Monday, February 18, 2013

R. Leib Tropper - educator at RJJ elementary school

Update: Text on Tropper's blog now says "educated at the Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef Elementary School" instead of "educator".

Update in light of some comments in the comments section


Yisroel's comments concerning this shows that he is a shoteh. However Monseylite raises some of the same concerns I mentioned in the post itself. The issue is whether there is any benefit of mentioning the terrible chillul hashem that an individual once did. Monseylite says "its over" " I don't think it's fair to bring him up again and open up another chance for people to shoot arrows at him."
I disagree. Tropper's crime was not a momentary loss of control where he might have taken money that wasn't his. It wasn't an aberration of the situational temptation of eating treif food or selling it. His crime involved the systematic and intentional corruption of Orthodox Judaism and some of the most well know and important gedolim within that system primarily with money but also with kavod and power over others concerning conversion.
For these types of crimes not only is his repentance dependent on the facts of his crime being well known- but something more important. When I traveled to America after the Tropper affair I was confronted with an amazing reality - almost no one I met had heard of the disaster. I am not talking about tzadikim and masmidim who are detached from awareness of scandal. The people ignorant of this historic event were people who pride themselves with knowing what goes on in the frum world. As one American godol who was intimately involved in the events put it, it was event that involved too many big people and involved too much of the system to be publicized. In the vernacular -Eternal Jewish Family and Tropper were too big to fail. But he did. And it caused one of the most negative lowering of rabbinic status, respect and authority of anything else in the last 50 years- if not more.
Furthermore the response of gedolim - not only those in involved - was a concerted effort to silence comment and coverup the crimes that were done. There was not a single comment of apology from a single gadol who was involved in the fiasco except to say what happened wasn't really such a big deal.

So for all of these reasons and more I respectfully disagree with monseylite and his "let's be adult in our midos" approach.

If he has any actual sources that say that this event should be erased from our collective memory, that it serves no purpose to remind the public periodically what happened and that it is wrong to Tropper (who to the best of my knowledge is not a baal teshuva in this matter) to remind him of his past when warning others of what can happened when the rabbinic system loses its transparency and is concerned primarily with power, influence and money - please educate us.

Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it.

The Torah prescribes punishment for crimes that serve as a warning and consciousness raising exercise so that the crimes are not done again.

As Rav Moshe Feinstein put it - "even if a murderer did genuine teshuva - he is still executed." It is still publicized that he was a murderer or any other type of criminal - even though this has disastrous consequences on his family.


Update: Rabbi Micha Berger wrote:  Dr Marvin Schick's email address is on his blog, so it took no work to contact him and ask. Here was his reply:

Leib Tropper does not teach at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School on Staten Island and to my knowledge has never taught there. Nor does he hold any other position at the school. I hope that this makes the matter clear.

 ===========================
 I was recently given a shock when someone sent me a page from Rabbi Tropper's Blog where he proclaims in the upper right hand corner that he is currently an "Educator at the Yeshivas Rabbeinu Yaakov Yosef Elementary School". That is where his father taught first grade for 30 years.  He also notes that "He is involved in the Character First project, which promotes good character in young people

At the time that the tapes of R' Tropper were circulating the internet and it was clear that he was involved in behavior incompatible with being a spiritual leader  - someone approached a gadol who was associated with Eternal Jewish Family and asked him what he was doing to remove him from leadership of the group.  The gadol unsurprisingly wasn't convinced that he was guilty but said that even if he were guilty - so what? A shikse is not an issur doreissa. He was then asked - well how could he be a rosh yeshiva? The gadol incredibly answerered  that even if he was guilty as charged but since he was not teaching his students immoral behavior or encouraging them to do so - there was no need to remove him!

Basically I am asking this as a question - not claiming that this as the halacha for him. The facts of what has happened are public knowledge for most of my readers and Rav Sternbuch had told me to publicize the facts of his misdeeds

Has the scandal been so successfully covered up that in fact there is no problem with him having an official position of a Torah teacher to children?  Would you want him to teach Torah to your children or be the rav of your shul? Or alternatively even if it is assumed that he has done teshuva [which isn't certain since he has not publicly confessed to his misdeeds] does that erase all that has happened?

