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  • Investigation Reveals Additional Questionable Identity With Connections to Broyde’s Scholarship

    by Steven I. Weiss

    A new investigation by The Jewish Channel suggests a deception related to Rabbi Michael Broyde’s academic work that academic ethics experts say would represent a much greater breach of academic ethics than the revelations from a previous investigation published by The Jewish Channel on April 12.

    The Jewish Channel has previously revealed that Rabbi Michael Broyde — a prominent rabbi who was reportedly on the shortlist to be chief rabbi of England and is a law professor at U.S. News & World Report’s 23rd-ranked law school at Emory University — created a fake professional identity, Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser, that Broyde used over the course of nearly 20 years. The Goldwasser character joined a rival rabbinic group and gained access to its members-only communications, to argue with other members of that group under the fake identity, to submit letters to scholarly journals that in some cases touted his own work, and engage in other scholarly deceptions.

    But a second identity uncovered by The Jewish Channel might have gone farther down the road of academic misconduct than did the Goldwasser character. The second identity, claiming to be an 80-something Ivy League graduate and Talmud scholar in 2010, alleged he’d had conversations with now long-dead sages in the late 1940s or early 1950s. The alleged conversations were used to produce a manufactured history of statements from long-dead scholars that buttressed an argument that Broyde had made in a highly-touted article published in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal. Broyde, in a later publication, subsequently quoted this second identity’s alleged findings as further proof of his original argument.

    The consequences for Broyde in creating the Goldwasser character have been greater in his role as rabbi than in his role as a law professor. Broyde has already taken an “indefinite leave of absence” from his position as a judge on the largest rabbinical court in the United States, as well as from his role as a member in the rabbinic professional association with which it is affiliated. The president of that rabbinical group, the Rabbinical Council of America, has called Broyde’s conduct “extremely disturbing.”

    But whereas numerous rabbis have explained to The Jewish Channel that the requirements of a rabbinical court judge include having a reputation for unquestioned integrity and honesty, several academic ethics experts have explained that the standards for university professors are different. Broyde’s conduct revealed in The Jewish Channel’s previous reporting thus far is less clear as a violation of academic standards for professors, these experts say.

    However, if Broyde created this second identity and alleged historical evidence, that would “clearly be false scholarship” and “clearly require disciplinary review,” according to Professor Celia Fisher of Fordham University, where she is director of the Center for Ethics Education.

    Broyde’s conduct as Hershel Goldwasser could be “defensible” if it was used “to stimulate discussion or even controversy,” said the director of the Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University, Professor Teddi Fishman, but “Making up a supposedly real person to prop up one’s own positions does just the opposite and undermines scholarly integrity.”

    Broyde did not reply to multiples e-mails or to multiple voicemails at both his office and mobile phone numbers requesting comment for this story.

    Another Character

    This second identity involves an 83-page* article by Broyde published as a special supplement of the scholarly journal Tradition in the fall of 2009. A prefatory note to special supplement expresses thanks from the editors of Tradition to two entities, one of which is Broyde’s employer, the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory University, where Broyde is a senior fellow. The two entities “funded this special supplement, thereby enabling Tradition to publish a worthy article that we would not otherwise have been able to print because of considerations of space,” the editors write.

    Broyde’s article generated significant controversy within the Orthodox rabbinate and in Jewish scholarly circles for its detailed historical argument suggesting that the dominant view of past rabbinic sages was that married women might not need to cover their hair in public in order to conform to Orthodox Jewish law.

    Tradition received multiple letters in response to the article, both supporting and opposing Broyde’s argument. Two of the letters supporting Broyde’s argument aroused editors’ suspicions about their authenticity.

    Someone claiming to be David Tzvi Keter wrote one of those letters to Tradition from a Gmail account, establishing a biography in which he claimed he had “moved to Israel in 1949 after graduating from Columbia,” and that he then went on to learn at one of the most prestigious yeshivas in the world at the time, Jerusalem’s Etz Chaim yeshiva, under a major sage of the time, Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer.

    The Keter character then goes on to provide a history in which he gathered the oral testimony of several prominent sages of the mid-20th-century on the topic of women’s hair covering. His letter provides their comments 60 years later to add them to the historical record Broyde had been analyzing in the Tradition article.

    After Tradition declined to publish the letter, Broyde succeeded in getting the letter published on the Orthodox Jewish scholarship website Hirhurim. Broyde then wrote a follow-up to his Tradition article at Hirhurim, in which he responded to critics and cited the Keter letter as one of three “additional sources that support my position which have come to light since my article came out.”

    Finding David Keter

    The Jewish Channel has been unable to find any evidence of David Keter’s existence.

    Columbia University has no records of a student named David Keter in the 1940s, nor does it have a record for any student having an English version of that name, David Crown, in that era.

    The Association of Americans & Canadians in Israel, founded in 1951, as “the primary support organization for immigrants to Israel from North America,” has no record of David Keter in its database. According to a director of the organization, Josie Arbel, “in the early years [membership] was very inexpensive & automatic,” and “all olim [immigrants] arrival info from the Jewish Agency went into our database.” However, it’s possible that someone from 1949 never made contact with the organization, despite the relatively few such immigrants who were in Israel at the time of the organization’s founding.

    All but one of the four men named David Keter listed in Israeli phone directories going back to 2003 told The Jewish Channel that they were born in Israel. The family of the David Keter who could not be reached told The Jewish Channel that he died more than 8 years ago, and was also born in Israel.

    The only public record The Jewish Channel could find of a David Keter who was not born in Israel was a 1961 Hebrew newspaper article about a lawyer and yoga aficionado who had just emigrated to the country from the United States. The article said that the David Keter who was a subject of their article had changed his name from Isaac Dowd. Columbia University has no records of an Isaac Dowd attending Columbia University in the 1940s, either.

    Brandeis University Professor Jonathan Sarna told The Jewish Channel that new immigrants to Israel were frequently featured in the English-language Jerusalem newspaper of the time, The Palestine Post. A search of the online archive for the newspaper produced no mentions of anyone with the last name of Keter.

    The Jewish Channel was unsuccessful in trying to get government sources to determine whether David Keter ever received a national identity card, which Israeli law requires every resident of Israel over the age of 16 to carry at all times. Without more identifying information about Keter, the sources said, a search could not be completed.

    No One Home

    The Keter character provided a fake home address to Tradition editors when they sought to engage him in follow-up correspondence to his original letter.

    After Tradition editors initially became suspicious of the Keter letter, they reached out to Keter on January 11, 2010, asking for an address and phone number to contact him. The Keter character wrote back eight days later, apologizing for the delay in response, which he said was because “I had what they tell me is a mini-stroke and I am only now able to read email at all.”

    Keter responded with an address and phone number, but Tradition’s editor, Professor Shalom Carmy of Yeshiva University, did not recall doing anything with this information.

    The Jewish Channel investigated Keter’s phone number and mailing address in 2013.

    The phone number Keter provided to Tradition in 2010 today leads to a message that it is a non-working phone number. The Jewish Channel has been unable to obtain records for the phone number going back to 2010 to determine who, if anyone, once held that number.

    Regarding Keter’s alleged address, while the Keter character’s letter claimed to have lived in Jerusalem in the mid-20th-century, he responded to Tradition’s 2010 e-mail inquiry by saying “I live in Maalot Tarshisha now, all the way up north, in 16 Shlomo Hamelech.”

    That address the Keter character provided to Tradition consists of two lots. According to property records obtained by The Jewish Channel, the current owners of the two lots have owned those properties since 2002 and 2007. Owners of both properties told The Jewish Channel that they have resided there since their purchases and have never met anyone named David Keter, nor any man living in the area who was Orthodox or born in the United States. A next-door neighbor who told The Jewish Channel she has lived in her home since 1996 said that for as long as she has lived in her home, no one named David Keter, nor anyone born in the United States or who is an Orthodox Jew has lived nearby.

    The small town of Maalot Tarshisha, population 20,000, consists mostly of secular Jewish Russian immigrants, with an additional 20% of the population being Arab. The head of the local religious committee for the time period Keter claimed to have lived there, Michael Hazan, told The Jewish Channel that he’d never heard of a David Keter.

    Connections With Broyde

    Unlike the Hershel Goldwasser character revealed by The Jewish Channel in an earlier investigation, the David Keter character does not claim to know Broyde — but Broyde did claim to have spoken to Keter.

    In the months after Tradition chose not to run the Keter letter in January 2010, various outlets were publishing responses to Broyde’s controversial article.

    In September 2010, the Jerusalem-based Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin sent a response to the proprietor of the Orthodox Jewish scholarship website Hirhurim, Gil Student, that was critical of Broyde’s article, declaring in part that “Rabbi Broyde’s core position…is untenable.” Henkin told Student that he had originally sent the letter to Tradition, and that the journal had not published it.

    Student forwarded Henkin’s letter to Broyde before publishing, and Broyde replied “I have no problem with this — just make sure he knows that Tradition will certainly not publish it if you do.” Broyde then brought up the Keter letter, asking “Can I send you in a more favorable letter to the editor that Tradition declined to publish? Can you publish that also under some section of letters tradition [sic] did not publish?”

    Upon Student’s assent, Broyde then forwarded the Keter letter to Student, explaining that he had obtained it when the editor of Tradition “sent it to me as an FYI.” Broyde then requested, “Please do publish it.” The Tradition editor, Carmy, told The Jewish Channel that he has no record of sending Broyde the letter from Keter, but that he regularly deletes old e-mails and that “I had no reason to keep it from Broyde.”

    Student wrote to Keter’s e-mail address asking for permission to publish the letter, and Keter replied less than two hours later, writing “That is fine with me. It is an incident that is more than 50 years old now.”

    In the days after The Jewish Channel’s investigation of Broyde was published on April 12th of this year, Student specifically asked Broyde whether Keter was a real person. Broyde responded that Keter is real, as Broyde had personally spoken to him by phone.

