Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Houston rabbis condemn use of internet for slander & lashon harah


22 comments :

  1. Wasn't there an event in Texas this blog covered and then deleted?

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  2. Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Yechava Daas 4:60): … In fact this is the way to understand the verse regarding lashon harah. “Do not speak lashon harah but don’t stand idly by concerning the blood of your fellow.” Even though there is a prohibition of lashon harah, nevertheless the second clause of the verse tells you that it is conditional on this not causing harm. Therefore you are obligated to inform others regarding certain matters in order to them to guard against loss and danger. This is expressed in Nidah (61a) that even though it is prohibited to listen to lashon harah but you should protect yourself from the potential danger you hear about. The Rambam (Mitzva 297) says that protecting another’s money is also included in “don’t stand idly by concerning the blood of your fellow.” … Therefore even if there is only a financial loss, one should inform your fellow man in order that he can protect himself from those who want to harm him. And surely when there is a possible danger to an individual or a group

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  3. Pischei Tshuva (O.C. 156): I want to note here that while all the books of mussar are greatly concerned about the sin of lashon harah, I am greatly concerned about the opposite problem. I want to protest about the even greater and more common sin of refraining from speaking negatively when it is necessary to save someone from being harmed. For example if you saw a person waiting in ambush to kill someone or breaking into someone’s house or store at night. Is it conceivable that you would refrain from notifying the intended victim to protect himself from the assailant - because of the prohibition of speaking lashon harah? By not saying anything you commit the unbearable sin of transgressing the prohibition of Vayikra (19:16): Do not speak lashon harah [but] do not stand idly by when the blood of your fellow man is threatened? By not speaking up, you violate the mitzva of returning that which is lost to its owner Devarim (22:2). Now if you can understand the obvious necessity of speaking up in these cases then what is the difference between a robber breaking into someone’s house or store or seeing that his servants are secretly stealing from him or that his partner is deceiving him in their business or that another person is cheating him in commerce or that he is lending money to someone that you know doesn’t repay? How is this different from stopping a proposed marriage to someone you know is a wicked person who would be a horrible husband. Saving a person from these situations is clearly included in the command (Devarim 22:2) to return to the person himself or his money. From where do we get the mistaken idea that in the case of murder, I will speak up but that it is prohibited to say anything in other situations where someone is being harmed? The general principle is that these are matters which depend upon the speakers motivation. If the informant’s intent in relating these matters is entirely to cause harm that is lashon harah. However if his intent is to bring about benefit to the other person and to save him and to protect him – then it is a great mitzva. In my opinion this is the underlying intent of the Yerushalmi which the Magen Avraham brings which says that it is permitted to speak lashon harah about people who cause disputes. … It is obvious that even concerning those who cause disputes it is not permitted to speak lashon harah gratuitously about them in all matters. It is only permitted for those things directly related to the particular dispute. It is only permitted concerning that which they are trying to harm others. In such a case it is permitted to reveal degrading things about them in order to save others. … Unfortunately I have seen many times where someone witnesses another person trying to cause harm to someone – and he suppresses the information and says, “Why should I get involved in a matter which isn’t my business…However one needs to be very careful about these and similar matters. Our Sages have said – when the permissibility depends on motivation - it says, “And you should be afraid of your G﷓d.”

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  4. Malbim (Vayikra 19:16.41): Do not stand idly by the blood of your fellow - The literal meaning of the verse is that if you see someone in danger – do not stand by but rather make a serious effort to save him…. However the association in this verse of not speaking lashon harah teaches us that even though we are prohibited to speak lashon harah, nevertheless if you know testimony that can help another - even though it involves lashon harah and breaking confidentiality – it is necessary to reveal the information and to testify. This is true even though revealing secrets is prohibited as lashon harah.

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  5. Netziv (Vayikra 19:16): Even though there is a clear prohibition in this verse against lashon harah, nevertheless this is conditional on “not standing idly by the blood of others.” In other words if you know that there is someone who wants to harm another then you are obligated to inform the intended victim and it is prohibited to stand idly by and let it happen.

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  6. Ohr HaChaim (Vayikra 19:16): The prohibition of lashon harah is conditional on whether not speaking will not cause harm to another. If you see a group that wants to kill people then you are obligated to notify the potential victims so that they can save themselves. One should not keep silent by saying that you don’t want to speak lashon harah. Thus we learn that if you don’t notify the potential victim and he is killed that you have nullified this mitzva of not standing idly by the blood of others. We learn this from the incident of Gedaliah who was warned of danger but did not pay attention to the warning.

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  7. Rashi (Yoma 86b): Publicize the hypocrites – These people are wicked but they represent themselves as righteous. Therefore if someone is aware of their deeds – it is a mitzva to publicize them because of chillul HaShem. That is because people learn from their deeds since they think they are tzadikim. Furthermore when they are punished from Heaven, people says “what benefit is merit to protect against suffering.”

