New York – Rabbi Shafran: I Erred In Bernie Sully Article, I Apologize


    Rabbi Avi Shafran Director of Public Affairs Agudath Israel of AmericaNew York – My recent Am Echad Resources essay “Bernie, Sully and Me” has generated substantial criticism from many readers, including people [and also here] whose opinions I deeply respect. I have come to the conclusion that that there were errors in both the content and tone of the essay, for which I apologize.

    My main goal in publishing these essays is to help people understand eternal Jewish truths. Unfortunately, here I chose unsuitable examples for the concepts I sought to impart, failing to accomplish that goal and offending many people in the process.

    I am grateful, as always, for the constructive comments and feedback I received from my readership, whose confidence I hope to retain going forward.

    Chag kasher visame’ach,

    Rabbi Avi Shafran
    Director of Public Affairs
    Agudath Israel of America

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    1. This is a real class act and should be recognized as a heartfelt reversal of thought. He heard the pain his words caused and he has apologized. Lets not villify him further. At the same time, I’m worried about the implicit calls for censorship that many of the postings over the past few days has triggered.

    2. Rabbi shafran, I think your article was great, I don’t think you admire maddoff, or you don’t recognize that you understand why sully is a hero, you were trying to make a point, unfortunatly people took the article at face value, someone was right the other day when he said , you need to choose a better audiance, the people on this furom are obviosly no deep thinkers and not too smart. But apolegizing is definitly strenght not weakness.

      • Luckily, there were a few “deep thinkers” such as yourself that chapped the geonus and amkus of Shafran’s pilpul. Maybe it was all worth it. The rest of us posuteh simpleton yidden need to get back to the gemarah and brush up on our lomdus. Less time on blogs will help :-). Thank you for setting us the hamon am straight.

      • Actually, the article was offensive on more than one level. Besides the face value offense – clearly Madoff deserves no sympathy, his apology notwithstanding, and clearly Captain Sullenberger deserves unqualified praise for heroism – the article struck me as sort of a pilpul smacking of intelectual snobbery. “Everyone thinks that Madoff is a villain and Sullenberger is a hero. I can come up with different pshat.” That sort of excercise is fine in the beis medrash between chavrusas. In the real world it is dishonest and insulting.

      • At least we can spell…

        You’re correct that he chose the wrong audience.
        You’re incorrect as to why.
        Clearly, the tone of the original article (which Rabbi Shafran retracted, to his credit) finds far wider appeal with small-minded, uneducated boobs with delusions of genius, such as yourself.

      • What is there to be impressed about.
        Shafran truly believed what he initially wrote and hoped to PUSH his views onto others. Similar to what so many others do.

        I am 100 percent certain that he was forced by the Agudah Honchoos to retract for fear of losing MEGA MEGA MEGA bucks in fundraising for the Agudah. As a public official of the Agudah, he has brought shame and harm to the Agudah. Irrepairable shame.

    3. You are being too kind when you give R’ Shafran credit for the retraction. The reaction was unanimous and powerful………..his logic was completely off, and the piece was offensive. A shame he didn’t retract his words when children’s safety was at stake.

    4. I am currently working on an essay that will draw a parellel between Rabbi Shafran and Bernie Maddof. Both of them appologized for their errors… Stay tuned!!

    5. This “appology” makes it worse.

      My main goal in publishing these essays is to help people understand eternal Jewish truths. Unfortunately, here I chose unsuitable examples for the concepts I sought to impart, failing to accomplish that goal and offending many people in the process.

      The problem wasn’t the examples! The problem was the ideas. Its WRONG to say that a villian who stole billions and ruined lives deserves a hug and a handshake because he confessed after being caught. Its WRONG to criticize a life-saving pilot because you didn’t hear him give any praise to God after he landed the plain. And so on.

      • Well, I see your logic. Praise the Pilot for one great thing he did, though you don’t know of his other deeds if they are good or bad, and blast the Rabbi who does much good deeds at all hours of the day and calendar, for one or two judgemental mistakes!
        Do you ever appreciate a Rabbi’s job? Who would you call at 3am when you have a family emergency? The Pilot or the Rabbi? If you need financial help, will you call the Pilot or the Rabbi?
        Start appreciating the real good people, and understand that noone is perfect!

        • HIllary Clinton said she would answer the phones at 6 AM if you have a problem. My Rabbi will not answer anything at 3 AM or 6 AM.

          I am not calling the pilot or the Rabbi. I would call Hillary.

    6. #8 -An asken that can’t be “modeh” when he err’s has no business in doing k’lal work!! He is the model all askanim should follow!!

    7. As we always ask Hashem for forgiveness , we too must accept Rabbi Shafran’s
      sincere apology without namecalling or other derogatory adjectives. However,
      the distorted thinking by Shafran elicits a complete breakdown of trust in anything he says or writes in the future. Rabbi Shafran should take a long leave of absence after
      hurting so many people with his distorted views on the Madoof issue. His credibility is shot regardless of us forgiving him.

    8. Shafran is the poster child of what is wrong with the Agudah. Like Madoff, he will apologize under pressure without a hint of sincerety. His vigorous defense of what he wrote, in responding to emails of criticism, clearly shows that, like with Madoff, he backs down when faced with enormous pressure. Question is, why is he and Aguda still defending the wrong positions on child molestation, regardless of the pressure being brought on them.

      In any case, these shysters have got to go.

    9. Thank you Rabbi Shafran for an apology that is what determines a mensch.
      #15 people take written articles at FACE VALUE and its consequences have to be thought of.

    10. I applaud Rabbi Shafran for apolgizing However i cant figure out what he was thinking when he wrote this. If he or a member of his family would have been on the plane then sully would have been a hero. what a stupid article he wrote!!

    11. Rabbi Shafran, I felt a lot of love and respect for you when you apologized. Your “truths” were points well taken in the article — they were indeed thought-provoking, but they had only a tenuous connection to the reality of the examples you provided.
      Simple fact: sully not only had technical skills, he showed real care and responsibility for others. People want to “lynch” Madoff not because he stole, but because he seemed to not care about anyone else in the slightest and he lived the high life. Even now after his hodaa, neither he nor b’nei baiso, do not seem all that anxious to make even symbolic restitution.

