Open Letter from Deputy D.A. Benny Forer Addressing Manis Friedman

This is reposted with the kind permission of  Jewish Community watch

(Benny Forer is a veteran criminal prosecutor with experience prosecuting cases ranging from narcotics offenses to gang murders to complex white collar crime. Currently, as a member of the prestigious High-Tech Crimes Unit, his job focuses on complex technologically based crimes. Additionally, he is an experienced lecturer, lecturing on matters pertaining to being a District Attorney. Topics include: criminal justice, criminal procedure, privacy concerns, constitutional issues, sex crimes, complex fraud and white collar offenses.)

January 29, 2013                                                                                           תשע’ג ,שבט  ח’י

Rabbi Manis Friedman

Dear Rabbi Friedman,

I am writing to you today as a professional in my specific field, to protest your recent video discussing child molesters and the effects of child-molestation. While I am sure you have received countless letters, emails, telephone calls and other correspondence protesting your ignorant view, I am nevertheless writing to continue to express the disgust I have for your comments.

I am a frum, Lubavitch, Oholie-Torah-educated member of our collective society. I also happen to be one of the only District Attorney’s in the United States who is all the above. From all the frum people that I know who have held a similar type job, I am certainly the longest tenured employee of a DA office. As a result, I have particular perspective and insight into many matters pertaining to criminal law.

One of the difficulties I have often encountered is the continued misinformation transmitted by our “leadership” to the community, in an effort to justify the actions of those who have committed crimes. Sadly, we have created a society where every Lubavitcher criminal holds equivalent status as the Rebbe’im and certainly of Reb Mendel Futerfass and his contemporaries. Nothing is further from the truth and this perspective degrades the great mesiras nefesh that those people had.

I am communicating the above in order to attempt to impress upon you both my credentials to write to you, as well as the source of your ignorant perspective that ultimately caused you to demean yourself, your teachings and your family.

I have had many encounters, interviews, discussions and trials involving sexual abuse.  I have had a variety of training, both formal and informal, dealing with these topics. I have also examined and cross-examined “expert” witnesses on these matters. What I have learned is that sexual abuse is truly the worst harm a person can perpetrate on society and is worse than murder.

True, educated, learned and honest Rabbonim will admit and pasken that a molester has the din of a rodef. Moreover, he is muchzak to do it again and therefore we can and should treat him as such.  The reason for this is that a molester is a) always a recidivist[1]; and b) ultimately the direct cause of death in many people.  Consequently, it is acceptable Halachically to chase after and kill a molester and it may, in fact, be required.[2]

The Torah has many instances of sexual misconduct. Beginning with the dor-hamabul, Sodom and Gmorah, Er & Anon, Dina & Shchem, Yosef HaTzadik and Potifar’s wife[3] and culminating with Pinchas Ha’Cohen and Zimri.  The similarity between the above cases is that with only one exception (Yosef), all the offenders were sentenced to death in one way or another. What is learned from these Torah examples is that sexual misconduct is so severe that the Torah and God believe in the termination of humans who engage in such misconduct. Yosef, however, was sentenced by a secular court and, similar to our current secular judicial system, a sex offender cannot be executed, rather is sentenced to lengthy terms of confinement. [4]

Ultimately, the perspective that is perpetuated by Rabbonim such as you is directly in line with the Catholic Church. Demean, diminish and disregard any victims. It is severely misplaced and dangerous. I am unaware whether you have ever had a candid conversation with a victim of sexual abuse or whether you took them seriously, but from professional experience, I can assure you of the lasting impact that most suffer. The intense pain a victim feels and the harmful resulting impact to society is degenerative.  Flippant disregard of these feelings is not just insensitive, but is ignorant and harmful. The extreme violation of a child’s person has an enduring consequence no matter how much it is trivialized.

