Israel – Exclusive Video Interview: Rabbi Vs. Yolish Krauss The Operation Chief Of The Jerusalem Hafganot

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    Yolish Krauss in an exclusive Interview with VIN News conducted by Rabbi Yair HoffmanIsrael – This week, New York Rabbi Yair Hoffman from VIN News sat down with Yoilish Krauss in an exclusive interview in his self-described “operations bunker” in the heart of Meah Shearim.

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    Krauss is described as the “Operations Chief” for the Eida Chareidis. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post recently, Mr. Krauss identified himself as one of the coordinators of the violence in the Hafganot activities. It should be noted that the Eida Chareidis has consistently come out against violence and other activities that are harmful to the Chareidi population. In an interview with Rav Yair Hoffman last week, Eida Chareidis Vice President and Av Bais Din of the Eida Chareids Bais Din, Rav Moshe Sternbuch stated categorically that Yoilish Krauss has no connection whatsoever with the Eida Chareidis.


    The interview was conducted in Hebrew, you can watch the Interview below by clicking on the player



    English transcript below is edited for length and content.

    RABBI YAIR HOFFMAN: What are these items? [pointing to items on a shelf].

    YOILISH KRAUSS: They are bullets, tear gas and flash grenades that the police have thrown at us and have denied it. Some have not exploded.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: They are live then?

    YOILISH: Yes.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: You don’t speak English, correct?

    YOILISH: Not one word.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: First are you a Rabbi? Or Mister?

    YOILISH: A simple Jew. I fight with no one (play on words).

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Where did you learn?

    YOILISH: I learned in Toldot Aharon until 16 – I didn’t have such a desire to learn, I subsequently learned with a partner after that, and then I got involved with the cemetery plots with Atra Kadisha.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Do you work for the Eida Chareidis officially?

    YOILISH: No nothing is official. There is no such thing.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: It says in the paper today [New York Times] that you work for them officially.

    YOILISH: No, the paper wrote that themselves. The Eida Chareidis gave them my number but it is not official. I receive no salary.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Is there someone there that instructs you?

    YOILISH: Yes, of course.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Is there someone in the EC that calls you and says Reb Yoel we want you to do such and such?

    YOILISH: It depends.. To do things? Yes, they call me to organize things. Each thing has different people.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: How about burning the garbage bins?

    YOILISH: That each person does himself.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: You don’t tell him to do it?

    YOILISH: No. I don’t think that that is what is effective. People don’t know what to do, so they burn garbage bins. All over the world they do this.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: But from a halachic perspective is it permitted to do it? To burn a garbage bin. This is damaging!

    YOILISH: Damaging who?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: There is a halacha that a damager who has not yet paid for the damages – it is forbidden for him to be a witness at a Jewish wedding. This is a halacha in the Choshain Mishpat section of Shulchan Aruch – the code of Jewish Law. This is obvious and clear.

    YOILISH: The question is to whom he damaged..

    RABBI HOFFMAN: It is not an ownerless item!

    YOILISH: Yes it is. I claim it should not be done because of the damage to the neighbors suffer from it

    RABBI HOFFMAN: That is true too..

    YOILISH: but not on account of your reason. They are a bunch of thieves and your reason is not a problem. It is only a problem of disturbing the neighbors.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: It belongs to someone does it not?

    YOILISH: It is certainly ownerless! I don’t do this. I will remove a garbage bin to block the flow of traffic, but I will not burn it.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Breaking glass or damaging a car. We see this happening in these hafganot. This is certainly damage. It belongs to a private person and they are damaging.

    YOILISH: I have not heard that anyone is doing that.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: You have not heard or seen this?

    YOILISH: Once I heard that it happened two weeks ago by accident and he went to pay him 900 shekels. It was by accident.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: By accident?

    YOILISH KRAUSS: He threw it at the police and it landed on a private car. In general, I say that you don’t have to throw rocks. This is not the power. Our power is. It happened four weeks ago regarding the mother in Kikar Shabbat. It was that eventful Thursday. There were a few thousand people. The message that was then – that we are more powerful than the police. How? We can absorb blows and strikes. And they just hit. A few thousand came. We stood on the street at 11:00 PM at night. Who does it bother? A few cars.

    The police came with water. No one moved. They damaged us in our hats. 800 hats! Each one is 180 to 200 dollars. This is not damage? They came with bicycles. No one moved. Then they escalated. The rocks that they threw happened only after the police beat us. About this no one talks about! They all talk about the broken traffic lights and the burned garbage bins. No one is concerned that a few thousand people went out to protest properly.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: True. That is because the media is only concerned with the burned garbage bins and other such things..

    YOILISH: It is all the papers. They hate us because we are Chareidim. Many Chareidim also hate us.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Why? Because they see the violence. The whole world sees it – Religious people are just like other protestors. There is no distinction any more!

