On Friday I reported that Chabad had falsely claimed that Rabbi Manis Friedman was not a Chabad shaliach, emissary. But a question remained: who was it in Chabad who told this lie to a journalist? It took more than two days to find out, but now we know.
On Friday I reported that Chabad had falsely claimed that Rabbi Manis Friedman was not a Chabad shaliach, emissary.
"…Chabad Lubavitch said Rabbi Friedman was not a Chabad emissary, as reported, but a Minnesota-based teacher who did not speak for Chabad," The Age reported.
Because the newspaper that reported the claim is located in Melbourne, Australia, and because of the timing of the article, I thought it very likely that the claim had been made by Chabad there – but it turns out that it was not made by them.
So who made that false claim?
I'm told it was Chabad.org's Media and PR head Motti Seligson.
Chabad.org is Chabad's official outreach website.
As I showed Friday, Chabad.org and Lubavitch.com, the Chabad Movement's two official websites, both listed Friedman on their official list of Chabad centers and shluchim. But both sites – especially Chabad.org – showed signs of recent tampering, attempts to hurriedly conceal Friedman's official status.
Seligson apparently believed those attempts to whitewash Friedman out of Chabad.org's list had been successful when he told the journalist for the Age that Friedman was not a shaliach. But they were not, and Seligson's lie was exposed.
It took him days to issue an apology, and when he finally did it so conflicted with what he had said of his own free will – and with evident enjoyment – that it was difficult to believe Friedman was sincere.
But knowing that Friedman's apology coincided with Chabad.org's lie and its attempt to sanitize its website speaks volumes. Just like Seligson lied, I believe Friedman lied; Friedman's apology has no more truth to it than Seiligson's lie did.
The man to who hundreds (if not thousands) of abused girls and rape victims were sent to for "counseling" said this – and he meant every word of it.
That this took place does not bother Chabad.
What bothers Chabad is that you know that it took place, that these hundreds and even thousands of women and girls were sent to Friedman when they were vulnerable and traumatized. That they were told that the abuse wasn't a big sin, that it didn't damage them, and that the damage they had came from issues of self-esteem they had before the abuse happened. If each of them would just be a mentch, be a good person, and stop obsessing about being sexually abused, they'd be fine. They were making themselves sick, not the abuse.
You were molested? Friedman told these victims. "So? Nobody’s allowed to touch you? Are you holy?"
Without any doubt, every one of them is far holier than Rabbi Manis Friedman.