As a District Attorney, I have dealt with a wide variety of victims. I have witnessed the pain suffered by murder-victim’s families and have seen families torn apart by drug abuse. I have been in court as victims wept over the untimely death of a loved one and have seen the hardships endured by victims of various other physical crimes. However, nothing compares to the pain and suffering of a sexual abuse victim.  Not only do they live with this pain daily, but they have to contend with community members’ (and in our case so-called “Rabbonim”) daily denial of these incidents.  Your thoughtless comments have furthered this pain and fostered more unnecessary agony.

In our community I am continually amazed that no crime brings out more communal support for the perpetrator than sexual molestation.  I have been shocked to walk into courtrooms and observe overwhelming support for a monster, despite vast evidence of his guilt.  I further find it shocking that the Rabbonim are so eager to “clear” a molester of such wrongdoing, justifying their actions under a variety of misplaced and misunderstood Halachic concepts.[5]

Moreover, there have been countless instances of Rabbonim seeking to prevent victims from going to the police. A variety of tactics are used, all of which stem from extraordinary distortions of the Torah. Rabbonim are not sex experts. They also have very limited power in both preventing future sexual abuse and in helping victims overcome the past harms.  Accordingly, it is imperative that Rabbonim encourage all victims to immediately contact local authorities to deal with abuse scenarios.  Rabbonim who demand the power and right to determine whether a victim should come forward are nothing more than egotistical and arrogant.

The myopic and ridiculous view that you have perpetrated, along with many Rabbonim, needs to be corrected and fixed.  It needs to be acknowledged by Jewish leaders in a profound way – one that does more than merely pay lip-service to the issue. You need to express true teshuva in a constructive and helpful way that will assist future victims and condemn future predators. At this point, public condemnation of molesters, in general, is simply insufficient; more must be done.

In Tanya, the Alter Rebbe reflects on many instances of Halachic sexual misconduct, revealing how dangerous such misconduct is.  The Chitas for this past Shabbos discusses that sexual deviance is equivalent, if not worse than idol worship.  That such actions completely removes G-d from one’s soul, to the extent that a gnat is of a holier nature.

I urge you to not only publicly recant your recent statements but to rededicate yourself to assisting victims and condemning predators.  To doing everything in your power to bring these monsters to justice. This is true teshuva.

Sincerely,

Benny Forer


[1] Department of Justice statistics reveal that compared to non-sex offenders, released sex offender (i.e., those that have been caught, prosecuted and imprisoned) are 4 times more likely to be rearrested for a sex crime. Those numbers go up exponentially when dealing with unprosecuted sex offenders.

[2] This is obviously unacceptable in the current civilized society that we live in.  The point is simply being made to express the theoretical Torah perspective.

[3] Obviously, Yosef did not engage in sexual misconduct, rather he was only accused of such. As a result, God did not seek to punish him by the prescribed Godly punishment. Rather, he was sentenced by a secular court for his actions.

[4] In Kennedy v. Louisiana, the Supreme Court held that the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for crimes that do not involve the taking of a life. As a result, the only time our system of justice prescribes death as an appropriate punishment is when the crime involved the murder of another. Most states have sought to give enhanced sentences to sexual offenders by enacting a variety of laws that would place them in prison for life or indefinitely.

[5] “Teshuva” is often used to justify allowing a predator to be a part of a community. The fact that a person hasn’t been recently accused does not mean the person hasn’t recently engaged in predatorial actions. Another concept is that of “Pidyon Shivuyin”. The discussion regarding these misplaced concepts is for a different time, but suffice it to say that the misplaced perception of these important Torah laws have resulted in the harm to many children for the sake of a single individual.  I would direct you to the mitzvah of eglah arufa for further understanding of rabbinical responsibility.

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About Yerachmiel Lopin

Frum Follies is blog is for those who fight Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) in the Orthodox Jewish world where it is Purim all year. I fight corruption and denial by reporting, analyzing, satirizing, and agitating.
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22 Responses to Open Letter from Deputy D.A. Benny Forer Addressing Manis Friedman

  1. Moshe says:

    Manis Friedman already apologized.