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  8. Rabbeinu Yonah (Mishlei 24:28): Don’t be a gratuitous witness of your fellow man –… This principle is stated in Berachos (19a), If you see a talmid chachom sinning at night, do not suspect of him of sinning anymore by the day because he will surely have repented by then. Since he has the reputation of a person who is fearful of sinning and he is upset and regrets that his lust overcame him. However if the talmid chachom is in fact a wicked person who is mistakenly thought by the people to be righteous – he is not only to be criticized to those who know how to keep quiet – but in fact it is a mitzva to publicize his deeds until they are well known to the public. That is because severe harm occurs when wicked people are honored because he will turn many away from the proper path and denigrate the honor of the righteous and encourages sinning. There is in fact profanation of G﷓d’s name by honoring the wicked because some people will be aware of the sins the wicked do and will concluded that there is nothing wrong with sinning and that it doesn’t lower one’s stature (Yoma 86b)…

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  9. Interesting. I wonder if there is anything to be read into the absence of rabbis affiliated with TORCH (http://www.torchweb.org/team2.php) in the list of names at the bottom of the letter.

    Shana Tova.

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  10. t is interesting that one of the complainers about blog is R' Yeoshua Wender, a participant in the Tropper's sex scandal.

    R' Wender declare on this blog that he did not know that Tropper was extracting sex from his own conversion candidate and the reason the conversion candidate was block from conversion after the scandal broke out is because she was not ready.

    But we have a Tzaddik like Rav Lior who is in every day, every minute risking his life for Am Yisrael and Eretz Israel says that the only reason the lady was not converted is because she refused to have sex with Tropper, his wife and some other mekoravim.

    Without blogging and the Internet none of it would come out and Tropper would be still extracting sex from r' Wender's candidate and probably from other candidates as well.

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  11. As R' Eidensohn demonstrates, the entire weight of Torah opinion is that corruption and hypocrisy should be exposed. This Houston letter, declaring that all blogs are assur, is bizarre. I'm guessing that some local issue prompted this letter, but even so, it goes way too far. Blogs save lives, including the children and grandchildren of the rabbi signatories. This letter should be condemned, for stifling the free expression that is needed to fulfill many mitzvos in the Torah.

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  12. How can one express their frustrations about communal institutions "within the realm of Halacha?"

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  13. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 13, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    Just trying to figure out who these rabbis are, since they are not well-known nor are they famous for anything really, and what their motives and rationales may be:

    Rabbi Mendel Feigenson is the Chabad rabbi of "Chabad of Sugar Land" in Missouri City, Texas.

    Rabbi Barry Gelman is a very Modern Orthodox and Zionist rabbi according to his United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston web site.

    Rabbi Avraham Kivelevitz is either a teacher at a day school or a dayan from Chicago and it's not clear from Google which Rabbi Avraham Kivelevitz is the one here.

    Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff is described on Linked as a Chabad rabbi who does outreach in Houston.

    Rabbi Eliezer Lazaroff is a Jewish chaplain in Houston, per his own Chabad site.

    Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff has a Wikipedia article about him, and is reputedly the head of Chabad in Texas, based in Houston, having opened a number of Chabad centers in Texas since 1972. The Lazaroff family comes from Russia.

    Rabbi Gidon Moskovitz is a young outreach rabbi running Meyerland Minyan, where his online biography does not specify which yeshiva he actually attended.

    Rabbi Sasson Natan sprung in the 1990s from being a congregant, to the Hazan to Rabbi at the Keter Torah synagogue.

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  14. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 13, 2010 at 11:22 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  15. Good catch Rap...

    It makes sense, 4 of the rabbis are Chabbad and Chabbd is known at least in out of town locations to hate (sometime with a good reason) Yeshivish outreach organizations.

    After all they all compete in the same market.

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  16. "it is clear to all of us, that to create a public blog of this type is clearly and unequivocally in violation of so much of what the Torah stands for"

    Obviously there is a blog over there which goes under the skin of these esteemed rabbis.

    Could some put a link to this blog so we will all know what is all about...

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  17. Besides, if the Rabbis did their jobs and stood strong against intermarriage, child molesters, phony conversion, and kashrus slander, then nobody would have a need to resort to the desperation and anonymity of the blogosphere.

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  18. Maybe the issue has to do with recent wedding of Shannon O. in Houston. Maybe Tropper got jealous...

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  19. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 14, 2010 at 12:06 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  20. To Chief Penguin:

    The blog in question is here: http://berenparents.blogspot.com/

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  21. Sounds to me that the lady doth protest too much. They must be desparately hiding G-d only knows what. What kind of people publicly anounce nobody is allowed to criticize them publicly?

    Supression of freedom of speec is always one of the first acts of a dictatorial sysytem of evil.

    The rabbis motto "We can hurt you as much as we want and you can't say anything about it because its lashon harah".

    Wonderful.

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  22. Seems to me they're just asking for people to find the right way of expressing their concerns and frustrations, not that they should not say anything at all. They're talking about broadcasting negativity, they are not talking about constructive communication directed at the leadership of organizations who can make a change.

    Seems pretty reasonable. Not sure what you're all getting worked up about.

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