29 thoughts on “The Rabbi Who Lied Through His Teeth – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. RE: “he’s a bald-faced liar”

    MY COMMENT: I assume you mean that he is a bearded ‘bald-faced’ liar.

    FROM WikiAnswers: Is the correct term ‘bold face lie’ or ‘bald faced lie’ or another variation?

    (ANSWER) The correct term is bald-faced, and refers to a face without whiskers. Beards were commonly worn by businessmen in the 18th and 19th century as an attempt to mask facial expressions when making business deals. Thus a bald-faced liar was a very good liar indeed, and was able to lie without the guilt showing on his face.

    ALSO SEE AskVille – http://askville.amazon.com/term-bald-faced-liar-refer/AnswerViewer.do?requestId=150401

  2. Richard,

    You are missing a lot of points here. First, did Moment do wrong by publishing this? I think they did. There was no reason for them to grab it and run with it.

    Second, did moment send RMF the seven word question they claim and nothing more? That stretches my imagination.

    Third, even if you believe with your whole heart that Moment was right and that the rabbi is misspeaking, should you not accept his apology now?

    Finally… Gotcha is a game that the right wing plays. Are you sure you want to emulate them?

    1. Tzvee: You do realize don’t you that you’re in agreement with CAIR which also argues that Moment shouldn’t have published Friedman. I never realized you have so much in common. But really, Moment did what any good publication SHOULD do. It attempted to stir up debate about an important issue. The fact that Friedman opened his trap and released all the bile in his system is Friedman & Chabad’s problem, not Moment’s. You want to kill the messenger when you should be examining who produced the message in the first place.

      did moment send RMF the seven word question they claim and nothing more?

      Since you know Friedman and like him so much, why don’t you e mail him and ask him to produce the original message he received from Moment.

      should you not accept his apology now?

      No, because teshuvah only is due someone who admits their mistake. Friedman instead has exacerbated his by claiming Moment asked him how Israel should react if Palestinians use civilians as shields. It’s absolutely clear fr. the other rabbinic responses published in Moment that this was NOT what Friedman or any o the rabbis were asked. Which would make him a violator of the ninth commandment.

      As for playing gotcha, if you think “calling out” someone who advocates genocide is playing gotcha rather than engaging in serious political and journalistic discourse, then you’re not blogging for the same reasons I am.

  3. Friedman’s clarification is the standard “moral” defense used by the Eretz Yisrael Crowd. It tries to make genocide palatable in two ways: 1) Adding the qualification “in time of war” (as in “‘kill [even] the best among the nations’ – in time of war”), without defining the term “time of war”. Right-wing rabbis, such as the Yesha Rabbinical Council, have ruled that we are ALWAYS at war with “the Arabs”, even when there is no actual fighting going on. 2) By citing the hackneyed hasbarah claim that women and children are “collateral damage” because our depraved enemies use them as “shields”, neglecting to mention that his “Jewish morality” views these women and children THEMSELVES as “enemies” and therefore legitimate targets.

    He tries to talk the talk of the “western morality” he rejects – when called out for his racism and violence – but it is little more than sophistry, capable of convincing only those who desperately wish to believe he is “good people”.

  4. Is there ANY study on human shields used by Palestinians and Lebanese that concludes that THAT is the reason so many of them die as ‘collateral damage’?

    We have studies arguing AGAINST that hasbara nonsense. The US Army War College study and the HRW report – both on Lebanon 2006.

    Zionists really are immoral and liars.

    1. Zionists really are immoral and liars.

      That makes me uncomfortable & I wish you would desist fr. such sweeping generalizations. Not all Zionists are immoral or liars. Do you feel any more comfortable when you read people like Pipes & Horowitz make the same false claims about Muslims?

      1. Zionism is a political belief system. Islam is a religion. So your comparison is a bit off. His statement is more equivalent to someone making the same claims about fascists or communists or even Republicans or Democrats Its still a sweeping generalization, though.

  5. I don’t know Friedman.

    I do have a lot of contact with Habad. I do know individuals that rationalize as you suggest.

    I know more that acknowledge that the sentiments expressed by Friedman CONFLICT with Torah.

    My son is in a Chabad yeshiva in Crown Heights. We went to a parents weekend for “bal-teshuvas” a couple weeks ago, and at one event a local “clown” uttered a similar prayer (on Shabbat) and a few of the yeshiva students joined in “bomb them, bomb them”.

