Monday, August 4, 2014

Seminary Scandal: Defense of the Israeli Beis Din & Rav Malinowitz against Rav Feldman's accusations of incompetence

Update Now includes the IBD response & Rav Malinowitz response

At this point it is not clear whether the CBD was acting as an agent for the IBD or the IBD is now acting as an agent for the CBD?!
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Up until now there have been various accusation against the Israeli Beis Din (IBD) - either by the Chicago Beis Din (CBD) or from inferences or leaks from anonymous parties - accusing them of conducting a coverup of a terrible scandal of abuse and betrayal by the head and owner of the seminaries. The Israeli Beis Din did not defend itself well by just firing off didactic assertions that all is well, the seminaries are wonderful, the staff is wonderful and that no one should suggest girls go to a different school and that the IBD should be trusted to take care of the matter.

It is clear that the Chicago Beis Din [which initially investigated the charges] did not accept such claims since they explicitly stated that the seminaries were - for the time being - not safe and they were having funding cut off to girls going there. They repeated their claims in a letter which added that senior staff had been at least passively complicit in the disgusting activity of Meisels with the students.

In short the CBD came across as bravely standing up for the girls and disregarding the traditional response to abuse of making a coverup. In contrast the IBD looked as they were trying very hard to undo the work of the CBD and save the seminaries and the jobs of the staff at the expense of the students.

Today I received a letter strongly stating that the above picture was not true and that the IBD was being severely misunderstood or deliberately slandered by interested parties. It contained a number of letters. One is a letter by Rav Aharon Feldman accusing the IBD of incompetence - which seemed to reflect the common understanding of the situation from the viewpoint of the Chicago Beis Din. [Rav Feldman is officially listed as the representatives of the victims for the IBD. However there is no evidence that the victims in fact appointed him as such nor is there any evidence that he is in fact helping the victims in his communication with the IBD.]

Rav Feldman seems to be accusing the IBD of incompetence and seems clearly to be alluding to corruption or bias. This is very hard for me to accept based on my contact with Rabbi Malinowitz. He can be tough and opinionated and self-confident that he is right -  but no one would ever accuse him of being incompetent or concealing his true views. Similarly with Rabbi Gartner. To be more blunt - as somone who knows Rav Malinowitz, the accusations of Rav Feldman did not make any sense.

To give a better understanding of this scandal  I am posting Rav Malinowitz defense - followed by the full IBD response - which is clear and to the point - rejecting outright these accusations and saying there is clear documentation supporting his defense.

In addition a new issue has presented itself in these letters and that is the claim of the CBD that because there are criminal charges pending - the IBD at this point can't get involved directly in questioning the victims.


Thus at the present time the evidence has swung in favor of the IBD and I don't understand what the CBD is doing or trying to do.  If the CBD has evidence of staff complicity about Meisels crimes - they should share it with the IBD. Decisions as to whether the staff should be fired should be made soon as well as publishing the protocols the IBD says they have proposed to ensure the safety of the students.

As the IBD has said - there is no reason to destroy the seminaries - if the appropriate actions have been taken and clear safeguards put in place against it ever happening again.
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Rav Aharon Feldman’s email to the Israeli Beis Din:

Rabosai,

The Chilul Hashem r.l. is spreading; people have lost their emunas chachomim; I just heard of two girls who went off the derech because of this affair. We have to get the Chicago BD to rescind their letter. The only way to do this is to have a joint BD listen to the accusations. Is Rav Shafran willing to do this? They are not at present but I think I can convince them. bedieved I have the following:suggestion. if I get the accusers to come together, will Rav Shafran agree to listen to them bemoshav tlasa? This will not stop the effect of the CBD’s letter, but at least it will stop the charges against you that you refused to listen to the accusers. Would Sunday night be OK for this?

I was surprised that Rabbi Malinowitz said (as I understood him) at our conference call that I never apprised the BD that there are serious accusations. Rav Malinowitz asked me at that time (and so I immediately wrote myself a note, which I have) to supply the BD with the names of the accusers. Yet a psak was given out without this. I am sure there is a good reason for this, but it certainly needs an explanation, not a denial that it ever happened..

Furthermore, you never apologized for having said publicly that you asked the CBD many times to supply you with information about the accusations and they did not. You could have explained this was a misunderstanding but to insist that you did contact them when R. Zev Cohen claimed so forcefully that you did not (I don’t think a person like R.. Zev Cohen would be able to lie in this manner), made them lose trust in you. It would help if you would apologize to them for this.

Aharon Feldman
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Rav Chaim Malinowitz response Friday August 1, 2014
בס"ד
לכבוד הרה"ג רב אהרן פלדמן שליט"א
אחדש"כ כראוי

א) באתי בשורות אלו להבהיר מספר נקודות הטעונות הבהרה לענ"ד – כי זאת למודעי, כשם שכב' קובע שלא נראה שאחד כר"ז כהן מסוגל לשקר בכזו צורה, כך דומני ותקוותי שכ"ת חושב וקובע גם כלפי אחד כרח"ז מלינוביץ...

אינני זוכר בדיוק את המלים בהם השתמשתי בשיחת הועידה של יום רביעי השבוע, אבל כוונת הדברים היתה ברורה, כדלהלן:
כ"ת לא הגיש בפנינו שום טענה או ראיה מפורטת או מנומקת, כ"ש לא בשם מתלוננת מסוימת, רק דברים ששמע מפי רבני שיקאגו שישנן מתלוננות – הא ותו לא מידי, וכ"ש מבלי לפרט מה בדיוק הוא תוכן התלונות.

במטותא מיניה ומכ"ת, את 'הידיעה' הזאת-שכך אומרים רבני שיקאגו-ידענו גם ידענו מזמן, ולא היינו זקוקים להגיע ל"מידע " זה. מתוקף היותו חתום על שטר הבירורין כנציג ואפוטרופוס התלמידות, קווינו אף ציפינו לקצת יותר מזה-ולדאבוננו ואף הפתעתנו כ"ת לא הוסיף מאומה בנידון, לא הביא באמתחתו שום כלום ממה שהתבקש כבע"ד להביא לדיון, ואף לא התחייב איזושהי התחייבות-ולו המינימאלית ביותר-ל"ספק את הסחורה" בעתיד הקרוב אף הרחוק.

כך שאני תמה על הפתעת כ"ת על אמרתי שלא הגיש לנו כלום.

למען הסר ספק, הנני מצרף שוב את הבקשות בכתובים לקבלת החומר שנאסף ע"י רבני שיקאגו (אגב, שלא כדין וללא סמכות כלשהיא, ועוד חזון למועד), בקשות שהועברו לכ"ת (ולר' גאטאסמאן נציג רבני שיקאגו)החל משבוע שלם לפני הדיון.ואני חוזר ואומר--יש לנו המסמכים שביקשנו מכבודו כמה פעמים(וכבודו הלא עמד בקשר עם רבני שיקאגו) וגם שלחנו הבקשה לר' גאטאסמאן.

