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THURSDAY, 15 NOVEMBER 2012
I think most people are by now satisfied that there has been a massive, disgraceful cover up. You can fill the comments with your Chofetz Chaims because if guarding your tongue is a licence for others to unzip their flies then you keep your Shmiras Haloshen and I'll stick to shmiras habris.
And I tell you what: don't believe a word of it. It’s all rumours. Rumours of older women and rumours of younger women; rumours of decades ago and rumours of recent times; late at night and until the early hours of the morning; of single women, of married women, of divorced women; of direct contact and of a ‘hefsek’ through a towel; of hand wrestling and of intimate touching; physical contact and telephone chats; consensual relations and exploitation, if not outright coercion; with women who came for counselling and with women who came for shaales. You name it and there is an allegation to match.
The charge sheet reads like the menu on the homepage of a porn site and still it's rumours. Let’s get our legalistic sheitels on to declare, innocent until proven guilty, and for the moment continue to believe the suspect to be as pure as his Yom Kippur kittel. Of course if it was you or I whom these rumours were about school gates would clang shut in our face, shuls would barely allow us in for a kiddush and when dead we'd be lucky if they carted us off to the Cheshunt bog. If it was a bakery rumoured to be using mishas asiyo butter rather than mishas chalivo they’d have the heavies down and not for a bun fight. But when it’s one of theirs they go into sleep mode and wake up only to search for loopholes on how to disqualify the evidence.
Does anyone still believe that someone with a vendetta has been spreading stories when you could set up a Keddasia licenced asylum with these supposedly deranged accusers? Ask yourself if you are not slurring thousands of rabbonim round the globe who selflessly put themselves out to assist couples yet no accusations are made against them. Ask yourself if this catalogue of alleged misdemeanours sounds like the ravings of a lunatic or whether they are not the cries of the offended, the exploited and the sinned against. Tell people who have not heard of the furore and watch their amazement that it has come out now when they have known about it for decades.
There is an apposite talmudic phrase, “It is not the rat that is the culprit but its hideout.” If we are dealing here with a dangerous rat who is rumoured to have made it a habit of preying on women of all ages and backgrounds with a preference for our own naïve Stamford Hill types, then his hideout is none other than the rotten organisation that counts him as a senior figure to this day despite the megile of a charge sheet.
This is a story almost unique in the annals of frum and chareidi Jewry. No one can think of a precedent because there is none. When the posuk accuses the children of Eli Hacohen of sleeping with the women who assembled at the temple, Chazal mitigate the plain meaning of the verse because the accusations are too severe to fathom. Yet here there has been operating for decades what appears to be a UOHC licenced sex therapist but they have kept quiet for the sake of not exposing the enormous lie at the heart of their organisation.
Let there be absolutely no doubt: there is a massive cover up at play. For a start, and as people have said in the comments, despite the mounting allegations there have been no official denials nor anyone who will defend him on or off the record. When some pigs were caught getting too close to the holy flesh of Kedassia carcasses they were happy at first to defend the practice and then agreed, albeit reluctantly, to desist. But here we have allegations of a holy pig cavorting with flesh of the fairer type and they are shtum all around. A caller asks the Rov whether the accused is suitable for more serious shaalos and he is told it’s business as usual. Not a word though on the integrity of the subject of the enquiry.
To appreciate the magnitude of this earthquake just consider that rabbis in our circles simply do not step down. Ever. We have them quite literally in good times and bad, to love or to hate until death do us part. They may move to greener pastures but neither Yiddish nor rabbinical Hebrew has even a vocabulary for investigating rabbis, suspending them or firing them. So when there are credible reports that a rabbi in the most traditional and conservative of UK communal bodies asked a fellow rabbi to leave town, and when there are rumours that Dayan Friedman and Rabbi Roberts warned the suspect many years ago to give up on his ‘counselling’ sessions you might have expected a reaction. But the only reaction one gets is tight lips. If this doesn’t reek, Neutradol and Proctor and Gamble might as well close shop because no odour is bad after this.
Let us remember who it is we are dealing with. This is the organisation for which there is no lunacy it will not adopt and no madness it will not embrace. It concerns itself with worms in blueberries, worms in strawberries, worms on grapes and worms in fish. But its chief buries his head deep in a cabbage searching for infestations so that a giant snake can slither unimpeded in the supposed Garden of Eden seducing Eves with impunity. For worms they advise using a magnifying glass but for this reptile they wear a blindfold.
Taharas Hamishpoche, kedushe, tznius. We are told that they go to the very foundation of who we are as a people and as a community but when they are desecrated in the King's parlour, in the Holy of Holies, they will see and hear no evil. Almost all shuls under the auspices of this organisation must have separate entrances for men and women, weddings licensed by them must have a partition along the entire lobby, even coloured panty liners must be regulated. But one of their leading rabbis goes well beyond the liner and they wring their hands piously, we have no evidence, it’s hearsay, no one will come forward, a woman's evidence is not kosher enough. And when that won't do, they’ll appoint one of their smarmy fixers to ‘prove’ his innocence.
Girls must be drilled in tznius from the cradle and their dress is the cause of all evil so that a rabbi can summon women in their nightdress while his place at the top table remains secure. Women can be dunked in a cesspit of a mikve, can be appealed to when the eiruv is an issue but when they are violated by those at the very top, their word and voice become ‘koil bo'isho ervo’.
They will summon us to control our every mouse click but a massive rodent may hand wrestle his patients because he had a 'heter'. Would they eat off a kosher lepesach paper plate with that heter? Would they drink bottled water from that hashgoche? To invalidate the eiruv the most obscure footnote will do but a simple Mishna, “He who has dealings with women should not isolate himself with women,” is beyond their ken.
Had anything remotely like this occurred in the ‘goyishe’ United Synagogue they would undoubtedly have acted quickly and decisively though that would not have stopped our great and good from gloating. But here when it’s not in their own backyard but at their highest table they are as limp as the accused after a couple of sessions. Allegedly.
This may be the most important story our community has ever known and probably the most serious scandal in the history of the UOHC but don’t bet on anything bold from our feckless leaders. They have got away with so much over the years that they can't feel the ground under them shifting. But shifting it is.
If, as someone quipped, Leyton Orient was Padwa’s belated inauguration then this is fast turning into his premature abdication. For there is something rotten in the state of our community if our leaders need reminding of the simple dictum,במקום שיש חילול השם אין חולקין כבוד לרב, where there is profanity of God’s name no honour is afforded to a rabbi.
Posted by Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg at 11/18/2012
למה לי חיים - Please read about Chaim Halpern of Golders Green
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg