Monday, February 01, 2010

Digging the Hole Deeper

You know…. Sometimes it is just better to say nothing. The more explanations I read about why there has been reluctance to act on the part of the rabbinic establishment with respect to Tropper, the more skeptical I become.

Rabbi Dovid Ribiat has granted another interview to the 5 Towns Jewish Times where he further explains why the rabbinic establishment has been so reluctant to do or say anything.

The gist of his argument is that there is just not enough Halachic evidence yet. Rabbanim have a responsibility to follow the Halachic parameters of Jewish jurisprudence and do their due diligence. This is what they are doing now. In the meantime they must allow things to go on as they are – as though Tropper were completely innocent of any wrong doing. And he adds:

We do recognize that Rabbi Tropper has also made positive contributions in the past.

In other words - let’s not forget that Al Capone was a Big Baal Tzedaka.

I’m sorry. It all sounds like one big tap dance at this point. Especially in light of the quick and easy condemnation of books by Rabbis Kaminetsky and Slifkin.

In the meantime Tropper remains in his position as the Rosh HaYeshiva of Kol Yaakov. He is teaching Baalei Teshuva how to be Jewish. They look up to him as a man of honor and integrity while the establishment is ‘being careful’.

Students best learn by example more than they do by word. By now I’m sure many if not most or - even all - of his students have heard the ‘rumors’. He has of course vehemently denied them privately. One of his former students that I am very close to asked his ‘Rebbe’ if the rumors were true. Can anyone guess what Tropper told him?

Perhaps they are buying it now. But it is only a matter of time before this man will be exposed for the fraud he is. What will that do to his ‘students’? What message will they learn from the experience? How many will become jaded by it, turn around to mock him, and thereby the Torah he claimed to be following? ‘Why’ …they will ask, ‘were we not warned about this man sooner?’ Why was he allowed to teach us holiness when he was the opposite of holy by his actions?’ Why was there silence?’

This is not due diligence. This is dragging their feet. At the very least they should have privately and publicly asked Tropper to take a leave of absence from Kol Yaakov until this issue is resolved. Even if Tropper declined to do that. At least they would have been on record as doing… something. They would have at least publicly expressed their concern about a man whose character is being challenged by strong evidence of conduct unbecoming of a Rosh HaYeshiva.

Instead there is silence and excuses. Which is why I continue to have a problem with the rabbinic establishment.

Rabbi Ribiat’s explanations does not really address the problem at all It in fact just raises the greater issue of the lack of leadership. All he ends up doing explaining away their behavior.

The evidentiary questions that are holding back condemnation didn’t seem to bother Rav Sternbuch or Rav Dunner. They quickly and without hesitation condemned Tropper and explained why they believed him to be guilty. Is he saying the rabbinic establishment in Monsey or New York is more careful in deliberating this issue than Rav Sternbuch or Rav Dunner? That his ‘Gedolim’ are more concerned with the Halachic aspects than Rav Sternbuch and Rav Dunner?

It is one thing to say that we - the common clay of the earth (otherwise known as Am Haratzim) - are unqualified to make these judgments. That we should not judge the rabbinic establishment unfavorably. They are Daas Torah. We are not. They know the Halachic issues and act accordingly. We do not.

Rabbi Ribiat can say that about us. But by implication - isn’t he then saying the same thing about Rabbis Sternbuch and Dunner? I guess so.

I didn’t know Rav Sternbuch was such an Am Ha’artez. Nor did I know Rav Dunner was. Good to know. I’ll make a note of that for future use. Thank you Rabbi Ribiat!