Dear Crownheights.info Readers:
As many of you have probably seen yesterday on this website, the NY Post ran an article about me and my business. The article certainly portrayed me and my business in a less than positive light. But I can live with that. My business is very controversial, and I have brought lawsuits against some very wealthy and powerful individuals. Therefore, it was no surprise when one of the defendants in my lawsuits succeeded in having a tabloid run a story about me containing many extreme exaggerations and misrepresentations regarding me and my motives, in an effort to clear his name in the press rather than in a courtroom, where law and reality govern. But the underlying merits of the article are not the subject of this letter.
I found it extremely difficult this morning to explain to my coworkers, colleagues, and clients why on a website geared towards members of my own community there are comments attacking me more viciously than in the general public. In all fairness, they were few as compared with quantity of comments on some of the other “hot button topics” addressed in this website. Nevertheless, over the years, I have seen too many community members, including shluchim, rabbis, and regular businessmen be viciously disparaged by commenters on the various websites. Given that I was the target this time, I will take this opportunity to share my feelings on the matter.
Rabosai, this has to stop. There is an astounding lack of perspective evident when people in a community anonymously sell out their own community members in a public forum. It is especially shocking when it happens in our beautiful community. The Crown Heights that I know is filled with people that would do anything in the world and have each other’s back at all times. Of course, there is machlokes in our community unfortunately, but on an individual level, we are a group of people with very strong loyalty to one another. Tzedaka and good deeds are the hallmarks of Chabad both in Crown Heights and throughout the world.
The negative vicious comments targeting our own people go directly against the grain of what we are. It is downright ugly. I am no spiritual authority, but from my perspective, the “negative internet comment crisis” is at least as troubling as the other crises lamented on this website. We are hurling cheap insults at our neighbors, families, friends, etc. Where on Earth does this come from, and how is not too disgusting to be allowed in our community? If there is some tenet of Chabad philosophy that supports this behavior, I personally request that a Rov or Mashpia explain it to us. Because, as far as I know, it goes against all that is Chabad and all that is Jewish.
I have very thick skin, and I am not very insulted by the comments. I am also very proud of my work, BH. I feel no need to apologize for my lawsuits, and I can handle this relatively negative publicity. In terms of the insult, we know what the Alter Rebbe said about David Hamelech and Shimi Ben Gaira, “For Hashem told him to curse me”. So I probably had it coming. But that doesn’t change that the people that engaged in bad behavior engaged in bad behavior.
There is a time, place and manner for everything. If someone disagrees, or wants to ”give me mussar” for what I do, it should be rather simple. Come sit down with me at a farbrengen and tell me your thoughts. My information is pretty easy to locate on the internet, and you can find a way to reach me and tell me what you think. This is the case with everyone else that you are thinking about anonymously lambasting in your comment. If you are simply too cowardly to voice your opinion directly and to stand behind it, you probably should not be making the point.
In short, there are several reasons to refrain from anonymous comments attacking members of our community: (A) Some people are deeply hurt by these comments; (B) You are letting the world know that you are willing to sell out members of your community (most of whom would never do that to you) for the cheap thrill of writing something nasty on the internet; and (C) It is cowardly to make a statement that you cannot stand behind with your name.
I would like my children and your children to grow up in a community where they know that everyone is looking out for each other. This will provide them with sense of security and confidence. They will in turn have a strong desire to remain part of the community. There is so much discussion about what causes children to drift, R”L. Please stop and think about what kind of effect open negativity and nastiness has on our community and what message it sends to our children about their community.
“Hareini mochel l’chol mi shehichis osi oh shehknit osy.” If there is one good thing I can do for my wonderful community this year, let it be to encourage people to stop trashing each other on the websites!
Ksiva V’chasima Toiva, and much success to everyone b’gashmiyus ubrichniyus. Barchenu avinu kulanu k’echad, as one!