Thursday, January 06, 2011

If it Hurts, One Screams

Oib es tut vey shreit men. This Yiddish phrase which in English translation is the title of this post was uttered by no less a personality than Rav Chaim Soloveichik. It was most recently used by Rabbi Gavriel Rivlin on in the context of a personal attack against me for daring to suggest that it is possible that rabbinic leaders can err.

But the truth of the matter is that this phrase most appropriately describes my blog. When I see Judaism being damaged by the actions of other Jews, I scream because it hurts. I scream because of the Chilul HaShem. And the more religious the Jew is - or appears to be - the greater the Chilul HaShem

The latest attack against me was yesterday - again in - for once again screaming because it hurts.

First I want to clear up any confusion about my respect for Talmidei Chachamim. I have been told by people I trust that Rav Miller is perhaps the biggest Talmid Chacham in North America. That is quite a statement. In no way would I ever denigrate that kind of Talmid Chacham. Nor was that really my intent a couple of days ago when I ‘screamed’ my protest against his vicious attack against Rabbi Broyde.

I will admit here and now that I was perhaps a bit too strong. But his words hurt people I admire who are themselves Talmidei Chachamim. The true purpose of my post was merely to defend the honor of one such Talmid Chacham, Rabbi Michael Broyde. And to suggest that the words of the sages: Chachamim Hizharu B’Divreichem - Wise men: be careful in your words - would have served Rav Miller well. Much better than his viscious attack against Rabbi Broyde.

Aside from the personal pain that Rabbi Broyde and his family must be going through now - and aside from the outrage I felt on their behalf there is in fact a much more serious issue that Rav Miller perhaps did not consider. Using the kind of language Rav Miller did against him – calling him a Reformer on a level with ‘Acher’ (Aharon Choriner) - can in theory have a very serious and very chilling effect on Klal Yisroel.

By placing Rabbi Broyde in the category of the Reform Rav Miller has cast a pall on every Ger who has been converted in a Beis Din in which Rabbi Broyde was a part. And he has cast doubt on perhaps hundreds of Gittin Rabbi Broyde was involved with. That would mean that any child born to a woman who was divorced in Rabbi Broyde’s court is a potentially Mamzer. As are all their children for generations thereafter!

It is my understanding that Rav Miller is a very reasonable man. I hope that someone will convey these thoughts to him and perhaps he will reconsider his words.

I have been advised by friends and supporters many of whom are prominent Rabbanim – some of whom are right wing - to lay low and not respond to Rabbi Rivlin. All but one. He told me that it would be a mistake to do so. I agree.

I don’t know Rabbi Rivlin. In fact I’m not sure too many people do. There seems to be a consensus that this is an alias. Google searches have turned up nothing on that name. So either Gavriel Rivlin is a fictitious name or he is invisible. I doubt that he is the latter since he was given space twice on a prominent Charedi blog to cut me to pieces.

I can take the heat. But what I cannot take are the lies and distortions of my views both in his words and in the comments to them. His latest attack accuses me of denigrating a Gadol BaTorah. He said this without any context from my post. But it is the context that makes all the difference here. The context of my criticssim was in defense of a Talmid Chacham that Rav Miller himself denigrated. It was not my intent to denigrate a huge Talmid Chacham like Rav Miller. And to the extent that I did in my emotional outburst, I truly apologize.

It is ironic that someone who hides behind an alias has decided to denigrate and besmirch a fellow Orthodox Jew who identifies himself be name. People know who I am. I do not hide from my views – controversial or otherwise. I stand by what I say. And I speak from my heart on issues of the day L’Shem Shamyim. I also allow and even encourage disagreement in search of the truth.

This is not the case with Rabbi Rivlin. He hits… and he runs. What is the justification for hiding behind an alias if his indignation is so righteous? What is he afraid of? He claims to be protesting the besmirching of other religious Jews with shouts of Lashon Harah and Rechilus. Is he not doing the same thing to me? Even if I were guilty of it, does that give him the right to do it?

Rabbi Rivlin may be using an alias to hide from his fellow man. But he cannot hide from God. How much true Yiras Shamayim does this man have if he fears man more than he fears God.

But that isn’t all he is guilty of. In the process of bashing me and other Frum Jews he has done the unconscionable. He has described Leib Tropper as ‘a respected Monsey rov who stood up for Kedushas Yisroel.’ How much Kedusha did Tropper display in the massive Chilul HaShem he caused with his sex crimes?

And what about the fact that Tropper misused his position and stature to abuse a Ger? We have a mandate from the Torah to love the Ger. Tropper violated one of the most serious prohibitions in the Torah – the prohibitions against afflicting the Ger! Is this the ‘Kedusha’ Rabbi Rivlin stands up for? Or is it the reason he hides behind an alias. Tropper is a Rodef!

Instead of attacking someone who stands up for a legitimate Talmid Chacham – even if I was a bit harsh in how I did it – he stands up for a Rasha! Is this how Matzav sees itself? As defenders of Reshaim? Do they really want to be seen as supporting a Rasha who was declared a Kadosh by an anonymous coward?! Does anyone really believe that Rabbi Rivlin speaks for anyone but himself? Who are your Rabbanim, Rabbi Rivlin?

Rabbi Rivlin says that I have put myself outside the Machane. I would respond that I never was in his Machane. His is not the Machane of Charedim. It is the Machane of Reshaim. No Ehrliche Jew should ever want to be in it.