Earlier this week (4/16/13) I posted “Broyde Criticized Internet Pseudonyms Before His Were Exposed.” It consisted of various quotes from emails from Rabbi Michael Broyde to an individual using the assumed name Purim Torah in which Broyde attacked the use of assumed names by this anti abuse activist who was making allegations about the mishandling of abuse within the main institutions of the modern orthodox world.
Broyde’s responses are of course of special interest right now in the aftermath of a scandal precipitated by the revelation that he abused fake internet identities. In the aftermath of these revelations he resigned his position on the Beit Din of America (BDA) and the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA)
Several bloggers and journalists asked me to provide the full exchange to provide context.
The correspondence was kicked off with an email sent out by Purim Torah just before Purim to key figures in the modern orthodox world including all the faculty of Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS). It also included Rabbi Broyde because of allegations by Mordechai Twersky that Broyde was falsely denying that he failed to respond to complaints about sexual abuse in YU’s high school.
This email used Purim torah satire to discuss the OU scandal of Baruch Lanner as well as the YU high school scandal involving rabbis Finkelstein and Gordon, and some other things. Broyde responded pugnaciously. The entire exchange is below for those who like to consider quotes in context.Purim Torah <email@example.com> to: Rabbi Michael Broyde JD <firstname.lastname@example.org> date: Wed, Feb 20, 2013 at 11:39 PM subject: Some serious Purim Torah Note: This email is being sent to all members of the RIETS faculty and selected other individuals using either their YU email or another email address they are known to actually use. On the Performance of Teshuvah Rabboisai, I come before you with Viduy, confession, for a sin I caused my entire Kehillah. I was Davening Shacharis for the Amud last week, leading the prayer service in honor of the Yuhrtzeit for my long departed cat, Baruch Shepatrani, when, as I was finishing Chatzi Kaddish immediately prior to Shmoineh Esrei, a fly landed on the Shtender at which I was Davening. Instinctively, I smacked hard on the Shtender, killing the fly. Unfortunately, this confused all 250 of my congregants, who as a result all recited Yaaleh VeYavoh, even though it was not Roish Chodesh or any other holiday. After Chazaras HaShatz half of the congregants began reciting Hallel. And ten members of the Kehilla ended up manically running home to build their Sukkahs, even though it is the middle of winter. I mention this story out of a sense of guilt, guilt for causing the Reboinoisheloilum’s name to be said in vain by the entire Shul. Guilt is a terrible burden. We are told of Moishe Rabbeinu that “Loi Kum B’Yisroel K’Moishe Oid”, no other person was ever able to achieve the greatness of Moses – The only man who ever saw God “Panim El Panim”, face to face. And yet the guilt associated with a minor transgression, the smiting of a rock instead of talking to it as commanded by the Aimishteh, was enough to keep Moishe out of the Promised Land, as well as deny him full pension benefits and healthcare for life. Sin and guilt are strong components of our Jewish tradition. Guilt runs deep in the psyche. It is a part of the human experience and cycle of behavior: appreciation of wrongs we have committed, and their implications, in order that we may do Teshuvah, perform penitence for our wrongdoings. And how does one do penitence? BiZman SheBais HaMikdash Hayah Kayum, at the time that the Temple stood in Jerusalem, penitence was done through animal sacrifice. Someone would commit a sin – say, be MeChallel Shabboskoidesh, violate the Sabbath – and he would repent by engaging a priest to bring a Karban Chatusssss, a penance offering, on his behalf. He would also customarily tip the priest 20 Zuzim and an Apple I-Tunes gift card. But after destruction of the Temple when we no longer have animal sacrifice, a man must commit penitence through prayer and fasting and the giving of charity. So, for example, if you, my dear reader, missed Zman Kriyas Shema, you should be Mispallel to Hakadoshboruchhu, fast next Monday, and write a check out to Chaburas Anshey Shimoin HaTzadik, preferably made out to its acronym, CASH. Bameh Devarim Amurim – When does this apply? When we are dealing with sins that are Bain Udum LaMakoim – sins that trespass on the precepts of the Reboinoisheloilum. Rules, so to speak, that are linked to religious practice, but have no impact on other human beings. However, when we discuss Bain Udum LeChaveiroi – sins of man against his fellow man — bringing a Karban or saying a few prayers is not enough. One cannot say “I am sorry” to Hakadoshboruchhu in order to be forgiven for his sins against another human being. It is an incomplete action – woefully inadequate. A Gemarrah in Baba Kamma describes the formula of payments that one must make in order to compensate for damages