Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Amnon Yitzhak

A prominent Charedi Rav I know has told me privately many times that he strongly suspects many of the Charedi zealots – both in the US and Israel – who overly concern themselves with matters of public Tznius are very likely sexual deviants from whose population sex abusers are drawn. I tend to agree with him. For example Those in Meah Shearim who beat up a woman because she spoke to a man other than her husband in public was an easy excuse for them and probably a sexual turn on for them.

I think it is also true of charismatic religious cult leaders – especially those who tend to be anti establishment. We don’t have to search too far in the non Jewish world to see the perverted sexual acts by charismatic leaders in the name of their god. Jim Jones and David Koresh come to mind. They had sexual relations with many – perhaps all - of their female cult members. In the Jewish world Bruria Karen – the ‘Burka Lady’ of Bet Shemesh comes to mind. Her own children were found to be involved in incestuous relationships with each other.

These people tend command a lot of respect and a huge following – hammering away on the need for Teshuva. Usually for sins related to sexual activity in one form or another. They try and project an image as defenders of Tznius. But as the Charedi Rav has pointed out – their true motive is very likely an unhealthy obsession with sex.

Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak is a charismatic individual who apparently has a huge following. He is a Baal Teshuva from Yemen who is now himself very involved with Kiruv - reaching out to secular Jews. If I understand correctly his approach is Kabbalistic and he apparently attracts huge audiences wherever he speaks. I personally have never understood his appeal. But to each his own and his appeal attracts big numbers. He has appeared in Chicago. Many times if I recall correctly.

He is currently on a tear to destroy religious singers who perform at mixed male-female events. Although I vehemently disagree with him I concede he has a right to promote that idea of sex segregated concerts . What he does not have a right to do is destroy people or their careers.

He recently approached Rav Aharon Leib Steinman in an unsuccessful attempt to get singer Yaakov Shwekey banned because he performs to mixed crowds. Thankfully Rav Steinman did not buy what Yitzhak is selling.

But his latest shenanigans defy rationality. An article in Ynet – if accurate - puts him so far outside the pale that he deserves to be condemned by every Rav of every persuasion. It not only crosses the line but makes him one of the most reprehensible and dangerous human beings on the face of the earth. He has convinced a singer who has become a Baal Teshuva to allow himself to be flogged. 39 lashes! With a leather whip! From Ynet:

The sinner lifted his shirt and recited the confession. A court clerk pressed him against the tree pole and began flogging him with a special whip.

Why? Because a religious court convened by Yitzhak - and of which he was a part (see photo) - determined he committed a sin worthy of Malkus Arbaim - 40 (39) lashes. This is the biblical directive to be flogged for - and limited to - certain types of sin. Singing to a mixed crowd is not one of them. But that is what this singer was biblically flogged for. He sang before an integrated crowd of men and women..

According to the article the rabbis on the Beis Din said that anyone who causes men and women to dance together has no place in the world to come. So this naïve singer – believing in Rabbi Yitzhaks holiness’ was convinced by him to repent via this method of ‘atonement.’ He agreed - praying that this flogging atone for all the sins committed from his birth to date.

What kind of monster advises people to get whipped as a means of atonement today? Is he out if his mind? I know of no Rosh Yeshiva or Posek; Gadol or Chasidic Rebbe; Rav or Dayan - past or present - who ever advocated such a thing. No matter how right wing they were.

This fellow has to be completely discredited. I call upon all Orthodox religious leaders to do so. He is a danger to the Jewish people – both physically and spiritually. And as my Charedi rabbinic friend suggested about people like this - his obsession with Tznius indicates a likelihood that he has his own sexually deviant issues. Should we wait until something worse happens before we stop him? Is advocating flogging people for singing in front of men and women not enough of a deviancy? The time is now. Before he whips anyone else – or worse!

Update (10:15 PM CDT): Some of my comments in this post are based on erroneous information contained in the Ynet article I based it on. I apologize for the error and my comments - and refer readers to my latest post for further details.