Saturday, September 24, 2016

Corruption and Conflicts: a lecture presented by the Greater Washington Community Kollel or a description of the Kamenetsky-Greenblatt outrage?

Guest Post

The primary driving force behind the entire Kamenetsky-Greenblatt outrage have been Rabbis Shmuel Kamenetsky and Rabbi Sholom Kamenetesky.  Rabbi Greenblatt has explained that he ruled the marriage annulled because he had no choice but to accept the “facts” as presented to him by Rabbi Kamenetsky because of Rabbi Kamenetsky’s status as a “gadol.”  Rabbi Greenblatt refused to take into account that Rabbi Kamenetsky’s actions might be motivated by his longstanding and extremely close ties to the Epstein family. Rabbi Greenblatt stands by his annulment despite the ruling to the contrary by Rabbi Feinstein’s Beis Din and Rabbi Sholom Kamenetsky’s letter that his father accepts the ruling of that Beis Din, because Rabbi Greenblatt insists that he must continue to rely on the “facts” given to him by Rabbi Kamenetsky, which Rabbi Kamenetsky still apparently stands behind.

This complete disregarding of the Kamenetsky ties to the Epstein family has occurred for many years, and is probably a large part of what caused the Kametskys to believe that they could get away with annulling the marriage without any basis. Rabbi Kamenetsky’s earlier letters attacking Aharon Friedman should have always been seen as biased and driven by his ties to the Epstein family, but were instead accepted by some, led by Rabbi Hershel Schachter, as those of an objective “gadol” whose opinion must prevail [because “sod hashem le’rauv”], even though he directly contradicted the Baltimore Beis Din to which the two parties brought the case and held several hearings with the participation of both parties. []

Unfortunately, the Washington Vaad’s actions in the case after the death of Rabbi Gedalia Anamer also appear to be driven by conflicts, if not outright corruption. In 2009, at Tamar’s request the Washington Beis Din sent Aharon a simple and straightforward hazmana to a “din torah” regarding a get.  Aharon responded that Tamar was not entitled to involve another beis din because the parties had submitted the matter to the Baltimore Beis Din and Tamar had violated their orders.  At the time, the Washington Beis Din accepted Aharon’s answer and did not send another hazmana. The Av Beis Din of the Washington Vaad’s Beis Din at the time was the Vaad’s long-time leader, Rabbi Gedlaia Anamer, a rav in the DC area for over fifty years.  So long as Rabbi Anamer was the alive, the Vaad and that shul refused to take any actions against Aharon.  Aharon, along with the child when with him, fully participated in the shul, such as sometimes laining or serving as shaliach tzibbur.

But within months of Rabbi Anamer’s tragic and sudden passing in April 2010, that all changed.  A friend of the Epstein family took over Rabbi Anamer’s shul and he quickly started ostracizing Aharon despite the lack of any beis din ruling against Aharon. 

Following Rabbi Anamer’s death, the DC Vaad’s Beis Din sent Aharon an extremely nasty hazmana (in contrast to the earlier hazmana) essentially concluding that Aharon was guilty even before trying the case and demanding that Aharon appear before them for some unspecified type of proceeding that they did not even bother to claim would be a din torah. Nonetheless, after Aharon again responded that the matter was brought to another beis din whose orders Tamar had violated, the DC Vaad’s Beis Din acknowledged that it had no right to intervene against Aharon.  Nonetheless, the Epstein family friend who took over from Rabbi Anamer prohibited Aharon from setting foot in shul.

