Monday, May 15, 2006

Post Gafni Erotica

There are many notes that come to mind following the public humiliation of Rabbi Mordechai Gafni and the many good and decent people who have supported him. I’ll list them without any particular order.

For the longest time I’ve been troubled by the fact that nearly all the rabbis targeted by the Vicki Polin crowd have been egalitarian men of faith, whose mission has been to bring women into the synagogue. My thinking used to be that the kind of accusations Rabbi Mordechai Tendler and others have received were par for the course they had chosen. You spend time with women, married and otherwise, you’ll end up giving someone the wrong impression, and before you know it, your animal spirit gets the best of you. It makes no difference whether you did or did not do what you’re accused of. You exposed yourself by the very mission you’ve undertaken.

In the lexicon of the sex-victim cartel, there is no difference between a gang rape in some back alley and a liaison between a mature woman and her rabbi

But I think this is too pat an explanation, which is why I like this other thought I saw online someplace: Charismatic holy teachers have giant evil inclinations. Our Talmud teaches that anyone bigger than his friend has a bigger sex drive, too. It’s not easy, bringing people closer to the transcendental and not getting turned on by it. It revs you up, you become free of the set of moral codes which guide most of us – not because you consciously choose to drop them, it just happens.

The hasidic masters of the 18th and 19th Centuries guarded themselves with an ascetic lifestyle, many refusing to even look at a woman, much less permit one into their chambers. Indeed, when hasidic tales mention a master who went out of his way on behalf of a woman, his act is considered a brave thing, because he dared risk his piety to help a fellow human being, even a woman.

Alas, our pro-woman modern-Orthodox and New Age rabbis do not have this shield to guard and protect them. They permit and encourage women to come closer, and, like I said, they expose themselves to harm.

There’s only one device which can protect them under these dangerous conditions, in which their own resolve is being tested, and in which they stand to become objectified by men and women they’ve inspired: No secrets.

Secrecy is the source of all evil. Secrecy is a manifestation of fear and self loathing. Secrecy is the foundation of addiction. When we say to our children, “Don’t tell Mommy,” or “Don’t tell Daddy,” we imbue them with the seed of addiction. When a spiritual teacher says “Don’t tell anyone,” he has just substituted addiction for intimacy. That lies and other self-destructive actions follow is only to be expected.

Still, I cannot help but wonder about the blurring of the notion of personal responsibility as it is posited by the victimization crowd. In the lexicon of the sex-victim cartel, there is no difference between a gang rape in some back alley and a liaison between a mature woman and her rabbi. The term “predator” is assigned by these folks to, basically, any male who’s been accused by a female of sexual misconduct. It is an effective term, bone-chilling in its imagery, bringing to mind a wily puma flexing its powerful muscles to leap at an unsuspecting antelope. This image is so powerful, it automatically assigns the role of antelope to the female accuser, bypassing our critical evaluation. In many cases, unfortunately, it empowers the accusing woman into a puma, but one so wily and muscular, she destroys her prey irredeemably.

Behind the attempt to shame rabbis for their misjudgment lies a medieval urge to suppress our liberated spirits

I cannot shake the disturbing feeling that by elevating the liaison between a grownup woman and her rabbi to the status of rape we’re absolving women of sexual responsibility. Of course, women in the workplace, or in any other setup in which the man has the power advantage, are in a different predicament. In their case, being forced to consent to sex is a violation of their civil rights. But is it rape? Is the injury of having sex with one’s boss in some seedy hotel room equal to a physical rape in some dark alley?

When we lose our capacity to recognize degrees in evil, we run the risk of losing our capacity to avoid being evil. This is why the “Awareness Center” has destroyed so many innocent lives, with its ritualized pornography and its abandon of judgment and hesitation. This is why the few rabbis who are still affiliated with this center frighten me with their taste for the “guilty until proven otherwise” approach to conflict resolution. One of them, a Rabbi Blau from YU, even accused me of harassing him, because I criticized his actions online. Imagine that. I dared write that the great inquisitor was wrong. Ah, the things his Excellency must endure…

But recognizing degrees in evil is crucial to our development as individuals and as a society. And demanding personal responsibility of all grownups who are not feeble minded is also crucial to our public mental health. And magical thinking, by which we assign overwhelming powers of sexual suggestion to this or that rabbi, serves to infantilize us as a society. Just as no one can be hypnotized against their will, or made to do anything under hypnosis which they loath, so is the notion of irresistible sexual suggestion ridiculous and puerile. It is fine for a child to claim the candy made him eat it – but we expect grown men and women to exert more introspection and personal responsibility.