    In a later conversation, Broyde told Student that Keter had given Broyde access to Keter’s Gmail account, and that Broyde had edited Keter’s original letter before sending it to Tradition.

    Gmail accounts, unlike the Hotmail account used by the Goldwasser character, do not include the Internet Protocol, or IP, addresses of those sending messages from Gmail in their metadata.

    How Could Keter Exist?

    Student published Keter’s letter on Hirhurim in September 2010, and soon thereafter heard from readers, including editors at Tradition, about the factual concerns regarding Keter’s letter.

    The overall biography for Keter is extraordinary. He claims to have graduated Columbia University in the 1940s, an era when being an Orthodox Jew in an Ivy League school was extremely rare, according to Brandeis University Professor Jonathan Sarna. “You still had quotas in the 1940s,” Sarna said in a phone interview, where rules existed such that “Jews are not more than 10 percent [of those enrolled as students], usually less, at top universities, and of those Jews, the vast majority tended to be non-Orthodox, since it was especially difficult to be an Orthodox Jew on most Ivy League campuses.”

    Keter then claims to have moved to Israel in 1949, just after Israel’s war of independence and before many of the basic government services — including immigrant absorption — had been established in the Jewish State. “Back in 1949, aliyah [immigration to Israel] from America was highly unusual,” Sarna wrote in an e-mail to The Jewish Channel, adding “Orthodox American college students were no exception to that rule.” Sarna noted that “many of whose who did make aliyah returned after a few years,” because “Israel was a third-world country in 1949, and Americans did not find living there easy.” Sarna concluded that, “I am not aware of any precise figures concerning American Orthodox olim with college educations, but I suspect that you could count their numbers on your fingers and toes.”

    Once in Israel, Keter claims to have studied at one of the most prestigious yeshivas of its era, which would usually require years of high-level Talmud study instead of schooling on secular subjects at an Ivy League University. While Meltzer’s yeshiva “certainly had taken American students” in the first half of the twentieth century, “they would tend to be people who went to Yeshiva Etz Chaim in America or another yeshiva, and then gone off,” instead of having gone to university.

    Asked about the possibility of an Orthodox Jew doing all of these things — attending Columbia University in the 1940s or earlier, then moving to Israel in 1949, and studying in Meltzer’s yeshiva — Sarna answered in the phone interview, “Whoa, that’s unusual.” Sarna added, “I’m not going to say the facts are impossible,” but “I would ask a lot of questions.”

    That such an exceptional figure would then never be heard from in the field of Jewish scholarship, until he wrote a single letter 60 years later, struck many scholars contacted by The Jewish Channel as extremely odd.

    Presenting a New Narrative

    The story Keter relayed also struck editors at Tradition as odd. The premise of the Keter letter as a response to Broyde’s article is that, while learning at the exclusive Jerusalem yeshiva under the sage Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer, “I was engaged to a woman who would not cover her hair and I spoke to the Rav Meltzer about this matter at some length.”

    Keter relates that Meltzer was initially dismissive of Keter’s inquiry: “He told me that it was better not to marry someone who would not cover her hair.” But Keter was able to get the sage to refer the question elsewhere by citing the power of love: “After I told him that I really loved this woman and wanted to marry, he graciously gave me permission to speak to three of his students, Rabbi Yehuda Gershuni, Rabbi Elazar Shach and Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach.”

    “So off I went” to meet those rabbis, Keter declares.

    Keter’s letter then cites responses from Gershuni and Auerbach that are broadly consistent with what the historical record reveals.

    Where Keter’s letter goes into completely new territory, and the portion which Broyde cited in a later publication, is in Keter’s testimony about Shach. “[I]t was Rav Shach who startled me with his halachic [rabbinic legal] view,” Keter wrote. After discussing the issue in detail, “Rav Shach told me that it was better to be strict on this matter, but one who was makil [lenient], yesh al ma lismoch [he has what to rely upon].”

    It is this paragraph about Shach’s attitudes that Broyde cites in an article on Hirhurim, declaring that “a recollection by David Keter of a conversation he had with Rav Shach,” is one of three “additional sources that support my position which have come to light since my article came out.”

    A Story That Couldn’t Have Happened

    As improbable as scholars find the overall narrative of the man named David Tzvi Keter, the letter itself contains a false detail that suggests Keter’s story is untrue.

    Scholars suggest it was extremely unusual that an Orthodox Jew would have attended Columbia University in the 1940s, and indeed Columbia University has no records of this man. They also find it extremely unlikely that a man who was so well-versed in secular learning that he could attend Columbia could also develop the Talmudic skills to be immediately accepted into an exclusive yeshiva just after graduating college.

    But the stories about the new history provided by Keter raised questions, as well. Scholars questioned whether the chronology suggested by the letter was consistent with recorded history, and whether the historical statements Keter provided were reflective of the long-dead rabbis’ actual attitudes — especially those regarding Shach.

    And indeed, in one detail in the letter, Keter includes a historical inaccuracy that reveals his narrative could not have happened as Keter claims it did. The author says he “moved to Israel in 1949″ before his rabbinic adventure began. All four rabbis Keter claims to have spoken to were in Israel then, but Gershuni left Israel for the United States shortly thereafter, in 1950, according to a 2005 memorial book edited by Itamar Warhaftig, Afikei Yehuda.

    However, the conversation with Shach that Keter relates could not have happened until 1952, two years after Gershuni left Israel.

    Keter tells of Shach saying that “his wife had not covered her hair in Europe or while he was learning at Etz Chaim,” but that things changed for Shach when he became an instructor at a different yeshiva. “Now that he was at Ponevitch she certainly did cover her hair,” Keter claims Shach said. Shach only started teaching at the Ponevitch yeshiva in 1952, according to a 1989 biography of the rabbi by Moshe Horovitz, HaRav Shach Shehamaphteach Beyado.

    Gone

    In October 2010, Student, the Hirhurim editor, gathered various of the factual objections to Keter’s letter and asked Keter about them in an e-mail. Student also mentioned in the e-mail a result of Student’s correspondence with editors of Tradition after he published the letter, that a nephew of a Tradition editor then studying in Israel wanted to meet Keter.

    Student, trying not to appear accusatory, concluded, “I apologize if these request [sic] offends you. You have already been generous with sharing your experience and any further information you give is at your discretion.”

    Keter never replied.

    [Correction, April 30: This story originally claimed Broyde's article in Tradition's supplement was 179 pages long. While the last page is numbered 179, the first page of the supplement is numbered 97. The Jewish Channel regrets the error.]

    April 24, 2013 | Read more Newsdesk posts. 91 Comments »

    Comments

    91 Comments »

    1. Lots of facts (or non-findings), but Steven Weiss undermines his own cause by including irrelevant or inconclusive facts. For example, what would have the big deal been about an ortho sutdent at Columbia in the 1940’s? It’s in Manhattan – commuting is always a possibility. Similarly, from an academic standpoint, who cares if Broyde was writing under pseudonym as Goldwasser, if the citations and argumentation were correct? Because he used a pseudonym in that case, does it necessarily mean he faked the Keter letter here?

      The most compelling pieces of info here are (a) that the timeline asserted in the Keter account can’t be true and (b) R’ Broyde’s admission that he has access to Keter’s gmail account. While those facts are consistent with the possible faking and submission of the Keter letter by R’ Broyde, that’s not an inescapable conclusion. For example, if Keter is real, perhaps after 60 years his recollection of the exact dates was off a bit – a good faith error. Even if the Keter account is a fake, it’s possible that R’ Broyde was duped by someone else.

      Point is, lots of work by Steven Weiss – too bad other journalists don’t go into things as deeply as he does – but what he’s come up with here isn’t conclusive, neither to indict nor to exonorate R’ Broyde. As much research went into this piece, it needs more; right now it appears to be a “kick-’em-while-they’re-down” piece of reporting.

      Comment by Not Michael Broyde or Steven Weiss — April 24, 2013 @ 1:41 pm

    2. [...] – Gil Student Investigation Reveals Additional Questionable Identity With Connections to Broyde’s Scholarship [...]

      Pingback by Update Re David Keter Letter | Hirhurim – Torah Musings — April 24, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    3. David Keter is one of my closest friends. We fought together in the Six Day War. When will this slanderous attack on Torah Judaism end?

      Comment by Hershel Goldwasser — April 24, 2013 @ 3:11 pm

    4. Amazing first class journalism!

      Comment by dave — April 24, 2013 @ 3:49 pm

    5. Awesome journalism!

      Comment by Yerachmiel Lopin — April 24, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

    6. [...] would be Emory law school professor Michael J. Broyde, object of multiple in-depth accounts – here – of his very odd behavior. Emory is already reviewing him for having made up internet identities [...]

      Pingback by University Diaries » Get ready for the guy to claim a mental illness. — April 24, 2013 @ 4:27 pm

    7. Incredible journalism.
      We need you in the secular media.

      Comment by Yanshuf — April 24, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    8. [...] Emory may be forced to reconsider. It turns out that Broyde created, out of thin air, yet another elderly religious scholar, Rabbi David Tzvi Keter. According to the tenacious Steven I. Weiss at the Jewish Channel, Broyde, [...]

      Pingback by Rabbi Michael Broyde Created Another Fake Religious ‘Expert’; This One May End His Career ← Moral Compass — April 24, 2013 @ 4:51 pm

    9. This seems to be part of a pattern. Goldwasser claimed an address in Israel which, as far as I can tell from Google Street View, does not exist. (It’s an uninhabited highway.)

      Comment by Nachum — April 24, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

    10. How does any of the information prove that this is connected to R’ Broyde. It shows that R’ Zeter might have on accident given false information / lied / doesn’t exist, but it doesn’t prove a connection to R’ Broyde.