ועכשיו אפרש את שיחי באר היטב, תוך שימת הדגש על מספר שאלות חמורות העולות לצערי הרב מאליהן – והן שאלות אמיתיות, ולא כאותן "שאלות" שהועלו בשיחת הועידה של השבוע, המזכירות לדאבוני את שיטות העבודה של עו"ד למיניהם המבקשים לבנות תלי תלים של "הלכות עקומות" ע"פ הוצאת מלה אחת או שתים מהקשרן האמיתי:

א. רבני שיקאגו ידעו היטב אשר אנו יושבים כסאות למשפט באותו לילה – אולי כ"ת יכול להסביר-ולו יהא לעצמו-- -למה הם לא טרחו ודאגו לשלוח לנו את החומר מבלי שאנחנו נבקש – כ"ש שבאמת בקשנו, וכנ"ל?

ב. עאכו"כ, שלפי השט"ב עליו כ"ת חתום-וכזכור בנוכחות ולבקשת ר"ז כהן ,וסביר להניח גם בידיעת ובהסכמת ר"ש פורסט-רבני שיקאגו לא הוסמכו להתעסק בקבלת טענות כלל ועיקר, ובקבלת עדויות רק לפי בקשת בית דיננו-א"כ אך טבעי הוא לצפות ולהאמין שאותו החומר שכן נאסף (אמנם שלא כדין וכאמור) אחת דינו להיות מועבר הישר אלינו.

ג. ומה פשר שני האי-מיילים המתמיהים (והמחוצפים) שנשלחו ע"י "ב"כ רבני שיקאגו" ר' גוטעסמאן, המנסה ,ללא הצלחה , "לנער" ולסלק ב"ד מוסמך כדין וכהלכה ממילוי תפקידו? וכי עולם הפקר הוא זה? ומה עם סמכות ביה"ד ותורה הנרמס לעין כל בחוצות? בדיון שהתקיים לפני כשבוע כ"ת הצהיר ששיגר מכתב מחאה לר' גוטעסמאן – וכי כ"ת סבור באמת ובתמים שיצא בכך י"ח מחאה,ובפרט לאור מה שנשתלשל מזה? והאם כ"ת מוכן עכ"פ עכשיו ברגע זה לעשות משהו ביותר לנסות ולתקן את העיוות?

ד. וכ"ז כלפי העבר, ומה לגבי העתיד – הרי אנו מבקשים ודורשים עדיין את החומר – האם רבני שיקאגו יעבירו את זה עכשיו?

ה. זאת עוד זאת, הצענו השבוע לרבני שיקאגו כמה וכמה פעמים בדרכים שונים-כידוע היטב לכב'-לצרף אותם לכדי ב"ד מורחב ולדון על כל הענין ביסודיות-תוך הקנאת סמכות ע"י תיקון שטר הבירורין!!!!!!!ונענינו ע"י עו"ד הבית שלהם-- בלאו!!! רבתי ומוחלט. מה אומר כבודו על זה?האם שלח להם מכתב לתבוע מהם מענה על התנהגותם?

ו. התבשרנו היום ע"י כ"ת כי הגדילו לעשות רבני שיקאגו וסדרו את העניינים שגם אם "ירצו" למסור את החומר, הם אינם "יכולים" מחמת הוראת איזה עו''ד (שמובטחני אינו מכין עצמו ללכת לדי''ת הגם שמדובר בדיני ממונות)

שאלות אלו הן שאלות של ממש, בניגוד לשאלות של עו"ד שבאו לעולם בכדי לנגח בלבד, לתפוס אדם במלה זו או אחרת.

יסלח לי כ"ת על היותי מדבר דברים קשים כלפיו, עאכו"כ בהיותי מכירו ומוקירו שנים רבות באמת ובתמים, אך חייבים הדברים להיאמר, ובבהירות.

החותם בצער ובדמע על כבוד שמים, תורה וחכמיה המתפלש בעפר

ובאעה"ח היום עש"ק ה' מנ"א תשע"ד (01.08.2014)

חיים זאב הלוי מלינוביץ

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The complete IDB response of Friday August 1 20114


בס"ד פניא דמעלי שבתא לסדר ,,איכה אשא לבדי..." ה' מנחם אב תשע"ד (01.08.2014)
כב' הגר"א פלדמן שליט"א שלו"ר לאוהבי שמו
במענה למכתב דלמטה, ישבנו אתמול במותב תלתא והחלטנו:

א. אכן יש כאן חילול השם: צריך לעשות סדר בעניינים, במכתב מע"כ יש בו, למצער, הרבה אי דיוקים בעובדות כנראה שיש מי שמעוניין לסלף ולהביא בפניכם עובדות לא נכונות. אכן כדי למנוע חילול השם וכדי לתקן ולו במעט, נצטרך להעמיד דברים ועובדות על דיוקם ע"י פרסום פרטי ההתנהלות הדברים (לא ח"ו שמות המתלוננות), מגובה בתמלילים ומיילים בכדי שלא יוכלו להמציא דברים שלהד"ם. אבל בשלב זה אנו עסוקים בכיבוי שריפות שהם גורמים, ובהצלת הסמינרים לשנה הבאה גם אם לא הקונה אשר הם חפצים ביקרו ייקח אותם.

ב. כאמור כל זה יבוא במועד יותר מאוחר בתוספת תיעוד דייקני ומסודר, ומ"מ ההכרח לא יגונה ואשר ע"כ לעת עתה ראינו צורך לציין מספר נקודות, פן ישתמע כאילו שתיקה כהודאה בחלק העובדתי, וכ"ש שלא יאמרו הבריות מדשתקי רבנן ש"מ ניחא להו במגמות ו/או במהלכי אנשים אלו.