      However, you showed that you are a man of class and you have done the right thing.
      Your words last week and now show that you do care who you work for, who you represent and who you care about.

    12. Do not be so vicious against Rabbi Safran. Though he was not right in his statements but he was trying to introduce a different point of view in order to create a discussion. Sometimes it is very healthy to look at the problem from a different prospective and analyze your own thoughts. We are very quick to judge other people. What really saddents me is very uncivilized, angered, hysterical responses to something that was just a point of view. Psychologically it means that the person who screams like that is usually very unsatisfied with the state of affairs in his own soul.

      I completely disagreed with Rabbi’s statements in the previous article but I must recognize that it was cureous and made all of us think

      • You hit the nail on the head. The response to his thought provoking essay, even if it wasn’t conveyed correctly, was vilely and grossly overdone and should give everyone a good picture of who this audience is, the good, the bad, and the UGLY. I have said it many times that this audience comprises of the best Klal Yisroel has to offer and at the same time is a haven for our worst Sonnim. I become incensed when I see Ehrlicha but shallow Yiden fall for their dribble and join them in spitting on us. A person should have the right to be wrong sometimes in what they write, and not get stepped on by Kol Tzoriya Vekol Zov.

      • You are out of your cotton pickin mind! Why should he resign? What “damage” was done? Some left wing people got upsetn?? WHO CARES! He should not lose his parnossa for that.

        You people are giving the pilot of the US jet too much credit. Remember, the same Ribono Shel Olam that decreed the plane should land safely with him as the shliach, could have CHV also said they should crash with no one remaining alive like that AA plane in Belle Harbor.

    13. sanctimonious.
      a real pology would have been a total retraction of his stupidity, not an attempt to explain a justification for what he thought he was trying to do.

    14. The fact that the vitriol continues after Rabbi Shafran apologized and retracted just underscores the lack of credibility of many who criticized him in the first place. He did not kill anybody, he expressed an opinion. While what he wrote and the way he wrote it was a mistake, the underlying idea that sociey’s value are distorted remains as true as ever. Madoff has become a lightening rod for righteous outrage in a way that few mass murderers have ever become. Society seeks the redeeming features of cop-killers and even respects abortionists while reserving a “special place in hell” for Bernie. He will no doubt receive his punishment here and in the next world, but let’s not ignore the heinous crimes committed all over the world and in our own back yard just because Madoff is worse than Hitler, Arafat and Ahamadinajad put together.

    15. “I have come to the conclusion that that there were errors in both the content and tone of the essay, for which I apologize.”

      The tone and content?

      Avi’s article went beyond “content and tone.” The whole mindset behind it was wrong – edging close to immoral, if not actually treading in that territory.

      He apologized for the “content and tone” but not for lauding a criminal and dismissing the valorous actions of a decent individual – all while disparaging the victims of the criminal he lauded?

      He thought Madoff was admirable for confessing and stating his regrets, yet his own “apology” seems to lack every “admirable” thing that Madoff’s supposedly had.

      “Unfortunately, here I chose unsuitable examples for the concepts I sought to impart.”

      He admits to making a mistake with his examples . . . but what about the conclusions he drew? THAT is what the objections were over. His apology said nothing about that. Nor did he apologize for demeaning Sully’s actions or demeaning Bernie’s victims.

      He apologized that people were offended. He never says that what he wrote was wrong.

    16. lets even say that there is some sort of Torah basis for Rabbi Shafrans original article . Maybe it should be kept to a yeshiva schmuez. Do you think that the wider reading audience can relate to or ion any way understand these concepts??
      So it should never have been written and published, and certainly not by a spokesperson for the Agudah .

    17. as human beings we are all prone to mistakes after all we are only human
      i think we can appreciate rabbi safran for realizing he made a mistake and appologizing to the public and he should be respected for his appology and forgiven

    18. Please. He apologized because he was forced to by his employer -The Agudah. His apology is no different than A-Rod, Chris Brown or any of the other celebrity clowns who once they got caught had no choice.

    19. I am sure that R’ Safrin is truly sorry for his poor choice of examples.

      The question still remains if he should be the spokes person for the organization that represents the interests of frum Yidden in America or if he damaged his credibility and thereby that of the organization that employs him.

      I hope he has the courage to do the right thing and step aside.

    20. well, I don’t want to be vindictive towards Avi Shafran, but by the same token, I will not take him seriously in the future. And while I used to be a member of Agudah and look forward to my Jewish Observer, this is no longer the case.
      There is a terrible lack of leadership in the frum world at the moment. There are very few people offering genuine insight into our times. Instead, we have loose cannons and sanctimonious preachers, often with their own agendas. The “yeshiva mentality” is often devoid of common sense, maybe because we are too insulated from the “real world” and we spend too much time rationalizing bad conduct by fellow Jews, and not giving credit to others, no matter how deserving. This leads to a distorted view of ethics and values.

    21. BS”D

      Look, his article was just that – using the wrong examples to promote the right values (and poorly explained besides). In general, Shafran writes far better than this and everyone is allowed a mistake here and there.

      Now, how about giving Sullenberger a chance to make Madoff style money – and giving Madoff a plane to sink into the Hudson with only himself aboard..

    22. well, I don’t want to be vindictive towards Avi Shafran, but by the same token, I will not take him seriously in the future. And while I used to be a member of Agudah and look forward to my Jewish Observer, this is no longer the case.
      There is a terrible lack of leadership in the frum world at the moment. There are very few people offering genuine insight into our times. Instead, we have loose cannons and sanctimonious preachers, often with their own agendas. The “yeshiva mentality” is often devoid of common sense, maybe because we are too insulated from the “real world” and we spend too much time rationalizing bad conduct by fellow Jews, and not giving credit to others, no matter how deserving. This leads to a distorted view of ethics and values.

    23. It takes a thoughtful person to apologize for his error. In the future Rabbi Shafran should bear in mind the wise Jewish maxim:
      Not everything that you think should be said.
      Not everything that you say should be written.
      Not everything that you write should be printed.

