Purge the evil from your Midst – a talk about Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi

 

This past Thursday night, I led a discussion of about 20 college aged students about a Kiruv Rabbi named Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi.  Rabbi Mizrachi has been known to make many extremely offensive comments and uses his skewed, and just plain incorrect, interpretations of Torah and Chazal to back up his claims. Many of my friends, and other people that I know in Los Angeles, view Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi as their role model and teacher.  Especially in the LA Persian community, Rabbi Mizrachi is very popular among students and young adults.  As I have watched Rabbi Mizrachi’s fan base grow over the last few years, I felt that it was worthwhile to give a public Shiur and then write up a blog post summarizing.

So here goes!

The Vilna Gaon has a famous comment on the verse “The Torah’s ways are sweet and all its paths are peace” (Proverbs 3:17).  He writes that if something is not sweet and pleasant then one must suspect that it is not Torah.  While we can debate the exact meaning of his comment for hours (we all know many people who suffer daily due to their allegiance to the Torah), I take it to mean that the Torah and its teachings are supposed to be pleasant.  This means that people who are not necessarily familiar with the Torah, or any of its teachings, should be able to listen to someone give over words of Torah and, even if they don’t believe in its objective truth, see that it teaches nice and positive lessons.  Sadly, this is the opposite of what Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi does (concrete examples will be shown below).

To start off, the first major complaint that I have against Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi is the idea of Elu Ve Elu Divrei Elokim Chaim.  This statement, appearing in the Talmud, tells us that there is no one correct opinion in the realm of Torah.  This is true in regards to Peshat, Halacha, Philosophy, and basically any other subject of Torah.  While we all know that we sometimes Pasken like one opinion over another, the minority opinion is still a valid interpretation of Torah, and there is still value in learning and discussing it (see the entire Talmud for more on this).  Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi however begs to differ.  He is infamous for rejecting and insulting anyone who disagrees with him:

“All those Hitlers who disagree with me is (are) going straight to Auschwitz for eternity”

and

“My critics are followers of Korach, They are condemned to burn in a hell much worse than Auschwitz”

These comments and many others display the fact that Rabbi Mizrachi does not value the idea of Machloket and conversation- the foundation that Judaism itself is built on.  Rabbi Mizrachi will call anyone who does not believe in demons, reincarnation, spirits, and other concepts that have little or no support in classic sources, heretics.  While an argument may be made for the existence of any of these things, no one in their right mind would call them a foundation of Jewish faith.

Alongside Mizrachi’s utter rejection of classic Torah values, the comments and insults that he spits out are horrible and completely antithetical to the entire idea and beauty of Torah (more on this later).  It is ironic that Rabbi Mizrachi rejects the idea of Machloket and the idea expressed by Chazal that there are “70 faces to the Torah” because according to him, not only were Chazal perfect, but their superior knowledge of science and nature actually “proves” that the Torah is true.  This brings me into my next complaint….

There is no proof that the Torah is true!  Period.  People like Rabbi Mizrachi (along with many other Kiruv groups) try and offer these short and very closed minded, specious, proofs that the Torah is true.  I have personally gone through every single one of the claims made by Kiruv professionals and they are all problematic.  There are enough blogs out there which go through each and every one of these proofs giving detailed refutations, so I do not wish to give any concrete examples here.  However, I do wish to get across a few points:

1) Chazal did not have an infallible knowledge of science.  One wishing to argue this, would be left with a lot more questions than answers.  The vast majority of the statements in the Talmud regarding science, astronomy, and medicine are just plain wrong.  While this does not discredit the Talmud – the Rabbis were just working within the realm of knowledge around at there time – it does not prove the Torah either.  Just because there are 1 or 2 scientific statements in the Talmud which happened to be true, does nothing to help the case of the hundreds of others which are wrong.

2) Bible codes are wrong and stupid.  Spoiler alert: it works with any book.  Click here for more!

3) Besides for the morally questionable act of literally tricking people to believe in Torah under a false pretense, I think it is very dangerous when people accept Judaism under some very easily disprovable “proofs”.  As my good friend Elon once remarked to me “That Habbakuk and Job did not fully get answers, but YouTube preachers feel qualified to give them in five minutes is only a symptom of larger problems.”

4) Just because there are no proofs that Torah is true, does not mean that it is not true.  The Torah is not a textbook there to teach us about the number of stars or how to calculate moon cycles, rather the Torah is a moral guideline for us to live our lives by.  The truth of the Torah is discovered every time it is able to uplift a broken spirit or make the world a better place.  Conversely, when someone takes the Torah and uses it to scare, manipulate, and insult people I think that this is actually a very good proof against the Torah.

Finally, besides for Rabbi Mizrachi’s very close minded opinions on Torah and the way the world works, the comments he make are 100% unacceptable.  A few examples are as follows:

“Mixed dancing events lead to cancer”

“Secular Israeli soldiers who die in battle are going to hell and have no Share in the World to come.  Go and look how many Seons (a way of contacting the spirit world, which ironically is itself against the Torah) they did of these dead soldiers and they are all in hell”

“Down syndrome and autism in children is a punishment for sinning and gossiping in a previous life”

“The secular women in the Holocaust were not Tznius in the gas chambers; they were posing naked for the cameras”

No amount of context could make these comments acceptable.  I do not wish to go through each and every one of these (and many other) quotes.  I assume that any reader with any sensibilities will realize that people that talk like this must be stopped.

When an Earthquake struck Nepal about a year ago and killed nearly 10,000 people Rabbi Mizrachi happily posted a picture of ruins to his facebook wall, commenting that they will no longer be worshiping idols.

When I brought up the horribleness of this post, a supporter of Rabbi Mizrachi exclaimed that Nepal is a place where the majority of the citizens worship idols so they deserve to be killed.  Besides for the moral acceptability of wanting every idol worshiper dead, is it not almost guaranteed that many people that were killed could have not been idol worshipers?  Tourists, businessmen, babies?

Of course Rabbi Mizrachi could care less; all he cares about is his black and white view of the world which is pretty much: his view: Good   Other’s views: Hitler.  How far is this from Abraham challenging God to spare Sedom if even a few righteous people could be found!

In conclusion, people like Rabbi Mizrachi must be stopped.  They are horrible people and they destroy the very idea and value of Torah.  Not only should this man not be given a public podium, in which he is able to indoctrinate young minds that do not know any better, but he should be shunned.  I call upon whomever reads this to reach out to their own Rabbis, friends, and communities in an attempt to stop this horrible trash from entering our religion.

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32 thoughts on “Purge the evil from your Midst – a talk about Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi

  1. What’s the obsession with Mizrahi. There are many rabbis I disagree with…and that’s expected. The Jewish nations consists of all kinds of people, who are we to say that Mizrahi and his people deserves to be silenced. THAT is hillul HaShem!

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    1. I also disagree with many Rabbis. I would never write an article like this against someone I simply disagree with. Rabbi Mizrachi however is a public Chillul Hashem and must be silenced

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    2. Moshe,

      its simple- people and i believe correctly see him as the anthesis of what a rav/person in a position of serarah does with regard to deracheha darkhei noam. mizrahi is quite hateful and inflammatory. standing up against such people is beloved speech according to the rambam in his perush to avot 1:17. so who are you to argue with the nesher ha’gadol, harambam.

      whats this i hear about the golden rule… oh right don’t be hateful to others. that is what mizrahi does. its like wahabism only preached by jews. he is utterly intolerant of anyone who does not think like, act like and dress like him. also, theres the matter of him advocating a jewish theology which is at best highly non-normative against the corpus of rabbinic text and at worst possible heretical depending on how one views kabbalah and if one believes in rationalism a la rambam.

      in short, mizrahi’s content is fluff, he misquotes sources or invents halakhot and after a superficial read of his posts, one begins to doubt the credibility of the lecturer and is stunned by his ignorance of basic Jewish text, history, academic Jewish studies and above all of the subject matter with which he deals. I conclude with a clear conscience: The right place for everything by mizrahi is the waste basket. (adapted from r. Shaul Lieberman; a tragedy or a comedy? a review of jacob neusner’s translation of the talmud yerushalmi).

