Feeling Foolish: A Rabbi’s Reckless Rampage

As of last week since I wrote about a certain YouTube “rabbi” (in quotations, as I have a hard time calling him that) and the uproar he’s caused, the feedback I’ve been getting (pro and con) is that it has made some impact. As a matter of fact, a few days later this “rabbi” by means of a third party issued a half-hearted and forced apology juxtaposed with denials of culpability claiming he’s been taken out of context.

He essentially apologizes for something he has nothing to apologize for. He assigns his problems to people who harass him on a regular basis. They simply dice and splice his words (not the first time he uses this excuse, almost verbatim) and edit it to make him look like a bad person.
The sheer nonsense of the claim and other similar remarks made by him (or is it all spliced and diced?). The fact that he denies having said it and then apologizes for having said it makes it all so specious, cowardly and totally unacceptable. Not to mention that this apology is halachically fraudulent!!

I would like to explain in simple words to those who have asked me personally and to those defending him for his other many “merits” why this has so disturbed me, what makes this whole episode so damaging and why I won’t stop shouting at the top of my lungs.

If his words were merely an insult to the sainted souls I wouldn’t be churning the waters. I’d let those souls demand their “pound of flesh”. They can adequately defend themselves. I don’t envy him at all. But he’s too stupid and arrogant to realize it.

There’s an old maxim: “Shoteh eino margish” – “a fool doesn’t ‘feel’.” He neither “feels” the shame he brings upon himself and is incapable of understanding the damage he inflicts on others. Like a pathological liar he cannot think about anyone but himself and whatever it takes to defend his position. To apologize, therefore, means to confront himself. Problem is, it’s too dark and difficult. He cannot do it. It would be the ruination of the mirage he’s fought so hard to project.

This leads to another maxim from our Chazal, “Who is the fool? One who loses what is given him!” Because he doesn’t sense the truth about himself he cannot feel the pain of others and ultimately loses everything. He lost what was given to him and he has nothing left to give.

There’s a story about someone who became upset at his rabbi and started spreading spurious rumors about him (what’s new). Subsequently, he regretted his behavior and went to the rabbi to apologize. The rabbi told him “before I can forgive you I want you to bring me a pillow from your house.” When he did, the rabbi walked outside and proceeded to rip the pillow to shreds and the feathers went flying all over the place. He turned to the individual and said “when you can retrieve all the feathers and stuff them back in the pillow I’ll forgive you.”

Essentially, this is the response I and every Jew should have for this “rabbi” and his apology. When he spoke his words in public via YouTube it was a public sensation seen by many. This includes anti-Semites who are always looking for any excuse to mitigate Jewish suffering and defend their evil forebears.

His words, heard and seen by thousands, are virtually the very same utilized by countless Jew haters and oppressors over the last half century and has given them the ammunition to reinforce their propaganda. A tepid apology through a third-party accompanied with justifications absolves him of nothing! How is this sufficient?! How does this remove and reverse what so many have seen and heard?!

At a minimum how can this be laid to rest without a clear and categorical recantation and apology?! If there is any halachah that allows for less than that I’d like to see it.

I beseech all who feel this way and realize the transgression and danger for what it is to raise a hue and cry. Not just for the countless souls who have suffered and sacrificed. Don’t worry for them. They’re basking in the glory of G-d’s Light. Something this rabbi knows nothing about. But on behalf of their progeny, us, who are endangered once again because of this foolish, ignorant and egotistical “rabbi” who has a megaphone to spew poison and slander.

The same old tired excuses are unacceptable! It works once or twice but not every time criticism comes his way. It’s time to make restitution. It’s time for him as well to heed our sages’ admonition not to desecrate G-d’s Name in public, perhaps the worse sin a Jew can commit, due to careless and thoughtless words.

Keeping his mouth shut altogether regarding such issues would’ve been most prudent. He hasn’t! Hopefully now it has caught up to him. Maybe he’ll do the right thing this time and maybe there’ll be an end to his type of “torah” altogether.

About the Author
Graduate of the Rabbinical College of Greater Miami and Central Lubavitch Yeshivah in NY. Rabbi in Hollywood, FL leading its community as the Chabad Emissary and member of Florida Friends of Lubavitch for over 25 years. "Father and grandfather is something I'm most proud of and strive to get better."
Related Topics
Related Posts