to another human being. They are: Nezek, Tza’ar, Ripuy, Shevess, and Boishes – Compensation for 1) the actual physical damage caused; 2) pain and suffering; 3) medical expenses resulting from the damage; 4) the loss of time associated with the recovery; and 5) embarrassment and humiliation. There are of course many types of sins, and many types of sinners. And there are also different kinds of guilt: The guilt of one who commits a crime; the guilt of one who enables a crime; and the guilt of the bystanders who do not help the victim and look the other way, even after the crime has been committed. Each of these archetypes must do Teshuvah. There is a famous Gemarrah in Moed Katan that tells the story of a Maaseh Shehoya in Sura in ancient Babylonia. In the town of Sura, Reb Baruch was known amongst his Talmidim as a despot. In his Yeshiva, which had both boys and girls, he would violently abuse the boys by, among other things, kicking them in the groin. And he would sexually abuse the girls, by allegedly grabbing at their chest, and doing things like going into their purses, pulling out their sanitary napkins and tampons, and waving them at the boys in an effort to sexually humiliate the girls. He also perpetually used the abusive and foul Aramaic language instead of the Loshon HaKoidesh expected of someone of his stature. One day Reb Baruch was brought before a Bias Din in which many of his Talmidim testified against him. He was, however, supported by many of the Amoraim, his rabbinical colleagues. He was ultimately exonerated of all of the charges, and the RCB (the Rabbinical Council of Babylon) declared that, “The Bias Din determined that the overall portrayal of Baruch was false, and that many of the charges were great exaggerated or distorted… In light of the P’Sak of the Bias Din, we, the members of the RCB, wish Rabbi Baruch continued success as Rav and Educator.” Shoyn. What a Kiddush Hashem! The only problem was that ten years or so later, the Judean Peoples Weekly published an expose on Rabbi Baruch, based on the testimony of many, many former students. An investigation by the Babylonian authorities ultimately led to Rabbi Baruch going to prison for 3 years. So, it turned out, all of the initial allegations against Reb Baruch were in fact true. The original Bias Din was completely mishandled. The Gemarrah goes on to discuss the culpability and Teshuvah of all of the members of the Bias Din and the Amoraim who supported Reb Baruch, as well as the impact of the findings on many of his Talmidim. Of the members of the Bias Din, Reb Yoisaif did full Teshuvah. He dedicated the rest of his life towards rooting out abuse of children and young adults throughout all of Babylonia. Reb Aaron, upon learning of the tragic error of the Bias Din, expressed extreme regret and died shortly afterwards of a broken heart. And Reb Haman, whom the Gemarrah suggests was allegedly responsible for swaying the initial outcome of the Bias Din, made a public apology after much pressure, and acknowledged that mistakes were made in the trial and that the Bias Din was ultimately flawed since no members of the Bias Din were experts in abuse. However, Reb Haman was later involved in another controversial Bias Din trial in which he had a personal conflict of interest. In addition, when a new Rosheshiva that he did not approve of was appointed at the Yeshiva in Pumbedisa, he led many Talmidim of the Yeshiva in Pumbedisa in saying Tehillim. Nice guy. According to a separately Medrish in Vayikra Rabbah, after 120 year, Reb Haman was sent straight to Gehennim, had a large skewer shoved through his body, had an apple stuck in his mouth, and was roasted over a fire for 1600 years and served to Hitler for Christmas dinner. The Amoraim, too, varied in their forms of Teshuvah. Reb Yossi expressed regret in front of his congregation and oriented his own Yeshiva towards operating in a manner where no abuses would be tolerated. Reb Shmuel allegedly denied any knowledge of the case, even though he was a signatory of the RCB letter and was its Sgan Nasi. According to RASHI, Reb Shmuel had perhaps forgotten his involvement in the case because of all of the Bsomim he smoked every day before Shacharis (Duuuuude!). Otherwise, it would be hard to account for such a memory loss. Finally, Reb Binyamin not only did not do Teshuvah, he opened his home to Reb Baruch for an extended period after Reb Baruch’s conviction, and later performed Reb Baruch’s second marriage. The Medrish in Vayikra Rabbah reports that after 120 years, Reb Binyamin went straight to Gehennim and spent the next 1000 years performing sexual favors for syphilitic, uncircumcised Romans. And what of the Talmidim? Many went on to become the Gedoilim of the next generation, despite their traumas. But some, like Reb Shabtai, lost his faith, and instead of having the joy of learning Toirah all day, was forced to work in a Madison Avenue medical practice and make seven figures every year, Rachmana Litzlan. ————— Rabboisai, Klal Yisroel, and in particular Klal Yisroel in America, is going