Monday, January 25, 2010

Avi Shafran exploits Haiti: Uses the death of 100,000 to bolster his ongoing war with Jewish blogs

Avi Shafran is now on the record suggesting that the earthquake in Haiti was some kind of divine response to editorial cartoons and blogs -- in particular, those editorial cartoons and blogs that Avi Shafran finds personally distasteful. Here is what he said:
No prophet or wise man, only eyes and ears, are necessary to recognize that the Jewish world today is rife with “evil speech” – speaking and writing ill of others (whether the words are true, false or – so often the case – some toxic mixture of the two), and with the hatred that breeds such sins. Jewish media are filled with accusations and “scoops”; they compete gleefully to find the vilest examples of crimes to report, to do the most attention-grabbing job of reporting them, and to be the first to do so.

The very week of the recent catastrophe in Haiti, a national Jewish newspaper published a comic strip featuring grotesque depictions of religious Jews and aimed at disparaging Jewish outreach to other Jews. And another Jewish newspaper ran an editorial placing the alleged ugly sins of an individual at the feet of Jewish rabbinic leaders, simply because the presumed sinner, before he was exposed, had arranged for several respected rabbis to deliver lectures and had encouraged people to make donations to their institutions. Having thus “established” guilt by that association, the editorialist demanded that every Orthodox organization and rabbinic leader publicly condemn the alleged sinner or be smeared themselves with sin. Then he mocked rabbinic authorities as a group for, instead of issuing condemnations of sinners, rendering decisions on social and halachic matters, as if that were not precisely what rabbis are for.

Those are examples of anti- Orthodox invective. But ill will and its expression, tragically, know no communal bounds – in fact, the offensive comic strip seized upon intemperate statements made by Orthodox Jews about others.

Jews can take positions. Indeed we are charged with standing up for Jewish principles. But personalizing disagreements or slandering individuals is – or should be – beyond the pale.

Had we only eyes like the Chofetz Chaim’s, we would discern that hatred and the misuse of the holy power of speech are not small evils. We would understand that they shake the very earth under our feet.
Brave words! Only has Avi lost his mind? Why doesn't it occur to this tone deaf retard that the problem isn't the scandal reporting, but the scandals themselves? Perhaps if Avi put his prodigious talents to work fighting corrupt Rabbis, corrupt businessmen, pedophiles and the money-grubbing Rabbis who protect them the bloggers and editorial cartoonists would have less to write about. (And never mind that when it comes to attacking blogs, Reform Rabbis, or gay Jews, Avi becomes the very thing he says he hates.) Perhaps if Avi encouraged his own community to examine their own sins, instead of hurling wild accusations at others we'd be able to take him seriously. After all, as Avi recounts when Chofetz Chaim heard about an earthquake in Tokyo "immediately undertook to fast and insisted that the news should spur all Jews to repentance." He did not write a blog post on the early 20th century equivalent of Cross Currents cursing out maskilim. My advice to Avi? Let him should consider the possibility that  his own organization's despicable record on pedophilia is also not a "small evil". Perhaps this is also something that might "shake the very earth under our feet."

Update: Here are some comments criticizing Avi that miraculously were published by Cross Currents:

so we shouldn’t jusge the “why”, but the only examples of evil are the anti-orthodox ones? maney laundering, organ selling, prostitution, reversible geirus, etc, none of these orthodox transgressions could possibly be the reason that “shakes the very earth”. Only the non-religious’ behavior disturbs you. Very telling.

Comment by shaya goldmeier — January 22, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

Maybe the quake happened because of people causing evil with their power of speech by NOT using it where necessary – such as with rabbinic leaders not speaking out against evil in the community? Do bad things ever happen as a result of Agudah loyalists, or is it only non-Agudah followers who have to do a cheshbon hanefesh?

Comment by David T. — January 24, 2010 @ 7:58 am

Over the last several years, I found it odd that amidst an atmosphere of increasing observance bein adam lemakom and decreasing observance bein adam lechavero, that lashon hara should be the one bein adam lechavero singled out. This article certainly helps explain why. But I think, in the age of the internet, it will do little good. Possibly the time has come to avoid disgrace not by trying to kill as many messengers as possible, but by NOT ENGAGING IN DISGRACEFUL ACTIVITY IN THE FIRST PLACE.

Comment by J — January 25, 2010 @ 10:28 am

Rabbi Shafran: Your article would have been better had you given examples of things that you or your community needs to work on instead of finding fault in others. Obviously there are people within your own community (as in every community) guilty of loshon hara or other sins and bad deeds. If we are supposed to introspect after tragedy and calamity that means looking into our own actions not those of others even if they are wrong and deserve to be critizised. These events should lead us to instrospection and at least in this forum you chose to ignore your own advise. I would be curious as to your response to this comment as i write respectfully and not to argue.

Comment by Anonymous — January 25, 2010 @ 12:49 pm

Search for more information about blaming the messanger at

Going to Israel?
Now get 2 phones for the price of 1 (and free calls too) with Talk'n'Save.

No comments: