creatures which reproduce parthenogenetically. You wrote that it's actually permitted to kill them on Shabbat, but the sages forbade it because of a doubt. But if parthenogenesis is a permit to kill creatures which reproduce that way, what kind of doubt is there?

You also did not understand the issue of evolution, because according to modern biology it took billions of years before high-level creatures like mammals evolved from single-cell creatures. The development of a human embryo really does resemble the stages of evolution, as does the development of other embryos. This is a scientific fact which was made abundantly clear hundreds of times (see Encyclopaedia Britannica, evolution, Embryonic development and vestiges). There's nothing "ridiculous" in it (as you wrote on page 29), just as there's nothing ridiculous in the law of gravity. All this happens before a human (or an animal) is born, but a human is born as a human from another human; this is the case for all other creatures. Nowhere and in no way could a mouse, a very complicated mammal, "evolve" directly from dirt, and all these stories are absurd.

You also didn't fully understand the issue of the drusa, and followed a false path. Ribash's quote about doctors and natural scientists who "are without any doubt mocking us" about the laws of drisa and the like is simply ridiculous. Are all the doctors and all the natural scientists in the world busy with mocking Halacha? Tens of thousands of these scientists never even heard about the laws of drisa, so they cannot mock them. Those who close their eyes so as not to see the truth are making fools of themselves, nothing more. Even if an animal is determined as treifa because of drisa only when it is impossible to check the matter, why should we wonder whether it was damaged by a "venom" which never existed? The fact that the drusa is the only treifa stated explicitly in the Torah just makes the matter worse -- the only treifa stated in the Torah is a total fiction, for there's no reason at all for an animal being damaged in that way. In any case, viruses and poison have nothing in common. The word 'virus,' aside from 'venom,' also means 'vile liquid.' But viruses are neither liquid nor poison. They can even reproduce, and who has ever seen liquid reproducing? One cannot 'project' viruses, they spread by themselves, and the Gemara definitely says the beast which attacks the drusa "projects its venom when retracting its nails" (Hulin 53a). Viruses also spread from the moment the predator sticks its nails into the prey's flesh, not when it retracts its nails, and if the predator's paw was cut off after it was stuck into the prey's flesh, the viruses have much more time to spread and damage the prey, but according to the Gemara it's still kosher. Our Sages thought not of viruses, but of a real and perceptible venom which does not exist.

The matter of gestation periods of snakes and other creatures is much more interesting, but the picture is actually just the opposite of what you have described. For many years scientists thought that in some species of snakes the female can in some way preserve semen for several years after intercourse. But no one ever thought it could be preserved for seven years; even in your citation from the encyclopedia HaChai VehaTzomeach Shel Eretz Yisrael the maximal period of such preservation is reported as only six years. Recently researchers found that no preservation occurs at all, but that some species of snakes reproduce parthenogenetically, that is, a female produces an egg and it develops without fertilization by spermatozoa. This fact was officially recognized by several scientific associations including the Colorado Herpetological Society (see http://coloherp.org/cb-news/cbn-9811/Parthenogenesis.html). When a snake is seen to give birth six years after intercourse with a male, this doesn't mean it preserved the semen for years -- the offspring was brought into the world by parthenogenesis. Never is the gestation period of a snake longer than 24 months, so Chazal definitely erred. But that's not what's important. What this story does is compare two ways of seeking the truth: the first by experimenting and watching the results, and the second by elucidating the words of a text considered holy. What we must accept is that the first way, the scientific method, always gives the true result, while the second way might be good for interpreting the text, but clearly fails to determine anything about reality.