א. מי המציא את השקר, ועל סמך מה המציאו, שסירבנו לשמוע את המתלוננות? אדרבה, במכתב לכ"ת שליט"א מיום כ' תמוז (כהכנה לדיון המתוכנן), ואשר העתק ממנו הועבר לגוטעסמאן (המציג א"ע כלפינו בכתובים כב"כ ב"ד מיוחד בשיקאגו – להלן ולמען הקיצור: "שיקאגו"), ביקשנו הרי את טענות בע"ד ו/או עדויות צדדים שלישיים שאספו "שיקאגו" – רצוי עוד קודם לדיון המתוכנן, אבל לפחות ולמצער במעמד אותו דיון. הבקשה חזרה על עצמה במייל לכ"ת מיום כ"ד תמוז. למרבה הפלא פניות אלו לא זכו להתייחסות כלשהי, לא מצד כ"ת ולא מצד גוטעסמאן. כמו"כ בדיון שהתקיים אור לכ"ז תמוז, כ"ת הופיע מבלי חומר כלשהו בידו, ומעל ומעבר לאמירה סתמית במרוצת הדיון שישתדל לברר ולהמציא שמות המתלוננות נגד המנהלים ומנהלות-וגם זאת מבלי להתחייב על לו"ז כלשהו, לא הייתה שום בשורה של ממש מפיו בנידון מילוי מבוקשתנו הנ"ל.
גם אחרי הדיון הנ"ל והחלטתנו שיצאה בעקבותיו לא חדלו מאמצנו לקבל את החומר – כידוע היטב לכ"ת, וכדלהלן: אור ליום שני ר"ח מנ"א ולבקשת האב"ד הגרמ"מ שפרן, חבר ביה"ד הר"צ גרטנר שוחח טלפונית עם הר"ז כהן משיקאגו ובקש את החומר (ובנוסף הציג את הרעיון ולפיו יתקיים מושב ב"ד מורחב של ב"ד ישראל ושיקאגו, ועל כך בהמשך), הר"צ גרטנר אף העביר את תוכן ההצעה לכ"ת בשיחה טלפונית יום ג' ב' מנ"א, והדברים חזרו על עצמם בשיחת ועידה שהתקיימה יום ד' ג' מנ"א, בה השתתפו כ"ת והרבנים פורסט מלינוביץ כהן וגרטנר, וכן גוטעסמאן ומר שפרלינג (עו"ד של "שיקאגו").
למותר לציין שנכון לרגע זה לא הומצא לידינו חומר כלשהו (למעט חומר ראשוני שהומצא ע"י "שיקאגו" עובר למעמד חתימת שטר הבירורין ע"י כ"ת לפני קצת פחות מחודשיים), ולמען הסר כל ספק אנו חוזרים גם עתה ומבקשים את החומר הנ"ל.

ב. מי המציא את הסיפור שזיכינו את המנהלות בלי לשמוע את ההאשמות? מעולם לא זיכינו את המנהלות אבל גם לא האשמנו אותן (לא מאשימים ולא מזכים בלי לשמוע את המאשימים ואת הנאשמים, אותם סיפורים בדיוק נשמעים אחרת כשמוצאים אותם מן ההקשר ושלא בפני בעל דין). מכיון שלא קיבלנו את ההאשמות לא יכולנו לדון את המנהלות/ים אם היו אמורים לשים לב או אם העלימו עין. מאידך, שמענו אותן והתרשמנו לטובה מאישיותם ומדרך העבודה ויר"ש שלהן-ובמאמר המוסגר, כמה חבל שכ"ת מתוקף היותו חתום על שטר הבירורין כנציג ואפוטרופוס התלמידות, לא מצא זמן ועניין להישאר בכדי להתרשם אף הוא. את הבירור אם הייתה העלמת עין מצידן (כולן או חלקן) השארנו לשלב הבא (וכפי שרמזנו בסעי' 7 של פסק דיננו).
אבל איך שיהיה, דבר אחד ברור מעל לכל ספק: גם אם היו צריכות לשים לב לדבר מה וגם אם מעדו איך שהוא בחובת שמירתן, עדיין אין שום סכנה לשלוח לשם בנות, וזאת מכיוון שסילקנו את מייזלס מכל קשר עם הסמינרים, ובהתחשב גם עם כך שלפחות עתה אין ספק שהמנהלות מודעות היטב למה שיכול לקרות ועל חובת השמירה המעולה ומשנה הזהירות הנדרשת.
באופן שסוף דבר הכל נשמע, הסמינרים הם בהחלט כשרים למהדרין ואין שום סכנה לשלוח אליהם, וכפי שפסקנו אחרי שמיעת אנשי הצוות על התנהלות הסמינרים. והבירור אודות אנשי הצוות, מנהלות או שאר עובדות לא שייך לפסק הדין לגבי כשרות הסמינרים ויראת שמים והעבודה הנפלאה שהן עושות. כל ניסיון לקשור בין אלו הוא יותר מטעות והתלהמות שלא במקום הנכון ואינו שייך לדיינים ובתי דין אלא לעיתונאים ובעלי אינטרסים.

ג. ממתי רבנים סוגרים (ועסוקים לסגור) חדר, ישיבה, בית יעקב או סמינר אם נמצא שם פושע. האם נשמע כזה בארה"ב, מעוזו של גוטעסמאן, שסגרו חדר, ישיבה או בית יעקב, ופרסמו שאסור ללמוד שם אחרי שהחשוד סולק משם? מה שצריך לעשות הוא להוציא את הפושע/ החשוד ולתקן סדרים כדי שלא יקרה שוב – וכפי שאנו עושים באמת כעת, לתקן גדרים ולהוסיף שמירה על שמירה, מעל ומעבר לקיים מכבר. העיקשות לסגור מוסד הוא או נקמה או... בכל אופן עיקשות זו ובפרט המכתב הנוסף מלפני יומיים אומר דרשני...

ד. איך רבני שיקאגו השמיצו וממשיכים להשמיץ מבלי להבחין בין אלו מהסמינרים שלגביהם יש ויש תלונות ובין אלו שלגביהם אין ומייזלס כמעט ולא הי' דורך שם אם בכלל. ולמרבה התמיהה גם אחרי שהעמידום על טעותם אינם מוכנים לתקן הנזק שגורמים לסמינרים אלו. האם הם פוסקים "חיישינן לזילותא דבי דינא" גם כשטעו ובגלל טעות מותר להם להזיק ולהרוס מוסד שלא שייך לכל הנושא. למה אינם מפרסמים "נתברר לנו שסמינר פלוני או אלמוני מעולם לא הי' בו דופי ואינו שייך לכל הנושא". (לנו יש תשובה).

ג. הרעיון לקיים הרכב מורחב מקובל עלינו, כידוע היטב לכ"ת אנו הצענו כך וקיבלנו תשובה שלילית מוחלטת מעוה"ד הבית של "שיקאגו". ואנו עדיין אומרים כן למרות היסוסינו לעבוד עם מי שקובעים דברים מראש לפני שמיעת הנאשמים/ות. כמובן שאנו נצטרך לבדוק אם הצדדים מוכנים להתדיין בפניהם אחרי מה שנוכחו וראו התנהגותם. איך שיהיה, אם הם מוכנים אף אנו מצידנו מוכנים, וכמובן נצטרך לקבוע סדרי הדברים איך נפעל.