Tamar also asked the Beis Din of America to intercede against Aharon, but they refused to do so after calling the Baltimore Beis Din.  Despite the tremendous pressure from the Kamenetskys and the Epstein family, Tamar could not find an actual beis din to intercede against Aharon.  According to the testimony of Tamar’s toein, medical malpractice lawyer Frederic Goldfein, in Federal district court [Goldfein was forced to testify when the government granted him immunity because the government stated that Goldfein would otherwise have refused to testify by citing his right against self-discrimination under the Fifth Amendment), the Epstein family turned to the criminal Rabbi Martin Mordechai Wolmark to organize a “beis din” to intercede against Aharon.  Wolmark had the criminal enterprise he helped run issue a “seruv” against Aharon. Wolmark pled guilty to criminal charges in connection to his role in the criminal enterprise, and is currently in prison.  Two of the other signatories to the “seruv” narrowly avoided criminal charges n the case,: an FBI court affidavit stated that the FBI had probable cause to believe that they violated five different Federal criminal statutes, with regard to their participation in the case.  The criminal enterprise didn’t even attempt to pretend that its “seruv” had any validity, not even sending a hazmana before the seruv.  To highlight that the “seruv” had no basis in halacha, but was an exercise of raw political power, the criminal enterprise had Rabbi Kamenetsky sign the “seruv” despite his well-known and extremely longstanding personal and financial ties to the Epstein family and his previously having publicly reached a conclusion on the matter and publicly attacked Aharon

Following Rabbi Anamar’s death, active leadership of the Vaad devolved onto its director, the brother-in-law of Simon (Shimmy) Glick, whose daughter is married into the Epstein family, and Rabbi Dr. Freundel.  Glick is one the largest philanthropists in the yeshiva world, and his influence in Orthodox is very deep and very wide.  It is not clear exactly how large a role he has played in this tragic case, but as Rabbi Eidensohn has noted before, his influence is clearly strongly felt -- --- and particularly so in Silver Spring.

Despite the fact that even the Washington Vaad’s own Beis Din ruled that it could not intervene against Aharon, the Washigton Vaad seized upon the criminal enterprise’s “seruv” to publicly attack Aharon, issuing a letter that effectively incited violence against Aharon and the parties’ child.  Even after the Tisha Ba’av assault when Aharon brought the child to the Epstein house, the Washington Vaad refused to retract its letter or clarify that it did not mean to call for violence.  

Even after the Baltimore Beis Din issued a letter that Aharon was not guilty of wrongdoing, [] the Washington Vaad has refused to retract its letter attacking Aharon. 

It should be noted that the rav giving this shiur is new to Silver Spring, and is not on the Vaad.  But lest anyone get their hopes up that this shiur might address the corruption and conflicts driving the Kamenetsky-Greenblatt, it should also be noted that the rav is a member of a kollel headed by Shimmy Glick’s nephew.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Ki Savo; The Three Parts To Every Brachah by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Gust post by Rabbi Shlomo Pollak

Rashi in Ki Savo (26;13) brings a Medrash on the words ולא שכחתי. The Medrash, which is mentioned in the Mishnah in Maasar Sheini (5;11), explains the Pasuk the be referring to reciting a Brachah before performing the Mitzvah of separating T'rumos & Maasros.

The Gemarah in Brachos (40b) in discussing which parts of a Brachah are essential, brings this Medrash...

However, it seems to be a Machlokes Reshonim,-The ROSH & Tosfes- if the Gemara is actually quoting the Mishnah, or a Ber'reisah? Furthermore, they seem to be arguing what the answer is according to Reb Yochanan.....

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

Beis Din says "To do anything which will save the Aguna" - Even murder?

This letter was found on the ORA website. . Not sure what this has to do with halacha. It seems to be a heter to do anything to the husband until he gives a Get - which would seem to include physical violence or murder.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

'Give me money, then you can talk to your daughter' Divorced women extorting money

A video showing an apparent extortion attempt by a divorced mother of her ex-husband was publicized on Tuesday by men’s rights activists looking to highlight what they call an overlooked phenomenon.

In the video, which shows a portion of a Skype chat between a divorced father and his young daughter, the man’s ex-wife cuts into the conversation, threatening to reduce contact between the man and his daughter unless he pays some unspecified amount of money.

“[If] you pay money, you will start to talk to her every [day] of the week. If you don’t, we won’t do more than twice a week.”

When the father told her to stop interrupting the conversation with his daughter, the mother responds “I’ll interrupt you as much as I like… you will speak nicely to me, I run things here in this house.” [...]

