Sunday, August 24, 2014

Seminary Scandal: A rambling and misleading slander by David Morris

Full Disclosure: David Morris is one of my heroes. Someone who has successfully devoted his time and energy to help other people with a major chesed organization and one dealing with child abuse .[My nephew Rabbi Shmuel Zalman Eidensohn runs competing chesed and child abuse organizations in Beit Shemesh and works together with Rav Malinowitz] He wrote a chapter in my sefer on child abuse where it is interesting to note - he does not once mention going to the police in cases of child abuse - but only to his organization Magen.  He is also very intelligent and sincere - but like all of us has issues where his emotion blinds his rational thought. One of them is Rav Malinowitz and anything connected with him.

1) Friday he published a rather egregious example of misinformation and slander. To set the stage for his slander against Rav Malinowtiz he first brought up something unrelated to the Seminary Scandal - the suicide of a child abuse victim - Corporal Dave Gordon. Yes it is true that the trauma of being molested as a child unfortunately endured into adulthood for Dave Gordon. But the Seminary Scandal is not a case of child abuse.  The Seminary Scandal involved adults who were involved in either being touched or hugged by their teacher. It is not clear at this stage to what degree the contact was forced and unwanted or was consensual. This is not the same as a child being molested or raped. Both halacha and secular law recognize a distinction between consensual and involuntary contact and that which involves a child and an adult. Thus the case of Dave Gordon - while unfortunate - was just brought in to inflame emotions. Or to be more generous, while David Morris was upset about the death of Dave Gordon - he incorrectly free associated to the Seminary Scandal in order to criticize Rav Malinowitz.

2)  David Morris is offering any existing victims  - something he doesn't know to be true -  the services of his organization dealing with sexual abuse. While that is very generous - it would be helpful to first establish there are in fact victims. However the offer is clearly a club to attack the IBD for what he alleges is improper response to victims. Even though in fact he doesn't know that victims  exist or how they have been dealt with - either by the CBD or the IBD. Rather strange to offer help in a crime that you don't know even happened?! While the CBD is claiming unofficially that there were women who were raped - however no official declaration has been made nor has any evidence been produced or even a single woman making anonymous public claims. Clearly no one has gone to the police. David Morris is fully aware that he has no evidence that there are victims who have been traumatized. Unlike Frum Follies he apparently does not have a pipeline to Gottesman and the CBD. But he believes whatever Frum Follies posts - at least as long as it is an attack on Rav Malinowitz. In other words his justification for this offer is that since Rav Malinowitz is involved and he just "knows" that Rav Malinowitz will mishandle the victims that means there must be victims that need help.

3) His third piece of false information involves the so-called  blog war - primarily between Frum Follies and myself.  While it is true that "much of the blog wars have focused on the jurisdictions of the two Batei Din involved - the Chicago Beit Din and the Israeli Bet Din. The question being addressed: Who has the authority to posken/rule?" His next statement is a blatant lie. 
"This whole jurisdiction squabble is simply a calculated tactic by the IBD of blowing smoke in the public's eyes. Frankly, who cares?" 
Only a person who is blinded with hatred for Rav Malinowtiz can ignore the clear facts that have been published in great detail on my blog - and proclaim this slanderous conclusion. He continues 
" Instead, the primary concern must be the process of healing & justice for the victims, and assuring the safety of the girls enrolled/attending these seminaries."
 It is clear that the IBD is in fact very much concerned with the safety of the girls. Aside from their intensive grilling of the staff members - they are actually introducing needed changes in the nature of these seminaries which will make them significantly safer places for the students. In fact they will be safer than other seminaries which don't follow this new protocol.

So how does David Morris know that the IBD is just, "blowing smoke in the public's eyes?" The answer is that he in fact doesn't know that - but because of his hatred of Rav Malinowitz - it is more real to him than if it were true.

