My Nom De Plume Exposed

 

20130412-190057.jpgGuest post by R. Michael J. Broyde

Starting about twenty years ago, I and a friend occasionally used a pseudonym to write about matters of halacha and Jewish public policy. The views expressed were not reflective of an overall joint ideology, but we wished to write together on some matters where we shared a common interest. This pen name — Hershel Goldwasser — had a literary career for about 15 years, and included letters to the editor to various Torah publications as well as other blog comments, publications and emails; he ceased writing substantively a few years ago. We even joined a professional organization that interested us and which we had considered actually joining, and participated in their email list. No malice was ever intended and our participation was always intended to foster vigorous conversation about ideas and approaches to halacha that we thought needed to be addressed. Nor was this a deep and dark secret – many people knew about this pseudonym including some e-mail recipients. My eldest son reminded me that I used to occasionally sign his homework that needed to be returned to school with “Hershel Goldwasser” as a joke.

All of this stopped a few years ago, as we both just outgrew this form of intellectual writing without attribution and we both understood that this conduct was no longer appropriate.

Recently, someone started posting and emailing others using this pen name in a variety of forums. While the irony of having a pen name stolen is at some level worthy of a smile, I am now concerned that this pen name is being used to falsely attribute to me ideas that truly are not mine. In fact, nothing written in these recent past under this name is by either one of us.

On Wednesday, April 10, 2013 a reporter called me out of the blue and asked if I was behind this pen name. I felt that I had no choice but to temporarily deny any involvement until I consulted with my writing partner. He still wishes to remain anonymous. The next day I contacted the Hirhurim blog to arrange for a statement on the matter to appear next week. The published story on Friday preempted that. It was both silly and a mistake for me to lie to the reporter, and I hope I have learned from that.

I do not think I want to get into a spitting match with anyone, so I just share my basic explanation of what happened. My general rule in life is to justify the good things and apologize for the mistakes and I continue that here.

  1. It was an error of judgment on our part to join any professional organization. We did so in an era in which membership was not verified at all and no fee was charged, but it was still something that my own rabbayim would not approve of and thus I regret. I am truly and genuinely sorry for this.
  2. Stories that were told using that pseudonym were all stories that one of us had heard as a child from a generation of torah scholars now gone; the stories about Rav Moshe are particularly so.
  3. I regret the occasional “sock puppeting” but it does not seem extremely harmful and is quite common. With hindsight, I am sure that this was a mistake, too – but anyone who has read the comments section of the Orthodox Jewish blog world knows that they are very harsh and unkind. I erred by sometimes saying something nice or validating in order to change the conversational tone. I do regret it.
  4. Writing on torah matters through a pseudonym is an old practice and done for a variety of reasons. In Halachic matters, the practice is cited approving by the Magen Avraham. Many have done this and I see no need to apologize for it. Professor Marc Shapiro once told me that a list of such figures includes the Ben Ish Chai and many others; all greater than me. He also called my attention to the book Otzar Beduyei Hashem by Shaul Chajes, which is an exhaustive list of individuals who used pen names. Finally, Shapiro informed me that the Aderet published a book anonymously, and included his own haskamah to the book (referring to himself in exalted language). My friends have told me about several contemporary talmidei chachamim who regularly write under pseudonyms. Many secular writers have done such as many can see as well.
  5. There were many fine reasons for creating this pseudonym, and this one was suggested to us many years ago. Basically we were told that given the level of unpleasant discourse in our Orthodox Jewish community, some things just need to be said pseudonymously.

But yet, it does strike me as somewhat inappropriate for me, and I particularly regret joining any professional organization pseudonymously.

I publicly express here my apologies to those who were deceived by my pseudonymous writing.

 

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316 Responses

  1. [...] Rabbi Broyde speaks! Tweet reddit_url = [...]

  2. Not impressed says:

    Explanation 02 holds no water with me. You repeated stories about gedolim that you heard as hearsay and purported to have witnessed them first hand. That is complete falsehood and dishonesty, and I see no toelet at all in the propagation of such lies. What is your reasoning? Your excuse? It shows a pathological level of mendacity as it did nothing to further your cause of writing on Torah matters under a pseudonym.

  3. talmid says:

    What does “sock puppeting” mean?

  4. zach says:

    “Not impressed”. This one doesn’t bother me so much because it is obvious that so many “gedolim stories” are fabricated.

  5. Moe says:

    How do you justify your self-praise and promotion?

  6. Not impressed says:

    But this is a flat out lie by a man of (formerly?) great stature. How to excuse??

  7. proudjew says:

    This article is not a real apology. You did something stupid and got caught, time to stop using lawyer language and start being honest. You could have said no comment to the reporter but you continued the lie and just made it worse. You have embarrassed the modern orthodox community to the world and you should resign your post as a dayan immediately.

  8. DJ says:

    Imagine how upset people would be if a member of the IRF had infiltrated the RCA and harassed its members?!? This is wrong and the RCA must take a stand for once. Does the RCA believe in ethics and doing what’s right or will they continue defend their members who publically embarrasses them and the Torah? Broyde can apologize but can he ever be trusted again?

  9. The Dude says:

    This is too weird.

    Why couldn’t you just use a normal name like “The Dude?”

  10. Shlomo says:

    Recently, someone started posting and emailing others using this pen name in a variety of forums. … In fact, nothing written in these recent past under this name is by either one of us.

    How recent? Including anything mentioned in the article?

  11. Nachum says:

    May I ask a rude question? After all this, why should we believe that the “co-author” exists and is not a post-facto excuse for the, ahem, story given to Weiss and only made up once exposure was made? There’s no mention of a second IP address, and the supposed wishes of the co-author ended up not being considered. And we can usually tell if something is the result of more than one author.

  12. Baruch Alster says:

    First R. Bernheim, now this? What’s happening with the MO rabbis?

  13. Moshe Shoshan says:

    ” And we can usually tell if something is the result of more than one author.”

    Really? not in my experience reading biblical criticism…

  14. Observant Jew says:

    G Pickholz, are you saying “very valid point” to “Israel Fathers Rights Advocacy Council”?

  15. zalman says:

    isn’t Pickholz the chairman of the “Israel Fathers Rights Advocacy Council”?

  16. Shachar haamim says:

    I’m ok with blogging pseudonymously. I do it myself :-)
    But I don’t buy into the co- writer bit. The Dayan is really asking too much of us if he wants us to believe that bit.
    I had a teacher at YU who wrote letters to the editor under assumed names. Some of them were quite amusing choices.
    I’m sure there were more people who did this.

  17. Yosef Klein says:

    Is this even news? A man of great Torah stature wanted to engage in halakhic debate with a certain group of people. This has been done for over 2000 years, and it has never been a problem before. It is obvious that a lot of the posts above and probably soon to be below are attempting to slander a great Rabbi’s name. Before you post you should learn the Halakhas of Lashon Hora in order to prevent yourself from an aveira. I have known Rabbi Broyde long enough to know that his reasoning behind this was strictly for the advancement of Torah and the Jewish people, and I challenge anyone to prove elsewise.

  18. Elli Fischer says:

    One clear takeaway from this: the International Rabbinic Fellowship (IRF) is a complete joke. I’m not the biggest an of the RCA, but when I joined I had to present credentials and obtain recommendations from two members. Only then was I added to the listserv.
    But to get into the IRF, apparently, one need not be an Orthodox rabbi. One need not even exist. Though I’m sure they’ll all be outraged, and write op-eds, when their conversions aren’t accepted. What a joke.

  19. Yehuda says:

    A gadol who makes a mistake does not take away his gadlus all the more when it is not a serious mistake and his kavanah was leshem shamayim. R. Broyde is a big Talmud chachum and a erlicher yid a little more respect shoul be shown to him.

  20. Avrohom says:

    There are plenty of people in our long and glorious history that made mistakes, apologised and kept going and acting in their position. It is of course a stain on Rabbi Broide’s personal history, which I am sure he feels, but should not prevent him from continuing in his current role. The stain is actually useful because it keeps our leaders humble. Dovid Hamelech is an excellent paradigm.

    It is a shame that Rabbi Broide made that silly choice in the past, but I hope he can continue with a new insight into man’s fallability and go on to contribute to the Jewish people in even more ways than he has previously.

  21. talmid says:

    Elli Fischer – excellent point! How can a rabbinic organization not at least ask for a copy of one’s ordination?

  22. Jacob says:

    It seems tragically clear that Rabbi Broyde still does not get it. Is this person fit to be anyone’s posek. And for those defending him, please note that a few days ago he wrote that he himself was the greatest thing to ever happen to Modern Orthodoxy. Unless, that is, you believe that someone else has been writing these odes to Broyde’s greatness. This is very, very sad.

  23. Hirhurim says:

    Jacob: I can prove that wasn’t R. Broyde

  24. lamedzayin says:

    It seems very likely that the recent commenter was not him considering that someone has also used that name to mock him in the comments section of the original article.

  25. Hirhurim says:

    Nachum: After all this, why should we believe that the “co-author” exists and is not a post-facto excuse for the, ahem, story given to Weiss and only made up once exposure was made?

    That’s a valid question and one that can be remedied with a little more time. However, look at the apology without that aspect. It isn’t any more or less powerful without the co-writer.

  26. Not impressed says:

    How is anyone impressed with this apology? This is a non-apology apology at its worst. Also: this isn’t about Broyde writing anonymously. This is about Broyde sock puppeting to bolster his own image, having been caught in numerous outright lies, infiltrating a rival organization which he regularly denigrates… Shall I go on??

  27. Not impressed says:

    “However, look at the apology without that aspect. It isn’t any more or less powerful without the co-writer.”

    You are correct. I think it is not a powerful apology with ot without the second writer. It does nothing to explain the toelet behind the elaborate dishonesty he engaged in that went far beyond simply writing opinions under a “non de plume”.

  28. Baruch says:

    Because of a personal encounter I had with R. Broyde, I will never fully respect him. I was very glad he didn’t receive the chief rabbi position in England.

  29. Glatt some questions says:

    I’ve got no problem with Rabbi Broyde blogging anonymously under a pseudonym…my guess is dozens of prominent Orthodox rabbis do the same thing…many to further their own agendas.

    Where he crossed the line was using a fake identity on a rabbinic listserv that requires individuals to list their real identity.

    And while Rabbi Broyde definitely was wrong in doing this, I also hold the IRF (the rabbinic organization he joined under a false name) responsible for allowing this to happen, and not making an effort to properly vet the individual who joined.

    Perhaps the IRF can explain how they allowed something like this to happen.

  30. Hirhurim says:

    Not Impressed: Look at points 1 & 3. They are literally apologies for the points you raise. How is it a non-apology?

  31. Yaakov Komisar says:

    Elli Fischer:

    Broyde refers to joining the IRF listserv back when it was in its infancy. At that time, before the official founding of the organization, there were no by-laws or anything of the sort. It was simply a listserv. I was not then a member, so I don’t know what the requirements were to join. I believe that the handful of members from that era were possibly grandfathered into the listserv after the by-laws were passed and the organization became official. (that is my understanding, anyway)

    By the time I joined, long after “Goldwasser,” but still quite a few years ago, I had to submit an application along with copies of my semichot. The application process to join the IRF was pretty much parallel to the application process to join the RCA (which I ultimately declined to do, because of disagreements with certain policies).

    I urge you to a) not judge an organization based on what happened before it was officially founded, and b) to contact the leadership of the organization and find out how membership works, etc… before casting aspersions, especially in a public forum. It’s simply good form.

    You can contact any of the leadership or board members: http://www.internationalrabbinicfellowship.org/leadership

  32. Hirhurim says:

    R. Komisar: I did not know that. That sounds like important mitigating information regarding what R. Broyde did.

  33. IH says:

    Gil — I think your initial position (“Nothing on that story over the weekend. There’s no rush.”) was correct.

    —–

    Elli Fischer — And what of the OU, then: http://tinyurl.com/cjul7ly ???

  34. Do the right thing says:

    I very much want to be dan l’kaf zechut in this case, but it is extremely difficult to do so for several reasons:
    1. A true apology does not attempt to portray oneself as a victim- “I am now concerned that this pen name is being used to falsely attribute to me ideas that truly are not mine.”
    2. A true apology does not seek to minimize wrongdoing. Instead of accepting wrongdoing fully, this is an exercise in damage control. This was not a lapse in judgement. This was long-term ethically repugnant behavior.
    3. The claim of a “partner” is a clear attempt to minimize wrongdoing. If there is a partner, it is not as much of a pathological, self-aggrandizing scheme. Instead it almost sounds normal- me and a friend wanted to write with a pseudonym. But there is zero evidence that there is anyone else and there is no reason to believe that there is anyone else.
    4. What else did Rabbi Broyde do as Hershel Goldwasser? How many people did he email over the years with this pseudonym? He has zero ne’emanut at this point.
    5. How can he remain as a Dayyan given these severe ethical lapses?
    6. The right thing to do is for Rabbi Broyde to fully admit his wrongdoing and to resign as a dayyan. He threatens the credibility of RCA/Beit Din of Maerica etc., if he doesn’t.

  35. doesntseethebigdeal says:

    to criticisms that he used this identity to tout and defend himself, he has great precedent in the rashba’s misheres habayis which was written as a defense of himself against the ra’ah’s bedek habayis which itself was a critique of the rashba’s toras habayis – all without identifying himself as the author

  36. Asher Nasi Yecheta says:

    I guess I am still confused about the sockpuppeting claims, along the lines of “RMB is the smartest/greatest ever”. The original story claimed that a number of these linked back to RMB’s email. Does RMB deny this, admit this, or has yet to address it. IMHO, if true this aspect is troubling especially for a dayan

  37. Ruvie says:

    Gil- ” That sounds like important mitigating information regarding what R. Broyde did.”

    In what way does that make ethically ok. If the door to a house is left wide open is ok to steal anything from the house?

  38. Not impressed says:

    It is a non-apology because he explains the whole elaborate fraud as being l’toelet to keep discourse civil etc. and by doing that minimizes the extreme dishonesty he practiced for years that had no toelet (the rmf story is the most stunning IMO). He apologizes while he justifies. That’s like when someone says “I’m sorry I insulted you but you really deserved it”. It’s a mealy-mouthed way to apologize.

  39. joel rich says:

    I don’t know the right thing for R’ Broyde to do, I do know for me (and maybe others) it might be worthwhile to use this as an opportunity to think about our own ongoing actions in light of what I call at work “the Wall Street Journal Test”. How would others view your actions if they read about them (with your name) on the front page of the WSJ? Especially if they don’t know you!

    KT

  40. Not impressed says:

    Gil: the man is a Dayan!! He is not your neighbor, your pizza delivery man or even your accountant!!! Because the email list made it easy to be dishonest and infiltrate it it’s ok for a Dayan and rav to take advantage of that loophole?? He has shown a stunning facility with lying. How can we allow him to remain a Dayan???

  41. Nachum Klafter says:

    A friend and Torah Scholar earlier today lamented “!איך נפלו גביורים” I had to hold back my giggle becuase in the great scheme of things, this has to be the most mild lapse in judgement that I have ever read about in a periodical that purports to be publishing a scandal.

    I would like to point out the following:

    1) NO ONE WAS HURT OR HAMRED BY THIS. Let’s just keep that fact in mind.

    2) “Self-promotion” is a term appropriately used for activity that helps one advance professionally or gain financially. I.e., had Hershel Goldwasser someone been on the editorial staff of a peer reviewed journal, that would be real “self promotion.” This is not.

    3) The idea that sock-puppeting is some sort of ethical violation is an ludicrous accusation, and anyone who read the article by Steven Weiss on The Jewish Channel sould realize this when they read so supposedly damning exchange between Hershel Goldwasser and Archie Bunker. Poor Archie Bunker was blogging in good faith against Hershel Goldasser?

    4) It the I.R.F. lets anyone with a hotmail or yahoo address join their organization then they cannot complain that their privacy is compromised. I am very active on the private list-serve of a professional organization, and attaining membership in that organization is a serious process, requiring actual credentials, and professional and rabbinic references. If the I.R.F. allows people t join who don’t even exist, then obviously they don’t care who joins.

    5) The preposterousness of this being a serious scandal should be highlighted by the fact that the most harsh criticism above is by “Not Impressed” or “ProudJew”

    6) I know for a fact that there are many public figures and well known Orthodox rabbis who sock-puppet so that they can participate in debates without facing the social consequences of the absurdly critical Orthodox world. That’s the point of allowing people to leave comments with the name Ploni Almoni.

    This is just not a very serious matter in my opinion.

  42. Tal Benschar says:

    :
    1. A true apology does not attempt to portray oneself as a victim- “I am now concerned that this pen name is being used to falsely attribute to me ideas that truly are not mine.”

    I’m not taking a position on the post in general, but this criticism I don’t see. OK, he did wrong on the past, but that is not a reason someone should put words in his mouth going forward. It has a certain middah k’negged middah quality to it, but still, he has a right to say, from now on, those words are not mine, they are someone else’s.

  43. joel rich says:

    R’ Not Impressed,
    It’s interesting that over the years when I’ve championed blogging and commenting in one’s own name, Some have responded (more nicely) that I”m a dinosaur and that this is the new world. While I don’t defend the actions, they do seemto me to be a logical extension of the arguments made for anonymous blogging (e.g. not be identified with certain ideas, not let personalities get in the way…)
    KT

  44. Not impressed says:

    “The preposterousness of this being a serious scandal should be highlighted by the fact that the most harsh criticism above is by “Not Impressed” or “ProudJew””
    I am not a Dayan. I am not a rav. I am commenting on my opinion, not fact. I am not inventing biographical information about gedolim. I am not commenting on a private listserv. I am not Steven I Weiss propping my own work. Is this the end of Broyde’s career as a Torah personality? I can’t imagine. Is his reputation tarnished and should people think hard about him being a Dayan?? I believe so.

  45. Hirhurim says:

    Not Impresed: R. Komisar claims that, at the time R. Broyde joined, the IRF was not a real rabbinic organization but something of an e-mail think tank. That means he did not infiltrate a competitor, as Steven Weiss implied (which I don’t think is true anyway because there is overlapping membership), but joined a discussion under a fake name because he was not yet sure whether he wanted to fully associate with them in public.

    Basically, he was following Internet ethics of 15 years ago but that behavior was established long ago as unacceptable. He was wrong but this isn’t a huge crisis.

  46. Not impressed says:

    Gil: I don’t disagree. I don’t actually think the “infiltration” so to speak is the big deal here. It’s the fact that he lied continually over a period of many years to create an elaborate false identity that he used to bolster his positions. It’s his constant lying that just doesn’t pass the smell test.

  47. Moe says:

    Gil: How is it mitigating? R. Broyde admitted it was wrong of him to join the IRF. He joined the IRF itself, not just its e-mail list, based on his own admission.

    Furthermore, I believe the greatest issue here is his repeated self-glorification, self-promotion and self-praise over many years under a pseudonym.

    The personally related bubbe maisas is a close second.

    While he has purported to explain away the bubbe maisas, he as utterly neglected to even acknowledge, let alone explain his self-glorification.

  48. IH says:

    Gil — If you persist, what then is your view of: http://tinyurl.com/cjul7ly

    A number of Rabbis selflessly devoted considerable time in reviewing the early drafts of the [OU Sacks] Siddur and making invaluable suggestions and corrections. We especially wish to thank Dayan Michael Broyde for his critical help, as well as Dr. David Berger, Rabbi Eric Berkowitz, Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser …

  49. Hirhurim says:

    Moe: Furthermore, I believe the greatest issue here is his repeated self-glorification, self-promotion and self-praise over many years under a pseudonym

    I agree. But as someone who regularly publishes online, I know the frustration when you get attacked by stupid people using aliases who ignore your content and cause mischief. He was trying to even the discussion to reflect reality rather than Internet insanity. I don’t think that is acceptable behavior but 15 years ago it was standard.

  50. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I’m not sure why he e-mailed them comments from the pseudonym but I know he is appalled that they thanked the pseudonym. He certainly didn’t approve that.

  51. AS says:

    A comment on R’ Broyde’s Women Torah Reading article on Hirhurim. The article has exposed the “David Gold” is actually RMB:

    David Gold on October 16, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I found the post by Rabbi Broyde to be a blast of fresh air, because he addresses the real and hard issue confronting our shuls and society: when should our minhagim change? This is the burning issue. It is not about halacha at all, but minhag. Rabbi Broyde honestly conceeds that. Unlike some (see the post by Zev Farber in Morethodoxy) who argues that ALL NEEDS TO CHANGE because we are a bad community, or the many charedi posters who argue that nothing can change, Rabbi Broyde argues that change can and does happen and actually proposes a workable principle — Mitzvah driven — for when we ought to embrace change and when we ought not. His article is important.

    When I was at YU as a student, someone called him a posek in front of my Rosh Yeshiva and he said “I am not much into these kinds of titles, but if I had to give him a title, it is Gadol, not posek”. I see why.

    __________________________________

    Are we to believe this story as well, or did RMB fabricate a tale where a YU RY called him a gadol?

  52. anonymous says:

    Gil-can you also verify whether the other comments made by David Gold, Kevin Gold, etc. were posted by the same IP address as Rabbi Broyde? Perhaps the latest by “Hershel Goldwasser” were not him, but the report claims that he started using new sockpuppet names after the Goldwasser name was discovered. i.e. Rabbi Broyde’s claim that this pseudonym ceased to be used after a certain point is true, but he didn’t cease misrepresenting himself on blogs.

    And before you go back and remind people, that I too, have posted using multiple names on this blog, please remember that I am not a rabbi and dayan on the RCA’s highest Beit Din, nor a law professor.

  53. IH says:

    Given Gil’s silence, I tried Googling “Rabbi Eric Berkowitz” with no success. Anyone know him?

  54. Asher Nasi Yecheta says:

    A prediction/observation:

    RMB’s misdeeds (or whatever) were committed against the IRF/left, but its the right that will now use this ammunition to delegitimize him. This puts the IRF in a funny position of being the closest thing to a victim, but also with the most to loose by RMB’s delegitimization.

  55. emma says:

    “In this case, so many people knew about it that it was an inside joke. ”

    if that is true that makes this whole “story” go from odd to awesome. really, having cake (saying what you want, to whom you want) and eating it too (plausible deniability when it gets outside the intended audience). alas, not anymore.

    also that would explain why anyone would be interested in appropriating the pseudonym for themselves…

  56. Moe says:

    What does inside jokes have to do with his repeated referring to himself (in the third person) as the greatest thing since sliced bread?

  57. Moe says:

    NM. I just noticed that the inside jokes comment wasn’t a reply to me.

  58. chaim says:

    Everyone who is defeding R Broyde please answer these two points:
    1. While R Broyde calls his initial denial to the reporter a denial, in reality it was lying. How do you defend a dayan lying?
    2. RHS is attacked mercilessly (including by R Broyde himself!) for using the word shvartza, a one time mistake, and no one lets it go, yet R Broyde makes “a mistake” for 15 years, and we are just supposed to let is slide?

  59. Harry says:

    Dissapointing, dear rabbi

    I admired you and your writings, but soemone with that level of respect and exposure cant afford to be underhanded. It undermines credibility, the bread and butter of a rabbi.

  60. Hirhurim says:

    Anonymous: can you also verify whether the other comments made by David Gold, Kevin Gold, etc. were posted by the same IP address as Rabbi Broyde?

    Impossible to tell. That same IP address was also used by Minyan Lover, Joel Rich, Charlie Hall and Neil Harris at various times, which means it isn’t fixed to a single computer.

  61. chaim says:

    and let’s be honest- Joel Rich is right- if a CEO of a major company did something like this, and it was in the WSJ, he would be forced to resign the next day.

  62. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I had no idea you were questioning whether Dr. David Berger and R. Eric Berkowitz are also pseudonyms. I know that Dr. David Berger is not. I don’t know about R. Eric Berkowitz.

  63. Hirhurim says:

    Chaim: I have nothing but the greatest respect for R. Hershel Schachter, indeed more respect than I have for R. Broyde and for just about anyone anywhere.

  64. Daniel W says:

    Undermine credibility? Maybe. Leave a bad taste in your mouth? I can understand. Call into question any of his articles, academic writings, any Psak Halacha, any logical argument based on rabbinic literature of centuries ago? Not for a second.

    A rabbi doesn’t need need good PR to present a Halachic framework or other ideal that can be peer-reviewed. This whole behind-the-scenes and blog-post-comment Mishegas is certainly curious but in no way undermines the basic logical, Halachically-grounded statements of his articles and other writings.

  65. chaim says:

    I wasnt questioning you Gil.

  66. IH says:

    IH: I’m not sure why he e-mailed them comments from the pseudonym but I know he is appalled that they thanked the pseudonym. He certainly didn’t approve that.

    Gil — since it appears you are in real-time communication with R. Broyde, please have him close out any information he wishes to share on “Rabbi Eric Berkowitz” just before the pseudonymous “Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser” in the OU Saks Siddur acknowledgments.

    I find it surprising not to find a trace of R. Eric Berkowitz on Google other than that one Google Books result.

  67. Sam says:

    The defense that using a pen name is a practice used by prior gedolim presupposes that that behavior is justified by rabbis. The notion of “deceit for a toeles” is intrinsically one that passes muster in the traditional orthodox ethics rule book (going back to yaakov avinu, i suppose, though with some rabbinic discomfort with his lassaiz faire attitude towards the truth evident nonetheless) while it appears much more problematic by modern secular ethical standards. Ultimately, the attacks on broyde from te left point to an intronsic discomfort with mendacity of any type, while the defenses tend to rely on standard bromides such as rabbinic precedent and “leshaim shomayim”.

    Ultimately the question should be whether someone with a fast and loose relationship with the truth in one area should be a Dayan. If your answer is no, you need to be willing to disqualify (at least conceptually) the decisions of the prior rabbinic greats who employed similar tactics.

  68. talmid says:

    the sad part is that anybody who ever had an ax to grind with Rabbi Broyde is going to use this an excuse to delegitimize his every position, no matter how well reasoned and true. He did something wrong, either accept his apology or don’t accept his apology.

    The funny thing about poskim is that nobody earns a degree in being a “big posek” – if lots of people trust a rabbi to answer their questions properly he becomes a big posek. Everybody will make their choice of whether they want to continue to ask Rabbi Broyde their questions and it will decide itself. Same is true for scholars who are asked to speak in various communities. I am not that familiar with beis din but I would suspect it is pretty similar – you can probably request not to have a certain dayan. There is no need for any immediate action. Whether this all blows over or becomes an ongoing problem for Rabbi Broyde will be decided by the public. People vote with their feet. In the meantime, on מוצ”ש פרשת תזריע מצורע can we PLEASE try to keep the לשון הרע to a minimum?

  69. MO says:

    Gil wrote:

    “IH: I’m not sure why he e-mailed them comments from the pseudonym but I know he is appalled that they thanked the pseudonym. He certainly didn’t approve that.”

    If he emailed comments from a pseudonym why would he be “appalled” that they thanked the pseudonym? Were they supposed to check with R. Broyde before thanking his pseudonym?

  70. mycroft says:

    “Yet I remind the humble readership that the RCA Vaad HaKavod has still never fined a member one dollar in more than a half century of protecting the public interest”

    I don’t know if there have been fines but certainly members have left the RCA as a result of Vaad Hakavod proceedings-my impression is for clear cut violations of halacha. My impression they’ve had extreme difficulty ib cases with people who officially accept the halachik system who a fair reading of their record would indicate a hashkafa of non Orthodox bur don’t have an individual smoking gun of violating halacha.

  71. Yitz says:

    I’m totally fine with everything.

    Machul lach! Machul lach! Machul lach!

    Now R. Broyde can also serve in another inspirational role to the many other ‘pseudonyms’ out there..

    Time to move on.

  72. Jw says:

    Yitz and Daniel w. I agree 100%

  73. Joel says:

    I am sorry, but no Gedolim who used a pseudonym used it to promote their real persona. This is a very poor defense, and does not excuse spying and raises many ethical questions, if not halachic issurim.

  74. Hirhurim says:

    Just as a follow-up to my comment above about the IP addresses of David Gold & Kevin Gold: I wasn’t too thorough in searching before responding. There seem to be multiple IP addresses involved for David Gold, including a Blackberry (hence the same IP as other people). Kevin Gold only commented here once and seems to definitely be R. Broyde in a fairly innocuous statement: http://torahmusings.com/2011/08/oat-matzah/ Aug 10, 2011 8:49 am

  75. DF says:

    1. There is indeed a long history of using deception (some would say “lying”) in shas and rabbinic literature to make a halachic point. But – - that doesnt mean it is right. Surely Rabbi Broyde, who has often written about what he believes to be the “changed status” of women, does not rely on the morality standards of Talmudic times to guide us today.

    2, While the softie in me would like to say this is no big deal, the realist recognizes that it is. A 15 year history of “errors in judgment” is not minimal. Worse yet, there was no reason for R. Broyde to have done this. His parnassah did not depend on it, it was not something he needed for his family. He appears to have done this for the sole reason, I am sorry to say, of burnishing his ego. Charachter counts, a LOT.

    3. As someone above said, creibility is a rabbi’s bread and butter. How can someone now believe R. Broyde on what he claims to be a masorah, when he also claims to have been present at events with R. Moshe Feinstein that happened before he was born?

    4. Thank you, R. Gil, for clarifying that it is, as yet, inconclusive whether the comments of David Weismnan, David Gold, etc, are from R. Broyde. It does look bad, as the article notes, because they not only come from the same IP address, but they also only appear once, in commenting to articles from R. Broyde. These are among the most damning comments, because they are all fairly recent, they come after R. Broyde says he stopped using the Hershel Goldwasser name, and because the hubris they display is breahtaking. I am hoping, against hope, that they will be proven to not be from R. Broyde.

    5. There is still a great deal we can learn from R. Broyde (and I say this as a critic of his, espeically his very liberal social ideas.) His beis din is still very good, at least for strictly business disputes. This episode cannot be waved away, and will and probably should impact R. Broyde in the future for certain things, but not for everything. He still has plenty to contribute.

  76. MS says:

    It’s good RMB isn’t hareidi or Conservative. Otherwise he would be attacked from all sides here on Hirhurim.

  77. Anonymous says:

    re – Hirhurim on April 14, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Once you have established that RMB was posting from his Blackberry, are you still sure that the Goldwasser comment on the Cardozo article is definitely not RMB?

  78. Hirhurim says:

    Anonymous: Yes, I am sure because that was not a Blackberry IP address, is from a different state and is connected to another (infrequent) commenter with a history.

  79. Ruvie says:

    Sam – “If your answer is no, you need to be willing to disqualify (at least conceptually) the decisions of the prior rabbinic greats who employed similar tactics.”

    People will judge r’ broyde on today’s ethical standards. We do not go back and judge our past – gedolim or public figures – by today’s standards. Your comparisons have little merit. Nor do I think r’ broyde and his opinions should be dismissed either. They will stand on their on merit.

  80. william gewirtz says:

    who was the real author of the critique to which the Rav ztl responded in the early thirties? i think some claim we now know. use of pseudonyms or (real or ficticious) third parties may in and of itself be hardly problematic. denying it, as opposed to refusing to comment, is more problematic, but hardly a mortal sin.

  81. Hirhurim says:

    William Gewirtz: The Chazon Ish

  82. Jon Baker says:

    To me it looks like industrial espionage.

    It’s one thing for him to write letters under a pseudonym touting himself, which is basic publicity (look at the Failed Messiah – Rubashkin – 5WPR flap, which was a 5WPR employee sock-puppeting to support Rubashkin, because he was Rubashkin’s paid publicist).

    But here, he was infiltrating a competing organization, one which he could not join openly, and then using inside knowledge gained, to write articles criticizing them. And when he represents a beis din that claims to be more ethical than pickup batei din, it becomes more of a problem.

    A certain writer participated in the Women’s Tefillah Network list years ago, and used information gained to write an article in the late Jewish Observer about Orthodox Feminism. He didn’t use a pseudonym, he participated under his own name. That nobody realized he was a reporter for Agudah publications is no fault of his.

  83. Tablet magazine appears to allege that Rabbi Broyde may have commented on the YU child abuse scandal (that also has implicated Rabbi Broyde) using the fake identity of David Weissman in a Jewish Week article:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/129385/top-rabbi-admits-fake-identity

    A cursory look at the Jewish Week comments raises suspicions regarding several of the other comments:

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/needed-independent-investigation-yu-high-schoolscandal

    Harry Weissberger

    Hillel Gold

    Miriam Goldstein

  84. Nachum says:

    If R’ Broyde didn’t make the comment in the Carter piece, who did? On that date, only one other person knew of the fact that they were the same person, Weiss. Did *he* make the comment? Maybe, but I’d like to know.

    “It isn’t any more or less powerful without the co-writer.”

    It’s a whole lot less powerful, for at least two reasons:

    1. His whole excuse for lying to Weiss in the first place is based on the existence of a co-writer. No co-writer, no excuse.

    2. It means that he’s still making up stories.

    I do hope the joining of the IRF blog wasn’t a way of seeing what people were saying about him…

  85. Hirhurim says:

    Chakira: I always appreciate your deprecating comments about this blog. You have predicted its demise so often you might eventually be right.

    This blog jumped the shark a long time ago. It might even be time to move to verified commenting, requiring a sign-in. Frankly, if not for Nachum’s protests, I would have done it a long time ago.

  86. Hirhurim says:

    Nachum: Good points. I’ll see if I can get verification. I have a name but don’t know him personally so even a phone call isn’t sufficient evidence.

  87. smf says:

    can someone please explain how entering into the IRF with a fake identity is not geneivas da’as?

  88. avi says:

    It seems to me that the old addage of “On the internet nobody knows you are a dog”, doesn’t really apply in Jewish circles. Is that correct?

  89. MJ says:

    I would like to hear the opinion of R. Yonatan Kaganoff, Shlita on this issue. As the Rosh Yeshiva of the Puppet Yeshiva he is by far the foremost authority on the halakhos of puppetry (though to my knowledge, not specifically sock-puppetry.)

  90. Nehemia S. says:

    This certainly is odd, and it makes Rabbi Broyde look pretty narcissistic (although my feeling is that that is not the case). There are, however, a whole lot of other stories going on in the Jewish world that seem to be far more important than this. I can name five off the top of my head. Steven I. Weiss wrote a fairly large expose for a story that is more ‘odd’ than it is ‘important’. I wonder what’s in it for him….

  91. avi says:

    Nachum, if you didn’t protest, I would have.
    The internet is for the exchange of ideas, not for stalkers and reporters to find every last word you ever said.

