Thursday, December 31, 2009

Letter of Chizuk for the "Eternal Jewish Family"

To Mr. Menachem Yitzchack Kaplan,

We have heard of your good works that you do, which we hope that you continue in the future.

May you merit that only good should come from your deeds, like every baal chesed strives to do.

28 of Kislev 5769

Yosef Shalom Elyashiv   Aharon Leib Shtainman   
Michl Yehuda Lefkovitz
Chayim Kanievsky   Yitzchok Shainer
Mekubal wrote:
Photoshop is so grand.

What you have is a handwritten original note which says just this
לכ' מר מנחם יצחק קפלן נ"י

שמענו על הפעולות הטובות שנעשו על ידך, יישר כחך על כל הנ"ל, ונקוה שכן תמשיך להוסיף כהנה.
ויהי רצון שתזכה שאך טות וחסד יצא על ידך כחפץ לב דורשי חסד.

כ"ח כסלו תש''ע לפ''ק

Then under that orginial note you have photoshopped in the block text Hebrew, which claims it was to the EJF, but in reality it was only to Tom Kaplan, who wrote many a check from his Foundation to various Yeshivot and such.

This is a pure deception. A note to Tom Kaplan encouraging him to continue giving to worthy Jewish causes is not a letter of Chizuk to EJF.

EJF press release: " THE TRUTH ABOUT EJF"

EJF Updates    [Hat Tip: Joel Katz.]
Press Releases

Recent press coverage of an unfortunate development within the Eternal Jewish Family (EJF) has included inaccurate information about the organization. The following is a review of some of the falsehoods that have appeared in news reports and blogs about EJF:

False Statement: EJF has been paralyzed by the current situation.

Truth: EJF continues its full slate of programs throughout the world, under its rabbinic leadership. Its offices in the USA, Europe, and Israel are fully functioning.

False Statement: There has been no change in EJF.

Truth: EJF is in the process of restructuring its rabbinic leadership, including its rabbinic board. Rabbi Chaim Blum, rabbinic liason and Interim Director, is spearheading the effort to reach out to the many gedolei yisroel who support its mission.

False Statement: EJF conversions are now very much in question

Truth: There is no such concept as an "EJF conversion." It simply does not exist. EJF is not a bais din and has never and will never perform conversions. Conversion applicants who seek EJF support and guidance, and whose sincerity is verified by a reliable sponsoring rabbi, are always referred to separate, independent batei din.

False Statement: EJF is one-dimensional organization focused solely on conversion.

Truth: EJF is involved in a broad kiruv program to head off intermarriage before it happens. It has partnered with such well-known kiruv organizations as Gateways, Ohr Somayach, Arachim, Nefesh Yehudi and Hidabroot, preventing hundreds of young Jews from intermarrying.

False Statement: EJF encourages conversion, which is contrary to halacha.

Truth: EJF's mission of support to batei din and candidates for conversion is only in the narrow case of an intermarried couple where the Jewish spouse is a fully observant baal teshuva and the non-Jewish spouse is committed to a universally acceptable halachic conversion. All the leading poskim, led by the late venerable posek Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l, have ruled that, in such a case, the conversion is mandated by halacha.

False Statement: EJF has diluted the standards for conversions.

Truth: On the contrary, EJF's rabbinic and dayanim conferences, which are detailed on its website, address the havoc wrought by assimilation and intermarriage, including the devastating effects of improper conversions. In response to this issue, EJF has helped establish a network of continually growing batei din that operate under the guidance of gedolei yisroel, according to the highest halachic standards. Sincere conversion candidates are guaranteed universal acceptance by any Jewish community throughout the world.

Yes, EJF was victimized by an unfortunate event related to one individual! But this is no time for falsehoods, mistruths, and simply vicious accusations. The mission and support for EJF is sound. The organization prepares to emerge stronger than ever before. EJF is answering the siren call of Klal Yisroel and Kedushas Yisroel, and remains committed to continue under the strong leadership of Moronon Verabonom, Gedolei Yisroel from around the world.

EJF scandal and the British conversion process

Jewish Chronicle

Three children rejected from JFS, their parents' conversions in doubt and their own Jewish identities in tatters. A legal ruling by a British court establishing "Who is a Jew" in a way at odds with the traditional Jewish definition. A community at risk of schism.

How did we get into this mess?

A scandal currently unfolding in New York, at first glance completely unrelated, may shed some light on the current farce. [...]

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

your disgusting blog

It is important to note that there are many who don't understand that a massive earthquake has happened that needs to be addressed. I have been getting a significant amount of letters like this and personal confrontations with people who have very strong opinions against what I am doing as well as Rav Sternbuch. I am simply waiting for the rabbinic leadership to assume responsibility for investigating this mess and making changes that will prevent it from happening again. This scandal is not simply that one Jew had strong appetites - he was given too much power and his deviations were ignored by too many who should have done something about it. Also contrary to what is asserted in this letter it is clear that those in power either read or are informed of what I say on my blog and thus there is clearly a to'eles


It is a disgrace and abomination that you invoke the name or any other reference to the gedolei hador who are domeh lemalachim Rav Moshe ZT”L and the Chofetz Chaim ZT”L anywhere on this disgusting blog of yours.

While I don’t disagree with your views per se, we as laymen can just talk and right about anything as long as we long as we are entertained and then stop when we are bored with it. The rabbonim whoever they may be or however much you or I hold of them actually have to deal with the matters at hand until there is a resolution. So lets not be throwing around our opinions that nobody else besides for ourselves particularly values. Because however on the mark you are about the case you are championing currently or any other nobody who carries any weight on these issues lemaaseh are reading any silly blogs. It is of no toeles to have a blog unless it is purely informational (not current events) for whatever use.

                Also I am sure we both agree that there are extreme dangers on the internet and even if one must use it, it must be recognized that the internet is shiflius and tamei while our  gedolim such as mentioned above are kadosh v’tahor and their names and likenesses should be kept off this lowly tool.

                As you can obviously see I am not trying to talk down to you or trying to be “better than thou” because it is apparent that I too am not using the internet purely for work and I am no stranger to loshon horah myself.

However I am just trying to be meorrer a point that hopefully will have an impact on both of us and many others as well.
  P.S.  I must tell you that I appreciate your work on both maftechos and if I were you I would be satisfied having my name associated solely with those great works instead of also with  something as looked down upon as a blog.

When Scholars Fall

5 Towns Jewish Times Rabbi Yair Hoffman

There is a well-known Mitzvah to honor Torah scholars (Sefer HaMitzvos 209). Although the Rishonim cite different verses as to the source for the Mitzvah, it is almost universal that the Mitzvah is a Biblical one. Indeed, it is such an important Mitzvah that the Meiri (Yuma 71a) writes that it is a greater Mitzvah to honor a Torah scholar than to honor a Kohen Gadol – the High Priest in the Bais HaMikdash. The Talmud in Menachos (99b) discusses a case of a Torah scholar who has fallen morally. Raish Lakish tells us that we do not shame him in public. To back up this position he cites a verse in Hoshea (4:5), "You will stumble by day and the 'prophet' who is with you shall stumble at night, and I shall silence your mother." The Maharsha cites Rashi who explains the verse to be understood as "cover it up like the night." This seems to be the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch as well (Yore Deah 334:42).[...]

Rabbis need to investigate charges against community leaders

Journalism, Controversy, and Responsibility: halachic Analysis \ Steve Oppenheimer DDS

Mahari Weil, z"l, was asked about a community leader who had served the public for twenty years and now was being accused of inappropriate behavior. Was it appropriate to have a public investigation and give a detailed accounting to the public? He answered that an investigation should be conducted by a committee of trustworthy individuals appointed by the public. If this is not feasible, a dayan, a rabbinic judge, should appoint such a committee. The dayan should thoroughly investigate the matter so that the truth should emerge and justice prevail in this world. Unfortunately, he lamented; many communities are victimized by unscrupulous leaders who act more to serve their own interest rather than the interests of the community. These dishonorable leaders shirk their responsibility and further burden those who already suffer. The details of the investigation should not be discussed publicly, so as not to cause undue embarrassment to other involved parties.

