Friday, December 1, 2006

Agudah Convention & Blogs

A few posts back, I wondered why the Agudah was making such a fuss over weblogs. After all, are they really that powerful? And does the Agudah really feel that they are undermining Da'as Torah?

After some research, it has become clear to me, so naturally I'm sharing it with you.

The entire anti-blog offensive was more or less against one specific blog.

It seems that there exists a certain blog dedicated exclusively to defaming, humiliating, and disparaging Rabbonim. This blog has generated over one million visits in the course of two years or so!

It wields tremendous power due to the fact that it always seems to have the confidential "inside scoop". In essence, it is an "insider" exposing his contemporaries, and that is always more problematic than an outsider's ramblings.

Although some of what is written there is patently false, it does expose some true issues and problems too, making it extremely hard to dismiss out-of-hand.

The blog writer's rationale for his ranting, aside from his obvious hatred of Rabbonim, is that in the Frum community most problems are just swept under the carpet. If one listens to R' Solomon's Agudah Convention speach, it is clear he was answering to this in particular when he insisted that the Torah way of dealing with problems is to do so quietly with maximum respect for human dignity, and one shouldn't think issues are being swept under carpet, rather they are being dealt with quietly in a behind-the-scenes fashion.

This was also the point of R' Solomon surprisingly insisting it is okay to question, and even disagree, with positions taken by Rabbonim, as long as it is done respectfully and not in a disparaging way.

Since I strongly disagree with much of what is written on that blog, not to mention the obvious concern for Lashon Harah, Motzie Shem Rah, and Rechilus, I am deliberately not mentioning the name of this blog. However, I wanted to share my findings with the readership of my blog.


Anonymous said...

the biggest issue with that blog is zilzul rabonon which is on of the steps along the road to full apikorsus. some will have to answer in a major way in the next world for hosting such a site.
anothe thing about all this is that all these people forget that we are all human and even some things that appear to us clear as day we may be wrong- this would seem abvious from the fact that we are not g-d rahter we are humans with all the limatations that go with that. additionally most of the people on these wights are not people being ossek in torah and daas hashem all day yet they think hey know ats rights and wats wrong and any gadol who they disagree with deserves c'v the most dispicable things said about him.
putting both of these together it is amazing that people who do not spend all day in torah and are limited as human beings think that there is no way they are wrong and anyone who disagrees with them is terrible. they can not accept that maybe there are people that know more than them and maybe there are things beyond their understanding and sensitivity (partly because they are not in touch with hashem and sensitive to the requirements of hashem and da'as torah).
it also comes down to ga'ava they think that no one can no more than them.
baruch hashem this is being adressed
P.S. i do not mean to say we can not question if anything questioning is good but with proper respect and with the relization that they are greatr than me and with the true desire to understand not question
I went ot a yeshiva that has a distint approach to life and following mesorah is stressed as of the most important things yet everyone is encouraged to question but it is all done with respect and with true desire to understand
so i believe it is not a stira but only if it is done with respect and accepting that bottom line the gedolim are greater than us and having a greater understanding of da'as hashem than us and have greater insight and foresight than us

steve said...

"It seems that there exists a certain blog dedicated exclusively to defaming, humiliating, and disparaging Rabbonim"

"Although some of what is written there is patently false, it does expose some true issues and problems too,"

How do you reconcile these two statements? First you say that the blog is "dedicated EXCLUSIVELY to defaming Rabbonim", and then you say that it exposes true issues. Make up your mind IFT.

The fact of the matter is, since that blog started exposing molesters, four accused pedophile rebbeim were dismissed from their respecrive Yeshivahs. I am not condoning bizui talmidei chachamim. I have taken the author of that blog to task on this issue, and I am at odds with his hashkafa. Nevertheless, one cannot argue with the results nor with the arguments he puts forth regarding exposing and removing these molesters from our yeshivot.