4) He indicates that he is at least partially aware that his post is a fraud by saying
 " It is the sad fact that 90% of sex abuse victims do not step forward to report the crimes against them. Most of Meisels' victims, by the nature of these crimes, are still unknown. These victims are/were impressionable girls who were cynically taken advantage of and abused by a pop-star seminary mogul, and are now beset with fear, misplaced guilt-feelings, embarrassment, anger, bewilderment, doubts of faith, confusion, periods of depression... " 
What he means is that he has no idea if there are any victims other than the 2 girls who said they had been inappropriately touched. So maybe there are 200 victims but maybe there are only two. David Morris simply doesn't know - but it makes him feel good to attack Rav Malinowitz for not dealing appropriately with these victims whose existence has not been established.

5) David Morris next twists and seriously distorts statements regarding the IBD which I had published on my blog. Contrary to his slanderous assertion, the IBD has not just woken up and realized there are real victims. The fight that the IBD has had with the CBD is not simply a question of jurisdiction - but trying to gain access to information the CBD will not share - that might help either the victims or students in the future. Only someone blinded by hatred for Rav Malinowitz could ignore that fact and falsely claim that the IBD had no concern for victims. His absurd claim that the IBD is going to intimidate anyone who tries testify is an outrageous lie - that deliberately twists normal court procedure into something hideous and malevolent. His hatred of Rav Malinowitz produces this "gem".
"This is small comfort for the victims, who are being implicitly warned they will be subjected to facing off publicly against their perpetrator or his enablers, aggressively cross-questioned and other intimidating tactics by the Beit Din, and will potentially not be believed, in the name of being fair to (not "lynching") the accused. This level of frightening rhetoric (who's talking here about lynching anyone??), in the name of a Beit Din, is guaranteed to frighten away a victim.
5) Finally he explicitly reveals his motivation is to attack Rav Malinowitz. 
" In addition, I know Rav Malinowitz from close up. He is a fine torah scholar; gets involved in fracases for his kicks; and unfortunately has the bedside manner of a pathologist. If any of Meisels victims are reading this article, in the current circumstances I recommend you do not contact the IBD.
6) But he also reveals another motivation for his attack on the IBD. He is not only advising possible victims to avoid the IBD - the only beis din authorized to deal with the seminaries - and instead turn to his organization. An amazing self-serving statement said without the slightest blush of self-awareness.
If you are seeking confidential counsel and advice, you should turn to an independent victims advocacy organization.  Magen is an independent, non-profit, sex-abuse victims support and advocacy organization, based in Israel, with an in-depth understanding of the US/Israel seminary culture. If you are a victim of Elimelech Meisels, or witnessed or experienced any other abuse/grooming as a seminary student, you can contact/speak in confidence with Shana or Ruty: shoshana@magenprotects.org; ruty@magenprotects.org, or call Magen's 24/6 hotline +972-2-9999.678 (then press 1). There are also other fine (non-Jewish) victims support and advocacy organizations in the USA. (Specific suggestions/recommendations welcome).

35 comments :

  1. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks" is a quotation from the 1602 play Hamlet by William Shakespeare. It has been used as a figure of speech, in various phrasings, to indicate that a person's overly frequent or vehement attempts to convince others of something have ironically helped to convince others that the opposite is true, by making the person look insincere and defensive.

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  2. @farblunjit - yes your response is typical of someone who has nothing of substance to say but just says it anyway. Israel is constant protesting against the Palestinian terrorism - according you it shows that the Palestinians are really correct?!. Civil rights movement is proof according to you that really the blacks were better off as slaves?!

    sometimes a cigar is really a cigar.

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  3. you must be kidding. you really can't be as thick as you are making yourself out to be. where did you get your phd from anyway. probably some correspondence course. you really don't take criticism well.

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  4. David Morris continues to be my hero, in this case too.

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  5. We probably should not be surprised that various advocates for exposure of sexual misconduct in the frum community are now turning on each other. If they weren't naturally confrontational they would never have taken on the status quo and the frum establishment.
    Blogs like Frum Follies and this one (and probably David Morris, though I'd never heard of him) were incredibly valuable when nobody else would talk about the reality. Now they're just being petty, fighting over who cares more about the victims/halacha/facts/etc. and who knew what when. Stop being ridiculous, bloggers. Nobody cares about jurisdiction or procedure or which is the best resource for survivors. We care about perpetrators, victims, safety and justice.