ד. יודגש, יצטרפו או לא, אנו מעוניינים לקיים דיון ביום ראשון, כהצעת מע"כ, במותב תלתא לקבלת טענות ועדויות של בנות המתלוננות על מחדלי המנהלים ומנהלות ו/או מעשי מייזלס, כמובן בדרך המקובל בב"ד ותיקים ומיומנים, ע"פ כל כללי וסדרי הדיון התקין, שמבררים את הדברים כיד ה' הטובה עליהם תוך שמיעת שני הצדדים ללא כל משוא פנים ו/או דעות קדומות או מוקדמות.

סדר הדברים יהיה:
א. הבת המתלוננת אינה חייבת להזדהות ואולי עדיף שלא תזדהה. רק תמסור מס' טלפון לביה"ד.

ב. ביה"ד יצטרך לדעת מראש באיזה סמינר/ים מדובר, וזאת בכדי להזמין את המנהלת/מנהל/אשת צוות עליו/ה מדובר, שישמע במה הוא מואשם וישמיע גרסתו ותגובתו, ובכדי לאפשר את בירור הדברים בדיוק מה הי', עד כמה שניתן בנסיבות העניין. ובמידה והעניינים גולשים מעל ומעבר לתפקוד המנהלים/ות ומגיעים להאשמות נגד מייזלס עצמו, יהיה צורך לשמוע גם אותו (הלא גם החייב מיתה מעידים בפניו ואפי' שור הנסקל, ולשבר אזני עוה"ד למיניהם הבוחשים בקדירה זו: גם בדיניהם). כאמור הבת לא חייבת להזדהות, אך מן העניין לציין כי הנאשם יזהה וידע מן הסתם במי ובמה המדובר.

ג. ר' שלמה גוטעסמאן יורשה להשתתף בדיון, אבל בהחלט לא יורשה לו לצעוק, להעליב, לאיים ולהטיח האשמות. אם לא יכבד את המעמד ויתנהג כבריון נגד התורה ונגד החוק נצטרך להוציא אותו מהדיון.

ד. בכל מקרה, וכפי שנהגנו עד עתה, הכל יהי' מוקלט, הן לצורך התיק וביה"ד, ובמקרה דנן גם כדי למנוע דיווחים כוזבים.

בברכת התורה וכט"ס
הרב מנחם מנדל הכהן שפרן, אב"ד
הרב חיים זאב הלוי מלינוביץ, דיין
הרב צבי גרטנר, דיין

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Moral clarity in Gaza by Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post  Israel accepts an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire; Hamas keeps firing. Hamas deliberately aims rockets at civilians; Israel painstakingly tries to avoid them, actually telephoning civilians in the area and dropping warning charges, so-called roof knocking.

“Here’s the difference between us,” explains the Israeli prime minister. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians, and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”

Rarely does international politics present a moment of such moral clarity. Yet we routinely hear this Israel-Gaza fighting described as a morally equivalent “cycle of violence.” This is absurd. What possible interest can Israel have in cross-border fighting? Everyone knows Hamas set off this mini-war. And everyone knows the proudly self-declared raison d’etre of Hamas: the eradication of Israel and its Jews.

Apologists for Hamas attribute the blood lust to the Israeli occupation and blockade. Occupation? Does no one remember anything? It was less than 10 years ago that worldwide television showed the Israeli army pulling die-hard settlers off synagogue roofs in Gaza as Israel uprooted its settlements, expelled its citizens, withdrew its military and turned every inch of Gaza over to the Palestinians. There was not a soldier, not a settler, not a single Israeli left in Gaza. 

And there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.

The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.
This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago. [...]

In Defense of Zionism by Michael Oren

Wall Street Journal   Mr. Oren was Israel's ambassador to the U.S. from 2009 to 2013. He holds the chair in international diplomacy at IDC Herzliya in Israel and is a fellow at the Atlantic Council. His books include "Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East" and "Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present."

 They come from every corner of the country—investment bankers, farmers, computer geeks, jazz drummers, botany professors, car mechanics—leaving their jobs and their families. They put on uniforms that are invariably too tight or too baggy, sign out their gear and guns. Then, scrambling onto military vehicles, 70,000 reservists—women and men—join the young conscripts of what is proportionally the world's largest citizen army. They all know that some of them will return maimed or not at all. And yet, without hesitation or (for the most part) complaint, proudly responding to the call-up, Israelis stand ready to defend their nation. They risk their lives for an idea.

The idea is Zionism. It is the belief that the Jewish people should have their own sovereign state in the Land of Israel. Though founded less than 150 years ago, the Zionist movement sprung from a 4,000-year-long bond between the Jewish people and its historic homeland, an attachment sustained throughout 20 centuries of exile. This is why Zionism achieved its goals and remains relevant and rigorous today. It is why citizens of Israel—the state that Zionism created—willingly take up arms. They believe their idea is worth fighting for.

Yet Zionism, arguably more than any other contemporary ideology, is demonized. "All Zionists are legitimate targets everywhere in the world!" declared a banner recently paraded by anti-Israel protesters in Denmark. "Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances," warned a sign in the window of a Belgian cafe. A Jewish demonstrator in Iceland was accosted and told, "You Zionist pig, I'm going to behead you."

In certain academic and media circles, Zionism is synonymous with colonialism and imperialism. Critics on the radical right and left have likened it to racism or, worse, Nazism. And that is in the West. In the Middle East, Zionism is the ultimate abomination—the product of a Holocaust that many in the region deny ever happened while maintaining nevertheless that the Zionists deserved it.

What is it about Zionism that elicits such loathing? After all, the longing of a dispersed people for a state of their own cannot possibly be so repugnant, especially after that people endured centuries of massacres and expulsions, culminating in history's largest mass murder. Perhaps revulsion toward Zionism stems from its unusual blend of national identity, religion and loyalty to a land. Japan offers the closest parallel, but despite its rapacious past, Japanese nationalism doesn't evoke the abhorrence aroused by Zionism.[...]

But not all of Zionism's critics are bigoted, and not a few of them are Jewish. For a growing number of progressive Jews, Zionism is too militantly nationalist, while for many ultra-Orthodox Jews, the movement is insufficiently pious—even heretical. How can an idea so universally reviled retain its legitimacy, much less lay claim to success?

The answer is simple: Zionism worked. The chances were infinitesimal that a scattered national group could be assembled from some 70 countries into a sliver-sized territory shorn of resources and rich in adversaries and somehow survive, much less prosper. The odds that those immigrants would forge a national identity capable of producing a vibrant literature, pace-setting arts and six of the world's leading universities approximated zero.[...]

Seminary Scandal: Israeli Beis Din Correspondence - Rav Aharaon Feldman letter of July 31

Update:  See response of Israeli Beis Din
This is the first of a series of private correspondence of the Israeli Beis Din that I plan to publish  - in the actual words of the participants - in the matter of the Seminary Scandal. The first letter consists of accusations against the Israeli Beis sent by Rav Aharon Feldman on July 31 2014 to the Israeli Beis Din. 