We see that it is incumbent upon the community to appoint representatives from within its midst to examine the behavior of those who serve the public lest the weak and the vulnerable in the community suffer the consequences. In fact, based upon the responsum of Mahari Weil, the Ramo states that in order to be innocent before G-d and Israel, all people who deal with the community must give an accounting of their actions.

Any questionable behavior must be promptly investigated under the guidance of recognized poskim. While the details of the findings may not be revealed to the public, the public must be given assurance that the matter has been corrected properly and that the public interests have been protected.

Detailed revelation of the investigation may only serve to cause additional, unwarranted pain and embarrassment and this serves no public need.

Chofetz Chaim accused of lashon harah

Melave Malka at South Fallsburg

I was just informed that the guest speaker's  - Tropper - topic was that Yosef's brothers only saw the bad in him. I wonder what he meant by that?

Lashon harah: Chofetz Chaim permits for to'eles only when not motivated by hatred.

There is a very fundamental question that affects not only the laws of lashon harah but also the issue of rescuing someone from harm such as child abuse.

For example the understanding of the mishna and gemora  of Sanhedrin (73a) is disputed. Do we stop a rodef from killing a person or a rapist from attacking a woman because we are commanded to save the victim or because we want to stop the perpetrator from sinning?

We learn also learn from this gemora that there is an obligation to "not stand idly by the blood of your fellow". It is important to note that this verse is the end of the verse that is the source for the prohibition of not speaking lashon harah. There are a number of sources which say that the prohibition of lashon harah is therefore connected with the mitzva of saving others. In other words there is no prohibition of lashon harah when someone is in danger - either physically or financially.

Another way of phrasing this question is - will a person be hurt if we fail to keep the mitzva of "not standing idly by the blood of ones fellow"? If a person died after we avoided rescuing him - would he have died if we had tried to save him? If we saved him - would G-d have found another way of rescuing him if we had not? In other words is the mitzva of saving another independent of whether or not the person is actually rescued?

Another example is found in the laws of lashon harah. We know that it is permitted to speak lashon harah to save a person from harm by warning him that somebody is planning on attacking him. The Chofetz Chaim however says that before a person can say lashon harah there are 7 conditions that must be filled. If even one of these is not fulfilled he says it is prohibited to say anything. One of the 7 is to'eles (benefit). We normally say that to'eles means it brings a benefit. The classic description of lashon harah says that just as a snake bites without getting pleasure so is the case of speaking lashon harah. It is something which does not bring benefit and therefore it there is a benefit it would be permitted. However the Chofetz Chaim has an additional understanding of to'eles. Not only must benefit result from the telling of lashon harah - but also the intent of speaker has to be for benefit and not because of hatred or the enjoyment of pointing out someone's faults. The Chofetz Chaim says that this requirement can be seen from the fact that Jews have been harmed by non-Jews as part of G-d's plan to correct their ways. Even though it was G-d's will and desire that they harm the Jews they were were severely punished for doing it. That is because they didn't hurt the Jews because they wanted them to stop sinning but rather because they of hatred and enjoyment of the suffering of the Jews.

To put it more clearly, if a person was robbed and he wants to tell others that he was harmed because of his hatred for the assailant the Chofetz Chaim says it is prohibited to say anything - even though there is benefit in that the others will know to guard against the robber. Similarly the Sema (C.M. 421:28) says that if a person sees an assailant beating up someone one he can normally stop the assault even if he needs to beat up the assailant since there is a mitzva of stopping a person from sin. However he adds that if typically he does not intervene to stop assault  but on one unusual occasion he decides to intervene -  he is not allowed to beat the assailant. The Sema says because we know from past experience that he is not motivated to stop a person from sin. Therefore his intervention this time must be because he has hatred for the assailant. The Sema rules you can not rescue another by beating the assailant if your motivation is hatred rather than a desire to stop him from sinning.

Understanding this issue has tremendous implications for self-defense and the defense of others. The discussion will continue in a future post.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

High Court:Palestinians can use highway - despite danger to Israelis


The High Court of Justice on Tuesday accepted a petition against an IDF order barring Palestinians from driving on Highway 443.

The ruling will come into effect in five months' time, allowing Palestinians to use the road for the first time since October 2002, when it was closed to Palestinian traffic following a series of drive-by shootings at the height of the Second Intifada. Then-defense minister Binyamin Ben Eliezer was adamant at the time that Israelis would not serve as "moving targets" to West Bank terrorists.

Tuesday's decision came despite the court indicating last year that the road had become a key highway serving tens of thousands of Israelis whose safety would be endangered if Palestinians were allowed to use it unrestrictedly. [...]

R' Riskin: Judaism & Christianity

This is not the typical way an Orthodox rabbi speaks today. Rabbi Riskin issues a clarification
There is also an official clarification issued by Rabbi Riskin in the comments section

EJF scandal - comments from other blogs

1. From R' Harry Maryles:
I knew what this con man was about 20 years ago when I first met him. He was responsible then for ruining the life of one young man I am very close with - making life miserable for his parents. His mother went to the grave suffering an estrangement from her son for which Leib Tropper was responsible. His father suffers to this day from it. He took advantage of this young man's misfortune and conned him into doing something no decent man would ever do. And he made it seem like he was doing him a favor. This young man is now 20 years older and still suffering the consequences of it. Consequences that after 20 years have little chance of being reversed! I cannot get into details because confidences would be broken. But suffice it to say his only concern at that time was not to help this young man but to help himself by gaining the support of a wealthy friend in doing this con.

2. From a comment on ViN:
I have been involved with Kiruv for over three decades. Close to thirty years ago a university student underwent a Giyur Kehalacha when he discovered that his mother was converted by Conservative rabbis. A week later he went to Yeshivas Ohr Sameach. A few weeks ago EJF told him that his Giyur may not be good because they have questions of the Rabbonim who did it. Who is a erliche Orthodox Rav and does not do kulahs in Giyur. This shocking action is beyond belief. The EJF did not call the Rabbomin in question. They just put the Safek in the mind of this person 3 decades later. We need a proper structure in Giyur, and proper standards kept. However the idea that Rabbonim in Monsey, or Meah Shearim will suddenly begin to question Geirus done properly is outrageous. There is no historical precedent for this. There are a small group of Rabbonim aligned with EJF that have attempted to impose their view on Gierus. They are overreaching and creating havoc in the Jewish community.

3. From a comment on ViN:
I went to Rav Reuven Feinstein when the now infamous former head of the EJF tried to stop my marriage to my wife who is a giyores. He claimed that the Rov who was migayer her did not know what he was doing. Rbe Reuven told me that her geirus was fine. We are married now. The head of EJF got what he deserved for the pain he caused me and many others.

4. From a comment on ViN:
I converted years ago and have been frum from the time I emerged from the mikvah and the EJF told me my conversion was invalid because of the rabbonim on the beis din, all of whom were frum Orthodox rabbonim by the way. I was not the only person this happened to. Of course the EJF offered to 'fix' it for a substantial sum of money. How nice of them.

5. From Rabbi Natan Slifkin:
Also involved in the campaign against my books was Yaakov Kalmanowitz's brother,Rabbi Osher Kalmanowitz of the Mir Yeshivah in New York. He did not want to openly involve himself, and so he recruited his friend Rabbi Leib Tropper of Yeshivas Kol Yaakov in Monsey. Rabbi Tropper created a story that was told to the Rabbis who were approached to condemn the books. The story involved two students in his yeshivah, described as "angelic," who allegedly dropped out of yeshivah and left Orthodoxy after reading my books and concluding that "if the Sages could have been wrong about science, then they could have been wrong about everything." Rabbi Elya Wachtfogel, the primary rabbinic authority behind this ban, presented this story as grounds for his campaign. I myself was shaken when I heard about this story, but my mentors were skeptical and advised my to investigate it. The investigation showed that one of them was barely observant to begin with, and dropped out of yeshivah before my book on the Sages' knowledge of science was published. The other left Kol Yaakov and went to YU; he wrote to me that it was nothing to do with my books, which strengthened his Judaism, but he noted that the rabbis in Kol Yaakov did not like them.