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      1. Y a t’il une errruer, sur les ptemps totaux? Personne de notre gang a fan cela en haut de 8 heures!!Il faisait si chaud que c&;ursoqétait malade de faire cela !!!! félicitations à tous et toutes!!!

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  2. Cite all the Torah that you want, but this is outright lashon Hara. All the more so speaking about a rabbi, and if you refuse to call him that, a person who has taught Torah to thousands is an even grater sin. All the torah in the world doesn’t cleanse a person from speaking bad about another Jew. If you think Rabbi Mizrachi does that, then you are guilty of revenge. If you keep this article up, I am sorry for all of the sins you will accumulate.
    Never speak about a Rabbi in such a degrading way. I’m horrified by your disrespect and am not shocked that that beis hamikdash is not in our midst.

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    1. You clearly do not understand Torah very well. This stuff is not Torah. I am sure if I made an argument to you that a certain reform Rabbi has taught Torah to thousands it would not stop you from bashing him…

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      1. What is or is not Torah is not the discussion here. We are talking about Slander. Lashon Hara involves discrediting a person or saying negative things about them, even if they are true. It is forbidden to imply or even suggest negative things about a person. One who does this is a Motzei Shem Ra and is considered to be the lowest of the low. This Halacha is directly from the written Torah Vayikra 19:16 and 25:17. One who listens to slander is even worse than the person who tells it (see Gemara Arachin 15b). The exception you may be trying to reference is one who is an apikoros, this only applies to someone who denies Hashem or any part of the Oral Torah. This in no way applies to the case in question, where your victim is a Frum Jew. If you disagree with any of his opinions or teachings I suggest you address him personally to clarify his position, you have every right to request the source for ones opinion and teachings but never to publicly attempt to defame them. For your own spiritual sake, I strongly urge you to remove your postings and cease any further slandering, speak to the subject of your attack (discuss your concerns and apologize) and consult with a competent Rav next time you have the urge to spread what you may think is ok to share.

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    2. Oh really? So by your logic then Rabbi mizrachi will get the biggest Auschwitz for speaking badly about Dana Cohen. And even more so for trying to exact revenge on Dana Cohen for all the charity work he has done in showing the world that not every Jew is an anti semitic, arrogant, disrespectful racist who has no manners. Wasn’t mizrachi a secular Israeli soldier once? It’s too bad that these people put their lives on the line to protect Israel so the shady citizens who decide to become a Rabbi without any mention of semicha can get up and do so without any hassle. I love you mizrachi sheep who are so quick to denounce others for doing wrong things that he does every day. Go like him on Facebooooook and read all the plagiarized dvar Torah he posts.

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    3. Are the rambam’s comment to avot 1:7 in which he outlined cats gorier of speech disposed by God and beloved by God.

      Speech which denigrates intellectual and moral failings of those seen as leaders/religious role models is seen by rambam as beloved to God.

      This is not lashon harah as it serves a purpose and therefore is לתועלת and permissible. Criticism even harsh criticism of rabbinic figures when undertaken in the spirit of מחלוקת לשם שמים is not only permitted but to be encouraged.

      The chokers Chiam never sought to protect individuals who pose a threat to the public either physical or spiritual from being criticized.

      Make no mistake, Mizrahi is a threat as he misleads people into believing that things which are minority’s opinions are איקראי אמונה and that is a very problematic thing

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    1. What a great time to make the change … now that Mercury is out of Retrograde! Oh, yeah … you are just a young whereirsnapppp. Really, life doesn't even really begin until 60. Seriously.

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  3. you should be ashamed of yourself for your horrible lashon hara. You spec of dust you have nothing you can say about rabbi mizrachi. He changed so many lives for the better including myself, without him idk where I would be. He stays until 1 or 2am at the Shuls he speaks in talking to everyone privately when they need him. He made thousands and thousands of balei teshuva. How many numbers do you have? Do you want to call prophet Zacharia a liar too? Read chapter 14 and then talk to me about everything being pleasant. Read parshat bechukotai and explain the curses. What is cancer a gift? When women are their children at the destruction of the temple that was a gift?! It was a punishment for our sins. God help you for speaking bad about a person who dedicated his life to bringing gods children back to him. You disgust me.