      Comment by Yosef Klein — April 24, 2013 @ 5:16 pm

    11. This makes we want to riff on the phrase with “Keter vi(mai)zahav, massei yedei adam”

      Comment by Yerachmiel Lopin — April 24, 2013 @ 5:51 pm

    12. I say the search should be on for other hard to locate american rabbinical alumni in their 80’s in Israel. Also look for tony names with connotations of royalty (crown) or precious metals (GOLDwasser).

      Comment by Yerachmiel Lopin — April 24, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

    13. Yosef Klein (whoever you are): Why don’t you read the article more carefully? It states that after the initial article about R. Broyde appeared in Jewish channel, R. Gil Student specifically asked R. Broyde about “Keter.” R. Broyde responded that “Keter” is real and that he R. Broyde had spoken to him by phone. So R. Broyde himself established that there is a connection between himself and “Keter.” The ball is in R. Broyde’s court.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — April 24, 2013 @ 5:53 pm

    14. It also says that “In a later conversation, Broyde told Student that Keter had given Broyde access to Keter’s Gmail account, and that Broyde had edited Keter’s original letter before sending it to Tradition.”

      So obviously R’ Broyde was at least somehow involved in the Keter persona and letter, by his own admission.

      Of course, it’s theoretically possible that someone was scamming R’ Broyde, but then that person could have scammed him over the phone too, ala Manti Teo. But if you look at motivation and personal patterns it points very heavily at R’ Broyde.

      Comment by Fotheringay-Phipps — April 24, 2013 @ 6:08 pm

    15. I got semicha from Rabbi Hershel Goldvasser, and my dissertation advisor was David Keter.

      Next you will be doubting even MY existence.

      Comment by Velvel Silberpfeffer — April 24, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

    16. Any progress on tracking down the Rabbi Eric Berkowitz who appears just before the pseudonymous “Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser” in the OU Sacks Siddur acknowledgments?

      Comment by IH — April 24, 2013 @ 8:11 pm

    17. To: Young Israel of Toco Hills Board and Membership.

      Your position defending your hero is defending the indefensible. Your man has over-reached himself with puffery and self-importance. And that’s just on the academic front.

      Be happy the IRS hasn’t audited your 501 (k) status for any malfeasance that your fearless leader may have committed when he had unsupervised access those many years over the tax deductible receipts. Your second problem is accounting for the “fund raising” monies for the “new schul” construction and the land deals for the site in which your hero was a intermediary owner.

      Why not get an audited accounting opinion going back to the START of the schul (when it was 2 doors down from old man Feldman’s place), in his face, so to speak? Remember, Board Members are personally liable if it can be shown that they were derelict in their fiduciary duty.

      The news is out on the street, folks. Clean up the stench before the authorities clean up you. And let’s NOT talk too loudly about how the place burned down at Pesach, 2006 and the insurance settlement for the rebuilding. The nominal basement tenant that you kept there to keep yourself “glatt” with the county could have been killed in that fire. Which genius thought that up?

      Anyone want to make the fire marshal’s report public? Why was a substandard vent installed in that restroom, not a suitable commercial unit? Electrical fires are the darndest things….aren’t they? Anyone want to say “attempted homicide”? I mean, why is it that buildings burn down on Jewish holidays? Its almost an unwritten tradition.

      Oh? Did we mention the possibility of outright plagiarism of some of his academic writing? There is software to check for that….

      Sleep well, chevarim.

      Comment by Toco Hills Zydnicki — April 24, 2013 @ 8:30 pm

    18. Yosef Klein is either R.Broyde or a close relative.

      see comments on Hirhurim

      Comment by Harediman — April 24, 2013 @ 8:38 pm

    19. Who can drive in the carpool lane by himself?

      Who can sit on a Bet Din alone?

      Who can call a mezumen and doesn’t have to bentch alone?

      Answer: a disgraced dayan with two imaginary friends.

      I had imaginary friends once. I was four years old.

      Comment by Joker. — April 24, 2013 @ 10:50 pm

    20. It is very amusing to read this article…Broyde
      spent so much time faking it….a fraud, and now the center of ridicule….appropriate punishment.
      I suggest he find a position as a shamus in some extinct shul, first duty is keeping the toilet clean and toilet paper supplied.

      Comment by Bert Zackim — April 25, 2013 @ 8:17 am

    21. I checked on a bootlegged copy of the Israeli Interior Ministry registry of all Israeli citizens, past and present, (called Agron 2006), which is readly available in Israel, and only two “David Keter”s of the age of 80 and above appear. Both were born in Israel.

      Comment by Private Eye — April 25, 2013 @ 9:55 am

    22. oh please! he didn’t do anything THAT bad for godsakes.

      everyone move away from the ledge.

      sheesh

      Comment by ksil — April 25, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

    23. ksil – If (and if it’s a big if) he invented a comment by R. Shach to support his position, that’s as big a professional sin as an academic can commit. In terms of the world at large, perhaps it’s not such a big deal, but as a scholar if you can’t be trusted about sources, you can’t be trusted, period.

      Comment by JJG — April 25, 2013 @ 5:24 pm

    24. With all the really frightening “issues” that exist within the orthodox communities (pick any one, makes no difference!), is it really necessary to expend so much energy on this situation? Let’s focus on helping those whose physical, emotional and spiritual lives are being destroyed by inappropriate conduct from some members in these communities.

      Comment by Thoughtful Professional — April 25, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

    25. Is it comparable to child abuse? Of course not.

      But JJG is correct. Broyde has fabricated sources to support his positions (and self-promote). This is academic malfeasance at the highest level.

      Comment by Moshe — April 25, 2013 @ 7:20 pm

    26. The more concerning issues are: a) how did he get away with it for 20 years within a scholarly detail-oriented community; and, b) what does it say about the community that is willing to make excuses that “it’s no big deal”.

      On the latter point, Debra Nussbaum Cohen hit it on the head in her Ha’aretz piece today: “Equally important has been the back and forth between commentators who appreciate Rabbi Broyde’s importance as an interpreter of Jewish law, and in comments under the articles about him have debated whether it is really problematic for a rabbi to adopt false online personas or whether that is just business as usual. That, to me, reflects an ethical morass that supersedes one rabbi’s problems.”

      Comment by IH — April 25, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

    27. Further, how did the OU Sacks Siddur Editorial Committee accept “suggestions and corrections” as written in the Siddur:

      “A number of Rabbis selflessly devoted considerable time in reviewing the early drafts of the [OU Sacks] Siddur and making invaluable suggestions and corrections. We especially wish to thank Dayan Michael Broyde for his critical help, as well as Dr. David Berger, Rabbi Eric Berkowitz, Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser …”

      It boggles the mind that the Siddur many of use may have been corrupted by R. Broyde’s dishonesty in ways for which there has been no accounting as yet.

      Comment by IH — April 25, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

    28. In my blog – linked here http://chedvathashem.blogspot.co.il/2013/04/new-revelations-about-rabbi-broyde.html
      i describe my husband’s discovery of a psak halacha which r’ broyde claims is from the lubavitcher rebbe, but which in fact seems to have been a fabrication on his part.

      Comment by Ahuva — April 26, 2013 @ 2:50 am

    29. I hope S Weiss sent a draft of the article to R Broyde before publishing and asked for his comment or reaction.

      Comment by Canadian Guy — April 26, 2013 @ 5:44 am

    30. Toco Hills Zydnicki, why did you call Rabbi Emanuel Feldman “old man Feldman”? Is it because you /want/ people to not take you seriously?

      Comment by Phil — April 26, 2013 @ 6:51 am

    31. Moshe, you wrote, “But JJG is correct. Broyde has fabricated sources to support his positions (and self-promote). ”
      But wait. JJG said “IF, and it’s a big if”. Why don’t you back off your certainty like JJG did?

      Comment by Phil — April 26, 2013 @ 6:58 am

    32. [...] new TJC News investigation reveals another questionable identity associated with Judaic and legal scholar Rabbi Michael [...]

      Pingback by Investigation Reveals Second Questionable Identity With Connections to Broyde’s Scholarship | Luke Ford — April 26, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

    33. [...] new TJC News investigation reveals another questionable identity associated with Judaic and legal scholar Rabbi Michael [...]

      Pingback by Investigation Reveals Second Questionable Identity With Connections to Broyde’s Scholarship — April 26, 2013 @ 2:28 pm

    34. Aha, a second fake name! This is becoming very serious indeed. Perhaps they will eventually discover that he used over 70 names, like Fernando Pessoa and Raphael Golb? Or at least dozens of names, like the evil Benjamin Franklin and one of history’s greatest immoralists, Voltaire? In fact, if they find that he used anyone’s name satirically to his “advantage” or to “promote a theory,” he could ultimately be risking six months at Rikers Island. The Jewish press has clearly turned against him with feigned concern and the most vicious, hypocritical expressions of schadenfreude, and would predictably goad the prosecutors on if it came to that. For the potential “legal” consequences in New York, see the case documentation concerning Raphael Golb:

      http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

      Comment by Quixote — April 27, 2013 @ 2:04 am

    35. Quixote: Every single place this story has been published you have made the same comment, referring to the trial of Raphael Golb and linking to his website. Enough already! Or are you Golb?

      Canadian Guy: Why didn’t you read the article more carefully? It says that R. Broyde did not respond to multiple e-mails and calls requesting his comment.

      Some people ask whom did R. Broyde harm? How about R. Gil Student who was one of R. Broyde’s staunchest admirers and supporters and always made his blog available for R. Broyde’s posts. Student clearly feels that R. Broyde both used him and then lied to him. As he says, the matter is too painful for him to discuss.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — April 27, 2013 @ 4:33 pm

    36. There is a potential difference between approaching R Broyde for comment, and sharing with him a draft of this article before printing it. I may not totally be standing corrected, but if L kaplan is the professor I am standing.

      Comment by Canadian Guy — April 27, 2013 @ 10:35 pm

    37. Lawrence Kaplan: it’s great to see you’ve been reading my comments; perhaps you should read them a bit more carefully. More will follow too, because I like to travel around the web sniffing for unmerited smears and ill-informed arrogance.

      Now, do you really think “Gil Student” was “harmed”? He must have a very thin skin indeed, if his poor little blog is so precious, that some terrible harm was done to him by a harmless joke.

      So perhaps eventually, instead of telling us to read Mr. Weiss’s obsessive article even more carefully, you will help us elucidate some of the real neglect, complacency, lack of culture, and cowardice revealed by this latest priggish assault on reason. All that’s missing here is the arrest and prosecution of Rabbi Broyde for “criminal impersonation,” in retaliation for using the “name of another” to promote a theory and thereby obtain a “benefit.”

      So is there anyone else we’d like to viciously smear today? And incidentally, are you THE Lawrence Kaplan, author of “Revisionism and the Rav” and a fascinating study of the great postmodern philosopher Emanuel Levinas? Let’s hope a book will follow one day.

      Comment by Quixote — April 28, 2013 @ 12:06 am

    38. Quixote: Thank you for you kind comments about my articles.

      Perhaps I did not make myself clear enough. I agree with you that Rabbi Broyde’s use of pseudonyms per se, even with elaborate back stories, is indeed a harmless joke, though perhaps not befitting the dignity and office of a Dayyan. I find his sock puppeting and joining the IRF under false pretenses more troubling, but still not that terrible. But the “David Keter” letter, published in hirhurim, is in a different class.

      Let us grant, as alas seems to be almost certain and as R. Student certainly believes to be the case, that R. Broyde wrote the Keter letter. This means that in the course of assuming the persona of Keter R. Broyde FAKED A HALAKHIC SOURCE by fabricating an interview with Rav Shach where Rav Shach supposedly expressed an halakhic analysis remarkably congruent with that of R. Broyde. Subsequently, in a another post in hirhurim R. Broyde referred to the Keter interview with Rav Shach as providing yet another source supporting his position. Moreover, when asked point blank by R. Student after the initial story broke whether Keter was real, R. Broyde said he was and he had spoken to him by phone.

      I wonder whether if Lawrence Shiffman or Norman Golb faked some Dead Sea Scroll fragment to support his theory, creating some elaborate back story to lend it credibility, you would view it as a “harmless joke.” And I further wonder whether if Shiffman or Golb suckered some close friend and supporter to publicly go along with it, you would view that friend’s being greatly pained upon finding out how he was used as indicating his being thin skinned.

      For the record, I am no legal expert, but I have read carefully the sources relating to Raphael Golb’s actions and his being prosecuted. While I think his blogging was childish, puerile, and nasty, I do NOT think it was criminal and believe his being prosecuted was a serious abuse of the justice system. I think Golb’s fake letter as “Larry Shiffman” confessing to plagiarism, while very nasty ultimately did not harm Shiffman and therefore should not have been grounds for criminal prosecution. I think that Broyde’s fake “David Keter” letter, again since it involved faking a halakhic source, was much worse, though not criminal.

      By the way, Quixote, your comparison of Raphael Golb’s childish blogging to the use of heteronyms by the great poet Fernando Pessoa is laughable. If you are Raphael Golb you have delusions of grandeur. If you are the very distinguished scholar Norman Golb, whose work I admire greatly, well a father’s exaggerated pride in his son is understandable, but there are limits. If you are neither, your comparison is even more perplexing.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — April 28, 2013 @ 4:16 am

    39. Lawrence Kaplan: a number of comments in response to your clarifications.

      To begin with, I do not really agree with the infantilization (for want of a better term) of Raphael Golb that we find in Tablet Mag and in your comments. Words like “childish” imply an assumption on your part, or an evaluation of the content of his blogs; yet some of that content actually seems to be not so different from your Dead Sea Scrolls hypothetical, as he appears to have repeatedly denounced various forms of fabrication, hypocrisy, and dishonesty that seem to beset the field. If you have some reason to disagree with him, perhaps you should state what it is.

      What is clear is that his expressive activities, however misguided, have been censored, even criminalized to the tune of six months in jail (that, at any rate, is the sentence imposed), while the relevant communities seem to have been quite careful not to express any opinion about the matter. What happened to the great concern about Mesira? That accusatory blogs pertaining to the Dead Sea Scrolls controversy have led to such an assault on decency is a matter of little import to Judaism and Jewish education in America, but the pseudonyms of a rabbi are a matter of explosive impact? Where are our values?

      You read too much into the “comparison” that has been drawn (and certainly not by me alone) between Internet sock-puppetry and Fernando Pessoa. Whatever the difference in level, the fact remains that literary critics around the world were fooled, or deceived, by Pessoa’s heteronyms, and this led to what could easily be regarded as a considerable waste of time, or “harm.”

      While I respect your opinion, I am also not so sure the “Keter” letter is as serious a matter as you make it out to be. It is certainly not as serious as the jail sentence confronting the son of our colleague Norman Golb. And it can easily be regarded as simply another instance of postmodern pseudepigrapha, “childish” rumors and the like, easily corrected by verification with Rav Shach and others involved. It is not as if he presented a fabricated recording of a conversation at a rabbinical council hearing. Indeed I wonder how many of the conversations reported in older rabbinical sources actually took place as reported. I know this may seem a somewhat strained line of reasoning to you, but many people do not give the same kind of significance to words uttered online that, in our concerted campaign of smears against Rabbi Broyde, we seem to have suddenly decided must be given to them.

      Respectfully,

      Comment by Quixote — April 28, 2013 @ 5:29 am

    40. P.s. To get an idea of how far the vicious scapegoating campaign against Rabbi Broyde has gone in distorting reality, some readers may want to take a look at a pertinent discussion in Atlantic Wire (link provided below), where we read, for example, that “if an account is not verified, assume it’s a fake,” as well as the opinion of Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor at the Oxford Internet Institute: “We’re in a … postmodern world where we can’t tell the truth from fakery.” The author of the Atlantic Wire article states: “some argue… these misrepresentations are a part of our own identities. The Internet is what Philosopher Slavoj Žižek called a ‘space of false disidentification.’” The article these quotes are taken from appears at:

      http://www.theatlanticwire.com/technology/2012/02/learning-cormac-mccarthy-twitterhoax/48147/

      And, those unfamiliar with the prosecution of Raphael Golb referred to above may wish to take a look at some of Golb’s censored writings, and determine for themselves whether they are without merit or interest as Professor Kaplan suggests. Several of them appear under the name “Charles Gadda” at these addresses:

      http://charlesgadda.wordpress.com/dead-sea-scrolls-exhibit-misleads-public-july-2-2007/

      http://charlesgadda.wordpress.com/did-christian-agenda-lead-to-biased-dead-sea-scrolls-exhibit-in-san-diego-october-6-2007/

      Comment by Quixote — April 28, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

    41. I donor know rabbi broyde but am a fan of his writings. I supported him after the previous stage of this scandal and wrote a comment to that effect on hirhurim. However, this new revelation is of a different league. The fact that rabbi broyde claimed to have spoken with Keter coupled with the fact that Keter doesn’t exist makes this pretty much a flam dunk case that rabbi broyde was behind the Keter figure. That rabbi broyde would do that is incomprehensible to me.

      Ironically, many of the commenters who criticized rabbi broyde for writing anonymously with an agenda are themselves anonymous writers with an agenda…

      Comment by J.I. — April 28, 2013 @ 3:35 pm

    42. Wouldn’t that include you, J.I.?

      Anyone who uses a pseudonym to defend oneself (or to promote any viewpoint) can be painted as a liar and a coward. This has been the argument against anonymity for centuries. It’s an argument usually made by very religious Christians.

      Arguably, however, it’s a kind of lying and cowardice that’s not at all unethical. So think clearly. Does something that’s not unethical, become unethical when a rabbi does it? Maybe he was having a good laugh. Or is the claim that he really thought planting a little rumor would have a major impact on his candidacy? It’s hard to take any of this seriously.

      The Raphael Golb case, on the other hand, is very serious, even disturbingly so. Quixote is right to remind us of it, and I would have to agree with Lawrence Kaplan that the son has been wrongly convicted.

      Comment by Noah — April 28, 2013 @ 4:36 pm

    43. Quixote: I do not wish to get embroiled in the Raphael Golb case. As I emphasized, I think his impersonation of Prof. Schiffman was stupid but not criminal and his being prosecuted was an abuse of justice. I am not saying that all his pseudonymous e-mails lacked merit, but still think his overall pattern of blogging was childish and, what is worse, counter-productive. I think that no one damaged Prof. Norman Golb’s academic reputation as much as his son. Moreover, Prof. Golb can fight his own battles vey well–witness the expert demolition job he did on Prof. Schiffman’s “Confidential Letter.” He did not need his son as his self-appointed, bumbling armor-bearer.

      I reiterate my view that R. Broyde’s “Keter” letter and his subsequent use of it, inasmuch as it involved halakhic fraud, was very serious, more serious in my view than anything Raphael Golb did. R. Broyde made up out of thin air a halakhic source on the basis of a conversation that never happened. This was not done in some casual passing blog comment. Rather, to reiterate, R. Broyde first fabricated a letter containing a fake conversation with Rav Schach, and then wrote an article referring to that conversation contained in that letter as providing a further source for his, R. Broyde’s, halakhic position. This is NOT the same as people’s sometimes fallible, sometimes dubious, memories about conversations they had with eminent rabbis. Of course, one should be wary about people’s memories of such conversations and their possibly hearing what they wanted to hear. This is NOT the same as what R. Broyde did. Moreover, his suckering R. Student, his friend, admirer, and supporter, into providing him with a public platform for his halakhic fraud and then lying directly to him about it constitute harm in my book. I fail to understand why you would wish to argue differently.