    The next day, I spoke with the head rabbi at the yeshiva, explaining the pain that it caused me on Shabbat, that I do not approve of any such teaching that my son would be exposed to, and my impression that such sentiments were in direct violation of Torah.

    To follow up, at a public meeting the next day, I asked about the appropriate role of chalachic Jews to non-Jews.

    He stated that Jews are obliged to treat all with dignity, with a presumption of civility, that coveting non-Jews’ property is a violation of chalacha, that the promises in Torah (literal and metaphorical ones) are in fact conditional, and dependant on keeping the commandments in deed, thought and word.

    As you commented about generalizations about “Zionists” above, I hope that you exert the same care when tempted to generalize about Habad.

    There are jewels in their teachings, as well as some confusion and rationalization (from my impression), and that emphases vary greatly person to person.

    1. I spoke with the head rabbi at the yeshiva, explaining the pain that it caused me on Shabbat, that I do not approve of any such teaching that my son would be exposed to, and my impression that such sentiments were in direct violation of Torah.

      You don’t mention what the rabbi replied to you. Plus, I’m frankly astonished that you would allow your son to continue his education at a place that countenanced such despicable behavior.

      as well as some confusion and rationalization

      That’s what you call a Jew who advocates genocide?

      1. My son is an adult, and makes his own choices as to what to do.

        The two rabbis that he’s been closest to while at university and in our home town, do NOT express (or think from my probing) such confusion as to what constitutes defense, nor ignores that Palestinians are human beings.

        One rabbi ignored my comments. Another rabbi explained that the individual that spoke at the event was a “neighborhood clown” that they do not exclude from their events in the spirit of charity, and that in studies the distinction between speculations on what Torah or halacha means, are examined more assertively.

        They do regard Torah and halachic explanation as authoritative which conflicts with my views of what I have faith in (reason, nature, empathy, integrity).

        In contrast, the primary study that Habad proposes is the study of Tanya, which articulates a more mystical, meta-ethical, and intimate approach to prayer-life and Torah than the heartless obedience to law.

        The historical merits of Torah and Jewish life are in the collective understanding of the meaning “you shall be a nation of priests”. In ALL meanings there is the element of service to other communities in some form. Some consider the interpretation as to be a model community, adherent to the Torah principles that are mitzvot (that link otherwise passing and dry souls to holiness), or as a community of individual or collective comprehensive social healers.

        The obligation is known to be permanent for all generations, and in our blood. (I personally believe that the same spiritual and ethical integrity is a human characteristic rather than a Jewish one, but the commitment stated in unifying Jewish literature, FIRMS that human commitment rather than leaves it optional.)

        Chabad is in a state of flux. There are prominent “apostates” that are more humanistic, like Zalman Schachter who inspired a wide group of current rabbis that range in emphasis from almost new-agey new Jewish spirituality, to the Lerner oriented ethical commitments stated politically as much as interpersonally.

        And, there are bigots like you sited. And, there are those that regard the prior rebbe as prophetic or messianic, and as he didn’t have children or any implied even school of successor, they are somewhat anarchic in terms of dominant views.

        IF, they were more authoritative and not in a state of flux and dialog, then your generalizations about the movement as a whole might be descriptive.

        But, as they are in a state of dialog, your generalizations (and they were generalizations), contained bigotry (that strong a word).

        Your irritation is not studied writ. If you named the individual’s comments, or even just his logic as wrong, that would be more specific with no prospect of substantive bigotry or appearance of it.

  6. Look, maybe Friedman is insane just like the Muslim who murdered Jews in Seattle. He said he wanted to kill Jews, but you said his being insane means that his Muslim background has nothing to do with his actions, even though he said it did.
    Secondly, if he is not insane, maybe he is a shmegege just like the fellow who wrote the HAMAS charter which said Jews are the incarnation of evil and caused all the world wars. You pointed out that he is an insignifcant person, those who chose him to write it paid no attention to him or to what he wrote and no one ever read what he wrote or cares about it. Friedman is certainly less important than he, since he is not a spokesman for anybody. Thus, if you don’t think the HAMAS charter and its writer are important, I dont’ see what reason there is to get excited about what Friedman said.

    1. Friedman is certainly less important than he, since he is not a spokesman for anybody.

      On the contrary, didn’t you read his bio. He’s one of the more popular Chabad speakers on the right-wing militant pro-settler Orthodox circuit. He travels to virtually every continent, speaks on all the major TV channels and in the major magazines. His views are far more widely known than those of the obscure fellow who wrote the Hamas Charter.