In vain did you blame the author of Daat Emet of roguery concerning different animals' gestation periods. He didn't mention dogs, pigs, and cats due to a lack of space, but that Chazal was mistaken about the length of animals' pregnancies is quite clear from what was said, so he only cited the Gemara phrase in which they spoke of animals "giving birth once in three years." The gestation periods of the cat, dog, and others are just more testimony of Chazal's lack of knowledge in matters of nature. Similarly, their Halachic determination that a woman gives birth only after 271 days of pregnancy (Nidah 38b) -- they just calculated the gematria of the word herayon (pregnancy), and who cares what happens in real life?! And none of these animals in the Gemara are like the adder, for whom 70 years is the period from birth to pregnancy, not the gestation period. The Gemara there (Bechorot 8a) determines a correspondence between the gestation periods of animals and times of fruit ripening on trees. The adder is compared to the carob, which the Gemara explicitly says takes 70 years from planting to giving fruit; the logical conclusion is that it also takes the adder 70 years before it becomes pregnant. But nothing like that is said of other animals! Only their gestation periods are mentioned along with the periods of trees' fruit ripening. What reason do we have to think something other than what is written? And besides, can a dog become pregnant 50 days after it is born? Chazal definitely didn't know the gestation periods of the animals living in their own homes, nor did they perform any special observations to learn them -- the scientific method of experiment and observation was totally alien to them, as it was to most of the world until the modern era.

You also did not refute the Daat Emet claims about anatomy, nor did you write anything consistent and clear. On page 33 you wrote that Rashi "didn't enlarge upon the explanation" of cardiac anatomy, because "it makes no difference in Halacha". Only a fool does not see that Rashi's whole explanation is incorrect. He didn't need "to enlarge upon" it, he needed to write it correctly, which he didn't. There is no "middle chamber" of the heart, or there are two "middle chambers" if one wants to call them that. And again you followed the primrose path of kal vachomer taken from the Yad Yehuda, who "didn't turn apostate." When researching any part of reality, it doesn't matter what the previous researchers did in their personal lives. The only thing that does matter is what the facts say. See what we cited above from the Ridbaz's responsa.

Again, in vain did you accuse the author of Daat Emet of distorting the Yad Yehuda's words. Never did the pamphlet say Chazal erred on the issue of the heart! All that he said is that Rashba, Rashi, and Ran erred, and that following them the Shulchan Aruch ruled their error into Halacha. As one who has read the 'anatomy' entry in Encyclopaedia Hebraica (see below), you should cite here the encyclopedia's words that in the Talmud "there's no mention of Aristotle's erroneous opinion, accepted by Ibn Sina, that there are three chambers in the heart" (page 407).

Perhaps you were frightened that this citation could not only lead your readers to understand that this opinion held by the Rashba and others is erroneous, they would also figure out that the Rishonim learned it from Gentile researchers and thus turned the Gentiles' erroneous opinion into Halacha forever.

What about your sentence "Even in [the Daat Emet author's] opinion there's no need to turn apostate because of the error of a Rishon" (page 34)? He does not speak of turning apostate. He states that Halachic rulings are not from the Heavens but are man-made and therefore may and do contain a lot of errors. It is inconceivable that all of these came from the Divine Presence at Sinai.

Not only do you lack integrity, you lack understanding, too.

You counted some of Rashba's writings (on page 35) as evidence for his "wide knowledge" in matters of reality. It is not knowledge that may be seen in those sections of Rashba's responsa, but rather the opposite: in part 1, section 9, he denounced the sciences and revealed a complete misunderstanding of a magnet's function, in section 413 he spoke of the healing powers of different things (which is mystics, but not science), and in section 415 he went so far as to forbid the study of natural sciences for anybody less than 25 years old! A wise man will be frustrated to think of how many diseases would not have been healed and how many pious Jews would have died if everybody strictly followed Rashba's ruling. What Rashba wrote about anatomy in part 1, section 29, was taken completely from the Gemara. It is not a witness to his knowledge of anatomy but of his knowledge of Gemara. Where the Gemara erred or said nothing, he certainly would have misspoken, as happened on the issue of the heart.

Don't you realize the absurdity in a sentence like "as though they had never checked a human heart after death" (page 35). How could Rishonim, who were like angels, perform autopsies? It is forbidden by Halacha and many Hareidi leaders fought against it during the early years of the State of Israel?!