EJF scandal - R' Adlerstein nails it!

If you don't know what it stands for, skip the rest of this piece. I am not going to rehash the whole sordid affair.

For what it is worth, I will offer one man's opinion, written as a bit of an insider in the world of gerus, since I sit from time to time on a respected beis din for gerus. The opinions expressed herein are my own; they were not vetted by my colleagues.

I have come neither to praise EJF, nor to bury it. If I believed that EJF was worthless, I wouldn't bother writing. It is only because I see the potential for accomplishment that I pen these thoughts, in the hope that others will feel the same way.

The chief problem with EJF is not its recent scandal-ridden past. The problem is that to date, it has not done enough to insure that the past will not be repeated. The way in which it has addressed the past hardly inspires any confidence. [...]

Conservative Judaism:Van Leer Conference


Burning issues threatening to split the Conservative Movement, such as the ordination of homosexual and lesbian rabbis, the sharp drop in the number of young members and the challenge of intermarriage will be raised this week during a two-day conference in Jerusalem's Van Leer Institute entitled "Conservative Judaism: Halacha, Culture and Sociology."

"This will be the first time that an institution not associated with the Conservative Movement will devote a scholarly conference to Conservative Judaism," said Professor Naftali Rothenberg, Jewish Culture and Identity Chair at Van Leer.

"And this is happening on the backdrop of a major crisis that the Conservative Movement is undergoing, in which members of the religious Right and Left in the movement are headed in opposite directions." [...]

Monday, December 28, 2009

EJF - praises themselves for being so wonderful

Eternal Jewish Family Update 12/27/2009

Halachic Heads of EJF in New Letter of Chizuk to Botei Din - Eternal Jewish Family

Three world renowned halachic authorities, who serve as chairmen of Halacha Committees of the Eternal Jewish Family in the US, Europe, and Israel, last week wrote a strong letter of chizuk to Botei Din throughout the world. The three are Harav Reuven Feinstein, Chairman, Halacha Committee, (USA), Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, Chairman, Halacha Committee (Europe), and Harav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, (Av Bais Din of Bais Din of Harav Wosner), Chairman, Halacha Committee (Israel). A network of 20 independent Botei Din are affiliated with EJF.

In their letter, the poskim note their continued involvement and expectation of the further growth and development of EJF. They note: "It is a big zchus for us to be able to continue to lead such an important undertaking, with even greater determination and vigor, to intensify these Torah projects and to serve as supporters of the Gedolei Yisroel."

The full text follows, please click read more to see the letter in the original Hebrew:

To the Rabbonim of the Batei Din,

For the past several years the well known organization "Eternal Jewish Family" has made it its mission to prevent problematic conversions by adhering to the standards set forth by the Gedolei Yisroel shlita.

With Hashem's will, this mission has succeeded through Botei Din who agreed to make the necessary changes in accordance with halacha mandating the acceptance of mitzvos with all nuances, as has been the standard for generations, in order to preserve the purity of the Jewish nation.

The distinguished Botei Din, to whom we exclusively refer candidates for conversion,   include members who are well known Talmidei Chachomim and Bnei Torah, who refer every difficult question to the Poskim of our generation.

We extend our heartfelt thanks and sincerest blessings to our dear sponsor Mr. Menachem Yitzchack (Tom) Kaplan, who actively sustains the organization's activities, in preventing assimilation around the world, and in supporting Torah study.

It is a big zchus for us to be able to continue to lead such an important undertaking, with even greater determination and vigor, to intensify these Torah projects, and to serve as supporters of the Gedolei Yisroel.

We wish to bless all those who are doing their utmost to improve kedushas Yisroel, as the passuk says: "Netzach Yisrael lo Yeshaker".

Harav Reuven Feinstein
Chairman, Halacha Committee, USA

Dayan Chanoch Eherentreu
Chairman, Halacha Committee, Europe

Rabbi Shmuel Eliezer Stern (Av Bais Din of Bais Din of Harav Wosner)
Chairman, Halacha Committee, Israel

Protest in New Square

Joseph's recapitulation of Tropper scandal

DT said:
Perhaps a new perspective is needed. Are you willing?

Joseph said:

I have thought about this and have also looked into all your previous posts, you have really left no stone unturned. In the beginning you even posted a defense for tropper, there was no real response. You asked tropper to apologize to reduce the chilul hashem in the world, there was no response. You posted a wonderful post; "Sounds of silence or who is the 800 lb gorilla in the room?" that post couldn't have been written better, you write there that tropper seems to have some friends still defending him, which sounds absurd. You write that the tapes have been 100% clarified. You quoted in a new post Rav Sternbuch, which is common sense, there is nothing more to be written in my opinion.

This last post of yours has drawn almost 100 responses, more than ever,(I don't know why this one triggered people more than previous ones) but a lot of it is going round in circles with the defenders constantly puling the wool over everyone's eyes. Like someone wrote before, if the holocaust can be denied then so can troppers guilt. Maybe you add this to the list of conspiracy theories, that you once posted. Its similar to the tactics that Hitler YMSH used in the early 1930`s, i.e. if you say a lie enough times then it becomes the truth. (this is the power he used to convince the german people of all his dirty theories and plans) This tactic is being deployed here and is becoming more widespread as the time goes on, obviously they are hoping to have some results via this method.

I would therefore advise you not to lend a hand to this dirty trick, keep yourself clean and above the water. Eventually the truth will prevail, as it always does, this took some years of your fighting to reveal this menuval, but now the truth is really out for everyone to see and hear.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rav Sternbuch:Tropper is guilty!

There are increasing comments popping up that there is no evidence against Tropper. That the tapes are forged or misunderstood.

Let me present something rather basic that Rav Sternbuch has said recently to someone who asked about Tropper's guilt.

Rav Sternbuch, shlita said the following:

The fact that this story with the accompanying accusations has been printed in newspapers  around the world, the normal thing would be to hire the best lawyer in the world and issue a public denial and sue all the papers for libel. The mere fact that this has not been done is the biggest proof the accusations are true. It is an example of what our Sages say that silence in the face of an accusation is understood to be an admission "Shetikah k'hodah".

Friday, December 25, 2009

Messianic Times & rabbinic immorality

סוטה מט:

אזלא ודלדלה, ואין שואל ואין מבקש, על מי יש להשען? על אבינו שבשמים. בעקבות משיחא - חוצפא יסגא, ויוקר יאמיר, הגפן תתן פריה והיין ביוקר, ומלכות תהפך למינות, ואין תוכחת, בית וועד יהיה לזנות, והגליל יחרב, והגבלן ישום, ואנשי הגבול יסובבו מעיר לעיר ולא יחוננו, וחכמות סופרים תסרח, ויראי חטא ימאסו, והאמת תהא נעדרת, נערים פני זקנים ילבינו, זקנים יעמדו מפני קטנים, בן מנוול אב, בת קמה באמה, כלה בחמותה, אויבי איש אנשי ביתו, פני הדור כפני הכלב, הבן אינו מתבייש מאביו, ועל מה יש לנו להשען? על אבינו שבשמים

רש"י מסכת סוטה דף מט עמוד ב

ובית הוועד - של חכמים יהיו לבית זנות שכלו החכמים ואין לומד תורה ויהא חרב מאין איש ובעלי זימה מתגודדים שם מפני שחוץ לעיר היו בתי מדרשות שלהם.


Sounds of silence or who is the 800 lb gorilla in the room?