When it comes to picking a shliach tzibor there are those who prohibit picking one who had sinned intentional - even if he did teshuva because of the reputation 

Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 53:5):  ... Rema: ... One who has sinned unwittingly for example he accidentally killed someone and repented - it is permitted for him to be shliach tzibor. However if he did it on purpose he can not be the shliach tzibor despite the teshuva because he has already acquired a bad name prior to doing teshuva.

The example of Rabbi Meir and his rebbe who sinned is also not clearly related to the present case since Acher never did teshuva - or at least not until the end of his life.

Bottom line. Can a person who has been involved in a major scandal involving major sins and chilul hashem - ever be given a job as a teacher or spiritual leader?

51 comments:

  1. "A shikse is not an issur doreissa."

    neither is the issur of chalav nochri but if the tropper was somech on rav moshe, i am willing to bet that the gadol would have ordered that he be hung in the town square.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. This mind-numbing reply does nothing to contribute to rational discussion. In fact, it is public knowledge that Rabbi Tropper does not nor has ever kept cholov yisroel and never encouraged his talmidim to do so.

      Delete
    2. Please publish previous anonymous comment, it was mine, accidental slip of the mouse.

      Delete
  2. It depends. If the miscreant has no pull he's in the doghouse. If he has pull you just saw what happens.Questions of right and wrong are subservient to people's bias.

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  3. That blog is a fake. It isnt authored by R. Tropper. A cursory reading makes that obvious. He doesnt call his wife "Laurel Blond", as one entry refers to her.

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    1. That is her legal & professional name and there is no reason for him not to call her that on a public blog.

      Delete
  4. I guess the question is: Can we confirm that he is teaching at the school?

    Then we look at options.

    Would I want him teaching my children? No. He violated a Yeherag v'lo yaavor(at least that is why I assume Pinchas slew Zimri).

    If he had done Teshuva, and it was well known that he had done Teshuva, it might be different(in fact it probably would be different). However, considering that he has consistently lied and tried to cover up for his mideeds... well I'm not sure I would trust him if he did Teshuva now.

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  5. See R' Yaakov Kamencki (Emes LeYaakov Parshas Yechi page 237, our host's translation) citing the Rambam (Issurei Bi’ah 12:7-8) before dismissing the severity of having relations with a non-Jew. The Rambam explicitly says that in this case, comparative punishment does not give you a measure of severity.

    Also, what he did to that woman's psyche to get her into bed doesn't reflect "Character First". Nor does offering her services to others.

    Nor does misappropriation of charity funds, his lying to numerous gedolei hador (and the rest of us) about the effects of Slifkin's books on his talmidim, manipulating a couple into a divorce, etc, etc, etc...

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  6. If he has done a proper Teshuvah, by definition he should now be extremely distressed by the chilul Hashem he has caused, and I would expect that to move him never to take any Rabbinic or Educator role again for the rest of his life.

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  7. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 18, 2013 at 5:45 PM

    It's all about making a comeback!

    Leib Tropper just like Michael Hersh have always had the full backing of their main strategic rabbinic backer, Rav Aron Schechter of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and it is therefore not surprising that they do not care what anyone thinks of them and they are both making a concerted comeback. Both Tropper and Hersh have money behind them. Tropper has raised millions and has rich backers, and Hersh has his own technology company so they have "bargaining chips" to help them get "rabbinic approval". No real surprise here.

    One of two roshei yeshiva of RJJ is the dynamic Rav Yosef Eichenstein a close talmid of Yeshiva Chaim Berlin who is also very close to Rav Aron Schechter. Michael Hersh is still honored at and is sitting at the "mizrach vant" of the Chaim Berlin yeshiva. If Michael Hersh can go to the Israeli police and make things up with impunity and force you to take down posts that speak the truth, why can't Leib Tropper ignore videos of him being immoral with another woman and then teach kids at RJJ if roshei yeshiva see no harm in any of those obviously questionable actions??

