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Op-Ed: R. Shea Hecht on the Court Case of the Shomrim 6: A Very Sad Day for Klal Yisroel, and Lubavitch

by Rabbi Shea Hecht

As the days of Pesach were approaching, an alcoholic man went to visit a community Rov with an interesting dilemma. “Rabbi, I’m a recovering alcoholic. Even though I could not control my drinking, I always stayed out of trouble. I always managed to manage my home and professional life, and I never put myself or anyone else in danger. I have been clean for a number of years, and I would like to fulfill the mitzvah of the Four Cups on wine instead if grape juice this year.”

Without a moment of hesitation the Rov answered, “Absolutely not.”

Despite the man’s explanations and protests, the Rov was adamant.

Some days before Yom Tov, this man came across the Rov in the street.

“You know, Rabbi, after I met with you, I explained my situation to another Rov, and he gave me a heter to use wine!”

The Rov answered: “I don’t know what you told him, or the reason for his heter. I do know that if he understood the nature of addiction and the danger into which you throw yourself, he would have forbidden you to do so, just as I did.”

Someone recently stopped me in the street to thank me for my involvement in the Rubashkin case. “Did you go to court” he asked. Although others from our office did travel to South Dakota to be present at the trial I didn’t go to court. My many obligations in here in New York, I explained, prevented me from making that kind of trip. His response was quick. “What about the Shomrim case? Have you been to court? That’s right here in Brooklyn!” To this I had no answer.

Therefore, this morning I arrived at the Kings County Supreme Court building at 320 Jay Street, went up to the second floor, and experienced my saddest day as an askon and, perhaps, as a Jew.

I watched as a bearded young man in an ill-fitting suit and “yechi” yarmalke explained to a handful of attorneys, a judge and jury, alternately in English and through his Hebrew translator, why he wanted to imprison six Lubavitcher Chassidim.

I started in avodas haklal at an age earlier than most. At the age of fifteen I was already heavily involved in a variety of activities which concerned the welfare of the community at-large. The next forty years of askonus would bring such a parade of problems and crises in front of my eyes that I naively thought that I had seen it all. Boy, was I wrong.

Of all of the needless heartbreak that I have seen come about from reckless sinas chinom, nothing will wash away the sheer perversity I saw today when a Jew, a chosidisher yungerman -a Lubavitcher Chossid!-twisted and turned under cross-examination while testifying against six fellow Chassidim.

There are two tragedies, though, that are totally lost upon most of those directly involved, but are clear as day to the judge, the attorneys, the jury. The first is that there were an abundance of lies being told in today’s cross-exam. Not critically important ones, perhaps. But in regards to details (who was present, who said what and when, affiliations, lifestyles, etc.) the truth was painfully elusive, and it was embarrassingly clear to all. Under cross-examination, it doesn’t take long for stories to unravel. Any attorney who could find the desire to begin untangling today’s web could keep himself busy for a long, long time.

The second tragedy is how our way of life has been debased in court. The court transcripts are busting with references by the judge and the attorneys to “lapel pins” and “yarmulkes with writing.” The Lubavitcher Chassidim, the Rebbe, Crown Heights, the imminent coming of Mashiach, 770… Everything that means anything to us is today represented in Supreme Court through a “yellow flag” prism. Our associations, motivations and whether or not six fellow Chassidim will sit in prison will be determined according to the writing on our yarmulkes.

I have sat through well beyond my fair share of court proceedings and I’m very familiar with the way things play out. A man takes the stand and believes that he has control, that he can tell his story the way it needs to be told. The absurd song and dance that is taking place at 320 Jay Street is evidence of just how naïve that belief is. Every word, every motion that takes place in court is masterfully controlled by the attorneys. After all, that is their art.

No Rov could have given permission for this to take place. True, someone may have asked and justified their need. True, Shulchan Aruch may in fact permit going to gentile courts in some circumstances. But it is painfully obvious that if that Rov would understand the nature of the courtroom, its proceedings or the magnitude of the Chilul Hashem that almost always occurs in that setting, he would have forbidden these vain pursuits without hesitation.

