21 September 2006

Moshe Finkel - Secret Skeptic?

There are many tentacles to the Finkel-Shevach story. These include but are not limited to: the Kashrus organization not stepping up to the plate and admitting incompetence, the fast that was spoon fed down the throats of the hapless Monsey residents and the seeming cover up by the rabbinate in general.

I'm sure we have not heard the end of it.

What I want to explore is “Is Moshe Finkel a Secret Skeptic?”

When the story broke, the following conversation took place on my my Blog.


Baal Habos:
Hmmm, looks like the Frummer chevra beat me to eating Treif. Ironic.

Isn't there a Gemara that says God doesn't let Tsaddikim be nichsol specifically in maacholos Asuros?

I guess they're not as righteous as they believe.

Other Blogger:

The guy selling them was probably a secret atheist like you.


I suspect that most Frum Skeptics have quite high moral standards. Firstly, there is a solid yeshiva background. I know there's plenty of Chicanery going on in the Frum World, but still there's a great foundation. Skeptics also are often exposed to other Liberal values. Now, there are huge differences between Torah and Liberal morality, especially in areas of sexuality. But Liberal morals do call for sharing the wealth and does now allow for dis-honesty. I think Frum Skeptics, in addition to having exposure to two sets of values try to adhere to higher values simply because they want to make sure that there can be no charges against their adopted lifestyle and new found mind-set. I do think twice about all moral issues. Once as a Frum Jew and the other as a FrumSkeptic.

And, for that reason alone, I think that Mr. Finkel was not what we would call a Skeptic. He may have had a big Yetser Hora, maybe unbearable financial pressures. Maybe he was from the Ketanei Emuna, maybe a Rasha or maybe simply mentally unhinged.
But I don’t think he was a good standing member of TFSG (The Frum Skeptics Group) or our own little Blogging community.

Wishing you all a sweet year,
BHB

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    32 Comments:

    At September 21, 2006 4:58 PM, Blogger Hasidic Rebel said...

    Funny, I'd been thinking of the same issue, although I came to a different conclusion.

    You might be forgetting that the almighty dollar can turn skeptics into thieves as easily as it can a frum Yid.

    The question now is whether it's more likely for a Skeptic to be swayed by financial considerations into feeding frum yidden treif than it is for a bona-finde Halachist. I think the Skeptic would certainly have the greater nisayon. The very thought of yidden eating treif doesn't horrify him, and he's not burdened by the guilt of being "machtie es harabim". So all you have left is a little bit about honesty. Nu, we can find some lomdus to get around that.

     
    At September 21, 2006 5:07 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    HR, welcome to the Blog.

    I hear your Vort. I guess I'm one of those that still view treif as a big no-no. But even if he personnaly eats treif, unless he's a embittered skpetic, I think a skeptic would feel bad about feeding tarfus to others.

     
    At September 21, 2006 6:23 PM, Anonymous hakolhevel said...

    the question that i have for the fundie's ,about this "treifanamasa" is why would hashem let such a terrible thing happen?? .They always have answers for why bad things happen to good people the typical responce is "olam haba" but I would like to know how they "farenfer" this one .

     
    At September 21, 2006 6:59 PM, Blogger Billie Jean said...

    > But even if he personnaly eats treif, unless he's a embittered skpetic, I think a skeptic would feel bad about feeding tarfus to others.

    I agree. Sort of like people with AIDS spreading it on purpose... most don't do that. Not because it would affect them, but because they don't want to hurt others.

     
    At September 21, 2006 8:28 PM, Blogger Hasidic Rebel said...

    Well, here's a question one might pose to a group of skeptics:

    Say it's late at night, you're hungry, and some leftover meat and potatos beckon from the fridge. Problem is, you have only one microwave and it's milchig. You have no qualms about using it for yourself. But the next morning your family will be using it for coffe/hot chocolate/cereal/etc.. Serious shailos about bosor b'cholov. Would you do it? (Realize that to your family, violating a sfek sfaika of a d'rabanan might be just as traumatic as an issur karess. It's all in the mind.)

    The same question can be asked about any dietary restrictions, for that matter. Would you be careful to tell an unsuspecting Hindu that a food product has beef in it, if it means you'd lose money? Would you make sure to caution a vegan about an animal product if there was high financial gain/loss involved?

    I'm pretty sure the responses would vary on this. But I'm sure at least some skeptics in some situations would just dismiss these practices as meshugaasen that shouldn't concern them.