    YOILISH: It is not exactly that way.. Why does a Jew care about the media? It does not concern me at all. I don’t look at their perspective at all.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Let me explain. What if someone works in outreach and wants to bring others to discover their heritage. They want them to experience the beauties of the Sabbath. The unaffiliated Jew now sees these religious Jews screaming at police, calling them Nazis. He thinks,”This is religion? I don’t need this.”

    YOILISH: It is the opposite. If he comes to a house for Shabbos and he sees it is not the case. It is the opposite. He doesn’t believe it and he comes to be religious. He realizes more quickly that it’s all false.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Most don’t come and see it. They only see the name-calling, the rock throwing. They see them behave crazy, like animals. So good, you said they paid for the damage. But it is all in the media. Is this not an enormous Chilul Hashem? No?

    YOILISH: There is an error here. Chilul Hashem is an invention that they made up in recent years.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: “Lo sechalalu es shaim kodshi” – a verse in the Torah itself!

    YOILISH: No! This is a halacha. But what is the intent? That a Chiloni will think it is a chilul Hashem? We do not account for him at all!

    RABBI HOFFMAN: I think you are in error. I will cite a few passages from the Talmud that demonstrate this. Shimon Ben Shetach. Who was he? He created an enormous sanctification. He returned a donkey he had purchased that had a jewel in it.. Rava too had a debt to pay. He said, If I do not pay on time it is a chilul Hashem..

    YOILISH: You are only citing proofs regarding gentiles and regarding religious Jews, but not Chilonim..

    RABBI HOFFMAN: There is a Chazon Ish that equates all Jews as one no matter if they are irreligious.. Do you agree with this Chazon Ish?

    YOILISH: Not on Shabbos.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: If there is a doubt then we are stringent like the Chazon Ish!

    YOILISH: No one accepted the Chazon Ish!

    RABBI HOFFMAN: They all did.

    YOILISH: There is no chiloni that can say that he has not heard of Shabbos..

    YOILISH:..The essential argument is in regard to Chilul Hashem.. I say there is no chilul Hashem.. If I walk in payos in a place that they do not have them you would label this a chilul Hashem.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Not true, there you are doing nothing wrong.

    YOILISH: What was that which they used to say in Chutz LaAretz? I will be a Jew in the home and a gentile in the street.

    YOILISH: I care not at all about what the Chiloni says. I don’t count him from a meter. It is not me. It is written in the Torah.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Oh yeah? Where does it say this in the Torah? That there is a distinction between a Chiloni and a goy?

    YOILISH: It is in the laws of Shabbos..

    RABBI HOFFMAN: No you are in error. Regarding Aivah it is only for derabbanan laws. You are creating incorrect distinctions.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: I do not believe for a second that you would run away from saving another Jew and not be concerned that perhaps the Chazon Ish is correct..

    RABBI HOFFMAN: I see how you are responding to me that you are not so certain in your opinions..

    YOILISH: Why are you saving him because that is the halacha or because you have compassion?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: No. Let me explain. In the laws of Agunah, Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector rules that when you rule in these laws it is forbidden to rule in them without compassion. I do not think that there is a distinction between a chiloni and a gentile regarding chilul Hashem. Is this written anywhere?

    YOILISH: Clearly.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Where? Which book? We have just shown you that Chilul Hashem exists for goyim and Jews. You have come up with a new revelation that Chilul Hashem does not exist for Chilonim. Where does it say this?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: You must bring a proof..

    YOILISH: The Chsam Sofer permits wine of a Chiloni Jew. He is therefore different than a gentile.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Yes, but that responsa is a proof against your point. The Chsam Sofer rules that he is like a Jew!

    YOILISH: But this is the only thing he is lenient on. Otherwise the Chiloni is worse off.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: This is incorrect. You are misreading the Chsam Sofer. Is there any source for your distinction? I have searched numerous books. I have never found such a thing.

    YOILISH: I don’t remember where it is.. You say there is no such thing?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Yes. No such thing. But let’s be in touch. If I show you that there is no such thing, will you change the manner in which you perform things?

    YOILISH: I have nothing to change. Perhaps it is possible that you are right. But let me ask you, who are the evil doers that King David referred to in the verse “And those who hate you I shall hate..”

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Chilul Hashem is when you do something wrong in the eyes of G-d and the world.. When we steal or damage or name call. This is who To call a Jew a Nazi, is a horrific thing. Calling a friend a bad name one ends up in Gehenam..

    YOILISH: He is not a friend..

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Believe me, anytime there is violence it is seen in the media. You are a family man. You have children?

    YOILISH: Yes.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Do you want your children to see you calling others a Nazi? There are people that spit into people’s faces. A female journalist was spat upon. Do you want your children to see such spitting? The ways of the Torah are gentle ways..