Ki Tavo 76 The Downside of an Attitude of Gratitude by Allan Katz

Our parasha talks about 2 commandments that required people to go to Jerusalem. A landowner was obligated to bring his first ripened fruits –' Bikkurim' to the temple and present them to God's representative, the Kohen-priest. This ritual included a moving declaration and expression of gratitude to God, for being a protector ……and having brought us to the land of Israel and having given us the land of Israel, a land flowing with milk and honey…….As the farmers made their way to Jerusalem, they were met by delegations from the various towns and cities who greeted them with praises and psalms to God. The procession was accompanied by music and plenty of happiness and joy. There is the obligation to separate tithes from food and give to the Levite and poor and also separate food –' ma'aser sheni ' for personal use – to be eaten in Jerusalem or be redeemed and the money spent on food in Jerusalem. The purpose of the mitzvah was to encourage people to visit Jerusalem and the temple and benefit from the learning, prayer and the spirituality of the city.

The Midrash commentary notes that the Torah begins with the word Be'reishit - in the beginning which can be also read – for the sake of the first. The world was created for the sake of the' firsts' – for the sake of the nation of Israel or the Torah that are called Reishit – first. Likewise the word was created for the sake of the mitzvah of the first crops – bikkurim. Gratitude is a trait that is fundamental to the sustainability of the world, central and vital to interpersonal relationships, our relationship with God (not that God needs our thanks) and our relationship with the physical world. Our lives and achievements are made possible by the contributions and help of so many people and primarily because of God's assistance and direction. In order to express gratitude we need to have humility. People showed gratitude and solidarity with the farmers by going out to greet them on their journey. In Jerusalem, people would include the Levite, the convert and poor in their celebration of gratitude. They would rejoice and make others happy. The Torah is making a connection between gratitude and happiness. An attitude of gratitude brings happiness, but true gratitude to God is not just the thank you and expression of gratitude but using the God given gifts to benefit others and inviting the less privileged to join in your celebration. True joy and happiness is a result from giving to the needy and making others happy. True gratitude demands both expression of thanks and action.

ושמחת בכל הטוב אשר נתן לך יהוה אלהיך ולביתך אתה והלוי והגר אשר בקרבך: עשיתי ככל אשר צויתני", שמחתי ושימחתי בו.

Gratitude is very much on the self-improvement, personal development scene because of the research done by Dr Emmons who studies the science of gratitude. Gratitude helps people counter negative thoughts and complaining. It puts an end to self-pity, jealousy, bitterness and regret. It leads to good health, a stronger immune system, lower blood pressure, as well as more joy and pleasure. People who kept a gratitude journal for just 3 weeks measured 25% higher on life satisfaction. They exercised more, they drank less alcohol and their families and friends noticed that they are nicer to be around and the effect lasts several months beyond the initial 3 week trial period. The act of writing things down that you are grateful for will instantly change your mood. While expressing gratitude by writing a letter or communicating and interacting with people is a good thing to do in a moral sense, the new gratitude gurus are stressing the benefits for us and that gratitude makes us feel good. A lot of the advice and gratitude exercises suggested can be undertaken without human contact – thank someone mentally , keep gratitude journal, count your blessings, mediate and for those so inclined, pray. Consider this advice from a yoga instructor. “Cultivate your sense of gratitude by incorporating giving thanks into a personal morning ritual such as writing in a gratitude journal, repeating an affirmation or practicing a meditation. It could even be as simple as writing what you give thanks for on a sticky note and posting it on your mirror or computer. To help you establish a daily routine, create a ‘thankfulness’ reminder on your phone or computer to pop up every morning and prompt you.”

