Jewish World in Shock as Ultra-Orthodox Admit to Wrongdoing
By Shaya Oddet
By Shaya Oddet
In a stunning reversal of a decades long policy, the ultra orthodox world has publicly declared that they will no longer deny, excuse, cover-up, minimize, whitewash, or rationalize the criminal indiscretions of their community. Beginning this coming Elul, community spokespeople have announced, chareidi society will be taking full responsibility for any and all transgressions by its members and leadership.
Ari Shamran, spokesman for the Nogudah, explained the change, "We decided it was best to stop pretending that Chareidim are so much better than everyone else, and finally admit what we've known all along, that we don't really behave any differently than the goyim. For many years, we were able to maintain that myth, but due to all the recent press coverage, we realize that such a story simply isn't plausible anymore, and we need to stop promoting it. It just makes us look foolish."
The head of the Nogudah, R' Shlomo Ferlow told the press, "What with a new scandal being exposed every few days, it's become far too difficult to attribute our misdeeds to a few rotten apples in the community. People just don't buy it anymore."
"We realize that many will find this decision difficult to accept," counseled Shamran, in the official press statement released earlier today. "But after weeks of agonizing deliberations by our gedolim, it was decided that this is the most da'as torah-ish course of action available to us."
As was feared, not everyone was supportive of the novel ruling. One Brooklyn resident, Chaim F. (not his real name) told us, "It's mamesh crazy that they're doing this. Can you imagine the chillul hashem that will come about when people hear about all the stuff going on?! And during Elul?! They really need to ask a rav before going ahead with this."
It seems that the change in policy was a result of not only the increased frequency of the crimes, but also due to the more severe nature of the acts themselves. "It's understandable if we have to whitewash a little tax evasion or the occasional Ponzi scheme," explained Shamran. "But do they really expect us to put a positive spin on trafficking in human organs? No, I'm sorry, but there are some things that even a Torah Jew just doesn't try to excuse."
Another critic, Yehuda R. of Monsey (not his real residence), was less than convinced by Shamran's explanation. "What's the big deal?! They can just say it was pikuach nefesh! Anyway," he said, wagging his finger in angry frustration, "I don't really believe he did it. It's all just a blood libel by the anti-Semitic media. It never happened. My cousin davens in the guy's shul. I'm telling you, there's just no way he could have done that. And besides, it was pikuach nefesh!"
But Shamran insisted the time had come for the community to face the facts. "It's one thing to cover up child molestation that's been going on for decades. It's quite another to refute a two year long undercover FBI investigation." He held up his hands in a gesture of mock surrender. "Yeah, looks like you finally got us," he said laughing. "What took you so long?"
"I think it's a good thing," remarked Mrs. Miriam L., a Lakewood housewife (not her real occupation). "It's about time. I found it much too confusing always having them tell us contradictory things. One day they'd give a speech at the Nogudah Convention exhorting us to always be careful never to make a chillul hashem, and then the next week, they'd be explaining why they don't think child molesters should be brought to justice. How's a da'as torah following person supposed to make sense of it all?"
Despite the many prominent rabbonim who declared their support for the new policy, some rabbis still urged caution. "It's important for people to understand that this is not a p'sak," said R' Moshe Richtig, head of Yeshivas Torah v'Tzedakah. "This is a very complex issue, and anyone who is faced with a situation where they might have to admit to something inappropriate should probably consult their posek first."
Most people in the media were unsure how to take the news. Bloggers in particular were a bit concerned. "I suppose it's a positive development," said the writer known as XGHRWMO. "But it's also a bit troubling. If they really adopt this policy it's going to have a drastic effect on the blogging community. What will we have left to mock? Fake interviews with ex-frum people? I really don't want to go back to writing about the documentary hypothesis," he said, clearly alarmed at the prospect.
Others expressed concern about how the policy would affect their day to day lives. "I know money laundering is a problem, but does this mean I'll have to start paying my workers on the books?" asked the owner of a plumbing supply store. "If I do that I'll probably only be able to afford sending my kids to camp for one month. Do you have any idea what that would do to their shidduch prospects?"
"Does this mean we can't cheat on the regents anymore?" a yeshiva bochur inquired. "They weren't referring to that kind of stuff, right? Mistumeh, that's not really stealing anyway."
But some in the community weren't at all worried how the new policy would affect them. "After all," one storeowner explained confidently. "They never said we have to start abiding by the rules. Just that we should stop denying that we're breaking them. As long as we're careful not to get caught, I don't really see why anything has to change."