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  8. "He violated a Yeherag v'lo yaavor(at least that is why I assume Pinchas slew Zimri".

    Major differences:

    Zimri, was בפרהסיא. This affair was not (while it allegedly occurred).

    Zimri, did ביאה ממש, while in this case there was allegedly "only" מעשה חידודין.

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    1. Zimri, was בפרהסיא. This affair was not
      Hmmm... pimps typically advertise. Maybe not to the entire Klal, but they advertise none the less.

      (while it allegedly occurred).
      So you haven't see the actual video then, just heard parts of the tapes?

      So you haven't seen the actual video then? Not even the sanitized clips that bled onto the internet in which an obviously nude Tropper is climbing out bed with his wife and the other woman?

      Delete
    2. "Pimps typically advertise. Maybe not to the entire Klal, but they advertise none the less".

      What does it have to do with anything? The reference is to the actual act, which must be בפרהסיא at the time of the act.

      I didn't see the raw video, but I did see the one's posted on line. A video of someone climbing out of bed is only רגליים לדבר of מעשה חידודין, not of מעשה ביאה.

      Delete
    3. nu bemet you are picking at nits. the ACT, having sexual relations with a non-jewish woman, was a ma-aseh zimri. that doesn't mean that in this case someone else has the right to take a spear and stick it up his belly. he had on-going relations with non-jewish woman, that is the point.

      Delete
  9. The question I have about Zimri is whether his crime was purely ביאה, or as the Torah says, he was involved as a Mesit to Baal Peor worship.
    The command to kill everyone involved was on account of Baal Peor, not regular debauchery.

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    1. Eddie,

      Halacha Le'Moshe Me'Sinai teaches us that the kannai may kill the perpetrators even for "plain vanilla" debauchery, provided all the conditions are met. There does not seem to be any additional criteria of the act being connected to idol worship.

      Rambam (Issurei Bi'ah 12:4):

      כל הבועל כותית בין דרך חתנות בין דרך זנות אם בעלה בפרהסיא והוא שיבעול לעיני עשרה מישראל או יתר אם פגעו בו קנאין והרגוהו הרי אלו משובחין וזריזין ודבר זה הל"מ הוא ראיה לדבר זה מעשה פנחס בזמרי.

      Delete
    2. Thanks very much for this reference. How do you learn the following:

      דבר זה הל"מ הוא ראיה לדבר זה מעשה פנחס בזמרי?

      Is the example of Pinchas vs. Zimri the proof , or just an asmachta for an existing הל"מ?

      The actual event was Baal Peor.

      The conditions are rather strict, ie in plain sight of 10 people. It is unlikely that a Minyan would take place at such a live event.

      Delete
    3. Given the Rambam's position that the nature of הלכה למשה מסיני is such that it is not derived from any pasuk, then Pinchas vs. Zimri is just an asmachta for an existing הל"מ.

      The actual event was the fornication which took place between Zimri & Cosby. Baal Peor was only the backdrop of the event.

      "The conditions are rather strict".
      I refer you the position of the Raavad (ad loc.) that התראה is required.

      "It is unlikely that a Minyan would take place at such a live event". I refer you to the gemara which states that Esther living with Achashveirosh, had the status of בפרהסיא.

      Delete
    4. Is there a source in the Gemara that this is הלכה למשה מסיני?

      Here is a Kabbalistic view that - attributed to the Arizal - suggests Cosby was Dina reincarnated, and Zimri was Shechem http://www.aish.com/tp/i/moha/97291469.html.

      The "license to kill" in the Torah was because of the Peor rites, and Zimri was a leader in this.

      Can you give me the actual reference for that Gemara on Esther, it is interesting to know why she was protected - of course we consider her to be anusah.

      Delete
  10. I don't publish anonymous comments! Please put a name of your comment.

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  11. For me this is a klutz kasha.

    He is entitled to make a living. Let him work in a store. Perhaps a used car salesman. Telemarketing or even better a politician.

    But absolutely no position of responsibility or authority within the community. Nor a position even in the non Jewish society where he influences peopkes lives ie teaching in public school.

    Let's assume he has done tshuva. Do we know?Do we really know?
    We should dahn l'kav zchut that he did tshuva.

    But,we don't have to leave our brains at home and try his tshuva out..

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  12. I like Fordaas' take. There are three elements in Tropper's culpability: the sexual sins in themselves, his abusing and exploiting his role as rabbi/teacher/authority, and the C"H created when these became known.

    There is no more honored position than rabbi/teacher. Is it not a C"H in itself when someone who has grossly dishonored that role is again given a position of honor, where students and parents will be expected to give him proper kavod? As Fordaas said, if he truly appreciated what he did, he wouldn't have taken the job.

    As with sexual abuse, part of the problem is those who minimize and excuse, like the "gadol" who "incredibly answered that even if he was guilty as charged but since he was not teaching his students immoral behavior or encouraging them to do so - there was no need to remove him," ignoring completely the conspicuous lesson taught by his unseemly rehabilitation. How can someone who could say such a thing be called a "gadol"? Can a moral midget be a Torah giant?

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    1. Not sure about the moral rehab. Obviously where there is C'H, so they say, there is no Kavod, even for a Rav. Is there a sin for which teshuva is impossible?

      I had once a convo with a Rav who learned at Brisk. He claimed that when someone in Haredi/Yated Neeman world sins, they do Teshuva and the story is closed. However, he went on, when a MO person sins, there is no teshuva for that.

      I think such a claim is ridiculous. And it shouldn't be applied even to Tropper - perhaps being humbled has made him contrite, who are we to say otherwise?

      Delete
  13. There is absolutely no reason to bring the topic of R.Trapper again, he already had enough bizyonos, that will mechaper for every thing bad that he did,.And now talking about him bad - it is a pure loshon hora, because there is no toeles in it,just hatred,. I absolutlely agree with that godol, hi did not taught bad to others, . Just leave him alone, let him do good to Jewish nation like hi did before.

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    1. he already had enough bizyonos, that will mechaper for every thing bad that he did

      Do you mind telling me from the Gemarra what is MeKhaper Chillul HaShem?
      Even if you take the Arizal's view on it as being Lav Davka, and thus only needing public recanting of one's sin, and four thousand consecutive days of fasting, natural trials of life, especially those that come upon you from your own actions don't account for it.

      it is a pure loshon hora, because there is no toeles in it,just hatred
      Let's see. A Rabbi used his position of authority to coerce a woman into having illicit sexual relations. He used his position of power to emotionally and spiritually abuse other people.

      So now we find him in a position of power again, this time over children. Would you not want to know that someone like that was teaching your children? What about your daughters?

      It is not hatred speaking, it is care for the powerless(or less powerful). I don't hold a personal grudge against Tropper. In fact I hope that he does genuine teshuva and then can actually move on with his life and do something positive for Klal Yisrael.

      However he has not done that Teshuva. He has consistently lied and claimed that he was innocent. Even when the tapes surfaced he blamed it on a plot by Millionare Guma Aguiar. Even when the tapes were verified beyond doubt to be authentic and not hollywood fabrications, he refused to sign anything admitting to his actual wrong doing or to even admit to it. Under immense threat of criminal prosecution and public shaming he agreed to leave Monsey and step down from EJF and his Yeshiva.
      That is not the action of a repentant man.

      Finally we know of this one case where a woman was brave enough to expose her own shame in order to put an end to what Tropper was doing. Do you really think she was the only one? Do you think he had never tried(or done) that before? What about with all of the "illigitmate" converts he created? So this one was a Shiksa, but there were innocent young girls that grew up Jewish that he suddenly told they were not truly Jewish because their grandmother or great-grandmother converted under the wrong sect's Orthodox Beit Din(never mind that is against the Shulchan Arukh...). How do you know that he didn't try the same with them, or do the same with them?
      Not only does it seem likely that he did, there is tangential evidence that he in fact did.
      So there is plenty of Toelet here. If you think not, perhaps you should talk with Rav Shternbuch yourself.