    24. SHafran,
      Time for you to hang up your hooves and move into a more meaningful occupation. As Director of PA for the Agudah, you have overstepped your bounds in pontificating who people should value the Torah. That is better left to Rabbonim and Gedolei Yisroel. Hate to burst your egotistical bubble, Shafran, however, you do not fall into either of thsoe two categories.
      Your unobstructured entry into the OPED pages of the NY Times newspaper has seemed to have overtaken your rational thinking on matters. You are not a godol hador and therefore, should keep your Torah Value concepts to a very close knit private audience.

    25. Thank you, Rabbi Shafran,
      It is truly a mentch who can admit that they were mistaken publicly. The am haaratzim that are still putting you down and not accepting your apology are a true embarrassment to Bnei Yisroel and should truly rethink their behavior as we approach Pesach. They must have something personally against you besides this article because you did the right thing in retracting your original opinion in such grace and mentchelachkeit. Shame on those who still attack you, they do not have ahavas yisroel in their heart and they should do some true reflecting – I’d like to see one of them in a public position where they have to make a public retraction and apology – they wouldn’t be so quick to judge then.

    26. sounds like a stupid kid “what i really meant was to tell you how right i am anyways despite how stupid you all are not to understand the deep understanding i have of things that you minions cant comprehend”

    27. When confronted by a choice of ethnicity or ethics, tribalism or truth, count on Agudah to choose the former. Its broken moral compass is stuck on the politically correct. The last vestiges of intelligence and integrity went out the door with Rabbi Shmuel Bloom. This lame “apology” is driven solely by the same PC agenda. Sadly, no clear thinking and no genuine regrets here.

    28. All too often we are all taken in by conventional wisdom – which in the US – can often mean a Christian- based point of view. One of the benefits of Rabbi Shafran’s work is that he calls these seeming “no brainers” into question. Personally, I think he was off base with his original article, but the point remains that he brings a Torah- based perspective that far more often than not calls into question things that “everyone knows” to be true but are in fact the product of a non-Jewish point of view.

    29. Though I disagreed with some of your concluclusions in your original article, I did enjoy it, and found much redeeming, and thought-provoking content, which to me, made it worthwhile.

      Those who read my remarks, saw that I do not blame Bernie 100% for the financial disaster HE caused many people and organization. I did, and still do, place an equal share of the blame on the investors who did not bother to investigate.

      I also agree with the original articles premise that Scully was no “Hero” in the true hero sense of the word, but just a pilot who executed his job well.

      I certainly have no “admiration” for Bernie, though I am impressed by the magnitude of his success. He is a rasha.
      I do admire Scully’s piloting skills.

      But, most of all, your latest comments earn my admiration more than anything.
      You have the courage to revisit something which you wrote with conviction, and have the ability to reexamine and see others’ points of view.

      It makes no difference to me the details. I know it is hard to eat one’s one words. I have had to do so, and do not like the taste,,, unless we bury it deep into the chulent. (smile)

      Thank you for being the kind of Mensch who is willing to have an open mind and examine your own stand on matters.

      Especially after you put so much effort into the original article which was written with your high skill level and high intellectual capability, only to cause you to be attacked from all sides. How you were treated on this blog, and I am sure elsewhere, was “over the top” and crossed the line of good taste.

      But, you did not “react” to it. Instead you listened and “responded.

      I may not agree with you on some things, but I admire your courage.

      Have a kusherin Peisach.

    30. Okay… even those of you who do not appreciate his apology, etc.,

      Did YOU never say anything stupid that you wish you could have unsaid?

      I know I have.

      Have some respect for the man. He is a mensch, even if you don’t like what he wrote.

      • Thank you for putting it in this way it means so much when common sense is used. I think many of the bloggers would react very different if it were a member of their family. Yes I have unfortunately said more then one comment I wish I could take back. However th antidote to this is to learn SHMIRAS HALOSHON and watch the way we say things which is what I am trying to do. KOSHER PESSACH and CHAG SOMMAECH. Just as we are watching what we eat so should we watch what we speak and be careful with hurting others. Especially our company especially our in-laws that would be anic article to write about and deal with before pessach.

    31. They removed Rabbi Shafran’s offensive article from and are now publishing only economiums to the ‘contrite’ Rabbi.

      Being a shtikel letz, I sent them them following comment which I do not think will be published.

      “Zreezim makdimim lemitzvos
      I see you burnt Rabbi Shafran’s Chametz 2 days early.
      Comment by The Contarian — April 6, 2009 @ 11:34 am Your comment is awaiting moderation.”

    32. To Rabbi Shafran:
      Your apology is refreshing ….and perhaps if some of the “geoinishe kep” on this forum would stop nit picking …tearing each sentence apart each word analyzed… …they would see your statement for what it is an APOLOGY!! pure and simple!

      To the rest of you and you know who you are:
      Are your words so precisely chosen with care every word measured and remeasured… before you utter a sound…
      Be careful how you judge people because the Rebon Kol is dan “meduh keneged meduh” how you judge so shall you be judged!!!

    33. Would this apology been forthcoming if the public thought it was fine, because on re-reading it Rabbi Shafran felt it was inappropriate? Or is it bowing to pressure & fear for his good name?

      How about just saying “I was wrong”? Oh wait, that’s beyond most people & unfortunately, it seems to beyond Rabbi Shafran as well. An apology is offering regret for something done or said. A real apology doesn’t contain justifications & excuses. How about a simple mea culpa? Too humble for a Rabbi? Very disappointing, but better than nothing, I suppose. Meanwhile, how does he undo the bad feelings he caused?

    34. TO further compound this bumbling blunder, I find it shocking that the Agudah Leadership has not issued a press release on this most serious matter. Rather, they are hiding behind the big oak desks at 42 Broadway, making arrangements for the “upcoming” Annual Retreat in November.

    35. millions of people were badly hurt by madoff, you keep to your torah and leave the commenst on other peoples misfortunes to yourself…. we all know that if you lost every penny in the world to madoff, you would not even think they way you do in your article

      go shnor more from another gvier

    36. Madoff apologized? If he made a real apology, he would say where the money is;
      or where it went. He wouldn’t try and transfer his jewelry to his sons. He woul;dn’t try
      to hold onto his assets. Not only did he steal from the people, but he stole from
      Mosdos. That’s lower than low.
      Sully was a Shliach from the One Above, whether or not Sully recognizes it or not.

