Originally published on Saturday, May 28 at 11:26 p.m.
On Friday morning, I posted the Yiddish recording and a rough English translation of the Rebbe's brief talk to his yeshiva students cobbled together from translations done by two readers and myself:
"I want to announce something. We’re going through agmas nefesh [a painful time]. We should really not have to say this. We know from all the years, I spoke many times about this, not to go [out] with power or fight, and even more so, not to hurt any Jew. It against our ways. Everyone knows the way of Skvere is Torah, and all its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace. I really should not have to say this. But because this terrible thing happened, maybe it's good to say it again and let everyone know that, God forbid, do not fight with koach [power], it makes agmas nefesh [troubles, irritation]. Its against our way, the way of Skvere. This [incident] brought a lot of tears and pain. Whoever needs healing, God should send them healing, and they should come home healthy. Now is a time of healing. God should help that the shtetl [the village of New Square] should be at peace with one heart, with Torah and mitzvos and good deeds. The Me’or Einyim says that on Shavuos we accept the Torah [all over again].… God should help that my father, zt"l, should make his merit be a shield and we shall receive the Torah physically and spiritually, exclusively with happiness."
I make no claims that our translation is perfect. But as you'll see now, it is very different from what Hank Sheinkopf – a political consultant who claims to have been retained by an unnamed group of New Square residents but who logic dictates is a paid employee of Skvere leadership – released. Sheinkopf is notorious in anti-abuse circles for his role in helping the Catholic Church rebuff attempts to hold it responsible for hundreds of sexual attacks against children by priests. Here is how Sheinkopf translates the Rebbe's brief talk:
"I must tell you candidly that I am anguished by the heartbreaking events of this past week. The use of force and violence to make a point or settle an argument violates Skver's most fundamental principles. It is never permissible!
I am certain that this is well known and widely understood, but even if only one person allowed himself to forget this fundamental lesson let me state this clearly and forcefully: We condemn in the strongest possible terms the use of violence under any circumstances.
"The use of force is evil. It is deeply offensive to our traditions and our teachings. We who have suffered so much from brutality must embody the path of peace and tranquility. We arrive at truth through sweet reason and the power of example not through inflicting pain and damage. That is the way of the Torah and that is the way of Skver.
"This has been a sad week for us. We are a community that prides itself on unity; unity does not mean agreement on everything. It means the willingness to live side by side and to love one another, despite differences. This terrible incident has shaken us all. I pray that we learn from this tragedy about the need to live according to the Torah which condemns violence and such evil unequivocally.
"I pray for the full recovery of those who have been injured. May Hashem send them a speedy recovery. The yom tov of Shevuos, which commemorates the receiving of the Torah, is a time of healing. May we prove worthy of the blessing of living in unity, united in the service of Hashem, striving always to improve in our observance of the Torah and its mitzvos, in the sincerity of our prayers and in doing more acts of lovingkindness.
"As we approach the holy yom tov of Shevuos, the anniversary of our receiving of the Torah, may we prove worthy of this holiday's spiritual radiance so that we can serve Hashem through joy."
What Sheinkopf appears to have done is make the Rebbe's words more personal than they really were, for example by having the Rebbe say, "I pray…" and "I am anguished…" But even in Sheinkopf's version the Rebbe does not mention the victim, Aron Rottenberg, by name and appears to be equating the attempted murder of Rottenberg and his family with the injuries the attempted murder, the Rebbe's butler, suffered in the attack on the Rottenberg family.
Here is the Rebbe's brief talk to his yeshiva students again for those of you who speak Yiddish. Feel free to correct either translation in the comments section below.