      Delete
    2. I have a question regarding "Echta Veashuv " i.e. one who sins with the intention of returning afterwards.
      Does this apply to someone who sins in order to save a life or as an emergency, eg breaking shabbat, or being forced to convert?

      Delete
    3. "Not only does it seem likely that he did, there is tangential evidence that he in fact did." Huh??

      Delete
  14. I think it is time to leave R.Trapper alone. Why are you people still talking bed, for no toeeles for you and not for him. I 100% agree whit that Godol,that R.Troper did not taught any thing bad to his tolmidim, only Torah and Yiras Shomaim,. Like all of us never sinned,? people sin , they repent, and go wayter,.Now it is between him and Ashem. Why continue destroying the person, hi is not our enemy, be good and positive people,stop this hatred, it is so foolish,.

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  15. Rav Reuven Feinstein Has a Staten Island student Moshe Yehuda and his wife Kayla Bursztyn who are Both Mesariv Ledin They Had Their Former Tennent Arrested Because They Claim He owed Them Rent and Insulted them They Refused to answer Beis Din Beis Yosef and Mechon Lehorah Hazmonos and Ikkuls

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  16. Dear emesdiki mamesh, and kolbismaher mit a van, (since you are obviously the same person,)
    the toeles in bringing this topic up again is to protect the Kavod of our institutions and our Rabbonim. Can't you see how we are just undermining all respect for our educators, (and for Torah in some sense,)if we become comfortable with people who did such horrific stuff to fill these roles???
    In addition the importance of "Kedushas Am Yisroel," gets severely diminished in our own eyes if we choose to look the other way.

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  17. i am assuming that emesdiki and kolbismaher are simply trolling.

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  18. Rabbi Tropper has been severely emotionally traumatized by the events that happened to him and he is given to flights of fancy and wild imagination. My strongest suspicion is that he has absolutely nothing to do with RJJ, or that maybe he gave a 10 minute talk to some talmidim and now considers himself an "educator" there. I think it is most likely blowing things way out of proportion to make a whole to-do about this little note on his blog. Until someone confirms that he has acutally obtained a position there, which I would bet money he has not, I would consider this "case closed."

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  19. Does Dr Marvin Schick know about this?

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  20. Write him and find out. mschick@mindspring.com is the address he lists publicly on his blog.

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    1. Thank you for the suggestion. Just emailed:

      Dear Dr. Schick,

      Leib Tropper alleges on line to be in the employ of Yeshiva of Staten Island, and heading their "Character First" program, to boot.

      Is this true? Did YSI actually put a man with a history of abusing his authority over others in a position of authority over children?

      Never mind the issurim and chilul Hashem depicted on the video leaked to YouTube, there is also his manipulating a couple into a gett, his lying to gedolei haposqim and the rest of us about the effects of Slifkin's books on his talmidim, the pressure he applied on dayanim to try to enforce one pesaq about geirus over what they themselves (and rov posqim) hold, what he did to that woman's psyche to get her into his bed, his offering her services to others, misappropriation of tzedaqah funds...

      Okay, dan lekaf zekhus that he did teshuvah. (And I'm not sure that applies, since the video is inconvertible evidence that he was at the time a rasha, and thus outside the population about whom we are obligated to judge favorably. But khabdeihu bechashdeihu! How does a school take the risk that they're exposing their students like this to a power hungry manipulator of others?

      Shetir'u Batov, Gutt Shabbos un a Freilechen Purim!
      -Micha

      Delete
  21. Disgraced and Exiled Rabbi Is Back in Business
    Leib Tropper is teaching and lecturing in Staten Island
    http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/124946/disgraced-and-exiled-rabbi

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  22. Here is what I posted as a comment to the Tablet Magazine story:



    I find it unconscionable that the author didn't contact the school and check. It's simply not true. And I can't help to note the irony of both noting the evils Leib Tropper has perpetrated and taking him at his his word in the same piece.

    Dr Marvin Schick's email address is on his blog, so it took no work to contact him and ask. Here was his reply:
    Leib Tropper does not teach at the Rabbi Jacob Joseph School on Staten Island and to my knowledge has never taught there. Nor does he hold any other position at the school. I hope that this makes the matter clear.

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  23. he still lives in monsey.
    he doesn't work for any RJJ.
    I doubt he has anything to do with that website.
    Whoever made that website got confused with him and his father who did work for RJJ in Manhattan.

    anything he did or did not do does not compare with the sin that Rabbi eidenson is doing here nor the sin of the commenter here (like Micha). I would gladly take Troppers punishmant in the world to come over over the blog owner here and all the rest of the balei lashon horah here.

    I dont believe that Rabbi Shternbuch has any idea about what this blog is all about. in fact I have my doubts that he know it exists. someone should notify R' Shternbuch that the blog owner here claims he has his haskama for all the nivul peh, lashon horah, and shfichas damim. reposting stuff from tabletmag shows the true nature of the poster!

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    1. I can't speak to Yisroel's statement about Rabbi Eidensohn in general, but it doesn't seem like a fair thing to say. In any event, I must agree that it was sort of ridiculous to bring up this issue again - let's be realistic and not live in the weird internet world of make-believe. Rabbi Tropper is not coming back. No one needs to put him farther and farther down than he already is. I don't think it's fair to bring him up again and open up another chance for people to shoot arrows at him. I'm not at all condoning or apologizing for what he did. But it's over. Knowing him personally, I knew as soon as I saw the thing about him working for RJJ that it was a fantasy, as you can see from my comment above, even before reb Micha clarified the matter officially. Let's get real, folks. Let's be adult in our middos and not succumb to the internet yetzer hora for saying whatever we want because it's anonymous, or semi-anonymous, or not to someone's face.

      Delete
    2. Yisroel's comments concerning this shows that he is a shoteh. However Monseylite raises some of the same concerns I mentioned in the post itself. The issue is whether there is any benefit of mentioning the terrible chillul hashem that an individual once did. Monseylite says "its over" " I don't think it's fair to bring him up again and open up another chance for people to shoot arrows at him."

      I disagree. Tropper's crime was not a momentary loss of control where he might have taken money that wasn't his. It wasn't an aberration of the situational temptation of eating treif food or selling it. His crime involved the systematic and intentional corruption of Orthodox Judaism and some of the most well know and important gedolim within that system primarily with money but also with kavod and power over others concerning conversion.

      For these types of crimes not only is his repetenance dependent on the facts of his crime being well known- but something more important. When I traveled to America after the Tropper affair I was confronted with an amazing reality - almost no one I met had heard of the disaster. I am not talking about tzadikim and masmidim who are detached from awareness of scandal. The people ignorant of this historic event were people who pride themselves with knowing what goes on in the frum world. As one American godol who was intimately involved in the events put it, it was event that involved too many big people and involved too much of the system to be publicized. In the vernacular -Eternal Jewish Family and Tropper were too big to fail. But he did. And it caused one of the most negative lowering of rabbinic status, respect and authority of anything else in the last 50 years- if not more.

      Furthermore the response of gedolim - not only those in involved - was a concerted effort to silence comment and coverup the crimes that were done. There was not a single comment of apology from a single gadol who was involved in the fiasco except to say what happened wasn't really such a big deal.

      So for all of these reasons and more I respectfully disagree with monseylite and his "let's be adult in our midos" approach.

      If he has any actual sources that say that this event should be erased from our collective memory, that it serves no purpose to remind the public periodically what happened and that it is wrong to Tropper (who to the best of my knowledge is not a baal teshuva in this matter) to remind him of his past when warning others of what can happened when the rabbinic system loses its transparency and is concerned primarily with power, influence and money - please educate us.

