Friday, July 31, 2009

Understanding the Spinka scandal

I think the following makes too much of too little - but it is useful to understanding the context of recent scandals. The Rebbe pleaded guilty last week. In addition he spoke at the recent Aguda conference where he publically admitted his guilt and suggested honest alternatives.

Forward - Allan Nalder

The Hasidic Rebbe, or "Grand Rabbi," is no ordinary Jewish spiritual leader. Unlike rabbis in other denominations, from Reform to the fervently Orthodox, the Rebbe in Hasidic communities is much more than a teacher, adjudicator of Jewish law and community leader. He is nothing less than a conduit between his followers and the Heavens; a man believed by the faithful to be immaculately holy, endowed with a direct line to God Himself and thereby blessed with supernatural powers that include miracle-healing, divination and the magical granting of every imaginable human need, from bequeathing children to the clinically barren to endowing wealth to the chronically impecunious. A classic Hasidic adage assures that it is within the Rebbe's power to bestow believers with "offspring, long-life and sustenance."

And speaking of “sustenance,” at least one contemporary Hasidic Rebbe is allegedly also blessed with the power to grant sophisticated money-laundering and tax-evasion services to his supporters. When the Grand Rabbi of the Boro Park clan of the Spinka Hasidic dynasty, 59-year-old Naftali Zvi Weisz — or as he is reverently known to his followers, “His Honored Holiness our Master, Teacher and Rabbi of Spinka, Shlita” — was busted by federal agents in Los Angeles on December 19, along with his gabbai, or personal assistant, Rabbi Moshe Zigelman, and four co-conspirators, on charges of having defrauded the American government of almost $35 million, the Hasidic world entered into paroxysms of shock, dismay and anger. The mood of this deeply insular ultra-Orthodox community only darkened further as copies of the 45-page federal indictment detailing no fewer than 37 criminal charges against the Rebbe and his cohorts, as well as the juicy FBI transcripts richly documenting the surveillance methods employed to uncover the Spinker Rebbe’s elaborate schemes, hit the Internet.

But the lion’s share of the Hasidic community’s anger was directed not at the alleged crimes of their Rebbe, but rather at the FBI’s informant. Referred to in FBI documents only as “RK,” the informant cut an immunity deal with the government years ago and was the key figure in blowing the whistle on the Rebbe’s alleged scam. The New York Yiddish weeklies published under Hasidic auspices, as well as numerous comments on a variety of Hasidic Web sites, all cried foul — demanding a community-wide inquest to unmask and root out the “evil spy and informer” who betrayed and defamed the Holy Spinker Rebbe, Shlita. [...]


  1. What else would one expect to be written by an anti-semite in a Jew-hating rag like the Forward?

  2. What I do not understand: why did those who were arrested on rosh chodesh av not learn from the Spinka scandal that took place 2 years earlier or so.
    Did they think that this could not happen to them?

    I suppose the Agudah Assifa was there to draw attention: Folks, if you are doing the same thing, stop it IMMEDIATELY.

  3. William...the crime was committed, and it was Weisz who committed.

    Truth is truth, no matter who writes it.

  4. Yaakov, I don't know if he did or not. But I was talking about Nalder, not the Rav.

  5. Mr. Nalder's sordid history includes much aspersions against Torah Judaism. He himself is formerly Orthodox, after having served as a "Rabbi" of a mixed seating egalitarian "Orthodox synagogue" followed by a Conservative "synagogue."

    No part of the Torah, or its adherents, are to his liking unless they conform to his 21st century liberal westernized ideals.




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