By Yerachmiel Lopin (Frum Follies blog)
July 24, 2014
Even the great Rabbi Akiva with the best of intentions and lomdus (rabbinical acumen) made the mistake of believing Bar Kochba was the moshiach (messiah) when he backed his rebellion against the Romans. The principal of Elimelech Meisel’s seminary, Chedvas, is dangerously delusional. With the worst of lomdus and the most self-serving of intentions he distorts the halacha (Jewish law) of loshon horah (defamatory facts which are true) and makes grandiose claims about moshiach. In a letter to his recent students he wrote:
Hakadosh Baruch is telling us that Klal Yisroel needs major zchuyos (merits), gigantic zchuyos…
All of us know that loshon hara without toeless (protective purposes) is assur (forbidden). At this stage of the very unfortunate situation our school finds itself in, there is no toeles in discussing the situation and its details. And even l’toeles the halacha is that it’s asur to believe it…
Much of the world is talking about it and much of the world believes it… Hashem (G-d) is saying Chedvas you be the ones to stay quiet… My students, if we stay strong we can and will change the world…
Hashem believes in us, so let’s believe in ourselves. Let’s make chizuk projects to be michazek each other, let’s make buddy systems to see if we’re staying in check… I have a sinking feeling we’re going to bring Mashiach.
Sources tell us that before Mashiach there will be a big nisayon (test)that will be very hard to pass. Those who do will merit Mashiach. Those who don’t…
Rabbi Kahane insists his students should not talk about the Chicago beis din ruling that students avoid Meisel’s seminaries because of the danger of unwanted sexual contact. Kahane is trying to prevent information of abuse from getting to a beis din (rabbinical court) or authorities, therby endangering potential victims and further traumatizing those who have been abused.
The Chofetz Chaim must be crying to see his work being distorted by a man who knows better. Kahane claims that even l’toeles (for a purpose such as protecting others) one may not believe allegations. However, the position of the Chofetz Chaim was that l’toeles, one may act on loshon horah (truthful derogatory information) to protect oneself and others. The rules of loshon horah are not unilateral disarmament against predators bent on money and monkey business.
In his desperate attempt to keep the enterprise afloat, Kahane marries this distortion of halachah to grandiose promises about bringing the messiah, as if that can be accomplished by protecting a predator.
Not for a second am I accusing Kahane of personal sexual impropriety. But he, like Meisels, uses his charisma and the trust of his students to whip them into a frenzy in which they suspend their judgment and stop looking at the facts and halacha. Meisel’s grooming for sex and Kahane’s frenzied preaching are two sides of the same counterfeit charismatic coin.
I started out thinking the problem was sexual abuse, but I am now convinced that the problem is deeper; it is an utter disrespect for student discernment that turns them into tools of the seminaries’ agendas.
People keep asking how Bais Yaakov girls schooled in tznius (modesty) could have acquiesced to Meisels’ perversions. The answer is that there is such a thing as too much respect for rabbis, too uncritical an acceptance of outlandish ideas. In my experience it is the most idealistic students who are most vulnerable. They so want to be better, they are so insecure, they are so eager to be raised up further through the guidance of rabbis they put on a pedestal; they are so distrustful of their own instincts. They are so, so vulnerable. The one thing they have not been taught is kabdeihu vichashdeihu (respect and suspect).
The staff that should have protected them, turned a blind eye and rebuffed those who could not help noticing Meisels incessant flirting, texting, and late night excursions in his van. Some of the girls had eyes, but the staff had no ears. Some of my sources who criticized Meisels were at first protective of Rabbi Kahane. But now that they have seen his missive they are devastated and furious.
I now wonder if the seminaries are worth saving. Its culture is pathological; its denial cannot be pierced. Even now it continues to protect Meisels and refuses to admit the facts conceded by many others. Unless Meisels and his supporters admit the truth, the pathology will get a new lease of life under different management.
Below is the full text Rabbi Meir Kahane’s message as first posted on the blog, Rare View.
From: Meir Kahane <
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Date: July 17, 2014 at 7:03:09 PM EDT
Dear Chedvas Graduates amus’h,
I am inspired to write you a letter. It was just recently that I was reminiscing about your year. When the three kdoshim were missing, I recalled our mission a few years ago to save Gilad Shalit. I recalled the the dedication with which you worked and the determination. I recalled that you were brave enough to fight a yetzer hara that so many fell prey to. When most girls were wearing skirts above their knees you made a kinnus to teach the world that it’s assur. While the kdoshim were missing, I kept asking myself, where is my army? We saved Gilad, we can save them as well. I have no doubt my army was doing their part. This time, Hashem said no.
But the death of three kdoshim led to war. When things started getting worse the nagging thought kept coming back. Is my army doing its job? While the rest of the world is relying on the IDF, I personally was relying on a different army- you, my Chedvas graduates.
The thought crossed my mind more than once over the past couple of weeks “can we do another kinnus?” Can we do one now to save us from the war? But scattered all over the world, it seemed quite impractical.
Hakadosh Baruch Hu has his ways. And he sent us a nisayon of colossal proportions. It’s as if Hakadosh Baruch is telling us that Klal Yisroel needs major zchuyos, gigantic zchuyos. You be the ones to do it.
All of us know that loshon hara without toeles is assur. At this stage of the very unfortunate situation our school finds itself in, there is no toeles in discussing the situation and its details. And even l’toeles the halacha is that it’s asur to believe it. My Chedvas students. Much of the world is talking about it and much of the world believes it. Do you hear Hashem speaking to us? Hashem is saying Chedvas you be the ones to stay quiet. Hashem is giving us another chance for a kinnus. He’s telling us that he listened to us last time, and wants to listen again. But this time the kinnus will not be on a stage, with signs all over Yerushalayim and a video. It will personal, and quiet, and extremely hard. My students, if we stay strong we can and will change the world.
I never thought we’d have a chance to do this again. Hashem believes in us, so let’s believe in ourselves. Let’s make chizuk projects to be michazek each other, let’s make buddy systems to see if we’re staying in check. I’m ready for volunteers to come up with a mehalach. I have a sinking feeling we’re going to bring Mashiach.
Sources tell us that before Mashiach there will be a big nisayon that will be very hard to pass. Those who do will merit Mashiach. Those who don’t…
I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas on how to initiate this program. I’m happy to make it worldwide.
With tefilos that Hashem should bring everyone back to His Torah, I remain,