    • Apologized to Who??? says:

      What a complete jerk. Let him hide his smug face from decent people until he has apologized personally to every victim he devastated with one more ignorant arrogant comment from one more ignorant arrogant rabbinical ‘expert’.

      I just banned anything that comes out of this pig’s pen from my home.

  2. DiEmes says:

    If a priest sent an open message to holocaust survivors stating that Hitler was justified, would you be satisfied with an “apology”?

    • Moshe says:

      Manis Friedman is NOT hiding he has upcoming Lecture events and you can show up at your own free will and ask your self what he thinks.

      @DiEmes So now your comparing me who is a Victim from sexual abuse to a Holocaust survivor?! just watch any YouTube on what went on in Auschwitz before you make fun of Holocaust survivors.

      • Moshe, Manis was hiding his video of the speech.

        Moshe, Don’t distort what DiEmes was saying. He was NOT analogizing sex abuse of all sorts and being a holocaust victimhood. He was analogizing belittling genocide and belittleing abuse and saying we are suspicious of apologies offered under public pressure, especially when the offender insists he was “misunderstood.”

  3. T.A says:

    I would never be satisfied with an apology. To hurt so much all the victims by diminishing their pain bishat nefesh, is revictimising the victims all over again. Instead, he must come out with a fierce statement of vidergutmachung, and state how awful the consequences of such an attack.

    And for you Deputy D.A. Benny Forer Your Honour, what a wonderful contribution to our dear Brothers and Sisters living daily in so much Tzaar veAgmat Nefesh, you TRULY feel their pain. Bemakom she’ein ish, You are a true MAN of JUSTICE and PEACE. Bame avarechecha? HALVAY VEHALVAY, sheyirbu kmotcha beYisrael. May Hashem grant you peace Kol Hayamim, VENACHAS for your family and children, FOREveR and ever!!!

    An extra Toda rabba for you Mr. Y.L

  4. YesodOlam says:

    Yosef Hatzaddik a sex offender? How dare you??!!

    Yosef is an example of all the innocent victims of the system who were falsely accused and railroaded by overzealous prosecutors and people with an axe to grind.

    • read before you comment says:

      YesodOlam, you clearly missed the point. Read the footnote genius. Of course he was innocent – thats why he wasnt killed by Gd.

  5. steve says:

    Benny,

    I do agree with you that R’ Manis Friedman was in the wrong. However, your letter suggests that you overplay your credentials just a bit. Hubris?

    Several examples:
    “True, educated, learned and honest Rabbonim will admit and pasken that a molester has the din of a rodef” – So is it your DA credentials that afford you the ability to determine what qualifies a rabbi to be ‘true,educated and learned”?

    {jewish responsa has been fluid with dissenting views and opinions throughout the millennia, but now we are to take at face value that there is only one true perspective!}

    “a) always a recidivist[1]“ – -see your own footnote. 4X does not equal “always”.

    b) ultimately the direct cause of death in many people. Really? How often is there really one direct cause of death in any case of suicide?

    You write your letter in the relative safety of a site that caters to likeminded individuals. You therefore feel free to extol your credentials as a prosecutor – not a therapist. Perhaps you are not aware, but Prosecutors are not generally not depicted in our media/ culture as experts in the psychology of the crimes they prosecute, but rather as single-minded attorneys seeking justice. Honorable, but not academic material.

    Several licensed therapists and academics (in child psychology) I am in direct contact with argue that we are going through a pendulum shift; where in the past all cases were ignored, now many innocents are being hounded as well in the community. These therapists work in the community and often deal with children and schools involved in these scandals.

    To say that sexual abuse is worse than murder is apparently effective in courtroom arguments (as it was used in the weberman sentencing), it does not however hold up to most rational and thinking people. Your attempt at lomdos from the case of zimri and Yosef is poor as none of these cases involve abuse of a minor. The torah’s concern in these cases as explained by many rishonim is ‘Hashchosa’. Forget not – that the torah recognizes a father’s marriage of a minor girl by force!