     
    At September 21, 2006 8:44 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    > the question that i have for the fundie's ,about this "treifanamasa" is why would hashem let such a terrible thing happen?? .They always have answers for why bad things happen to good people the typical responce is "olam haba" but I would like to know how they "farenfer" this one .

    Hakol, they rounded up the usual suspects. The fact that H-shem (sic)let this happen to the "best and the frummest" shows that we need do to Teshuva. Have another Fast day.

     
    At September 21, 2006 8:52 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    BJ, that's a great analogy, if it's true. There was this well publicised story about a sicko that purposely tried to infect as many others as possible.

    HR, see my prior post http://baalhabos.blogspot.com/2006/09/man-of-my-word.html

    The dillema that I felt I had was because of the level of coersion that I went thru. But all who responded were simply addressing the issue of integrity; and that would include not feeding others treif or any other "meshugas" that they might be concerned about. Of course, as you mentioned above "Kessef Yaane Es Hakol".

     
    At September 21, 2006 9:47 PM, Anonymous hakolhevel said...

    baal -so g-d wants us to do tshuvah b/c were full of sin and the way he lets us know that he wants us to do tshuvah is by having us commit a grave sin unwillingly !!!.The lord works in mysteries ways.

     
    At September 22, 2006 12:11 AM, Blogger Billie Jean said...

    We are fairly strict with kashrut. Partly out of habit and partly out of the desire to have a kitchen that our families and (most of) our friends will eat from. We're equally strict with the Shabbat laws that pertain to cooking as well.

    I'm laxer with the more personal Shabbat laws. But still, around 98% MO.

    So to answer HR: No, I wouldn't treif up dishes that other people would use. And I would tell anyone what's in food. But I definitely rely on heterim. I don't check A grade eggs carefully, we use our oven for meat and milk (waiting in between). But we tell people that we do that. They can choose to accept it or not.

     
    At September 22, 2006 9:18 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Hakol Hevel,
    >The lord works in mysteries ways.

    Very mysterious, yet everyone manages to know exactly what the Good Lord wants out of us ;)

     
    At September 22, 2006 12:50 PM, Anonymous MonseySheigtz said...

    As a Monsey resident, I would like to set the record straight on the above criticisms. Yes I know that is not the focus of your post, but please allow me the opportunity to dispel some of the many rumors on this tragic episode.

    Kashrus organization not stepping up to the plate
    The Rav Hamachsher, Rabbi Berslauer, in this case did everything, and then some, that is required by Halacha and more to insure that the meat being sold was kosher. I won't go into all the halachos here, but he did inspect the store at random, have keys to the freezer, inspect invoices, etc., etc. Finkel was very devious and clever, he had forgeries of every stamp, seal, and "plumba". With the co-operation of the delivery driver, he would "label" the meat while it was still on the truck, before it ever came to the store. By halacha, a person has a chezkas kashrus and may be believed to say that something is kosher. No one could have suspected that Finkle would do this. No one could imagine that a frum person would purposely sell trief.

    and admitting incompetence
    In front of a crowd of about 2,000 people, Rabbi Berslauer stood up and took full responsibility for this tragedy and publicly asked all the residents of Monsey for forgiveness. He resigned as Rav Hamachsher of any establishment. I admire him for his courage and honesty. Anyone could have been fooled. How many of us have the guts to admit it publicly?

    the fast that was spoon fed down the throats of the hapless Monsey residents
    No one was forced to fast, it was a suggestion. Those who found it difficult to fast, could contribute $18 to the charity of their choice. The reason given for the fast is as follows:
    The Divrie Chaim was presented with the following sheilah. A certain town had built a mikva which after fourteen years of use, was discovered to be not kosher. R' Chaim told the townspeople that even though they were innocent of any wrong doing, they were shogeig, nonetheless their neshomos needed a tickun.
    The people of Monsey are a holy people and spent their hard earned money to buy what they thought was kosher. No one ever implied that an avirah was done. They were fooled, they are shogeig, but in the end they did consume treif. Those who felt that their neshomos needed a tikun, fasted. According to many Rabbis, kashering the dishes was not required, but it was a kiddush hashem to see people of types, Chasidish, yeshivish, MO, etc, lined up to kasher their dishes because they wanted to be certain they were eating kosher.

    the seeming cover up by the rabbinate in general.
    The Monsey rabonim involved, held numerous public meetings, where every aspect of this event was openly discussed. One evening, R' Breslauer invited the public to a meeting where he stood for six hours answering any question that was put to him. Flyers were distributed throughout Monsey detailing any sheilos, steps taken, procedures implemented. Nothing was covered up.