One of the incredible things about this whole scandal is how it has morphed into a nightmare that few understand what is ordinary sickness and what are cancerous cells that have taken over the identity of healthy cells. Who is simply lying and who are the double agents who are disseminating false information. In addition should we be concerned about what happened - a disgusting sex and bribery scandal of a sick individual or the corruption of the rabbinical elite which threatens the foundation concept of orthodoxy - emunas chachomim, Or should we be obsessing primarily over the atom bomb which was tossed in the issue of geirus and Jewish identity? Alternatively should we worry about the glee of triumph of Guma Aguiar or the despair and disappointment of Tom Kaplan?

There are things which should be obvious at this point but they are not 1) the tapes are valid. They were not fabricated or synthesized. Despite this obvious fact, there are major players in this drama who still insist that the recordings are false - synthesized by a billionaire who has access to the best experts in the world. I recently took down a post which I realized was a plant by the defenders of Tropper - that insisted that the tapes are forgeries. 2) there are hundreds of people who benefited from Tropper - who were engaged in the most disgusting chanifah - who now step over this broken man lying in the gutter while holding their noses - refusing to even acknowledge him or even mentioning that they knew him.

These people must stop ignoring him and there past association - as if nothing happened except a little rain.




Shulchan Aruch: Principle of self-defense & beating others to stop sin

Shulchan Aruch(C.M. 421:13): Two people who are beating each other… if one started the fight then the victim has to the right to hit the assailant in order to save himself. This principle of self defense applies also to harassment and abuse…If Reuven hit Shimon and Shimon hit Reuven in return and then the wife of Reuven came and grabbed Shimon and he removed her hand from him and hit her – Shimon is exempt. (Look at C.M. 424 when a husband and wife are hitting each other.). However it has to be evaluated when Shimon could have saved himself from Reuven’s wife with a small beating because if he used excessive force he is obligated. (This question is only in regarded to paying the four types of payment because Shimon has the status of hitting her inadvertently. However Shimon is exempt from paying for shame because he did not intent to embarrass her. Therefore if someone hit another person and the victim responded by calling the assailant a mamzer he is exempt as it says in Devarim 19:6). Similarly if someone called another person a thief and the victim responded by saying you lie like a mamzer or calls him a mamzer he is exempt for that reason) Similarly the halacha is that a man who see another Jew hitting someone and he is not able to save the victim without hitting the assailant – he is permitted to hit the assailant in order to stop him from sinning. Rema This right to hit someone to stop them from sinning also applies for anyone under your control that you see is sinning. It is permitted to hit him and chastise him to stop him from sinning and it is not necessary to get permission from a beis din. (Terumas HaDeshen #218).

שולחן ערוך (חושן משפט תכא:יג):  שנים שחבלו זה בזה, ... אבל אם התחיל האחד, השני פטור, שיש לו רשות לשני לחבול בו כדי להציל עצמו. וכן הוא לענין גידופים וביושים, המתחיל פורע הקנס (הגהות מרדכי דקידושין). ראובן שהכה לשמעון, וחזר שמעון ובא להכותו לראובן, ובאתה אשתו של ראובן והחזיקה בשמעון, והוא נתק ידיו והכה אותה, פטור (מהרי"ו סימן כ"ח). (וע"ל סוף סימן תכ"ד איש ואשה שחבלו זה בזה). ומיהו צריך אומד אם היה יכול להציל עצמו בחבלה מועטת וחבל בו הרבה, חייב. (ודוקא לענין חבלה שמשלם לו ד' דברים, דהוי כאדם המזיק בשוגג; אבל פטור על הבושת, דהא לא כיון לבייש. ולכן המכה חבירו, וחבירו קראו ממזר, פטור, שנאמר: והיה כי יחם לבבו וגו' (דברים יט:ו). וכן אם אחד קרא לחבירו גנב, והוא אומר לו: אתה מכזב כממזר, או קראו ממזר, פטור מהאי טעמא) (מהרי"ו סימן כ"ח וסימן ס'). וכן הדין באדם הרואה אחד מישראל מכה חבירו, ואינו יכול להצילו אם לא שיכה המכה, יכול להכותו, כדי לאפרושי מאיסורא. הגה: וכן מי שהוא תחת רשותו, ורואה בו שהוא עושה דבר עבירה, רשאי להכותו ולייסרו כדי להפרישו מאיסור, ואין צריך להביאו לבית דין (ת"ה סי' י"ח /רי"ח/).

M. Freund calls for outreach to bnei anusim


For Miquel Segura of Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the journey home took more than 500 years. Last week, at a moving ceremony in Manhattan, the 65-year-old journalist and political commentator completed his return to the Jewish people, closing a circle dating back to the 14th century.

Segura is from the Chueta community, as descendants of Mallorcan Jews forcibly converted to Christianity more than five centuries ago are known.

Though the term is derogatory, with some historians suggesting it comes from the Catalan word for "pig," Segura has long worn it with unadorned pride [...]

Tropper - what's behind the silence?

[I had taken this down because it sounded like a plant but others claim it is from a perplexed person who wants this issue thoroughly discussed - therefore I am reposting it]

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

I heard from someone who is very close to Rabbi Tropper and who spoke to Rabbi Tropper recently that the person who authenticated the Gilad Shalit tapes told Rabbi Tropper that the tapes were "arts and crafts." Additionally, the woman involved was previously in some kind of relationship with Guma and was prepared to testify for Rabbi Tropper in the lawsuit, and that this may explain the mention of payment to lawyers on the tapes.

I personally don't think that explains the complete lack of public denial, which is damning and which, as far I can tell, serves no legal purpose. This person close to Rabbi Tropper obviously has strong reasons to want to believe in Rabbi Tropper's innocence. However, regardless of one's views of Rabbi Tropper's hashakofos, personality and ego, I do think it is important to allow for the possibility that things may not be entirely as they seem from the tapes


P.S. Since you seem to sometimes post emails as they come in, as a courtesy to the person close to Rabbi Tropper, please don't post my name or email address. This is not an anonymous attempt to start spreading pro-Tropper rumors. I have no connection to Rabbi Tropper or his supposed attorney. In fact, I had one telephone conversation with Rabbi Tropper a few months ago and was far from impressed. I'm emailing you specifically because I think you have integrity, unlike the hordes of disenchanted Jewish bloggers who are looking for spikes in the traffic to their blogs.

Rav Sternbuch: Yosef & the art of forgetting

Rav Sternbuch: Chanukah - the Eternal Flame

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Beseiged in Miami by Israeli schnorrers

Reuven writes:

I read your website, blog daily; I agree and disagree on a few issues. However a point I would like to bring across and get your response. I live in a frum community in Miami Florida, with many shuls and Jewish days’ schools. I get knocks on my doors daily even at 10 pm, people from Eretz Yisroel

They all have a sob story, how life is, and how its the American Jew who's going to bail them out, and must give needed funds now! Why is it this way? The Chutzpa, arrogant is more the word, and the disrespect they give when you give them a few dollars, they want a check!

You have a Medina called Israel which doesn't support big Frum Haimisher families and who's responsible?? They don't work, don't learn torah in kollel! They can't go into the Army, Hester programs are too Zionist for them, and so do what?? Ten percent of frum yidden belong in kollel, though who are serious about being the teacher, rabbonim, dayanim in the next generation, the rest need to get a job. To survive in today’s world you can go to a frum college, which I went to Touro College, without the distractions of the world, with 6 kids at home between 5-10 pm for 3 years after a days work. The Shulchan Urach clearly states, hilchous Talmud Torah to teach ones child a trade. Get a decent job support your family and do something meaningful in life! Being a professional shnorra isn't a profession, you are bogging down the true people in this world who need help from our fellow yidden!  When will the Haimsher, Frum, Charidim world wake up and earn a parnosha from Hashem like a mentch?

I would like to see some feed back from your blogger, thank you

European rabbis object to EJF move into Europe


Two weeks ago, the Conference of European Rabbis (CER) passed a unanimous resolution at a meeting of its Standing Committee, in Moscow, objecting to EJF's attempts to establish itself in Europe.

