Thursday, June 20, 2013

Kolko Case: Please print out Reb Dovid Epstein's letter and put it up in your shul

We are rapidly approach the dark side of our Jewish calendar – the Three Weeks. This is the period that begins the time of mourning and depression over the loss of the Beis Hamikdosh. It is well known that in a generation in which the Beis Hamikdosh in not rebuilt – it is on such a low spiritual level that it doesn’t deserve having the Beis Hamikdosh. If the Beis Hamikdosh had existed then it would have been destroyed in our generation. Thus whether or not we have a Beis Hamikdosh is not simply a historical question – but rather the measure of our spiritual state

Our Sages tell us that the critical issue in the spiritual failure that led to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh was the failure of proper relationships between Jews. The classic story that Chazal mention regarding the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh is that of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza. They teach us that ultimately the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed because one Jew strongly embarrassed another – and the Rabbis witnessed it and did nothing. That failure to intervene and correct one Jew shaming another was enough to cause the Beis Hamikdosh to be destroyed!

Unfortunately we are now witnesses an ongoing situation which seems worse. In this case the Rabbis were not just passively witnesses – but they were the major players in causing the embarrassment. I am referring of course to the Kolko case in Lakewood in which the Rabbis orchestrated the public shaming of Rabbi “S” and his family for reporting his son’s abuse to the police. Rabbi “S” only went to the police after he had gone to a beis din and found it was totally ineffective in keeping the abuser from other children. Furthermore he went to the police only after he received a psak from Rav Sternbuch and other gedolim which stated that he was obligated to go – to protect the children of Lakewood. Despite doing this heroic act solely to protect the children of other families from what had been done it is son - none the less he was driven out of his home and his shul and his community. This was done by self-righteous individuals who didn’t bother finding out that he was acting properly – even according to the most stringent standards of halacha. Despite the fact that Kolko has confessed to abusing the boy and other victims have come forward – none of the major rabbinical figures that were involved in hurting Rabbi “S”  have come forward and apologized. None!

Two weeks ago a crack was created in this disgusting wall of rabbinic silence. One of the people – Reb Dovid Epstein - who had publicly embarrassed Rabbi “S” in his own shul – displayed incredible courage and strength of character by writing a heart rending apology note to the family of Rabbi “S”. In addition he authorized his letter to be publicized. Rabbi “S” and his family view this as welcome progress – out of the abyss of spiritual filth.

The next step in mending the broken hearts and rebuilding the Beis Hamikdosh – is to have this letter more widely circulated. It is clear that pressure for the Rabbis to do the right thing will only come from Klal Yisroel. They have to understand how important it is for them to apologize and make amends for the harm they have caused.

Therefore I ask everyone to make copies of Reb Dovid Epstein’s letter and to hang it up in their shul before Shabbos and to give it to friends and neighbors. While this is especially important for the Lakewood community, the example of the courage of Reb Dovid should inspire everyone to mend and improve their relations with others.


  1. I would like to see a letter from R' Yosef apologizing to R Stav .

  2. One point that you consistently ignore and refuse to address is why you insist that Kolko's confession actually means anything.
    If the evidence points to his guilt that's one thing, but what do you think his admission proves? I presume you know that people plead guilty just to get a lighter sentence. Please explain.

    1. As far as I remember Reb Dovid Epstein, he was a very fine fellow and is obviously a great yorei shomaim. However, I believe he is a baal habayis and his letter wouldn't provide the impression that you seek if you are looking for Rabbinical support.

  3. Uri. U seem to misunderstand that whether or not he is guilty, the father still got a heter to go to police. And this is exactly what the letter is addressing. To let everyone know that this rabbi was misinformed and indeed did get a heter and he Is askingMechila from the family for torturing them. Whats so hard To understand. As a matter of fact i am personally going to hang up this letter in several brooklyn shuls.

    1. true torah,
      It doesn't seem that you read my post. Did I say anything which was anti this letter? Am I arguing that this Rabbi was misinformed?
      My only point was that this blogger has on numerous occasions referred to Kolko's own admission as a proof of his guilt, and in my eyes this mind-boggling.

    2. Uri you seem to be saying that a confession must be assumed to be false because he wanted a lighter sentence?! There is no question that there are false confessions - but I haven't seen any evidence that most confessions are false or even a high percentage of confessions. Where is the evidence that he confessed in order to get a lighter sentence?

      In this case the beis din seems to have accepted that Kolko was guilty - they told him to go to therapy. The social worker seems to have believed he was guity after interviewing him. There were additional accussers.

      Bottom line after confessing in court he loses his presumption of innocence. Anybody who would now hire him as a teacher - and he subsequently abused his students - could not claim that the confession had no significance.

  4. Make sure to hang them up firmly a moment before Shabbos. That way they'll stay up for at least 24 hours.

  5. Tzoorba. I hate to say it but many if not most rabonim today are somewhat of a ball habos. That being said, whats your point precisely. The chofets chaim was a bal habayis too and so were are so many

  6. The passive witnesses in this case are the so called Chariedi sites that haven't posted this letter or Belsky's letter to the RCA.


    To quote an infamous letter written by Belsky, "anyone with any power over them should make them stop".

  7. hershey,

    What impact would it have on the community if a single random baal habayis indicated his remorse? It would in no way show a reversal of the opinion of any of the Rabbonim.

    Even if you consider many Rabbonim baalei batim, they appear as Rabbonim to the community at large whereas a baal habayis does not carry the same impact.

  8. So how did it go?

    Did we raise awareness?

    Was the letter all over the place, or only in the couple of shuls that I checked?

  9. IN NY YOU JUST HAVE TO STATE tHAT YOU WANT TO Plea Bargain In Nj To Plea Bargain you need to Itamize Each Charge and Plead Guilty to it, expressing remorse helps in getting a reduced sentance it is possible Kolko is innocent and took the plea. Prosecuters and Lawyers allways play the Game That They Have "Additional Evidence" in their Bag


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