      Avi, everyone is entitled to make a mistake. This was a BIG one.

    37. Perhaps there was a message that Rabbi Shafran wanted to convey in his editorial, but some of his choices of context obliterated it.

      Every positive has something negative in it, and every negative has something positive in it. The perfection of all good or all bad went with the eitz hadaas. While an individual may not be a role model, there could still be something redeeming that needs to be extricated from him and absorbed. The same may go for the opposite situation. If that was the intended message, it is actually worth reading. However, the tone of the article would have needed to repeat the message that there is no condoning the Madoff scandal, and there is no rejection of the heroic actions of Sully. With that presentation missing, the intense reactions to the article were invited, and the eventual retraction was inevitable. I know that I read the praises for a goniff that destroyed so many people and organizations, while knocking the hero that saved many lives. That is not okay.

      I do not see this piece as reflecting about the author being bad, just that the judgment used was poor. This is not the first time that someone in a position of community leadership made remarks that were irritating to the public, even though there may have been a grain of validity behind them. That is the risk of making statements in public. The comeback line to this, however, is that the written word gives the author additional opportunity to calculate what to release for print and what not.

    38. If he will also apologize to all the victims of sexual abuse of whose crimes he denied and covered up for, and who he has written very painful things about such as his attacking the Jewish Week for saying that we have abuse i nour community just like every one else (rachmana litzlan) and the pain he has cause us, I will consider possibly forgiving him. If not, his apology means as much as Madoff’s.

    39. Anyone who has a public position, like a private individual, is bound to make an error from time to time; the thing to do in such cases is to simply acknowledge it and go forward.

      I find it telling that people feel free to criticize another person personally (I’m not talking about critiquing an idea), while hiding beyond anonymity. Rabbi Shafran would NEVER stoop to that level- he is one of the most mentchlich people I’ve met.

      I don’t say this because I agree with everything that Agudah does, but because I believe in maitaining a level of dignity and class when debating, and because an error doesn’t cancell the important things he has written.

      In general, I think this is a problem that our society needs to deal with–to disagree without being disagreeable.

    40. after reading his original statement which I didnt find that out ragious to have hm back track because of pressure isnt saying much about the state of our rabbi’s does this mean that if enough people complain about your thoughts on torah or the holy law you will change your idea as well.
      as someone that doesnt like him this is more of a reason NO GUTS NO BACKBONE

    41. Given the fact that he starts off his article by saying that he knows he will make some enemies, he kind of knew he was going to offend.. Agudah must have pressured him to apologize, or he had just underestimated the consequences of his words.
      I think its great that he wrote the article, for now, we know how he thinks.

    42. I assume that R. Shafran was heavily pressured to issue this apology, whether by his boss Mr. Z., the Rosh Agudah, people on the board like GW, or others. It is disappointing that they didn’t more strongly stand by their man and not make him issue this humiliating statement. Just because some who are hostile to Agudah made R. Shafran a victim of a high-tech lynching, and created a feeding frenzy, giving the appearance of massive outrage, doesn’t mean that he so grievously erred. This episode also, once again, shows the power of the internet.

      Anyway, if people at Agudah forced him into this humiliating step and think that they will now be okay after sacrificing him to their critics, let them know that they are making a big mistake. Those that oppose Agudah will not be satisfied with this and will continue to oppose them, and next time, instead of R. Shafran bearing the brunt of it, they might be in that position and I doubt that they will enjoy it.

      R. Shafran has become a lightning rod here, but just as a lightning rod protects the structure it stands on, so too R. Shafran shielded some of the other Agudahniks, when he absorbed so many attacks. If they sacrifice him or make him lay low, they will be vulnerable.

      R. Shafran used to be a Yeshiva teacher, and his background strongly influences his thinking and writing. As others have written here, some of the relatively ignorant and less-refined masses are not on the level of his prior audience and are easily aroused and incited. Unfortunately, he must take that into account.

    43. Rabbi Schfran

      your apology is too little to late for the chilul has hem you have caused in a medina shel chassed, the only way to minimize the damage is to resign on national TV

      The argument your article was supposed to be thought-provoking, a much better option is learning a blat Gomorrah bian with rishonim and echroinem and be makim a mitzvah vhgosa at the same time instead of making a chilul has hem.

      And about your personal koved I can only say bmkom shyiash cilul hashem ein cholkim koved lerav (if you are rabbi at all)

    44. I think the long term loss to Agudah for his article will be substantial . I for one will no longer give any credibility to anything Rabbi Shafran writes .

    45. This is Shafran l’shitaso! As long as one says – Chatasi / I erred – I am sorry, then all is forgiven.

      Well unfortunately it aint so!

      As many have already pointed out . . . Teshuva needs rectification of the misdeed bein adam l’chaveiro. Madoff needs to return his genaivos BEFORE the Aibishter forgives him . . and Shafran needs to rectify the Chilul Hashem he created.

      Me thinks Madoff has a better chance – for at least he knows who he robbed – whereas who knows how far and to whom Shafran’s chilul Hashem reached!

      Teshuva also need Charata! That means if someone is mechallel shabbos he needs to regret desecrating Hashem’s Shabbos – merely regretting getting caught by onlookers and scrutinizers – does NOT charata make!

      Shafran is dancing about “content and tone” and his rationale tzidkus of “help people understand eternal Jewish truths”?!! And using “unsuitable examples for the concepts I sought to impart” (as if his perspective is a Jewish Truth – eternal or otherwise! And are his concepts sound but just not being the Magid of Dubner – he chose the wrong mashal??!!) and “failing to accomplish that goal” and “offending many people in the process”??? The Goal was not? The problem is he wasn’t P.C. and some took offense?

      Hello? RABBI Shafran? You were plain and simple wrong!! Totally out of line, out of sinc with simple Sechel HaYasher – and worse than all that – you speak with the “echo” if not voice of our Gedolim – you offered, what is in your personal opinion, an Eternal Jewish Truth (ie. Hashkafas HaTorah) and you tarnished THE GEDOLIM and their good name and the trust that Agudah’s word is Daas Torah!

      R’ Avi Shafran you are a P.R. person, a lawyer, you are NOT da’as Torah and you should know your place! You have no right to say Hashkafa w/o being guided or minimally submit for approval to, Da’as Torah! Because whenever you speak – you speak from your office and title of Director of Public Affairs Agudath Israel of America and not just as an individual!

      Which brings us to the third part of Teshuva. Kabolah al haa’asid.

      Reb Moshe Sherer, Reb Mike Tress, NEVER lifted a finger w/o consulting da’as Torah! They did NOT determine what Agudah policy should be’ and then post facto get haskama from the Gedolim – for ‘their subjective’ perspective. They asked ‘what should MY (our) perspective be’?! Chaval al d’avdin v’lo mishtakchin! 🙁

      What about you making such a committment – that you will adhere to the above!

      Finally – and I say this w/o malice. It is well known that when a President’s adviser/cabinet member/representative of the President messes up BIG time – he does the President the service of resigning from his position as damage control – and not to drag down the President or his office.

      I believe that R’ Avi Shafran should tender his resignation to the Gedolim of whom he is a shliach – so that we may re-establish for the future that Agudah’s opinion and voice – are in fact always the opinion and voice of our Gedolay Yisroel!

      Kabolas Teshuvah is for Hashem. And sometimes – pending on the office of the one who erred and the magnitude of error itself – mechilah is granted by Hashem – but continued functioning at the same position/status is no more! 🙁

      Adam Harishon after Teshuva on Chet Eitz Ha’da’as was NOT returned to his status of pre-chet. Klal Yisroel after Solachti kidvorecha – still remained on status of post agel.

      Shaul HaMelech too did teshuva – immediatly – and even had l’shem shomayim cheshbonos – never the less – he lost his position as Melech Yisroel. Im katan b’einecha – melech Yisroel atah – you stand as the representitive of klal yiroel – and THAT office you can no longer fulfill after such an error.

      Speaking Hashkafah to the public is reserved for our Einay Yisroel – our Gedolim – NOT for their viceroys – no matter how wise they are!

      It’s time to re-establish spokespersons for our Gedolim – so that we know what is from them!

      PS. Rabbi Shafran. You write: “I am grateful, as always, for the constructive comments and feedback I received from my readership, whose confidence I hope to *retain* going forward.”

      I humbly believe the word you should have used is **REGAIN**!

    46. Let’s remember that an apology is an “American concept.” It is not the same as sincere Teshuva. Bill Clinton “apologized” for what he did. Big deal! In our shallow society, once can do whatever harm he pleases, but as soon as the magic words “I am sorry” leaver his mouth, all is forgotten. What a silly, immature society we live in.

      Shafran is the spokesmouth for the Agudah, the leading Orthodox organization. His words created a big chillul hashem. Does he really beleive that by issuing a mea culpa, all is forgotten? The hurt he caused and the disgraceful shame he brough upon all of us is not forgotten.

      It is interesting how he retracted this statement apparently after he received lots of pressure from readers and likely from Agudah leadership. However, he never did retract his letter to New York magazine in which he attacked the writer of the Kolko-Margo and caused an even greater chillul hashem than his current diatribe did. I guess the Agudah leadership supported him on that one.

      At this point, the Agudah must call for Shafran’s resignation, period.

    47. Jews are known by three characteristics, rachmonim, bayshonim u’gomlei chossodim. Viciousness, vengefulness vindictiveness? Most definitely not. You only succeeded in bringing disrepute on your parents and children in this world while passing judgment on yourselves in the world to come.

    48. I contimnue to be amazed how this Agudah is crumbling after the demise of Horav Moshe Sherer. Horav Sherer would have not tolerated this ridiculous and foolish writing by one of his officers. Horav Sherer was a pikeach. Can’t say the same about Shafran. What a loss to this organziation when you see who has been running it ever since the petira of Horav Sherer.

    49. Where else do you find an official, who stands up and says – “I made an mistake”??? Israeli government threw people out of Gush Kativ (they still live in trailers), gave it to Arabs and instead got tons of Kasams! It was clear a big mistake, but no one from the government stood up and said: “We were wrong!”. People, we all humans from flesh and blood and we all make mistakes, but this Rabbi is also honest!

    50. The apology is all fine and good, and a retraction would have been better, but the real issue as I see it has nothing to do with Shafran, the person, but Shafran, the Agudah representative.

      Afterall, we don’t really care about what Shafran thinks personally any more so than any other yokel with a keyboard. It’s his representation of the Agudah that counts. And if this kind of twisted logic is representative of the Agudah mindset – well, then Shafran’s mea culpa is meaningless.

      Are there any leaders left at the Agudah, or with Bloom’s departure are they a dime short of a dollar change? (Did Madoff steal that dime? Eh, a dime here a billion there, it’s all the same.) The Agudah leadership needs to come foreward and come clean. Do they support Madoff or not?

      As for Sully, what did he do to deserve the Agudah’s attention? He’s a better man than 95% of the fressers that partake of the Agudah smorgasbord of services. And a better pilot than 100% of them. Maybe that’s the real problem. Maybe the Agudah just can’t stomach the fact that a goy outdid us all with his humility, his dedication to the public, and his simple yet powerful drive to simply do the right thing. That must be it. The Agudah was out-tzaddiked by a goy.

    51. “He did not kill anybody, he expressed an opinion. While what he wrote and the way he wrote it was a mistake, the underlying idea that sociey’s value are distorted remains as true as ever.”

      … and maybe people here continue to post against it because they believe that the Agudah and their self-proclaimed “giants” whose self-proclaimed job it is to determine OUR opinions themselves have distorted opinions. And here is a classic example.

    52. “Madoff has become a lightening rod for righteous outrage in a way that few mass murderers have ever become. Society seeks the redeeming features of cop-killers and even respects abortionists while reserving a “special place in hell” for Bernie.”

      Great analogy. Kind of like our community where butchers who serve non-kosher meat flee for their lives while child molesters are protected?