    I am not a prosecutor ,nor am I a psychologist, I am however a thinking well-educated (Masters of Science) professional employed at one of the most progressive and valuable companies in the world. I do not live my life in the ‘shtetl’, and find many things about our community troubling. But even more troubling to me is the one-sided conversation about abuse happening in the blogosphere. Thanks for adding no value…….

    Oh – and Manis ,thanks for apologizing. Now that you have, please close shop. You really should not be counseling without a license. The world has changed for the better, please adapt.

  6. The Rabbi's view says:

    Dear Benny

    Your open letter is a shameful demonstration of your willingness to perpetuate a terrible Chilul Hashem just to self-righteously enjoy a few moments in the sun, receiving accolades only from people who are more ignorant than you are. You open your letter by providing your impressive credentials, all of which give you the ability to speak with some authority on the laws of the United States, and the state of California, but none of which give you any credibility in the areas of counseling or in the opinions of Torah and/or Chassidus.

    You then proceed to build a straw man in order to have something to argue against, that your argument should sound damning. You bring examples from Torah where the perpetrators of sexual sins are gravely punished, trying to make it sound as though Rabbi Friedman ever argued against that!

    You then try to teach Rabbi Friedman some Tanya, which is in itself a despicable joke. The Tanya is, again, speaking about one who commits a sexual sin, not the victim.

    Did Rabbi Friedman say that one who commits a sexual crime has done nothing wrong? Only a non-thinking crisis chaser would ever even suggest such a thing! Do you know of even ONE instance where Rabbi Friedman encouraged communal support for a perpetrator of sexual molestation? Can you cite even ONE instance where Rabbi Friedman discouraged a victim from going to the authorities?

    Rabbi Friedman was making the point that we all agree on, that is that one who is the victim of such a crime COMMITTED NO SIN! Do you have a problem with this position? Do you believe otherwise?

    His was a message of empowerment. You have done nothing wrong!, he says. G-d sees nothing wrong with you, the victim! In His eyes, you are as pure as the day you were born! Did something bad happen to you? Yes, of course! But does that have to be a dark cloud over your entire future? Certainly not! A lot of bad things happen to people, through no fault of their own. Should it fill you with self-doubt or feelings of self-worthlessness? So the rabbi asks, should having once had a bad case of diarrea fill you with feelings of self-worthlessness? They should be given the same weight IN THE EYES OF THE VICTIM. Don’t let it stop you from valuing the wholeness of your life, or the fact that G-d still has a plan for you.

    And he wasn’t talking to victims. He was discussing this idea with rabbis and counselors who dedicate their lives to helping victims. He was explaining, in the video you saw, the end-goal realization that those counselors are aiming for: for the victim to be able to say, “I am not a victim. I will no longer live with the victim mentality. The molester must live with this sin, not me!”

    ***

    “I am unaware whether you have ever had a candid conversation with a victim of sexual abuse or whether you took them seriously…”

    What Chutzpah!!

    As you know very well, Benny dear, Rabbi Friedman has spent the last 45 years helping victims of abuse, sexual and otherwise, and has never in his life done or said anything to suggest that he dismisses the pain of the victims. Au contraire! He has dedicated and continues to dedicate his life and days to easing their pain and helping them overcome their abuse.

    And from a G-dly, Torah and Chassidus perspective, the perspective he knows best and has been the address for so long for so many people looking for that perspective, the victim has indeed done nothing wrong. The victim of abuse has not blemished his/her soul. He/she has not been ruined forever. He/she has not any reason to feel guilt or embarrassment for the rest of his/her life.

    In fact, the only thing the victim should fear is people like you, Benny, who make a living that is dependant on these victims indeed being “scarred for life,” or “irrevocably damaged,” or the like.

    Indeed, Benny, it is you who needs the Teshuva. Beg the Rabbi for forgiveness, for positing that such vile and disgusting ideas came from him, and not from you! And beg for forgiveness from the victims, whose continued pain and suffering you directly depend on to make your living.

    Shame on you, Benny, for trying to pull a fast one over us. You are not learned enough, and we are not blinded enough by your fancy titles.

    • The above comment is long on words but short on substance. The comment tries to bludgeon readers by smearing the author. He conveniently ignores the content of the article and sings hosannas to Manis Friedman. Manis was smart of enough to pull the video and apologize. But “The Rabbis View” tries to tell us Manis is a Tzadik and his message was fantastic.

      So, this comment really wants us to think that since valuing yourself in a chabad spiritual sense is so healing you should conceal your history of abuse from your future spouse and seeking mental health treatment only leads to wallowing, not healing. This way lies Motty Borger who committed suicide on his wedding night.

      Suddenly we are to believe that Manis has successfully counseled thousands of sex abuse victims with miraculous benefits and has always stood behind victims who brought their abusers to the criminal justice system.

      Hey big guy, I say, take this challenge. Show me one Chabad shliach or other Chabad meyuchas who was brought to trial or plea bargain where Manis openly supported the allegation and the victim who brought the charges or anyone else who testified or supported the victim. Just name one! Big guy, put up or shut up. Nuchem Rosenberg can name dozens. Yanky Horowitz can name two (albeit from Satmar, not from within his own yeshivish world), etc. I can name a half a dozen (including those pursuing justice against Weberman, Lebovits, Dascalowitz, Yegutkin, George Finkelstein, and Yoel Malik).

      BTW, the attack on Forer focuses on his learning credentials. But Forer wasn’t arguing chasidus. He was discussing evidence of psychological damage. I have yet to see any proof that this an area in which Manis Friedman is an expert. In fact he showed some incredible ignorance and poor judgement on that topic.

      • Moshe says:

        I’m a victim of sexual abuse my self and I agree 100% with Manis Friedman you don’t have to live with the pain every single day on your life, there is a healing process, had Motty Borger been counseled by Manis Friedman I could guarantee you %100 that he would NOT have committed Suicide as Manis Friedman has helped countless victims of sexual abuse.

        Before you start ridiculing me, I’m a big fan on Jewish community watch, I’m a huge supporter of locking up convicted child molesters and you will not stop me.

        • Moshe, you and every Yankel Berel knows that Manis has counseled countless (or some say thousands and others say alfei alfim, v’chulu). How do you know that. Did Manis claim that? Did you read it in a Chabad website? Have you spoken to “countless” victims? Countless can’t apply to those you know of. There is a number, or at least a rounded number. I find your count of countless fishy.

          I am glad you are a fan of Jewish Community Watch. They have a wall of shame of people who should have been brought in and haven’t yet had their cases go forward. They also have lists of those who were indicted or convicted. CAN YOU NAME ONE DEFENDANT WHERE MANIS OPENLY SUPPORTED A VICTIM, ANOTHER WITNESS, OR A SUPPORTER OF A VICTIM AND SAID HE BELIEVED THE ALLEGED PERPETRATOR WAS GUILTY.

          Please don’t comment as if we will be fooled by your assertions. Manis has no proof of his activism on behalf of victims.

          One other thing, you say, ‘I can guarantee you 100% that Motty Borger would not have committed suicide if he had been counseled by Manis Freidman.’ Zei nist a nahr. In human matters, especially if you don’t know all the facts, there is no such thing as 100% predictions. It is kefirah (heresy) to deny free will and the reality that we cannot predict, let alone control anyone’s actions, “one hundred percent!” You are making out Manis to be a bigger baal mofais (miracle worker) than the Rebbe. I thought that was also kefirah for a Chabadnik.

      • The Rabbi's view says:

        Look, I don’t know you, and I have never heard of you. I don’t know what your thoughts are on Chabad Chasidus, or if you have ever studied it at all. You are trying to create a monster where no monster exists, just in order to fan the flames in favor of your chosen crusade. It’s a noble goal, to rid the world of child molestation. But if you choose to do it at the expense of everyone and anyone whom you see as a possible stepping stone, regardless of what they have done for actual victims, or regardless of whether or not they are actually guilty of what you are accusing them of, just as long as the end goal is accomplished, well then you are just adding pain in the world.

