Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It has come to my attention that once again a Charedi Jew has resorted to lying in order to make modern Orthodox Jews look bad. He usually posts here as Askan.

In a previous post about the negative experiences of a black fellow in the Charedi world, Askan decided that he would disguise himself as a black man. Using the pseudonym Leroy (in itself showing racist tendencies by using a name commonly used as a pejorative nickname for for a black man) Askan posted a comment about how badly the modern Orthodox community of Teaneck treated him.

In his guise as Leroy, Askan tried to imply that his formerly positive view of Orthodox Jewry was changed to a negative one because of my blog.

This seems to be the modus operandi of a significant part of the Charedi world. If you don’t like what someone says about you – attack him. Make him sound like the problem.

Instead of dealing with the problem they turn a blind eye to it and treat the messenger as the problem. His attitude about bloggers like me is - if we were only smart enough to sweep everything under the rug, no one would know the truth and we would retain our good name. As if there were no other media reporting any of it.

Unfortunately lying to protect image is an understandable consequence of an over-all Charedi attitude about the importance of protecting its image at all costs. And they cleverly and selectively cite Halachos about Lashon Hara and Mesira as justification for it.

This ends up with a philosophy that I believe is in part at the root of the problem.

One may never say anything negative about the Torah world under any circumstances. There is no such thing as evil in our midst. We are all basically all good and it is the evil media that vilifies us. If there is some issue that needs correcting we'll take care of it. But by all means keep it in house and under wraps. And the ‘Mussar’ coming out of those circles is that all accusations of impropriety by even the most responsible of reporters are not to be believed. Even when there is damning evidence of wrong doing.

If a religious Jew ends up being convicted of a crime - it was anti Semitism that did it. Not his proven guilt of a crime. All efforts are made to get a convicted felon out of jail because he wears a Yarmulke.

That is how the Charedi world is taught to think. That’s why biographies about Gedolim of yesteryear never mention anything that the Charedi world consider negative – even if other segments of Orthodoxy would consider it positive. In a Charedi biography every Gadol was born a Gadol – coming out of the womb wearing a Shtriemel!

So I can’t really blame this guy for thinking it’s OK to lie in order to make his point. But it is this very attitude that contributes to the problem. If we sweep everything under the rug (and by implication we do not fully co-operate with police investigating the crime) it perpetuates criminal activity. Frum criminals will never be reported to the police. It involves Lashon Hara and Mesirah. After all - what Frum person will violate these Halachos? Especially when public Mussar is more about that that than about the crimes that some Orthodox Jews are accused of committing?

This fellow – Askan – has not done the Charedi world any favors. He has instead reinforced the image Charedim as people bent on protecting their reputations at all cost – including lying about other Orthodox Jews in order make them look worse by comparison.

I don’t think he succeeded. At least not with me. I know too many Charedim who do not lie and feel the same way I do about many of the things I write about. Charedim do not lie any more than modern Orthodox Jews do. But the more Charedim there are like Askan - the harder it becomes to believe that about them. I hope he’s proud of himself.