Alas, having been forced to live in the vicinity of Christians and Muslims these many centuries, we’ve absorbed these two cultures’ warped approach to eroticism and sexuality. It is mind boggling to me how the erotic sanity of our Talmudic sages, never mind our Biblical prophets, has been so eroded, to the point where we find the abhorrence of sexuality so appealing. In a regime of fear, with our phones and emails under scrutiny of government agents, we are being robbed of the eroticism which is so essential to our mental health. We need touching, we need looking, we need hugging and kissing, or we go crazy. And every time some sexual misanthrope celebrates the demise of a rabbi so addicted to his erotic needs he hurts others, we as a society lose another bit of our entitlement to a carefree erotic consciousness.

When examining the bloodthirsty charge of a few insane individuals to punish prominent spiritual leaders who supported Gafni, I urge you to weigh not just the civil rights of Gafni’s accusers, but also the future of our civilized and sane sexuality. Remember, behind the attempt to shame rabbis for their misjudgment lies a medieval urge to suppress our liberated spirits.

Now, as often is the case, I expect the cabal of sexual hysteria to quote this article out of context, email it around and altogether employ their typical crass methods to confuse what should be a gentle and complex discussion. As always, this cannot be avoided, and all I can do is express my profound gratitude at being me and not them.


Blogger avrum68 said...

I've alwasy found your opinions to be refreshing and honest. However as a therapist, I can't help but wonder how you can apply psudo-psychoanalytic principles to a Gafni (who admitted to sexual involvement with a pre-teen when he was, I believe, 19), who is sexually inapropriate again and again and again....

12:59 PM, May 15, 2006  
Blogger Yori Yanover said...


I'm not sure what you're saying. My assumption was that pseudo-psychoanalytic principles could be applied to any human being, including the sexually inappropriate.

But to be serious, I strongly believe that whenever an offense has been committed which is against the law, legal means should be used to punish and deter. What we as a society do not benefit from is a wholesale treatment of sexual inappropriateness as nothing short of rape. It's untrue and it's un-useful.

1:16 PM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny how these stories mutate. The girl in question was, as I recall, *not* pre-teen. She was 14.

Which is not to say that Gafni was not and is not a sleeze....

10:52 PM, May 15, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Your ramblings sound psychotic. I think it's time for you to admit you have a problem and seek professional help

1:04 AM, May 16, 2006  
Blogger Yori Yanover said...

Ah, merciless satire, what a refined tool of criticism and wit are you.

5:49 AM, May 16, 2006  
Anonymous David N. said...

I always learn a great deal from your words. Thank you so much, and keep writing!
All the best,

6:22 PM, May 19, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good, Yanover. I agree there is a problem, especially in the US, both with abuse and with some pretty unnatural repression. You made excellant points. I do believe some of that crowd is hysterical, but then a survivor of abuse could be excused for that tendency....

4:55 PM, May 23, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

in answer to anonymous above

You say: I do believe some of that crowd is hysterical, but then a survivor of abuse could be excused for that tendency.... but Vicki Polin is not a survivor. Her family never hurt her or incested or victimized her. She enjoyed the most non-controversial of middle-class jewish, Skokie Illinois childhoods. Her family are poster-children for the average in "average american." What's her excuse for hysteria, rabies? Yet she claimed, twenty years ago, and still maintains that her father incested her and made her pregnant five times and forced her to kill and eat her fetuses in Frankist Satanic rituals together with others in the Chicago Jewish Community.

Seriously, how come Rabbis J Blau and S Porter, M Dratch and H Bilet and others can't get enough of sucking up to her like as though she were Snow White? The answer is that she picked a great cover for her activities. Who could be against an organization that fights to uncover child-abuse and domestic violence hidden by Jewish families? No one with claim to decency, right? Who would dare speak out AGAINST such an organiation like her Awareness Center?

Her genius is to couch her activities in clever sloganspeak. Like communists who claim to be fighting against the exploitation of the working class, or nazi skinheads who claim to be fighting against the international conspiracy to oppress white people, Vicki Polin knows exactly what to say to shut you up when you disagree with her. Try it and see for yourself.