     
    At September 22, 2006 1:49 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Monsey Sheigets, as an outsider, here's my take. If you have any further info, I'd loke to hear it.

    R' Breslauer had the reputation of being the best (or one of best) hashgochos. And presumabely the butcher markets his wares on the basis of this. It's not enough to state that he did everything according to Halacha. Halachik standards vary (relying on all sorts of Kulos, etc). What is expected, of a so called top hashgocho, is that the food remain Kosher. Period. No ifs ands or buts. And, had this been a one shot recent event, it may be understandable. But to have been able to perpetrate this over many years, indicates, to me, that there was incompetence. It may be borne out of naivette, but no difference. Additionally, I heard that the alleged Yotsa Vnichnas had a full time job as a rebbi with set hours, how can that qualify as a Yotsa Vnichnos? Additionally, there are stories circulating of a prior Rayisa, a Lakewood Mashgiach that in the past had blown the whistle on Finkel and was basically ignored except by certain Monsey establishments. As far as accepting responsibilty, that may be the case now, I have not heard that, I though I heard he was out and then back in the business. I have a relative in Monsey, who was told that it's the community's fault that it occurred for not demanding a stricter level of hashgocha, a typical case of blame the victim, and cover up. I am not claiming to know ANY details, but this is what I heard from hearsay, etc.

    I would think, that in a case like this, an independant set of eyes should be called in to examine what it going on. Don't rely on the crew hat failed. I'm not syaing that it is the case, but is it at all possible possible that there was some level of collusion between Shevach and the Hashgocha? Never say impossible, not after what an upstanding Maggid shiur, Baal Koreh and school president perpetrated on an unsuspectiving community.



    Thanks for taking the time to clarify these issues, even though they were not the focus of this post. You do right for bringing this up.

     
    At September 22, 2006 2:40 PM, Anonymous MonseySheigtz said...

    >What is expected, of a so called top hashgocho, is that the food remain Kosher. Period. No ifs ands or buts.
    True. Which is why I would not trust his hashgocho any more. But as to your original point, he did "step up".
    > Additionally, I heard that the alleged Yotsa Vnichnas had a full time job as a rebbi with set hours, how can that qualify as a Yotsa Vnichnos?
    False. There were a number of mashgechim involved that would come in at all hours.
    >Additionally, there are stories circulating of a prior Rayisa, a Lakewood Mashgiach that in the past had blown the whistle on Finkel and was basically ignored except by certain Monsey establishments.
    False. There was only one other incedent involving some unlabeled tongue. When questioned by R' B., Finkle produced invoices. (Which we *now* know to have forged.
    >I have a relative in Monsey, who was told that it's the community's fault that it occurred for not demanding a stricter level of hashgocha
    I have heard these kinds of stories, but not from any recognized Rav.
    >I would think, that in a case like this, an independant set of eyes should be called in to examine what it going on.
    I believe this is being (has been?)done.
    >it at all possible possible that there was some level of collusion between Shevach and the Hashgocha?
    Hey, anything is possible, but I think this is improbable. But yes, in light of what happened, can we trust *anyone*? And if not, only eat grass... (kidding)

     
    At September 22, 2006 2:43 PM, Anonymous MonseySheigtz said...

    >or maybe simply mentally unhinged

    To this day he maintains he did nothing wrong. I don't know how he justifies it to himself.
    I'm sure there is a polite medical term for his condition, but I think "nuts" about sums it up.

    Have a very happy, healthy, kosher New Year.

     
    At September 22, 2006 2:47 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    MS, thanks for your additional info and perspective.

    And you too, have a happy, healthy & Kosher , Year.

     
    At September 25, 2006 9:48 AM, Blogger jewish philosopher said...

    I personally have no doubt that Finkel is in the category of a Frum skeptic. He seems to be a classic example. He was, publically, a pillar of Yiddishkeit, he said a daf yomi shiur, he was a baal koreh in his shul, etc. etc. Yet, at the same time, with no hesitation or guilt, he was selling non-kosher meat after relabeling it kosher. In other words, he did not believe that God would punish someone for even the most extreme violation of the Torah.