The author Barbara Ehrenreich sees this as the downside or selfishness of gratitude. Who is interacting here? ' You' and 'you'.' So it’s possible to achieve the recommended levels of gratitude without spending a penny or uttering a word. All you have to do is to generate, within yourself, the good feelings associated with gratitude, and then bask in its warm, comforting glow. If there is any loving involved in this, it is self-love, and the current hoopla around gratitude is a celebration of onanism.' She notes that the conservative leaning John Templeton Foundation , a foundation that promotes free-market capitalism, has been funding gratitude research of more than 8 million dollars, yet the foundation does not fund projects directly to improve the lives of poor individuals, but it has spent a great deal , through efforts like these , to improve their attitudes. '

Another problem with gratitude, particularly between people with different power and status – boss and employee, teacher, parent or child, is that gratitude - especially when 'praise' is also expressed - can be experienced as judgmental and controlling. Judgment even if positive is judgment. The person with power is grateful that his subordinate has jumped through his hoops. A Boss once expressed gratitude and praise to an employee for her work. She replied – please remember your words when you write me my pay- cheque at the end of the month. Instead better to focus on the deed and action and not on the person. Offer neutral feedback and ask questions so the employee speaks and reflects on what she did.

Barbara Ehrenreich suggests that we have a more vigorous and inclusive sort of gratitude, that for e.g. includes all the people that make our meals possible and taking action and expressing ' solidarity' with their demands for better pay and working conditions.

We see clearly from the mitzvoth of Bikkurim- first fruits and eating the Ma'aser Sheni – 2nd tithes in Jerusalem, that gratitude needs to be accompanied by pro-social actions and interactions between people. When gratitude is just an ' attitude' the focus is on the self and an expression of selfishness. It is based on the most primitive form of morality, do good because it feels good, and offer thanks and express gratitude because if you don't reciprocate people won't give you anything or help you. If we are grateful to God and thank Him, but don't act in the world as a partner and be of service to others, our praises and thanks take the form of sacrifices and offerings that God despises. True gratitude is emulating God's ways – והלכת ברכיו מה הוא חנון אף אתה תנון מה הוא רחום אתה רחום ..... - Just as God's is gracious, be gracious, just as God is compassionate, be compassionate, kind and generous etc., etc.

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: A beis din/rav that allows a married woman to remarry - are they placed in nidoi?

שו"ת הרשב"א חלק ד סימן רד
שאלת על ענין האשה שנתקדשה לאחד באנקוזא ואחר כך נתקדשה ונתייחדה לאחר במקום אחר. והוציאה מתחת השני וגירש הראשון. ואח"כ התירוה ב"ד לשני זה אחר גירושי הראשון. אם אותו ב"ד בר נדוי הוא או לא,

תשובה הדין נותן שהוא בר נידוי. דכיון שהיא אסורה לו וב"ד זה מתירין אותה לו שמותי משמתינן ליה. וכההיא דסוף יבמות (דף קכא) בההוא דטבע באגמא דסמקי ושריא רב שילא לדביתהו. וא"ל רב לשמואל תא נשמתיה. וכההיא נמי דאמרינן בס"פ ואלו מותרים (דף כ). השתא דאמרו רבנן לא מזדקקין ליה, בי דינא דמזדקק ליה שמותי משמתינן ליה. ומיהו אם טעו בהוראת ולא עשו במזיד אלא בטועת לא משמתינן ליה. וכדמסקינן בההוא דסוף יבמות. דרב שילא שהבאנו דשלא להו רב שילא בעצמו מטעה טעאי ולא שמתוה. אבל אם עשו שלא מחמת טעות הוראה הרי אלו בני נדוי.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Satmar rabbi, woman plotted to kidnap and kill husband who wouldn’t grant her a divorce

Update: Added Defense lawyer's letter - names informant

update THIRD MAN ARRESTED   News 12

NY Daily News    Time Magazine    Justice Department announcement

Daily Beast - major summary

A prominent rabbi in the Satmar Jewish community of Kiryas Joel in Orange County plotted to kidnap and murder a man who was resisting a religious divorce from his wife, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Rabbi Aharon Goldberg of Israel, and Shimen Liebowitz, of Monroe, were arrested Tuesday on charges of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and conspiracy to commit murder for hire. In early July, Liebowitz and Goldberg contacted an individual to kidnap the husband and force him to give a get — a religious divorce — to his wife, the feds said.

The individual, who is cooperating with the feds, later learned that they didn’t just want to kidnap the husband — they planned to kill him as well, the feds said.[...]

“Over a period of months,” he said, they “met repeatedly to plan the kidnapping and to pay more than $55,000 to an individual they believed would carry it out.”[...]

Monday, September 19, 2016

Rav Chaim Kanievsky says to report molesters to police: We have come a long way!

מרן הגר"ח קנייבסקי הורה לעסקן: "תסגיר תוקף למשטרה"
אם עד לפני שנים תוקפי ילדים היו מטופלים "בתוך הקהילה" - הרי שהציבור החרדי עובר שינוי: "מרן שר התורה הורה לי להסגיר תוקף למשטרה", מספר עסקן חרדי מניו יורק ו"מרוצה מהשינוי" (חרדים)

כך נלחמים בארצות הברית בפגיעות בילדים: בחודשים האחרונים, לאחר שורת מקרים קשים שפורסמו ב"כיכר השבת", נושא הטיפול בפגיעות חמורות בילדים עלה לדיון במגזר החרדי - הן בטיפול בנפגעים, והן בטיפול בפוגעים. אלא שבעוד בישראל תשומת הלב הציבורית בנושא החלה לתפוס תאוצה בעיקר בשנה האחרונה, בארצות הברית ארגונים חרדים מובהקים שונים כבר פועלים בגלוי במשך שנים לטיפול בנושא.

כבר לפני מספר חודשים, ארגון יהודי חרדי-מובהק בשם "Jewish Community Watch" עורר סערה לאחר שהאשים בפומבי באתר האינטרנט של הארגון את אחד ממפיקי העל במוזיקה החסידית בארצות הברית בפגיעה חמורה בנערים צעירים. מאז, ממשיך הארגון במאמצים לחשיפת אנשים נוספים בקהילות המקומיות שסרחו ופוגעים בילדים.

אבל "Jewish Community Watch" לא לבד. בשנים האחרונות הוקם בארצות הברית ארגון נוסף בשם "עמודים". הארגון שנוסד במקור על מנת לסייע לצעירים וצעירות חרדים שנקלעו לבעיות נפשיות או התמכרו לסמים קשים, הבין מהר מאוד כי מרבית הבעיות הנפשיות והממדים המבהילים של ההתמכרויות לסמים קשים בקרב בני משפחות חרדיות בארצות הברית - מקורם על פי רוב בפגיעות חמורות שעברו הצעירים והצעירות ומעולם לא טופלו.

הארגון החל לקיים מספר הרצאות, בהן משתתפים רבנים חשובים בארצות הברית לצד אנשי מקצוע חרדים, ובהן מעלים לסדר היום את נושא הפגיעות החמורות ודרכי הטיפול. השבוע, נערכה הרצאה שכזאת בלבה של העיירה לייקווד, המכונה "בני ברק של ארצות הבר

מדובר במהפכה שקטה שכובשת את ארצות הברית. אם עד לפני שנים ספורות נהגו בקהילות היהודיות לטאטא את הבעיות החמורות מתחת לשטיח, כיום, מתוך המגזר החרדי ובכפוף להוראות של גדולי ישראל בארצות הברית, פועלים הגורמים כנגד התוקפים. גם רבנים מישראל מסייעים לארגונים בייעוץ ובהתייחסות לנושאים ההלכתיים הסבוכים הנוגעים לבעיות אלו.

צבי גלוק, מנהל 'עמודים', מספר על תמיכה גורפת של רבנים בניו יורק והתייעצות אינטנסיבית שהוא מקיים מול הרבנים בארצות הברית. למרות זאת, גלוק אומר בשיחה עם 'כיכר השבת' כי "במידה ואנחנו מגלים מקרה של תקיפה חמורה אנחנו פונים לרשויות, כך מורים לנו הרבנים, אין לנו צל של ספק, אנחנו מקשיבים לרבנים ומסגירים את התוקפים למשטר

Kaminetsky-Greenblatt Heter: Yiftach was in his time as Shmuel is in his time Understanding rabbinic leadership through generations

I am going to discuss who Yiftach was - as understood by Chazal  -and why this provides us with a lesson in how to properly understand rabbinic leadership through history. In particular I would like to discuss how this helps us to understand how it is possible that R Shmuel Kaminetsky - despite being a gadol - has made some very serious mistakes in seeking to obtain an improper heter for a married woman to remarry without a Get. This has resulted in a couple presently committing adultery - and he is making no effort to correct this or the injustice he committed against Aharon Friedman her first husband.