  7. Here is a bit of discussion on the racism in Chabad doctrine:


    I get the impression that Friedman’s “clarification” is devised around the Talmudic position noted in the article; that Jews only need to observe principles of Torah in interactions with fellow Jews, hence leaving him with no qualms in calling for genocide against Arabs or in lying to those who take issue with him doing so.

    1. Your assessment of Friedman’s interpretation, that “love thy neighbor as thyself” applies primarily or only to Jews, is likely accurate.

      I’ve not met any rabbi that I’ve studied with or dialogued with that advocated for cruelty to non-Jews. So, either that is a statement of the limits of my exposure, or that anticipatory aggression is distrusted as a rationale.

      The comment about Tanya as racist is innaccurate. The message in Tanya is so predominately to engage in Torah deeply, to remain humble, to live a pure and charitable life, and to remember God always.

      There have been times when in the spirit of opposing racism, activists sought to purge racist material from libraries for example, or school curiculums, and got into the very awkward position of opposing works like Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn which were in fact anti-racist themes. Dostoevsky would have to be eliminated from school curiculums.

      1. Oh come on Whitty, according to Tanya, the bigotry they expose derived from Tanakh. From the article I linked above:

        “The souls of the nations of idol-worshippers are from the other, the impure ‘shells’ which contain no good at all, as stated in Etz Chaim 49:3. All the good that the nations of idol-worshippers do is done for their own sake, as stated in the Talmud [Baba Bathra 10b] on the verse ‘The kindness of the nations is sin’ [Proverbs 14:34], ie that all the charity and kindness performed by the nations of idol-worshippers is done for the sake of self-glorification.”

        Granted, the meaning that passage from Talmud claims is conveyed though Proverbs doesn’t jive with any translation I’ve seen elsewhere, but that is Chabad ideology all the same. For more details on that particular doctrine:


        And I hope you might browse around that forum some more to see what you are getting your kid indoctrinated into.

          1. I have read some, and found it full of the supposedly Biblically inspired supremacism I exemplified in my previous comment. I can quote more examples if you like, but I get the impression you would prefer to avoid the subject, eh?

  8. I don’t attribute a special obligation to be equivalent to “biblically inspired supremacism”.

    I’m sorry that you adopt a willingly contemptuous approach to personal and collective responsibility.

    1. I have no issue with concepts of responsibility. “The souls of the nations of idol-worshippers are from the other, the impure ‘shells’ which contain no good at all” is the example of supposedly Biblically inspired supremacism I referred to. But you don’t have any intention of addressing anything of the sort, do you?

      1. I address it daily, and TO habad leadership (as anarchic as it is) regularly, when I see it.

        It RARELY is evident in day to day behavior, or stated attitudes.

        Maybe I only have contact with the “dissenters” among Chabad. I don’t think so.

        I see you shooting first, asking questions later, in the name of opposing prejudice, so I don’t understand why I should regard your comments as informative.

        I see Richard S periodically expressing bigotry (in the name of opposing bigotry). Should I then reject every comment that he ever makes?

  9. I’ve looked at some of the videos of Rabbi Freidman, and find them helpful, not cruel.

    He’s a human being, nowhere near the ethical scale of a suicide-bomber, or facilitator.

    Criticize his points. Make contact with him even. Confront his ideas.

    1. I think Richard Witty is telling us that Friedman is more like Alfred Rosenberg than like any of the anti-Nazi resistance in Eastern Europe.

      It is true that Rosenberg seems to have been a good religious family man, who was appalled at German Nazi mistreatment of Slavs and who unlike the anti-Nazi resistance never killed anyone with his own hands, but like Friedman and the Lubavitcher Hassidic movement today created a mentality of hate, racism and mass murder.

      Rosenberg was executed at Nuremberg. As far as I know the Nuremberg Tribunal never convicted anyone of any crimes for anti-Nazi activities but did convict a lot of German Nazis for persecuting and punishing the anti-Nazi resistance and its supporters just as Israeli Zionists punish the anti-Zionist resistance and its supporters.

  10. You know what the problem is here? We think we know what morality is.

    The Talmud says: “One who is merciful to the merciless, his fate is to merciless to the merciful” (I don’t recall where, but it’s a know verse)

    That is exactly what we are doing, Being merciful to the wicked terrorists who kill the inocent.

    Rabbi Friedman speaks words of truth and he is not embarrassed about it, even if it’s not PC.

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