54 Comments

  • 2. Observasion wrote:

    What a Day in Lubavitch History Its just like when the Misnagdim put the Alter Rebbe in prison with lies so here we have the Yechi yarmulkes putting Chassidim in prison with lies its amazing how history repeats itself.
    YES i just compared “these yechi people” to Misnagdim
    And if you ask any of the Yechi people who are testifying what Rov gave them a Heter they wont give you a answer because they cant.

  • 4. supporter wrote:

    You need to be there more often, Shea. See what goes on ALL the time. You only scratched the surface.

  • 5. impressed wrote:

    Thank you Rabbi Hecht! finally a chabad askon is willing to tacvkle this issue head on, i appluad u and i also applaud on behalf of rubashkin for working for his behalf! thank u for being involved in teens at risk and all other things the ncfje does!

  • 7. CH wrote:

    “I watched as a bearded young man in an ill-fitting suit and “yechi” yarmalke…”

    Rabbi Hecht, The above phrase was not necassery. You have judged the fellow all by yourself.

    No one’s perfect!

  • 8. HUBENER wrote:

    SOMEONE SHOULD GET LEVI HUBENER OUT OF CROWN HEIGHTS THAT LOW LIFE. HE MAY BE WEARING A BEARD AND HAT BUT HE STILL ACTS LIKE A GOY.

  • 10. Support the Shomrim Six! wrote:

    Well, Shea, I have been there a number of times. You have only been once & let me tell you…the lies, the meseira, the shanda is far worse than you describe. I’ve seen the videos & the photos. What I see & the evidence I hear do not match.

    I am not a family member or friend, although as a result of this case I hope the defendants consider me a friend. What I have seen, the inconsistency, the lying, makes a mockery of our judicial system. By now I believe the ADA’s are aware of the insanity & I can almost see them begging Charles Hynes to release them from this pathetic case. They certainly aren’t doing much for their careers.

    The jury is irritated. And after all is said & done, it is a MAJOR Chillul Hashem. The “witnesses” are “frum”. The defendants are frum. The spectators (all polite & well-behaved) are frum. The ADA’s & some defense lawyers are Jewish.

    As far as whether you shriek Yechi or not, how big your lapel pins are, if your Yarmulke has Yechi on or not…a liar is a liar is a liar.

    I implore everyone to show support by donating to their legal fund & by going to court. If you have ever been helped by Shomrim, now is your chance to give back.

  • 11. good morning rabbi shea wrote:

    nice to see you waking up!!!!

    #1. how come you did NOT speak out many years ago, when “the shoe was on the other foot”?

    #2. why do you emphsize “ill-fitting suit ”, “yechi” yarmalke, “lapel pins” and “yarmulkes with writing.”

    it sounds like you have an agenda here!!!

  • 12. ruvi wrote:

    Reb Sheya

    I went the same day in the afternoon to show my support and I gotta tell you I went to many Fisher court cases years ago etc. but this entire time they were cross examining a bochor Cohen from Israel ( which he happened to be caught on almost every word lying and not even keeping with his statements he said in the Grand Jury where he testified earlier ) I buried my face under the bench because of the Busha….

    It makes me wonder where is Rabbi Osdaba where is Rabbi Schwei ( though Rabbi O at least wrote a letter against. ) where is Rabbi Schwei to write a letter against it…???!!!

    I am not a fan of Rabbi O or S but step up to the plate. and stop this crap… dont hide behind your Mazkir and smoke screens step up and write a letter telling the entire CH that they should be in CHerem and not allowed in 770 till they stop talking and do teshuva

  • 13. More Mesira coming wrote:

    G-d the shomrim case is not over yet but I know who the next victim of a viscous Mesira is going to be.

    Reb Sheya, Your a great person, you do a lot to help other Yidden etc… But now you spoke out the truth, you talked about right and wrong, were just going to have to shut you up, we are going to lock you up!

    Welcome to the land of truth, tell it to the judge!

    Sorry my friend, its just the way its going to be.

    The finger of Mesira can be pointing at anybody.
    This- shomrim 6- is just a test run!