    53. I have a few thoughts… well, I guess I few more.

      I know, I know, I “think” too much so some of you… (smile)

      1. Why is it that a person who is in the employ of an organization like the Agudah is not entiteled to voice any opinion without people connecting him to the Agudah? Does he lose his right to voice opinions once he takes his job?
      And, even if you say he does, as obviously some of you do, does he not have the right to make a mistake… or say something which upon reflection would have better off not been said.

      Sure, some of you say, “you can’t take it back.” “Fire him anyway”… and other responses.
      2. Is that the way you would like Hashem to act with you and your avairos? I know, for me, I certainly would not appreciate that. I make enough mistakes. Thank G-d people I know tend to forgive my errors, mistakes, and intentional wrongs which were not well thought out, and of which I regret.

      3. When your children and/or spouse apologize for something they say or do, do you nitpick on the words of that apology, and say it was not good enough? Or do you understand the very act of contrition speaks loudly?

      4. Why do you expect the Agudah to release any announcement? If the Agudah said anything, it would be like saying that Rabbi Shafran has no life independent of the Agudah.
      In reality, they can’t be held responsible for the words of their employees, unless spoken at a press conference as a spokesperson for the Agudah, or release on Agudah stationery.

      I Daven with full kavana, that after 120 I am not judged the way you all are judging this man.

      Obviously, I have MANY areas of disagreement with both the Agudah, and Rabbi Shafran. But I do have respect for both. And the Ahavas Yisroel I was taught as a kid applies to every Jew. Rabbi Shafran is a Jew. I have Ahavas Yisroel for him.
      I do not treat people I love the way he has been treated here.

      Is calling him names practicing Ahavas Yisroel?
      Is bashing him for writing his controversial article, the way he was bashed here, Ahavas Yisroel?

      Not the way I see it.
      He is a Yid. A precious Yid. Showing Ahavas Yisroel to EVERY Jew is not a Chumra. It is a CHIYUV.

      • Satmar Man, Rabbi Shafran represents Agudah. To all intents & purposes, he IS the organization. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t his by-line referring to his official position in Agudah? So as such, he is connected to this organization & some may believe he was speaking on behalf of Agudah, especially in light of his position. You can’t separate the man from his job, not when he capitalizes on it in order to be heard.

      • Yom Kippur is not machper for chilel hashem so please don’t compare this to anything else

        A pr director from a major orthodox Jewish orgaziton can not post an article on the net that can be misunderstood or misrepresented by anybody no matter how stupid we are and don’t get his words of wisdom

        And when it appears to us with a pea brain that you are maligning a national hero and admire an international crook in an article on the internet you create a chillel hashem that has no precedent

        If you and your intelligent buddies need to read these articles for creative thinking or any other entertainment let him distribute his articles in print it in your shul to be read Friday night in you can then debate in soul at the shabos table his wisdom but not for the whole world to see

        Ps. my shul has enough seforim for a stupid person like me to get his hashkofe I don’t need his lomdish articles to create a shabos atmosphere

    54. I’m seriously amazed at this rare instance of honesty and straightforwardness from a public figure. His apology is just as straight and candid as his initial opinion. Wow

    55. Well I think one good thing came out of all this.
      We now see a more clear picture of how the Agudah thinks,operates and responds to a crisis. In my humble opinion it’s a bit scarey. They try to do alot of good things and we must give them credit for that. However, I am beginning to wonder if they truly represent genuine Daas Torah (all the time). I had full confidence in the Agudah when Rabbi Sherrer was the leader. This kind of fiasco would NEVER have been allowed to happen. If a mistake would happen, damage control would be immediate clear and decisive. Here the damage control was late and lacking to say the least. It could have been handled MUCH better and faster without needing a rocket scientist.
      What’s up ??? Where’s the leadership ????? You need to get your act together
      or we, the Oilam Hatorah, will lose a very essential organization that represents US in front of the world.

    56. Now, of course, we have what we all feared. Eric Yoffe the headof Reform Judaism is pontificating upon how Agudah’s spokesman said things that are antithetical to Judaism – and Yoffe is right, of course. What a chillul Hashem! The last time this happened was when a Reform Rabbi attacked the orthodox Chief Rabbi of Paris who converted to Catholicism.

    57. I think the oilam is being way too harsh in not accepting this retraction. How can someone comment this is too little, too late! While his articl ewas ridiculous, his retraction was sincere and timely.

    58. People….consider this very important point.

      If not for the Jewish news & views blogs, this article would only have been printed in the Yated’s, Jewish Observers, and Hamodias of the world; where all the yelling and screaming would never have seen the light of day. (Case in point – all the love letters to Pinny Lipshitz in response to his recent Op-Ed piece on Abuse)

      It is only because of the public forum – that is the blogesphere, that the author got called out in unanimity for certain, for his utter incompetance with this piece of writing.

      It is therefore our responsibility, as well as the individuals operating these blog sites, to keep the rhetoric and coverage of issues balanced, centered, and honest so that our voices get heard, when hearing is required.

      Just a thought.

    59. Dont get fooled by his apology ! He only retracted because his job and friendships were on the line . Aguda needs some new blood . shafran its time to resign . Do it before the embarresment forces you out .

    60. On a cursory level, he wanted to make a point that he respects someone who did Tshuva. His mistake was that to make restitution, Madoff is not selling off everything he and his family owned, so Madoff’s Tshuva is circumspect.

      On a deeper level Rabbi Shafran was trying to be melamade zchus on a fellow yid and I have to applaud him and respect him for that.

      A much bigger mistake than Rabbi Shafran’s were those who continually bash Madoff without a real Toelles – both in their weekly (Torah) blogs and forums like these. This is Loshon Horah and is especially harmful since it can be read by non-jews which causes a chilul hashem.

      If we would all attempt to be melamade z’chus like Rabbi Shafran, maybe hashem would be melamade zchus on our avairos and bring the geula B”B.

      • Exactly the oposite. The wider world must see that we frum yidden wont tolerate shenanagins and wholesale theft and that we can and will call a spade a spade even when it is one of our own. And when some pompous putz of a “rabbi”-spokesman for an out of touch with torah, facts and reality organization, attempts to whitewash the greatest thief ever to visit upon mankind we will call him out too.