Do you think your readers are fools who can neither read nor understand and do not know the events of not-so-ancient history? Or do you think any means are permitted to prevent a person from leaving Orthodox beliefs?

You continued on this path when discussing the Tania's words that "there is no blood in the heart's right chamber." If "For blood is the soul" may only be said of blood containing oxygen, should blood from the right chamber be exempted from the prohibition against blood eating learned from this verse in Deuteronomy 12:23? Or do you simply use any excuse, hoping something would be persuasive?

So, too, with the issue of windpipes, did you err and lead your readers into error or even worse. Thus you wrote that the "Gemara in Hulin 45a says there are three tubes in the body: one spreads out to the heart, one spreads out to the lungs, and one spreads out to the liver… And it is not written [in the Gemara] where these tubes start, just where they end" (page 36). You meant that the Gemara was not mistaken, "only" the Rishonim were, but how could you forget that in all Talmudic sources the anatomical term kaneh (tube) stands for the windpipe only, that is, a tube or system of tubes that carries air? There never has been any tube that carries air to the heart or to the liver; they receive oxygen from blood. The Gemara also states that those "tubes" do "spread out" to the heart, liver and lungs; from the context it is clear that there is one tube (windpipe) from which all three spread. This is clearly an error and an absurdity in the words of the Gemara itself. Therefore the Yad Yehuda wrote that Rashba erred because "this is what seemed to him the import of the words of the Gemara." All your accusations against Daat Emet for faking are baseless and nothing but lashon hara.

It is useful to note that the Steipler wrote (on Hulin, paragraph 17) that "there is a vein that goes from the liver to the lungs," and this is wrong. This is the error Daat Emet spoke of, and even you admitted that "there is no visible path from the lungs to the liver" (page 37). Thus, even you point out our Sages' errors, as is proper for a learned person, but then why be angry with Daat Emet? They do exactly the same!

Even after admitting the main point of the Daat Emet pamphlets, you went on for some reason, blaming and cursing, until you started faking and distorting.

On page 37 you cited the Encyclopaedia Hebraica (entry anatomy) in support of your claims: "The anatomy in the Talmud is rich in details, and its function is the description of normal and abnormal forms of the body, in place of the Greek theory of humors. The details are sometimes amazing in their precision -- to the extent of mentioning small cartilages in the structure of the windpipe which were discovered by Western anatomy only in the 17th century." "And then," you wrote [in your own name and not as a citation], "it [Hebraica] continues and states that all those amazingly exact details are brought in the Gemara not systematically, but 'only as they were needed for the solution of Halachic problems'." Maybe in the hopes of strengthening the faith you didn't cite the exact words of the Hebraica. It said: "…which were discovered by Western anatomy only in the 17th century. On the other hand, they [the anatomic details in the Talmud] are deficient -- probably because they are not brought systematically, but randomly: only as they were needed for the solution of Halachic problems" end of citation (Encyclopaedia Hebraica, anatomy, p. 408). The Hebraica's words mean quite the opposite of what you say. If this is not faking and distortion, what is??? Maybe you forgot that a sect of liars doesn't receive the Divine Presence (Sanhedrin 103a).

Similarly did you err and fake and curse on issues of astronomy.

First you assaulted the Daat Emet author for continuing his claims against Chazal after he brought proof that Torah is not from Heaven, as though it were forbidden to ask questions. Even the Talmud commentators like Rashi and Tosfot sometimes give a number of different suppositions on a Talmudic issue. Since when is a high-level discussion on matters of Torah "fire and blood," as you wrote on page 41?

After finally confessing that you simply don't understand the Daat Emet claims (why, then, did you write 53 pages about them?), you blamed its author for your lack of understanding and called him "insane," "a sadist and a masochist at the same time," and other obscene names, and for some reason brought his family life into things -- do you really think it helps you refute his claims, which are strictly based on reality?

