Borough Park, NY - Spinka Rebbe Tells Legal Symposium: âWeâve Learned Things the Hard Wayâ [videos]
Borough Park, NY - A packed, eclectic audience from all parts of New York was on hand last night for a symposium for the charedi public to discuss the obligation to obey US laws, following the arrests that have unnerved all of US Jewry. In attendance were a number of the figures who had already been released from custody.
The event was held in Borough Park and the cost were paid for as a merit for the recovery of the avreich from Flatbush, Râ Chaim Dovid ben Leah, and before the speeches got under way, Tehillim were recited in his merit and the merit of all of the Jews currently under arrest.
The opening speaker at the event was Agudath Israel Executive Vice President Râ Chaim David Zwiebel, who organized the event. He said the verse, âVâasiso es hatov vâhayasharâ (âYou shall do what is good and justâ) refers to obeying the law as well. âIt has been a number of years since there has been a need to hold this type of gathering,â he said, âbut it was not as pressing and urgent to explain as it is now, after dozens of Jews have been arrested on suspicion of money-laundering and more.â
Râ Zwiebel noted that before the symposium he paid a visit to the Novominsker Rebbe shlita, who said many figures have become involved in the matter, which has caused terrible chilul Hashem due to the press coverage it has generated. âBut the Rebbe told me he always warns his talmidim not to engage in questionable conduct, not because someone is watching, but because HaKadosh Baruch Hu sees. Even those who didnât get caught go against HaKadosh Baruch Huâs will. We have gathered here to listen to information from attorneys about what to be wary of, what to do and what not to do.â
The Spinka Rebbe of Boro Park, who began in Yiddish, spoke intermittently in English as well.
At first he quoted from the Sefer Chassidim, which says that when a person does a misdeed he must acknowledge what he did, and by admitting it he earns merit, and if the admission caused him embarrassment, then it is considered an atonement sacrifice.
âThere have been tzaddikim who wouldnât accept in their towns dayanim who would be unable to admit publicly that they had erred,â he said. Addressing the audience in a mournful tone, he said: âMorai verabbosai, letâs talk about this in very clear terms: it is well known what has been happening at our mosdos and yeshivas over the past 16 months. Weâve learned a lot during this period and I feel obligated to tell the public what weâve been going through. Weâve been leading mosdos in Boro Park for 40 years â a kollel, a yeshiva and a cheider. Out of necessity we allowed ourselves to indulge in illegal acts. As painful as it may be, we must admit we have failed. Things have happened at our mosdos that should not have happened. We must acknowledge this, and make it known publicly, because weâre hoping it does not repeat itself.
âIâd like to tell you that weâve learned itâs possible to lead Torah and chessed organizations in accordance with the law. Yes, it is possible. People think it cannot be done, but weâve learned this the hard way. There are now charedi lawyers and accountants who are experts in this area to ensure everything is run according to the law. When in doubt whether or not something is legal, we cannot make that determination on our own, chas vâsholom. We have to ask a lawyer how to conduct ourselves properly in that situation.â
The Rebbe, citing tzaddikim, told a parable of a person was lost in the forest and could not find his way out. Suddenly he was overjoyed to see another man appear. He went up to him and asked how to get out. âI donât know,â the man replied, âbut the path Iâve been following so far is not the right one.â
The Spinka Rebbe told the audience about a new organization founded with the help of prominent askonim. Members include experienced attorneys, accountants and other professionals. âA lot of effort has gone into this matter and the staff can help people set up tzedaka and chessed organizations. Little by little more and more mosdos are joining the program and weâre hoping that in the coming years there will no longer be any organizations that donât keep proper accounting records.â
The Rebbe also said the US is a kingdom of chessed, a nation that helps everybody. Our forefathers arrived here after the terrible churbon and they gave us permission to go and take in the refugees. âThe Chossom Sofer wrote about the Kaiser Franz Yosef and his government, saying they were Hashemâs agents. The same can be said of the US government. They make sure we have an opportunity to live here with freedom and keep all of the mitzvahs, and we have to follow the law. There is no good deed, mitzvah or even bikkur cholim or hachnasas kalloh that permits violating the law,â he concluded.
Videos Below from Spinka Rabbi Speech. Video Credit Shiezoli of YouTube
The next speaker was HaRav Avrohom Shorr, who discussed what the media is saying about the charedi sector. âOn the day of Churbon Beis Hamikdosh there was a chilul Hashem and HaKadosh Baruch Hu sent us to live among the nations in order to sanctify the Name of Heaven. Every time there is an instance of chilul Hashem, itâs a continuation of Churbon Beis Hamikdosh,â he said.
HaRav Shorr went on to discuss the importance of teaching children about chilul Hashem and refuted the common perception that these types of things happen because Jews feel as if theyâre living in a ghetto and the police is monitoring them. âItâs just the opposite. It stems from the fact weâre too strong here in America and weâve gotten comfortable here.â
HaRav David Ozeri, the rov of the Syrian-Jewish community, spoke movingly, quoting various halachic sources on the need to obey the law, describing how the great tzaddikim of the generations made stupendous efforts to adhere to the law. He spoke very little about the affair, which caused great suffering in his kehiloh, but he did say everyone is feeling pain and shock over what transpired.
Atty. Benjamin Braffman, a top lawyer who represents prominent figures, emphasized a number of ethical points. âOver the past two hours since the symposium began Iâve been scanning the audience for some FBI agent in charedi attire. Iâm sure thereâs at least one here who wants to listen to and analyze exactly what the rabbonim and lawyers are saying. Luckily my grandfather and grandmother spoke Yiddish so Iâve been able to understand every word thatâs been said, and Iâll speak in Yiddish, too. If somebody didnât understand something I say, feel free to come up to me afterwards and Iâll be glad to explain.
âI come from a charedi family. I have a charedi brother and a charedi son in Jerusalem. Iâm the only one who has to spend my day among all sorts of people who earn a whole lot of money, and in the evening I sit among thousands of Chassidim.
âIâd like to say how impressed I was by the remarks made by the Spinka Rebbe. Iâm sure his remarks had an impact and will continue to have an impact on the public and the mosdos, regarding the need to avoid illegal activities. I hope his remarks bring merit to the Rebbe, so that he is able to make it through the legal matter.â
Later in his talk Atty. Braffman touched on day-to-day affairs. âPeople donât learn how to run their day-to-day lives after getting married, when theyâll have to report income. You have to know how to write checks, how to buy a home. When todayâs generation grows up weâll be in a much bigger mess because young people know nothing about how to run their day-to-day lives. You have no idea how careful you have to be to avoid chilul Hashem.
âIâm an observant Jew, but when the media speaks with me Iâm always careful not to present myself as a Jew, but rather as a professional, and I watch every single word that comes out of my mouth, because everybody knows Iâm a Jew. Therefore charedi Jews have to be even more careful in their conduct, to avoid causing chilul Hashem. I donât want to have to make money serving charedi clients.â
Videos Below from Atty. Braffman. Video Credit Shiezoli of YouTube
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