It is typically understood that the message of Yiftach b'doro k'Shmuel b'doro (Rosh Hashanna 25b) is that even though Yiftach was not as great as Shmuel he still was the leader of the generation, a great talmid chachom and tzadik and a member of the Sanhedrin. It is believed that the leaders of every generation have ruach hakodesh and their views are Daas Torah and needed to be followed (Divrei Chaim, Mishneh Halachos). In short, it is understood to mean that the gedolim in each generation are great men - even though they might not be as great as previous generations - but what they say and do reflects G-d's will and they are basically infallible. 

All of the above is founded on an mistaken understanding of who Yiftach was - and consequently the comparison to Shmuel is incorrect. He is presented in various seforim (Machzor Vitri) as a major talmid chachom, leader of the Sanhedrin, a tzadik and pious man. Unfortunately that view is contrary to the view of Chazal (Taanis 4a) and is found primarily in some of the Rishonim. In fact what  Chazal say the expression of Yiftach b'doro means is that one is to treat the major rabbinic figures with kavod (Rashi Devarim 19:17) - even they are not as great as previous generations - and even though they are not great scholars. 

As a starting point, I want to present an important statement by Rav Dessler which explains why there are disparities between the explicit statement of Chazal and explanations of the same issue by Rishonim.
Michtav M'Eliahyu (4:355). It is important however to distinguish between those explanations which are basically interpretations of the verses and those of Chazal which are the actual meaning of the verses. Given this clear distinction it is puzzling why many Rishonim strive to follow a different understanding than the true explanation given by our Sages? We find such tendencies in the commentary of the Rashbam, Ibn Ezra and other Rishonim. What is the purpose of offering explanations which differ from the definitive true ones? I think the answer is that they offer these alternative explanations for the sake of confused people (i.e., they are apologetics). In other words these Rishonim want to show that there are many different aspects even in the simple understanding of the verses and that it is permissible for a person to create new interpretations according to what makes sense to him. (Of course, any alternative explanations which contradict foundation principles of faith are prohibited)... Such an approach is similar to that of the Rambam who wrote so much for the confused. We see this from the fact that many difficulties that exist in what he wrote could have been explained in a much clearer fashion. However, since he was addressing confused people he provided alternative explanations which they could accept - as long as it didn't contradict the Halacha).
In sum, Chazal's statements are true. Contrary statements are not the full truth but are the best that some readers will be able to accept. The Rishonim felt it was better to give a partially true or relatively true statement that would be believed - than to make statements that would be rejected. A similar statement is found in the Rambam about saying less than the full truth in order to maximize the understanding of ignorant people.
Moreh Nevuchim (Introduction). The seventh reason why an author seems to contradict himself occurs when discussing very deep and profound issues. It is necessary to conceal some aspects of the information and to reveal some. In order to accomplish this concealment it might be necessary in one place to utilize one set of principles and in another context it might be necessary to utilize a different set of fundamental principles - though the principles contradict each other. Obviously, the author should write in such a way that the ignorant masses are totally unaware of the internal contradiction. . 
Our Sages are conveying an important message about our relationship with religious and community leaders in their discussions about the major events in the life of Yiftach - who is one of the Judges. Starting from the beginning, his mother was a prostitute. As a result he was unjustly driven away by his father's other sons to prevent him from having his rightful part of the inheritance from his father. He organized a gang of bums - which Chazal teach us mean that birds of a feather flock to together - and lived the life of one rejected by society. That continued until the Jewish nation was threatened by an outside enemy and it was realized that only the military prowess of the bum Yiftach would save them from being conquered. He was offered the position of leadership of the Nation as an enticement to defend the Nation and he was successful and ruled for 6 years. Amongst his other accomplishments he killed 42,000 of his fellow Jews and sacrificed his daughter as a korbon olah. It is the latter which is out concern.