through its Catholic Church moment: All elements of the Orthodox community, from the Chassidic community on one end of the spectrum to the Modern Orthodox community on the other end, are being inundated by reported cases of sexual abuse of minors. But instead of confronting this scourge, much of the community continues to ignore it and has entered into a “circle the wagons” mentality, perhaps to protect their friends, perhaps to protect their institutions. Even the great Yeshiva University, which holds itself up as the paragon of modern thought, is hesitant to publicize an internal investigation about two of its former faculty, and as a result is on the brink of losing what little credibility it has left on this issue. Without casting the light of day on ALL the details, on identifying the guilty, on encouraging victims to step forward, there is no real Teshuvah. And what of the victims –those who have stepped forward, and the many who have remained in the shadows? Where is their Nezek, Tza’ar, Ripuy, Shevess and Boishes? And even worse, what of the future victims? For sexual abusers of minors are serial predators, and every abuser left teaching in a classroom or working in a camp or other such institution is always seeking out more victims. Rabboisai, a community and a Rabbinate that does not change its behaviors is a community and a Rabbinate that has not done real Teshuvah. They can Klop as many Al Chayts as they want. They can recite Ashamnu, Bagadnu, Dibarnu Dofi from today until tomorrow, but the Reboinoisheloilum will be as deaf to them as they are to the cries of the past and future victims. They can keep Shabbos and Daven three times a day and keep kosher and say as many Brachois as they want and learn Toirah Yoimum VaLailah – day and night — but they are simply reciting Hakadoshboruchhu’s name in vain. And as a result, like Moishe Rabbeinu, they too will never truly reach the Promised Land. Ah Freilich Purim. ——- For those who are asking “What can I do?” here are a few ideas: — Contact the rabbi of your local synagogue and ask him/ her to call upon President Richard Joel of YeshivaUniversity to publish the findings of the current investigation in their entirely. — Contact the leaders of every Jewish movement, including Modern Orthodox, Yeshivish, Lubavitch, Satmar, etc. and ask them to speak up about the issue of sexual abuse in their communities. Communicate that sexual predators have the Halacha of Rodeph, and that the concern for Mesirah does not apply. We do not live in the Middle Ages. There is no excuse for cover ups. And anyone engaged in a cover up should be held accountable for the crime. — If you are a donor to any of these institutions, consider withholding any funding until a policy of transparency, support for victims, and collaboration with the authorities is put into place. — Parents: Please demand that your childrens’ schools do background checks on all school employees, including finger printing. If there is a credible suspicion or allegation about any teacher, that teacher must immediately be put on leave and out of contact with children. And appropriate legal authorities must be notified. — Every Orthodox (and non-Orthodox) Jewish school should have a program like the Aleinu Child Safety Institute’s Safety Kid program, and every Jewish camp should institute a program like the Aleinu Safe Camp program. For more information, go to http://www.jfsla.org/page.aspx?pid=238 — Additional resources may be found at http://www.rabbihorowitz.com/ — Finally, if you are personally aware of a case of abuse, please report it to the legal authorities as soon as possible. If the crime is beyond the statute of limitations, and the predator is in a position of access to children, please report the case to his employers. If they are unresponsive, please bring the case to the responsible Jewish media. ————— Rabbi Pinky Rosheshiva Yeshiva Chipas Emmess http://rabbi-pinky.blogspot.com/ from: Michael J. Broyde <email@example.com> to: Purim Torah <firstname.lastname@example.org> date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 7:08 AM subject: Re: Some serious Purim Torah Anything serious and of value is not hidden behind the veil of anonymous nonsense. Sign your name if you wish to join the conversation. MJB Michael J. Broyde Professor of Law EmoryUniversitySchool of Law Atlanta, GA30322 V: 404-727-7546; F: 404-727-4705; C: 917-208-5011; E: email@example.com . http://www.law.emory.edu/faculty/faculty-profiles/michael-j-broyde.html from: Purim Torah <firstname.lastname@example.org> to: “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org> date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 8:25 AM subject: Re: Some serious Purim Torah Rabbi Broyde, We speak on behalf of the anonymous victims of child sexual abuse, past and future. We thought about signing our names, but deferred to the precedent set by the OU in 2000 in issuing a minimalist, redacted report that kept the web of Lanner support and misdeeds out of the light of day. The onus is on YU and EVERY educational institution to bring