A Rasha Was Buried Today in the Satmar Cemetery

Rabbi Lipa (Leopold) Margulies died and Yeshiva World News ran the headline: “Petira of HaRav Chanaya Yom Tov Lipa Margulies ZT”L” 

Normally, like any decent Jew I don’t believe in saying bad things about a niftar on the day of his levaya and kevurah. After all, even a man hanged by beis din is not left out unburied. But nowhere does it say that we call that man a tzadik. If we start calling criminals tzadikim, the kovod of real tzadikim is cheapened. 

Some will say, but wasn’t he a marbitz torah? Didn’t his Yeshiva Torah Temimah provide a fine chinuch for many children from Flatbush and beyond. And yes, for some it did. But for others it was a torture chamber. The torturer was Rabbi Yehuda Kolko and the chamber master who allowed it was Lipa Margulies.

Some will say it was only a minor problem, that it was nisht geferlich. Some of you don’t know the facts. So I will not be subtle for those who missed a story well known for fifteen years. Kolko groomed children and then he pushed them against his body, held on to their genitals and groaned and pushed his erection against them until he ejaculated. He did it over and over to individual children and did it to dozens of children, maybe even hundreds. Rabbonim going back to Rav Avigdor Miller begged Lipa to fire Kolko. Some askanim were even willing to buy out Kolko and set him up to make money in some way that did not involve children. But Lipa refused. Over and over, he fought back using all sorts of dirty tricks. He kept Kolko employed until the Brooklyn DA finally charged Kolko with abuse. Lipa is guilty of the retzichah of neshomos for thirty years. 

Calling such a man a tzadik is an offense to tzedek, tzidkus, and yashrus. I can hear people saying, what’s about teshuvah? What’s about death being mechaper? What’s about letting the aibishter decide about the balance of his good and evil. I can’t answer those questions. Nor can those who defend him. 

But calling him a tzadik is a grave insult to his victims. I can say that calling him a tzadik will add another sin to his already troubled cheshbon. The Walder affair should have taught us the danger of protecting the reputation of abusers.

It is sad that the civil courts serve up more emes and yashrus than the frum leadership which never denounced Lipa. Torah Temimah has already settled two lawsuits for a combined total of about two million dollars. They have about another half dozen lawsuits pending

This money won’t cure the pain of the Kolko survivors but it will help them manage the consequences of how abuse hurt their education, careers, earnings, physical and mental health, marriages, etc.

What would also help Kolko and Margulies’ victims is a public that refuses to give Lipa praise. I know it is not realistic to expect Yeshiva World News, or Hamodia, to announce “a rasha croaked yesterday.” Even silence would be welcome. Instead, the frum world that colluded with Lipa during his life  is once again covering up the crime by praising him as a tzadik.  

Letting a rasha be buried as a tzadik causes needless additional pain for victims. That is not right. So about his death I will say the truth that many others know- I am sorry there wasn’t a headline, “One Less Rasha in the World.”

4 thoughts on “A Rasha Was Buried Today in the Satmar Cemetery

  1. Pingback: A Time for Joy: Rape-Enabling Rosh Yeshiva Lipa Margulies Finally Dies - Hyehudi.org

  2. When will we all admit the truth? When will the abuse stop?! When will our people finally stand up and say “Enough!”

    At 61 years of age, I am now in law school hoping to end this tragedy upon graduation. Might not have many years left, relatively speaking, but someone’s got to act.

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