As for the claim that he's "motzi shem ra" and "innocent people have been accused", you cannot name one such individual that was falsely accused. All the individuals he mentioned as molesters or corrupt individuals, in the end have been verified by other rabbanim as such, were fired, or were arrested. You have the right to disagree with his tactics and his approach. But please do not make accusations that "most of what is written there is patently false", unless you can back it up with facts. You then become what you are accusing him of, which is motzi shem ra.

steve said...

One thing that Rabbi Salomon said in his speech, was that you can criticize some rabbis, but do not paint all rabbis with the same brush. He also acknowledged that the rabbis let some cases of abuse slip through their fingers. These statements are an admission of guilt of certain rabbis that were at best negligent, or at worst, corrupt. Rabbi Salomon was in no way condoning the inaction of these rabbis and rashei yeshivot. Yet, we have posters on blogs writing nonsense that the inaction is indeed Daas Torah, and that the rabbis know better than us.

It's time for the Agudah to admit unequivocally the mistakes of the past, and come up with some solutions to this ever growing problem. As the infamous blogger says, "we owe it to our kinderlach".

Anonymous said...

many of the accusations in the comments on the blog were motsi shem ra they just accused rabbis and people of being complicit in the crims of others with out any knowledge. also people went off aon rants about other issues and things they had with any rabbi. it became a frum not just to expose pedophelia in othodox schools but a forum for any one with any issue real or made up about black hat orthodoxy(BHO) to vent. many of the comenters were just people who were using the pedophelia to vent and rage about anything and everything about BHO. and yes hey made up all kind of crazy things about anyone and anything and yes there was alot of made up boba maysos.

steve said...

Anon at 1:47, give me one example of him "making up all kinds of crazy things". Again, who is being motzi shem ra over here? As for your contention that it was a forum for people to vent against BHO, I refer you to the real "hate blogs" such as Harry Maryles', Shael Siegel, Failed Messiah, etc. The blog we are discussing had a purpose of exposing and weeding out corruption in the midst of our community. The other blogs I mentioned are vicious hate-mongering blogs that promote sinas chinam. Unfortunately, some of the commenters have ulterior motives and are bigots, and the owner of the blog was very liberal in allowing such comments.

Anonymous said...

read the thousands of comments. i m not talking about everything he says although there may be somethings wrong with wat he says but i m mainly talking about the thousands of commentaters that posted comments on the blog and he was the hostand allowed this onhis site so he shares in the responsibility. if he is gonna allow constant ripping of rabonim and roshei yeshiva on his web site he is resposable.

Independant Frum Thinker said...

Steve and anonymous,

You both seem to be much more familiar than I am with that blog. As I implied in my post, I was only exposed to it recently.

My issue with the blog is twofold.

He seems to relish in bringing people down. The adjectives and descriptions seem a little to spiteful and mean-spirited. Also, some of the comments left by others appear to be people’s way of bashing anyone and everyone that they don’t like.

If he actually has helped remove abusers from positions where they can continue their abuse, then he obviously has done us a great service. But my two observations still seem accurate.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

Anonymous said...

ift i agree with you that if he brought about change n this crutual area and less kids will be molested it is good. however if he could have done it without hosting a site in which most of the people leaving comments were mostly people with issues with the frum community he would have more credability but when his site is a site so full of zilzul rabanon and comments full of venom and hatd of the frum community it makes it seem like he is more concerned with ating on the frum community and less concerned with protecting innocent children.
and by the way i was not a regular visitor to the site because of all the hatred and venom on the site but from the time i spent on it these things became very clear and i became turned off.
additionally amoung my friends the ones who considered the person running the site a hero were the ones who although frum have taynos on the frum community its educators, rosh hayeshiva and rabonim

Anonymous said...

It seems that since this 'business' has been going on for many years, it was not until someone became aggressively verbal about disclosing the injustices he became aware of, that anything happened to correct it.

How do we know whether much of the "at-risk teens" situation is/has been caused by unpleasantness perpetrated on them by less than responsible people? Doesn't this bring to mind the behavior of sdom?

Since in the past few years, there have been incidents of bears/cars/perverts/etc. coming into our community doing damage to our children and families - cannot this be a siman that something is amiss? A sort of midda kneged midda cause and effect situation?