The next posts will provide the Israeli Beis Din's very strong response against the accusations of Rav Feldman  and in addition their grievances against the Chicago Beis Din. The differences between the Chicago Beis Din and the Israeli Beis Din is not as clear cut as has been presented up until now. In short I will show the issue from the point of view of the Israeli Beis Din

==============================

Rabosai,

The Chilul Hashem r.l. is spreading; people have lost their emunas chachomim; I just heard of two girls who went off the derech because of this affair. We have to get the Chicago BD to rescind their letter. The only way to do this is to have a joint BD listen to the accusations. Is Rav Shafran willing to do this? They are not at present but I think I can convince them. bedieved I have the following:suggestion. if I get the accusers to come together, will Rav Shafran agree to listen to them bemoshav tlasa? This will not stop the effect of the CBD’s letter, but at least it will stop the charges against you that you refused to listen to the accusers. Would Sunday night be OK for this?

I was surprised that Rabbi Malinowitz said (as I understood him) at our conference call that I never apprised the BD that there are serious accusations. Rav Malinowitz asked me at that time (and so I immediately wrote myself a note, which I have) to supply the BD with the names of the accusers. Yet a psak was given out without this. I am sure there is a good reason for this, but it certainly needs an explanation, not a denial that it ever happened..

Furthermore, you never apologized for having said publicly that you asked the CBD many times to supply you with information about the accusations and they did not. You could have explained this was a misunderstanding but to insist that you did contact them when R. Zev Cohen claimed so forcefully that you did not (I don’t think a person like R.. Zev Cohen would be able to lie in this manner), made them lose trust in you. It would help if you would apologize to them for this.

Aharon Feldman

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Understanding the Seminary Scandal: Britain’s Crime of Complicity With the Savile Sex Abuse Scandal

 Updated below August 1 to include Yeramiel Lopins response
The recent scandal of sexual abuse/seduction by the head of 4 seminaries has produced two different responses in the two beis dins involved. The Chicago Beis Din (CBD) that initially investigated the claims declared the seminaries too dangerous at the present time for girls to attend. 1rst letter of CBD and IBD  On the other hand the Israeli Beis Din (IBD) that is involved stated categorically - even before they actually conducted an investigation - that the schools were safe because Meisels had been removed from the seminaries.   2nd letter of IBD July 25

What is their point of disagreement? In both case we have very intelligent and learned men who care about the welfare of others. In order to understand this better I suggest you first read the following article that appeared in the New York Times about the sickening child abuse scandal in England and then continue reading here.
===============
The fundamental issues seems to be 1) is it better overall if we focus on saving the seminaries and their staffs from being destroyed by this scandal and accept that the scandal was entirely caused by one person who has since been removed or 2) do we focus on maximally protecting the girls even if it means destroying the seminaries and consider why this happened and what is the best way to ensure it doesn't happen in the future.

The IBD seems to accept 1) - that the saving of the seminaries is their priority. They thus view that the problem was caused entirely by Meisels' deviancy. By getting rid of Meisels there is no danger to the girls. However since the scandal has severely damaged the schools and the reputation of the girls who attended them. Therefore they have prohibited talking about the scandal and telling everyone to trust them to take care of any and all issues dealing with the schools. Thus they insist the problem has been properly taken care of and the seminaries should continue as in the past. This is clear from the two letters they have issued so far.

In contrast the CBD seems to accept 2). They were shocked by the testimony of degeneracy they heard. They are primarily concerned about the girls - the ones who have been molested/seduced and the girls who are planning on going there.  They don't understand how even the slightest risk can be taken with the girls and therefore they have stated that the seminaries can not be considered safe places until it is guaranteed that this won't be able to happen again. They have heard that some of the staff was aware or at least had good reason to suspect what Meisels was doing wrong - and yet did nothing to stop it. (See letter of July 30, 2014).  What protocols are in place now that will prevent even passive complicity? It is clear from the British and other sex abuse scandals that people tolerate horrible crimes - in order to protect their parnossa, careers or the reputation of their institutions or simply to avoid embarrassment. The CBD is well aware of this and knows that getting rid of Meisels is only the first step - not the final step to protect the girls. Until all safeguards are in place - girls should not leave the safety of their families and pay $25,000 for an unprotected year in Israel.

update August 1 -  There is a significant problem of transparency in the conduct of both the CBD and IBD. I would suggest the following information be made public in order to regain the trust of parents and the Orthodox World.

1) It needs to be acknowledged publicy by both the IBD and CBD that they disagree  regarding not only fact findings but that they have different goals which need to be stated. 2) CBD needs to provide more specific evidence concerning the extent and type of teacher collaboration or silence 3) What safeguards does the CBD require before they remove their caution and financial blockade 4) A clear statement that they have not authorized IBD to replace them 5) A clear statement of the role of Rav Feldman i.e., whose side is he on 6) Approximate number of victim - i.e., how serious was the problem. and did it involve only seduction? 7) Are criminal charges and/or civil lawsuits  envisioned 8) It needs to be stated clearly that Meisels is guilty as charged by both IBD and CBD. It realy  is not clear that the IBD agrees that he is guilty as charged 9) Is Meisels required to pay for therapy and admit guilt? 10) Why did the CBD apparently renege on their promise to withdraw their caution if this sale went through? 11) What program is in place to ensure it doesn't happen at any seminary? 12) Serious discussion needs to be done regarding the value of spending a year in Israel away from family and spending $25,000 to accomplish it 13) Serious discussion needs to be done regarding the problem of having males run a female school or even teaching there.

Update: August 1 - Response of Yerachmiel Lopin from FrumFollies See also Update on the Meisels Seminaries


1. Sources close to Chicago say they are adamant that they never authorized IBD to take over the case. But were hoping those rabbonim as individuals would assist in pressuring Meisels out and securing an honest sale to another. Moreover, I defy anyone to get R. Feldman or the IBD to produce a piece of paper showing otherwise. these are all professional and experienced dayanim who know enough to put such things in writing.

2. The IBD has never stated that the seminaries are under new ownership. Thus Chicago has every reason not to believe enough has changed to make the seminaries safe, especially since other staff knew about the abuse and rebuffed students who complained about it. This i also say on my own authority talking to talmidot from those sems.

3. Without proof of staff changes, you will forever have defensive staff who will want to claim Meisels left because of pressure, not because of his disgusting and abusive conduct. Others will not be committed to change things because advocating a tikkun means admitting a previous problem. The IBD has bolstered that mentality because they are claiming the seminaries were, are and will be wonderful, kosher places. With such a psak, naturally the attitude will be, "if it aint broke, don't fix it."

