Chabad Takes Rabbi Friedman to the Woodshed
I don’t know why it’s so hard for a Chabad rabbi these days to speak his mind when he wants to call for genocide against Arabs. Geesh, doesn’t the right-wing movement believe in letting rabbis speak their mind on life and death issues facing Israel and the Jewish people??
It seems that when Rabbi Manis Friedman told Moment Magazine that the only good Arab was a dead one, Chabad didn’t take too kindly to this once blogs like this one and Failed Messiah began taking him to task. They got on the horn with their Jewish journalist stenographer, Ben Harris over at JTA, who dutifully delivered a contrite version of what Rabbi Friedman “meant to say:”
A prominent Chabad rabbi is seeking to clarify remarks in which he renounced “Western morality” and seemed to call on Israel to massacre Palestinian civilians…
Friedman…said that his published comments were “misleading” and were meant to address not how Jews should treat their neighbors but how they should act in a time of war.
“I attempted to briefly address some of the ethical issues related to forcing the military to withhold fire from certain people and places, at the unbearable cost of widespread bloodshed (on both sides!) — when one’s own family and nation is mercilessly targeted from those very people and places!” Friedman wrote in a clarification issued through a Chabad spokesperson. “I apologize for any misunderstanding the words printed in my name created.”
What’s really rich about this is that Friedman attempts to argue that advocating genocide constitutes “addressing an ethical issue.” And it really does make a difference, doesn’t it, whether you advocate blowing up the Temple Mount and killing Arab men, women and children only during a war or when there are no hostilities with Arabs.
I do so love the idea that by killing Palestinians in droves we’re actually reducing the “unbearable bloodshed (on both sides!).” If Lewis Carroll had ever seen a Chabad rabbi in his days at Oxford, he’d have added Rabbi Friedman as a beloved character in Alice in Wonderland. His torturing of the language (not to mention Torah) would fit in perfectly.
This idea, by the way, that Chabad is trying to peddle that this guy doesn’t represent the other fine upstanding members of the Chabad community is a load of rubbish. Let them try to explain the popularity of Rabbi Dov Wolpe in Israel. This is a Chabadnik and extremist settler rabbi who offers to pay IDF soldiers to mutiny in the Territories, among other choice views he holds.
33 thoughts on “Chabad Takes Rabbi Friedman to the Woodshed – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Another Chabad rabbi recently brought my umpteenth attempt to find a shul where I could at least pretend to belong, to an abrupt end, with the statement “As good Muslims, their first ‘mitzvah’ was to kill Jews” (in reference to the Riverdale “plot”). I got up and left, and have crossed another shul off my list. The “liberals” haven’t been much better. Shver tzu sein a yid.
Where do you live? Have you tried a Reconstructionist shul? Though if you’re looking for an Orthodox shul that might not be yr cup of tea.
I live in Rome and the pickings are slim. At the moment, only Ortho, although attempts are being made to found a liberal congregation (affiliated with WUPJ). Sadly, those involved in the liberal initiative express views on Israel that would be quite at home in a Chabad setting. Shoah, anti-Semitism (real or imagined) and Zionist chauvinism are the glue that keeps Jews together in this part of the world. Especially sad in one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities.
Ah, I should’ve realized fr. yr. e mail address that you were in Italy. I’m sorry there isn’t more available to you there. I suppose the Holocaust did a pretty good job of destroying much of the Italian Jewish community.
This is a long way from Rome, but do you know Edward Serotta’s Centropa? They are a group based in Prague & devoted to preserving Jewish life & culture in central & eastern Europe. I’ll get you a link if you need one or you can Google it here. I’ve written twice about Centropa.
I know the Italian Jewish community a little. Did my dissertation on Shadal’s ethics. I must say the problem everywhere is that progressive Jews whose spiritual values are in fact political, about care for others, are driven out of synagogues, and always have been. This is is a universal and ancient problem, going back to our best Jewish prophets being hounded by our worst priests and kings. It takes constant effort to re-balance Jewish ritual expression. It is not the Holocaust. it is neglect, and it is modern freedom that allows us to disappear into the woodwork of cosmopolitanism. So the playing field is left to a solid representation of jingoists and ethnonationalists. What to do?
I have spoken to the rabbi in question. He has accepted my criticism and apologised. I have also discussed the marginalisation of Jews who don’t toe the tribal line, with him. I am cautiously optimistic. Thank you for your comment Marc. Sadly, Italian Jewry today is a long way from Shadal, Benamozegh, or the great Jewish thinkers of the Renaissance.
Dear Mr. Silverstein,
Why don’t you advise Shemuel to convert to Christianity and go to a church instead? Was Jesus Christ not the first Reconstructionist Rabbi?
I am disgusted by the journalist’s take on Rabbi Friedman’s statement and am horrified to think that it may be true. But your pathetic attempt to pick up recruits for your ideological / political camp is so convoluted it is beyond words.