        And yes, I do believe that you need the victim to be damaged goods in order for your campaign to be successful, and that’s why you are so incensed by the suggestion that it might be easier for a victim to heal than you would like it to be.

        And then you continue to argue a point that has no merit. Hey big guy, name for me ONE name of a baby you saved from abortion. Oh, you can’t? Well then you must be some kind of baby killer!

        It amazes me that you think, deep in your heart, that you are making valid points.

        Do you know anything about Rabbi Friedman, or what he’s been doing for the last 45 years?
        Do you know anything about Chasidus? Do you believe that the Alter Rebbe wrote the Tanya as a guidebook for life’s problems, that is, only until you have an actual problem? Do you have any credentials that give you the ability to dismiss the Alter Rebbe’s way of dealing with people?

        If you have no respect for Chasidus as a way to deal with life’s problems, then say that.

        And don’t post ignorant things about people you know nothing about. Yes, there are actual victims of sexual abuse that Rabbi Friedman has helped, who now live wholesome, functional lives. Can you claim the same for yourself? Or is your only credit that you throw people in jail?

        Some people, like you, like to focus their life’s energy on the perpetrators of abuse, and some choose to focus their energy on healing the victims. Rabbi Friedman chooses the latter, and he is good at it, too. Maybe you don’t like it. But don’t step on a drowning man’s head and yell “He’s drowning” just to bring attention to your chosen cause. It’s a despicable thing to do.

        • Benny Forer says:

          Id be happy to discuss my position regarding sexual assaults, my reason for writing a letter to Manis, my reason for subsequently publishing it, my reason for only posting it on JCW and my reasons for strongly disagreeing both with Manis’ perspective and with his statements. Please feel free to contact me at bennyforer@hotmail.com, or, if you’d prefer, you can come speak to me personally.

          What is amazing is that in an attempt to protect Manis (is he your dad?), you are bashing me. Rabbi’s view (are you a rov or a rabbi? Because im also a “rabbi”) you are trying to refocus attention from the real issue to someone who gave victims a voice.

        • The Rabbi's view says:

          I’m sure you would, Benny. It’s so ironic that you are asking for a courtesy that you did not extend to Rabbi Friedman before you publicly tried to besmirch him, and place ideas in his mouth, and lump him with every low-life that makes a Chilul Hashem.

          Rabbi Friedman said something privately, in a closed door meeting, which when it went online, he had it pulled before it had more than 200 views, because he understood that it was an unclear, misleading, misrepresentation of his views on the issue. But the people who are now crying that it hurt so many people are the ones who went and saved the video, re-uploaded it, spread it as far as they could, and then screamed and cried about the pain he caused.

          Did you call him for an explanation? Did you speak to him personally? No. You went straight for the golden opportunity to advance your reputation in the world of public opinion, and you let the Torah perspective be attacked.

          He is not my dad, and it’s embarrassing that you think only his children could be offended by the thoughtless, self-righteous attack he has been subjected to.

          I am only refocusing the attention away from what you would have us believe is the real issue, and stating clearly and unequivocally that I believe it is you, and people like you, who are the real issue. You, who never gave your life to the spreading of Chassidus, who would so carelessly and selfishly go on a campaign against someone who did, someone who believes in G-d and His Torah, someone who believe that, yes, Torah does have answers even to serious problems.

          So go ahead. Continue making a living, continue doing whatever it is you do, and Rabbi Friedman will continue spreading Chassidus, and Torah’s approach to life’s issues, and he will continue helping people like me try to get and keep our lives on the right track. L’chaim. Kush in Toches.

    • shoshy says:

      “Rabbi Friedman was making the point that we all agree on, that is that one who is the victim of such a crime COMMITTED NO SIN! ”

      I’ve listened to the videos and the audios and read the transcript, and I would say there is a big question about whether Rabbi Friedman believes that the victim committed no sin.