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  4. But of course there’s gonna be people like you against rabbi mizrachi. The satan sees how hes so successful in helping Jews and you’re the dog that the satan has to send to bark against him to try and stop people from doing teshuva.

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    1. im going to go ahead and assume that you aren’t so into rational thinking so I’m just going to go ahead and ignore you. If you ever do want to have an actual intellectual conversation about this I would love to have one

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      1. I’m into very rational thinking. And I see very very much on the good that rabbi mizrachi has done and continues to do, from my own experience ever since I discovered him, and from all the people I know that grew from his lectures and films. My brother in law started to not keep Shabbat anymore, and it’s from rabbi mizrachis lectures on Shabbat that not only he started keeping Shabbat again, he even helped his friends keep Shabbat too. And I see with my own eyes people like you who try and stop it.

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  5. My own wife after hearing ONE, not 2, ONE lecture on tzniut from rabbi mizrachi, the next day cut her wig that I just bought for 2,000$, and I’m very proud of her. She went through her closet and threw out ALL clothes that weren’t tzniut. And you are trying to stop women from doing that by speaking lashon hara on rabbi mizrachi.

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  6. If you have an ounce of fear from God about the punishment you’re gonna get from trying to prevent teshuva, you delete this blog right now and cry until tomorrow for what you said. But of course you don’t, because fear isn’t pleasant, and when God said to fear and love him, he must have meant something else by “fear” according to you. Just remember that people with fear are the ones that live. People that have no fear are the ones that die from their stupid and reckless actions. If there’s no fear, Judaism would have been finished before it started.

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  7. Interesting article. Whereas I agree to a certain extent that the rabbi’s interpretation of the Torah is often times extreme, you cannot deny the amount of people the Rabbi has helped. People have different personalities. Different motivations and drives. You feeling passionate about this and speaking out is fine, but there is a way to do it.
    A disclaimer that the rabbi is intense and many points are not founded and hard to swallow is one thing. Yes, the “close minded” route is one that many latch on to. If some need to believe that mixed dancing may lead to cancer to stop doing it, than that works for them. It may not work for me and you so we find different thoughts and motivations that does.
    I myself do not listen to rabbi mizrahi, but I have friends who do. You know what? It works for them. Who am I to slander a rabbi who dedicated much of his time and effort to keruv. Again, a disclaimer that he is intense and not for everyone is fine. Out right saying that he is someone that should be stopped is not.
    You’re overall goal is that people should be brought closer to religion. If a motivating factor is fear than so be it. If he is he Shepard that wields the stick, that is his method. Once people come closer and are aware of other options out there to get closer to Hashem; such as a multitude of other less dramatic speakers available online or in there community. Another touch you could have added is a different array of lecturers that you feel are better able such as R Zachariah wallerstien, R pesach Krohn, and R Eli mansour are all fantastic examples with videos online.
    To take away by debunking alone is not enough replace with different options.
    Assess what you’re article is trying to do. Assess what you’re goal is. There is always a better way. A little bit of effort to do things properly. You are a brother to me and so is he. Don’t forget that. Good luck and take care.

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  8. first off, I have been to Some of Rabbi Mizrahi’s lectures. I don’t believe he would ever say anything about justification of Jewish women being in gas chambers. secondly, he is very straight forward and those that cannot handle it, write these types of articles. I don’t completely agree with his views but I refuse to badmouth a rabbi that brought so many Jews back to Judaism. This srticle is a hilull hashem and you should be ashamed of yourself for writing it.

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  9. This is Dana Cohen. I am reporting from Auschwitz, sitting next to Hitler. Rabbi Mizrachi condemned me to 1000 lifetimes here because I disagreed with him publicly. I also promoted his videos on youtube, and he did not like it. Listen guys, its not worth it. I got my PhD in Yosef Mizrachi, I listened to all his lectures, tried to source all his “Torah” and at the end I end up here in Gehinom, with all these non-shomer Shabbat IDF soldiers and DJs. Just stop all this slander while you are alive and do teshuba and take suffering to atone for your sins. And the best form of suffering would be to sit and listen to Yosef Mizrachi youtube videos.