      In this connection, with regard to Fernando Pessoa. Come on. Literary figures deal in— literature, that is, matters of fiction, creativity, fabulation, and imagination. If critics are forced to work a bit harder, that does not constitute harm in any but the most trivial sense. I am surprised at your maintaining the contrary. Really. You know better.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — April 28, 2013 @ 5:07 pm

    44. I’ll leave Quixote to offer a full reply to Lawrence Kaplan if he chooses to do so. Prof. Kaplan is referring to Norman Golb’s article available at:

      http://oi.uchicago.edu/pdf/schiffman_response_2010nov30.pdf

      I do think it should be pointed out that if Raphael Golb hadn’t stood trial, the “Confidential Letter” of Lawrence Schiffman would have remained a “confidential letter.” It became a public document because of the trial.

      Also, some readers might not be aware that Schiffman resigned from his department chair at NYU and took an administrative post at YU, in the middle of the academic year, without any previous announcement or explanation, a month or two after Golb’s “demolition job” appeared on the Oriental Institute website. For details, see:

      http://open.salon.com/blog/yeshiva_duke/2011/01/17/accused_of_plagiarism_prof_lawrence_schiffman_leaves_nyu

      and

      http://collegial-pricks.blogspot.com/2011/01/why-did-professor-lawrence-schiffman.html

      Comment by Noah — April 28, 2013 @ 5:30 pm

    45. Lawrence Kaplan: I’m not sure that we should judge Raphael Golb by the unfortunate results of his actions, rather than by his intent. If we are not going to discuss the substance of his claims, then I will continue to respectfully disagree with you about the overall pattern of his blogging. He did succeed in calling attention to the matters you mention, and the contents of the Festschrift published last year in his father’s honor seems to indicate that those who esteem Norman Golb will continue to do so, and those who despise him will also continue to do so, and to avail themselves of any opportunity to harm his reputation.

      From some deeply inner perspective of Halakhah where every posting on a blog really matters, you may be right; but we’re talking about the postmodern Internet, and not about a law review article. The expectations are different. I suspect Broyde is simply more in tune with, and more amused by, Internet culture, than you are.

      But let’s be clear here. I haven’t posted about Raphael Golb simply to draw an analogy between what he did and what Broyde did. The analogy I’m focused on is between what’s being done to Broyde, and what was done to Raphael Golb.

      As for Pessoa, I just don’t really agree with your neat separation of literary activity into imaginative fiction and something else that doesn’t qualify. Raphael Golb, just like Rabbi Broyde, clearly used sock-puppets to engage in creative intellectual activity. Indeed, his crudely contrived “Gmail confessions” were fictions (not that I approve of them, even if they came close to capturing a certain truth). Yes, one does have to have standards, and you are of course right that Pessoa’s form of creative activity is incomparably superior to Golb’s, but that is surely not a meaningful distinction when it comes to sorting out ethical issues in a democracy. (And, the right to err is part of our democratic culture.) The fact remains that the son contributed to a debate about a pressing ethical issue, and was censored and punished for doing so, just so certain people could try and get at the father. It’s a sad business, and people should keep it in mind when oozing with delight, or with feigned concern, over the “fall” of Michael Broyde.

      Comment by Quixote — April 28, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

    46. Wouldn’t that include you, J.I.?

      No, I don’t have an agenda. Just sad.

      Comment by J.I. — April 29, 2013 @ 3:37 am

    47. Quixote: Our exchange has reached the point of diminishing returns. Just two points and I am finished:

      1) You say rightly that those who esteem Prof. Golb will continue to do so, and those who despise him will continue to do so. But what about those many in the middle who have only some acquaintance with him and his work? For them, his reputation, I would maintain, has been unfairly tainted by the counter-productive actions of his son.

      Your comment about those who are oozing with delight or feigned concern about the “fall” of R. Broyde is both cynical and untrue. I, for one, and many of my close friends who had admired and looked up to R. Broyde are genuinely distressed and saddened by his actions. Our concern is real, not feigned. You owe us an apology.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — April 29, 2013 @ 4:00 am

    48. Lawrence Kaplan: In response to your two points:

      1) You have much to say about the actions of Prof. Golb’s son, but not about the actions of his enemies; what seems to be missing here is any serious inquiry into what prompted the blogs and emails in the first place. If a reputation has been “unfairly tainted,” perhaps there should be some sort of an effort in the academic community to speak out and remedy the damage done.

      2) I’m happy to apologize to you and anyone else who is genuinely distressed by the petty moral improprieties of R. Broyde; but I was not referring to you. If you look at the various articles that have come out, you will see the press crowing about Broyde’s “fall.” Clearly this offensive and irresponsible junk is aimed at an audience, a phenomenon that strikes me as far more distressing than the creation of pseudonymous Internet personas by essentially decent persons.

      Comment by Quixote — April 29, 2013 @ 5:05 am

    49. now that these facts have been revealed, it is interesting to review the statements of those chachamim who saw clearly the invalidity of broyde’s controversial haircovering theories

      http://matzav.com/letter-of-rav-shlomo-miller-regarding-effort-to-alter-halacha-of-married-women-covering-their-hair

      Comment by mordechai cohen — April 29, 2013 @ 10:11 am

    50. [...] up with this incident.  It’s hard to know what kind of insecurities caused Rabbi Broyde to create false online identities praising and supporting his own scholarship and career.  Certainly, he was already a well received [...]

      Pingback by Catfish – The Rabbi Episode | Kol B'Isha Erva — April 29, 2013 @ 2:10 pm

    51. Mordechai Cohen:

      One thing doesn’t follow from the other. Rabbi Broyde could use 72 pseudonyms to promote his ideas, and these words of his would still be just as true or false as they would be if he never used a single pseudonym in his entire life:

      “There is an objective Torah obligation upon married women to cover their hair. Nevertheless, contemporary halakhic authorities must also be aware that the Tur, Shulhan Arukh, and Levush are not part of that consensus, and that furthermore, the reason they do not join that consensus is because there are Rishonim who dissent. Indeed, a small number of Aharonim do not agree with the consensus either.”

      If we are now going to smear Broyde in order to promote a particular faith-driven agenda of certain orthodox parties, then that casts a whole new light on this vicious campaign. I have often heard of devout Christians objecting to anonymity when it is used to expose their own failings, to condemn the Church, or to argue for religious liberty, but this is the first time I’ve seen the same kind of argument coming from Jewish orthodox circles.

      Comment by Quixote — April 29, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

    52. Lawrence Kaplan:

      P.s. in case you are still reading the comments here, I should clarify that I have read through the various updates more carefully, and agree that citing the “Keter” letter in the Tradition response was inappropriate (and, as you say, far worse than anything Raphael Golb did). However, I think it would have been a more serious infraction if Broyde had manufactured the citation within his Tradition article. What happened after that sounds a bit like a squabble, but clearly an error of judgment on his part. The question I would ask, however, is whether Broyde used the Keter pseudonym (and inappropriate reference to the letter) to convey true information, or if the material reported by “Keter” was entirely fabricated.

      Comment by Quixote — April 30, 2013 @ 1:38 pm

    53. Quixote: As you can see, I am still reading the comments. I was very upset by your post of April 29 which misrepresented events, and am pleased to see it was just a product of carelessness on your part and in your post of April 30 you have withdrawn it. With respect to your question whether R. Broyde perhaps used the fake Keter letter to convey true information, I believe I may have something substantively new to say.

      In a lengthy comment on August 16, 2011 at 11:40 am to his article posted on hirhurim on August 14 2011, R. Broyde, in response to Moshe Shoshan, states that Keter’s comment re Rav Shach’s view is “consistent with what I heard from others ‘off the record.’” So perhaps we can slightly mitigate R. Broyde’s behavior. Let us grant that R. Broyde there was telling the truth and that he indeed privately heard from others that Rav Shach had made comments similar to the one which “Keter” ascribed to him. However, since these “others” spoke to R. Broyde “off the record” R. Broyde could not cite them. So his whole faked Keter letter was a way getting “into the record” this view that R. Broyde genuinely believed, on the basis of reports he had received, that Rav Schach had actually expressed privately. This seems to me to be the only way to explain R. Broyde’s otherwise almost inexplicable behavior, which, to repeat, has greatly saddened and distressed his hitherto staunchest supporters.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — May 1, 2013 @ 2:11 am

    54. See this response to Keter’s letter from Rav Shach’s son in law:
      http://torahmusings.com/2010/10/hair-wars-iii-2/

      On the one hand, it shows that this fabricated letter did have real world reprecussions, and not just “post-modern” internet fakery per Quixote (leaving aside the question of whether such an interpretation is in fact mitigating).

      On the other hand, Rav Shach’s son in law does seem to agree that it is possible Rav Shach may have supported or at least acknowledged the existence of the lenient Dat Yehudit interpretation by some major poskim, although his conclusion is that current Dat Yehudit requires head covering.

      Comment by J.I. — May 1, 2013 @ 5:23 am

    55. To develop my last suggestion further and following on J.I.’s point: While “Keter” is obviously not real and R. Broyde’s creation, “he” may have been a composite of the individuals who spoke to R. Broyde “off the record.” That might account for “Keter’s” rather unusual biography. Thus, R. Broyde, while engaging in act of fiction, may, in his own mind, have viewed himself as being loyal to the “deeper realities” of the halakhic situation.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — May 1, 2013 @ 8:10 am

    56. From an internal Halakhic perspective there is not really much to discuss.
      The Gemara says that if people will not accept someone’s halakhic view he is allowed to lie and tell them that this was in fact the view held by a well known halakhic figure.

      Indeed this was just mentioned in the daf yomi the other day.