On page 42 you went so far as to write that the Daat Emet author even served jail time -- a complete lie. How can you be unafraid of the Halachic (and civil) prohibition against slandering? Is this the proper behavior of a pious Jew or, more likely, a desecration of G-d's name, G-d forbid?

Even here you couldn't stop yourself from distorting the explicit words of our Sages. Thus, on the issue of the sunset and twilight you cited the words of Daat Emet that "[the Jews] always acted according to Rabeinu Tam, and there wasn't any other Halachic viewpoint," and then you cited the Chida's Birkei Yosef on Orach Chayim 261 as a ruling that the custom of Halachic behavior in the Land of Israel was always that of the Geonim, not of Rabeinu Tam. What kind of fool doesn't see that in Birkei Yosef on Orach Chayim 261 the words "Land of Israel" do not appear at all? What appears is "the districts of Israel" (gelilot Yisrael), meaning 'the different places of the Jewish Diaspora,' not 'the Land of Israel' (Eretz Yisrael). But what is more important, all the Chida does in Birkei Yosef there is: 1) refute all attempts to rule Halacha according to the "viewpoint of Geonim"; 2) deny such a viewpoint ever existed, and 3) state that all the Rishonim shared Rabeinu Tam's opinion, because it is obvious from the words of the Talmud. On all of these he disagrees with Maharam Alashkar, but he is a real tana demesayea to the Daat Emet author, and you are the one who helped to find such an honorable Halachic foundation for his words, thus earning the merit of Torah study.

Then you distorted the Daat Emet citation from Rav Tikutchinsky, "the erroneous calculation of the calendar is somewhat of a desecration of G-d's name." Never did Daat Emet say it specifically concerns Rabeinu Tam's opinion. It is, rather, a general remark, and a very reasonable one.

Your lack of understanding showed itself once more on page 44, where you wrote that it is obvious Chazal had a Divine tradition concerning astronomy, for they had their own opinion in those matters, different from the Gentile scholars, "and where could they [Chazal] 'invent' such an opinion from, if not of the tradition or of their Divine Spirit?" Do you think Chazal couldn't have had their own theories on astronomy? After all, they dealt with it; albeit not too successfully, but they must have had some theories on the matter.

Even more interesting is what you wrote on page 44 about Malbim's interpretation of the word raki'a (firmament): "After he [Malbim] considered some different opinions of the Rishonim and rejected them according to the knowledge of our days…" And here you, too, accepted that our Sages OBM, Rishonim who were like angels, simply erred in matters of reality. Such an error may be recognized not only by themselves, as you claimed on page 21, but even by one who lives centuries after them, based only on reality itself. Again, this is exactly what Daat Emet says, so why do you curse and blame them? From the words of approbation for your brochure from Rav Aharon Yehuda Leib Steinmann, may he live long, we should conclude that the Daat Emet author was absolutely right on that point and that his pamphlets are worthy of study in Torah strongholds just as Rav Steinmann's own words are.

The Daat Emet author managed not to make errors in the simplest and basic matters of understanding our world, which you failed to do. What, if not a harmful and serious error, is your claim that "it is impossible to rely on the scientists… because scientific theories replace one another every morning and night" (pages 44-45)? Or a similar remark on page 47 about "a leavening power" present in water that was hot and got cold, whose existence is denied by science: "But does science already explain everything?"

True, scientific theories do not always survive for a long time, but scientific observations do; seeing a bottle is an observation, and no theory could ever suppose it is a cup. The fact of Earth being a sphere is a scientific observation, and every theory should simply accept it as stipulated. The fact is that there's nothing special in formerly hot cold water compared to regular cold water, nor does it affect in any special way the process of dough becoming leaven. The difference between theory and perception is a basic rule known to every beginner who studies matters of reality.

