Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Navonim - The Ramblings of Garnel Ironheart

Friday, 18 March 2011

No Honour Amongst Rabbonim

Elior Chen is an evil man.  He is a manipulative child abuse responsible for repeated episodes of suffering, misery and life-long damage.  The secular justice system did what the halachicsystem in Israel would not and punished him for his horrible deeds.  He is going to jail for a long time and good riddance.
In a way, Rav Yaakov Menken's recent piece on this toad of a man is refreshing.  Instead of the usual Shafranesque approach at Cross Currents in which the misdeeds of a Chareidi criminal are either denied or minimized, Rav Menken does neither.  He fully admits the terrible things that Chen did but then reaches a suprised conclusion: Elior Chen isn't Chareidi so therefore the newspapers that call him that are actually falsely picking on him and his brethren!
In what must surely qualify as the dumbest stuff that Menken has ever written, he completely redefines what being Chareidi is in such a way as to disqualify Chen from membership:
What motivates this posting is the headline in HaAretz: “Haredi ‘Rabbi’ Elior Chen sentenced …” Haredi? Because he has a black yarmulke and a long beard? By what logic does HaAretz put quotation marks around the word “Rabbi” (other news reports call him “self-ordained”) while declaring him to be truly “Haredi”?
Chen was not connected to any Charedi leader or to the fabric of Charedi life, despite living in a charedi settlement. Basically, he’s Charedi like Sun Myung Moon is “Christian,” but no one would write the headline that “Christian ‘Reverend’ Sun Myung Moon …” did anything at all. Similarly, no one referred to “Reform Rabbi Fred Neulander” when he hired two hit men to murder his wife in 1994. Articles only called his congregation Reform, if at all, as was appropriate.
Where to begin?  Where to begin?
"Because he has a black yarmulke and a long beard?"  Well add to that a pale complexion and long curly peyos and yes, Rav Menken, you are exactly describing the uniform that the Chareidi world subscribes to.  Let's be honest: a man could sit and learn 20 hours a day, subscribe to multiple chumros, speak in perfect Yeshivish but if he showed up in your yeshiva in a blue shirt and casual pants topped off by a knitted kippah, he'd never be considered Chareidi.  Sorry, it just wouldn't happen.  Membership in the Chareidi community starts (and too often stops) at the clothing and external appearance of the person, nothing deeper.
"Chen was not connected to any Chareidi leader"  Really?  And the letters written on his behalf by Menken's beloved "Gedolim" attesting to his status as atzadik and insisting on his innocence?  Ignored or downplayed in the comments section of Menken's post.  Why let the truth inconvenience historical revision, after all?  
Chen lived in a Chareidi neighbourhood, worked exclusively within the Chareidi community and used Chareidi-type logic to commit his misdeeds.  Only a purposefully blind fool would consider stating that he had no connection to Chareidism.
One might further ask: what is Rav Menken's opinion of rioting Neturei Karta or of the Satmar Rebbe who said that the boys murdered at Mercaz Harav a few years ago had it coming to them because they were Zionist?  Would he say that these folks are not real Chareidim either?
Finally there is his analogy to Fred Neulander which is obviously preposterous.  Neulander may have been a Reform rabbi but his crimes were carried out not in consonance with his position but despite it.  In contrast, Chen used his position as a rav and spiritual leader within the Chareidi communty to commit his crimes.  There is no comparison between the two.
They say there is no honour amongst thieves.  Apparently this applies to Chareidi rabbobnim as well.


Anonymous said...

If Chareidi leaders wish to disown those charlatans or worse, in the public eye or not, who appear to be Chareidim, there are many ways they can do that effectively, leaving nothing to our imagination.

Culling out the bad apples would greatly improve the public standing of the group as a whole, which overall is a force for good.

Bob Miller said...