      Those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it.

      The Torah prescribes punishment for crimes that serve as a warning and conscioussness raising exercise so that the crimes are not done again.

      As Rav Moshe Feinstein put it - "even if a murderer did genuine teshuva - he is still executed." It is still publicized that he was a murderer or any other type of criminal - even though this has disasterous consequences on his family.

      Delete
  24. Is he at RJJ elementary school in Staten Island? If so, his father was definitely not a rebbe there for thirty years.

    Ephraim Jacobdon

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  25. "Furthermore the response of gedolim - not only those in involved - was a concerted effort to silence comment and coverup the crimes that were done. There was not a single comment of apology from a single gadol who was involved in the fiasco except to say what happened wasn't really such a big deal."

    assuming that the above is true, how can you (or anyone) still call these people gedolim? why would you trust their judgement and leadership? how can you state that what they say is "daas torah"? what does behavior like this do the entire concept of daas torah?

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    1. RBW: "the 'entire' concept of daas torah" is a 20th cent invention. It might borrow from the role of the rebbe in chassidus, although that too was something the masses invented despite their rabbeim. See the Tanya (Igeros haQodesh, Igeres #22); the Alter LR considered this seeking from one's rabbeim advice on mundane issues to be a belittling of the rebbe and of the Torah. That it was one thing to seek such advice of a navi, but rabbeim don't have nevu'ah.

      In the second issue of Jewish Action (in 1963), R' Bernard Bamburger attributes the gedolim, "It is a form of ‘Ruach HaKodesh,’ as it were, which borders if not remotely on the periphery of prophecy." Something that runs counter to the Lithuanian worldview, and according to the Tanya, original chassidus as well.

      The most defensible form of daas Torah I've seen is R' Dovid Cohen who says that obeying the gedolim a halachic obligation. The end of the kingship caused many of his powers to fall to the Sanhedrin, and with the fall of the Sanhedrin, the rabbanim are their heirs. With no claim that there is anything metaphysically special about their advice.

      (See more complete discussion at my blog post.)

      Delete
    2. RMB: thank you. my question was more for the believers than the skeptics.

      the first time that i heard rav lichtenstein talk was on this subject. he quoted that tanya, but then went on to say how the MOs need to understand that the torah does have a "daat" on everything, even if it isn't necessarily binding.

      i guess that one (a believer in daas torah in its most extreme form) could always say "they must of hand their reasons and who are we to question". if you hold like r' dovid cohen, you also have no problem; one has to have emunas hachamim, period.

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    3. The Dass Torah debate is very interesting, here we are discussing not this blog or its owner, but the term and the ideology.
      There has been some debate on the topic, with Prof Lawrence Kaplan having written a very strong critique of this concept.

      One of the claims on the Daas side, is that we should accept their words whether they say left is right and vice versa.

      This idea is quite absurd, to the point that the Rabbanim of Eretz Yisrael in the Yerushalmi pointed out its logical fallacy.

      In real terms, nobody adheres to this anyhow. Current discussions are a good example. The opponents of the Get issues, as per this blog, do not hold by what Roshei Yeshiva say.

      And this leads to the crux of this particular case. this Hillul Hashem in the Tropper case, and in the numerous other sex abuse scandals, give the impression to the general public, that orthodoxy has a hypocritical stance towards sexual morality. On the one hand preaching various restrictions, where some even say Kol Isha is Yehareg , and on the other , turning a blind eye to every form of perversity that would only be worthy of Sodom and Amora.

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    4. As a skeptic, I don't think the believers have an answer. The more important point is to disentangle daas Torah from actual Torah, so that one's strained credibility about one doesn't shake one's emunas chakhamim on issues where posqim actually have authority.

      Speaking of R' Aharon Lichtenstein... See Im Ein Daat, Manhigut Minayin?. For those whose Hebrew was overly weak for the amount of time or effort they would dedicate to reading it, there is an unauthorized English translation by R' Joseph Faith.

