Broyde Says He Did No Wrong
When asked if he considered what he had done to be lying, Broyde replied, “It’s a technical untruth, so I guess you can call it lying. But it’s a well-accepted social convention.” Broyde also said that he didn't understand why what he did was wrong and admitted that he might do it again.
Rabbi Michael Broyde, a law professor and prominent rabbinic judge, was caught by Stephen I. Weiss of the Jewish Channel sockpuppeting – bolstering his own arguments and writing by using fake names to post comments. Broyde also used a fake name to join competing rabbinic associations and to attack opponents. And now, despite his apology issued late Friday, it turns out Broyde isn't really sorry after all, as Ha'aretz reports:
…Broyde, 48, spoke exclusively with Haaretz as soon as Shabbat ended in Atlanta, where he lives with his wife and their four children. In an interview during which he ranged from sounding befuddled about the fuss to defensive and at other times contrite, he downplayed the seriousness of his deception.
“I don’t understand the issue. That’s the truth,” he said.
He and a friend began using the Rabbi Hershel Goldwasser identity in the early 1990s, writing to Jewish journals using the name, he said. They used the name to publish in Jewish scholarly journals as diverse as Conservative Judaism and the RCA’s Tradition.
“It started as an intellectual adventure to see if we could write together on some things. We were good friends, partners on many different topics,” Broyde said.
He would not identify the friend, saying, “he has more at stake to lose than I do.”
Asked if they both had access to the Hershel Goldwasser email account, Broyde paused before saying yes. He said they stopped using the Hershel Goldwasser name “three or four years ago,” but that since then someone else has been using it. “When you have a pseudonym you can’t complain when someone else uses it,” he says.
He has, Broyde admitted, “sockpuppeted” since then, using other names to post compliments of his own blog essays. One, from “David Gold,” complimented a January 2013 essay written by Broyde on a Torah-focused blog called Hirhurim. “What a thoughtful and interesting piece by Rabbi Broyde,” wrote Gold.
The Jewish Channel article reports that there are three different names that posted laudatory comments under Broyde’s Hirhurim essays between 2011 and 2013, all of them originating from the same IP address, or unique identifiers indicating that they came from an account Broyde owns.
Asked if he will continue to sockpuppet, Broyde said, “I don’t know. I haven’t in a while. I haven’t given it any thought.”…
Lest you think Broyde is alone in not taking his lying and manipulation seriously, Broyde claims no one else of significance in his world does either.
When The Jewish Channel article appeared, Broyde said that he immediately went to speak with the dean of Emory Law School. Dean Robert Schapiro “listened attentively,” said Broyde, "but I don’t think at its core it is an Emory matter.”
But it gets even worse – Broyde claims that he has not heard from anyone at the Beth Din of America, on which he sits as a dayan (rabbinic judge) , the Rabbinical Council of America, or his employer, Emory University, since the scandal broke.
And then we have this. When asked by Ha'aretz if he considered what he had done to be lying, Broyde replied, “It’s a technical untruth, so I guess you can call it lying. But it’s a well-accepted social convention.”
And you wonder why so many people distrust and dislike rabbis?