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  6. @Chaim Z - your comment indicates you really have no idea what you are talking about. Your claim "nobody cares about jurisdiction or proceudre or which is the best resources for survivors" is simply not true. It is important that victims can get justice without destroying innocent people. These are far from petty issues.

    It is not enough that an operation be done on a diseased part of the body. It has to be done in the best way for the health of patient. It also is critical that amputations not be done unnecssarily. Proper diagnostic tests need to be done

    When abuse was first discovered in the 1970's and80's there were thousands of false accusations made and there were innocent people convicted and guilty who escaped justice.

    The devil is in the details.

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  7. HaRav Daniel Eidensohn shlita continues to be my hero in this case.

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  8. How do you address this point, made in David's article - that it is inconvenient and expensive for witnesses to travel from America and other venues to Israel to testify in-person before the IBD? I can understand that the IBD would feel that telephone testimony is inadequate - they can't see the witness's facial expressions, and body language. But they could testify by Skype in real time, or videotaped deposition.

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  9. @Elliotpasik, the IBD has stated:
    "The BD were willing to listen to people over the phone with the whole BD there,and the accused there, listening,being able to refute charges(if they would be able to)"
    We do NOT listen to a voice on the phone speaking incognito to one member of the BD ,with no one else listening, not the full BD and not the accused.

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  10. If there was some substantive difference between the IBD and the CBD it might matter. If there was some substantive disagreement between you and this Morris guy it might matter. If there was some meaningful consequence of Rabbi Feldman's non-appointment appointment it might matter. There are none of those things.
    Yeah, 2/3 of Morris's article is disingenuous. So is 2/3 of your article. We don't know that there were more than 2 victims, but come on - you also can't possibly believe that there were only 2. This is not child sexual abuse, as Morris should have been aware. Neither is it the same as consensual sex, as you are surely aware.
    Practically speaking, the people who are affected by this are prior victims and currently enrolled students. They will be helped by their family/friends and personal support systems; and they will either get refunds or they will not, which sucks.
    Exactly zero of the procedural posturing you, Morris, and Lopin engaged in will serve any purpose for them at all. His shilling for Magen is as likely to help as promoting Netflix as a distraction from their problems. Your hair splitting over the roles of the two batei din is meaningful only to a tiny subgroup of Charedim who are knowledgeable about the minutiae of the Beis Din system and idealistic (gullible?) enough to think it matters.

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  11. That's very fair of the IBD. The IBD is willing to hear testimony by phone from any of the girls who were students of the seminaries as long as they identify themselves before making any accusations.


    Let this standing offer of the IBD be noted.


    Anonymity is an abomination and no real beis din in the world will accept anonymous testimony.

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  12. @Chaim Z - your claim for equivalency is nonsense. You clearly don't understand this case. But you keep repeating that there are no substantive differences. Your approach of a plague on everyone - is just trolling.

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  13. @John Halmark - assuming that you are accurately describing the facts of your case - there is no basis for your conclusion. Is there any reason to assume that the decision of the beis din was different than what most other beis dins would have concluded?

    I doubt it and therefore there is no basis for your generalizing your experience to the present case. There in fact is no evidence that the CBD would provide a more satisfactory answer or could since they have no jurisdiction over the seminaries..
    The evidence in the present case is that the IBD - contrary to your assertion - is building a safer environment than exists at other seminaries. And safer than the CBD is capable of doing.
    One swallow doesn't make Spring

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  14. Dear Rabbi Eidensohn


    I read your response to my post of Friday with infinite sadness.


    The normal emotion might be anger at being unfairly attacked and a rush to respond with a point by point refutation. I suppose I did have just such an initial reaction...


    But then I paused in reflection to asses my real feeling. It is one of profound sadness that a distinguished person who has done so much to make the world a safer place for children and all types of abuse victims, should forget all he learned, and all he wrote, and all we learned from him.