  • 14. Rabbi Pinchos Woolstone wrote:

    I do not know the protagonists in this case.
    I am however appaulled that the Crown Heights Beis Din did not go themselves to the steps of the Court House and ban the individuals involved to enter the civil juristication on the basis of what Shulchan Oruch directs as to avoid “ their courts” at all costs
    I do not believe even for one moment that any Rov worth that title would have given permission for the scandalous behavior which unfolds as we speak.
    Lubavitch is suffering greatly from these continous acts of Chilul HaShem
    We need to confront all extremists who are attempting to take over Lubavitch and the Rebbe zy”a

  • 15. Perjury? wrote:

    “ there were an abundance of lies being told in today’s cross-exam”

    There is a law for this it’s called perjury.
    If he lied all they have to do is prove it and the lier will be arrested.

  • 16. was there wrote:

    I have been to court a couple of times and i saw fiest hand the blood libel which was ploted against shomrim. rabbi hecht has only come to court one time and and he sees its all a lie! the propaganda out-there is gr8, but u have to see to believe it, rabbi hecht saw hence he wrote what he wrote! may hashem protect the shomrim6 and may we only hear good news!

  • 17. angry wrote:

    the mosserim should not be tolerated! they should be shunned and out-casted! all the “bochurim” that testified and were inconsistent in their testimony should be shunned by all, also the orchestrator of this viscious messira the infamous paul huebner should be shunned and out-casted! also last but least tho “other” group in crownheights which im sure “loves” shomrim very much shouyld be shunned! even though they claim they “have nothing to do with this” those of us who care to know the truth already kknow it! shame on u other patrol!

  • 19. Seriously Disgusted!!! wrote:

    i normally enjoy JUNIOR NISHEI CHABAD events but at this latest one they advertised that Levi Huebner was a sponsor and therefore I DID NOT GO. How could they??? He’s caused sooooooooooo much damage to our fellow lubavitchers!!!

  • 20. Chanaina the mesira Sperlin wrote:

    Who in Crown Heights had enough political pull to get the Shomrim Arrested in the first place?
    Who pressured the DA to tri this boges case?

    I know only one man, his name is Chanina Sperlin.

    he has mossered before and he did it here as well.

  • 21. antimesira wrote:

    Yes its true,
    Not all mishichistim are mossrim but all mossrim just happen to be mishichist!

    Why hasn’t anybody from the mishichist party (supporters etc…) come out against this mesira?

    STOP justifying this group of bad and evil people!
    Find me one true mishichist who condones this mesira (or any mesira or violence etc..), find me one mishichist whos ready to come out publicly?

  • 22. Dovid wrote:

    Reb shea thank you!

    why on shmais is there nothing about Shomriem? you run that web site. somthing is funny here.

  • 23. Not Impressed wrote:

    Shea Hecht brings up some excellent points. But putting all our problems up on Vos Iz Neias, will not help any of these guys who are facing such a serious situation. It will only give ‘der velt’ an excuse to mock the Chabad community.

    If Shea Hecht really wanted to help these 6 guys, why does he not use his political connections with the city to help them.

    Washing our laundry make you feel clean, but it will do NOTHING for these guys. Was Hecht out for two minutes of fame? I hope not.

  • 24. a simpel jew wrote:

    to Seriously Disgusted!!! wrote:

    i normally enjoy JUNIOR NISHEI CHABAD events but at this latest one they advertised that Levi Huebner was a sponsor and therefore I DID NOT GO. How could they??? He’s caused sooooooooooo much damage to our fellow lubavitchers!!!

    I had the same response

  • 25. A Quiet One wrote:

    The nature of my kind is to be silent.

    Who am I?

    I am the silent majority. The “Quiet Meshichist”.

    Any self-respecting Lubavitcher who has listened to ANYTHING the Rebbe has said during his nesius, cannot deny certain facts and certain beliefs that are fundamental to Chabad philosophy – especially in Dor Hashvii.

    Yet because the louder voices in Chabad degrade and put down such beliefs in public, the rest of us keep quiet about what we know to be true.

    So why am I speaking up now?

    Because shtikah kehoda’ah. If I remain silent I am guilty of perpetuating the lies and the distortions.

    It’s one thing for random people to speak badly about Meshichists because of a few extreme individuals, but it’s altogether different for a respected askan like Rabbi Shea Hecht to make such denigrating remarks as he does in this letter. He pokes fun at the way the prosecuting witness is dressed, pointing at the telltale signs of his being a Meshichist – as if the very fact of his being a Meshichists explains how he could behave in such a way.