Yiftach took an oath that if he was successful in battle he would offer as a sacrifice whatever came out first to greet him when he return home. His daughter was the first to greet him. It is absolutely clear with no dissent - that one can not offer a human being as a sacrifice and that his oath was totally worthless. There is a discussion in Bereishis Rabbah (60) as to whether he needed to give the monetary equivalent of the sacrifice. But no one holds that the oath obligated him or even gave him the right to kill his daughter.

So why did he do it? Our Sages say it was because he was ignorant (Medrash Tanchuma, Taanis 4a). In fact Rashi (Taanis 4a) mentions that was became dismembered and the parts buried in different cities -  as punishment for the horrific and ignorant thing that he did.

More important is the question why no one stopped him. Our Sages mentioned that Yiftach should have gone to Pinchus and be told that there was no basis for the oath. But he didn't go because after all he was the leader of the Jewish people. For this prideful act he was punished. (In fact Seder Olam brings that this horrible error required that R Chanina ben Tradyon be burnt to death as atonement). More relevant is the question of why Pinchus (the great man who was a zealot concerned with stopping wrong - even killing wrong doers even though he was endangering his life). Some say that Pinchus is Eliyahu - and he is the foundation of the Mesora since he lived for many years. Given the charachter of Pinchus - why didn't he stop Yiftach? Again it seems to have been a the result of misplaced pride. He was after all the greatest talmid chachom and the baal mesorah - and therefore Yiftach needed to come to him for guidance. Our Sages say that Pinchus was punished by losing losing the Divine Spirit. G-d was severely displeased with him.

Thus the meaning of Yiftach in his generation is like Shmuel in his generation is that the leader of our community is not necessarily a great man - nonetheless he is to be respected because of his office. But we also see that not only can inferior leaders such as Yiftach make great errors -but also great leaders such as Pinchas also can err - for such mundane reasons as pride in being a leader.

In summary, We learn from Yiftach and his comparison to Shmuel that while a person who has an exalted position must be respected for that position - he is not infallible and that he can make serious mistakes. A leader such as Yiftach needs to be criticized when he does some wrong - such as sacrificing his daughter in the name of piety. As Daas Sofrim notes, he was an ignoramous who became pious - and we know from Avos that an ignoramous can not be truly pious. But we also see from Tanach that Pinchus also made an incredible error due to his pride of being a great leader. Pinchus also needed to be criticized by those inferior to him. Because no one spoke up Yiftach's daughter suffered a horrible death. 

We as as members of the holy Jewish people have to always remember that all Jews are bound into a collective entity. All Jews are responsible for what all other Jews do. We can not use the excuse that the wrong doer is a great man - a gadol - and who are we to criticize him when he makes a serious mistake. If we don't speak up, we will all suffer - chas v'shalom - from the sins done by our leaders.

Rav Shmuel Kaminetsky is responsible for getting Rav Greenblatt to give Tamar Esptein a worthless heter to remarrry without a Get. Rav Kaminetsky refuses to accept responsibility for his actions and insists that it is entirely Rav Greenblatt's responsibility to undo this pervision of Torah and halacha. He refuses to tell the adulterous couple to separate. He refuses to apologize for insulting and shaming Aharon Friedman in his misguided efforts to help Tamar Epstein. 

Consequently it is our responsibility as members of the Jewish people to correct the damage. We can not use the excuse that this issue is only for gedolim. We can not use the inaction and silence of our leaders to allow injustice and corruption. We need to learn from what happened with Yiftach and Pinchus - that one who does not act to correct wrong - causes suffering to others and will he/she will suffer as punishment..