This means that parents need to be less out of the home and more in the home, interacting with, sharing and watchful of their children. Less parties, less chassanas, less shopping, less vacationing, less videos, less melava malkas and much less gashmius - Chinuch starts at home! But you have to be be home to create it.

It seems Klal Yisrael was very trusting in the system, and when things happened they did not know what to do, went to speak to 'responsible people' but maybe were made to feel that these responsible people would take care of things. But since these things continued, it festered until this person became aggressive about letting everyone know what was flying. It sure is embarrassing to get to this.

If our children are our guarantors (Har Sinai), how can they be when they are all stressed out trying to keep up with homework, trying to keep up with the "latest whatever", smoking, drinking, and who knows what. How does that make them guarantors? Guarantors of what?

I think most bloggers are sensitive, caring, and wanting to make a connection with other people to make a difference in their lives. They also want integrity in Yiddishkeit. If there were no injustices, then there would be less of the critical blogs. Many have ceased to be.

There ARE TWO SIDES to the phenomenon of the protesting charedim in Yerushalayim. No one liked what happened. Perhaps drastic life threatening situations need aggressive behavior? We are not living in ordinary times.

More people should try to see the "handwriting on the wall"!

Independant Frum Thinker said...

Anonymous 11:57, That was my impression too.

Anonymous 6:25, quite an interesting observation. Definitely some food for thought.

mj said...

anon 6:25 aggressive behavior does not mean using the site to trash any gadol, rav or ben yisroel who they or any commenter disagrees with on any issue. if they want to use agreesive behavior then stick to the issue molestation of children in schools not bashing any one about anything that the writer disagrees with and he should vet the comments to make sure it stays on point.
agrressive does not mean to become a place for all haters of black hat orthodoxy to comment and hate on yeshivos about any thing.
he should ahv emade sure to stick to molestation. and by not doing that he is showing his true colors that his main concern is not fixing the molstation issue but rather hating on our way of life and our gedolim and rabbonim.
once again as i mentioned in earlier anon posts that i support 1000% any one who is out to fix the system in terms of getting the schoold to clean up their act. it is terrible that there are stories of schools that say they can not replace a rebbi who molests or abuses or beats kids because they feel bad for the rebbi or his family where is the concern for the all the kids however this in no way justifies opening a forum which posts thousands of comments that have nothing to do with the issue of molestation and just rips on any every rav that the commenter disagrees with. terrible

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Look, I'm all for R' Mattisyahu; Big fan and all. But the bottom line is that what happpened as the result of that blog puts the lie to his comments.

He insisted that the derech of klal yisroel was allways to resolve these issues quietly and not sweep them under the rug. The bottom line (as other commenters have said) is that when the yeshivos/agudah/Torah Umesorah/R' Mattisyahu et al had an opportunity to address this, they didn't until 'that blogger' raised a fuss. Clearly they WERE sweeping these issues under the rug.

In my opinion it is exactly these type of comments that give fuel to bloggers like him (despite all their faults). They had the opportunity to address it, they didn't, now their response is to counterattack instead of recognizing where they erred and putting safeguards into place to make sure it doesn't happen again. Thats arrogance, incompetence and irresponsibility; it is certainly not da'as torah.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
steve said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Independant Frum Thinker said...

As some of you may have realized, I deleted a lengthy comment posted here, and understandably its subsequent comments.

The reason for my decision was three-fold.

1 – I do not appreciate when actual names are used in the discussion. As you can all plainly see in my header, my blog in not at all intended for such purposes. Although I may have an independent twist on things, I am still completely loyal to Hashem and his Torah. If an issue must be discussed, it should ideally be done without mentioning names. It is plain to see how in my post about a certain blog, I emphasized that I would not even mention its name, for fear of transgressing the Issurim of Motzi Shem Ra, etc.

2 - This particular comment was a copy of a post on another blog. It is not necessary for it to be here, especially due to its length, when it has a place to call home.