  92. Hirhurim says:

    Nachum: E-mail me

  93. shachar haamim says:

    and I see that you have been kept up all night on it – good thing that the USA still has Sundays!
    You could have been dealing with this the Sat. night before a workday in a short work week in Israel :-)

  94. Elana Sztokman says:

    rabbi broyde –

    not sure what the purpose of this article is. if you’re seeking forgiveness with this article, you’ll have to ask directly all the people you’ve hurt along the way, not the general public. if you’re seeking to restore your position of respect, i’m not sure that will ever recover, no matter how many mea culpas you offer. if you’re seeking redemption, you should be talking not to the internet but to your creator

    elana

  95. Abe Kohen says:

    The French Chief Rabbi and now this. Well, rabbis usurped the role of Kohanim, so nothing surprises me. And davka during the week of Parshiot Tazria and Metzora. Quite fitting. Oh well.

  96. Hirhurim says:

    Due to various threats, I removed a number of comments. Sorry but that’s what I have to do to protect myself.

  97. disgusted says:

    1. There is nothing silly about lyring. You are continuing to rationalize your aveirot.

    2. Despite your claim that no malice was intended, under a pseudonym, you spread lashon hora about other rabbonim, you are unwilling to acknowledge the hurt you’ve caused, and you “see no need to apologize for it”.

    3. You have no business grouping yourself with the Ben Ish Chai or any of the other holy tzaddikim who truly had no mal-intent behind their actions.

  98. Not impressed says:

    I still don’t understand your vigorous defense, Gil. The issue here isn’t simply sock puppeting. Anonymous commenting is a non issue – do you think anyone would have ever found out if the “goldwasser” comments simply gave opinions on issues du jour like every other anonymous commenter here and elsewhere? The crux of the matter is the elaborate hoax r broyde created. Also the self promotion stinks. And the lying when approached by the Jewish channel. His facility with dishonestly is disconcerting to say the least, more so for an ethics expert and Dayan.

  99. Sharon says:

    Gil– I would love to hear your thoughts on the matter–

  100. Emma says:

    Nachum,
    If as Gil says the name was an inside joke then more than one person knew. Still, I suspect the story of how this “story” came to be is rather more salacious than the embrace story itself.

  101. Emma says:

    *than the r m b story itself

  102. J.I. says:

    I do not know Rabbi Broyde and my only connection with him comes from reading his published material over the years. I find Rabbi Broyde to be one of the most thoughful Orthodox writers out there and have the utmost respect for him. While his actions writing under a pseudonym seem to have been a mistake, it should not detract from his continued good work. I think the fact that he seems to have equally upset both the extreme right and the extreme left only serves to validate him. Unfortunately his detractors from both sides will use this relatively insignificant misstep to try and deligitimize him and blow this out of proportion, as we already see in the comments section (how many of the commentors are people with an agenda writing under pseudonyms??). I am not a sock puppet (writing from a legit IP address in Israel).

  103. abba's rantings says:

    GIL:

    i see my comment was removed. i can’t even imagine how it could be misconstrued as a threat.

  104. Hirhurim says:

    Ruvie & Abba: e-mail me

  105. Hirhurim says:

    Sharon: I am not yet prepared to release a statement other than the following: 1) I am trying hard to judge Rabbi Broyde favorably but have not yet fully succeeded, 2) You aren’t much of a friend if you abandon your friends when they are down.

  106. Yosef Klein says:

    I find this whole thing a little upsetting. Rabbi Broyde at worst used a pseudonyme to engage in halakhic debate with others whom would normally have ignored him. The puppetering I cannot speak to and at worst can be a little ego driven but nothing corrupt or horrible happened here. Rabbi Broyde is an amazing man and I doubt any of the “stories” are lies.

  107. Daniel W says:

    For the benefit of the many of you who have had no real personal interaction with R’ Broyde, I’ll say this:
    On a personal level – on the scale of good to bad – I still consider R’ Broyde to be a good person. I have sat at his Shabbos table several time, I share Kiddush with him at Shul weekly. His children have babysat my children and he has taken care of them as well, like holding them to see me as I Daven or Layn on the Bimah. I trust him with my life – and those of my children – and that has not changed one bit.

    I’ve known for a while that R’ Broyde has made many friends and enemies over his continued career. I’m happy and still proud to be in the friend category.

  108. daniel says:

    Let me try a defense:
    In the digital age, Torah issues are discussed at a dizzying pace and by many, many people. The days of writing an article for Tradition, waiting 4 months for a response, and another 4 months for another response, are over. In order to promote one’s Torah views one must be out there, lobbying, convincing, arguing, and engaging in polemics. Furthermore, there are now closed forums in which issues are discussed, leaving many of us outside of us, including great talmidei chachamim and poskim, out of the halachic discussions. We admire rabbis who dedicate time to keep abreast of the issues, and who “lower themselves” and use this medium as a means of teaching. However, we would be scornful of a rabbi who appeared everywhere, at every moment, like some of the Hirhurim commentors. The world is very harsh, and great scholars are judged harshly for every word they publish. Therefore, I can understand Rabbi Broyde feeling no choice but to used other identities in order to further the Torah views he espouses.
    Maybe in retrospect this seems like a mistake; maybe we should learn from this incident. But let us assume that Rabbi Broyde had no more than the promotion of Torah in mind.

  109. Proudjew says:

    Daniel, it is admirable that you have recognized your biases up front, now it’s time to step back and see how much your friend has made the MO community the laughing stock of the haredi world. He was our great thinker and has embarrassed us all. He cared more about touting himself and how people viewed him (as is CLEARLY seen from his not wanting to join IRF on his own) then how his poorly thought out decisions effect the MO community he formerly represented.

  110. Not impressed says:

    “But let us assume that Rabbi Broyde had no more than the promotion of Torah in mind.”
    Hard to assume when there was so much SELF-promotion going on, for so long.

  111. IH says:

    Has anyone identified “Rabbi Eric Berkowitz” credited just before the pseudonymous “Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser” in the OU Sacks Siddur acknowledgments?

    blockquote>A number of Rabbis selflessly devoted considerable time in reviewing the early drafts of the [OU Sacks] Siddur and making invaluable suggestions and corrections. We especially wish to thank Dayan Michael Broyde for his critical help, as well as Dr. David Berger, Rabbi Eric Berkowitz, Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser …/blockquote>

    Were these, perhaps, pseudonyms that R. Broyde used to push through a specific agenda through the editorial committee?

  112. IH says:

    In regard to R. Broyde’s credibility as a Dayan and communal leader, we also need to consider the open matter of R. Broyde’s involvement in the George Finkelstein scandal.

    After all, his is the same R. Broyde who angrily protested on Hirhurim: “Putting aside that this [Jewish Week] op-ed neither quotes my published denial that this conversation [with Mordechai Twersky] even took place (I certainly would have remembered someone alleging that George Finklestein sexually abused them) nor my public ruling that as a matter of halacha anyone with such a claim should go – run – to the police, nor that as a mere dayan,I had no authority to grant or deny hearings, its basic framework of the problem and the solution is wrong.”

    I fear more will still come out which could be damaging all around. It seems to me that his friends should have reminded him that “a lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client”.

  113. Hirhurim says:

    IH: I believe the technical term for your last comment is: kicking someone when they’re down. Next up is: protest innocence too much. Please just don’t respond to this comment and let it go.

  114. anonymous says:

    Why on earth do you get to invoke “kicking someone when they’re down” when YCT, the IRF, and everyone in the LWMO camp are berated left and right on this blog and in its comments?

  115. Hirhurim says:

    Where has YCT and the IRF been denigrated on this blog? I believe that I have been very careful not to.

  116. daniel says:

    Read the Haaretz article. I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt. A bit of “vanity” and the desire to contribute to discussions without putting your name on the line are natural feelings- and the latter may even be legitimate. I feel bad that this happened to one of the voices of reason in our community. But, I think we can agree that many greater people than Rabbi Broyde have committed much graver offenses- lets try to let this one slide.

  117. lawrence kaplan says:

    IH: Re your last post, I do not understand the connection.

  118. Levi says:

    From the Kli Yakar on yesterday’s parsha: Thus is the way of those who despise rebuke, that they stare after their rebuker to see if they can find in him a trace of a disqualifier in order to answer him “take the beam from between your eyes”

  119. HAGTBG says:

    The part that gets me is that R’ Broyde admits that he falsely put his alter ego into a story of R M Feinstein that has potential halachic consequences. And he did not apologize for that here:

    “Stories that were told using that pseudonym were all stories that one of us had heard as a child from a generation of torah scholars now gone; the stories about Rav Moshe are particularly so.”

    At most, this is caught up when he refers to all this generally as “somewhat inappropriate.” Yes, he did not hurt anyone. But that is somewhat glib.

    G-d’s Torah is truth. I do not see how a dayan can do that.

  120. Yoel B says:

    The pseudonymous scholarship was fine. The self-promoting sockpuppeting — which he’s been doing on this blog, among others, and up until a couple of months ago –– is pathetic. At best.

    Feh.

  121. Hareidiman says:

    sorry, these comments just don’t ring true. Might be from another IP address,still could be his son or his unknown friend(Harvey?)

    Yosef Klein on April 13, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Is this even news? A man of great Torah stature wanted to engage in halakhic debate with a certain group of people. This has been done for over 2000 years, and it has never been a problem before. It is obvious that a lot of the posts above and probably soon to be below are attempting to slander a great Rabbi’s name. Before you post you should learn the Halakhas of Lashon Hora in order to prevent yourself from an aveira. I have known Rabbi Broyde long enough to know that his reasoning behind this was strictly for the advancement of Torah and the Jewish people, and I challenge anyone to prove elsewise.

    • Yehuda on April 13, 2013 at 7:50 pm
    A gadol who makes a mistake does not take away his gadlus all the more when it is not a serious mistake and his kavanah was leshem shamayim. R. Broyde is a big Talmud chachum and a erlicher yid a little more respect shoul be shown to him.

    • Avrohom on April 13, 2013 at 8:01 pm
    There are plenty of people in our long and glorious history that made mistakes, apologised and kept going and acting in their position. It is of course a stain on Rabbi Broide’s personal history, which I am sure he feels, but should not prevent him from continuing in his current role. The stain is actually useful because it keeps our leaders humble. Dovid Hamelech is an excellent paradigm.
    It is a shame that Rabbi Broide made that silly choice in the past, but I hope he can continue with a new insight into man’s fallability and go on to contribute to the Jewish people in even more ways than he has previously.

    Yitz on April 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm
    I’m totally fine with everything.
    Machul lach! Machul lach! Machul lach!
    Now R. Broyde can also serve in another inspirational role to the many other ‘pseudonyms’ out there..
    Time to move on.

    Yosef Klein on April 14, 2013 at 9:02 am
    I find this whole thing a little upsetting. Rabbi Broyde at worst used a pseudonyme to engage in halakhic debate with others whom would normally have ignored him. The puppetering I cannot speak to and at worst can be a little ego driven but nothing corrupt or horrible happened here. Rabbi Broyde is an amazing man and I doubt any of the “stories” are lies.

  122. S. says:

    Hareidiman, Yitz is clearly being sarcastic, and the others? Well, don’t you think that not every person who ever had respect for Rabbi Broyde is going to just toss him into the sea? Three people said they don’t think it’s a big deal and you are suspicious?

  123. Hareidiman says:

    the superlatives seem over the top and in line with the aforementioned sockpuppeting

    Is this even news? A man of great Torah stature
    I have known Rabbi Broyde long enough to know that his reasoning behind this was strictly for the advancement of Torah and the Jewish people, and I challenge anyone to prove elsewise.
    A gadol who makes a mistake does not take away his gadlus
    R. Broyde is a big Talmud chachum and a erlicher yid
    Rabbi Broyde is an amazing man and I doubt any of the “stories” are lies.

    “The puppetering I cannot speak to” – ????????

  124. Daniel W says:

    Hareidiman – would you believe?! R’ Broyde still has many supporters even after this whole thing went down?!

    Some of us are just more sarcastic, more straight-laced, or more academic in our responses than others.

  125. [...] an apology for his “error in judgment” to a former IRF president, and subsequently released a more thorough and explanatory public [...]

  126. Andy Marcus says:

    Here’s the problem: this apology does not even come close to cutting it. Taking a page from sages who published under pseudonyms so as not to receive praise for their work, which is an act of true tnius, this rabbi used a pseudonym to criticise other rabbis anonymously, which is a serious sin. This here is very personal for me. My rav is Shmuel Herzfeld, whose very presence has breathed life into a fomerly and once again Jewish neighborhood in Washington, D.C. and who took the oldest Orthodox congregation in the District of Columbia from barely 20 families 7 years ago to over 300 today. Who is fiercly dedicated to the Jewish people, and who loves the Land of Israel and the State of Israel. And who spoke out when he saw women being sent to jail for holding a Torah scroll and wearing a tallis by the kotel. Whether you agree with Rabbi Herzfeld about his criticism of the arests or not, to besmirch his reputation publicly in the anonymous manner that R. Broyde has done, requires more than comparing onself to the Ben Ish Chai and then calling it an apology. I do not know Rav Broyde, and I am not suggesting he be devalued, thrown to the sea or have smicha revoked. But I do know an apology when I see one, and this is not it.

  127. Nachum says:

    Andy Marcus, are you Shmuel Herzfeld?

    Yes, from now on I’m going to *very* suspicious of anyone praising anyone online.

    The Jewish Week thing is, of course, troubling: To make up a fake name to defend oneself- and then to add a *second* comment under a fake name “agreeing” with the first…leaves a bad taste. And that second practice seems to have been very, very common.

  128. Andy Marcus says:

    Nope. Andrew Judd Marcus – marcusandrew@comcast.net.

  129. Tal Benschar says:

    Yes, from now on I’m going to *very* suspicious of anyone praising anyone online.

    The Jewish Week thing is, of course, troubling: To make up a fake name to defend oneself- and then to add a *second* comment under a fake name “agreeing” with the first…leaves a bad taste. And that second practice seems to have been very, very common.

    Excellent, insightful comment Nahum, as your comments always are. Deserves a lot of praise.

    (And I agree with this post. And so do I. Me too.)

  130. fsg says:

    as a yeshivah student who very much looks up to rav broyde as a polestar of level headedness and balanced thinking, i am very upset at the way some people here are treating him. do they not know of the concept of don likaf zechut? instead they (charediman,ih and others) seem to be looking to catch rav broyde in more deception and lies. if rav broyde says he had a partner who wrote with hi., what right do we have to assume he was lying? i think we should all recall the gemera in berachos in the first perek about not to be miharheir after a talmid chacham.

  131. avi says:

    Call me immoral, but I still don’t understand what he did wrong, nor do I understand the reaction. Its like nobody knows anything about the Internet…

  132. joel rich says:

    That same IP address was also used by Minyan Lover, Joel Rich, Charlie Hall and Neil Harris at various times,
    ======================================
    that’s very odd, but then again maybe we are all figments os someones’s imagination (probably in a bad dream).

    I can’t help but think (based on a number of cases in all frumland) of
    תלמוד בבלי מסכת סוכה דף נב עמוד א

    אתא ההוא סבא, תנא ליה: כל הגדול מחבירו יצרו גדול הימנו. אמר רבי יצחק: יצרו של אדם מתגבר עליו בכל יום
    and

    Hamlet 3:1 “It shall be so.
    Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

    kt

  133. Yosef Klein says:

    This is getting a little ridiculous. Can anyone even prove he committed an aveira? What is the charge!? He joined an organization he doesn’t see completely eye to eye with in order to engage them in intellectual debate? Who did he hurt?

  134. joel rich says:

    r’yosef,
    Hence the wsj test.
    KT

  135. Hareidiman says:

    “Hareidiman – would you believe?! R’ Broyde still has many supporters even after this whole thing went down?!”

    I believe he has supporters. Talmid chochom? yes. Godol? come on!
    I was one of his supporters, I quoted him and defended him, even though I don’t know him personally. I was duped.

    Why should anyone believe him? It wasn’t a one time error. And he still hasn’t come clean. Who is this anonymous friend? What relevance does it have to his deceptive behavior?

    If the above comments are real, then the MO community is no different than Hareidim, who defend their leaders, no matter the offense.

    Even though he has supporters, I don’t believe the above comments are real.

    “if rav broyde says he had a partner who wrote with hi., what right do we have to assume he was lying”

    Why should we believe him?

    ” Rabbi Broyde is an amazing man and I doubt any of the “stories” are lies.”

    Why do you doubt they are lies? Why shouldn’t we doubt?

    “I have known Rabbi Broyde long enough to know that his reasoning behind this was strictly for the advancement of Torah and the Jewish people, and I challenge anyone to prove elsewise.”

    How is this supposed to be proven or disproven?

  136. S. says:

    Yosef, the charge is that he infiltrated them – possibly to shape them (what you call debating them) and possibly to learn their inner dynamics and thinking (the article alleges that IRF members were mystified at how Rabbi Broyde seemed to instantly know what was going on behind closed doors). (“Multiple rabbis who would not speak on the record out of concern for their careers said Broyde would occasionally speak about the IRF’s plans and discussions as though he had direct knowledge of them, even though he was not a member. According to these rabbis, when Broyde was asked how he’d obtained the exclusive information, he’d say that he obtained it from anonymous sources.”)

    So… it’s really nothing? I’m not saying he committed evil, but deception it certainly was. Rabbi Broyde himself apologized for it and asked for mechila. So unless you are saying that this is all damage control, it seems as if he recognizes that he did something wrong.

    http://newsdesk.tjctv.com/2013/04/investigation-update-rabbinical-court-judge-apologizes-for-error-of-judgment/

    The worst thing a rabbi ever did? Of course not. An evil man? Also not. Beyond that, the court of public opinion will decide, and most repuations are somewhat reparable. Personally I waiver between being disgusted by it, thinking of my own indiscretions (bearing in mind that I am not a world renowned rabbi and dayan), admitting the truth to myself that if it happened to a rabbi I disliked I would be much harsher than I am, and genuine sympathy for a man who is down. But to say that nothing at all happened? Who are you going to convince?