    In a totally non-faith related news item, this respected askan managed to sneak in the all-to-common agenda of putting down the vast majority of Lubavitchers, including the “Quiet Meshichists”.

    The commentators ask a very valid question: “Why don’t the Meshichists stand up and condemn the acts of the extremist troublemakers if they disapprove?”

    You want to know why?

    Because who would want to stand up do defend himself after being referred to in such a manner? Who would want to admit to being a Meshichist when they are portrayed in such a derogatory way by Chabad leaders who are too ashamed to stand up for their own beliefs in public?!

    And so, the vast majority of Lubavitchers, the “Quiet Meshichists”, remain silent.

  • 26. ceo wrote:

    there is no way to win this. Its sad, its messy and its ugly.
    Somehow it keeps making me think of comparing it to a virus in the body……the body makes fever and upsets the internal organs.
    This is whats happening b’ruchnius. We are not pure, and we need leaders who will help us with some issues, and we need to learn and follow the Rebbe’s ways, really follow and do them…..like teachers being decent to the students, like being honest in business, like ve ahavta l’reacha k’mochah, like reaching out to others, like not judging each other.
    We have this as an expression of whats going on internally. We have beautiful things happening here, no question, because its the Rebbe’s shechuna….but give the Rebbe and his inyonim room to grow among us….
    and by the way, I have heard quite a few of my fellow shulmates tell me that they don’t even know the entire story about this, because: all the fighting going on made them disinterested.
    Who wants to follow the fighting in crownheights, there are some people who actually want to know about the simchos and the shiurim and maasim tovim.
    how can be we involved if we really don’t know the ugly stories.

  • 27. To R. Shea Hecht wrote:

    I was there with you in the courtroom that day, i appreciate that you articulated this: I felt exactly the same way. It is a total perversion. Yiddion putting other Yiddion through this is always fobiden. This is definitally an all time low.

    I appreciate you taking a public position in this.

  • 28. Lamed Hey wrote:

    I hear what you’re all saying, but what’s with the insane amounts of loshon hara here? Speak up, say what you have to say. We all want you to. …But do it respectfully! Be a mentsch about it! How can you expect to be taken seriously and actually change anything when your tactic is ALSO cruel and not right??

    Even when they’re doing something VERY WRONG under no uncertain terms, there needs to be an element of ahavas Yisroel in our strategies for fixing/putting an END to it.

  • 29. Mendy Hecht wrote:

    Yasher koach, Rabbi Hecht, from a cousin.

    Anyways, chevra, about all that can be said is, “Let’s raise our kids right.” Rachmanah litzlan that this sort of thing happens, but tragically, historically, unfortunately, it’s nothing new.

    Let’s hope and pray for more good news.

    And, Benny–let’s see more kiddush hashem stories.

  • 30. to the junior neshi ladies wrote:

    i felt the same way about the junior neshi event, when i saw his name i felt sick, how could they??? maybe the really did not relize

  • 31. here come the excuses wrote:

    A Quiet One wrote:
    …The commentators ask a very valid question: “Why don’t the Meshichists stand up and condemn the acts of the extremist troublemakers if they disapprove?”

    “You want to know why?

    Because who would want to stand up do defend himself after being referred to in such a manner? Who would want to admit to being a Meshichist when they are portrayed in such a derogatory way by Chabad leaders who are too ashamed to stand up for their own beliefs in public?!

    And so, the vast majority of Lubavitchers, the “Quiet Meshichists”, remain silent….”

    Reply:
    Oh, poor you. Now your the poor little victim here, everybody’s making fun of you, how sad.
    Who cares about six members on our community facing trial and possible jail time, your mishichist feelings are hurt. How can you possibly stand up to what Right and speak and take action against wrong?

    I love how you and the likes of you always find away to excuse and justify inaction or bad/evil actions.

    Do us all a favor, and get out of the way.
    Live and let live!

  • 32. to “Quiet Meshichist” wrote:

    I love that. You’re speaking up now. Because ‘If I remain silent I am guilty of perpetuating the lies and the distortions.’ But what do you speak up against? Rabbi Hecht’s editorial.