3 – My impression was that the person who copied it in, wanted to hijack the “spirit” of our blog, in which we discuss various topics, and replace it with this one issue. In no way do I want my blog to become the new ***. V’Hamavin Yavin.

Hence, I deleted that comment.
Steve, I apologize for deleting your comment, but it had no place after I deleted the ones above yours.

Thank you all for coming, reading, and commenting. Yes, even the one who posted that comment is welcome here, now that he understands our guidelines.

I hope to continue posting and hearing from you all in the future.

mj said...

IFT- that is y i like your blog so much it is a forum to discuss issues withut it getting personal w/o transgreesing the torah.
thank you

steve said...

No offense taken.

Anonymous said...

An example of Kovad Hatorah.
My rebbei would stand up for every bachur who asked him a question during seder, which was for almost 2 hours daily, because, it's only Kovad Hatorah to stand when a bachur speaks to you in learning.
This he told me personaly.

Anonymous said...

I just LOVE the way and style you (blog owner) handle issues. I think it's the ONLY sane blog out!! It's fascinating to read other blogs - to see thru people's writing/rablings (under cover of anonymity) their true self! I'm truly YOUR fan!

lakewooder said...

there is no question that the zilzul is quite real and quite atrocious. that having been said, there is (more and more) a climate of lack of culpability when it comes to many in positions of influence. it had been said that "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely". and so, while i dont think much of the criticism is appropriate, there are many who have near absolute power in the Torah community. and consequently, while i dont deny the fact that the VAST majority of them operate with "Shivisi Hashem L'negdi Tamid", there is the opportunity (and unfortunate reality) of abuse of power in many different forms - partiucularly that of enabling the wrong people to do the worng things. this is the real issue at hand and it is a very serious one. the answer to thenext question is, no. i dont have any idea how to solve it. but shutting everyone up is just keeping the status quo more or less. policing oneself rarely works.

mj said...

they can have a blog about cild molesting without bringing in all the ohter baloney stories they write on the blog and the administrator allows to go up. if he wants to ahve a blog about that issue so have one but then nake sure it stays on point and does not become a bash black hat orthodoxy(BHO) blog. if he is doing it because he cares about the kids then keep the blog to the kids.but it seems he is not doing it because he cares about the kids rather he seems to care about hating on people and destroying BHO as a member of BHO i do not like seeing people who hate us trying to destroy us. i agree 100% that it is a good thing to tryh and stop kids from getting abused but just because some rabbis are bad is not a heter to open a blog committed to bashing all rabbis about any issue that any writer disagrees witht the rabbi about. i tink it is pretty clear that he does not ccare about the kids who were molested he does not care about fixing the issues in BHO rather he cares about embarrasing BHO and advancing his veneta and hatred against and of BHO

mj said...

i think another big issue with blogs is that they allow all the people who doubt the gidolim and da'as torah to see that there are many people out there that doubt just like them and it is not just him and his friends. additionally it allows all these kin of people to "congregate" and be mechazek each other and everyone involved in these kind of things becomes stronger in their beliefs and doubts of da'as torah and gedolim. and when s/o writes on a blog his krum hashkafa/ halacha and he gets positive feed back it encourages him to keep going in his wrong beliefs and it encourages him to go further away from what hashem wants. i m not only talking about one specific blog i m talking about all the blogs out there in which there is constant criticism of da'as torah although not as hateful and spitful as the specific one
r' matisyahu was talking about nevertheless they are bad for our community and lower the respect the community has on whole for da'as torah.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

Mj –
You’re welcome.

Steve –

Anonymous Dec 7, 6:38 –
I’m not sure what this story has to do with what we are discussing, but it is a beautiful story to share.

Anonymous Dec 10, 1:15 –
I’m flattered.

Lakewooder –
Good points. But a fine line must be walked, to weed out problems, while not opening the door for total Zilzul of Rabbonim.

Mj –
My sentiments too. Such a blog should be devoted solely to protecting our children, a very important task, but there is no need to mix in all the other negativity.

Anonymous said...

I have seen the blog which this discussion is based on, and here are some of my thoughts. I write this as somebody who grew up around one of the molestors, and although I was never harmed in any way (I'm not here to claim victimhood status), I am shocked by how the administrators of a $$$$ and $$$$ I attended had no problem letting this predator hang out, when they knew of the problem. I know they knew, because my parents warned me to stay away from #### #### (no, the number of #s doesn't mean anything), as his predatory instincts were well-known. Now I find myself questioning the mindset of the hanhala of ####, and wondering what respect I can have for the judgement of the leadership of the kehilla which allowed this cancer in its midst. I can say with certainty that while i still repsect the leadership of the community, their judgement is not infallible and I resent people implying that I'm less-than-perfect for believing so. In fact, when members of a community care more about the status of a hechsher on Streit's matzos (feel free to edit that out) than about whether a known child molestor is allowed around their kids, it is an insult to the eibeshter to call their fallible judgement daas torah. How can I tell a yid who is not yet frum but who knows of what happened that those who have allowed a child molestor in their midst represent 'Torah-true' Judaism? If I can't tell that to a hypothetical BT with a straight face, then I can't tell that to my kids or myself eithr. I may mistakes and they made mistakes. But I don't insult the eibeshter by insisting that every one of my actions was Divenely inspired:

sorry for ranting, but I think the above makes a valid Torah point --- in any case,
(1) the blogger who writes that blog is extremely acerbic and sometimes a bit strident in his description of his subjects
(2) however, some of the behavior which he has seen swept under the rug is frankly despicable. If someone laid a hand (or worse chas v'sahalom) on my daughters, and I saw a community or mossad telling ME to be quiet about it, I shudder to think how quickly that would affect my kavod for the leaders who tell me to pipe down.
(3) I hate to say it, since I grew up very yeshivishe and still have much of that in my veins, but I really think the fact that some Rabbonim explicitly say that they (or another group of particular Rabonnim) speak in the name of Daas Torah is what causes the lack of Kavod for Torah and Rabonnim. Part of the reason for trying to keep things quiet is the fact that if things are not kept quiet it becomes obvious that not everyone in a position of power is infallible. If I first say that al the rebeim represent daas torah, then if a particular rebbe is a sicko, I worry that that will undermine the authority of all rabonim who operate under the same assumption of daas torah.

I think that this is clear. When a Conservative or Reform 'rabbi' is caught being a predator, the Conservatice 'clergy' doesn't act like they all stand acused. It is particularly because of the fact that the yeshivishe oilam derives its authority from one source (daas torah) that the 'need' to sweep heinious crimes under the rug arises. And yes, of course we all derive authority from the Torah, but it is the assumption that any Rav from a certain oilam has a direct line to know what the Torajh wants which is dangerous.

Bottom line: being more concerned with Chillul Hashem than the safety of our children is a false choice ---- NOT being concerned with the safety of our children above all else is the biggest Chilul Hashem.

Even the goyim try to publicize when an offender moves into their neighbourhood --- it's simply common sense. Yet here we are discussing whether offenders who are AROUND OUR CHILDREN should be deaslt with publicly. Why am I worried if Joe Bloe the predator moves two blocks away but when a rebbi touches a kid it's dirty laundry and I don't wnat to know. Hashem y'racheim.

frummeyid said...

Didn't mean to post anonymouly --- for the record, I posted the above post. The webmaster can confirm this.

By the way, just to clarify two points I made above:
(1) I didn't mena to imply that the kehilla I grew up around was not Torah-true. Simply that there were some institutionalized mistakes, and it would be a joke to act like davka that community did everything right due to its great leadership and those frum yidden who perhaps were more modern or zionist or whatever were inherently less correct. I COULD tell that hypothetical BT that the community which allowed the molestor, like all communities, is human and makes mistakes. If he asked that he heard someone say that the rabbonim involved simply don't make mistakes or are above our human understanding, that's where I'd say, "well, given what you know happened, I think that explanation is rather unlikely".