the light of day on the heinous crimes that leave lifelong victims. The short term uncomfortable consequences of true transparency will be far outweighed by the long term impact of setting a precedent for putting the rights and needs of the victims above those of the perpetrators and the institutions they hide behind. Only YU can decide how to address the issue of transparency. Do you want to be affiliated with the likes of the Vatican and Satmar? Only YU can decide…. from: Broyde, Michael <email@example.com> to: Purim Torah <firstname.lastname@example.org> date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 10:09 AM subject: RE: Some serious Purim Torah Your reply is nonsense. The OU report that was published listed the members of the committee and who is responsible for the report. The truth is that anonymous emails accomplish nothing, as no one takes them seriously. If you want to be part of the solution, you need to step forward and take a position. Otherwise, you are part of the problem of those who stand by silently. Do not think you can vindicate yourself of your responsibility to do the right and proper with anonymous rants? Stand up and be counted. Or, you can tuck your tail between your legs and get out of the kitchen — but anonymous posts are no help at all. MJB Michael J. Broyde Professor of Law EmoryUniversitySchool of Law 1301 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA30322 Voice: 404 727-7546; Fax 404-727-4705; Email: email@example.com from: Purim Torah <firstname.lastname@example.org> to: “Broyde, Michael” <email@example.com> date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 11:03 AM subject: Re: Some serious Purim Torah And what would you characterize as the institution’s responsibility on this issue? And your own responsibility? Are you blaming the victims for their lifelong trauma and fear? Does that absolve the institution, and its members, from pushing for change and being transparent? Mordechai Twersky was not anonymous. The people interviewed for the hidden 350 page OU report were not anonymous. How many more victims must there be for the institution to act? Or do you believe in a continued culture of whitewash and coverups? from: Broyde, Michael <firstname.lastname@example.org> to: Purim Torah <email@example.com> date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 12:52 PM subject: RE: Some serious Purim Torah I have written my views with my name on it many times: http://torahmusings.com/2013/01/report-abuse-to-police-not-rabbis/ http://torahmusings.com/2012/05/reporting-abuse-2/ http://www.jlaw.com/Articles/mesiralaw2.html and many other times. I am not afraid to be quoted in public on this matter. Not you. You hide who you are and what your agenda really is. Transparency starts with you, if you wish to be a participant. MJB Michael J. Broyde Professor of Law EmoryUniversitySchool of Law 1301 Clifton Road, Atlanta, GA30322 Voice: 404 727-7546; Fax 404-727-4705; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org from: Purim Torah <email@example.com> to: “Broyde, Michael” <firstname.lastname@example.org> date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 2:15 PM subject: RE: Some serious Purim Torah This is not about who we are. Rather, this is about whether or not the intellectual leadership of YU, the people who claim to be the heirs to the legacy of the Rav, will show moral leadership. from: Michael J. Broyde <email@example.com> via srs.bis6.us.blackberry.com reply-to: firstname.lastname@example.org to: Purim Torah <email@example.com> date: Thu, Feb 21, 2013 at 6:16 PM subject: Re: Some serious Purim Torah “This” is about the email you wrote. That is why I wrote to you. You are trying to voice an opinion about matters, but your opinion is not of much value because your identity is unknown. MJB Michael J. Broyde Professor of Law EmoryUniversitySchool of Law Atlanta, GA30322 V: 404-727-7546; F: 404-727-4705; C: 917-208-5011; E: firstname.lastname@example.org . http://www.law.emory.edu/faculty/faculty-profiles/michael-j-broyde.html from: Purim Torah <email@example.com> to: “firstname.lastname@example.org” <email@example.com> date: Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 5:02 PM subject: Re: Some serious Purim Torah Rabbi Dr. Broyde, We cannot help but see the irony in the fact that the renowned scholar who criticized our efforts to raise awareness about sexual abuse and cover ups in the Orthodox community has been proven a fraud. Did you not write less that two months ago, “You are trying to voice an opinion about matters, but your opinion is not of much value because your identity is unknown.” Where is your integrity, Rabbi Doctor? Have you treated Piskey Halachah, life and death decisions, marital issues, and the issue of the handling of sexual abuse of minors in Jewish institutions with the same lack of of intellectual honesty as you have your “other” academic and scholarly concerns? The tears of the victims are pouring down, and you have been more concerned with your own personal ambitions. “This is Torah and this is its reward?”