4. The most bizarre thing about IBD psak #2 is that they never heard both sides. They only talked to the administrators and select staff, not to any of the victims. Moreover, R. Feldman is listed as the representative of the other side. However, not one of the victims who went to the Chicago Beis Din ever authorized R. Feldman to act on their behalf with IBD. I say this on the basis of contact with some of the victims. They are all in touch with each other and are astounded that Rav Feldman claims they authorized him. It is true that R. Zev Cohen of the CBD shared the investigation to a whole group of senior rabbonim at a closed-door session at an annual meeting of rabbonim involved in Torah Umesorah. Rav Feldman offered to help because his 25 years living in EY made him familiar local rabbonim. Next thing they know he helped stage a seeming transfer to an IBD of the entire case.

5. Now, let us imagine that R. Feldman actually had authorization from victims. So what did he say in the sessions of IBD? NOTHING. The IBD does not even claim they interviewed him re the stories of the victims. Nor will Rav  Feldman claim he spoke during the inquiry stage of the IBD. What ever happened to the idea that Beis Din listens to two sides.

6. The IBD psak is worthless on procedural grounds. They never conducted the kind of inquiry that justifies their conclusion.

7. They say nothing about Meisels innocence or guilt. Given how they addressed the conduct of other staff, they could practically have also given Meisels a mehadrin teudah. Yet they said nothing, neither that he is guilty or innocent.

8. The IBD psak has left the way open for Meisels to eventually return claiming he is a victim of a bilbul + Chicago kanois and again sexually exploit students.

9. Those defending IBD should obtain proof from R. Feldman that he has written proof of delegation by the victims or CBD and proof that he opened his mouth at IBD and actually represented the reports of the victims of abuse that spoke to CBD.

אלו דברים שאין להם שיעור חמרות לה"ר ורכילות ותירוצים בעד מוסדותיהם
ופרנסתם נגד הנזוקין. אלו דברים שאוכלים פירותיהם בעוה"ז ועונשם קימת
לעוה"ב



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NY Times    The Westminster inquiry will investigate not just the rape and assault of children at group homes going back decades but also accusations that child abuse by politicians and other public figures was deliberately covered up or even facilitated by members of the elite. The same Parliament has, it seems, spent 30 years failing to catch the pedophiles in its own house. Before the inquiry was even announced, it emerged that 114 files concerning allegations of abuse against children involving senior political figures had mysteriously disappeared. 

The tradition of the British establishment’s looking after its own is only now understood to its full and chilling extent.

In Britain in 2014, it is no longer a shock to see the face of a once beloved celebrity or well-known politician on the news in connection with pedophilia. During the past two years, the press has been peppered with reports of allegations and prosecutions of all manner of public figures, from politicians and pop stars to television hosts and senior staff members at exclusive private schools. 

The saga began in 2012 when it was revealed that Jimmy Savile, a former children’s television host and charity campaigner who died in 2011, had raped and sexually assaulted hundreds of children. This was a seismic event: A BBC staple, Mr. Savile was an entertainer with the household currency and cultural centrality of Johnny Carson or Oprah Winfrey.

Worse, it became clear that a large number of people in show business knew about this abuse and did nothing because of Mr. Savile’s power and prestige. The entertainer, who was a friend of Margaret Thatcher, used his status to gain access to vulnerable young people in schools and even hospitals.[...]

Friday, August 1, 2014

U.N. condemns Israel, U.S. for not sharing Iron Dome with Hamas

Washington Times

There is a strong possibility that international law has been violated, in a manner that could amount to war crimes,” she said, Breitbart reported.

The U.N. group listed among its reasons for making that claim that Israel outright refused to share its Iron Dome with the “governing authority” of Gaza — which is Hamas, Breitbart reported. Ms. Pillay also condemned the United States for helping to fund the Iron Dome for Israel, but not granting any such accommodations to those in Gaza.

“No such protection has been provided to Gazans against the shelling,” she said, Breitbart reported.

מכתב גלוי לראשי הישיבות: התורה מגנה רק כשלא מדובר בבין הזמנים?


אם לא יחול שינוי דרסטי, בשבוע הבא נצום בתשעה באב, ולאחר מכן יצאו בחורי הישיבות לחופשת בין הזמנים. אם לא יחול שינוי דרסטי, באותם ימים חיילי צה"ל עדיין יילחמו ויחרפו נפשם בעזה.

בימים האחרונים אנחנו שומעים הצהרות חלקיות, חלקי אמירות ודיונים מורכבים על הארכת זמן קיץ ודחיית החופשה המסורתית. יכול להיות שראשי הישיבות ספונים יותר מדי בבית המדרש ולא מודעים לאירועים מבחוץ. ובכן, ב"ה יש בעם ישראל אחדות שלא נראתה שנים רבות. עם ישראל כולו (תמיד יש שוליים יוצאים מן הכלל) מאוחד בצדקת המבצע. תפילות מכל המגזרים עושות את שלהן, וניסים גדולים מתרחשים כל יום, גם בעורף וגם בעזה.

גם הציבור החרדי שותף, בדרכו, לכל האירועים ואפילו מקבל נקודות זכות נדירות בתקשורת החילונית. אין ספק שהאחדות, התורה בבתי המדרשות, העבודה – התפילה של תינוקות של בית רבן, גברים ונשים, וגמילות החסדים המדהימה שיש בתקופה האחרונה מקיימים את העולם, נותנים את אותותיהם ומשפיעים על היושב במרומים המעטיר עלינו טוב.

ומה עלול לקרות בשבוע הבא?
 
האם נראה בחורי ישיבה עוזבים – בהסכמה שבשתיקה או באמירה רפה על חשיבות הלימוד בימים אלו – את היכלי הישיבה? הרי מתחילת "ממשלת השמד" אנו שומעים השכם והערב כי יושבי בית המדרש שותפים מלאים בהגנה על ארץ ישראל, ובלעדיהם אין תקומה למדינת ישראל. הייתכן, היעלה על הדעת, האם יש ספק, כי אי אפשר לעזוב מערכה באמצע? הייתכן כי "התורה מגנא ומצלא" רק עד מוצאי תשעה באב, ואחר כך ינטשו את המערכה?

Rivky Stein & Yoel Weiss:The Jewish Press withdraws its support for Rivky Stein's "beit din"


Update by RaP August 1:

It can now be confirmed that The Jewish Press was NOT making a mistake when it withdrew the name of Yoel Weiss from its "seruv listing" column on its previous "Family Issues" page. The latest Friday, August 1st, 2014 edition of The Jewish Press on Page F1, has once again NOT published the name of Yoel Weiss on its "SERUV LISTING" confirming last week's report that they had therefore withdrawn their recognition of Rivky Stein's "Beit Din Zedek of Marine Park and Mill Basin" that presumably they too have concluded is either a fraudulent set-up or does not exist, or both! It remains to be seen if The Jewish Press will issue an explanation and hopefully an apology to Yoel Weiss and his family that has been shamed needlessly and admit it was duped by Rivky Stein and by whoever sent them the name of the fake "beit din"!