(2) Some readers may question my writing that it is wrong to explicitly claim Daas Torah. "Give me one example of someone on the Moetzes saying he has daas torah", they'll say. Of course I can't name any such example, because that's not what I meant. What I can say (and anyone in the velt knows exactly what I mean) is that when all of your rebbeyim and rabbonim tell you that (1) Group A has daas torah (2) group B is against Daas Torah (3) we will follow Group A, then you have just been told that your Rov/Rebbe is virtually infallible. You can argue if you want, but don't tell me that me and hundreds and hundreds of bochurim and yungermen in the yeshivos I went to somehow misinterpreted what they were told.

lakewooder said...

as the BT yeshivos say "we dont judge judaism by jews, and we dont judge G-d by his people" but unfortunately it does create a monsterous Chillul Hashem.
there is never any excuse for molestation and there is never any excuse for covering it up.
and that is something that needs to be addressed in a hurry.
the more that people think it can be addressed in-house, the higher the likelihood of it spinning out of control.
just the mere fact that molesters specifically choose these sorts of environments (just look at the data, i dont want to argue this point) should be enough of an indication.
as i mentioned previously, self-governance rarely works

i hope this makes sense to some of you

Anonymous said...

Lakewooder's comment.

What you said definitely makes sense to me, and pardon me for saying so, but anyone who can understand a blatt g'mora rashi tosfos understands as well that your logic is impeccable. The problem is that some leaders have backed themselves and their followers into a corner, in several ways.

(1) The generalized acceptance that a certain group of rabbonim (or other rabbonim associated with a certain oilam) have such a direct line that their words, like the words of the Torah itself, must be accepted even when they defy our mortal reasoning. Bottom line is that even if what you said makes sense (it does), if I have been conditioned to believe that the words of certain people are not to be doubted even when they contradict logic, then your logical statements are going to fall on deaf ears.

(2) On the other hand, if you are waiting for the leadership to issue a mea culpa, I think that would be unlikely, as the concept of admitting past and present failings in and of itself undermines the daas torah concept. The 'sociologist' in me says it won't happen --- the side of me that believes the leadership will do what is genuinely right clings to the hope that it will happen.

What I am about to say next may be taken out of context or used to accuse me of making perverse comparisons, but I preface what I am about to say by the caveat that anyone who has learnt knows that you can compare two very different situations and find a tzad hashoveh. In any case, look at the difficulty the Catholic Church hs admitting its mistakes/errors/sins, whether they be preists and kids, or, much more problematically, what the pope did during the Holocaust. For the Church to come out and say that Pope Pius XII sinned will simply never happen, since they subscribe to the doctrine of papal infallibility. It is too much of a stress on their belief system to admit that he could have been so bad, or that he even made a mistake.

And by the way, Catholics did not believe the pope was infallible until the first vatican conference, which was in 1869. See
That meeting was called because with the rise of the modern nation-state, the vatican saw its own power to physically enforce laws shrinking (the vatican used to RULE large portions of Europe, which is part of the reason why the rise of modern states was accompanied by a bcklash against religion and vice versa). Since the Vatican could no longer directly control what people did, they invented the concept of infallibility --- and it was debated for MONTHS, since initially most of the cardinals did not want to accept the idea either, and they did not ant the Pope and a centralized council in ome to be that powerful. They invented the idea to keep people in line. It defies all rationality to think that it is coincidental that daas torah (as a concept in the way which people usually mean it) started right after that exact time, as rabonnim and batei din were losing their power to control the popultion. And of course I am not saying there was some kind of conspiracy here, just that it is an obvious reaction to modernity.

(Of course I am aware that the term daas torah appears before 1880. But NOT in the way that it is used nowadays. I have yet to see the Mishna in which Rav Meir turns to Rav Yossi and says "how can you doubt me, I have Daas Torah." Those who had assimilated and internalized the knowledge had daas torah, but that was not a trump card to claim that only certain predetermined people had the ability to profess on many issues.

Independent Frum Thinker said...

I see things are still lively here. :)

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