  137. Linda Rich says:

    This is a troubling incident, no matter what side of the Jewish world one stands on. Certainly all humans err, and we must strive to compassionately forgive the mistakes of the penitent. Rabbi Broyde apologizes for his “errors of judgment” and for “deceiving” others. The community must decide whether someone whose deceptive ways and errors of judgment spanning the course of 15-20 years should hold the position of dayan. For the sake of the community I hope that these revelations do not throw suspicion on all of R. Broyde’s previous legal rulings [judgments], and that the community’s leaders make thoughtful and sound decisions in moving forward on this situation and in using it to inform future policy.

  138. Hareidiman says:

    Here we go again.

    Really? Nothing wrong? Who did he hurt? Did he commit an aveira?

    These are independent comments? If this would be yeshiva world and R’ Broyde would be Hareidi, then the comments would make sense

    avi on April 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Call me immoral, but I still don’t understand what he did wrong, nor do I understand the reaction. Its like nobody knows anything about the Internet…

    Yosef Klein on April 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    This is getting a little ridiculous. Can anyone even prove he committed an aveira? What is the charge!? He joined an organization he doesn’t see completely eye to eye with in order to engage them in intellectual debate? Who did he hurt?

  139. fsg says:

    ironically rav broyde is actually very fair when discussing yct or irf views. in most of his articles he expresses disagreement with their views but without any malice or vitriol. he if anything is trying to narrow the schism beteen them and the rca.

  140. fsg says:

    charediman why should you belive him? simply because that is the halacha. is that reason enough?

  141. S. says:

    Fsg, the point is that there is a credibility problem. Personally I don’t think these people are Rabbi Broyde or paid agents (I mean, they openly support him, so it’s not like they obviously aren’t people who support him). But the point is, halachic obligation or no halachic obligation – this is what happens when people erode their credibility. Think of Rabbi Broyde’s explanation that involves an unnamed co-conspirator. Really, is it any surprise that people are skeptical? Even while trying to come clean, even while telling what may well be the truth – people are of course going to doubt him.

    Nu, he’ll be okay. But this is a tough weekend for him.

  142. Hareidiman says:

    charediman why should you belive him? simply because that is the halacha. is that reason enough?

    you are a sockpuppet

    This is Hareidi type of talking
    Where is the halacha?
    I have to give kovod and I still must be choished

  143. Hareidiman says:

    He’s going to be ok, just that he will be marginalized. I will be skeptical about what he writes. How do we know he hasn’t plagiarized? He hasn’t been accused of it but still…

  144. SD says:

    Question for Joel Rich:

    Gil wrote:
    “Anonymous: can you also verify whether the other comments made by David Gold, Kevin Gold, etc. were posted by the same IP address as Rabbi Broyde?”

    “Impossible to tell. That same IP address was also used by Minyan Lover, Joel Rich, Charlie Hall and Neil Harris at various times, which means it isn’t fixed to a single computer”

    What was the location of this IP?

    Joel: Any idea of how you and Charlie Hall would occasionally be using the same IP address?
    (I am asking because I was wondering whether it was possible that someone other than Joel and Charlie had left comments on Hirhurim, perhaps borrowing the use of their names by mistake.)

  145. Daniel W says:

    Since it needs to be said, I’ll say it: Hareidiman – how the heck do we know who you are (or are not) either?

  146. fsg says:

    well i guess there is no point in defending rav broyde, after all anyone who does is clearly a sockpuppet. do you realize how ridiculous you sound hareidiman?

  147. S. says:

    I don’t think his life is over, public or otherwise. He was brilliant, he still is. Will the stain ever wash away? No, not completely, especially as people can’t even agree on what the stain is. Maybe you are through with him forever. But I can’t believe everyone else is. And who knows, maybe he will be creative in rebuilding himself.

    (For me, the most troubling part is the damage he did not to himself, but to the positions he espouses and the community he represents. It will be interesting to see if and how far he set these back.)

  148. joel rich says:

    r’sd,
    I’ve never seen a comment under my name that I didn’t make – I think somewhere along the line R’ gil said something about blackberry IP’s and I know once in a blue moon (dating myself again), I have commented from my blackberry.
    KT

  149. Hareidiman says:

    Maybe, I’m R’Chaim Kanievsky.
    Who cares who I am? Who is Daniel W, avi, fsg, Yosef Klein, Yehuda, Avraham?

    Go ahead and defend R’ Broyde. Saying what a great tzaddik he is, is not a defense.

    Like the nice neighbor who shot up his family. Can’t be possible, the nicest guy.

    R’ Broyde deceived the public for 15 years + , what possible defense is their for a rabbi and dayan?

    If he would have just come out and said “I was wrong” the story would have ended and then he would have be able to go on with his life.

    Now other sites are picking up his non-apology apology and his reputation will further damaged, as will Modern Orthodoxy and Orthodoxy.

  150. fsg says:

    harediman if you are actually interested in a source i would advise looking at the very strong comments of rambam to the end of the sixth mishna in the first perek of pirkei avos. although this is not strictly speaking a halachic source, i think rambams words carry enough weight.

  151. Daniel W says:

    Hareidiman – when you brush off other posts as fakes as sock-puppets, why shouldn’t I brush you off as the same?
    And by the way – I’m the guy at the top right of http://atlantasimchas.com/ the best of Atlanta Simcha music – yay for free advertising :^)

  152. Shlomo says:

    R’ Broyde has become the Stanley McChrystal of the MO world. Or possibly the David Petraeus. We are in favor of absolute ethical behavior, as we should be. But when our leaders all one by one fail the test of ethical perfection, our community is left without a capable defender.

  153. The Puppet Yeshiva has no comment. Real human mistakes, tragedy, suffering or pain are not flippant jokes.

  154. Hareidiman says:

    nu, nu

    fsg on April 14, 2013 at 2:21 pm

    charediman why should you belive him? simply because that is the halacha. is that reason enough?

    fsg on April 14, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    harediman if you are actually interested in a source i would advise looking at the very strong comments of rambam to the end of the sixth mishna in the first perek of pirkei avos. although this is not strictly speaking a halachic source, i think rambams words carry enough weight.

  155. diane says:

    do any of you understand internet? any reputable website will ban you for sock pupetting, see amazon and all the writers they have banned for this reason, also yelp for the same reason, he was not curing the web of negative comments, this is a simple case of lying, as a professor of law and rabbi/dayan he should have known better, nothing he says or has said can be trusted, sadly this is not an apology but a further expression of his narcisism, to associate himself with gadolim of the past is laughable, also disgusting to throw R.moshe feinstein under the bus to defend himself, and yes this does relate to the finkelstein scandal it shows a pattern of lying and deception. would any rabbi knowing this now sit on a beit din with him now? i doubt it.

  156. Michael Rogovin says:

    Well, we have all learned a few things over the past few days. Let’s review:

    1. Rabbis sometimes use pseudonyms when posting on line, for good reasons, and some less laudable ones.

    2. People who are regularly attacked in the most vicious ways in public, permanent forums sometimes feel a need to counter those posts with praise. The nature of the Internet is that while it enables unfettered discussion with a broad public, the lack of good moderation and editorial control means that the level of discourse has become crude. While some of the comments were clearly over the top, it is interesting to see all the attacks on Rabbi Broyde from people who do not identify themselves.

    3. Rabbi Broyde turns out to be human after all. It is a natural human reaction to lie when caught – to protect oneself, one’s family and friends, and it is all part of the same self-deception that allows one to continue to behave in ways one realizes is dishonest. No one like to admit they are behaving unethically. We all have a great capacity at rationalization. I really wonder if any of the critics can honestly say that they have not lied when caught doing something wrong. Was it wrong to continue to lie when caught – yes, but it was also very human.

    I have known and respected Rabbi Broyde for over 28 years. I consider him a friend. He can be brilliant, infuriating, kind, smug, loving, angry — all the things that make a person human. The harsh critics here are unforgiving. But I truly wonder that, as disappointing as his behavior was, is it so much worse than racist statements from a Rosh Yeshiva, protection of child molesters by heads of schools, calling for (as a “joke”) the murder of the Israeli Prime Minister, the hiring and ill treatment of illegal workers and numerous other ethical failings by individuals and communal leaders of much higher prominence that have been defended, ignored or minimized on this and other blogs?

    I don’t condone what my friend did, but believe that his apology is sincere and certainly give him the benefit of the doubt, notwithstanding being disappointed. I wish him, and his family, strength during this time when he is subject to even more viciousness, and can only advise that it will be better in the long run to be forthright, honest and tell the truth about this matter. The truth will eventually come out anyway, better sooner and from you than by others.

  157. jo says:

    He is the jewish A-ROD

  158. Anonymous says:

    The apology is a bit mealy-mouthed.
    “I felt that I had no choice but to temporarily deny any involvement until I consulted with my writing partner.”
    He didn’t have to lie about his own involvement to protect the other person.
    Moreover, the argument about the use of a pen name is a straw man. The real question is whether this erudite scholar and important posek is dishonest. If so, he must reestablish trust before expecting to have his psak taken seriously. It is to the reader to judge if this statement meets this standard.

  159. Hareidiman says:

    He’s the jewish – Yossel Jacobson (Shoeless Joe Jackson)

  160. Joseph Kaplan says:

    Michael, as usual, speaks with wisdom. (Michael uses the word disappointed. The main emotion I feel is sadness.)

    Let me add one other thing that we learned, or, at least, that I learned. Don’t jump so quickly to attack others of a different ideological bent for personal failings. And when you do criticize — and I am not saying that we shouldn’t criticize, criticism is important and necessary — but when we do criticize, better to err on the side of gentleness.

    I think we also learned, or should have learned, something about anonymity and the internet and I think Gil should devote a post to that issue. Joel has already said some things about that issue that resonated with me and I would welcome a fuller discussion.

  161. Abe says:

    The apology is even more disappointing than the offense, which fairly minor. It is not Rabbi Broyde’s fault that the Beth Din of America in their infinite insecurity, and their doctrinaire belief in the superiority of secular academia, appoints him to the Beth Din of America as one of the few rabbis who combines expertise in Choshen Mishpat with a professorship in civil law. That is their decision, and he deserves it. But, if someone must indulge in anonymous comments, admit that they are so. Hershel Goldwasser claimed to be an authority figure, and had a resume. Now he apparently is two people, and Rabbi Broyde does not admit that he should have come clean right away, but tries to blame a co-conspirator. And if he had wished to maintain good relations with Rabbi Avi Weiss’ fellowship of more modern rabbis, I think they would have welcomed his input, and if he had wished to keep a low profile and not be listed as a member I think Rabbi Weiss would have respected that request. So why did he stoop to underhanded behavior? Here is a man who had everything, income, prestige, respect, tenure, a tranquil out-of-town rabbinical position, a powerful place on the national rabbinical stage…. why did he need to be dishonest. I do not know him personally, but had never heard anything disrespectful about him, now I wonder.

  162. Anon says:

    Michael. When were “racist statements [made] from a Rosh Yeshiva”?

    You also write “The truth will eventually come out anyway, better sooner and from you than by others.”

    Can you explain what this means? Is there something we are missing?

  163. Hareidiman says:

    He doesn’t get it

    Broyde, 48, spoke exclusively with Haaretz as soon as Shabbat ended in Atlanta, where he lives with his wife and their four children. In an interview during which he ranged from sounding befuddled about the fuss to defensive and at other times contrite, he downplayed the seriousness of his deception.

    “I don’t understand the issue. That’s the truth,” he said.

    Asked if he will continue to sockpuppet, Broyde said, “I don’t know. I haven’t in a while. I haven’t given it any thought.”

    He defended the practice of adopting a false name under which to publish articles or books, citing examples as varied as Orthodox rabbis, Lewis Carroll and Stephen King.

    “Presenting an idea independent of the author is not a deep problem. Sometimes you want people to examine ideas independent of the person who said them,” Broyde said. “It’s not unethical to use a different name.”

    Asked if he considered it lying, Broyde said, “I don’t view writing under the name Hershel Goldwasser as lying. It’s a technical untruth, so I guess you can call it lying. But it’s a well-accepted social convention.”

    “I’ve never quite felt important in any significant way,” he told Haaretz.

    Asked why anyone should believe that there was a second person involved in creating and using the Hershel Goldwasser character and why the friend was letting Broyde take responsibility for the deception, the rabbi said, “My agreement was that I would go public. It’s reasonable that someone could even question my credibility. But what can I do? You have to have some loyalty to your friends.”

    Asked by Haaretz why he would laud his own essays on websites, Broyde described it as “succumbing to the vanity of naked praise. That’s just immaturity.”

    He minimized its importance, saying, “It doesn’t sound so serious. It’s not as though there’s a stock price I’m trying to manipulate.

    From Ha’aretz

    He defended the practice of adopting a false name under which to publish articles or books, citing examples as varied as Orthodox rabbis, Lewis Carroll and Stephen King.

    The following is a comment on The Jewish Channel –
    Sound familiar – Stephen King & great rabbonim

    http://newsdesk.tjctv.com/2013/04/the-rabbi-behind-the-screen/#comments

    • It is gratifying to see that neither the author nor the respondents have wasted their time watching “National Treasure”. If they had, they would know that this is Ben Franklin’s pseudonym, used for similar purposes as R. Broyde’s creation of Hershel Goldwasser. (sadly, they are not erudite enough to have read “The Papers of Benjamin Franklin” either).
    They probably aren’t Stephen King fans. Otherwise they would know that he ran several novels under the name of Richard Bachman in order to compete with himself, motivated by profit (creating an entire biography of Bachman in the process).
    They may root for the NY Knicks, but are ignorant of the fact that the name stems from the pseudonym Deidrich Knickerbocker (again complete with false bio)created by Washington Irving – also to build book sales.
    The list goes on.
    But what of the Halachacists?
    Most prominent, of course, is the 13th century luminary Rav Shlomo Ben Aderet (Rashba) who wrote the Mishmeret HaBayit – his scathing work attacking his contemporary, Rav Aharon HaLevi for having had the audacity to critique the former’s work. He did not at first accept responsibility for writing it.
    Alas for R. Broyde – none of his illustrious predecessors were caught using the same IP address.
    So Please – Silence! Dogood!
    Comment by Silence Dogood — April 14, 2013 @ 5:02 am

  164. DF says:

    What we’ve learned – or rather, been reminded of yet again – is that people politically invested with someone will defend that someone no matter what he says or does, so long as his viewpoints are correct in their eyes. Quite akin to how the so-called feminists, back in the day, supported the womanizer Clinton, and how they are turning a blind eye even today to Obama, even though he apparently believes a woman’s most important qualification as attoney general is her looks. Just so. So long as Rabbi Broyde’s opinion on – what a coincidence, women’s issues – are right, his supporters will spin faster and faster to claim there’s nothing to see.

    I am myself a neutral on R. Broyde. Though I oppose his views on women’s issues, I agree with him on many others. (Just for one example, he has written about the lunacy of giving chodesh li’shana severance pay to day school teachers, a very important issue.) I have met him in person, and have read his writings for nearly twenty (20) years. And I’m telling you, if you truly think this is a non-issue, you’re fooling yourself badly.

    Truthfulness is a big issue. Some people may be defending R. Broyde because they know that they are hardly saints themselves, and they dont consider themselves bad charachters. But the issue is not whether Broyde is a “bad man” (of course he isnt) and most people arent public Dayanim. Rabbi Broyde knows enough about the law to know the teachings of Sullivan v. The New York Times on the concept of a public figure.

    I see now Rabbi Broyde has interviewed with Haaretz, and professes not to know what all the fuss is about. If thus he thinks, he can only be either a fool or a liar or a naif. We know he is not the former, and that leaves only the latter two. We should be loath to call anyone a liar, though one would be hard pressed in this situation to use a different term. And thus we must say the Rabbi is naive, and that alone disqualifies his as a Dayan. It means he in unaware of the way certain ideas he supports from his ivory tower play out in real life. It means he has no shikul hadaas.

    Again, I support R. Broyde on many issues, and think he’s right on the money on many of them. But there’s no doubt in the world that he’s been harmed by this. It’s sad.

  165. Yosef Klein says:

    nonissue, time to move on. His interview w/ Haaretz was perfect and shows that this was nothing.

  166. fsg says:

    are we really going to start comparing this to clinton and petraeus???

  167. Hareidiman says:

    This is a seriously curious comment

    Yosef Klein on April 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    nonissue, time to move on. His interview w/ Haaretz was perfect and shows that this was nothing.

  168. a modest suggestion says:

    While I don’t tihnk that R. Broyde’s pseudonymous blogging was wrong per se, certain aspects reflect poor judgment: his sock-puppeting, attacking various figures, joining IRF, etc. As a Dayyan R. Broyde needs to be above reproach. Therefore I would suggest that R. Broyde publicly pledge NEVER to write or blog anonymously again.

  169. Yosef Klein says:

    Hareidiman: What was so curious about it?

  170. Kevin in Chicago says:

    I have no competence to criticize Rabbi Broyde’s Torah scholarship. But I challenge anyone to read the full article in The Jewish Channel and believe he is a man of integrity. One could claim that his halakhic opinions are independent of his character, but a posek and dayan is expected to be more than a skillful scholar, a master of rhetoric and reasoning. Like Moses’ deputies, he should be a “man of truth,” an “ish emet.” There are occasions where a person in a position of community responsibility might choose to say something under an assumed name l’shem shamayim, but do the incidents recounted fit that category? Doesn’t his behavior raise questions about his yirat shamayim? If he failed what Joel Rich called the WSJ test — if he didn’t behave as if he feared his actions (and his lies in defense of them) might become known — what does that say about his attitude toward the One who doesn’t need to read the WSJ or trace IP addresses? It misses the point to argue over the gravity of R. Broyde’s pretending to be “Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser” or “David Gold,” deceptions that in themselves may have done no harm. What is troubling is that the deceptions imply that R. Broyde was pretending to be an honest and pious rabbi under his real name.

