The Inexcusable Character Assasination Of A Gadol B”Yisroel

When discussing Gedolei Yisroel, one may disagree with their conclusions or even disregard what they say, but one may never disrespect them, especially in public. Today, Rabbi Harry Maryles has crossed a red line, one that may very well be in the territory of Mevazeh Talmid Chochom Berabim.

Reb Harry:

People that have survived some of the worst tortures by man imaginable have been struck in their collective hearts by a giant dagger that was forged in the Satmar Rebbe’s cauldron of anti Zionist hatred… I want to be absolutely clear about this. The Satmar Rebbe, had he been alive would have been one of the first to condemn this act.

And yet I blame him for the philosophy that generated this violence…. (ea – HAP)

But their philosophy of hatred against Zionism stands as a pillar of faith among them all. It does not take all that much to convert some of that hatred into action. From simple anti Zionist rhetoric at one end all the way to the kind of thing that happened here….

Although I believe in individual responsibility and these disgusting pieces of trash are indeed responsible for their own actions, one cannot ignore where they are coming from. To say that the Satmar Rebbe does not share of the blame for generating the type of hatred that desecrated Yad VaShem would be the same as saying that Pope Urban the 2nd does not share the blame for the atrocities of the Crusaders.

When first reading this post, I did a double take. Is this R’ Harry or did I mistakenly wander over to Dovbear or The Successful Bigot? Alas, it is indeed R’ Harry. Leaving aside for the moment the linkage that Harry creates, tenuous at best and defamatory at worst, let us instead adopt Harry’s formula and see where it leads us. We’ll call it Harry’s Law. Harry’s Law states: Every ideology is responsible for what kooks do in it’s name, regardless of how strenuous they object to it or even if said kooks renounce said ideology. Let’s see what comes up.

Ahh, here we go.

The Rav

Rabbi J.B Soloveitchik was known for his openness toward secular culture and for his attempts toward synthesizing modernity and Torah. Therefore, using Harry’s Law, it is well within bounds that the Rav’s approach of parting with tradition is the source of the following:

Rabbah Hurwitz

Morethodoxy In General

This farce

Rabbi Steven Greenberg

YU Symposium on Gays

Noah Feldman

There is little doubt that were the Rav alive he would strongly condemn most if not all, of the above. But there is also no denying that there is a direct correlation between the philosophy he espoused and the direction some have taken it. Again, Harry’s Law.

Therefore, I blame him for the philosophy that generated this continued Churban Hadas and Chillul Hashem.

Rabbi Tzvi Yehuda Kook.

Rav Kook was well known for his extremist positions regarding the mitzvah of settling the Land of Israel. Among his more famous statements is the following:

During the first attempt at illegal settlement, Rabbi Kook joined his pupils. When soldiers came to evacuate the group, Rabbi Kook yelled at them, “take out your machine gun; we’re not going anywhere.” (ea=hap)

While Rav Kook backed off the implementation of his fiery rhetoric, it seems that some of his followers didn’t. Using Harry’s Law as our guide, this is the result of Rav Kook’s extremist pronouncements:

Baruch Goldstein

Jewish Settler Kills Four Israeli Arabs In Attack on Bus

Price Tag Violence

Yigal Amir

Yakov Teitel

We can also blame the rabbis who wrote this book for any future violence directed by Jews at non-Jews.

Logic Gone Astray

Now on to Harry’s Law itself. In truth, I’m not being fair to Harry, he is hardly originator of this type of demagoguery. This disingenuous attempt at blaming one’s ideological opposition for the acts of extremists is part and parcel of the American scene nowadays, albeit the very dregs of it. Liberals blame conservatives for the Oklahoma City bombing and the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords, conservatives hold liberals responsible for the crazies carrying Bush=Hitler signs and round and round she goes. Bernie Madoff is capitalism’s fault, the Norwegian murderer a result of extreme nationalism.

This kind of thinking has been rightfully rejected by balanced and sane people on either side of the ideological divide. It doesn’t take much to recognize the shoddy thinking and faulty reasoning underlying linkage of this nature. An ideology bears responsibility solely for what it advocates, not for loonies acting out their sick desires in its’ name. Were we to match crazy actions to the ideology closest to it, disregarding the order of magnitude separating the two, we would condemn Mother Theresa for the actions of Code Pink, Quakers for the cover-up of abuse, as well as the phenomenon of women who look to marry serial killers as an indictment of “kindness”.

Furthermore, were we to adopt this poor excuse for reason, wouldn’t Harry himself be liable should anything happen to the perpetrators of this crime (once they are caught)? Isn’t he fomenting hate toward them? Indeed, isn’t he fomenting hate toward Satmar in general with the tone and the tenor of his remarks about them? Is he prepared to take responsibility for his words, regardless of the extremes they may be taken?


There a number of other curiosities and inaccuracies that Harry feels free to share with us.

1) The perpetrators have yet to be caught. Shouldn’t Harry hold off passing such harsh judgement until we know that those he thinks committed this crime actually did?

2) Anyone who follows Neturei Karta closely knows two things 1) They have long been disavowed by Satmar 2) They themselves have repudiated Satmar, doing so when the Satmar Rav was still alive!

3) The “hatred” evinced by the Satmar Rav was directed toward Zionism as an ideology, not at people. He would (and did) give the shirt off his back to ANY Jew even while condemning his beliefs. King David had hatred as well, Ohavei hashem Sinu R’ah, (Lovers of G-d hate evil). To the Satmar Rav, Zionism was responsible for removing millions of Jews from their religion, thereby qualifying it as “evil”. One may disagree but to parlay his stance as one “responsible” for the actions of sickos is ludicrous.

4) The coup de grace is Harry’s apples to oranges comparison of the Satmar Rav to Pope Urban II. This is insane. Pope Urban II  called for the violent actions of the Crusades, explicitly. OF COURSE he bears responsibility for what happened afterward. The Satmar Rav recoiled from physical violence against anyone (he even refused to demonstrate against a visiting Israeli PM because the Arabs would be demonstrating as well). His tactics bear closer resemblance to those of Gandhi than those of Urban II.

5) More than being “angry and hateful”, any student of the Satmar Rav will tell you that he was sad and hearbroken, totally tzebrachen (broken) over the millions of Jewish children led away from their God and their people. Listen to tapes of his Shovavim Torah as he beseeches his fellow Jews to do Teshuva.

I am far from being a Satmar Chassid. In fact, I can’t think of even one instance that I and my family follow the Satmar derech. However it is an undeniable fact that the Satmar Rav was from the greatest Gaonim, Tzadikim and Kedoshim of his generation. This was acknowledged by R’ Moshe Feinstein, R’ Aharon Kotler and many others who were often the target of his ire. The closest comparison I can think of is to Shammai Hazaken. The Halacha may not be like him, but he was one of the greatest and a national treasure. The words written today against him, by a man who should know better, are hurtful, disappointing and a disgrace.

In the interest of being charitable I will judge R’ Harry Lkaf Zechus and assume that he was so shaken up by the vile desecration at Yad Vashem that he said things he now regrets. I will also attribute his harsh words toward Satmar in general as coming from his innate Ahahvas Yisroel and what he perceives as Satmar “hating” other Jews. It is my fervent hope that he will retract his post and issue a proper apology.

P.S. Reb Harry, where were you condemning secular society and it’s leadership when this happened just last week? And this?