Thursday, April 25, 2013

Good Question on Rabbi Broyde's Latest Controversy.

 On April 12 TJC revealed  that Rabbi Michael Broyde, a leading Modern Othadox Rabbi had for years been using a "sock puppet" persona named "Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser" to publish academic works praising Boyde, and even worse to join rival rabbinical organisations.

Now the story has gotten even worse. Yesterday (April 24) TJC published a report claiming that :

 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  highly-touted article that was referred to is Broyde's 179 Page essay on Hair Covering and Jewish Law. Allegedly a fake letter was sent to Tradition (the magazine which published the essay) where:

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.

Simon Lerner on Twitter askes the following question:

This question reveals much about our current state of affairs. It would seem that people are more likely to accept a position, if they can ascribe it to Rav Shach's offhand comment, then if they can ascribe it to a 179 page study.

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