How Did Rabbis Determine Someone Was a Miscreant before Electronic Recording?

Mordechai Tendler

Mordechai Tendler

In three important cases, rabbis relied on audio or video recordings to publicly denounce rabbis or force them to resign. I am referring to Rabbi Mordechai Tendler, Rabbi Leib Tropper and, most recently, Rabbi Dovid Weinberger. In each case, dozens of victims had complained to many rabbis, but to no avail, until the recordings surfaced.

Leib Tropper

Leib Tropper

The technology for audio recording is about a century old. Only in recent decades has recording capability become cheap, inconspicuous, and ubiquitous. But we know that rabbinic misconduct did not suddenly start a few years ago.

Rabbi Dovid Weinberger

Rabbi Dovid Weinberger

We know that Jewish law empowers communities to remove religious functionaries (e.g., rabbis, teachers, ritual slaughterers) for misconduct. We know that rabbis and communal leaders have “fired” functionaries in various times and places over the centuries (e.g, Shoel Umeishiv in 19th century Lvov/Lemberg).

So I have to ask how was it done before they had electronic recordings. Put differently, why are hyper-traditionalist rabbis demanding newfangled forms of electronic evidence and not using the old methods?

Cassette audio