      Take a look at the full transcript of Rabbi Friedman’s lecture in today’s Frumfollies. I’ll go in order.

      1)“Do you sometimes forget to say al hamichya (obligatory Jewish blessing after certain snacks) ? Because, that’s much,” I said, “That’s much worse than being molested.”

      Forgetting to make an al hamichya is a sin of omission. If you forgot it’s shogeg. Rabbi Friedman says that the aveirah of not saying al hamichya is worse than being molested. He’s drawing an analogy between doing an aveirah – albeit a minor one with limited intent – and being a victim. That analogy makes no logical sense if you are saying the victim committed no sin.

      2) “Look, you were 9 years old, and you didn’t do it. So what aveira (sin) are you guilty of? You forget to say Al Hamichya (after-snack blessing) that’s your aveira (sin), that’s much more serious. So it doesn’t bother you that you forgot to say Al Hamichya, but you can’t get over the fact that somebody else did an aveira?!”

      Now, here, he clearly says that the abuse is someone else’s aveirah. But again, he brings the al hamichya analogy, which is at best ambiguous. He says not saying Al Hamichya is your aveirah which is worse. Worse than what? What is he saying happened here?

      3) “The Alter Rebbe (Shneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad, 1745-1812) had to write a whole Tanya (a foundational work of Hasidism) to convince people if you have a machshava zarah (untoward thought), don’t freak out, you’re not a tzaddik (saint), it’s okay, you’re going to have a machshava zarah.”

      Again, he draws an analogy between being molested and committing a sin, here machshava zarah. He seems to be trying to reassure the victim that what they’ve done isn’t that bad, and that it’s okay not to be a tzaddik. Again, the implication is that the victim has done a sin, but a small one.

      4) “And if in fact you did do an aveiraI (sin), so now do two mitzvos (positive religious acts). Regain your balance!”

      This is the zinger. Here he is openly saying that it’s possible the victim committed a sin, but that it is easy to make up for it by doing mitzvos.

      5) “But, of course, saying “it’s not your fault,” does not help much because they know it wasn’t their fault.”

      So here he seems to be saying it’s not the victim’s fault. So why is he talking again and again about the level of the aveirah?

      6) “This is a Sefer Shel Beinonim (the portion of the book aimed at the average joe who is neither evil nor saintly). Beinonim (average) means damaged. [MF laughs, audience laughs] We’re all damaged goods.”

      Actually, Beinoni doesn’t mean “damaged” it means average, neither saintly nor evil, someone who commits sins but also does mitzvos. He equates this with the status of the victim and says “we are all like that”. It’s like the comparison to machshava Zarah. He’s telling the victim, “So you’re not an angel, but that’s okay”. Does that make sense to say to someone who is blameless?

      I will admit that I’m not familiar with Tanya. He does seem to be getting at some connection between aveirah and damage, regardless of whose fault the aveirah is. Is there a concept that someone else’s aveirah tarnishes you somehow? I can’t really reconcile that with what I’ve believed all my life about sachar v’onesh so I’m not going to try. Maybe under this value system it’s better for the victim to think that the other person’s aveirah isn’t that big. But if rape isn’t such a big aveirah, then what is? Rape by a family member would fall under the category of yehareg v’al ya’avor. What’s bigger than that? What if someone else does a really big aveirah to you, are you then more damaged? What consolation is it to the victim to diminish the seriousness of the aveirah, unless there is some implied blaming of the victim?

      And if I am misunderstanding, doesn’t it stand to reason that some of those thousands of abuse victims who came to him for advice, not to mention all the abuse victims that he is now trying to train other rabbis to counsel, would misunderstand? “And if in fact you did do an aveirah so now do two mitzvos”. How is anyone to understand that other than to believe that the victim is somehow responsible for the “aveirah” of being molested?