Guest post by RaP

Rivky Stein loses credibility by the day. The pro-Aguna organization ORA has disassociated itself from Rivky Stein's "beit din" then conflicting posts have stated that, first on Rivky Stein's page that her self-appointed "beit din" address is at "72nd" (also happens to be the same street address as a Chabad house there) while someone on this blog has stated that they have called that Chabad house and they deny a connection with any "beit din" on its premises! Truly mystifying self-contradicting information that awaits further clarification!

Now comes The Jewish Press which for many weeks has added the name of Yoel Weiss to its "SERUV LISTING" -- that is up until the Friday 18 July, 2014 edition (page F1), while the latest edition of The Jewish Press, the Friday July 25, 2014 edition (page F1) has DROPPED the name of Yoel Weiss from that same "SERUV LISTING" column! Why?

What was it that has made The Jewish Press do that? After all, they have been at the forefront of fighting for the rights of Agunas against recalcitrant husbands for decades, essentially pioneering the use of Jewish media as a weapon to publicly shame and thereby force stubborn husbands into coming to genuine batei din and giving their wives a get.

The Jewish Press does not mince words. Every week, on its "F1" "FAMILY PAGE, Naomi Mauer and Shandee Fuchs, Editors" starts with a "warning": "Attention Readers! this section contains sensitive topics and should be monitored"

and continues:

"SERUV LISTING

The names below are Mesarev Ledin or have been Harkhakot D'Rabbeinu Tam [sic].

A Beth Din has issued a seruv against each person listed below for a) withholding a Get upon being order [sic] to grant one, b) refusing to appear before a Beth Din in matters pertaining to a Get, or C) otherwise failing to follow the order of a Beth Din in matters pertaining to a Get. For the Halachot [sic] regarding how one should treat a person who is Mesarev Ledin, please consult a competent Orthodox [sic] rabbi."

[then in the July 18th, 2014 edition it lists nine names and the batei din that are dealing with them. At the bottom of the lists it states:]

"YOEL WEISS of Brooklyn, New York, issued by Beit Din Zedek of Marine Park and Mill Basin, March 2014"

However, the latest July 25, 2014 edition of The Jewish Press DROPS that last name and there is absolutely no mention of either "Yoel Weiss" or the so-called "Beit Din Zedek of Marine Park and Mill Basin"!!

What does that mean? Is The Jewish Press now also making a "typological error" and inadvertently leaving out that information that it has been posting for a while now? Of course, waiting another week will tell if that was a "mistake" of if now even a famous pro-Aguna advocate like The Jewish Press has added its tacit admission of being fooled and duped by printing things based on falsified information by retracting the mention of the name "Yoel Weiss" and of a "beit din" and its actions that does not exist in the real world. If so, will The Jewish Press also issue an explanation as well as an apology? Hopefully!

Stay tuned, time will tell, and it will not all that long either!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Exodus: Why Europe's Jews Are Fleeing Once Again

Newsweek   The mob howled for vengeance, the missiles raining down on the synagogue walls as the worshippers huddled inside. It was a scene from Europe in the 1930s – except this was eastern Paris on the evening of July 13th, 2014.

Thousands had gathered to demonstrate against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. But the protest soon turned violent – and against Jews in general. One of those trapped told Israeli television that the streets outside were “like an intifada”, the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. 

Some of the trapped Jews fought their way out as the riot police dispersed the crowd. Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, condemned the attack in “the strongest possible terms”, while Joel Mergei, a community leader, said he was “profoundly shocked and revolted”. The words had no effect. Two weeks later, 400 protesters attacked a synagogue and Jewish-owned businesses in Sarcelles, in the north of Paris, shouting “Death to the Jews”. Posters had even advertised the raid in advance, like the pogroms of Tsarist Russia.

France has suffered the worst violence, but anti-Semitism is spiking across Europe, fuelled by the war in Gaza. In Britain, the Community Security Trust (CST) says there were around 100 anti-Semitic incidents in July, double the usual  number. The CST has issued a security alert for Jewish institutions. In Berlin a crowd of anti-Israel protesters had to be prevented from attacking a synagogue. In Liege, Belgium, a café owner put up a sign saying dogs were welcome, but Jews were not allowed.


Yet for many French and European Jews, the violence comes as no surprise. Seventy years after the Holocaust, from Amiens to Athens, the world’s oldest hatred flourishes anew. For some, opposition to Israeli policies is now a justification for open hatred of Jews – even though many Jews are strongly opposed to Israel’s rightward lurch, and support the establishment of a Palestinian state.[....]

Is Lonna Kin trying to get an annulment?

GUEST POST: by Shmuel Halevi

After many years of producing many false Seiruvim against Meir Kin, and after her using the Social Media and ORA to condemn Meir, Lonna has appealed to a new Bais Din, “The International Beit Din” of Rabbi Simcha Krauss and Rabbi Ronnie Warburg. This Bais Din was specifically formed for the purpose of issuing annulments. The Frum Orthodox world has never accepted annulments; but only under very rare and exclusive conditions. See: Jewish Week and  Jewish Weekly a letter from the Rogatshover below, strongly condemning annulments.


However a recent Summons to Meir Kin from this Bais Din hints to the upcoming annulment.



After Meir Kin  left her a Get in 2008, see Mishpat Tzedek and Mishpat Tzedek. Lonna still wants to remain obstinate and continue to pretend that she is an Aguna. Meir has remarried with a Heter Mea Rabbonim after years of her prosecuting him in the civil courts and obtaining a Gag-order prohibiting him from divulging certain facts to a Bais Din that would of awarded him custody in a Bais Din. In the next few weeks their son Moshe will be Bar_Mitzva and thanks to Lonna, she had arranged once again in the courts that Meir cannot attend  the Bar Mitzva celebration .  It is after seeing  Lonna for years  maliciously prosecuting Meir in the civil courts, coupled with her muzzling him via the Gag-Order, and refusing to come to Din Torah to dissolve their marriage, did the Bais Din issue a Heter Meah Rabbonim to remarry. Boruch Hashem the new couple seem to be very happy together. While most women after seeing their ex-husbands remarry, end their conflicts and move on, Lonna has refused to do so and instead chooses to pursue  an annulment. Unfortunately ORA has empowered these women to never “NEGOTIATE” a divorce but believe in hard-line arm-twisting, Hamas-style tactics to achieve their goals. Lonna and ORA have even succeeded in getting Meir expelled from Shul. (This in  itself is a future topic for discussion if the Chabad rabbis were justified in doing this to a man who has A Bais Din justifying his position.) 

