Monday, July 24, 2017

A Public Apology to Rabbi Ysoscher Katz

YCT Talmud Chair R' Ysoscher Katz
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post strongly criticizing Rabbi Ysoscher Katz for an article he wrote in the Times of Israel. It was written in the aftermath of some very prominent Jews in Lakewood being arrested for defrauding government welfare programs.  Although he did not say it is permitted, he tried to explain why some Orthodox communities felt it is Halachicly justified. In my zeal to counteract that notion I said the following: 
…when someone distorts the truth and then exacerbates the problem with false claims blaming what those individuals did on their Halachic process, it becomes a Chilul HaShem all by itself. 
I want to make a public apology to Rabbi Katz for implying that he lied. This is what I have been accused of. While that wasn’t quite what I meant I now see that when you says someone ‘distorts’ and makes ‘false claims’ - that is the same as saying they lied. That was hurtful and untrue. It surely was not my intention to inflict any kind of emotional pain on Rabbi Katz. It appears that I have.

I truly believe that Rabbi Katz is an honorable man of impeccable character and in no way do I think he lied. I just believe that he was badly mistaken for the reasons explained in my post.

While I am still in profound disagreement  with what he said, I am one hundred percent convinced that he believes in what he is doing. My disagreement is ideological. In no way do I think even for a moment, that Rabbi Katz did anything intentionally wrong.

I still strongly disagree with what he wrote in that Times of Israel article. I still feel it caused unnecessary harm to our reputation as honest and ethical people. I also remain firm in my disagreement with many of his other positions. I do not retract any of them. But that should not be taken as casting aspersions on his character. To the extent that I contributed to that perception, I apologize and hope that he accepts it.