She gets people to come onto the internet and write in support of her work. But you won't find people willing to write in support of her, herself. Because Vicki Polin is a predator and the Jews of Baltimore where she currently lives and battens onto people know her for real. You wouldn't find them writing in support of her. She relies on people like you, anonymous, duped by her slogans into defending her integrity. The people who actually know her in real-life who come online to write about her only have the most damning things to say.

The exception to the rule that people who know her all hate, revile and can remember nothing good to say about her is Rabbi Shlomo Porter. He's someone who actually knows her but still protects her, he gives her money and ignores any complaints he hears about her predatory behaviors. There is speculation that he knew her back in her Chicago days, perhaps he's an old boyfriend of hers or she knows something about him he'd rather she not publicize, but for sure he's the exception which proves the rule. Ask anyone who interact with her, who invites her into his or her house for shabbat or lets her sleep over when she needs a place to crash, they'll all say more or less the same thing, she's a user. She uses the frum Jewish hospitality system. She knows how to use the system. You'll hear the same refrain whichever person you ask, in whichever community.

Even in Baltimore where she preys on the frum community who generally refrain from talking lashon hara about shabbat guests, there's a quiet and growing awareness that she is a manipulator of unusual skill and initiative.

And when she diagnoses someone at the shabbat meal table as "oh, you were probably incested by your father" any response in disagreement with her will earn you a label as a denial-monger and potential guest on her shit-list for later. Trust me on this, don't try it.

4:35 AM, May 28, 2006  
Anonymous Howdy said...

Many people try to achieve goals. Most fail. Some strive, work hard and plan for all the details yet they achieve little or nothing at all. Others strive, work hard, plan and achieve huge success. Yet there are a few individuals who do little else than take small steps and seem to achieve a great deal with what seems like effortlessness. What is the difference between these people and which one would you like to be?
Most members of the human race fall into two categories - those who live in the past and those who live in the future. Most live in the past. Many of these are the people who achieve very little in their lives and are so fearful of the future that they dare not strike out to get anything. They are the under-achievers who hang onto bad episodes in their lives and either relive them time and again or look at new situations as similar potentialities. They say things like "all men are deceivers" or "all women are interested in is money" or "I can't do it. I tried before and it didn't work so why bother!". Due to bad experiences in the past they believe that all future events will turn out the same way if they dare to go after what they want.
The other type of person lives in the future. This type tends to create more of the things they want in life. They have a vision of where they want to go and exactly how they are going to get there. They work diligently at making concrete plans and they pursue those plans with a persistent ferocious appetite for success. These people are the high achievers - The Richard Branson and Bill Gates of the world. These people have much to teach us about setting and achieving goals.
However, there is a third type of person who almost goes unnoticed. They are the person who takes life in its stride and yet achieve most of what they want. I am sure you know of such a person in your life that just seems to saunter through life and yet they always come out on top. Or a person who you hear of that has decided to open a shop. You meet them a few months later and they have three shops all doing well! So what makes these people so successful and if they aren't living in the past and aren't living in the future where are they living?
I suppose you guessed it! Whether they are consciously aware of it or not they are living in the present. It is in the 'living' present that we have our greatest power. Everything happens in the present. You live your entire life there - even if your mind does not!

By becoming more aware of the present and by 'accepting' it as it is we are much more in control of our emotions and focus. When we live in the past we are fearful of making bad choices and/or getting hurt. We do not wish to recreate the past again! When we live in the future we can also be fearful of what might happen. But even if your future vision is full of power and worthy of working towards many people can, and often do, get stuck there. By constantly reaching for bigger and better goals they fail to enjoy what they have in the moment.
If you wish to start living a life that is almost effortless begin first by living in the present. Accept your situation the way it is and then you can enjoy what you have. Your focus changes from a memory of what was or a vision of what might be to a realization of what is. You become much more empowered to then see the beauty of life and also look at where you wish to make changes. But to make changes you must first accept the situation as it is. Trying to escape from your present only increases your focus on your problems by creating resistance to what is. Accept your life as it is now. Make no judgement, just accept it and then you will be free of doubt, worry, pain and fear. For you only experience these things when you live outside the 'moment'. hypnosis

9:22 PM, August 06, 2006  

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