Beth Din for Rabbi Manis Friedman?

Someone pointed me to an extract which described a purported letter from Manny Waks of Tzedek, where Manny’s organisation calls on two Botei Din to censure Rabbi Friedman. I hadn’t seen this alleged letter when I posted my thoughts on the topic. Let’s assume the letter is legitimate.

Let’s also assume that the purpose of the letter is to ask Rabbi Manis to retract the what I described as “crass and unsophisticated” comments he had made. In two paragraphs, Manny allegedly wrote (I’ve emboldened some key words)

Most concerning, he is having a direct, damaging impact on victims and survivors of child sexual abuse and their families. Some of those who have not yet addressed their abuse will think twice before taking any measures to obtain justice and to alleviate their pain and suffering. And some of those who have already taken measures will be self-critical.

I can only hope and pray that Rabbi Friedman’s remarks do not cause victims additional trauma, potentially leading to extreme consequences.

I do not believe for one minute that a Beth Din making an order to Rabbi Manis, and he acting on this order will cease “causing victims additional trauma.” It could be equally argued that victims will look at both the comments made by Rabbi Manis and any retraction or apology as being in the same category: “simply too far-fetched to be believed or taken seriously”.

If I am beaten black and blue by a thug, and spend 2 years in hospital, and end up with a prosthetic device all my life to help me walk, and somebody says “be happy you didn’t die” or “you know some people are worse off than you” then I may be very upset, very angry, very hurt and more. I might even curse the person as being over simplistic. If that person is then called to a Beth Din by an organisation responsible for helping those who have been mugged recover from their mental trauma and that person is forced to apologise, then I’m not likely to consider it real or likely to “feel better” or feel more inclined to report a previously unreported attack on me. Would you?

Let’s be clear: I’m not making comparisons of the psychological after-effects of different trauma-causing cataclysms. They will differ by trauma and victim. I am commenting on what I think is common human nature.

There are other ways to address Rabbi Manis’s offensive words. The Beth Din, in the context, would not have been my chosen approach. I’m baffled as to what the local sydney beth din has to do with it. As far as I know, Manny lives in Melbourne, and there are victims in many countries. Perhaps a group approach would have been better?

Either way, this issue is really one that should be dealt with by those who Rabbi Manis considers as his Mashpiim. After all, the last Lubavitcher Rebbe ז’ל issued a clear missive that each Chossid should have three Rabbonim/Mashpiim who they should turn to when/if they face issues that need advice or experience conundra and the like. The Lubavitcher Rebbe was clearly talking about the period after his own passing, and made this request first after the Shiva of his own wife, on Motzei Shabbos in a hidden (but now published Sicha) entitled בואו ונחשוב חשבונו של עולם. I don’t have a link to it, but I know it’s available and now published at the back of Toras Menachem. I believe there is an audio and possibly a video of this Sicha. If I recall he said it at the bottom of the stairs in 770. Allegedly, the LR asked for this Sicha to be sent to him for correction, but his Askanim refrained from doing so because? it implied there was a process after he passed away.

Anyway, Good Shabbos to all.

Author: pitputim

I'm a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia. I skylark as the band leader/singer for the Schnapps band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel.

5 thoughts on “Beth Din for Rabbi Manis Friedman?”

    1. [Edited]

      Manny Waks behaves as if he is the appointed spokesperson for all victims everywhere. Doesn’t Manny realise that there are victims who not only had no issue with what Rabbi Friedman said but even agreed with it? Does he want us to believe all victims think the same, they all are exactly like him? Does he play us for fools?

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      1. I’d suggest that most victims would not identify with the “it’s not so bad, get over it” style of approach, let alone one which attempted to ascribe severity of trauma based on the Torah punishment. I’m not sure there is any source in Halacha which says that Trauma and its recovery is proportional to the type of punishment a perpetrator might get.

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