It had "strong reservations" about the EJF's attempts to organise local conferences and activities by a new EJF office in Amsterdam were "not welcome".[...]

Haaretz:Tropper scandal embarrasses charedi system


It is hard to imagine a more embarrassing situation in which to find an exclusive ultra-Orthodox organization - a group that was a standard-bearer in the fight against "breaches in the wall of conversion" and "the penetration of complete gentiles into the vineyard of Israel."

These breaches pale into insignificance in comparison with the accusations against the man who heads the organization itself: according to the claims, Rabbi Leib Tropper of Rockland County abandoned the apparently stringent Halakhic standards of his Haredi organization and established a conversion process based on his most private impulses. [...]

Jewish Star: Tropper scandal affects conversions

Jewish Star

With the public revelation of Orthodox conversion guru Rabbi Leib Tropper as a caught-on-tape predator, the Orthodox Jewish community is grappling with a sexual scandal of Madoffian proportion.[...]

Forward reports Tropper scandal & apology


A key proponent of the successful campaign for stricter conversions in Israel and around the world has resigned from a senior post, and has not denied rumors of a conversion scandal of his own.

Rabbi Leib Tropper, a founder of the hard-line conversion group Eternal Jewish Family (EJF), announced that he had stepped down as its leader when allegations surfaced in news outlets that he had engaged in sexual misconduct with a woman while guiding her conversion. Tropper was among those responsible for major policy changes by the Israeli rabbinate that sparked a worldwide tightening of conversion regulations.

In a statement issued December 23 to the Forward, Tropper's representatives said he "wishes to express his regret for the turmoil caused by his departure… and for what has appeared to be conduct not within our significant laws of modesty." [...]

Rabbinical courts can annul conversion


Rabbinical courts have the legal authority to retroactively annul conversions to Judaism years and even decades after they were performed, even if the conversion was performed under the aegis of the Chief Rabbinate, according to a legal opinion by attorney Rabbi Shimon Ya'acobi, the legal adviser to the Rabbinical Court Administration, that was released to the press Wednesday.

Ya'acobi also argues that city rabbis have the right to question the Jewishness of converts to Judaism who come before them to be registered for marriage.

Ya'acobi's legal opinion is nothing short of a bombshell in the ongoing battle over the Jewishness of thousands of converts who converted under the aegis of the state-funded National Conversion Authority and conversion courts in the IDF.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tropper is back - organizing his Maimonides Retreat program December 23-30.

[[A number of commentaters have stated that this program was canceled a few days ago. However I was told today that the program is still functioning. I just sent an email to Horizons and asked them to inform me whether the programs is on or off. I'll post there response here

Either way everyone agrees that Tropper was planning on running the program despite the scandal,

Contrary to those who claim that Tropper is finished, he has been busy organizing his Maimonides Retreat progam this week in Monsey.


Recognizing the potential of exciting campus programs like Maimonides and Heritage Scholars to attract students with a genuine interest in Jewish learning, we've created a second tier of programming. The goal: to provide young men [we hope to develop a program for women as interest grows] with the opportunity to deepen their exploration of the vibrancy and intellectual stimulation of classical Judaism in a fun and enriching atmosphere.

Sample Schedule

7:30 – 8:30 Shacharis (optional)

8:45 – 9:30 Continental breakfast

9:30 – 10:30 Session I

"Shmuess" — Between Man and His Fellow

R' Leib Tropper's passion for the importance of character development is contagious, and the centrality of "being a mensch" to the Torah worldview is his leitmotif. His delivery, which blends a lucid and jargon-free elucidation of traditional sources with his expansive reading in modern psychology and philosophy, has captivated the minds and hearts of three generations of American youth.

Jerusalem's secular Jewish Identity

Understanding Tropper's crimes & that of EJF

Rabbi Yair Hoffman has published a series of articles which cogently reveal the real issues connected with the Tropper scandal and also how EJF is endangering Jewish society. (There is another link I added today which talks about EJF's  unpleasant consequences on geirim.)

Rav Sternbuch: Obligation to Investigate rumors of sexual impropriety 5:398

Banning a rabbi for rumors of sexual misconduct

Mo’ed Koton(17a):
There was a certain distinguished rabbi about whom there were bad rumors (about sexual misconduct - Tosfos). Rav Yehuda asked how is one to respond? If it is to ban him, this cannot be done since the Rabbis need him as a good teacher. However not to put ban him is also not possible since it would profane the name of Heaven…. So Rav Yehuda banned him. Eventually Rav Yehuda became seriously ill. The Rabbis came to visit him and that man came along with them. When Rav Yehuda saw him he laughed. The man said, Is it not sufficient that banned me  but he also laughs at me? Rav Yehuda replied that he was not laughing at him but that he was in fact dying and it made him happy that even though the other person was a great and important man he didn’t refrain from treating correctly…. His colleagues did not remove the ban and he went away crying. A wasp came and stung him on his private member and died. He was not admitted in the burial ground of the pious but he was admitted in the burial ground of the judges. That is because he followed the ruling of R’ Il’ai that if a person sees that his lust is overcoming him he should go to a place where he is not recognized and wear dark clothing and cover himself with a dark covering and then do what his heart desired rather than profane the name of heaven openly.

 מועד קטן (יז.): ההוא צורבא מרבנן דהוו סנו שומעניה. אמר רב יהודה: היכי ליעביד? לשמתיה - צריכי ליה רבנן, לא לשמתיה - קא מיתחיל שמא דשמיא. .... שמתיה רב יהודה. לסוף איחלש רב יהודה, אתו רבנן לשיולי ביה, ואתא איהו נמי בהדייהו. כד חזייה רב יהודה חייך אמר ליה: לא מסתייך דשמתיה לההוא גברא אלא אחוכי נמי חייך בי? אמר ליה: לאו בדידך מחייכנא אלא דכי אזלינא לההוא עלמא בדיחא דעתאי דאפילו לגברא כוותך לא חניפי ליה. נח נפשיה דרב יהודה, ... לא שרא ליה. נפק כי קא בכי ואזיל, אתא זיבורא וטרקיה אאמתיה, ושכיב. עיילוהו למערתא דחסידי - ולא קיבלוהו, עיילוהו למערתא דדייני - וקיבלוהו. מאי טעמא? - דעבד כרבי אילעאי. דתניא, רבי אילעאי אומר: אם רואה אדם שיצרו מתגבר עליו - ילך למקום שאין מכירין אותו, וילבש שחורים ויתעטף שחורים, ויעשה מה שלבו חפץ, ואל יחלל שם שמים בפרהסיא.
שולחן ערוך יורה דעה שלד:מב

חכם, זקן בחכמה, או אב בית דין שסרח, אין מנדין אותו בפרהסיא לעולם, אלא אם כן עשה כירבעם בן נבט וחביריו. אבל כשחטא שאר חטאות, מלקין אותו בצינעא. וכן כל ת"ח שנתחייב נידוי, אסור לב"ד לקפוץ ולנדותו במהרה, אלא בורחים ונשמטים ממנו. וחסידי החכמים היו משתבחים שלא נמנו מעולם לנדות תלמיד חכם, ואף ע"פ שנמנים להלקותו אם נתחייב מלקות או מכת מרדות. ואי סני שומעניה  כגון שמתעסק בספרי אפיקורוסין ושותה במיני זמר, או שחביריו מתביישין ממנו ושם שמים מתחלל על ידו, משמתינן ליה.

Rav Sternbuch IVF birth 5:317

Abuse: Beware of even the friendly pediatrician


A Delaware pediatrician is accused of molesting at least 16 patients, including some who appear to be no more than 6 months old, and police said the doctor used video cameras to record some of the brutal attacks in exam rooms. Dr. Earl B. Bradley, 56, was being held on $2.9 million bond Tuesday, said Sgt. Walter Newton, a Delaware State Police spokesman. Police believe there could be more victims. Bradley, of Lewes, faces 29 charges, including rape. He was charged last week with sexually abusing nine girls.[...]