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  10. the question that we need to ask is would a mind that is susceptible to falling prey to the teachings of magic thinking fundamentalist snake oil salesmen, be worse off if we eliminated mizrachi and those people fell for someone like Helbrans instead? (its like talibain verse ISIS)

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  11. Hashem is the only One to Judge. Nobody can dare speak in His Holy Name and curse others. Shall i remind you all that Unity is what defines us jews. Without it, we are scattered in this darkness trying to find the sparks of light that we left behind because of our sins against G.
    Think about it…

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  12. Daniel,
    I was horrified to see the amount of backlash you received over, what seems to me, a fairly obvious and well explained point. Of course, people who claim to have a monopoly on the truth must be stopped. Of course people who terrorize their flock into obedience have no business being the Shepherds.
    From the critique I saw here, there were two main points of contention people had with you, both flawed.
    1) The Lashon Hara angle-
    Anyone who claimed here that you are guilty of spreading lashon hara has clearly never learned Shmirat HaLashon in their life. It is a gut reaction on their part, unfounded by halacha for two reasons. 1- once someone puts themselves in the spotlight as a public figure, it is not Lashon Hara to criticize them. Its a Milta Yeduah. The public is aware of this person and their statements and position, you are merely highlighting key points to the public eye. 2- this is the EPITOME of Letoelet. To help prevent poor wanderers from falling prey to this charlatan, not only do you have a right, you have an OBLIGATION to speak up.
    The second point of contention was
    2)…but he does so much good.
    THIS ONE MAKES ME ANGRY. Hitler saved a struggling German economy and thereby fed millions of starving children. Shabtai Tzvi was also Mikarev thousands of Jews. Bernie Madoff helped a lot of people in addition to the people he cheated. He gave millions to charity.
    JUST BECAUSE BAD PEOPLE DO GOOD THINGS, DOESN’T MAKE THEM GOOD PEOPLE. It doesn’t excuse the bad things they do. Its not a carte blanche for anyone to do whatever they want, just because they’ve checked off their good deed of the day.
    All in all, Daniel. I applaud you. Your critics are unfortunately the blind being led by the sightless.

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    1. Daniel,

      in regards to the lashon ha’rah angle, rambam’s commentary to avot 1:17 opens a very clear justification for denigrating people seen as leaders with moral and intellectual failings. rabbi daniel z. feldman’s new book about lashon ha’rah should do much to dispel over applications of lashon ha’rah. but as a friend said, ‘its much easier to cite a chafetz chaim incorrectly than to actually learn it properly and when push comes to shove, people give more weight to a misunderstood chafetz chaim than rambam perush ha’mishnayot” http://www.amazon.com/False-Facts-True-Rumors-Contemporary/dp/1592644414/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451360830&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=daniel+z+felamn

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  13. Hi I am part of the LA Persian Jewish community and I view Rabbi Mizrachi as a Pariah who belongs in a mental hospital certainly not as a role model. I view his followers in an even more negative light because they worship him like a messiah and when you try to point at his evil rhetoric they tell you that it’s lashon hara. So if someone went around telling you if you jump off a certain cliff and die that you will instantly gain access to heaven and people were doing it, is pointing that persons flawed and dumb logic lashon hara if people are ACTUALLY LISTENING TO HIM?? Also they hide behind this flawed argument that he’s turned so many people religious but, most of his supporters are vilest most brainwashed people that know nothing but, to attack a person to eternal damnation the moment you point something out in his flawed logic. For that whole entire debate he had with that Christian proving that Christianity is wrong his concepts of threatening people with eternal punishment and suffering when they don’t agree with him and point out flawed logic sounds amazing Christian in fact medieval Christian. Christian concepts like suffering eternally have no place in Judaism and neither do Mizrachi and his followers.

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  14. This article is Chillul Hashem, Relichut and La shon Harah. You are a Rasha and you don’t have a share in the world to come. You must do teshuvah immediately and maybe Haskadosh Baruch Hu have merciful of your tormented neshamah. Rabbi Yossef Mizrahi Shlita is one of the very few Rabbis that speak the true of the Torah on this times near of the upcoming of Mashiach tzelkenu.

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