    Hello? How about your not-so-quiet friends?? That, you remain silent about! You don’t stand up against them now because Rabbi Hecht embarrassed you…oh, poor baby. Where were you before. Cowering from your loud mouthed friends? They do the talking for all you “Quiet Meshichistim” who don’t open your mouths. We know where you stand. Together with them.

    And if you don’t??? Then open up your damn mouths and say so! Say it!

    Try this, “I am a quiet meshichist, and I’m not in love with how we are portrayed, but even worse than that I am horrified, aghast, disgusted and sickened by what my fellow meshichistim are doing to our fellow Lubavitchers. I beg the public to know, to believe, that we are not all like that. Most of us are cringing through every day of this trial. Please know that if we could, we would go back in time to prevent this chilul Hashem!”

    Ah, but no, the REALLY AWFUL part of all this is that Rabbi Hecht described a sick shlemazel instead of a classy mentch.

    Live with it. And be ashamed.

  • 33. Mendy wrote:

    To all those that don’t like what was said:
    The only way to solve problems is by attacking them head on, not by sugar-coating in typical American style. Rabbi Hecht told us the suit was ill-fitting because that’s how it APPEARS.
    And that’s what the courts see; One large ill-fitting story.

  • 34. to the Quiet Meshichist wrote:

    To Mr Quiet Meshichist

    Maybe you are quiet but you hear the stories around
    And as this case have started in front of the jury.
    There is a website associated with the so cold meschichist
    And when Jewish blood is being spilled in court. thy found
    The time to write the “other side” of the “STORY” but I did not
    Find you or your friends doing nothing to alert the Quiet Meshichist
    That this is not an appropriate article at this time.
    Now you are accusing the people for calling it as thy see it ?
    Not only you and your friends the Quiet Meshichist publish the
    Blood libel on the web you went and printed it as a pashkville
    And distributed it in the streets of crown heights and now YOU
    Have anything to say why the majority of Jews will never look at
    Any Meshichist as a JEW ?
    The crime against the Jewish nation that is being perpetrated
    By the members of the Meschichist is unprecedented.
    Since the days of some capos acting in concert with the Nazi
    What have YOU and YOUR Meschichist friends did to stop this
    Nazi huebner ?
    But god always saved the Jews.
    And we will see in this chodesh hageula the DIDAN NOTZACH
    And we will see a complete DIDAN NOTZACH.
    And all the goyim will see how Meschichist are losers and liars
    And sonei yisroel.. In a way that the goy will say it without fear.

  • 35. start with yourself wrote:

    Dear Reb Quiet One,

    YOU are the problem. Why? Because you are QUIET. Why aren’t you going to the like-minded people who promote this meseira & object? Why aren’t you approaching Rabbi Schwei, Rav to the Tsafatim, & beg him to pasken that this meseira has to stop?

    So even though you seem like a really nice guy & respectful, you are just as responsible as the mosrim when YOU could make a difference…you & all the other decent, respectful Moshichisten who instead, hide under the bed & are moral cowards.

  • 36. Another quiet meshichist wrote:

    As a quiet meshichist, I am very happy to hear that Rabbi Hecht denounced those who are not meshichisten, but meshugisten. These fringe people do not know a thing of the Rebbe or of Yiddishkeit. While not everyone who wears a Yechi yarmulke and flag lapel pin is a fringe meshugist, those who do are indeed discrediting all of Chabad.

  • 37. att: to Seriously Disgusted!!! wrote: wrote:

    Likewise.

    Once I saw the name, I threw out the flyer.

  • 39. dont drag the rebbe into this wrote:

    there are quite a few stories of lubavitchers sitting in jail so as not to “tell” on another Jew. how is it possible that people who call themselves lubavitchers and chassidim of the Rebbe go to such an opposite extreme?
    Noone can stop you from being who you are, except for yourself. But at least don’t drag the Rebbe into this.
    That is proof enough that you are not a true chossid.

  • 40. To quiet one wrote:

    Just so I can understand, someone insulting you is sufficient reason not to protest mesirah and other objectionable actions? Every Lubavitcher is labeled as something derogatory by someone. By your logic no one should protest anything.

  • 41. Sickended wrote:

    Junior N’Shei has long been bought. I stopped attending a while ago too. They get sponsorships from all kinds of inappropriate people. Huebner, butcher-doctors…
    They have no back bone at all!