        • The only problem is that he didn’t attempt to whitewash Maddof; you assumed something which he didn’t insinuate. He was talking about Teshuvah and Maddof taking responsibility for his actions and everyone making him worse then Hitler. Hitler is Hitler and Maddof is Maddof. Hitler was a Tzorer HaYehudim; Maddof was a Ganev, Ok a big Ganev, Ah Shreklicha Ganev, but still not a Tzorer HaYehudim and a mass murderer. He already said that he erred; what else do you want from him?

    61. Dear 102 – Not true- he sent it in to jta, Yoffie’s attack was ineveitable as were all the comments on the jta site. Hoffman and Weinreb did the right thing by getting a Rabbinic view against him up on the blogosphere first

    62. Dear Fellow Jews, of every crede, colour and backround,

      Are you all so shallow that you must jump to assumptions about a fellow jew who is as selfless and as humble a man as R’ Shafran? How is it, that in the days before Pesach, a time when our hearts and minds should be open to new starts, cleaning up of our souls, so many of you can so quickly and easily slander another man? How is it that it is so easy for you to gossip about your own friends and family members, even inadvertently, and yet you would never judge yourselves as harshly as you are judging a man who has only stated the following in a very true way. Are you all that angry?

      The essay was on tshuvah and change, and the fact that a person, who can admit that he is wrong and has made a mistake, even AFTER committing such a crime, rather than running from it admits and apologizes…How many of us can say the same about the ‘crimes’ we commit on a daily basis, have we all confronted ‘our world’ to admit the wrongs we’ve committed between us and our fellow man? Yes, Sully is a hero, and that goes without saying – he acted on instinct, from years of experience doing something he loved dearly, clearly G-d put him on that flight for a reason. Would it be lying and deceitful and nasty to say that a person who acts against his character to correct a wrong, who has a harder time fixing that trait can be a ‘light switch’ for our own future change, v.s. someone who does something that comes more naturally and ‘easily’? Did you all not see THAT very simple connection, did you not see that THAT was what R’ Shafran was trying to teach us? Can you not connect that THAT is precisely the beauty of Tshuvah?

      Please, don’t tell me that I wouldn’t know what I’m talking about…I watched first hand the rescue of that plane crash and I watched people personally suffer for the wrongs Madoff has committed – so both are equally dear to my heart.

      How can you so quickly call for this man to resign when he has affected your lives in more ways than you will ever know or realize…In a time where we must stick together, educated and uneducated alike, we all must learn to differentiate between emotional outbursts and fact. Take a look at the many other things R’ Shafran has written and done before you call for such strong measures to be taken….and while this may have been a controversial article, dare I point out to you who are so offended by his words that he has honestly and respectfully apologized, he has put himself out there for complete strangers, what more of an apology could you ask for? – How many reporters and newspapers have you read apologize for the lies and slanders they put out about you, a jew and Israel and the Holocaust, your community and YOUR bigotry…How many of you have had the guts to apologize to your own family members and close friends for the mistakes you’ve made in your life…

      I only hope that Hashem is more forgiving to you in your own lives than you are to a complete stranger, a stranger to you, who has time and again helped you, a complete stranger, in ways you will never even begin to know in your lifetime. In your own lives, are you actually inspired by people who don’t struggle to become great?

    63. Rabbi, how is this different than Madoff’s confession after he was caught? How could it be that something as fundamental as this needed to be brought to your attention? It continues to boggle the mind how you could flip good and evil so completely.

    64. How can you be so ungrateful to say derogatory remarks on an organization which does so much much for Klal Yisroel? My kids and I’m sure all of yours went to Pirchei Agudas Yisroel Shabbos groups as youngsters. My neighbors 26 year old daughter just got engaged through Agudas Yisroel’s Invei Hagefen.

      Yes, Rabbi Shafran wrote an article which I agree wasn’t to smart but that doesn’t give YOU the right to trash an organization which does so many wonderful things for all of us, and hey he did apologize.

      • The glorious achievments of the Agudah, and there were many, occurred during the years in which Horav Moshe Sherer ztl led the organization. At that time, the Agudah had a full plate as Orthodoxy in the 40s and 50s was not as prevalent as today. Rabbi SHerer had his work cut out for him and he b”h succeeded. THese young guys running around today at the Agudah are just riding on his coattails. Living off the SHerer legacy. THey are interested today only and only in soliciting and collecting and grabbing money from whoever they can.

    65. The fact is that the veiws on this subject right or wrong should not be a factor to ask for Rabbi Shafran resignation from the communitiy’s needs he helps continuously to fulfill. He has done nothing (and I vehemently disagree with article) other than a mistake (terrible) in regard to this topic. So get off your high horses of criticism and let’s together croo the Yam suff and go on with our lives . A freilichin Pesach to all u commentators here and Rabbi shafran. Let’s go on with our productive needy lives!!!!

    66. At least now, we have the sincere apology that R’ Shafran was talking about at first. R’ Shafran didn’t need to apologize, but he did so anyway. Maybe he didn’t intend for it to turn out this way, but now we have a solid example of a voluntary apology. So, the point was still made, albeit in a way R’ Shafran never imagined.

    67. Eternal Jewish truths apparently include stealing millions, ruining lives and then saying your sorry and then automatic forgiveness. anyone who thinks stealing a nickle is the same as stealing millions and destroying peoples lives – and the trust they had doesn’t understand enough to even be heard by any of us. As far as the polite – he’d be your hero too if he saved your loved ones.

      • Dear Sarah,

        Madoff is a thief. He stole billions, from many individuals and from foundations.
        But, his “VICTIMS” were at least partially guilty also. They “knew” there was something wrong. Anyone who tells you he can give you three times what anyone else give you, return on your money if you invest with him, is clearly implying that there is something smokey in the picture.
        He is just letting YOU believe, that YOU will be making the money, while some vague OTHERS will be put at risk.
        Sure, it is a very tempting offer. You feel like you are dealing with a form of Robin Hood. He is stealing from this nebulous group, and giving YOU and your organization, the profits.
        Your greed, or the greed for praise from the foundation you are a trustee of, makes you invest with him.
        You fail to check out his investments. Why? Because you KNOW there is something wrong, and you don’t want to know.