Abuse in the Jewish Community - Amudim in Lakewood - Septermber 11, 2016

Tzvi Gluck - director of Amudim wrote:
I have to admit that when we first started Amudim three years ago, I found myself wondering just what kind of response we would get from the Jewish community. The issues we were tackling were extremely sensitive in nature and typically weren't talked about, but we all knew deep down inside that we had no choice but to bring these topics up in public to safeguard our most precious resource, our children 
To have been invited to Lakewood by the Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Malkiel Kotler Shlit"a, was indeed a humbling experience. Over 1,000 people came to hear the words of our daas Torah, Rav Elya Brudny, speak about the importance of addressing abuse head on, and to listen to Dr. Akiva Perlman and Rabbi Dr. Zev Brown discuss the dangers facing our children and how to formulate strategies to protect them. 
Since the event, which was seen live by 15,000 remote viewers, our office has been inundated with calls, more than 400 in all. Some have contacted us just to say thank you, while others have requested audio downloads, video links or materials to help them discuss these matters with their kids. 50 of those calls were about sexual abuse, resulting in 20 new cases opened this week alone

The need is still great, and while it is rewarding to see that people are ready and willing to listen to the message that we have been tasked with sharing, I look forward to the day when our community will be so well attuned to the dangers of abuse that actual cases will be few and far between.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Sanhedria Murchevet Satanic Ring hysteria: A ‘Memory Hacker’ Explains How to Plant False Memories in People’s Minds

Motherboard    We tend to think of memories as perfect little time capsules—important records of past events that matter to us and made us who we are, as unchangeable as a dragonfly stuck in amber. Well, they’re anything but. I recently met with Julia Shaw, a criminal psychologist who specializes in the science of memory. “I am a memory hacker,” Shaw told me. “I use the science of memory to make you think you did things that never happened.”

Implanting a false memory, it turns out, is alarmingly easy to do.

Shaw, a Canadian now living in London, was in Toronto to promote her new book, The Memory Illusion. In it, she describes how false memories can be deliberately placed in people’s brains—leading to false police confessions that could send the wrong person to jail, or detailed accounts of alien abductions that (almost certainly) never happened.

“A memory is a network of brain cells,” Shaw explained to me. That network, which stretches across different regions of the brain, is constantly being updated. It’s an important function that allows us humans to learn new things and to problem-solve, among other skills. But as a result, it “can be manipulated,” she continued. “Each time you tell a story, you change the memory,” maybe dropping in new details, weaving in tidbits you really heard from somebody else, or forging new, and possibly inaccurate or misleading, connections.

For example: If you think you remember anything before you were about two-and-a-half years old, Shaw said, that’s a false memory. (Before then, our brains aren’t developed enough to store memories, a phenomenon called childhood or infantile amnesia.) A memory from earlier that “was either given to you through photos, you saw a picture, or maybe your parents told you a story,” she explained. “You can internalize them quite readily.”

The fact that memories are so changeable has important implications for, among other things, the criminal justice system, Shaw pointed out—and that’s the focus of much of her work. “In the lab, I convince people through memory hacking that they committed crimes that never happened,” said Shaw, senior lecturer and researcher in the Department of Law and Social Sciences at London South Bank University. “I do it to show that the interrogation process can really distort memories, in consistent ways.”

To implant a false memory, “you try to get someone to confuse their imagination with their memory,” she said. “That’s it: Get them to repeatedly picture it happening.”

She’ll start off by letting them know they committed a crime, and then claim to have insider information. For example: “Your parents told me that, when you were 14, you stole something, and the police were involved,” she said, adding that she’ll say she called the parents, and give details of their talk, “and then you believe me. You know I contacted your parents, and you trust them,” she continued. That gives her credibility.

She’ll keep going and layer in detail—the person’s age, hometown, the name of their childhood best friend, and get them to repeatedly imagine the crime happening, over and over again, even if they never did it. Over the course of a couple of weeks, maybe even a shorter timespan than that, “it gets harder to decipher imagination, versus a memory coming back,” Shaw said. “By the end, it’s easy to think, this actually happened.” [...]