      Comment by yitzchak — May 1, 2013 @ 1:22 pm

    57. So, in light of Yitzchak’s comment, if we assume that Broyde used a pseudonym to convey information (or, alternatively, a “view”) that he believed to be true, then the reference to the pseudonymous letter in Tradition would still be an act of academic fraud, albeit one not quite so serious as the type of fabrication illustrated, for example, by the Diederik Stapels affair recently reported on at length in the NYTimes:

      http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/diederik-stapels-audacious-academic-fraud.html

      Be that as it may, which is worse, Broyde’s rather perplexing and foolish impropriety, or the clandestine dissemination of a “confidential letter” containing various untruthful statements about one’s colleague? Which is worse, Broyde’s impropriety, or the collusion in the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of said colleague’s son, apparently without even sending out a cease and desist letter, the natural preliminary act in any such situation?

      I think the answer is very clear, and it again raises the question why so much ink is being spilled on this relatively minor infringement, while to the best of my knowledge not a word has been said, whether on the Jewish Channel, the Jewish Press, or the Forward, about the fundamental issues of collegiality, decency, and problem-resolution in the Jewish Studies milieu raised by the conduct of the current vice provost of Yeshiva University. Why the complete failure to conduct any investigation in the one case, and the communal display of viciousness in the other?

      Comment by Quixote — May 1, 2013 @ 1:57 pm

    58. I’ve been following the Raphael Golb case closely from the beginning and commenting here and there.I think at least one reason for the “failure” Quixote asks about in his last letter is, paradoxically, the basic decency of most people working in what is covered by the rubric of Jewish Studies. Most people in the field simply cannot conceive of the sheer viciousness and charlatanry pervasive in Dead Sea Scrolls studies (not really a branch of Jewish Studies: a situation Norman Golb was forced to struggle against since he was a young man (it’s documented meticulously in his big book on the Scrolls), and that his son Raphael clearly could not take any more. It is human nature for people to withdraw from this sort of thing – to not want to get involved because it’s unpleasant and upsetting. People, good people, do not want to confront systematic research fraud, ugly personal and professional conduct, and so forth; they are reluctant to rock the boat (the system of “networked” relationships) unless they absolutely have to. That’s human nature, and it’s why whistle blowers are not generally loved.

      Comment by Segal — May 1, 2013 @ 3:24 pm

    59. A p.s. to last comment: In this particular case, it’s simply easier to turn away from the various, well documented accusations R. Golb was making. Basically, he was unearthing a corrupt relationship between the Israel Museum, an American Christian Evangelical network, a few foundations, and “outsourced” second-tier science museums, aimed at protecting an impossible but popular old theory of the Scrolls’ origins from N. Golb’s deconstruction of it and his own far more logical theory, which posed and poses a real danger. (To its credit, the Jewish Museum here in New York acknowledged, exceptionally, the strength of Golb’s theory in its recent Scrolls exhibit. It would be interesting to learn if it continues to receive funding from the foundations in question.)
      So clearly, when R. Golb slipped and committed his act of imprudence, he offered those he was attacking a juicy opening – to get at his dad, actually using the power of Gotham City law (and indeed, according to the main plaintiff in this scandalous affair, the “FBI”). Likewise, it’s simply easier for most decent, well-meaning Jewish Studies people to say “well, N. Golb’s new theory makes sense, and those people really do sound like creeps, but who are we to judge? – after all, we’re not specialists and it’s just a quarrel between scholars.” Facing up to what Golb’s book on the Scrolls shows is simply too disconcerting (except for those specialists working outside the corrupt Scrolls establishment who have always known what’s going on here).

      Comment by Segal — May 1, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

    60. Segal: Your comments are very interesting, but perhaps we should attempt to keep the discussion focused on Rabbi Broyde and what is being done to him, rather than dwelling on the “juicy opening” unwisely supplied by Raphael Golb to certain unsavory individuals?

      Comment by Quixote — May 2, 2013 @ 1:07 am

    61. Well, sure – as you’ve pointed out the salient question in this discussion’s context has been why the huge fuss about Broyde’s little fall from grace – the manifest lack of charitability shown by many – and the lack of any fuss about the close collaboration of Cargill and Schiffman with the aged former Manhattan DA (it seems a personal acquaintance of Schiffman’s) to “get” N. Golb’s son. But he was gone after for having the chutzpah to use satirical impersonation to call attention to Schiffman’s apparent PLAGIARISM. So Quixote, the point you raise can be broadened: it’s not only why the fuss about Broyde and none about the R. Golb case, but also: why the fuss about Broyde and none whatsoever about Schiffman’s alleged plagiarism? The charges, we read, were first made by an Israeli journalist in HaAretz quite some time ago. Details were then furnished in Golb’s book on the Scrolls. The charges are serious – after all, they involve a book by a very well connected academic that launched his career in New York City. If key ideas in the book were “borrowed” from N. Golb without accreditation – and this combined with then, repeatedly over the years, publicly issuing blatently false descriptions of N. Golb’s theory that, apparently intentionally, put it in a bad light, a light distant from the real, seemingly plagiarized theory – well then it seems that something has been going on that is far worse than anything Dr. Broyde did. And yet NO ONE in Jewish Studies has been interested in speaking up.
      I think that’s where my above observations are relevant. In fact the phenomenon I point to seems to reveal itself in Lawrence Kaplan’s well-meaning effort to address Quixote: On the one hand speaking of N. Golb’s “demolition” job on Schiffman’s “secret” letter in a way that at least tacitly acknowledges something unseemly being at work in that letter; on the other hand saying R. Golb shouldn’t face criminal charges becaue his fake confession in Schiffman’s name didn’t actually “harm” Schiffman. But Dr, Kaplan simply dances around the obvious question of whether the plagiarism charge being made through the “immature” fake confession was well-grounded or not. And this although he would surely agree that if the charge was indeed well grounded, well that’s a lot worse than the immature satirical false confession that drew attention to it. It seems that addressing that obvious question simply raises too many upsetting questions.

      At the same time, why people do speak up, and fast, in the one case and not at all in the other case is obviously tied to academic (and we see, not only academic) power politics. N. Golb may be a great scholar, but his work – paleography tied to social history – isn’t stylish, he does it parked off in Chicago’s Oriental Institute, and is hated by the entire Dead Sea Scrolls network because he has shown their work very often sucks. L. Schiffman became a New York/ NYU Jewish Studies star and has many friends. Best stay away from that one.

      Comment by Segal — May 2, 2013 @ 9:46 am

    62. Segal and Quixote: I very much enjoyed the extremely literate, indeed even elegant, exchange of views you have carried on here. I must confess, however, that I suspect what we have here is not a genuine exchange of views between two different individuals, but an internal dialogue. Nor am I convinced of the separate existence of Noah. I said what I have to say here about the R. Golb case, and do not intend to get drawn into any further discussion of it. I will say, however, that I remember hearing Prof. Golb speak many years ago about his researches on Rouen and the light his findings shed on the Rashbam; since then I have followed his work and been very impressed and taken by his many areas of scholarly mastery and his original and illuminating scholarly theses. Quixote–or was it Segal? probable one and the same in any event– pointed to the recent festschrift in honor of Prof Golb, which I have perused. It is evidence of the esteem in which he is held, for very good reason, by many eminent and leading scholars. What a shame his son could not have left him to fight his own scholarly battles!

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — May 2, 2013 @ 12:52 pm

    63. Unfortunately, Dr. Kaplan is again evading the basic issues here in favor of speculating on the identity or identities of the interlocuters. I adamately deny the accusation – the moderator is welcome to confirm my existence in my own little corner of the world. The suggestion that I am engaging in sock puppetry like Broyde is in any case irelevant to the serious íssues that have been raised.

      Comment by Segal — May 2, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

    64. Segal: pardon my suggestion, but you may wish to spell-check your incisive commentaries. Before reading Prof. Kaplan’s excellent statement, I was about to point out that one reason the plagiarism issue has evoked little interest is that the vice provost of Yeshiva University is not a rabbi. These matters are far more important when they involve religious authorities, as can be seen in the Forward’s coverage of the case of the chief rabbi of France who recently stepped down from his post on account of his own alleged plagiarism. The other reason, of course, is that the vice provost quite skillfully had the charges turned around against his accuser; as he put it somewhere on his official blog, who would believe the words of a convicted felon?

      As for the comical suggestion concerning an elaborate internal dialogue with myself, I would rather be labeled a schizophrenic madman and speak the truth, than conform with the all too sane, and all too priggish, view of reality defended by Rabbi Broyde’s adversaries. And indeed, what is this entire assault on Broyde’s integrity, if not a truly internal, and truly harmful, dialogue among a small group of individuals who, for the most part, seem intent on viciously fabricating a “Broyde affair,” despite the precept of the Gemara referred to by our friend Yitzchak, according to which “if people will not accept someone’s halakhic view he is allowed to lie and tell them that this was in fact the view held by a well known halakhic figure”?

      P.s. It is a pity that Yitzchak did not provide a reference to the summarized passage of the Gemara. If he is still reading this discussion, perhaps he might supply us with the precise quotation?

      Comment by Quixote — May 2, 2013 @ 3:36 pm

    65. I would remind Segal that the article on which we are commenting was about R. Broyde, and NOT Raphael Golb. It was Quixote, who here as everywhere else the R. Brody story was discussed in print and on blogs, tried to make the Golb affair the main issue. I have expressed at some length my views about the main issue here, namely, the propriety of R. Broyde’s actions. I have also said here what I believe needed to be said here about the side issue of the Golb affair, and, to reiterate, I will not allow myself to be drawn into it further. If Segal views this “as evading the basic issues,” so be it. I will therefore just repeat what I have already said, namely 1) how greatly I admire Prof Norman Golb’s scholarship, 2) how saddened I am that his distinguished reputation should have been be unfairly tainted by the actions of his son, and 3) my belief that those actions were not criminal in nature and therefore R. Golb ought not to have been prosecuted. This is the last thing I will say about this matter here.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — May 2, 2013 @ 4:00 pm

    66. The point stands that Broyde’s fall from grace is far less serious in nature than what L. Schiffman was accused of by, initially, the reporter for HaAretz; but that Broyde’s case is the focus of a great deal of attention and concern, and the apparently strong possibility of Schiffman’s plagiarism (and related academic misdeads)has been consistently simply shrugged of by Jewish Studies people and other colleagues as, it seems, not really a big deal – here again by Lawrence Kaplan, with all respect and despite the sock-puppet accusation.