We have seen these similar social media  tactics play out before, in the Rivky Stein  and Gital Dodelson . see: Youtube   and Youtube    (see the segment at 21:38 minutes where Lonna hints to wanting an annulment.)    One can notice from Rabbi Ronnie Warburg’s letter that   a) his demeanor diminishes any right of Meir in choosing a Bais Din.  Also notice that he doesn’t offer an alternate Bais Din or Zabla option   b)  it shows clear and concise refusal of Lonna to accept his executed GET   c) He declares without ever seeing the GET or hearing testimony from anyone at the GET writing, that it’s a “gerushin al tenai” D) He  clearly acknowledges that A  GET has been prepared on her behalf and if in fact he issues her an annulment despite the GET,  it would be the first time that an orthodox Bais Din would issue an annulment EVEN AFTER LEARNING THAT  A GET HAS BEEN EXECUTED!   

Rabbi Ronnie Warburg, will you be issuing an annulment or another false Seiruv #4 , against a man who responded to your summons? Why would Lonna Kin after issuing Meir 3 false Seiruvim, using strong arm ORA tactics for 10 years with multiple ORA rallies , condemning Meir in the public eye,  suddenly go to a different  Bais Din?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chofetz Chaim disagrees with Rabbeinu Yona about lashon harah said in public

The Chofetz Chaim states that he built his understanding of lashon harah on Rabbeinu Yonah.
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(Introduction to Chofetz Chaim):

"I have taken these halachos from all the scattered places in the Talmud and the writings of those who have issued rulings concerning lashon harah. In particular from the Rambam, the Semag and Rabbeinu Yonah's Shaari Teshuva - who have illuminated our eyes in these halachos."

"The reader should not find it astounding that even though my entire sefer is based on halachic principles and conclusions, but I nevertheless cite in a number of places proofs from Rabbeinu Yonah's sefer – Shaarei Teshuva which is a mussar book [not halacha]. That is because if one examines Rabbeinu Yonah's words in a number of places it is clear that he was very careful with his words and they do not deviate from the halacha. In particular this is true concerning his writings about lashon harah. In fact everything he wrote there is a source in the Talmud as I will explain G‑d willing in this sefer. However he is very sparing in his words and he doesn't cite his sources contary to the practice of Rishonim. Nevertheless, in most cases I did not depend exclusively on the rulings of Rabbeinu Yonah – except in circumstances where a leniency could be inferred (and this is true for other Mussar books)."

Chofetz Chaim (Lashon Harah Be'er Mayim Chaim 10:7.1-23): The majority of this Kelal (10) is drawn from Rabbeinu Yonah in Shaarei Teshuva or his views cited by Shitah Mekubetzes.
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 However it is interesting to note, that when dealing with the leniency of the gemora [Arachin 15b] that negative words stated in the presence of three people or said before the person - are not considered lashon harah - he significantly deviates from the view of Rabbeinu Yonah. Futhermore the Chofetz Chaim does not acknowledge this disagreement and in fact he claims that Rabbeinu Yonah supports his view as do all rishonim - except for the Rambam.

This is not simply an esoteric hair splitting issue. This leniency of the gemora which is clearly supported by Rabbeinu Yonah according to its plain meaning - is one of the major justifications to allow newspapers and blogs. 

The Chofetz Chaim (2:2-3) claims that the gemora is only talking about those things which are ambigious and therefore can be understood as lashon harah or as innocent words (avek lashon harah). The Chofetz Chaim states that saying ambiguous statements in the presence of 3 is permitted - and that this is agreed to by all rishonim and poskim (See Clall 2 Be'er Maim Chaim 1) - except the Rambam [and the Maharal].


 However it is clear that Rabbeinu Yonah did not understand the gemora as the Chofetz Chaim did. Furthermore - contrary to the Chofetz Chaim - the Avodas haMelech says it is a dispute in the poskim whether it applies only to avek lashon harah.

 Rabbeinu Yona (Shaarei Teshuva 3:228): Now it is necessary to think deeply about this matter to understand its root. We have said previously that it is permitted to speak disparagingly about a sinner because of the wrong which is in his hands, if it is known that he has not repented. Thus it is permitted to degrade sinners that steal or rob, or cause damage or oppress, humiliate, embarrass, shame or slander others. This applies also to those who do not return what they stole or do not pay for the damage they have caused or have not asked forgiveness for the harm they have caused others. 

However those who want to do things in the best way will first speak with the sinner in the hope that they will succeed - by chastising him - to get him to repent his evil ways. However if he adamantly refuses then they can publicize his ways and his evil deeds. There is an important reason for first chastising the sinner – [even though the halacha doesn't require it]. If he publicly disparages the sinner after he has discovered the bad things that the sinner has done and he explains from a variety of perspectives why these deeds are so bad – then the speaker will be suspected of simply being a slanderer who is concerned only of destroying the other's reputation. People will say, "Even if what he says is true, the proper thing is to try and correct the sinner by educating and chastising him first." From the fact that he didn't first chastise the sinner, the listeners will suspect that the speaker would not have said such derogatory things in the sinners presence but would have flattered him instead ["Yet let no man strive, neither let any man reprove" Hoshea 4:4] – and thus view him also as a hypocrite. Thus they will say the speaker was solely motivated by the pleasure he gets from talking about the guilt of others and he rejoices in their transgressions and thus he feels he gains honor by degrading others – when not in their presence. Consequently he is viewed as simply a gossiper and the dust of slander clings to him.

However there is another reason for chastising the sinner before condemning him. If he fails to chastise first it is possible that the listeners will think that he is lying and that he simply made up all the slander and that is why he didn't first reveal his claims directly to the sinner but concealed his words from him.

This principle of first chastising helps explain (Arachin 15b), that everything which is said in the presence of the one being talked about is not considered lashon harah. In other words if one first openly chastises a sinner for his deeds and the sinner doesn't repent, then it is possible to publicize the transgression of the sinner and his bad character – because the speaker will no longer be suspected of being motivated simply by the desire to destroy the reputation of another person.

Similarly, if the speaker has an established reputation of not being biased against anyone and not flattering anyone. If he will not talk differently about a person whether he is there or not - meaning that everything he will say when not in the person's presence is the same as when he is. And furthermore that he is not afraid of any man and he has a reputation for always telling the truth. In such a case he will not be suspected when speaking about another man's sins - even when the sinner is not present. This idea is alluded by our Sages (Arachin 15b), Rabbi Yossi said," 'I never said a thing and turned back". In other words, "I never said anything about a person when he wasn't there which I would have suppressed if he had been present. Similarly (Arachin 16a), "Everything which is said in the presence of 3 people is not considered lashon harah." In other words, "Since I made the statement in public therefore it will become known by the person I am speaking about and therefore it is like I said it in his presence."