This is an excerpt:
THE HORRIBLE SLAUGHTER at Mercaz Harav two weeks ago brought a measure of momentary unity within the world of religious Jewry. In part, the feeling of closeness reflected a general awareness that the murderer could have walked equally unimpeded into thousands of minyanim and hundreds of crowded batei medrash in Jerusalem.

But I think that the identification with the victims in Mercaz Harav went beyond “There but for the grace of G-d go I.” True, there should have been more haredim at the levaya (myself included). But who could have possibly imagined prior to the tragedy the circumstances that would bring the Belzer Rebbe, roshei yeshiva of Mirrer and Hebron yeshivos, some of the most respected contemporary talmidei chachamin, and the head of Agudath Israel of America to the citadel of religious Zionism?

Who could have imagined the fiercest ideological foe of Zionism in all its varieties, the Satmar Rebbe, telling his followers, two days after eight yeshiva students in religious Zionism’s flagship institution were mowed down in the midst of their studies, “When a tragedy of this magnitude occurs – murderers penetrating a yeshiva – it is in Hashem’s eyes comparable to the burning of the Temple. They were learning at that moment the same Torah we learn. The Talmud is the same Talmud”?

For two weeks the haredi press has been filled with detailed stories about each the martyrs and of the faith and strength of their families in their grief. There has been nothing half-hearted or restrained about the praises lavished on the murdered students or their families.

The haredi press has been similarly filled with stories of the community’s leaders reaching across the divide in the religious world: How the Belzer Rebbe secluded himself after hearing the news, despite the presence of thousands of his hasidim in Jerusalem to celebrate the bar mitzvah of his oldest grandson,, and how he went to the levaya and to visit the wounded in hospitals. How the Gerrer Rebbe, on his way to Jerusalem for a celebratory Shabbos with his hasidim, turned around upon hearing the news, and declared that it would be impossible to celebrate after such a tragedy.

Rabbi Avrohom Schorr, one of the most respected Torah scholars in Brooklyn, speaking after the savage murders, was almost inaudible through his sobbing. “What did you do after you heard the news?” he asked. “Did you go on with life as usual? Did you eat supper as usual? HOW COULD YOU?”

Baruch Pelta said...

Thank you for this post, a real breath of fresh air. I get tired of Menken just writing narishkeit and nobody calling him out on it. Of course, people probably are calling him out on it and he's probably just censoring their comments...makes good sense why we don't see him anywhere else on the Net except home turf.

Btw, what got me most upset (although Menken regularly gets me upset) was in a comment, he actually defended the letter the gedolim wrote praising Elior Chen as a marbitz Torah who couldn't be guilty: "...let's remember, the letter’s practical purpose was to pay the expenses of his defense fund and feed his children."

Garnel Ironheart said...

Once upon a time Cross Currents had a lot less moderation and it was possible to get critical comments posted. I guess they got tired of having to publicly display that people disagreed with them. It looks so much better when 90% of the comments agree with them and the 10% of objections are weak and easily rebuffed. For these guys it's all about image, eh?
It would be interesting if someone created a mirror Cross Currents with a free-for-all comments policy to see what people are really saying.

Anonymous said...

What I find interesting is that RYM retracted that and said he was unaware how much charedi support Chen had... weeks before this was written.

He got a lot of points with me for recognizing he'd made a mistake. Why are you criticizing him now?

Baruch Pelta said...

All Menken said in a comment on the post was that he was unaware of how much support there was for Chen "among some Chareidi sources." Then he said, "It remains true that he wasn’t a Charedi Rabbi in any eyes but his own and those of his followers." Garnel's points stand.

loveandlivethetorah said...

--Satmar Rebbe who said that the boys murdered at Mercaz Harav a few years ago had it coming to them because they were Zionist?--

Do you mind giving further details?
I have searched high and low,but i can't find anyone or anything to corroborate this.
In fact all i heard and found was that the Satmar Rebbeh(CEO) called it a tragedy,as another commenter already wrote.