Another example of your lack of knowledge of very simple things is a statement that "the matters of the firmament are secrets of the Torah" (page 45). How could astronomy, studied by all Gentile schoolchildren, be "secrets of the Torah"? You also write that "even from the scientific viewpoint it is impossible to define exactly the movement of the stars, which are really 'flying in the air,' because those stars are connected to each other by the complicated forces of gravity." Don't you even know the simplest facts? 1) There's nothing complicated about gravity itself; it is the large number of objects which creates sophistication. 2) The problem of calculating the movements of the heavenly bodies is merely technical, not essential. 3) Nowadays, with the aid of computers, the astronomers can perform all such calculations with astonishing accuracy.

Your description of gravity as "an undefined force" is nothing but an error -- since Newton (17th century) gravity has been well-defined; what is undefined is the cause for it being this way and not another, if there is any meaning to the term 'cause' concerning this matter.

By the way, Edison didn't "invent" electricity. Electricity cannot be "invented" at all, for it is an existing natural phenomenon, it can only be discovered. Static electricity had already been discovered by ancient Greeks, and electric current was discovered in the beginning of the 19th century, decades before Edison was born. What Edison really invented were electric lights for everyday use; he also constructed the first central power station (Encyclopaedia Britannica, electricity).

You also erred in your statement that our notion of Earth rotating around the sun is only "deceptive, for according to Einstein all motion is only one object moving relative to another, so it is impossible to define what rotates and what does not, and both of them [the sun and Earth] rotate one around the other" (page 47).

Anyone the least bit acquainted with the theory of relativity should know that this sentence is correct only when speaking of constant-speed motion [without acceleration] on a straight line; when speaking of rotation, even constant-speed, there's always a centripetal acceleration, and thus it is possible to define what rotates around what. It is, of course, Earth that rotates around the sun, regardless of Rambam's Halachic rulings in Laws of the Torah Fundamentals, part 3. And even you, following your own trend to find mistakes about reality in our Sages' words, wrote on page 46 that "nowadays, Earth isn't considered the center of the Universe," and even tried to learn a moral lesson from this fact -- in clear contrast to Rambam's words there. You did what was right, for Rambam simply erred.

But in vain did you try to present (on page 46) the statement of the Jerusalem Talmud (Avodah Zarah chapter 3) "that the world is made like a ball" as evidence of Chazal's knowledge of astronomy. For the full statement of the Jerusalem Talmud is: "…that the world is made like a ball. Rabbi Yonah said: Alexander the Macedonian, when he wanted to rise above, rose and rose until he saw the world like a ball, and the sea like a plate." Here is how these words are interpreted by Tosfot (Avodah Zarah, 41a): "Like a ball -- that the world is round, as is said in the Jerusalem Talmud, … the sea like a plate -- it means the ocean which surrounds all the world."

According to our sages, the ocean isn't a part of the world. It is something plate-like which surrounds the ball-like world. This can be hardly considered knowledge of astronomy. What is more crucial is that the Jerusalem Talmud describes a Greek statue of a goddess holding a ball and rules that it is forbidden, for holding a ball may be interpreted as an expression of the goddess' power over the world.

The Talmud itself rules that knowledge of the world's shape was Greek, not Jewish!

Our Sages were so amazed about the source of this knowledge that they found no better source for it than to "send" Alexander the Great on a "space flight." This shows exactly how vast was Chazal's lack of natural knowledge.

The Greeks already knew the true shape of Earth in the 5th century BCE -- 800 years before the Jerusalem Talmud was written and 200 years before Alexander the Great, when Philoleas, a pupil of Pythagoras, stated that the Earth is spherical (Encyclopaedia Hebraica, astronomy, p. 780). Claudius Ptolemy, in the 2nd century CE, even managed to measure Earth's perimeter quite exactly, and the results of his measures are cited, among others, by Rambam in his Foreword to the Mishna Commentary.

Knowledge of astronomic matters came to our Sages not from Sinai, but from Greek pagan worshippers. And Alexander the Great, of course, never made a space flight -- the first one who did so was Yuri Gagarin, 2300 years after him.

Another of your harmful and severe errors is the following explanation: "… how is it that the springs in the Land of Israel are warm at night when the sun shines over America? That would be possible only if Earth was thin or the springs so deep they went through to the opposite side of the world, which is not the reality. Maybe a special natural phenomenon occurs there, not known nowadays" (page 46).

But every child in the third grade knows the cause for this phenomenon: after being warmed during the daytime, the ground (and the water, too) loses heat slower than the air, so relative to the air, springs are warm at night.

You'd better study nature before writing about it, for your writing makes Torah scholars look like clowns.

You wrote that the Chazon Ish's viewpoint about when the stars appear is in full accordance with the Vilna Gaon's ruling that the time mentioned in the Gemara (three quarters of a mil) is specific to the Babylonian geographic parallel and the months of Tishrei and Nissan, and must be recalculated in every place according to its geographic coordinates. But the parallel of Babylon (Iraq) is more or less the same as of the Land of Israel, so according to Chazon Ish the Vilna Gaon erred, as did the Gemara! About that Daat Emet said: "Every Halachic authority has its reason, each one has its explanation, and the words of the Gemara fall into a deep pit."
You continued with absurdities even on Pamphlet 5, writing quantities of text without the slightest understanding of the matters you're writing about.

You brought the Targum on I Chronicles 12:33 as evidence of our Sages' knowledge of calendar calculation. Didn't you know that the Targum was written in the 2nd century CE, long after the legend of the tribe of Issachar as outstanding astronomers was spread far and wide? The tribe of Issachar itself, however, was exiled to Assyria, along with the rest of the 10 tribes, 900 years before. There was then and there is now no way of determining what kind of astronomic knowledge they had, if any. The Book of Chronicles itself says nothing about astronomy -- its words are "And of the sons of Issachar, able to understand the times, to know what Israel will do…" Nothing more. Nor can we know what was written in "the books written by the Sages of Israel of the tribe of Issachar during the prophetic period," mentioned by Rambam (Laws of Sanctifying the Month, 17:24).

What we can determine definitely is that the present Judaic calendar was based on the calculations made by pagan-worshipping Gentile astronomers, as Rambam himself wrote. Daat Emet merely cited his words.

You also wrote that our present method of calendar calculation is Halacha given to Moses at Sinai, and cited Rambam's words in Laws of Sanctifying the Month 5:1 as saying that nowadays, when we have no Sanhedrin, it is Halacha to Moses from Sinai to determine the calendar according to those calculations.

But how could you forget that Rambam himself relates those calculations to the Greek astronomers?

Do you see yourself as more pious than the Chazon Ish, who wrote (on Orach Chayim, 140) that "[Rambam's] meaning was not that all the details were transmitted in Halacha, but it was transmitted that the Sages have the power to establish a consistent calculation according to which the years will be determined, so that the solar years will match the lunar ones… But it is not impossible to establish another calculation that will adjust the lunar and the solar years."

You also erred in stating (on page 50) that Socrates received his wisdom from Asaf HaKorchi and Achitophel, because those two lived at the time of David, while Socrates lived 500 years later. If you cited this from Torat Ha'Olah by Rema, then Rema erred, too. Plato never traveled to the Land of Israel, despite what you wrote on page 51, but he traveled to Italy, Greece, and Egypt (Encyclopaedia Britannica). There's no evidence of basic changes in his philosophy after those travels.

There is no trustworthy report that Aristotle ever met any Jewish sage, nor is there any of so drastic a change in his philosophy as acceptance of the Jewish faith. The life of Aristotle is known to us in detail to his very last days, and the lack of evidence of such a dramatic change is evidence of its absence.

Then you again gave your readers an illustration of our Sages' misunderstanding of both the simplest matters of reality and the words of their predecessors. We mean your reference to the Chatam Sofer's novella on Bava Batra 21a, where he states that though Rambam said Gentile calculations of intercalation are faultless, this is not correct, for "fault has already been found in them… anyway, they err in the 11 days that are between the festivals of Russia and the Germans, which error is known to originate with the Pope… but in our traditional calculation, no mistake nor change was found…."