I am not affiliated with any religious organization and do not frequent any synagogue, but I can say that for Chabbod, that they still consider people like you a Jew, even so!
BTW, since you are into Tikun Olam, I am wondering how you are reacting to Fogel family’s murder in Itamar?
Please do share your views.
You are an unaffiliated Jew who knows little or nothing about Judaism & Chabad & yet you are willing to speak on behalf of that group to say whether they consider me a Jew or not?? Really. By what power or knowledge do you arrogate this right to yrself? I’ll have you know that Chabadniks would NOT consider me a Jew, at least not a Jew they would have a thing to do with.
Instead of being an ignorant lazy person why don’t you just Google the site to find out what I’ve written about Itamar?
Next time there is another Mumbai massacre, you will know that you are at least partly responsible.
The morons are out in force it seems.
I’m not too sure this guy is a moron. It seems that one rabbi’s comments receives front page mention while the incitement, inflammatory, violent, hateful, eliminate-all-Jews remarks occurring in mosques all over the world on a daily basis are being ignored.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but that doesn’t seem like impartial coverage to me nor does it help prevent more terror attacks. The latest against America took place in Arkansas where an innocent American soldier was killed by a Jihadist.
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You wouldn’t by any chance have any proof of yr wildly wingnutty claim would you?
Spoken like a true neocon. First, the shooter is an African-American convert to Islam. As far as we now know his act was that of a lone deranged individual. He may have committed this heinous act out of some sort of commitment to Islamist values. That will be determined by a police investigation.
Shoot the messenger, huh? Instead of blaming the rabbi for hateful comments inciting attacks, you fault Richard for simply pointing out that those comments were hateful.
Shooting the messenger is a common tactic of the morally confused.
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Richard.even though i never agreed with you on anything,but i still had respect for you,but now i realize you are not only a idiotic leftist,but you are in addition a coward,why did you delete my comments to you?
cannot take some criticism?
I deleted yr comment because it violated my comment rules which you never bothered to read. I deleted it because it was full of hateful rhetoric. I think this comment, which is somewhat mild in comparison, makes clear to others who and what you are.
BTW, you never respected me. You never made a single comment here or e mailed me about anything. So don’t play games just to try to make a point.
What I read in the “clarification” is that Friedman thought he had been understood to advocate killing one’s Arab neighbours in the US or in Israel.
I suppose no reading is too weird not to be employed by someone somewhere, but really! – hands up who didn’t understand him right the first time.
He’s defending himself against an critique that nobody made, while confirming everything his remarks stand accused of. The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way, which is total war, precisely the sort we’ve had here in Europe. In a million years it wouldn’t have crossed my mind that Nazi Germany fought its war “the Jewish way”.
I don’t believe Rabbi Freedman is an anomaly; I think he reveals the tip of an iceberg of a mentality that is pervasive and destructive to the Jewish collective and that which it seeks to preserve. It is not wisdom and not a representation of the whole of Judaism but it is a shameful representation of a part of Judaism today, I believe, post Holocaust generated. This “offering” is as bad as anything you can hear from the Islamists.
Voltaire said “We must cultivate our own garden”. How true.
I found it interesting that the Rabbi would assume that by destroying holy sites a people would stop believing God was on their side…so does the Rabbi think God has abandoned his?
RE: “If Lewis Carroll had ever seen a Chabad rabbi in his days at Oxford…”
MY COMMENT: LOL!
Rabbi Friedman writes:
I would like to clarify the answer published in my name in last month’s issue of Moment Magazine.
First of all, the opinions published in my name are solely my own, and do not represent the official policy of any Jewish movement or organization.
Additionally, my answer, as written, is misleading.
It is obvious, I thought, that any neighbor of the Jewish people should be treated, as the Torah commands us, with respect and compassion. Fundamental to the Jewish faith is the concept that every human being was created in the image of G-d, and our sages instruct us to support the non-Jewish poor along with the poor of our own brethren.
The sub-question I chose to address instead is: how should we act in time of war, when our neighbors attack us, using their women, children and religious holy places as shields. I attempted to briefly address some of the ethical issues related to forcing the military to withhold fire from certain people and places, at the unbearable cost of widespread bloodshed (on both sides!) — when one’s own family and nation is mercilessly targeted from those very people and places.
Furthermore, some of the words I used in my brief comment were irresponsible, and I look forward to further clarifying them in a future issue.
I apologize for any misunderstanding my words created.
— Rabbi Manis Friedman
This is rich. First, Friedman was offered all the space in the world to say the nice things he says here about, not Palestinians of course since he can’t bear to say the word, but rather a “neighbor of the Jewish people.” The fact that he advocated genocide in his first statement, and made all nicey-nicey only after he was called out, speaks volumes about what his true feelings are about Arabs.