      AIUI, RAL's conclusion is that the only chiyuv to follow da'as Torah is on religious questions. (As RAL said on many other occasions: One must have a poseiq and a moreh drekh; and MO Jews [speaking to his own constituency] too often forget the latter. Back to this speech / essay...)

      RAL adds that it simply makes logical sense to follow da'as Torah on other questions, but DT is a rarity nowadays, if it is around at all. He mourns the days of RSZA, when DT was available.

      There can be a talmud chakham without daas, since the gemara calls such people worse than neveilos. So being a TC doesn't guarantee that the TC possesses da'as.

      In fact, since we now produce rabbanim by keeping them isolated from the lifestyle of most of the sho'alim and the realia about which they're being asked, it is impossible for today's talmidei chakhamim and poseqim to apply DT to the kinds of questions we're discussing. In contrast to the requirement for a member of Sanhedrin to know multiple languages (Sanhedrin 17a) and thus be open to multiple perspectives and forms of wisdom. RAL also cites the Netziv, who requires dayanim to be open and broadly educated, not one who never leaves the 4 amos shel halakhah. And the Gra, (Sifra deTzniusa) that requires studying language and grammar.

      The Rambam and the Noda biYhudah lived amongst the people. In contrast, R' Gamliel was impeached, in part, because he was too cut off from the lifestyle of those he led.

      And yet the rabbanim being asked for DT rarely are willing to say "I don't know" or "this is not my field of expertise". They are removed from the reality about which they're asked -- both in background and by the cadre of askanim around them -- they simply don't have da'as relevant to the question.

      Last, RAL cites the Sifri on "ve'ahavta es H' E-lokekha" -- that we are to make HQBH beloved by humanity, like Avraham did. A rav's job is to bring others to Ahavas Hashem. If he isn't, if he instead digs his heals in deeper, if his behavior is a violation of lifnei iveir in causing hatred of G-d and of other Jews, one has experimental evidence of a lack of da'as in general, and thus DT.

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    5. "The Rambam and the Noda biYhudah lived amongst the people. In contrast, R' Gamliel was impeached, in part, because he was too cut off from the lifestyle of those he led."

      but the gadol of the gedolim, the gra, was the paragon example of a rav who was cut off. there has to be room for those types of rabbanim as well.

      i agree that it the "RSZA model" (famous for being open to everyone, getting out, being part of the community) should be the model for the vast vast majority of poskim.

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    6. Do you know how/if the Gra was cut off? He certainly had exposure to secular books... But in any case, who said anyone came to the Gra for his daas Torah?

      You're conflating pesaq and general advice in the very same way that advocates of daas Torah do.

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    7. did people come to the gra to ask about which gan to send their kids? i doubt it.

      but in a biography i have on the gra (by professor beck), it describes the question regarding his part in the struggle against the chassidim; ie was the gra an active player, a tool in the hands of the community leaders, etc. the professor concluded that the gra was extremely active in the war against them. this is community leadership netto by someone who didn't leave his study. and that is what we are talking about here - gedolim who lead the community based on their daas torah.

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  26. i wonder if those who are willing to allow tropper to live his life in peace (include him in a minyan, allow him residency in their neighborhood, etc) would be willing to allow the same to Moshe Finkel?

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  27. Rabbi Eidensohn wrote: "When I traveled to America after the Tropper affair I was confronted with an amazing reality - almost no one I met had heard of the disaster. I am not talking about tzadikim and masmidim who are detached from awareness of scandal."

    I haven't found this to be so. In fact, just months after the scandal I was on a trip out of town shmoozing with a mashgiach in the kollel there, and he knew about it. Bnei Torah I know who at first were not mekabel it now consider it to be obviously true. But that's just my personal experience.

    As for his teshuvah, knowing him, I have to assume he has done teshuvah, but he's never going to broadcast it to you. So I guess there's an unsolvable issue right there.

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