Anyone who thinks Agudah doesn’t read my blog or care what I say about them, should note a correspondence from them to Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer. It was posted on his blog in the comments section and reads as follows:
Also, please ask Harry Maryles to stop his very public lambasting of us. It's beneath him. He's better than that and it sure can not be halachikly appropriate, can it?
First I want to offer my appreciation to Rabbi Bechhofer for his response.
It is also very interesting that they have never had any correspondence with me about this. If they really feel this way, they could have contacted me. They could have easily found out my e-mail address from their spokesman, Rabbi Avi Shafran a man who I have repeatedly said that I respect even though we sometimes disagree.
He has my e-mail address and we sometimes correspond on various issues - as we did recently. And if by some chance Rabbi Shafran did not save my e-mail address, I am not that hard to find. A simple request on this blog from an anonymous Agudah employee asking for my e-mail address and I would have been happy to provide it - as I have done to others any time I have been asked for it.
The fact is that I do not generally lambaste Agudah. Their public service arm does wonderful work that benefits all of Orthodoxy. I have said so publicly both on this blog and elsewhere. Nor do I disparage any of the Agudah Moetzes. But I do criticize positions which they sometimes take that I disagree with, explain why I disagree - and try to do so respectfully.
One such recent criticsm was made with respect to their Chicago convention in late December. I felt that they missed an opportunity to address the issue of why Orthodox Jews like the Spinka Rebbe believed that it was a Mitzvah to launder money in an elaborate scheme in order to benefit his Mosdos.
They should have made reference to that and condemned it. And then they should have said why he was wrong. Instead I heard the typical type of Mussar one has come to expect from Agudah: It’s our fault. We, the Hamon Am, are too greedy. Or that the rich show off their wealth in ways that tempt the rest of us to cheat on our taxes – which of course they said is wrong. Nothing about why the Spinka Rebbe thought it was OK to do that. Or why some other Poskim think so.
I said then as I say now, It’s not that they were wrong in what they said. It’s that they chose not to address the mentality of some supposed role models of Orthodoxy – Poskim and Chasidic Rebbes - who believe it’s OK to cheat the government. By not clearly and convincingly condemning it and instead omitting it altogether at their major sessions they left the impression that what the Spinka Rebbe did was not so bad and maybe even Mutar.
If they think I was wrong they should have responded to me either publicly or privately and told me why. But instead they chose to send a private e-mail to Rabbi Bechhofer asking me to shutup.
This is actually good news. It means that they care about what I say. I am having an impact. Will it change anything? I don’t know but it’s good to know that my words which are written completely L’Shma are at least being heard.