Second, he curiously writes “the question I chose to address.” What does that mean? If you’re asked a question you answer it. You don’t choose to address a question you weren’t even asked. He’s claiming he was asked how Israel should react if Arab civilians are used as human shields. Moment says that this is not so. Friedman so far has not provided any proof that he was asked that question.
Third, he only says that “some of the words…were irresponsible.” He doesn’t acknowledge the true awfulness of what he wrote. For that I still call him a liar.
I’ll have to admit I interpreted his words differently than most. What I understood is that when a nation is being attacked [by their neighbors], as is the current situation of the Jews in the Middle East, the only solution is to declare that violence will not be tolerated and that the Jews need to be prepared to fight if necessary.
It was obvious, I thought, that he was talking about a people who use their children as shields and their mosques to store weapons. Obviously no one’s talking about a peaceful neighbor. Which magazine would pose a pointless question about how to treat nice and decent people? Unless, of course, they really don’t know. Just in case, here’s the answer: nice and decent people are treated with respect, loyalty and friendship.
You mean “Israelis” in the Middle East don’t you? You do understand the diff. don’t you?
So in which category do you place Rabbi Friedman and his fellow genocide-supporting Jewish settlers? Are they nice and decent?
He apologized publicly.
Why not end with, “we’ll see” at least? Why the careless denunciation and collective punishment, in the name of opposing careless denunciation and collective punishment?
Even the elements of your points that are valid, could be phrased more considerately.
The likud right generalizes, failing to consider the Abrahamic standard (“if there are 10 righteous men”?) Why do you consider doing the same?
Witty, when your commentary is moralistic and not simply a tactic then people will take what you say seriously.
You go on and on about Hamas’s CHARTER and then dishonestly characterize the violence they carry out and when this nutjob Rabbi goes on a tirade about butchering Arabs and destroying their holy sites you want to let it slide?
You are the perfect representation of Zionism. Lying/sanctimonious/hypocritical/intellectually dishonest. Corrupt.
Where do see an apology? He never used the word or even a synonym. He said some of his words were “irresponsible,” which is far fr. an apology. He should’ve bowed his head in shame to the Arab community & agreed to do teshuvah and did no such thing nor will he.
Ah, I see. I must be considerate with Friedman, but he may wax wrothful with the Palestinians. Nice work if you can get it Witty. But no one here’s buying it.
You are a fighter, a spiritual warrior.
Friedman has been teaching this idea for years and no one felt he was being anything other than logical.
He’d say, “Tell the terrorist that you won’t shoot at children and he’ll hide behind them – that leaves you with no choice but to open fire and pray that the innocent don’t get hurt.
“If you say, ‘I will destroy anything that gets between me and my oppressors’ the oppressor will stop using innocents as his shield and fewer will get hurt.”
I’ve heard this from him a hundred times and I agree that his logic has merit. And I can tell you first hand that this is not the guy my old friend scott rosenburg from failed massiah whats you to believe he is.
How can thirty years of rich teachings can be totally ignored when a guy makes a mistake in his choice of words.
The man truly is a thoughtful venerated scholar – he’s just not s polished writer.
OK. feel free to vilify away!
It’s the Chabad apologetics corps. Just a mistake of a few misplaced words. You people are pathetic. It wasn’t a few words. It was an entire hateful, anti-Muslim, Jewish supremacist mindset that I find repulsive. He said just what he meant & I’m glad he expressed directly what many others are clever enough to conceal. Chabadniks hate Arabs and Muslims. That’s fair enough. They shouldn’t pretend otherwise.
Richard, do some honest research. It’s the only way to be fair. Do some research. You’ll see very clearly that Rabbi Friedman is what I described him to be.
Why haven’t you heard about this hateful, bloodthirsty rabbi before? Because he’s never before said what you think he is saying here.
And you’re right, I am Chabad. Which means that I actually know the guy. His statement (as awfully worded as it was) was meant to promote peace, not more bloodshed.
Again, go and listen to some of his stuff. See if you can’t figure out what the man has been saying about Arabs these last thirty years. You might even find something you like – he’s a really brilliant speaker.
In Richard’s world the only blood thirsty hate mongers are Ortho Jews, and never Arabs
Suzanne is of course right. What Friedman said openly others say quietly, or in the Talmudic phrase, what is on the lips of the drunkard is in the throat of the sober.
As the son of an Orthodox Rabbi I experienced many racist anti-Arab comments from my father. These were par for the course and stem from Zionism’s belief that the ‘holy land’ is the exclusive possession of the Jews.
It is actually irrelevant whether Friedman made his comments about what happens during war. Since when is the killing of women and children (& non-combatant men) during war acceptable? Didn’t the Nazis use such justifications for the murder of Jewish children?
Friedman is a good example of what Yeshayahu Leibowitz described as the Judeo Nazi settler. And to think he actually believes this will make Israel a ‘light unto the nations’!