He (and you, which isn't surprising) didn't understand the difference between solar- and lunisolar-year intercalation! The difference between the festivals of Russia and the Germans is nothing but the difference between the Julian and Gregorian calendars, adopted by the Greek-Orthodox and the Catholic churches correspondingly.

This has nothing to do with the calculations of the lunar month, to which Rambam referred in his words about Gentile calculations being faultless. And they are really faultless, for the 19-year cycle you so praised in the name of Abarbanel was introduced by the Greek astronomer Meton in the 5th century BCE, and probably was known to the Chinese in the 8th century BCE (Encyclopaedia Britannica, calendar). So Ptolemy never could praise the Jews for this calculation; it was not theirs.

But you did a fine thing in finding another tana demesayea for Daat Emet, this time Rabbi David Ganz. But again you show your lack of understanding, for never did Daat Emet state that the Gemara itself didn't distinguish between the average lunar month and the real one. The one who really didn't distinguish between them was the late forger who added the "12 and 793" to the Gemara many years after it was written. The tradition of incompetent forgers is a very ancient one, and a wise man will understand.

Nor did the Daat Emet author blame Maharil for not understanding the difference between the real and the average month; he blamed Chafetz Chayim and our generation's rabbis. It is now possible to calculate every real lunar month with a high degree of accuracy, so there's no need to rely on the average of "29, 12 and 793" as they do in their lack of knowledge. But even the Maharil's instruction to rely on that average is highly problematic, for what does the general correspondence of this calculation with the natural calendar have to do with any specific month, which can differ from the average by a whole 14 hours?

Though you also revealed complete ignorance and misunderstanding in matters of astronomy, you nevertheless tried to rely on experts when defending the Halachic calculations and refuting the Gentile ones. You wrote "and an expert told me" (pages 47, 49), but it's a pity you didn't specify the names of those experts so your readers could verify your words. Based on previous experience, we might well consider that the way you used those "references" fulfilled our Sages' words: "And the one who wants to lie will push aside evidence, for this is the way of the men of mockery who don't have any clue and do not know what they are saying: they draw on subjects whose study and knowledge are not well-publicized" (The Responsa of Noda BiYehudah, second edition, Yore De'ah, paragraph 181).

You have done nothing in Zachor Cherpatcha but curse, use foul language, reveal ignorance and misunderstanding, and sometimes even fake and distort, as we have seen above.

Maybe you forgot the words of Yam Shel Shlomo on Bava Kama, page 38, that it is better to die than to lie in matters of Torah. It seems clear that your point was not discussing matters and answering the questions, but by any means preventing your religious readers from becoming secular. It shouldn't be called "answers to the words of a mentally disturbed person," as you wrote, but religious propaganda.

For example, just after you began discussing anatomy (on page 34), you made sure to write that "meanwhile, the Reform Jews stood right up and pinned up the filth written by their new hero, the man who will wage their struggle, for he even knows Aramaic."

First, where did you get such information about the Reform community, whose members you probably never met? Second and most important, what does this have to do with the facts described in the Daat Emet pamphlets? Another example is your strange habit of hawking the Sages of Israel at every opportunity like a peddler and singing their praises without any connection to the context.

Even if all that praise is true, what does it have to do with the simple fact that those Sages frequently erred on matters of reality? Maybe you tried to find an excuse for yourself using a kal vachomer: "If those great Sages were able to err, my words are certainly allowed to be wrong and erroneous." This kal vachomer is true, for your words are wrong and erroneous and even worse, as we have shown above.

We can only conclude with the words of our teacher Rambam in the foreword to his Eight Chapters: "accept the truth from anybody who said it." We will wish that upon ourselves, upon you, and upon all the House of Israel; G-d's seal is truth.


Naftali Zeligman