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

R' Reuven Feinstein's haskoma & the Tropper tapes

It is interesting to note that approximately the same time the Tropper tapes were being recorded that Tropper had Rav Reuven Feinstein write a haskoma for his activities in EJF

Cheshvan 1, 5770
October 19, 2009

My Honorable Friends, Rabbis of the Eternal Jewish Family Organization,

I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate and clarify my previous stated opinion that all of the activity of this organization strictly adheres to the Torah's laws as transmitted by both the leading halacha deciders of our time (may they live and be well) as well as those of blessed memory.

The Eternal Jewish Family has my full support, as at the helm of the organization is a halacha committee made up of Torah scholars endowed with a strong fear of heaven who are admirable in both thought and action.

The directors of EJF are of the elite few of our generation who follow the directives of today's Torah leaders. They are willing to listen to their constructive criticism, and even adjust the organization's activities or strategies when instructed.

The mixed seminars for couples that EJF runs follow the strict guidelines and Torah decisions of the previous generation's Torah luminaries, as well as today's leading Rabbinic authorities, our master HaGaon Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlit"a and HaGaon Rabbi Shmuel Vosner shlit"a and our master HaGaon Rabbi Yosef.

May you be blessed to continue sanctifying the great Name of Hashem and strengthening the Glory of Heaven until the final redemption.

Signed in blessing and true friendship,
Reuven Feinstein

Defamatory speech on the internet

ABA Journal  [hat tip Jersey Girl]

Masked by the Web's anonymity, internet users feel free to flame celebrities, blast politicians, or blow the whistle on employers for corporate misdeeds.

Burned by the postings, many plaintiffs resort to defamation suits. But in addition to the usual litigation issues, plaintiffs often find another one: plenty of defendants with the same name, John Doe.

"If we don't know who they are, we don't know where they are and we don't necessarily know what court to file in," says Gary Nissenbaum of Union, N.J., managing principal of Nissenbaum Law Group, which practices Internet law in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. "Part of the reason this defamatory speech is so ubiquitous is because people assume they can never be found."[...]

Tropper scandal hits Israeli papers

Maariv, YNET, and Hebrewnews carried the story yesterday. Not providing links because they just rehash the disgusting details.

RCA issues statement on Tropper scandal

Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)

Dec 22, 2009 -- We are deeply appalled, saddened and pained by reports that have reached us concerning alleged inappropriate behavior on the part of the chairman of the rabbinic committee of the Eternal Jewish Family, Rabbi Leib Tropper. We need to wait for more complete information before we can react fully.

Nonetheless, at this time, we would make the following points clear:

1. What we have heard, if true, violates the fundamental elements of all that Judaism holds sacred.

2. We urge anyone who might have been victimized to seek appropriate counseling and we, at the Rabbinical Council of America, remain ready to refer anyone who needs such assistance to the appropriate professionals.

3. Anyone who may have any questions of Jewish Law regarding conversions should feel free to contact our Geirut administrator, Rabbi Michoel Zylberman, at 212-807-9000 ext. 3.

Rav Sternbuch warns against the Schalit deal

In my post-Belz visit talk yesterday with Rav Sternbuch he raised another issue - the Schalit deal. He is simply astounded that Israel is thinking about trading 1000 terrorist to redeem one Jew.

He stated two clear reasons that the deal is not acceptable 1) Our Sages say that one should not pay an unreasonable price to redeem captives because it only encourages more kidnappings. 2) The terrorists involved in the deal are all active criminals and this will result in harm to many Jews.

Chazal say "only death atones for chillul HaShem"

Yoma (86a) [Soncino translation] Matthia b. Heresh asked R. Eleazar b. Azariah in Rome: have you heard about the four kinds of sins, concerning which R. Ishmael has lectured? He answered: They are three, and with each is repentance connected — If one transgressed a positive commandment , and repented , then he is forgiven, before he has moved from his place; as it is said: Return, O backsliding chiidren. If he has transgressed a prohibition and repented,then repentance suspends [the punishment] and the Day of Atonement procures atonement, as it is said : For on this day shall atonement be made for you ... from all your sins. If he has committed [a sin to be punished with] extirpation or death through the Beth din, and repented, then repentance and the Day of Atonement suspend [the punishment thereon], and suffering finishes the atonement, as it is said: Then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with strokes. But if he has been guilty of the profanation of the Name, then penitence has no power to suspend punishment, nor the Day of Atonement to procure atonement, nor suffering to finish it, but all of them together suspend the punishment and only death finishes it , as it is said : And the Lord of hosts revealed Himself in my ears; surely this iniquity shall not be expiated by you till ye die.

What constitutes profanation of the Name? — Rab said: If, e.g., I take meat for the butcher and do not pay him at once. Abaye said: That we have learnt [to regard as profanation] only in a place wherein one does not go out to collect payment, but in a place where one does not go out to collect , there is no harm in it [not paying at once]. Rabina said: And Matha Mehasiais a place where one goes out collecting payments due. Whenever Abaye bought meat from two partners, he paid money to each of them, afterwards bringing then, together and squaring accounts with both. R. Johanan said: In my case [it is a profanation if] I walk four cubits without [uttering words of] Torah or [wearing] tefillin.

Abusing parents: Mrs Astor & her son


Look not at the feeble man sitting in court, his right hand trembling, his pinstriped pants tucked into the tops of his rubber galoshes. Rather, his lawyers implored on Monday, see the boy he was, the son of a violent drunk and, later, of stepfathers who shipped him away. See the war hero, the international attaché, the late-in-life Broadway producer who probably saw something familiar as he brought the tale of a howling, ruined family to the stage.[...]

The tragedy of the Spinka Rebbe

Monday, December 21, 2009

R' Reuven Feinstein: Tropper's resignation doesn't invalidate EJF conversions

Eternal Jewish Family

Statement by Rav Reuven Feinstein, President of Halachic Committee on EJF December 20, 2009

I hope that Rav Leib Tropper's decision to resign his position at EJF will serve him and his family well. At the same time, I have also agreed to take on a more active role in overseeing all of the halachic nuances of EJF in assuring that all universally accepted conversions are in compliance with the highest standards of halacha. I wish to reassure the community that EJF will continue to be guided by the highest halachic standards under the leadership of the Gedolei Yisroel. It should be noted that EJF has never been, and will never be, involved in the actual geyrus (conversion) of candidates. That function is left solely to the discretion of Botei Din. Our sole mission is to support those botei din in their work. The resignation of Rabbi Tropper in no way casts any cloud over the validity of any conversion performed by a Bais Din affiliated with or supported by EJF. Our role, as per the halachic rulings of Gedolei Haposkim, is to be mekarev the Jewish spouse in an intermarriage while referring the non-Jewish spouse to an independent Bais Din that will offer the geyrus candidate a universally accepted conversion in a case where both agree to a family life of Torah and mitzvos.

Rav Sternbuch reiterates his condemnation of the EJF & Tropper

Rav Sternbuch, shlita asked me to republish the letter of the Bedatz from two years ago which condemned the EJF and said that no one should have any association with it. He said that the chillul haShem created now is terrible. He said that the present scandal validates the concerns they expressed two years ago - that someone who does what he feels like can come to the worst aveiros. He said he is working on a more comprehensive letter discussing the situation which will be released in the near future.

EJF - appoints new director - R Chaim Blum

Eternal Jewish Family

EJF announced that Rabbi Chaim Blum, EJF's liaison to the network of Botei Din in the Torah community, has agreed to serve as interim director of EJF.

Statement by the Eternal Jewish Family
December 20, 2009

EJF announced that Rabbi Chaim Blum, EJF's liaison to the network of Botei Din in the Torah community, has agreed to serve as interim director of EJF.

