Michoel Macher, Special Corespondent for the Jewish Depress
Rabbi Jacob Perlow, Head of the Moetzes of Agudath Israel of America advised his members not to call 911 even if chased by a knife wielding murderer. He explained that this leads to confusion about mesirah (snitching). If people can take it upon themselves to decide when to call 911 on potential murderers they may also decide on their own to call the authorities about molesters. Instead they should call Hatzalah, the Shomrim or their personal posek. Hatzalah and Shomrim will in turn consult, as needed, with poskim. Before calling 911 a determination needs to be made whether the threat comes from a Jew or a non-Jew, whether that person can be induced to do tshuvah, and whether the potential assailant is likely to do this again. Rabbi Perlow declared, “These are complicated questions beyond dass baalabatim (the knowledge of lay people). Instead frum Jews should rely on daas torah, most of which is concentrated inside the Moetzes.
Rabbi Perlow assured this reporter that responses to question will be delivered on a timely basis. However, he emphasized that there is some tradeoff between quick decisions and good decisions. He recognized that the wait can be excruciating for someone in middle of being stabbed 59 times in his abdomen but consoled them with the thought that those who sacrifice for torah observance will eventually be rewarded. For the stabbing victim that reward might come very quickly.
Shomrim representative Mr Yitzchok Shpeter said he would share videos with the police when halachically justified and when it would not hurt any marriages. He was asked about whether he would turn over tapes when a husband killed a wife. He evaded the question and said, “You are showing a negative outlook. We try to be positive and concentrate on shalom bayis (marital harmony).” He angrily terminated the interview when the reporter asked, “How there can be bayis for shalom when the spouse is dead?”
Mr. Ben Hirsch, of Survivors for Justice, emphatically rejected the ruling as contradicting halachah on pikuach nefesh and ignoring the halachah that abusers needed to be reported to the police to protect other potential victims. But Rabbi Perlow rejected Mr Hirsch’s views because “he has an agenda.” Rabbi Perlow said, “It is a slippery slope from persecuting a knife wielder to prosecuting a talmid chacham based on sordid charges.
Mr. Michael Chiloni of the ACLU applauded Rabbi Perlow’s concern for the rights of defendants and tried to establish a chapter of the ACLU in Boro Park in cooperation with Rabbi David Zweibel. Initial contacts were amiable. But Rabbi Zweibel felt he had to pass on the plan when he realized that these civil liberty rights would also be extended to non-Jews.
District Attorney Charles J Hynes insisted the Orthodox approach was misguided but said he would only prosecute them if he could prove that they violated the law and could find two adult witnesses who would confirm the charges. He admitted it would be easier for him to find Jimmy Hoffa’s body. He added, “They are worse than the mafia, but what can I do. Besides, they vote for me.”