  7. V'hamaivin Yovin. says:

    Noteworthy to this thread:

    The Gemora Sahhedrin 73a presumes that murder is worse a prohibition then of rape on a betrothed women, and therefore derives that it is a Mitsva to kill a murderer (to save the victim) from the Mitsva to kill the rapist (to save her from being raped) in the case of a betrothed women.

    Tosfos questions the Gemora’s presumption as to why murder would be considered a worse prohibition then that of rape. Tosfos answers that the Torah was NOT concerned about the prohibition strictly; rather the Torah deemed it a Mitsvah to kill a rapist because of the immense (humiliating) pain suffered by the victim – “לאו פירכא היא דהכא לא קפיד קרא אאיסורא אלא אפגימ”

    Rashi concurs with Tosfos, stating, “It is only deemed (by the Torah) a MItsva to save the victim with the life of the perpetrator where there exists a sexual prohibition AND (the act) would inflict (immense) humiliation to the victim, such as a male (victim being raped) and a betrothed women”.

    אבל הרודף אחר בהמה.
    דלא ניתן להצילו בנפשו אלא מדברשהוא ערוה ויש בה קלון ופגם לנרדף כגון זכר ונערה המארוסה

    דלאו אורחה.
    ליבעל ואיכא בזיון ובשת גדול

  8. Benny Forer says:

    I have no problem publishing my name, because I have nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of. Rabbi (are you really one?) hides behind anonymity like a chicken. Why dont you reveal who you are if you think you are so right?? Because youre afraid.

    Not that I ever have to excuse my actions, but, I have no need for fame. I actually sent my letter to Manis 2 days beforehand (look at the date on the letter vs date it was posted). I gave him the curtesy but he did not issue any apology. As a result, it was requested that my letter be published, and I was happy to oblige. I stand by every word and will continue to do so.

    Lastly, regardless of whether something was said in public or in private, what was said was said. And, as a result, he harmed many people.

    Rabbi, if you really believe the way you are spewing, WHY DID MANIS APOLOGIZE? For what? What did he do wrong? And, if he did nothing wrong, why apologize? Unless, he’s apologizing for the story being made public. In which case, his apology is disingenous and a lie. Shame on you “Rabbi”. You’re no rabbi, youre a farce.

  9. The Rabbi's view says:

    Comment deleted for being a personal attack full of diversionary slander directed at Benny Forer who already answered his main points before. Trolling and haranguing are not a fair use of a shared comment space whose purpose is the exchange of views.

    Personal Addenda by Yerachmiel Lopin- I am astounded by the rude abusive style of Manis Friedman’s Chabad defenders. It seems that they can not cope with honest debate and criticism and feel they can bully others in social media space. They have their own propaganda organs (to use an old Soviet term). This is a space for civilized disagreement.

  10. Benny Forer says:

    I appreciate your rant. It only confirms the strengths of my convictions that I’m right. Thank you!

  11. Leah says:

    I believe that just one sentencem just one, that our esteemed Rabbi, Manis Friedman made, is sufficient to summarize his beliefs, and to put him perhaps in a category with a perpetrator, and that is “so nobody is allowed to touch you, are you so holy?”
    One might assume that the perpetrators and their protectors know that they have sinned, have committed an awful aveyrah, and secular crime of the highest degree, BUT Manis, thinks it’s just one of those everday events. In my mind, he is deluded in pursuing the aveyrah concept, who the, said that the victims feel that they committed a crime, but they bear the shame that society puts on them. And the Dean of Women at a prestigious Yeshiva has taken Manis’s frivolity one step further, she proclaims, that the victim has “besmirched herself and BY ASSOCIATION, the name of her peers”.:.
    Manis has empowered Ester to take it one more step into Gehennom.
    Maybe they BOTH can time share Weberman’s cell with him, he likely won’t live 103 years, or his reduced sentence. Manis’ apology is disingenuous, and so is the Dean’s. Neither has changed their beliefs, no one can do a 180 degree change in core beliefs due to external PR pressure. And i pray for their souls, that their familiies do never undergo any of this trivial meaningless, but shameful stuff. .

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