  171. Tablet magazine appears to allege that Rabbi Broyde may have commented on the YU child abuse scandal (that also has implicated Rabbi Broyde) using the fake identity of David Weissman in a Jewish Week article (Needed: Independent Investigation On YU High School Scandal, Mon, 12/24/2012, by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld who wrote “The investigation should not only be limited to Yeshiva University. One former student claims in the Forward that he shared his accusations with Rabbi Michael Broyde of the Beth Din of America who dismissed his charges without giving him a proper hearing. We need to know whether or not this accusation is accurate.”:

    http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/129385/top-rabbi-admits-fake-identity

    A cursory look at the Jewish Week comments raises suspicions regarding several of the other comments:

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/needed-independent-investigation-yu-high-school-scandal

    Harry Weissberger

    Hillel Gold

    Miriam Goldstein

    It is a very serious matter if a leading dayan in the modern Orthodox world is “sockpuppeting” on a major abuse scandal in an effort to sway public opinion by attacking a critic who wants a fully independent investigation (I do not want another Richard Joel report that whitewashes the scandal by protecting the names of people at YU who protected the child abusers at the expense of children as was done at the OU/NCSY with the Lanner report). Why would a powerful dayan with ties to his powerful friend Rabbi Lamm be allegedly commenting that Richard Joel should be conducting the investigation? This smells. Particularly in light of the allegations against Rabbi Broyde in the recent Forward article:

    http://forward.com/articles/168012/yeshiva-officials-rabbis-knew-of-alleged-abuse/?p=all

    In 2000, former student Twersky said he approached Michael Broyde, a Modern Orthodox rabbi who had just left a position at Beth Din of America, the official religious court of the RCA. Twersky asked if he should bring charges against Finkelstein in the beit din, and said that Broyde advised him that the allegations were “not flagrant enough.”

    Broyde said he does not recall the exchange with Twersky “in any way, shape or form.”

    “I don’t even know who Mordechai Twersky is,” Broyde said. “If he said he was sexually assaulted, I would have said to call the police.”

    Twersky said Broyde ought to remember him; they were in the same constitutional law class at Yeshiva College in 1983. During the late 1990s, Beth Din of America retained Twersky for public relations work that involved “working closely with Broyde on the marketing materials for their newly established rabbinic court,” Twersky said.

    Although he denied knowing about Twersky’s allegations, Broyde, a member of the RCA’s executive committee, said he had heard rumors about Finkelstein. “There had always been a rumor out there that there were kids who said this going back I don’t know how long,” Broyde said.

  172. Hareidiman says:

    non issue? really?
    His interview w/ Haaretz was perfect and shows that this was nothing?
    time to move on?

    Yosef Klein on April 14, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    Hareidiman: What was so curious about it?

    Yosef Klein on April 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm

    nonissue, time to move on. His interview w/ Haaretz was perfect and shows that this was nothing.

  173. Baruch says:

    What’s with all his elaborate lying to the reporter from The Jewish Channel?

  174. Hareidiman says:

    http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2011/08/08/who-hast-not-made-me-a-liberal-rabbi/

    Kevin Gold
    August 9, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    I did not understand this post at all. I read Rabbi Kanefsky’s post and I opened up my gemera in Menachot 43b and I saw the bracha sheasani yishael in the gemera. I then looked at the mishnah Berurah משנה ברורה סימן מו (טו) שלא עשני וכו’ – ויזהר שלא יברך שעשני ישראל כמו שיש באיזה סדורים ע”י שיבוש הדפוס כי י”א שבזה לא יוכל לברך שוב שלא עשני עבד ולא עשני אשה: and it looked to me that Rabbi Kanefsky is correct. One who says the bracha “sheasani yisrael” no longer can say any of the three brachot (isha, goy, eved). Rabbi Kanefsky does proprose something radical — that something that is a bedeeved be used by us lechatchela because of his sense of sheat hadechak. But it is not very radical — he is not the inventer of shat hadechak kemo bedeeved. None of the words you quote from his article are on the morethodoxy web site that I saw. And the truth is that — all polemics aside — shelo asani isha is offensive to women, just like goyim were for many years offended by shelo ansi goy. That does not mean that we should make any change — but this is not a change in the litergy that is without precident — old sidurim were printed just like this, as the mishnah berusha notes. .

  175. Yosef Klein says:

    Hareidiman: What would you prefer to do? Talk this subject to death without any new information. The story is over. I don’t feel it was a big issue, if you disagree fine, but it has already been discussed to death.

  176. Jewish Week article (Needed: Independent Investigation On YU High School Scandal, Mon, 12/24/2012, by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld who wrote “The investigation should not only be limited to Yeshiva University. One former student claims in the Forward that he shared his accusations with Rabbi Michael Broyde of the Beth Din of America who dismissed his charges without giving him a proper hearing. We need to know whether or not this accusation is accurate.”). Here are the suspicious comments:

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/needed-independent-investigation-yu-high-school-scandal

    1) Submitted by Harry Weissberger (not verified) on Sun, 12/30/2012 – 09:35.
    I did not understand this opinion peice. Why shouldn’t YU do the investigation? If something happened in Rabbi Herzfeld’s shul before he was the rabbi, would any one doubt that he should look into it first? Rabbi Lamm’s comments need to be addressed, and Rabbi Broyde’s view is straightforward — he tells people who come to him about abuse to go to the police and not to bet din. That seems reasonable.

    2) Submitted by Hillel Gold (not verified) on Sat, 12/29/2012 – 17:55.
    I also thought that this piece was of little value — his attack on Rabbi Broyde was just dumb if one actually read the Forward and his attack on President Joel was without basis. YU should do the investigation.

    Hillel

    3) Submitted by Miriam Goldstein (not verified) on Fri, 12/28/2012 – 05:53.

    I think David Weissman’s comment is correct. Whatever YU should have done, Shmuel Herzfeld’s comments are just off point, and not very helpful.

    4) Submitted by David Weissman (not verified) on Thu, 12/27/2012 – 07:41.

    This whole editorial is somewhat silly. Not really wrong, just biased and with little content. Let me give two examples — when he speak about Rabbi Broyde, he does not quote the whole story in the Forward, which seems to have spoken to Rabbi Broyde and quotes him as saying two things: (1) He does not recall any part of this conversation and thinks it did not happen, and (2) he tells people to call the police when abuse allegations come up. Rabbi Herzfeld’s quoting half the story makes it of no value. Second and even more extreme is the idea that President Joel should not be allowed to conduct the investigation. What nonesense — there is no real claim that he is biased at all. Rather, Herzfeld is claiming some abstract idea of “bias” as if the President of YU is part of the problem. This whole peice seems to designed just to smear YU. Very sad.

    David Weissman

  177. JonathanB says:

    Anyone have R’ Shmuly’s report on his correspondence with R’ Broyde from the Times of Israel archived (it was taken down)?
    Original URL:
    http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/rabbi-michael-broyde-identity-deception-apologies-and-forgiveness/

  178. Hirhurim says:

    I’m surprised anyone here takes a Haaretz interview of a rabbi as accurately portraying his words and views. The reporter asked me for an interview also but I insisted it be in writing, which she declined.

  179. STBO says:

    R’ Gil,

    You may consider requesting that a voice interview be recorded (by yourself) so there can be no risk of misquotation in print.

  180. Hirhurim says:

    Hareidiman: You can’t post copyrighted material like that

  181. joel rich says:

    We can also all learn from this example. When one does wrong, one must follow the halachic path to offer public sincere regret, stop the harmful actions, confess and ask for forgiveness, and make a deep commitment to never do the behavior again. It requires humility to do this but it can rebuild trust.
    ======================================================
    True. Might I add that a very wise father I know used to tell his son that trust, once broken, takes a very, very, very long time to reestablish.

    From a practical stanpoint I would add that ISTM that public figures (and maybe private as well) would likely need to go beyond simply never doing it again (i.e. OK now I’m back where I am supposed to be). In my office they talk about the 3 A’s when you mess up – acknowledge, apologize, atone – I can’t say what the atonement would be, but it’s not only between man and God in practice in the world we live in.

    KT

  182. joel rich says:

    It seems like the post I responded to was taken down but I think my response stands in any event.
    KT

  183. Hareidiman says:

    Rav Shmuly,

    Thank you for reaching out to me. The truth is that you are correct—I should have asked at the end of my statement posted on hirhurim for forgiveness from the community.

    That was a mistake on my part—yet another one, it appears. I am hoping and praying that our community will give me a chance to continue in some of the productive roles that I have had. I hope that there is still a capacity to forgive me for my mistakes. Thank you for pointing that out to me.

    I recognize that this was a terrible ethical mistake and I have to accept all responsibility for it and ask for mechilah from everyone whom I hurt in this. I have to accept all responsibility for it and ask for mechilah from everyone whom I hurt in this.

    A foundation of what we do as rabbis is build trust and I do understand that the trust has been broken, but I ask again for mechila and the opportunity to rebuild that trust.

    Of course, I have learned from this and would never ever do anything like this again. Speaking about my own internal teshuva process is very hard for me but I am deeply reflective in some ways about my life and in my teshuva process; I hope that everyone understands that.

    I do care deeply about the Jewish people and Jewish law and ethics and I really hope and pray that I can still have can have the honor to serve.

    Sincerely and with Friendship, Michael J. Broyde

  184. Hirhurim says:

    I’m not quite sure why writing “I publicly express here my apologies to those who were deceived by my pseudonymous writing” does not qualify as asking for forgiveness. Isn’t that what an apology is?

  185. IH says:

    I’m surprised anyone here takes a Haaretz interview of a rabbi as accurately portraying his words and views.

    This is guilt by association that too is ugly. The author of the Ha’aretz piece, Debra Nussbaum Cohen, is well-respected and respectful in her coverage. [I do not know her personally].

    The reporter asked me for an interview also but I insisted it be in writing, which she declined.

    My understanding is that the broadsheet newspaper industry views such written interviews for news stories to be in violation of professional standards.

    —–

    In any case, no one coerced R. Broyde to participate in this interview just as no one coerced him to author this post.

  186. octologue says:

    Daniel W,
    Are you you or are you your sock puppet?

    Hirhurim: Note how RMB chose his words carefully. He doesn’t apologize for deceiving people with a sock puppet. He apologizes that we were deceived by his “pseudonymous writing.”
    This will die down, but never completely so long as the Koren siddur has his name.

  187. Not impressed says:

    The real issue here is not whether we can forgive rmb – he doesn’t need my forgiveness. The issue here is that I feel he has lost such tremendous credibility by showing such facility with the untruth. Upon rereading the article about the yu abuse that someone quoted above, I (now that I know what we all know) do not at all take at face value rmb’s claim that he does not know or remember twersky. I feel he has lost entirely his neemanut – something quite valuable and necessary for a Dayan!!

  188. Daniel W says:

    Eh? I’m not much for puppetry, though I do fancy myself an excellent singer :^)

  189. octologue says:

    By “his” I mean Goldwasser.

  190. octologue says:

    The biggest problem is that he made idiots out of Koren and the IRF.

  191. IH says:

    It’s not Koren, the publisher, as it is the OU editorial committee and they will need need to review the impact of “Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser” (and, I suspect, “Rabbi Eric Berkowitz”) in the OU Sacks Siddur editing process – and their interrelationship with R. Broyde’s contributions. I.e. are there changes that were made on the basis of a united front from these three “individuals”?

  192. AS says:

    R’ Gil, why do you continue to remove this following comment?

    Here is a comment on R’ Broyde’s Women’s Torah Reading Article:

    Davd Gold on October 16, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I found the post by Rabbi Broyde to be a blast of fresh air, because he addresses the real and hard issue confronting our shuls and society: when should our minhagim change? This is the burning issue. It is not about halacha at all, but minhag. Rabbi Broyde honestly conceeds that. Unlike some (see the post by Zev Farber in Morethodoxy) who argues that ALL NEEDS TO CHANGE because we are a bad community, or the many charedi posters who argue that nothing can change, Rabbi Broyde argues that change can and does happen and actually proposes a workable principle — Mitzvah driven — for when we ought to embrace change and when we ought not. His article is important.

    When I was at YU as a student, someone called him a posek in front of my Rosh Yeshiva and he said “I am not much into these kinds of titles, but if I had to give him a title, it is Gadol, not posek”. I see why.
    _______________________

    Is this not RMB making up a story that YU RY called him a gadol?

  193. Michael Feldstein says:

    In the past, I have seen the value in blogs allowing for anonymous postings. At the same time, I also see the wisdom for only allowing people to post using their real names. In fact, I personally have done both, depending on the circumstances. However, the Rabbi Broyde incident has pushed me in favor of the latter.

    I would urge the larger bloggers (such as Gil Student and Harry Maryles) to at least temporarily require posters to only use their real names (perhaps through a Facebook application, as I’ve seen certain blogs employ), and then measure whether the quality of the posts are better or worse compared to allowing individuals to post with a made up screen name.

    I think this would make an important statement that we don’t approve of individuals masquerading as others on blogs, and it also would probably eliminate much of the slanderous talk that often appears in anonymous posts.

    Yes, many people feel uncomfortable posting their true thoughts under their own name (a problem in and of itself) — and anonymous postings often do allow for more truthful posts to be written. In addition, people get to know particular individuals by their posts under a specific screen name, even if they are not revealing their true names. But I think I’m willing to sacrifice these benefits for the greater benefits that would occur by limiting posts to people who are willing to provide their real names.

    I’m wondering how others feel, in light of the latest story about Rabbi Broyde.

  194. >The biggest problem is that he made idiots out of Koren and the IRF.

    The IRF and others took Rabbi Broyde’s word at face value that this other Rabbi existed. They were entitled to do so. You can see how Rabbi Broyde lied to Steven I. Weiss in a similar manner about the fake Rabbi he created. It does not make them “idiots” as you falsely assert.

    Rabbi Broyde’s biggest problem is that his credibility will likely be put at issue at the YU civil trial when he is publicly examined under penalty of perjury. At that point, given the past few days of revelations (and likely further revelations over the next weeks and months), I don’t see how Rabbi Broyde will be found credible. He is an admitted liar who has decades of experience at lying. It has been documented by Steven I. Weiss and confirmed by Rabbi Broyde himself. So we are left with the the most important court institutions in the modern Orthodox world, the Beis Din HaKavod of the RCA having been utterly compromised at the moment by the conduct of one of its dayanim.

    Can you imagine a US Supreme Court Justice acting this way or being caught in such a clear lie to the press? This damages the whole modern Orthodox movement, particularly in light of the current silence and inaction of the leadership of the modern Orthodox movement who are clearly “shell-shocked”. If they do not get on top of this and quickly and appropriately address same, they and their movement will be the “idiots”. Any missteps will forever taint the modern Orthodox movement.

    That would seem to me the “biggest problem”.

  195. joel rich says:

    r’mf,
    Not everyone is on facebook (meaning I’m not)
    KT

  196. Octologue says:

    I agree with you that it does not make them into idiots, but the fact is that they acknowledged a nonexistent person. That’s pretty embarrassing.

  197. >I would urge the larger bloggers (such as Gil Student and Harry
    >Maryles) to at least temporarily require posters to only use their
    >real names (perhaps through a Facebook application, as I’ve seen
    >certain blogs employ), and then measure whether the quality of the
    >posts are better or worse compared to allowing individuals to post
    >with a made up screen name.

    I disagree in full with your proposal and I believe the studies to date disagree with you as to the quality of posts.

    I rely on the following Rabbinical affidavits as to the importance of free and anonymous speech. Remember, the founding founders also engaged in anonymous writings.

    http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2008/06/13/619814/BlauAffidavit.pdf
    http://ww1.prweb.com/prfiles/2008/06/13/619814/DratchAffidavit.pdf

  198. Ruvie says:

    Interesting that the timing RMB gave for discontinuing using the name of r’ goldwasser coincides with a reason from the IRF: not the one given by RMB.

    “In November 2009 following the adoption of our organizational by-laws and the formalization of our membership procedures, all members were formally vetted and their applications were re-evaluated. Suspicions arose regarding one particular name and whether it was a real person.”

    Gil you posted that it was an inside joke that many knew – does not appear to be true at this point

  199. Twistelton-Twistelton says:

    “I had a teacher at YU who wrote letters to the editor under assumed names. Some of them were quite amusing choices.
    I’m sure there were more people who did this.”

    I can’t imagian anyone doing that!!

  200. Jacob Sasson says:

    This non-appology/justification is borne of the same character flaw that led RMB to sock-puppet – arrogance. RMB sees no difference between pseudonymously declaring himself a Gadol and the Ben Ish Chai, in his humility, publishing an anonymous teshuva at the age of 14. In the name of the Ben Ish Chai, I object.

    Moreover, his interview with Haaretz makes it abundantly clear that he sees no problem with the deception and his apology seems to me of the “I am sorry you feel that way” variety. Take this line: “I don’t view writing under the name Hershel Goldwasser as lying. It’s a technical untruth, so I guess you can call it lying. But it’s a well-accepted social convention.” First, sock puppeting is not a well-accepted social convention. Second, it is certainly not a well-accepted convention among Dayanim. Third, can you imagine any well respected Dayan making distinctions between lying and “technical untruth”? Many people comment anonymously but there is a huge difference between being “HAGTBG” and Herschel Goldwasser, high school rebbe of RMB who made aliyah ten years ago, published articles, etc. If RMB cant see the difference he should not be a Dayan.

    His letter to Shmuly comes closer to real contrition but is not enough. As a Dayan, he should know that the path to forgiveness is well defined. First, Vidui – RMB needs to give us an accounting of which comments were his. Did he comment on the YU High School Scandal? We simply do not know. Second, charata – RMB needs to ask for forgiveness. Instead, we got five reasons why his actions were not really wrong, a distinction between a lie and a “technical untruth”, and comparisons to the Ben Ish Chai. That is conduct unbecoming a Dayan.

  201. IH says:

    Much has been written on non-apology apologies, but I saw one line that really stuck out as the crux of R. Broyde’s challenge in the coming days:

    “Humility, not pride, should be the tone of a sincere apology.”

  202. avi says:

    There is no need for a sincere apology, as nothing wrong was done.

  203. shachar haamim says:

    I think that one needs to distinguish between public figures and private individuals.
    And public figures will be held accountable by the public.

  204. shachar haamim says:

    I think that, sadly, a lot of rabbis are arrogant.
    But – like with politicians – the public gets what it deserves.
    The public seems to prefer dynamic rabbis
    The public seems to prefer radical rabbis
    the public seems to prefer arrogant rabbis
    the public seems to prefer rabbis who marry into extremely wealthy families
    the public seems to prefer rabbis whoo are very highly paid – like in the top decile.
    the public sends it money to institutions employing and paying such rabbis.

    personally I much pfrefer soft spoken, gentlemanly type rabbis who can more readily identify with middle class values and who have true empathy for the lower class. but such rabbis are in short supply – and as a sad testament to the public – are also in short demand.

  205. Anonymous says:

    Michael Rogovin – “Rabbi Broyde turns out to be human after all. ”

    i do not think anyone would care(or at least be so bothered) if RMB wrote many sefarim under a pen name or posted articles without his moniker for many reasons that are plausible (to float ideas, to argue only the halacha and not the personality etc).
    the issue is simply of deceit (for a long period of time) and what he said and how he behaved with those pen names.
    A dayan is trusted to weigh – evaluate- different and sometimes conflicting torah values and their inherent tensions in deciding matters. he need to show good judgement. RMB gas shown poor judgements in his actions and hence the problem.

    it is true that other well known rabbis have seen not nice things – well terrible too- in public and it has not effected the value of their torah to the public (in most cases). but none has been deceitful. no one forces you to go to a posek – choose another to follow but a dayan needs respect by all parties.

    fyi, written with software that masks ip addresses. just ask your local hacker friends.

  206. ruvie says:

    6:44 am

  207. sass says:

    Very ironically,
    I did not write the post above (12:05 am) which appears under my name; however, I completely agree with what is written.

    Signed,
    sass

  208. Hirhurim says:

    sass: It’s a common name

  209. avi says:

    “it is true that other well known rabbis have seen not nice things – well terrible too- in public and it has not effected the value of their torah to the public (in most cases). but none has been deceitful. ”

    This isn’t true at all…

  210. emma says:

    shachar haamim 5:46 am: +1

  211. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    I’m a bit conflicted here.

    On the one hand, it’s a chillul Hashem, and a black eye for the Orthodox rabbinate.

    OTOH, I think it will encourage broader consideration of R’ Broyde’s general level of intellectual honesty, which is very much overdue IMO.

  212. IH says:

    Testing using Facebook as “authentication” by including the URL in the Website field.

  213. Test says:

    Of course, someone can now spoof me and look authentic by using the URL I used. Only the administrator may be able to validate.

  214. kweansmom says:

    Have you taken down the “sockpuppet” posts on your blog? I noticed one or two from last week (on the Carter/Cardozo post) were there yesterday, but they are gone today. I think that knowing exactly what RMB has been doing online is very relevant to the ongoing discussion, and that the evidence should not be destroyed.

  215. Hirhurim says:

    I haven’t taken down any of the comments in question.

  216. ruvie says:

    fyi -

    The Rabbinical Council of America, the chief professional organization of Modern Orthodox rabbis, has granted Rabbi Dr. Michael Broyde, one of its most prominent scholars and a professor of law at Emory University, “an indefinite leave of absence” from its top rabbinical court, the Beth Din of America. Sources within the RCA confirmed the move, and Broyde’s biography has been deleted from the court’s web site, where he was previously listed as a member and judge.

    “Rabbi Broyde has admitted to behavior that the Rabbinical Council finds extremely disturbing,” Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, president of the RCA, told Tablet. “We have determined and announced by the Beth Din of America, our affiliated rabbinical court, that he has ceased to serve as a dayan immediately and indefinitely.”

  217. emma says:

    in terms of constructive lessons:

    (1) those of us who are anonymous (esp without taking other steps to conceal identity) should harbor no illusions that a motivated individual could not identify us. i’ve been intellectually aware of this long enough that i _hope_ i would pass the wsj test…

    (1a) if you are seriously considering going verified, please please create an open comment thread on that first. speaking only for myself i would say that some of my motives for not using my name might be criticized, but others are completely benign (such as, don’t want to get hijacked at kiddush by certain persistent individuals who read this blog and love arguing incessantly).

    (2) a community that prizes leaders with book learning without regard to emotional intelligence or maturity, and rewards self-promoters, will sometimes find that those leaders have done embarrassingly immature things.

  218. kweansmom says:

    You’re right, I apologize. They were on page 2 and I didn’t look carefully enough. Feel free to delete my prior post!

  219. Hoffa Araujo says:

    I haven’t read through all the comments above, so I don’t know if anybody made this point already.

    In respect of R’ Broyde’s point #4, I think a distinction can be made where responses in the past took time as we are talking about printing textual responses, in book form or kuntres, under pen-names.

    The internet has changed all that, as a person who is being criticized or maligned can respond instantaneously to change the tenor of a discussion or respond to defend one’s honour. Of course, the flip slide is that of the tracing of the response through an IP address, which can determine if there is “sock-puppeting” going on, whereas the written word would continue to provide some measure of comfort in maintaining anonimity.

  220. avi says:

    Since he has been removed from the beit din, I can only assume there is more to this story than reported.

  221. AS says:

    Re: Hirhurim on April 15, 2013 at 9:41 am

    I haven’t taken down any of the comments in question.

    This comment seems to have been removed twice -

    A comment on one of R’ Broyde’s articles on Hirhurim:

    Davd Gold on October 16, 2012 at 7:10 am

    I found the post by Rabbi Broyde to be a blast of fresh air, because he addresses the real and hard issue confronting our shuls and society: when should our minhagim change? This is the burning issue. It is not about halacha at all, but minhag. Rabbi Broyde honestly conceeds that. Unlike some (see the post by Zev Farber in Morethodoxy) who argues that ALL NEEDS TO CHANGE because we are a bad community, or the many charedi posters who argue that nothing can change, Rabbi Broyde argues that change can and does happen and actually proposes a workable principle — Mitzvah driven — for when we ought to embrace change and when we ought not. His article is important.

    When I was at YU as a student, someone called him a posek in front of my Rosh Yeshiva and he said “I am not much into these kinds of titles, but if I had to give him a title, it is Gadol, not posek”. I see why.
    _____________________________________________________

    Is this not RMB making up a story about himself where he purports that a YU RY called him a gadol?

  222. to Avi says:

    Avi – no, I think the story remains the same, just now that everyone is back at work they could all decide that this was the best course of action as things get sorted out. Given that half of the comments here call for a review of his status as a Dayan in light of just what is out there now, why would you even need anything more? Isn’t this what people were asking for anyway?

  223. Hirhurim says:

    AS: This comment seems to have been removed twice

    It has NOT been removed even though you keep posting it from different IP addresses. I don’t understand why you complained again that it has. Are you computer illiterate or just trying to raise a fuss?

    It is posted last night at 11:01pm and the night before at 10:47pm. And now again today at 10:19am.

    I only object because some people here might believe you rather than just look back and see that it is there.

    I have been removing comments — some of them are extremely improper, some which raise questions that I believe should not be addressed in the comments section of a blog and some threatening me. However, I did not remove the comments about which you complain I have.

  224. Hirhurim says:

    To be clear, though: Anyone who threatens me on this blog will be (or has been) banned and the comments removed. I think I only had to do it to three people (four identities) over the weekend.

  225. Hoffa Araujo says:

    Why would people threaten you? What did you do wrong?

  226. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    Gil,

    What exactly are people threatening you with?

  227. Hirhurim says:

    Not for public discussion

  228. Michael Feldstein says:

    >I would urge the larger bloggers (such as Gil Student and Harry
    >Maryles) to at least temporarily require posters to only use their
    >real names (perhaps through a Facebook application, as I’ve seen
    >certain blogs employ), and then measure whether the quality of the
    >posts are better or worse compared to allowing individuals to post
    >with a made up screen name.

    I disagree in full with your proposal and I believe the studies to date disagree with you as to the quality of posts.
    ——————–

    I understand the value of anonymous posts, and have supported them in the past. But the Rabbi Broyde incident has swayed me somewhat. Read the last 25 responses in this thread and you’ll understand why someone like myself can feel that the negatives may outweigh the positives.

  229. Bob Miller says:

    It’s a sad day when we at our level have to minutely vet our potential role models, for fear that they were falsely advertised.

  230. joel rich says:

    R’ Bob,
    I’m not a role model… Just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.
    Charles Barkley
    KT

  231. Hareidiman says:

    Hershel Goldwasser mocking the “Rabbis”

    Rabbi YS Eliyashiv
    Rabbi AL Shteinman
    Rabbi MY Lefkowitz
    Rabbi Nissim Karelitz
    Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky
    Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach
    Rabbi Gershon Edelstein
    Rabbi MZ Bergman

    http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2006/04/25/yisroel-valis-the-amona-police-ride-again/

    Hershel Goldwasser
    April 25, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    Rabbi Menken write:

    “We don’t know if he’s innocent or guilty, but we do know he should have been released on bail before Pesach, not after.”
    I confess not to understand this. Assuming that he is charged with murder, why should he be released on bail at all. In the US, as a general matter, people who are charged with murder are never released on bail (other than in exceptional situations). The “Rabbis” do not look right at all to me in seeking bail for one who is accused of muder.

  232. S. says:

    Hareidiman, that’s a nice find – but a very pareve comment, hardly mocking. Unless you meant his use of quotations, but clearly he doesn’t question that they are rabbis.

  233. joel rich says:

    r’ hareidman,
    I don’t see the mocking.
    KT

  234. Test says:

    With meaningful action taken by the appropriate bodies, I think our discussion should be progressing from the personal to the communal.

    The notion of a need to “vet our potential role models” is a consequence of a “top-down” dogma. This too is a communal choice.

    It seems to me that an important discussion to have in the coming weeks is how the community enabled R. Broyde to bend the rules as he appears to have done. For example, how does Modern Orthodoxy teach and act in regard to “הוכח תוכי את עמיתך” when the issues are moral, rather than halachic, and when the actor is a communal leader.

  235. J. says:

    To be fair, any mocking for that remarkable piece of idiocy was well-deserved.

  236. Test says:

    Oops. 11:20 was IH.

  237. S. says:

    Complete with “do not look right at all to me.” Nireh li. That’s about as humble a statement of disagreement with gedolei Torah that you could ever find.

  238. Hareidiman says:

    why the quotation marks?

  239. sass says:

    R’ Joel
    I would hope that we can hold our dayanim to a higher standard that we hold Charles Barkley.
    The Rav pointed out in his shiurim on Sanhedrin (does this count as sock puppeting?) that in Sefer Hamitzvos Lo Taase 284, there’s a specific issur to appoint a dayan whose conduct is unbecoming. Of course that seems to be a subjective criterion, and we could argue about what’s considered unbecoming, and who is kovea that, but definitely worth noting.

  240. S. says:

    >why the quotation marks?

    I have no idea, but a guess? It could be that he meant to single them out as a group. You know, why the gershayim when Rashi gives a la’az? It is a way of highlighting, like italics. Granted, it’s a little weird, especially because it would have worked without the quotes. But it truly defies belief, I think, to assume that he was somehow trying to defrock rabbis, some of whom he himself in his day job clearly respected as talmidei chachomim and posekim. Especially in the context of what really is a pareve comment. If this was his critique of Chareidi gedolim while he was going incognito – well, this is hardly the most outrageous thing he was accused of, nireh li. Believe me, it is easier to foam at the mouth, very easy, when you are anonymous or pseudonymous.

  241. pb says:

    why did parshablog take that down? is the info in that post incorrect?

  242. S. says:

    Yes. Gil told him that it was incorrect, and asked him to take it to email to explain, and that is why he took it down.

  243. joel rich says:

    R’ Sass,
    You know I’m old and cynical. I was just kidding with that quote but in the era of almost complete transparency we live in I think we have to take our role models in pieces. Who amongst us is without some flaw that could fail my WSJ test?

    KT

  244. Test says:

    R’ Joel — I’m not sure that a Rupert Murdoch publication is the exemplar for your point. Ref: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/news_of_the_world/index.html

  245. Hareidiman says:

    I use the NY Post test.

  246. Hareidiman says:

    I use the NY Post test

  247. emma says:

    “I think we have to take our role models in pieces.”

    OK, if we are going to prize intellect, book learning, and prestige, and compartmentalize them without regard to emotional intelligence, i guess we can do that, but then we have to be able to recognize where their expertise stops, and we can’t be surprised when the people selected that way turn out sometimes to do embarassingly immature things…

  248. emma says:

    re: ny post test – any orthodox jew has almost certainly failed that.

  249. Hirhurim says:

    Sass: e-mail me

  250. joel rich says:

    r’ emma,
    exactly so, which is why I wouldn’t suggest picking a mentor or poseik based primarily on intellect (I’ve worshipped at that altar, as well as others and I can tell you it is a false god)
    KT

  251. sass says:

    Gil,
    I think your readers/commenters deserve some kind of explanation as to what happened here and how Weiss was able to access that data. (This is not a threat :)

  252. pb says:

    thanks s

  253. IH says:

    Josh Waxman’s strapline in the deleted piece is “I’m not shocked by this revelation. I’m frankly somewhat bored by it.” This is consistent with another recent post he called “Why the latest Rav X controversy is dumb”.

    The thinking that allows both statements is part of the communal enabling of leaders feeling they can get away with dubious behavior. I am hopeful the RCA leaders who did the right thing quickly and unambiguously also have the courage to promote the necessary discussion of communal values that tacitly enable dubious behavior.

  254. emma says:

    r jr,
    personally, agree. but there is something of a viscious circle wherein i don’t see “the community” coming around to that totally any time soon…

  255. Hirhurim says:

    Sass: I agree but sadly that cannot be done in public. There will be announcements in the wake of all this but not everything is ready for prime time yet.

  256. jared harary says:

    Metadata will out. If ‘emet’ is prized we can only cheer the rapid and unstoppable data torrent of the digital age. Transparency is the inevitable consequence of the deluge of information itself and the coding info each document stores about itself (metadata).

  257. Bob Miller says:

    Jared Harary’s point about metadata should lead us into this discussion:

    Should any of us be cheered by the possibility that awareness of data traceability will improve behavior? If we were really up to par, fear of HaShem would be enough to correct us, not fear of mortals with computers.

  258. jlan says:

    “If we were really up to par, fear of HaShem would be enough to correct us, not fear of mortals with computers.”

    It is, in a very literal sense, an issue of Geneivat Da’at. We should note, of course, that this is revered to as Geneiva and not Gezeila. And this, of course, is fits the same parameters as Geneiva, rather than Gezeila- it’s done in a fashion where one is worried about man’s reaction but not God’s, rather than one where a person isn’t worried about any reactions at all.

  259. shachar haamim says:

    I think that some of my comments were redacted – or taken down.
    I want to clarify that I was not threatening anything.
    I don’t see how things could be interpreted as a threat.
    I am a private individual and a private person with no public role whatsoever. For a variety of reasons I prefer not commenting on blogs under my real name.
    I was just pointing out that the situation regarding who had access to what information was not clear.
    I’m hoping the privacy of private people will continue to be respected.
    Again, I believe that one should distinguish between public individuals and private individuals.

  260. Hirhurim says:

    Shachar: And you aren’t banned! But you were discussing serious issues connected to the threats, whether or not you realized it.

  261. Hirhurim says:

    Bob Miller: Halevai! (Berakhos 28b)

  262. Quixote says:

    I certainly hope none of these “socks” sent out any satirical emails, that would be a huge crime. At any rate, since this is America and since there is actually a Herschel Goldwasser who lives in New York, maybe we should have Rabbi Broyde arrested and charged with “identity theft”? After all, he used the name of another to influence a debate, thereby obtaining a “benefit.” For details on exactly how the Internet cops approach these matters in New York, see the Raphael Golb trial website:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  263. shachar haamim says:

    I understand now… :-)

  264. Nachum Klafter says:

    As Rabbi Broyde is taking a leave of absence from his position as a Dayan for the Beit Din of America, I will personally plan to make use of him as a posek again if and when he is reinstalled.

    It makes sense to me that he requires a period of introspection and teshuva, and it also makes sense that other dayanim would oversee it.