    This is the classic Frum skeptic lifestyle.

    I'll even bet money that he uses the Internet and this all started after he first went online.

    The reason why he was able to get away with this is apparently because Rabbi Breslauer has not read "The Unchosen" and was not aware that such a creature exists. Well, live and learn.

    Thanks to the infiltrators now multiplying in our midst, it may be time to increase our prayers against the minim, as well as increase our vigilance. No one can be trusted.

     
    At September 25, 2006 11:21 AM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    JP, you may personally have no doubt, but that doesn't make it so. Unless, that is you in Monsey have some info we do not. Apparently, in the Crakow story with the Megaleh Amukos, the butchers did Tshuva including Golus for three years. I take that to mean they were not skeptics.

    I don't know if anyone has any idea about Finkel's level of remorse, since there seems to be a hushup about all that's going on.

    The reason why he was able to get away with this is because Rabbi Breslauer is not street smart, so yes maybe he should be reading Unchosen and hundreds of other books on contemporary Jewish Life. If unwilling to do so Hashgocha should be left to experts in Hashgocha, not Talmidei Chachomim.

     
    At September 25, 2006 11:34 AM, Blogger jewish philosopher said...

    Unfortunately it's rare to find someone who is both an expert in halochah and who is also an expert in all the crap going on in the world today. I am prepared to volunteer as a consultant. bli neder

     
    At September 25, 2006 11:47 AM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    I have just added haloscan comments to my blog, and I have painstakingly transerred all the previous comments to the haloscan windows. All our previous conversations are still there, so don't get the idea that I've wiped anything out.

     
    At September 25, 2006 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    JP, I like your thought about Rav Breslauer's lack of street-smarts (specifically, his not having read "Unchosen") causing his current situation.

    In a chassidishe school in Williamsburg, an erliche woman was hired to search the textbooks for "corrupt" images and text, and immediately censor them. How surprised the teachers were to discover that in the sentence, "Abraham Lincoln was shot in the temple," the word "temple" was censored.

     
    At September 25, 2006 12:18 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    JP, Hashgocha needs both.

    KP, Is it worth switching to Haloscan? What exactly, do you as the host benefit? And how do you save comments? That sounds like a BIG job.


    Anonymous, welcome and LOL.

     
    At September 25, 2006 2:33 PM, Blogger Kylopod said...

    Whether it's worth switching is up to you. I considered it worth it. I had to give it some thought, but I've seen the advantages on other blogs, and I didn't want to wait too long, before my blog became so big that it would take a long time to transfer the existing comments.

    While I've only just begun using it, I can already see that Haloscan has a number of advantages. First of all, the pop-up window loads much faster. Blogger frequently runs into glitches. It did just a few minutes ago, the first time I tried to activate this pop-up window we're using right now. I had to shut the window down and wait a few minutes until trying again. This frequently happens with Blogger, almost never with Haloscan.

    Another advantage is that you can run multiple Haloscan windows at the same time. You get your own personal account at Haloscan.com, where you can moderate posts very easily, including editing or deleting existing posts, and banning troublesome users. Blogger only gives you the ability to delete, and never to ban (which is a problem since I've been getting an annoying spammer for the last few weeks). Well, maybe it does give you the ability to ban. I haven't checked. But Haloscan certainly is more user-friendly and easier to manage.

    One of the most annoying things about Blogger is that when you click to open the pop-up window containing the comments, there's a brief pause, and then you're sent to the bottom of the screen. Haloscan not only opens up quicker, but sends you to the top of the comments, so you don't have to feel like you're reading the discussion backwards. It also gives you the ability to link to particular comments, and for the comment discussions to be archived through a Google search (though that's optional). No wonder the more popular blogs use Haloscan.

    One disadvantage of Haloscan is that there's a 3000-character limit on posts, and it doesn't warn you about this in the post preview. That's why you frequently see posts that are cut off in midsentence or even midword. The posters can't go back and edit their earlier posts to correct such errors. I have not (to this day) noticed any similar length restrictions on Blogger. (This very post, in fact, is probably too long to be a Haloscan comment.) However, if you're aware of this problem, you can plan your Haloscan posts accordingly.