      Yes, I apologize for my sloppy spelling in my last comment.

      Comment by Segal — May 2, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    67. Segal: I believe you mean “shrugged off”?

      Lawrence Kaplan: Again, you contribute an important point to the discussion. Allow me to indicate, however, that I don’t think it’s quite fair to say that I have “tried to make the Golb affair the main issue.” It is, at a minimum, the key instance of sock-puppeting in recent times in the Jewish cultural milieu. You, apparently, would like to keep the R. Broyde “story” (as you prefer to call it) isolated in a little niche of its own. I immediately saw it in the wider context, and was astonished at the feigned ignorance of that context in the relevant press articles and blogs (except on the blog of the Reverend Jim West, whose writings and links, incidentally, strike me as occasionally anti-Semitic). So, sometimes it helps to broaden your perspective, either a little or a lot, but I haven’t aimed to change the topic or distract attention from the insidious assault taking place on Michael Broyde’s integrity.

      Comment by Quixote — May 2, 2013 @ 4:48 pm

    68. Quixote: I do not believe it is fair to describe most of the coverage of the R. Broyde story as “an insidious assault taking place on [his] integrity.” I tried to offer some mitigating considerations, but, again, I can see why people who have been among his strongest admirers and supporters have been very troubled by his actions.

      Naturally I view the matter of plagiarism as being very serious. Nothing I said or did not say here should be taken to imply otherwise.

      Comment by lawrence kaplan — May 2, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

    69. Lawrence Kaplan: “Hyperbolic” would no doubt be a better term than “insidious,” and then perhaps we are left with rather small differences of tone, emphasis and perspective. Incidentally, do correct me if I am wrong, but I believe some of your key mitigating considerations grew, in part, out of our exchange, not so?

      Comment by Quixote — May 2, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

    70. People may remember that two years ago R. Shlomo Miller issued a short statement on R. Broyde and his essay.

      R. Miller compared R. Broyde to Aharon Chorin, a famous maskil who disingenuously wrote in the mode of a halakhist as part of an effort to undermine halakhah.

      At the time many in the MO community condemned R. Miller for what they perceived as nastiness, and for arguing ad hominem instead of addressing his points.

      But it seemed to some (well, me, at least), that R. Miller wasn’t being nasty, just letting those who asked him know that he perceived disingenuity, something insincere and scheming, in R. Broyde’s writing.

      Perhaps other things R. Miller had read/heard in R. Broyde’s name had convinced him that R. Broyde was not upfront about his hashkafot, that R. Broyde was really much more left-wing than he wanted people to know.

      In any event I think R. Miller’s perception of R. Broyde as disingenuous and scheming has been vindicated. Could this an example of the greater insight into human nature elder rabbinic figures supposedly have?

      Comment by M — May 2, 2013 @ 6:14 pm

    71. Exactly. And by this token, there was something “insincere” in Locke’s Letter on Toleration, because it was craftily published under a pseudonym. And there was something “insincere” about an article exposing certain details of Rousseau’s private life, because it was craftily published by Voltaire using a pseudonym. These people wouldn’t stand by their own names: how insincere! Oh, and the views expressed by Richard Saunders were terribly insincere, because Benjamin Franklin never did admit to being Richard Saunders. And when you add in a little forbidden satire, you get the anonymously printed Letters from Unknown Men, which monks around Europe, when they first read them, actually believed were written by Church officials. The Letters were outlawed by the Pope in 1609 because of the grave danger posed to religion and society by their wickedness and insincerity. It’s wonderful to see orthodox Jews of today following in the priggish path of an old Pope as they gang up on Michael Broyde because he used pseudonyms and was hence INSINCERE in the beliefs expressed in the content of his writings.

      Comment by Quixote — May 3, 2013 @ 12:49 am

    72. Quixote,

      you misunderstand. It’s isn’t the use of pseudonyms PER SE that is disingenuous and scheming. I had two things in mind.

      (1) Broyde forged evidence.

      In order to support his agenda, Broyde fabricated anecdotes involving important major rabbinic figures. To be sure, we may give Broyde the benefit of the doubt, and assume that he based his fake stories on true stories he had heard. But even if this is the case, the liberty the man took in repackaging the truth betrays a incredible sense of entitlement. Broyde thinks that he gets to decide when it’s okay to distort history for the sake of some perceived greater good. When Broyde writes under his own name he is relatively humble; this incredible hubris is not present.

      (2) On the women’s-hair-covering issue, Broyde has not been upfront and forthright about his agenda and goals. This is what R. Miller seems to have perceived.

      In his Tradition essay, Broyde writes that the “deep consensus” of the poskim is that a married woman must cover her hair. He insists that he wants to provide only a “limmud zekhut” and not a heter. But Broyde also refers to women who don’t cover their hair as following a historically authentic minhag, as if it weren’t just laxity and there were a mesorah for it! Broyde is shrewd enough to know that his choice of words practically guarantees that baalei battim in the left-wing MO community will receive his essay as a full-blown heter. This suggests that he uses the “limmud zekhut” jargon disingenuously, only as a hedge against critics from the right. Indeed, for years, when PRIVATELY queried OFF THE RECORD Michael Broyde has been telling LWMO women that they don’t have to cover their hair after marriage if they don’t want to.

      Comment by M — May 6, 2013 @ 2:35 pm

    73. Without commenting in detail on developments in the discussion on this page since I last visited a week ago, I write to express my resentment at the suggestion that I am a figment in someone else’s “internal dialogue.” Instead of resorting to ad hominem jeers and insinuations, anyone who has a problem with my earlier posting may wish to consult the lawyer Clifford Rieders, who has contacted numerous websites on behalf of the vice provost of Yeshiva University demanding that they remove any commentary about the man’s involvement in criminalizing Internet satire in New York. See:

      http://www.volokh.com/2013/03/13/prof-lawrence-schiffmans-lawyer-demands-removal-of-post-containing-the-text-of-a-court-opinion/

      http://blog.simplejustice.us/2013/03/13/schiffman-meet-streisand.aspx

      And for some further relevant commentary, see:

      http://ronntorossian5wpr.tumblr.com/post/41858790841/does-yeshiva-university-answer-to-a-higher-authority

      As for the substance of the discussion, I would again reiterate my support for the position that the ongoing scandal of abuse and Mesira implicating Yeshiva University’s administration is far more significant than the persistent whining about Rabbi Broyde’s indiscretion.

      Comment by Noah — May 6, 2013 @ 6:12 pm

    74. M: Intellectual history, and indeed rabbinical history, is full of the type of “disingenuous” conduct and claims that you describe. The entire fashion of the Chinese garden in England came to a halt when a critic of the style published an article purportedly written by a tourist from China. How terrible! Distinguished Chinese garden designers lost their livelihood! Likewise, Rabbi Broyde, with his minor impropriety, arguably performed a remarkable service for many orthodox Jewish women who had allowed themselves to be bullied, as it were, by a form of superstition and ignorance.

      At any rate, now at least you have focused your complaint. This campaign originally began as an assault on Rabbi Broyde’s integrity based simply on the fact that he had used a pseudonym or “sock-puppet.” Since then, it has veered back and forth between the general and the specific, but no one has embraced the ACTUAL spirit of the Gemara, which says, as indicated by someone above, that if people will not accept someone’s halakhic view he is allowed to lie and tell them that this was in fact the view held by a well known halakhic figure. Why don’t we ponder that message, take it into our hearts and see where it leads?

      Comment by Quixote — May 6, 2013 @ 7:54 pm

    75. Noah: I like your expression, “persistent whining about Rabbi Broyde’s indiscretion.” That is really quite accurate.

      Comment by Quixote — May 6, 2013 @ 7:57 pm

    76. “no one has embraced the ACTUAL spirit of the Gemara, which says, as indicated by someone above, that if people will not accept someone’s halakhic view he is allowed to lie and tell them that this was in fact the view held by a well known halakhic figure.”

      Quixote: Take your halachic blinkers off. We live in America today, not in medieval times. The issue is that Mr. Broyde’s behavior impacts his credibility in several areas of contemporary civil society. (1) the Koren Siddur and Chief Rabbi episodes indicate that he attempted and was partially successful in a confidence game perpetrated on many of the UK’s top rabbis; (2) his academic fraud in the rabbinic field brings into question his capability of holding a professorship in a law school; (3) his laissez-faire attitude so ably expounded by you brings into question his suitability to hold an attorney’s license from the State of New York. No where do I see any acknowledgement of the precept that Jewish behavior follow the civil law except in exceptional cases, NONE of which exist in today’s America or in Mr. Broyde’s circumstances.

      His actions may or may not be suitable for the rarified air of the halachic ivory tower. For a person so obviously desperate to be acclaimed in the civil world of the modern university law school, his behavior in my opinion to which I am solely entitled, has clearly been inappropriate. Certainly the CRA agreed. They kicked him out quickly from membership and his “dayan” job.

      We’ll see whether he keeps his New York State bar license and his professorships at Emory University law school. That’s yet to be decided.

      Comment by Toco Hills Zydnicki — May 7, 2013 @ 12:36 pm

    77. Zydnicki:

      Indeed, these matters are yet to be decided; my fear is that those making the decisions will be influenced by the smear campaign in which you’re participating.

