The Munkatcher Rebbe (Rabbi Moshe Yehuda Leib Rabinowitz) is the anti-mesirah (snitching) apostle of Boro Park. Where others are content to counsel this practice in private, he goes public thundering about those who commit mesirah and have the chutzpah to think it is a mitzvah (good deed). He declared that this is one of the major problems facing Jews in America. A week after that sermon he declared that G-d would take revenge on snitches and they would come to no good end.
You know the Rebbe is up to no good when he writes “I make clear my commitment and the obligation of all to respect the laws of this country.”
The occasion for this letter was a plea for mercy on William (Willie) Rapfogel who participated in a scheme which stole nine million dollars while being paid over $410,000 a year to lead the Metropolitan New York Council on Jewish Poverty. A rabbi is supposed to be gravely offended by those who steal charity dollars which belong to the poor.
But the Rebbe, who is thick as thieves with other beneficiaries of Met Council grants, cares more about the money they got than the theft. So he wrote all about Willie’s good deeds (as if he was working for free). But the really elegant part of the letter was the closer.
Now Willie finds himself in the midst of the most awful nightmare that could beset such a figure – not only the loss of credibility and the loss of his very good name, but being arraigned in a Court of Law, facing possible incarceration.
The Talmud states that a person does not sin unless a spirit of folly enters into him and I believe such a spirit wreaked havoc with William Rapfogel’s sense of proportion. However, as he confronted what has happened, as well as the shame that he has brought not only on himself but on his beloved wife and family – his remorse is palpable. It is not easy to see tears welling up in the eyes of grown man who has had such success and is now so broken.
I got to hand it to the Rebbe. He knows how to pull off a tear jerker. It sounds good until you deconstruct it. Once you do, you get to appreciate how the Rebbe can work so hard to defend every last Jewish crook, child molester and rapist. It is highfalutin rhetoric about the suffering of the criminal with nary a whisper of concern for the victims. The crime is trivialized as “folly” as if was the product of a bad day or mood. The tragedy is not his crime or his victims, but his pathetically reduced status and his fear of incarceration.
People often ask how orthodox leaders can shield molesters from the police and allow them to abuse more children. After reading this plea, the answer should be obvious.
PS I thank City & State for securing copies of these letters through Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests and follow-up. They also did excellent reporting on the unseemly aspects of this prosecution and the undue influence of powerful allies of Rapfogel, Sheldon Silver and others. The other letter writers are a virtual who’s who of the NYC political elite and Jewish leadership. See here, here, and here.
Update: One of my readers reminded me that the Munkatcher Rebbe’s girls school, Bais Fruma was spotlighted in a US Senate hearing for Pell Grant fraud. So much for his claim, “I make clear my commitment and the obligation of all to respect the laws of this country.”