    I have found this incident personally painful because of my very high regard and gratitude for Rabbi Broyde. He has been extremely helpful to me in all kinds of difficult situations, including reporting abusers to the authorities, testifying in a criminal trial against a physically abusive mother who was later incarcerated, testifying as an expert witness for a Beit Din where the rules of evidence and standards of professional conduct differ between my professional ethics code and the halakha, accepting a contract from a Catholic hopsital where there are religious clauses in the language of the document I needed to sign, making personal decisions about the religious education of my children when local institutions were unacceptable, and how to keep my faith in Orthodoxy while losing faith in the judgment of numerous religious leaders who have done things that I find unconscionable.

    In the great scheme of things, I really do find “Goldwasser-gate” to be relatively minor because of the fact that no one was harmed. Even the “self-promotion” accusation is weak in my opinion as that there is no allegation that he benefited financially or academically from any of the “pro-Broyde” comments by the fictitious Goldwasser. The most troubling piece of this for me was the fabrication of the ma’aseh rav about R’ Moshe Feinstein.

    I also have enormous confidence in Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, the RCA’s Va’ad Halakha, and the Beis Din of America. If these rabbonim believe that Rabbi Broyde must step down for now then I will accept their ruling and will await the time that they will return him to his position. I am confident that Rabbi Broyde, together with his religoius and spiritual mentors, will develop a responsible plan.

    I admit that I am biased about judging the significance of all this because of the great help that Rabbi Broyde has provided me over a period of years. He has always been extremely generous with his time. I also find that Rabbi Broyde is one of the few poskim in the world that will actually state his opinion publicly and sign his name to his opinion. I cannot tell you how many rabbis who are considered gedolei Torah (both Haredi and Modern Orthodox) who have said, “Yes I agree that this is correct but I cannot go on record publicly as saynig this,” or how many many gedolim sign haskamaot to books they’ve never read, or reverse stances on important issues when the pressure is on with implausible explanations. This particular feature of Rabbi Broyde’s character and leadership is very important for me. Honestly, the inability to consistently take a public position on important issues is far more troubling to me than everything that he did through the Hershel Goldwasser pen name.

    I can understand why those who do not have extensive experience with him might see this as a sign that there is a deep blemish in his character. I have so many personal experiences with him which lead me to continue to have faith in his fundamental integrity despite this. I am sure that this affair is crushing for him personally and that he will make use of his time away to do some serious soul searching and teshuva.

    I have received lots of emails and texts from friends almost imploring me to declare Rabbi Broyde posul. I find this rather disconcerting. Most of these individuals are Haredi/Yeshivish and never liked Rabbi Broyde in the first place because they took exception with his paper on women covering hair, the tepid and tentative nature of his rejection of women as rabbis, and his confidence to take stands at variance with the Mo’eztet Gedolei Ha-Torah. Too many people seem gleeful to see one of my leaders and role models falter.

    Rabbi Broyde is a brilliant writer, teacher, and explainer of halakha. I think that several papers he wrote are absolute classics in contemporary halakhic discourse, such as his paper on Lifnei Iver (“Assisting Sinners”), his paper on informing on Jews to the seculalr legal authorities (“Informing on Others to a Just Government”), his book on the practice of Law according to the halakha, and his numerous articles on family law and technology issues in the halakha. I do not know of one other person in the world that can demonstrate or impart such a nuanced, balanced understanding of all of these issues.

    As another commenter noted, one of the things I have learned from this is to be more understanding of why individuals of a diffrent hashkafic orientation continue to believe in religious leaders whose blemishes make them seem unaccpetable in my eyes. It is obviously because of the enormous good that those gedolim have done for them, their hakarat ha-tov, and their sense that this enormous good (which I have not experienced personally) outweighs the blemishes that I can see so easily from a distance.

    I really do hope and pray that Rabbi Broyde emerges from this as an improved man and that he can return to his status as a wonderful teacher of Torah and Dayan.

    Respectfully,
    Nachum Klafter, MD
    Cincinnati OH

  265. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    Dr. Klafter:

    “I admit that I am biased about judging the significance of all this because of the great help that Rabbi Broyde has provided me over a period of years. He has always been extremely generous with his time.”

    Worth noting that besides for your bias, this also impacts your perspective, in that you are considering R’ Broyde’s character on a personal level than most others, who are focused on his more public role.

    “I also find that Rabbi Broyde is one of the few poskim in the world that will actually state his opinion publicly and sign his name to his opinion. I cannot tell you how many rabbis who are considered gedolei Torah (both Haredi and Modern Orthodox) who have said, “Yes I agree that this is correct but I cannot go on record publicly as saynig this,” or how many many gedolim sign haskamaot to books they’ve never read, or reverse stances on important issues when the pressure is on with implausible explanations. This particular feature of Rabbi Broyde’s character and leadership is very important for me. Honestly, the inability to consistently take a public position on important issues is far more troubling to me than everything that he did through the Hershel Goldwasser pen name.”

    Ironic thing here is that the Goldwasser name was apparently an instance of him doing the exact opposite of what you (still) maintain to be his biggest strength, in that he used the name to take positions without having to state them publically.

    “Most of these individuals are Haredi/Yeshivish and never liked Rabbi Broyde in the first place because they took exception with his paper on women covering hair, the tepid and tentative nature of his rejection of women as rabbis …”

    Speaking for myself (not that I’m one of the individuals you mention, of course) that’s close but not really it. It’s not just the positions that he took, but how he got there.

    The first I ever heard of R’ Broyde was (what I believe was) his first publication of his article on hair covering, on some now-defunct blog (HouseofHock). And I read through his stuff, and looked up the sources, and it was clear that he had either misrepresented his sources or seriously misunderstood them, probably both. So my opinion of his scholarship and his intellectual honesty have never been high to begin with. (See also: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_DCGOA_RlajQ/TSHnjlT9DfI/AAAAAAAAGDM/oRuQvvYyxiI/s1600/ravmillerletter.bmp).

    I would not have expected this particular type of shenanigan from someone like him, but when such a thing happens I don’t think it’s completely shocking and totally at odds with his public character either.

    To be sure, if he was just misrepresenting and distorting some obscure Talmudic topic with little practical ramification, I would have cared a lot less. There’s no doubt that when a person distorts the halacha on a major hot button topic it’s a much bigger deal. But it’s not as if it’s just someone reached a conclusion that I didn’t like and now I’m having some schadenfreude about it.

    And – as indicated earlier – it’s of importance that people know this. Because the vast vast majority of people – and an even vaster majority of the type of people that R’ Broyde’s writings (of this sort) are aimed at – are people who do not have the inclination or the capabilities to read through his writings, check up the sources, and make an intelligent and educated judgement as to their merit. Instead, 99.9% of people form conclusions based on what they are predisposed to believe, and based on R’ Broyde’s reputation. So R’ Broyde’s reputation taking a hit at this time is a very positive development, as he will be less able to use it to promote his nefarious agenda.

  266. Steve says:

    Dr. Klafter,

    I appreciate and can relate to your heartfelt defense of Rabbi Broyde. I question, though, why you do not address the fact tghat Rabbi Broyde used the Goldwasser persona to join the IRF, and be privy to its proprietary and confidential “members only” data. I have heard Rabbi Broyde speak at CLE ethics courses. I have no doubt that if the question presented to him at one of those courses was “Is it ethical for a lawyer, through a made up identity, to obtain information he/she would not otherwise be able to obtain because of the proprietary or confidential nature of the material,” the answer would be a resounding no. This, to me, is the heart of the issue, and why he had no choice but to take a suspension from the BDA. That being said, I look forward to his return after the teshuva process is completed.

  267. emma says:

    “Is it ethical for a lawyer, through a made up identity, to obtain information he/she would not otherwise be able to obtain because of the proprietary or confidential nature of the material”

    except that he would be able to obtain it by joining the IRF as his real self. if a yeshivish rabbi eligible to join the rca chose not to for political reasons, but then snooped over a friend-rabbi’s shoulders on their list, how bad would that really be? and do you think that has never happened? (This is not like a competitor in a corporate espionage situation who would have been blocked under his real name, so instead faked an identity.) there may have been extrinsic reasons why he didn’t want to join as himself, some of which are good and some perhaps not. i see obtaining the info as less the issue than saying things on the list under the assumed name, which misleads the interlocutors (depending how many people knew, and what was said).

  268. Tal Benschar says:

    “Is it ethical for a lawyer, through a made up identity, to obtain information he/she would not otherwise be able to obtain because of the proprietary or confidential nature of the material”

    ABA Model Rule 8.4:

    It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to:

    . . .

    (c) engage in conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;

    Most state bars have adopted the ABA Model Rules, some with minor changes.

  269. Nachum Klafter says:

    As I said earlier, I don’t really consider joining the IRF list-serve to be a serious violation because if anyone with a gmail account can join their organization then it is not really a private discussion. Contrast that with professoinal organizations who require professional references, rabbinical references, proof of licensure, proof academic affiliation, etc.

  270. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    I don’t see the relevance of legal ethics here. R’ Broyde happens to be a lawyer, but he was acting here in his capacity of rabbi, not lawyer. As such accepted practice in rabbinic circles is what governs, not legal.

    Which doesn’t mean he’s in the clear, of course, but it means that the focus of legal ethics is misplaced.

  271. Nachum Klafter says:

    And honestly, as I said I acknowledge that I am biased by my personal gratitude to him. If you think my reasoning is flawed then feel free to attribute it to this bias. I do not claim to be objective.

  272. Tal Benschar says:

    I don’t see the relevance of legal ethics here. R’ Broyde happens to be a lawyer, but he was acting here in his capacity of rabbi, not lawyer. As such accepted practice in rabbinic circles is what governs, not legal.

    That argument would not hold water in an attorney disciplinary proceeding, though it might around here.

  273. Steve says:

    Emma,
    The snooping over the shoulder, if the rabbi was seeing things he was not entitled to see, is bad and unethical, and perhaps violative of Cherem D’Rabbeinu Gershom to boot. Whether or not it happens frequently, of course, is not the point. Rabbi Broyd certainly engaged in deceit of someone, given as you say, he could have joined using his own name. So he did not want non-IRF members to know he was a member. Either way you slice it, it was a deception and misrepresentation, and contradictory to the ethics that Rabbi Broyde lectures on to lawyers, as Tal points out.

  274. emma says:

    steve, i’m not saying it’s good. i just think ppl need to be careful to stick to accurate analogies. and i do think that talk of “infiltrating” the organization, with the implication that the intent was to harm the (nascent) IRF and/or help the RCA at IRF’s expense, is overblown; i just don’t see the evidence that the motives were nefarious institutional ones and not the obvious personal/political reasons for remaining incognito. time will tell.
    i also still sense there is more to this story in general (even if not personal to rabbi broyde himself) and i am kinda trying to wait and see where that goes.

  275. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    TB: “That argument would not hold water in an attorney disciplinary proceeding, though it might around here.”

    Well even if it wouldn’t hold water in legal procedings, that’s a side issue to anything we’re discussing, since we are not a disciplinary committee.

  276. Steve says:

    Emma,

    I agree with you. I didn’t use “infiltrate,”nerfarious” or other words implying negative motives. I did use “deceit” and “misrepresent,” because, to my mind, those words aptly describe the facts, and not his motive, which might have been positive, as you say. I also agree that there might be more to the story, and time will tell.

    Fp

    You are also right. This is not a proceeding before a disciplinary committee of the bar. My point only was that Rabbi Broyde, as a lawyer, professor, and lecturer on legal ethics, knows very well that what he did, if done by a lawyer, would be deemed unethical. As a Rav, Dayan, respected and highly influential intelectual leader of a religious community, he should be held to at least the standard to which that he would expect lawyers to meet.

  277. Tal Benschar says:

    Well even if it wouldn’t hold water in legal procedings, that’s a side issue to anything we’re discussing, since we are not a disciplinary committee.

    Well, yes, I understand what we are and are not.

    The relevance is, as a lawyer I can tell you that I would be very nervous to do what he did, and if caught I would expect some kind of discipline. (Which need not be disbarment — many states have admonishments and censures. In New York, where I practice, the range of discipline is:

    Disbarment – by the Court.
    Suspension – by the Court.
    Censure – by the Court.
    Reprimand – by the Committee after hearing, with or without referral to the Court for further action.
    Admonition – by the Committee without hearing.)

    Many here are willing to give him a pass. Does it disturb anyone that lawyers are held to a higher standard than rabbis? (Though arguably, given the relative informality of the rabbinic world, I suppose that the black eye to his reputation he will now suffer is the equivalent of a censure or reprimand.)

  278. DF says:

    I agree with the substance* of Fotheringay’s comments on R. Brode’s scholarship 100%, and made the same point earlier to other individuals. I am fairly sure I recall seeing something Rabbi Brodye wrote which made no sense to me, and when I looked it up, I saw it said nothing of the sort. At the time I may have attributed it simply to a misunderstanding, but today I am not so sure. Either way, these are real reasons to passul someone from dayyanus. Not that no other dayyanim in America are guilty of eithe mistakes or misrepresentations to drive an agenda, but here we have proof positive. It cannot simply be ignored.

    (* I dont think the letter from R. Miller is relevant to R. Brodye. It is just fulmination, and if anything, it just makes the former look bad (again).)

  279. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    Stve: “As a Rav, Dayan, respected and highly influential intelectual leader of a religious community, he should be held to at least the standard to which that he would expect lawyers to meet.”

    I agree that he needs the same level of ethics, but the specifics of ethical guidelines are dependent on the specifics of the profession, history, and custom. If common practice in one field is that you don’t do X, that doesn’t mean that rabbis can’t do it if it’s common and expected in the rabbinic field.

    [Which, again, is not to say that it is. Just that the mere fact that some legal ethics body decided to bar it for lawyers is not a reason that it has to be barred for rabbis too.]

  280. Steve says:

    Fp
    Fair enough.

  281. Mark says:

    Dr. Klafter,

    Your letter reminds me of the famous exchange that Churchill had with the socialite. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/300099-churchill-madam-would-you-sleep-with-me-for-five-million

    At a minimum, I hope this incident will give you pause before losing faith in others who hashkafa you don’t ascribe to so quickly.

    I have no horse in this race. I’ve never agreed with much of what Rabbi Broyde wrote, but I’m very sorry to see him dragged through the mud on a personal level. I take no joy whatsoever in seeing a fellow Jew suffer such humiliation regardless of how I feel about his actions. My disappointment is in your open admission that you hold rabbis with whom you agree and like to a different standard than those with whom you disagree.

  282. IH says:

    Just that the mere fact that some legal ethics body decided to bar it for lawyers is not a reason that it has to be barred for rabbis too

    A level of complexity here, though, is in maintaining the honor of the Beit Din in a society that has certain expectations of professional standards and judicial conduct.

  283. emma says:

    I’ve been trying to think of an analogy to get my personal feelings about rabbis, and rabbi broyde, and this blog, and all that, out of the way. Here’s a try: Let’s say Richard Posner, a judge, legal academic, and public intellectual whom some ppl think is sloppy in his legal opinions, were revealed to have joined the listhost of some left-leaning faculty or student group (ie, group with which he more often than not disagrees, but with which he has some common ground) under a false name, and participated in their discussions under that name, perhaps with the goal of bringing them closer to his position, perhaps with the goal of having fun, perhaps with the goal of exploring a different side of himself. Let’s say he also commented under false names on his own blog and others about how brilliant Richard Posner is. And then initially lied to a reporter about it, saying he doesn’t know what an IP address is. My gut is that it would be embarrassing, but wash over, kind of like the alex kozinski scandal of a few years back. His personal reputation would be damaged, he would seem juvenile (esp re: the self-promotion), but he would still be a judge. At most, ppl would seek his recusal on matters with similar facts.

    That ordinary lawyers would be afraid to do such things because “misrepresentation” violates the rules of proff’l conduct may be true but i don’t know that it is really dispositive. IT seems to me that the moral evaluations here are being made based on peculiarly torah values of midvar sheker tirchak, shunning even harmless lies, and modesty.

  284. ruvie says:

    Fotheringay-Phipps – “…it was clear that he had either misrepresented his sources or seriously misunderstood them, probably both. So my opinion of his scholarship and his intellectual honesty have never been high to begin with.” “….. I don’t think it’s completely shocking and totally at odds with his public character either.”

    “There’s no doubt that when a person distorts the halacha on a major hot button topic it’s a much bigger deal. But it’s not as if it’s just someone reached a conclusion that I didn’t like and now I’m having some schadenfreude about it.”

    “…type of people that R’ Broyde’s writings (of this sort) are aimed at – are people who do not have the inclination or the capabilities to read through his writings, check up the sources, and make an intelligent and educated judgement as to their merit. Instead, 99.9% of people form conclusions based on what they are predisposed to believe, and based on R’ Broyde’s reputation. ”

    So basically you do not like his conclusions and therefore he is intellectually dishonest. to support your conclusion on his intellectual dishonesty you link to a scribble by a well known intolerant, booking banning, and anti slifkin basher of a rabbi. kudos. well done, indeed sir

    how do you get from disagreeing with a talmid chacham’s reading of sources on a limud z’chut article (for women not covering their hair) to intellectual dishonesty and not surprise(shocking) of these circumstances (without being called a name that cannot be used here).
    Have you read all his books and articles (or at least a majority)? are all the articles in tradition geared to amei ha’aretz that follow him blindly and do not look up sources?
    there is much to criticize legitimately here (and i have posted some myself) but his erudition is well known and just because you disagree with his reading on one article does not make him intellectually dishonest. it makes you look bad with this type of character assassination -on both him and the those that read his works – that has little merit.

  285. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    ruvie: “So basically you do not like his conclusions and therefore he is intellectually dishonest.”

    What I said was – and as you quoted – “it was clear that he had either misrepresented his sources or seriously misunderstood them, probably both”. That’s not the same thing as disagreeing with his conclusions.

    But apparently you have decided that you know better, and that it was not about misrepresenting/misunderstanding his sources but rather about disagreeing with his conclusions. I don’t know if your knowledge is based on ruach hakodesh or cognitive dissonance, but I suspect the latter. Either way, that’s not something that lends itself to further discussion, so we’ll have to leave it at that.

    “to support your conclusion on his intellectual dishonesty you link to a scribble by a well known intolerant, booking banning, and anti slifkin basher of a rabbi.”

    If I would be a small fraction of the talmid chochum that RSM is I would be very pleased indeed.

  286. Nachum Klafter says:

    Mark:

    I find your comparison to Churchill’s quip bizarre.

    Your inference that I apply a double standard is completely incorrect. I have never had a rov accused of wrong doing before this episode. I have always been puzzled by people standing by rabbonim who have accepted bribes, who have commited sexual imprpopriety with congregants or students, etc., etc. Now that I am in the reverse position, where my loyalty to my rabbi is criticized in the midst of his scandal (which I still believe is for significantly more minor misdeeds that bribery or sexual exploitation), I am saying that I have a greater understanding of why people have remained loyal to their rebbes.

  287. Nachum Klafter says:

    Fotheringay: I don’t think it’s fair to characterize Broyde’s article on women covering their hair as deliberate misconstruing of sources. I actually received an early version of that article in the late 1990′s, and another in the early 2000′s. I have seen the evolution of his scholarship on this issue over the years. When I was in Eretz Yisrael, a major talmid chacham who had also seen this article said, “Rabbi Broyde shared his article with me. He’s a genius, but I think he’s wrong on this issue.” But he did not accuse him of writing it in bad faith. Honestly, all he is saying is that those whose mothers did not cover their hair in Europe have a minority-opinion basis for this, and he intended it as a limud zechus but not a practical ruling. If you want to study through this paper with me and demonstrate how it is a deliberate misrepresentation of sources, email me at doctorklafter@cinci.rr.com please.

  288. Jacob Sasson says:

    FP,

    I recall learning in Professional Responsibility that a lawyer is a lawyer 24/7 and that legal ethics often apply outside the scope of our employment. For example, it is unethical for a lawyer to tape record a phone conversation regardless of whether or not the conversation is related to our practice as an attorney. Thus, RMB’s violation of legal ethics may be subject to disciplinary action regardless of whether he was acting as an attorney or a rabbi.

  289. bernard weinstein says:

    Three points:
    1) One cannot judge the character of “the other” without knowing the true motivation(s) for one’s behavior – this cannot generally be determined by public discourse.
    2) I’d be very interested in knowing the responses both of Rabbi Saul Berman and of Rabbi Avi Weiss to this whole fiasco.I’d be interested in their public response – which I assume will be forthcoming, as well as their private responses – which I assume I will never be privy to.
    3)My own personal “disclousre” – I personally have always deeply respected Rabbi Saul Berman, Rabbi Avi Weiss as well as Rabbi Michael Broyde.

    Bernard Weinstein MD

  290. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    Dr. Klafter: “I don’t think it’s fair to characterize Broyde’s article on women covering their hair as deliberate misconstruing of sources.”

    I guess we disagree. I should note that I’m not 100% sure that it was deliberate misconstruing. But it’s hard to imagine that it could all be the result of staggering ignorance.

    “I actually received an early version of that article in the late 1990′s, and another in the early 2000′s. I have seen the evolution of his scholarship on this issue over the years.”

    That’s very possible. I believe the original version I saw was here: http://houseofhock.blogspot.com/2004/11/here-is-answer-to-my-question-by-r.html. There were a lot of comments to that post (including mine) but they don’t seem to have been preserved. (See also: http://houseofhock.blogspot.com/2004/12/r-broyde-answers-critics.html.)

    It’s possible that R’ Broyde moderated and revised his work on this issue over the years. But if he put out a bunch of distortions and then pulled back on some when he saw that he wasn’t getting away with them, that doesn’t mean that he’s intellectually honest.

    “When I was in Eretz Yisrael, a major talmid chacham who had also seen this article said, “Rabbi Broyde shared his article with me. He’s a genius, but I think he’s wrong on this issue.” But he did not accuse him of writing it in bad faith.”

    I can’t speak about what some major TC may have said. I know what I saw. And I also cited to RSM who seems to have had the same opinion. (Note that RSM is a very major TC and one of the leading poskim in North America at this time, notwithstanding the criticism of some earlier commentors, who seem to be using a No True Scotsman type of circular reasoning to disqualify him.)

    “Honestly, all he is saying is that those whose mothers did not cover their hair in Europe have a minority-opinion basis for this, and he intended it as a limud zechus but not a practical ruling.”

    That’s just CYA, at best.

    “If you want to study through this paper with me and demonstrate how it is a deliberate misrepresentation of sources, email me at doctorklafter@cinci.rr.com please.”

    It’s been a long time since I looked through this, and I’m not sure I’m up for another go round. As I recall it now, the main things that stick in my mind were his distortion of the Aruch Hashulchan, the mistranslation of the Shvus Yaacov (“dishevelled”), conflating the issue of making blessings in front of uncovered hair with the requirement to cover, other dubious arguments (e.g. ignoring the context of his main sources in EH, misunderstanding or misrepresenting the Netziv etc.) and miscellanious all-purpose nonsense (e.g. that the Chofetz Chaim was a “Polish posek” , who thus did not accept “the minhagim of Lita”).

    [There were also other commentors at that time who strongly disputed his characterization of the Algerian and Moroccan situation, but I myself had (and have) no real knowledge of this.]

    [One minor note: I see in scanning the HoH article that R' Broyde refers in footnote #4 to a T'shuva from RMF about walking on the beach. This is presumably the same t'shuva that his alter-ego Hershel Goldwasser tried to embellish as having arisen out of an incident at which he was present.]

  291. [...] a blog post titled “My Nom De Plume Exposed,” he explained that he and a friend created and used the pen name up until a few years ago, after [...]

  292. It gets worse. A full investigation is necessary.

    Tablet magazine appears to allege that Rabbi Broyde may have commented on the Yeshiva University (YU) ongoing child abuse scandal (that also has implicated Rabbi Broyde) using the fake identity of David Weissman in a Jewish Week article (Needed: Independent Investigation On YU High School Scandal, Mon, 12/24/2012, by Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld who wrote “The investigation should not only be limited to Yeshiva University. One former student claims in the Forward that he shared his accusations with Rabbi Michael Broyde of the Beth Din of America who dismissed his charges without giving him a proper hearing. We need to know whether or not this accusation is accurate.”):

    http://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/129385/top-rabbi-admits-fake-identity

    A cursory look at the Jewish Week comments raises suspicions regarding several of the other comments:

    http://www.thejewishweek.com/editorial-opinion/opinion/needed-independent-investigation-yu-high-school-scandal

    Harry Weissberger

    Hillel Gold

    Miriam Goldstein

    It is a very serious matter if a leading dayan (judge) in the modern Orthodox world is “sockpuppeting” on a major child sexual abuse scandal in an effort to sway public opinion by attacking a critic who wants a fully independent investigation. Why would a powerful dayan with ties to his powerful friend Rabbi Lamm (also implicated in the scandal) be allegedly commenting that Richard Joel should be conducting the investigation? This smells. Particularly in light of the allegations against Rabbi Broyde in the recent Forward article:

    http://forward.com/articles/168012/yeshiva-officials-rabbis-knew-of-alleged-abuse/?p=all

    In 2000, former student Twersky said he approached Michael Broyde, a Modern Orthodox rabbi who had just left a position at Beth Din of America, the official religious court of the RCA. Twersky asked if he should bring charges against Finkelstein in the beit din, and said that Broyde advised him that the allegations were “not flagrant enough.”

    Broyde said he does not recall the exchange with Twersky “in any way, shape or form.”

    “I don’t even know who Mordechai Twersky is,” Broyde said. “If he said he was sexually assaulted, I would have said to call the police.”

    Twersky said Broyde ought to remember him; they were in the same constitutional law class at Yeshiva College in 1983. During the late 1990s, Beth Din of America retained Twersky for public relations work that involved “working closely with Broyde on the marketing materials for their newly established rabbinic court,” Twersky said.

    Although he denied knowing about Twersky’s allegations, Broyde, a member of the RCA’s executive committee, said he had heard rumors about Finkelstein. “There had always been a rumor out there that there were kids who said this going back I don’t know how long,” Broyde said.

  293. Hareidiman says:

    Not a big deal. Let’s move on said the sockpuppets.

  294. Canadian Guy says:

    Without having studied all the facts here, I suspect a full study would support the argument that it is permissible to use a tactic such as nom de plume to ensure good ideas get accepted by the most people. Especially, knowing that when we have online interactions, we cannot know precisely who we are dealing with.

    I am a novice at Gemara but I did learn in Avoda Zora that we can use false attribution to gain acceptance for the right ideas.

    Say a person has a false view which he will regret for eternity in the afterlife. I would use hidden self promotion or whatever it takes to persuade them of the right ideas to save them from this and set them up for an eternity of closeness to Hashem. The issue is what the promoted ideas are – not so much the rhetorical techniques used to promote them.

    If we discontinue relying on dayanim for superficial “mistakes” like what is described here, we will be left bereft of guidance, making up the halacha as we go by counting the noses of the uninitiated. The Rabbi has logged in hundreds of hours of study and if we choose not to exploit his knowledge we are doing ourselves a huge disservice.

  295. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Canadian Guy: Indeed, you have not “studied all the facts.” No one is criticizing R. Broyde for using a pseudonym per se. It is how he used it and for what purposes he used it: his sockpuppeting, joining the IRF, the Masseh Rav about Rav Moshe, etc. Even admirers and supporters of R. Broyde, like Dr. Klafter, admit he acted improperly, though there may be legitimate disagreement as to how serious his offenses were.

  296. DF says:

    I don’t know about ” we can” use false attribution to get ideas accepted, but such a thing certainly happened in Talmudic times, more than once. Dr. Shapiro will address this in a chapter of his next, long anticipated book. I would just note, as I noted above, that R. Broyde himself has stated many times he does not believe standards of morality (apparently) acceptable in those days are not necessarily acceptable today.

  297. DF says:

    Delete last “not” in comment above.

  298. Mark says:

    Dr. Klafter,

    Allow me to explain myself a bit clearer [I hope.]

    It’s true, I don’t recall you bashing a specific Rav, but I do very much recall you being rather critical about various rabbanim especially those from the Haredi camp. Now, on this board, that’s nothing out of the ordinary. Most folks do that without even knowing what the issue is that disagreeing with or why. All that counts is that it’s the Haredim we’re talking about and they predictably offer up their dependably negative analysis. I don’t pay those folks much attention. I can well predict in advance what they’ll say on just about every issue.

    You, on the other hand, have always struck me as more balanced and more thoughtful than most. I’ve seen where you’ve defended your points with a great deal of thought, experience, analysis, and more. I may not always agree with your conclusions, but I do respect you for your open mind and what I perceived was an ability to treat things even-handed.

    What I’ve learned from your post is that you suffer the same bias’s as most. You’re willing to offer Rabbi Broyde a far wider berth than I’ve seen you offer anyone else all because of your obvious and admitted bias. That makes me more suspect of your other positions and less convinced of your even-handedness. I’m sure you’re not out to impress me and couldn’t care less, but those are my impressions and why I mentioned the Churchill story.

  299. [...] New Commenting Policy April 16, 2013 I will not publicly discuss the recent scandal so as not to pour salt on wounds that are very open right now. I have, of course, discussed this with friends and rabbinic advisors. I have much to say but now is the time for my silence. If you feel the need to discuss it (within this blog’s commenting rules – link), please do so on last Friday’s post (link). [...]

  300. Mark:

    Yes, I understand you more now. I still maintain you misunderstand me. Let me explain.

    First of all, if you search my posts on Hirhurim and elsewhere over the years, I think what you will see that I have only argued against positions. I am unaware of having attacked any people personaly and if I have I would regret that very much. There were certain positions I have argued against quite vigorously because I find them untenable. This inclues things like literal belief that the universe is 5773 years old, taking midrahsim literally, failing to report sexual abusers to the authorities, the belief that a deceased Rabbi can be he Messiah or that he can still be alive, implausible attempts to discredit the evidence that HSV has been transmitted to babies by metzitza be-peh, etc. But I have tried to avoid criticizing anyone personally. I admit I did argue in a guest post vigorously against those individuals who rudely attacked the authors of a paper which claimed to have measured a similar level of sexual abuse in the Orthodox community, but I also argued against the basis of some of their conclusions. If I have personally attacked anyone then I regret it and if you or anyone else find examples of this I will certainly issue apologies if appropriate.

    Regarding this current issue, please understand that the credibility and integrity of a person I have relied upon for psak halakha and religious guidance has now been called into question. In my sharing of what this experience is like for me, I am ADMITTING OPENLY that I have been biased in his favor because of my hakarat ha-tov for the good things he has done for me.

    Finally, what I am saying is that I now have a greater understanding of how it has occurred that when rabbonim have been implicated in scandals (including some who have been found guilty of the most serious crimes in the world, far more serious than any accusations against Rabbi Broyde) their supporters and followers continue to believe in them. I simply could not understand why. I am OPENLY ADMITTING that because those individuals were never my leaders, my rabbis, and had never done anything personal for me, I failed to understand the impact of the personal gratitude and loyalty that their students were struggling with.

    Perhaps you were thrown by the fact that I expressed this as “different hashkafa” but what I am trying to communicate is that because individuals who have different hashkafos do not serve as our personal teachers, poskim, or leaders, and therefore we do not have the personal loyalty or gratitude to them that their followers do.

    I am not suggesting that someone’s differing hashkafa is a legitimate basis to judge them more harshly. I am saying that when personal gratitude and loyalty are in the mix, it makes the process of judging allegations much more complicated. In the same way it is not complicated for my Haredi friends to harshly judge Michael Broyde, it was not hard for me to harshly judge those who banned the Making of A Godol. I am talking about any kind of double standard. I am describing personal and emotional factors that cause us to be biased in favor of our teachers and leaders.

    I believe that this is where you misunderstood me, and therefore I was taken aback by your oblique comparison of me to a prostitute. However, I accept your explanation above that you thought I was describing or even legitimating a double standard that I have been contently operating with all these years. I believe that is not the case and I hope I have explained myself.

    Nachum Klafter, MD
    Cincinnati OH

  301. sass says:

    I see many commenters here have repeated that Rabbi Broyde is brilliant and a genius etc. I’m not familiar with his work at all, which of his works (either articles or books) would the commenters recommend as a good example of the aforementioned qualities?

    Thanks

  302. DF says:

    The maddening thing is that R. Broyde seems to have done all this -including the new, damning report about a fake semicha from R. Yehuda Gershuni – for what? So he could lobby for the title of Maharat instead of Rabbah? For such naarishkeit he would sacrifice his principles and integrity??

  303. ruvie says:

    sass – book: innovation in jewish law: a case study of chiddush in havineinu

    it tracks the development of the halacha in the abridge form of shemoneh esrei referred to in rabbinic literature as havineneinu.

  304. GPickholz says:

    the number of senior Rabbanim with inaccurate, if not false, CVs is startling. Where do we draw the line on acceptance?

    The Lubavitcher Rebbe gets a hall pass on his false representation of degrees from the Sorbonne and Vienna because we are too busy arguing he is not the Mashiach, and the same chosid who insists he holds such degrees also insists he had a personal conversation with the Rebbe only last week in the Ohel in America, so we focus on the crazier of the two assertions.

    Yet, from about 100 miles east of Paris until Japan, and southward for nearly all of Africa and Asia, they are the only Judaism that often exists. We must accept their conversions, marriages, divorces, kashrut as there are no other alternatives. How can we accept these, given what we know? I do not have an answer.

    In light of what we know about the revisionist history of the last Rebbe, how comfortable are we with the histories and rulings and writings of prior Admorim (or Volzhin, or Brisk, for that matter)?

    The fact that Broyde forced this issue on the RCA is simply the latest example of a very serious issue that keeps getting pushed under the rug for community convenience, until finally it can no longer be kept hidden away.

  305. lawrence kaplan says:

    G. Pickholz: You are comparing apples and oranges. R. Broyde never faked or embellished his real CV. He created a fictional R. Hershel Goldwasser with a suitably fictional CV.

  306. Fotheringay-Phipps says:

    Also, AFAIK, the LR never claimed to have a degree from the Sorbonne (I don’t know about Vienna). It was his followers who made this claim. Can’t hold him responsible for that – he was probably not aware of it, and even if he was, there’s no way a rebbe can be expected to go around denying every inacurate claim made about him – he would have time for nothing else.

  307. Shlomo says:

    “R. Broyde never faked or embellished his real CV.”

    Your two-page CV is only part of the material by which people evaluate you. Popular opinion, including for example blog comments, is another part. Here, there certainly has been embellishment.

  308. lawrence kaplan says:

    Come on Shlomo: People evaluated R. Broyde on the basis of his extensive publications, both books and articles, on his lectures, activities as a Professor, Dayyan, and Rabbi, etc. It was all this which made his reputation and provided the basis for both positive and negative evaluation. His sockpupetting, while very unfortunate and distressing, had little or nothing to do with it.

  309. Gil Student says:

    On halakhic advice, this post is now closed to comments. Please e-mail me if you have any questions.

  310. [...] Broyde obviously grew impatient for the grim reaper and after being called out for” sock puppeting”, gives a long list of Rabbonim who used pseudonyms to advance ideas. He admits that his major [...]