The organization operates offices in the US, Europe and Israel with international headquarters in Monsey NY. In accepting the position, Rabbi Blum said: "The recent announcement by Rav Tropper that he is resigning his post at EJF is accepted with sadness and regret. The announcement by some of the world's leading Torah authorities that they will take an increased role in the Eternal Jewish Family is testimony of the organization's strength and commitment to its core mission. The many people who benefit from EJF's activities should know that the organization remains fully committed to its important mission, one which has helped thousands of people in their pursuit of a Jewish life."

EJF International is headed by distinguished halachic authorities around the world, including Rav Reuven Feinstein, Chairman of the Halachic Committee (US), Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu (Europe) and Rav Shmuel Eliezer Stern (Av Bais Din of Rabbi Wosner's Bais Din - Israel).

Rav Sternbuch strongly advises against an Israeli boycott of England

There has been talk about boycotting products and services from England in retaliation against similar British activity against Israel. Rav Moshe Sternbuch requested that I communicate his very strong feelings that such actions  - while sincerly motivated - have historically produced a strong rebound effect of anti-Semitism. Therefore  he strongly urges that Israel does not institute a boycott - even if is effective in applying political pressure to England - because the  dangerous consequences for Jews world-wide are unaccepatble.


[...] In her petition, which she plans to send to Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow after she gathers a final few signatures on Monday, Tirosh wrote that Israel's parliamentarians "call on Britain to immediately cancel this decision that casts a shadow upon economic cooperation among residents of both countries."

"We recommend that the Israeli public reconsider using the services of companies from countries in which decisions such as these are in effect," she continued.

Tirosh added that she would not rule out submitting a bill to require similar marking in Israel of all British products, and that she also was attempting to prevent government officials from flying on British Airways.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

When is R' Tropper going to confess & apologize?

Perhaps the most pressing issue at present is when is R' Tropper going to publicly acknowledge and apoligze for this disgusting state of affairs? Is there anyone who can persuade him of the urgency of making a public statement? If he is reading this blog - please, please bite the bullet and start the process of cure.

It is important to note that when I offered my services today to R' Tropper in minimizing the damage he responded with a thank you. He clearly is functioning. But he needs to act soon - as do the gedolim who were associated with him. This gigantic train wreck is not going to disappear by ignorning it.

The silence is deafening.

Rav Reuven Feinstein, shlita - An Open Letter

HaRav Reuven Feinstein, shlita,

Someone recently asked me to find the teshuva (Y.D. III 96.9) that your father wrote to you concerning your 20th birthday for his son's 20th birthday. It is especially relevant in your present situation in which your reputation and loyalty are keeping alive an organization which has become a disgrace and embarrassment to the Jewish people. Those who agree with me, will hopefully send a copy of this letter to you.

Yeshiva and Mesivta of Staten Island
1870 Drumgoole Road, East
Staten Island, NY 10309

Phone: (718) 356-4323
Fax: (718) 356-5412

Your father described that birthday as the day you would become punishable for sins also by the hand of Heaven. He was responding to your request that he advise you on how you should conduct yourself the rest of your days. He wrote:

The most important thing is the study of Torah and to be engaged in the struggle of understanding it. Rashi notes in Bechokosai that this is needed in order to avoid making mistakes in halacha. Our Sages note that even the inadvertent errors of a talmid chachom are considered deliberate because he should have learned the halacha in order to reach a true understanding and then G-d would provide assistance to grow in Torah and to know everything clearly. This study will then lead to observing the halacha because our Sages say that the observance of mitzvos is greater than the study. Also your goal in life should be that for all your days that your sole activity will be involvement in Torah study. If that is so I am sure that G-d will help you and will send you generous parnosa with bountiful beracha. Because one's livelihood is entirely a gift from  G-d Who sends it by means of what ever endeavors a man choses to do. This is stated at the end of Kiddushin (82b). It says that one does not suffer poverty because he picked a particular trade nor does one become rich because of a particular trade - but everything is determined soley from Heaven according to his merit.  However, chas v'shalom, to accept this in the manner of an oath which is prohibited. Rather it should be strongly implanted in your thoughts and consciousness and you should do it without taking an oath.

Furthermore you need to train yourself in good midos. The main thing however concerns anger - for which it is necessary to go to extremes to avoid. That is because pride and anger are the attributes one needs to avoid most of all. If you wish to strongly deal with these midos by training yourself properly then G-d will help you. However also in this matter, chas v'shalom, to accept it in the manner of an oath as I mentioned before. It is also important to be careful to honor your mother. This is very difficult for most people because of the habits of childhood - therefore it is necessary to be extremely careful about this. That is because even if she forgives you, chas v'shalom, to rely on this. This that you ask whether you should fast various fasts - this is not appropriate for you and for all those who are engaged in Torah study because this can, chas v'shalom, lead to loss of Torah study. Even if it doesn't result in a quantitative loss but it will result in a qualitative loss. Our Sages (Ta'anis 11a) say that a person who engages in fasting is called a sinner. Similarly one should not afflict yourself in any manner but should increase Torah study. My words should always be before you and G-d should help you always.
                              With deep respect,

                              Daniel Eidensohn

Rav Reuven Feinstein:Kiruv & mixed couples [transcript]

Imprisoned by mistake for 35 years for a rape


A day after a Florida man was released from prison after serving 35 years for a sexual assault that he did not commit, law enforcement authorities are turning their attention to finding out who was responsible.

James Bain was set free Thursday after a DNA test showed he did not kidnap and rape a 9-year-old boy in Lake Wales, Florida, in 1974.

DNA found at the crime scene has been sent to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for further testing. It will be entered into Florida and national databases to see if it matches anyone whose DNA is already in the system. [...]

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Rav Sternbuch: Hard Times

An open letter to Reb Elya Ber, shlita

The below was just confirmed by a letter from Reb Elya Ber just published on Matzav

I have it on excellent authority that Reb Elya Ber Wachtfogel never accepted any responsibility, oversight, or position of any kind for EJF!

If anything at all - he was duped by a phone call from an individual in Eretz Yisroel (a beneficiary of Tropper/EJF money) that Rav Shteinman and Rav Y.S. Eliashiv had "requested" he assume the position at EJF, But he never accepted!

In the interim it has now been determined that Rav Y.S. Eliashiv had no idea at all about ANY of these goings on - let alone he never asked for R' E.B.W. to accept any position or achrayus for EJF!

The time has come for Reb Elya Ber to speak up and put this to bed!
Below is the hierarchy of rabbis from the EJF webpage - you will note that HaRav Elya Ber, shita - one of the major gedolim of America and perhaps its leading rosh yeshiva - is not accorded to same title as Rav Reuven Feinstein, Rav Shmuel Stern, and Rav Ehrentreu. Hopefully it is just a mistake but if not it does not bode well for Reb Elya.
EJF Leadership
Harav Reuven Feinstein, Shlit"a

President of Halachic Committee
Harav Shmuel Eliezer Stern, Shlit"a

Chairman of Halachic Committee, Israel
Harav Chanoch Ehrentreu, Shlit"a

Chairman of Halachic Committee, Europe
International Rabbinical Board
Rav Ela Ber Wachtfogel

Chairman of Rabbinic Committee
Harav Doniel Neustadt


R' Farber's eulogy for R' Tropper

The founder of a powerful American group that seeks to enforce a tough stance on conversions has abruptly resigned.

Leib Tropper, a strictly Orthodox rabbi who founded the New York-based Eternal Jewish Family, said he was stepping down last weekend to "pursue a variety of other interests".

In the past week, images appeared on several Jewish blogs showing posters on display in Orthodox neighbourhoods of Jerusalem accusing him of indiscretions.[...]

Sex offender extradited to U.S.


Samuel Arthur Silverman, also known as Abraham Cohen, was extradited Thursday from Israel to the United States. Silverman was convicted in Oregon for sexual abuse of minors in the late 1990s, but before a hearing on his sentence commenced he escaped to Israel.