    YOILISH: But why is “Darchei Noam” only one way? Why does it not bother you that female officers come hold and strike an avreich.? She goes to another one and beats him! Now, we asked the police not to bring female police officers. This is much worse. Now, how come you don’t see this side? This is horrible. Even according to their laws this is illegal! But here no one talks. Spitting on a person – everyone talks.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Just because they do something wrong does not give us an excuse to do something wrong!

    YOILISH: I am obligated to do this.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: You are obligated??

    YOILISH: If she touches Avrechim, if she touches men, of course we have to.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Wait, this was a journalist. And they spat in her face! It was a torrential rain!

    YOILISH: Where was this on Bar Ilan?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Yes.

    YOILISH: They have already asked me this question, this story. How was she dressed?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Even so!

    YOILISH: No, let me explain. What do you mean, “Even so?” She –

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Wait, was she not created in the image of G-d? When there is a dead body why is it forbidden to let the body remain unburied? True? Why is it forbidden?

    YOILISH: That is true.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Why is it so? Because it is the image of G-d. It makes no difference whether they are religious or irreligious. Why? Because he or she has the image of G-d. Now we are going and we are spitting on her face?? She is the living image of G-d. This is the image of G-d? We are obligated to do this??

    YOILISH: If she is the daughter of a king, she must conduct herself in the manner of daughters of kings. To sit at home. To walk with modesty. But if she goes out immodestly like a tramp, what are we to do? We have no choice.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: We tell her, “My daughter, this is not how we are to dress.. Come to me for the Sabbath.. Dress like this on the Sabbath. I would love to show you the Sabbath.. “ And in this manner we influence her. But we do not spit on her face!

    YOILISH: If she went onto the [Arab controlled] Har HaBayit – she would not have dressed in this manner. I promise you.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Okay. You are correct and this is a problem.

    YOILISH: If she arrived there like this – woe is to her! There is no one there claiming that this is a chilul Hashem.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: You are correct. But nonetheless, we do not spit on her face.

    YOILISH: Certainly we must!

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Heaven forbid!

    YOILISH: No – this I do not agree with you!

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Image of G-d!!

    YOILISH: There is no such thing. There is no longer an image of G-d! If she walks like an animal there is no image of G-d!

    RABBI HOFFMAN: And if she were a deceased body, she would again revert to the image of G-d? So if she walks in pants she loses her image of G-d, but once she dies she gains it back?

    YOILISH: Certainly! If he does not respect himself, we do not have to respect him!

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Do you want your children to see that you are spitting on the face of someone that does not dress properly?

    YOILISH: No. No. This not.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: So if you don’t wish that your children should see this-

    YOILISH: What should I do? What should I do in such circumstances?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Yes..

    YOILISH: I run home and I grab –

    RABBI HOFFMAN: But you must tell them.. You organize all these things. You must tell them that it is forbidden to spit on the face of a human being..

    YOILISH: These are small problems.. Why do they dare to come here? It is because of the Chareidi newspapers that constantly belittle us that they dare to come here.. This is the problem..

    RABBI HOFFMAN: There is a way to convince people..

    YOILISH: There is no way.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Do you know of an individual that is called Meir Schuster? He once asked the greatest sage of the generation a question. What was his question? When his father died, he asked how many days must he sit Shiva. 7 days or 3 days. What kind of question is this? Can you explain it to me?

    YOILISH: No..

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Why? He is a Rabbi a Torah scholar.. How could he have asked such a question?

    YOILISH: Was his father irreligious?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: No. He was religious. Why did he ask it? It is a good question. He asked Rav ELyashiv, “Must I sit Shiva for three days Shiva or seven days?” Why did he ask this?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: I will answer you. He asked this because each day that he is at the Wailing Wall, he brings people to the Torah way of life. People come to the Kotel, they see him, he speaks to them. He invites them for Shabbos. And each year there are thousands of people he brings to Sabbath observance. The question is obvious..

    YOILISH: If they are all returning and doing Teshuva – where are they?

    RABBI HOFFMAN: Where are they? Where are they?? They are everywhere. They are in the United States. They are in Newark, New Jersey. They are in Queens, New York. There are thousands. You do not see them, but they are thousands and thousands and thousands. Each year there are tens of thousands that come to religion.

    What was his question? He is at the Kotel every day. People come to see the Kotel. He has a place for them on the Sabbath. The question is, if he sits Shiva – everyone that comes to the Kotel will not see him and they will not come to Torah. So what did Rav Elyashiv answer? To sit three days – the biblical requirement. Do not sit the seven – it is pikuach nefesh. This was his answer. Good, I have given you something to think about.

    YOILISH: You gave me two things.

    RABBI HOFFMAN: It was most pleasant. All the best.


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