      On April 24, you made your own attitudes abundantly clear by referring to a distinguished rabbi as “old man Feldman.” Have you no sense of decency? You sound like you have a chip on your shoulder. Worse, your drastic conclusions don’t follow from the minor nature of Rabbi Broyde’s “indiscretions.” The CRA’s decision unfortunately reveals more about the CRA than about Broyde himself.

      And yes, we do indeed live in America today, where the Internet has become a reality, with all its mayhem of pseudonymous discourse and “trolling” of every type imaginable. Those who present themselves as being so filled with righteous anger about this nonsense might wish to remove their priggish glasses and engage in a serious dialogue about the pros and cons of anonymity. They might begin, for example, by thinking about the points raised in these articles:

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/14/rj-ellroy-post-secret-online-review

      http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/culture/jamesrhodes/100066855/in-defence-of-trolls-the-fearless-internet-sages-who-bring-us-the-truth-at-the-expense-of-personal-hygiene/

      Comment by Quixote — May 7, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

    78. Quixote:

      I don’t see how you can claim that rabbinical history is full of this sort of thing. All the examples you cite are not from rabbinical history.

      You wrote
      “Rabbi Broyde…arguably performed a remarkable service for many orthodox Jewish women who had allowed themselves to be bullied, as it were, by a form of superstition and ignorance.”

      What “superstition and ignorance” are you referring to? The mainstream halakhic view on women’s hair covering?

      Comment by M — May 8, 2013 @ 8:25 pm

    79. If the comment above is actually a request for an example, its author may want to start with cases like this:

      http://seforim.blogspot.com/2009/08/gemeinde-gemeinheit.html#_ftnref2

      and I’m happy to wager that if we study the hundreds of pseudonyms in the work by Shaul Chajes entitled Otzar Beduyey HaShem (Index of Pen-Names in Hebrew Literature) (Vienna, 1933) we will find all sorts of other examples. Many of them will obviously be of a different quality or degree than the one we’re confronting today, because such is the variety of experience. But that they belong to the same phenomenon and have played a significant role in intellectual history can hardly be denied.

      Anyone may interpret my little remark about superstition and ignorance as they like. I will simply say that I have been repeatedly shocked at the hocus-pocus and ignorance that I’ve encountered among many orthodox Jewish women. In fact, I’ll gladly assert that there have been two inexcusable injustices in Jewish history: slavery and women. To which, in our arrogance and indifference to suffering, we may be adding a third form of inhumanity today. That’s okay: we Jews are not the only perpetrators of injustice, and have generally been its victims. And, I’ve had many a fascinating, enlightened conversation with orthodox Jews. It is, however, distressing to contemplate the possibility that the ongoing smear campaign against Rabbi Broyde is ideologically driven.

      Comment by Quixote — May 8, 2013 @ 10:05 pm

    80. A short version of my response to M:

      Begin with this page:

      http://seforim.blogspot.com/2009/08/gemeinde-gemeinheit.html#_ftnref2

      Then explore Otzar Beduyey HaShem (Index of pen-names in Hebrew literature) by Shaul Chajes (Vienna, 1933). You could spend a lifetime on it.

      My comment on superstition and ignorance refers to many things. Personally, I don’t believe in hocus-pocus.

      I also submitted a longer version. Perhaps due to a glitch, it hasn’t yet appeared. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t.

      Comment by Quixote — May 8, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

    81. M: I have attempted to respond to your comment twice, pointing you to a pertinent example and another relevant source, but neither of my replies has appeared. Perhaps an electronic glitch, perhaps an editorial decision of the Jewish Channel. I will try again later.

      Comment by Quixote — May 9, 2013 @ 1:06 pm

    82. [...] Rabbinic Fellowship and comment secretly on his own writing, the cable channel says it has uncovered another persona whose use could open Rabbi Broyde to more serious academic [...]

      Pingback by Another Fake Identity for Broyde? — May 9, 2013 @ 1:13 pm

    83. As it now seems to be working again, I will briefly reconstruct my earlier comment: I referred M to this item:

      http://seforim.blogspot.com/2009/08/gemeinde-gemeinheit.html

      and to this book:

      Shaul Chajes, Otzar Beduyey HaShem (Index of Pen-Names in Hebrew Literature) (Vienna, 1933).

      In response to the other question, I explained that my comment on superstition and ignorance was intended broadly; and I indicated my opinion that Judaism has been historically guilty of two great moral failures, respectively with regard to slavery and women. I’m sure many apologists would heatedly object to my opinion, and in my view they should get their heads examined.

      Comment by Quixote — May 9, 2013 @ 1:18 pm

    84. I see that my earlier comments have now also appeared. No doubt a glitch in the system.

      Comment by Quixote — May 9, 2013 @ 1:19 pm

    85. And for any stragglers who might come along, there’s some interesting commentary on the recent actions of certain Haredim concerning women in this article:

      http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/let-there-be-war-at-the-wall.premium-1.523622

      Are said actions consonant with the “mainstream halakhic view” on women? Would it be entirely unfair to compare, in certain respects, those actions with the smear campaign taking place against Rabbi Broyde?

      Comment by Quixote — May 12, 2013 @ 9:33 pm

    86. Another pertinent follow-up: Rabbi Levi Brackman has now expressed his opinion that if Broyde “employed unorthodox literary strategies as a means to disseminate ideas that would otherwise not be accepted by [his] audience, [he is] standing on strong ground in doing so. Whilst I do not like it, if such a crime truly warranted [his] firing from [his] positions of prominence, there are bookshelves full of classical works we should be throwing out with [him].” See:

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4376055,00.html

      Comment by Quixote — May 16, 2013 @ 3:27 pm

    87. P.s. And here now is the precise information requested earlier. I copy and paste from the comments appended to Rabbi Brackman’s article:

      Perhaps to deepen this article [by R. Brackman], one might quote the Magen Avraham in Orech Chaim siman 156 si’if katan 2 where he states: “If one hears a din and knows that the halacha is so it is permitted to say it in the name of an adam gadol in order that they accept it from him [Eruvin daf 51, Pesachim daf 112].” This in turn is based on the comment of Rashi on Pesachim 112a explaining the phrase “Hang yourself on a great tree” so as to mean “Say it in the name of a great man” (note that others, including his grandson the Rashbam, explain that gemora differently) and also Eruvin 51a where Raba told Rav Yosef that a halacha had been said in the name of Rabbi Yosi, when in fact it hadn’t, because he knew that Rav Yosef would accept the halacha if said in the name of Rabbi Yosi.

      The commentator adds:

      I confess I find this discussion difficult, as do others (see for example the sources brought by Rav Ovadiah in Yabiat OmerYabiat Omer Chelek 2 Choshen Mishpat siman 3 oit 7 which also brings a discussion of the counter sources), but nevertheless it is important to be aware of these sources within our tradition. One would need more than a talk-back box to fully develop any kind of philosophical position based on these sources, but the thrust does seem to be along the lines of: if greater truth is going to be served by using the name of an known gadol, by allowing people to be open to true halachos that they would otherwise reject, there is scope for such attribution. It presumably links up with the more famous cases where lying is permitted, such as for shalom bayit (Hashem to Avraham, Yosef to his brothers) etc.

      Comment by Quixote — May 16, 2013 @ 5:12 pm

    88. I happened to have read the entire Tradition article on head covering, a few days before this entire story broke.

      I found it to be a great introduction to various sources for those (like myself) who do not have a strong enough background to read them in the original.

      It is a terrible sin for R. Broyde to have created fictitious evidence to support his position, whether those are fictitious stories or imaginary supporters.

      But — assuming that the sources in this particular article were quoted accurately and not falsified — his scholarship stands on its own.

      In addition to the fact that he has brought shame to a lenient ruling by trying to generate false support, that is the true tragedy here. His actual scholarship stands on its own. He does not need invisible supporters nor the heter of a great rabbi. He (presumably) did the work, he analyzed the sources, he made them available to all. Whether people accept this work as relevant to halacha is ultimately up to the Orthodox community. He should have trusted in his own work and not tried to push a specific position.

      It is *well-known* by all — without reference to stories about what a rabbi once said to a private individual nor to a 80+ page article — that many Orthodox women did not cover their hair in Europe. It is also well-known that Yemenite and many other Arab Jews covered unmarried girls. From that, one can logically deduce (as many have), that kisui rosh is part of culture specific modesty and that modesty, not its particular form, is the subject at hand.

      However, now that Orthodox women can study the sources on their own, many have concluded that this is indeed an important mitzvah and that a lenient position is not needed. And many young married women these days, even in the most liberal Orthodox circles, do cover their hair.

      Certainly, as a non-Orthodox woman who is not seeking any particular support for either side, I came away from this article with a deep respect for the idea of kisui rosh as a mitzvah. Previous to reading the article, I had dismissed it as a mere custom.

      It is reasonable to now go back and go over everything that R. Broyde has written with a clear eye and to seek out any fabrication of sources or support.

      However, when none is found, his work should stand on its own merits.

      Whether Rabbi Broyde can or will be trusted again as a writer or analyst depends on the quality of his teshuvah. The Gates of Teshuvah are always open. When he walks through them — without apology, lies, or excuses — we should be there to welcome him.

      Comment by SDK — May 21, 2013 @ 10:34 am

    89. A non-orthodox woman, SDK? Ha-ha-ha.

      Comment by Quixote — June 5, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

    90. [...] mind are Rabbi Michael Broyde of Atlanta, a prominent rabbinic judge on the Beth Din of America who was caught using fake internet identities to dishonestly promote himself and his scholarship; Rabbi Mendel [...]

      Pingback by When Rabbis Sin | Rabbi Alan Haber — November 19, 2013 @ 3:06 pm

    91. [...] work has come to reflect adversely on Emory University.” But Broyde denied the findings in a second investigative report by the Jewish Channel that he’d created another sock puppet. That character went so far as to defend controversial [...]

      Pingback by On the Media on Emory rabbi ethics issues | Ken Edelstein — February 16, 2014 @ 4:21 pm

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