His extradition was made possible following an amendment to the extradition treaty between Israel and the US.

Silverman, a former social worker and psychologist mainly treating children and teenagers, was charged and convicted of sexually  abusing two minors who were friends of his son during the years
1995-1996. [...]

The Sin of Adam - inaccurate self-assessment

Rav Tzadok (Machshovos Charutz #1):
.. The sin of Adam was in thought rather than deed…These are the thoughts that the Serpent gave him when he told him, “You will be like G‑d.” The source of all vain and empty thoughts is that a person errs in self‑assessment. He mistakenly thinks that he is on a higher level than he is actually is or is even capable of reaching. Adam who had reached the pinnacle of perfection as a man, mistakenly started thinking that he was in fact on the level of G‑d. Therefore the Torah warns that while a person should be holy he can never reach G‑d's level of holiness (Vayikra Rabbah 24:9). When he had in fact reached the level of the angels, his evil inclination did not leave him alone and deceived him into thinking that he could be as holy as G‑d. A person can thus achieve the pinnacle of greatness and yet fall to the deepest depths – as we see what happened to Yeshu and Shabtsai Tzvi. Their great asceticism and separation from the material world distorted their perception of their true spiritual level until they thought that they were the source of holiness…" This is the way of the seduction of the Serpent (evil inclination). He begins with something small and progresses. He begins with thoughts and imaginations which seem external and superficial but in fact touch all levels of thought in an essential manner.

Eternal Jewish Family video - looks different now

Eternal Jewish Family Web Brochure

Shannon | MySpace Video

Chofetz Chaim:Why people speak lashon harah

Chofetz Chaim(Introduction): …Why has the prohibition against lashon harah become so widely ignored? I think it is the result of a number of different reasons. The masses ignore it for a different reason than the scholars. The masses simply don’t know that there is a prohibition against speaking lashon harah – even if the facts are correct. The talmidei chachomim – even those who have in fact verified that there is a clear prohibition against lashon harah even if it is true – the yetzer harah is able to mislead them in other ways. 1) The yetzer harah convinces the talmid chachom that the other person is wicked and tells him that it is a mitzva to publicize derogatory information about wicked people. 2) There are times that it says that the other person is a troublemaker and it is permitted to say lashon harah about troublemakers. 3) There are times when it seduces the talmid chachom with the leniency of something said before three people. 4) Or the leniency of saying it in the person’s presence and he convinces himself that he would in fact say it even if the person was in front of him. The yetzer harah succeeds in making the talmid chachom aware of the appropriate text – even though they are inappropriately applied. 5) Sometimes the yetzer harah seduces by simply saying that what he is telling others is not really lashon harah since everyone is saying it - such as saying that someone is not really a scholarly. All of this is explained in Clall 5.

חפץ חיים (הלכות אסורי לשון הרע – הקדמה): ואחשבה לדעת זאת, מאין נעשה הלאו הזה הפקר כל כך לעיני הרבה בני אדם. והתבוננתי שזה הוא מכמה סבות, להמון מצד אחד ולהלומדים מצד אחר. ההמון אינם יודעים כלל שאסור לשון הרע הוא אפלו על אמת, ולהבעלי תורה אף אותם שנתברר להם ונתאמת להם שאסור לשון הרע אפלו על אמת, יש מהם כמה שיצר הרע מטעה אותם בפנים אחרים. אחד, שתכף מחשיב היצר הרע ברעיוניו את האיש שהוא מספר עליו לחונף, ואומר לו מצוה לפרסם את החנפים והרשעים. ופעמים אומר לו, הלא פלוני הוא בעל מחלקת ומתר לספר לשון הרע עליו. ולפעמים הוא מפתהו בהתרא דאפי תלתא (בפני שלשה), ופעמים בהתרא דאפי מרא (בפני המדבר), שמסכים בעצמו בעת הספור שהיה אומר לו אף בפניו, ומגלה לו היצר הרע את המאמרים השיכים לזה, ועין לקמן בכלל ב' ג' ח'. ופעמים הוא מפתהו באיכות הדבר, לומר שאין זה נכנס בכלל לשון הרע כגון מה שרגילין הרבה אנשים, בעונותינו הרבים, לפרסם על אחד שאינו חכם, ובארנו זה לקמן בכלל ה':

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chareidi websites respond to ban


In public statements, haredi website managers attempt to avoid confrontation with religious leaders, align themselves with traditional views. Off record they say campaign against them led by hypocritical lobbyists concerned with threat to newspaper

The ultra-Orthodox websites have not given up their fight in the face of the senior rabbis' campaign against them. Following the first harsh condemnation document published by the rabbis, all website managers declared their devotion to the "great ones" on Sunday.

However, despite the desperate attempts to align themselves, the websites have had a particularly rough weekend. One of the managers of the "Behadrei Haredim" website resigned his post immediately after the publication, whereas other reporters and editors are also reconsidering their future in the internet.

UK Court:Jewish school policy illegal


Britain's Supreme Court said on Wednesday that a Jewish school discriminated against a child when it denied him admission because it did not recognize his mother as Jewish.

The ruling came in a case of a child identified as "M." His father is Jewish by birth, but his mother converted at a progressive synagogue.

But the conversion ceremony was conducted by a Progressive rather than an Orthodox synagogue which is not recognized by the Office of the Chief Rabbi.

The court said that the policy amounted to race discrimination. [...]

Sincere condolences for Tom Kaplan

There is one major player in this whole scandal who probably suffered the most and is getting the least sympathy and support - that is EFJ backer Tom Kaplan. EFJ was not a power trip or  desire to play moshiach on the part of Tom Kaplan - it was a genuine idealistic attempt to do good. He wants to help preserve and save Judaism for the same noble reason that he wants to preserve nature. He is not an Orthodox Jew and yet he intuitively felt that the cause of Jewish identity is necessary and the energy and spirit he vicariously felt was invigorating and pure.

He has been badly betrayed by Tropper. Eternal Jewish Family was a massive project that he not only invested millions of dollars in it but personally attended the conventions, went to meet gedolim and he took genuine pride in being part of this movement. He also made decisions which showed that he understood the reality of the Jewish people better than his rabbinic adivsors.

What does he have now? Tropper schemed to be his sole connection to the Orthodox world as a teacher, guide and friend. He really has no alternative interface with the Orthodox world. It is likely that he will be bowing out of the picture financially and with his personal involvement. That is really a shame. His instincts were right about the need for preserving Judaism - but the vehicle he chose was deeply flawed.

Hopefully - he will find a way to continue his commitment to the Jewish people as he has in the past and he won't walk away in disgust with the garbage  that has been thrown on him. I just would like to personally thank him for what he tried doing.

Ezekiel 8: Our case against R Tropper

We are Ezekiel 8:Groups 12/13.

Question: Given the paucity of evidence - how would you defend Rabbi Tropper

Answer: Alleged paucity of publicly exposed evidence, that should be.

Tropper was advised to immediately retain an attorney for his defence-from/attack-against the allegedly 'vile' and 'defamatory' statements.

He could not and would not do so, because he knows only the tip of the iceburg is out there, he knows that the only reason we have refrained from splashing the whole fetid mess out into the 'velt' is reasons of tzniut and avoidance of chillul Hashem.

The only reason this much is exposed is due to the disgusting, filth-enabling erevRav misLeaders y"sh, who were approached and begged to merely demand the removal of Tropper and his wretched 'organisations' from our midst, and instead chose to follow their wallets, positions and 'glory' in most dispicable ways and means.

All of the uncensored evidence is admissible.

Every mitnaged to Troppers ouster, every defender and enabler of the abomination, has a clear motive which we have documented admissible proof of.

A logical one with common sense knows where this will lead, to whom and with what results. B'Ezrat Hashem Yitbarach:

We are not posting exagerations, defamations, slanders or falsehoods.

We are Ezekiel 8:Groups 12/13.

A fuller release will be posted in the comments sections of all serious blogs within 24 hours.