    Transferring from Blogger to Haloscan was not easy for me, but that's because I deliberately chose a more difficult way to do it. It has a program that can automatically do it for you, but I chose not to use it. It doesn't delete the existing Blogger comments, but it doesn't change them to Haloscan format either. I, however, wanted to do such a transfer, so I had to do it manually by copy-pasting each individual comment to the new Haloscan windows. I made sure to include italics and other formatting, as well as URLs. It took me about an hour. If you ever intend to switch to Haloscan, you don't have to go to the lengths I did, especially since you have a much bigger blog. I would recommend, at that point, simply keeping the existing Blogger comments on all your previous posts. That would not be difficult at all.

     
    At September 25, 2006 4:19 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    KP, thanks. I guess you're saying that I can convert to Haloscan going forward, but existing posts can retain Blogger commenting; if I switch thats the way I'll go. I'll look into it.

     
    At September 25, 2006 4:51 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    Monsey Sheigetz, call this number 212-990-6143 and press 3. It's an interview in Yiddish between a Rabbi Goldberger and a Rabbi Shain. Rabbi Shain is a "whistleblower" - very interesting. Then tell me you think there was no incompetence by R' Breslauer.

     
    At September 25, 2006 5:15 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    FYI, I got the info above from
    Also a Chussid

     
    At September 25, 2006 9:46 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said...

    I'm much inclined to doubt that he was a Frum Skeptic. It strikes me that with all his cover (baalkore, dafyomi study group leader, yeshiva board member, and chief fundraiser for another yeshiva) it is more likely that he was thoroughly committed to the frum lifestyle & community, and frum ideology - but that things got out of hand early, and staid out of hand long.

    Had he been a skeptic, he would have had little incentive not to do much more business on the Gentile side. Sell a partnership in the meat-business, and do something else.

    I will instead assume that he was a whiz at convincing himself that somehow everything would still turn out all right, no harm done, he could 'cure' himself, how could his business possibly be of concern to others, what harm was there, etcetera.

    Rather like drug-addicts who will not admit that they have a problem.

     
    At September 25, 2006 9:46 PM, Blogger The back of the hill said...

    I'm much inclined to doubt that he was a Frum Skeptic. It strikes me that with all his cover (baalkore, dafyomi study group leader, yeshiva board member, and chief fundraiser for another yeshiva) it is more likely that he was thoroughly committed to the frum lifestyle & community, and frum ideology - but that things got out of hand early, and staid out of hand long.

    Had he been a skeptic, he would have had little incentive not to do much more business on the Gentile side. Sell a partnership in the meat-business, and do something else.

    I will instead assume that he was a whiz at convincing himself that somehow everything would still turn out all right, no harm done, he could 'cure' himself, how could his business possibly be of concern to others, what harm was there, etcetera.

    Rather like drug-addicts who will not admit that they have a problem.

     
    At September 25, 2006 11:47 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    BOT Hill, I agree with you, I think he got in deeper than he expected, first starting with something questionable and then getting carried away. What bugs me now, is there seems to be some cover-up or something. The story just seemed to disappear when there's still so many unansewred questions.

     
    At September 26, 2006 12:38 PM, Blogger Mississippi Fred MacDowell said...

    >the question that i have for the fundie's ,about this "treifanamasa" is why would hashem let such a terrible thing happen?? .They always have answers for why bad things happen to good people the typical responce is "olam haba" but I would like to know how they "farenfer" this one .

    I think "this treifanamasa" needs to wait in line behind the Holocaust, or babies born with AIDS before one considers why Hashem would "let such a terrible thing happen." Isn't this thing rather trivial on the theodicy scale?

     
    At September 26, 2006 1:16 PM, Blogger Baal Habos said...

    MFM,
    HakolHevel's question remains valid. One of the main answers for why bad things happen to good people is effectively that all things will balance out in the Oilam Haemes, so don't worry about it now in Olam Hazeh. But the question of how could God let Good people eat Maachulos Asuros and thus permit Timtum Haleiv with all it's ramifications, is a Gutte Kashia. Ergo, it must be because of some other serious sin, such as Lust or Loshon Harah that lurks in everyone's heart.

     
    At March 05, 2013 8:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Moshe Finkels Uncle is Rabbi Gavriel Finkel who Heads the KCL Kashrus Orginization in Lakewood

     
    At June 30, 2013 5:44 PM, Anonymous BN said...

    Rabbi Gavriel Finkel is also an Uncle To Rav Malkiel Kotler of BMG,Gavriel Finkels Sister is Married to Rav Zev Tikotzky who is Rav Malkiels Father-in Law

     

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