    Many people who have had great respect for you have watched in the last two months as you have chosen to wage a truly bizarre campaign with only one obvious goal - participating in the minimizing, whitewash and cover-up of a painful scandal.


    There is no need to rehash all the charges and counter-charges. Suffice it to say you have chosen to minimize, distract and obfuscate about an abuser and those who enabled him - you have put the wherewithal of the institutions and of three rabbonim, above the safety of the students.


    I need to have no details beyond what was made public in statements by a reputable BD. The perpetrator engaged in conduct which included unwanted contact of a sexual nature. That is all that was said. No other details, were released to the public, including, despite your requests, to your blog.


    The BD also indicated that the activity in question should have warranted action by Senior faculty members,and some "failed in their responsibility to their students".That is all I need to know.


    Every one in the field considers these statements by the CBD a courageous act.


    Yet you have decided to orchestrate a classical 'attack the victim" "protect the institution" "circle the wagons and shoot at anything that moves" scheme using all the time-homored techniques. Alleging they claimed Meisels had raped 40 people.I did not see that. Alleging there were no Victims. That can not be true. Alleging none of this can be serious because the Victims have not gone to the police. As if all Charedi victims who live overseas normally travel to Israel to report to the police.


    In short you are orchestrating a tired old scheme. You detail these schemes in the pages of your own book. These schemes, it must be said, have worked in the past.They may even work now.


    Shame on you, my friend, for participating in the undoing of your lifetime's work.

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  15. @David Morris - sorry that you don't understand or approve of my actions.

    1) You claim that "Every one in the field considers these statements by the CBD a courageous act." I do know that those who are ignorant of the facts of the case as well as halacha - claim the CBD have been courageous. The people I know and whose opinion I value have consistently expressed astonishment at the bizarre actions of the CBD.

    2) The issue of the police - were at one time clear to you. You didn't approve of the idea that you needed to first ask a rabbi whether you can go to the police. However if the rabbis are the CBD it suddently makes sense and they are viewed as courageous instead of obstructing justice!.

    In short - if we were talking about the Kolko or Weberman case and I told you that a group of rabbis were well aware of a famous rabbi who was molesting students but they made a private deal and were handling it themselves instead of going to the police - you would react with outrage. what happened to you? Why is it alright for the CBD to cove rup and not contact the police?

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  16. David:

    You should consider the possibility that you are incorrect and that Rav Daniel Eidensohn shlit"a is correct on this issue. It is within the realm of the possible, as surely you must know.

    You know Judaism doesn't support a lynch mob. We don't start with the presumption that the seminaries staff are guilty of whatever dirt is thrown their way without the need to verify and establish the facts.

    Yet that is what has happened here and that, Dear David, is what you are supporting and advancing.

    And while, to quote you, you have "no need to have no details beyond what was made public in statements by a reputable BD", take into account the statements of the the very reputable BD in Israel.

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  17. R' Daniel


    You keep claiming that the CBD has been "covering up" the case, preventing people going to the police/courts.



    However, in their statement to Meisels, restricting his activities, the CBD stated (to Meisels): "We take no responsibility if any of the victims wants to prosecute. They have our permission to do so whenever they want."


    Furthermore, we now know that the US civil justice system has indeed been invoked.


    The CBD clearly have approved victims to take all necessary means, including the civil courts and police.


    Your claims otherwise, with all respect, are hogwash.

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  18. John:


    In this case there is good reason to believe that the IBD not only reached the correct resolution halachicly but that the IBD reached the correct resolution factually, ethically and entirely fairly and correctly.


    Furthermore, a beis din must, repeat must, follow halacha. Even if you think it is unfair. In your example with the pen the dayan could not have been certain either way. The details you gave did not give the dayan or beis din to know who was right in his heart. He cannot go with what he strongly thinks. He must go with the law. Shimon should have won that beis din case and every fair minded Torah Jew hopes he did. There was no proof he stole and he cannot be made to pay despite what the accuser may know. The dayanim certainly cannot "know" that prior to hearing the full case.