        So, on some level Bernie the ganif, and he is a thief, was stealing from other thieves. He relied on the “Victims’ ” own sense of larceny for his success.

        On some level they were “enabling” each other. Oh, have no doubt, he was the master. Master ganif, master theif. But the “Victims” were also guilty.

        As far as the pilot Scully.
        He was a highly skilled man, who did a good job.

        I did have loved ones aboard!

        He is not a hero, just a man who did a good job, a great job, executing what he decided to do.

        By the way, there is much evidence, from other pilots, that he could easily have made a totally safe landing at Teterboro Airport.
        Landings on water are usually associated with mass deaths.
        True he landed so well, that this did not happen.
        But, did he put his passengers into harms way, only to “Save their lives” and show how great he is?
        No, I am not trying to “Sully Scully” … just to add a dose of doubt to the situation.

        New York, the the United States needed a Hero. They made Scully into a hero.
        But, was he something else?
        At this point we will never know. Once everyone has shown him such kovod, noone has the ability any more to come out with doubts and investigations. But, his “Good Guy” status is not that clear to those In the Know.

        It is because I DID have loved ones on that flight,
        and because I AM a pilot who KNOWS I could have landed safely at Teterboro, and could do it today, or any day in the week …. from where he was…. that I am not ready to shower Scully with praise. If anything, I raise one eyebrow at him…. Hmmmmmmm

        Though the above is not exactly what Rabbi Shafran originally said, it shows why, I, for one, did not get angry at him.

        Do I approve of Bernie Madoff? NO WAY
        Do I believe Scully was a Hero? No Way.
        Do I admire Scully’s skill as a fellow pilot? Yes.
        Do I believe he did a good thing? I do not know, as I was not in that left seat at the time. But, as stated above, I do have questions.

    68. Shafran represents an agency that is no longer in touch with the Jewish people. The Agudah is more concerned about how people will watch TV, read the internet or newspapers than to care to have Rabbonim with high moral character…this Shafran character exposes himself to be lacking basic morality. Basically the Agudah will have Rabbonim like Shafran…tell the zombie yeshiva world how they should feel about a certain issue. In turn the masses will usually just follow.

      This is a wake up call for this outdated agency….Here on the internet we do not have to fear the same reprisals that we would in the real world and are free to express ourselves. If we were to state this in public the yeshiva velt would make sure to throw our kids out of school, deny us shidduchim etc…Shafran and Agudah are no longer needed to tell us what to do and how to feel. We have no need for them

      • Avdeh Behefkeire Nicho Lei. Someone who thinks that TV is ok and that it doesn’t destroy your soul, someone who thinks that Internet is ok, can come to such a conclusion that there is no need for the Agudah. How dare you call Rabbi Shafran immoral? I bet that you are sitting on an unfiltered internet and at the same times have the nerved to call an Ehrlicha Yid names; shame on you.

    69. Rabbi Shafran has performed admirably over the decades. Like all fallible human beings (even Moshe Rabbeinu made a mistake!), and like many who are under time pressure to produce a column, week after week, year after year, he has occasionally erred. This essay triggerered the likes of Reform Rabbi Eric Yoffie to attack him, via the Jewish Telegraphic Agency no less (distributed worldwide), which of course is a public relations nightmare not only for Rabbi Shafran but for the organization–and hence the cause–he represents.

      [Rabbi Hoffman’s critique was on the merits and was circulated, apparently, only in frum venues. I would also imagine that it might have taken Agudath Israel a few days to communicate with its rabbinic leadership–which is not always available to the professional staff–for guidance on how best to respond, etc. That sort of careful deliberation is a bit slow for the 24 /7 internet and media environment in which so many of us live.]

      I do not envy Rabbi Shafran nor his job. There are probably many in the JTA, at Yoffie’s Reform organization, and elsewhere who were all-too-happy to seize on his mistake and will use this single mistake of a single person to stereotype all frum Jews and what we believe in, for weeks and months, and to teach their followers all sorts of falsehoods, yet again, about all orthodox Jews.

      I also do not wish to imagine the heavenly punishment for some of the more outrageous comments made here, anonymously, which publicly demean this rabbi, who has served his organization and his people so well for so many years.

    70. After reading most of the over 400 total comments regarding this chillul Hashem fiasco, I am at least consoled that 97+% of our people have their heads screwed on straight and will not go along with any obviously utter foolishness that is published by a high profile “spokesman” of the Agudah.
      I don’t think they realize the amount of damage this episode has caused them (& unfortunately us as well). Agudah’s credibility is lost (for now) and it’s a lot easier to loose years of hard earned credibility (in a very short time) than to regain it.
      Do they even deserve credibility (these days) ??? I’m not sure anymore.
      Maybe I’ll ask my Rov.

    71. What SHafran offered is not an apology. He is a very articulate and highly intellignet individual who thought out very carefully what he comitted to writing.

      What he did not think out was the backlash and the harm that his words created to the fundraising for the Agudah. For that he is apologizing. For having been stung and destroying the credibility of the Agudah. He is only sorry for having been caught.

    72. Who knows how much damage as a spokes man and a rabbi Avi Sharan did, to not only the Agudah’s reputation but to the image of all Yidden and the image of Yiddishkeit as a whole among our people and the goyim.

      Further, for him to to say that he merely used the wrong example is outrageous. Where was his intelligence when he wrote that junk piece.

      Yasher koach to Rav Weinreb for his forthright and powerful reponse to this chillul Hashem.

    73. Giving Shaffran credit for his reversal is just as bad as his original admiration for Madoff and his lack of it for the Sully. Why Agudah continues to keep this man as their spokesman is a mystery, but speaks volumes about the organization. If Shaffran could not see how wrongheaded his article was without the flood of criticism, then his reaction now seems only of his critcism; his apology is thin and rings hollow.

    74. It’s unfortunate that after many decades of toirah, avoida and gmilis chesed, Agudas Yisroel, appoints an internet surfing pig Director of Public Affairs. Shafran, the beard doesn’t hide anything. We know who you are and what you are.

    75. Please don’t be so hard on Shafran. He should probably be thanked. For all those (like myself) who are considering going OTD – he just made the decision much easier!


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