  • 42. Ashamed wrote:

    Here i am a young Jewish man of 24 who 3 years ago spent thousands on lawyer fees a year and a half in and out of court and some time in jail because i would not rat on another Jew yet i see here a group of Jews “Religious Jews” Trying to put other Jews in Jail whatever the circumstances it make me sick to the stomach and ashamed

  • 43. sam wrote:

    were was everyone in the beginning. good morning rabbi hecht loking to be a hero

  • 45. Leah wrote:

    Treat mendy hendel & Rabbi Schwei to a one way ticket to israel and things in CH will improve!

  • 47. a person in ch wrote:

    we hada class abt mesira i ALWAYS learned its the biggest sinn to maser on a jew to the piont that if u are asked to testify u should be quite and exept the penelty with a high head even if you have to go to prison for life so if ur a misichist or not be a role model for all the other nations….isnt there a halcha that charity starts at home all the good that lebavitch does IE shlichos is all good but it means nopthing if our fellow community cant get along ……….

  • 48. ch resident wrote:

    how dare you say that the majority of lubavitch are meshichistin?
    how dare you put the rest of us in the same category as these people?
    Lubavitch is holy. These are not lubavitchers. Do you remember when the rebbe said that “if he is a terrorist, he is not a lubavitcher chosid, becasue a chossid is not a terrorist. So . .

  • 49. please wrote:

    i am totaly sickened by this whole story and ALL sides. why cant we deal with our problemes in a nice respectful way?
    why give lables and generelazations to everyone? so one meshugene guy does somthing wrong call him just that a MESHUGENE DISGUSTING GUY no need to put labels and call him a name that many wonderful people proudly carry.
    please remember what we all know from kindergarted will finally bring moshiach AHAVAS YISROEL
    make sure YOU so somthing to help bring moshiach watever you are

  • 50. awacs wrote:

    A modest proposal:

    Chabad of India is at odds, not knowing what to do with Nariman House in Bombay. For obvious reasons, they don’t really want to go back there, and for other obvious reasons, they don’t want to walk away from it, either.

    Suggestion:

    Ship a group of Tzfatim there – to open up a yeshiva!
    Let them put up flags and pins up the rafters, and scream Yechi as loud as they want.

    LeT vs. the Tzaftim – a fair match?

  • 51. Appalled, yet Overjoyed. wrote:

    Overjoyed that Rabbi Hecht did it again, and laid out the words again…and in a fitting fashion for the situation.

    Appalled…well, that would e the right word for it.
    Appalled at the fact that this HAD TO BE WRITTEN!!!
    Had there been any seichl in the guy’s (not R. Hecht’s!) mind, he would’ve realized that what he’s doing is wrong! Both morally and Halachically!
    To be correct, Rabbi Hecht just made himself into a target.
    Unfortunately.
    And let me be frank — there is no, I mean *NO*, excuse to do what has been done. Ever!
    Imagine if he was the guy being told on…

    Let’s all daven that it should be “yitamu CHATA’IM min haaretz” and not “yitamu CHOIT’IM min haaretz”…

    And Moshiach should come faster than the speed of light.
    Because light underestimates yemois hamashiach.

  • 52. girl... wrote:

    <B>It really hurts me and disgusts me that a lot of people are neged shomrim (not necessarily on this site).
    Shomrim did get involved in a feud, yes, but it can happen to anyone. And I don’t know where all the haters on Vosizneias get their ‘facts’ from, but it hurts me to see it so hatefully expressed. Kol HaKavod to shomrim for continuing to help people whenever needed and don’t listen to the haters</B>
    <BIG>good shabbos</BIG

  • 53. Shomrim Fan wrote:

    to girl:

    1. Must of the comments are either pro-shomrim or against mesira.

    2. Who cares what the enemy has to say about you. Don’t even expect your enemy to say nice things about you (have you ever seen such a thing?). Those who are responsible for this Mesira are writhing these comments (so no surprise there).

    Actually talking to people from Crown Heights and other neighborhoods, I can say with full confidence that the hearts and minds of the people are either with shomrim or against the mesire.

    Let not your heart be troubled!
    Tracht Gut Vet Zayn Gut!
    Im Impressed with the support the community is giving.

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