    Given the poor quality of your "moshol" with the beis din and the pen, it does not give anyone a good idea what your problem was in your personal case. If the halacha says something it must be followed even if contemporary sensibilities feel otherwise. That is the 100% correct, ethical and fair way to go about it.

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  19. Asher pihem diber shavAugust 25, 2014 at 12:50 AM

    There are a few issues here. I would like to separate them.

    1. I can't imagine anyone could have a problem with David Morris offering his service to help victims. That is absolutely commendable and heroic. May HaShem help heal those who have been abused, hurt, molested, etc.. Whether this case, or others.

    2. I do not approve of any negative comments about talmidei chachamim though. It seemed that there was suspicious of the motives of R' Malinowitz. That would be Motzi Shem Ra.

    3. I also agree that testifying for a girl in front of the accused, and three Dayanim could be very intimidating. How about we do it a little differently ? Have ALL the seminary students come to testify. Each one comes in the room, and says whether anything inappropriate was done by this man. This will make it a bit easier for them to come forward, as everyone else is as well.
    Better yet, let the accused clear his name by getting every student to sign that she wasn't touched inappropriately by the accused. It would seem the most logical thing to do. I would definitely want that if I was accused, and innocent.
    Better yet, why not have Maury Povich give him a lie detector test ? That would give Devarim nikarim that he is innocent or guilty.

    4. I also don't know what the point of the whole IBD is. What will they do if we have 10 girls crying rape ? What will they do if two girls say that he kissed them on the cheek ? Why would a girl who was abused or seduced, care to testify ? What will change ? Didn't he sell the seminary ? This whole CBD, IBD thing seems to be a side show, in a case where nothing will make a difference anyway.

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  20. @David Morris - I suggest you try again. The CBD was aware of Meisels activities for 3 months before they made a public announcement. If his actions were more than touching -then they had to report it to the police. Saying that the victims could go if they wanted to scarely is an appropriate response if we are dealing with rape.

    Saying that parents of girls who never were victims because they never attened the seminsaries instituted a civil suit to get their money back - is tottally irrelvant to the main issue of sexual abuse.

    I think your misreading or misrepresenting the facts is hogwash!

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  21. THE SHOE FINALLY DROPPED!!!

    "My nephew Rabbi Shmuel Zalman Eidensohn runs chesed and child abuse organizations in Beit Shemesh and works together with Rav Malinowitz".

    OH HOW WE ALL KNEW THAT, THE RDE WE'VE COME TO RESPECT, HAD SOME CONNECTION TO THIS CASE THAT MADE HIM ACT OUT OF CHARACTER!!!

    Unfortunately, he didn't feel the need to make this "full disclosure" weeks ago...........

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  22. @welovethe truth

    I see you love conspiracy theories more than the truth.

    The above information is not a secret - David Morris knows my nephew well as well as his association with rav Malinowitz in various chesed projects. Anybody who is associated with Beit Shemesh knows about it as does Yerachmiel Lopin.

    My nephew has views dealing with child abuse which seem no different thatn Morris or Lopin or mine. We haven't discussd this case at all.

    You are going to have to face the truth one day that my concerns are based on the facts which you simply refused to acknowledge. My princiles are the same as when I dealt with the Kolko case in N.J.

    Bottom line - when the facts differ the response differs! You have failed to show that my response is wrong in this case. It is bizarre that after the countless hours I have spent explained in great detail the justification for my actions you suddently claim to have discovered the "true" reason. I am really embarrassed at your shallow thinking in this case.

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  23. But every defender of the CBD and their actions is subjected to nonstop cries of "Gottesman!" and tales of various connections that constitute a far grander conspiracy theory.

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  24. Again, you conflate a 3 month investigation to a period of "awareness". Perhaps it took 3 months to confirm their conclusions?

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  25. "Furthermore, a beis din must, repeat must, follow halacha."

    That's not entirely true. If a dayan knows that an eid is lying but can't prove it or trip him up during drisha v'chakira there are things he can and must do to disregard his testimony, the poskim discuss that exact situation. Also basically every BD in the world in every case will not decide acc to strict halacha, it even says so in the shtar berurins. To quote the one from our current case "ladun bidineinu hein l'din torah, hein lipshara hakerovah l'din,v'hein liyosher l'fi ri'us eineihem, v'hein al pi omdan da'atan v'afilu lishuda d'daini". A more accurate rendering would be "a beis din is guided by halacha while taking many other factors into account"

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  26. The testimony being sought at this point has nothing to do with Meisels, who has transferred the seminary to new ownership. The issue now is the staff. The CBD's excuse for its attempt to destroy the schools is that the staff was complicit. The IBD will be taking testimony regarding the staff, not Meisels.

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  27. There is a world of difference between the CBD and the IBD -- specifically, the difference between a witchunt by a kangaroo court, and a fair trial according to halachah by a beis din of yorei shomayim.

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  28. "Many people who have had great respect for you have watched in the last two months as you have chosen to wage a truly bizarre campaign with only one obvious goal - participating in the minimizing, whitewash and cover-up of a painful scandal."

    So painfully correct you are. These sights have become more of a national enquirer than a place to turn. I agree with you one hundred percent.

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  29. The point about the lying eid IS Alachua, so my point about halacha stands with what you added.

    Regarding peshara, I do believe either party to the case has the halachic right to insist the beis din rule strictly according to din and not pershara.

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  30. That's a mochlokes actually. In practice in practically NEVER happens. Take a quick read through as man y shtar brerurins as you can get your hands on, they'll all have a line similar to the one in this case.

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  31. Well certainly there is a strong shitta in halacha that either party to a din Torah can demand and is entitled to din being used and not peshara. So one of the parties can avail himself to this halachic right.

    As far as the botei dinim insisting that peshara be used in any case they adjudicate and putting that condition in the shtar brerurin, certainly it is the particular beis dins right to decide to only accept cases based on peshura. But either one of the litigants can insist using a beis din that will use din, as is their right. In which case it may be necessary to find a different beis din that is willing to use din.

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  32. Chaikel Anthony JonesAugust 25, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    R' David,

    Save your breath/keystrokes as a jerk who is calling the 18 yr. old girls the problem and is also an apikores as he publicly disaparages genuine Talmidei Chachomim such as R' Schwartz, R' Fuerst and R' Cohen is not worth responding to. Unfortunately we need to learn the lesson of the Nochosh - with a meisis you do not start because he will always have what to say as ridiculous as it will be but the back and forth will thoretically go on forever. As Ramban writes in hakomo to Milchamos - not everything True is mathemtacally provable as true.

    G-d made made us straight and the Freid/Malinselsohns of the world and those who wish to follow them choose crooked paths that G-d enables them to take. even with their own form of logic that can never be fully disproven.

    Anyone interested seeing the truth will search and find it though. Kol haKovod to you (not to mention the heroic Dayyonim of CHicago) for sticking to the derech hayoshor and not falling for this frauds Haredei Holy Das TOrah Horse Manure

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  33. Only it's not just a theory.

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  34. "far grander conspiracy theory" is giving into the bullying and כל הפוסל that these thugs have been throwing around...

    THE ONLY CONSPIRACY IS ON THEIR SIDE.

    After their first letter that stated it was already sold and exonerated the staff without knowing any facts, CBD correctly assumed they were simply not serious, PERIOD.

    Fire away RDE, let's see how personal and beside the point you'll get this time....

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  35. @welovetruth - your response has become too emotional and irrational

    you have your facts wrong - they did not exonerate the staff without knowing any facts.

    CBD stated in their communication that they claimed that they only were using the IBD for changing the Amuta and had never relinquished the case to the IBD - your claim about CBD assuming they were not serious has nothing to do with the facts

    Please refrain from making hysterical comments which are not based on reality.and which do not serve to advance the discussion.

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