Rabbi Nissan Kaplan teaches in the largest haredi yeshiva in the world, the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem. He recently told a class that haredi leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman wanted to kill Israeli government leaders like the Macabbees killed the Syrian-Greeks and their sympathizers, but didn't do so because "I don't know yet who is the general who could run the war. But if I would know who's the general, we'd go out with knives.…" Now Kaplan is denying that he told that story about Rabbi Steinman – even though hundreds of people worldwide heard him on tape – and is accusing listeners of lying about what he said.
Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman
As FailedMessiah.com reported yesterday, haredi Rabbi Nissan Kaplan told a class at the Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem that supreme haredi rabbinic leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman wanted to kill leaders of the Government of Israel. He didn't issue the order to do so, however, only because he wasn't sure who among his followers was capable of leading the war.
Here is a transcript of the relevant part of what Rabbi Nissan Kaplan really said, courtesy of Rabbi Natan Slifkin's blog:
…On Shabbos I spoke to my kids, and I said that Rav Steinman spoke that lemayseh [in actuality], we have today Haman and Amalek, all this [Israeli] government, and really the way is to take knives and to kill them, just as with the Yevanim [Greeks at the time of Hanukkah more than 2,000 years ago]. This is what Rav Steinman said. You have to take a sword and to kill them. So why are we not doing it? Because, he said, I don't know yet who is the [suitable replacement] general who could run the war. But if I would know who's the general, we'd go out with knives. This is what Rav Steinman said. There's a war against religion... I explained this to my kids... then, in the middle of the meal, my kid, five years old, says, "Aba, we don't have a sword in the house, I'm looking... maybe a hammer is also good?" I was very happy, I gave him a kiss... I was so proud of my son, he's looking for a sword to kill all these government ministers..."
Kaplan now claims this is not what he said – even though he was knowingly recorded saying it, and even though that recording was posted on a page of other recordings by Kaplan hosted by a haredi Torah website.
But that recording – Kaplan on Parshat Tzav 5774 – has now apparently been removed from that haredi website.
Instead, this very brief bald faced lie from Kaplan is has been posted. Please click the gray box to listen:
There is no gray area here – Kaplan is lying.
The question now is whether the Mir will allow Kaplan to remain on its staff.
Would the late rosh yeshiva Rabbi Nosson Tzvi Finkel have let Kaplan stay on?
I'd like to think the answer is no, but that is probably wishful thinking. The reality is that few, if any, rosh yeshivas appear to have much concern for the truth.
So there you have it.
A bald-faced lie from a haredi rabbi. A newly-censored haredi website to help cover for that lie. And complete silence from the Mir's leadership, including its rosh yeshiva, Nosson Tzvi Finkel's son.
It's just another day in haredi Judaism.
Update 12:06 pm CDT – Rabbi Natan Slifkin took down his post on Kaplan's remarks on Steinman's desire to kill government leaders without explanation.
Meanwhile, The JC reports on Kaplan's alleged change of heart:
…the US-born rabbi told the JC on Friday: “I apologise completely,” adding that an “apology is not enough” and that he had disavowed his earlier statements in three classes on Thursday night and Friday.
He “never meant such a thing”. The story about his son was “just a joke” he claimed, saying: “You have to know my sense of humour.”
And while rabbis tend to encourage students to be punctilious about accurately attributing opinions, he suggested that he had assigned Rabbi Shteinman’s alleged opinion to him without justification. “Maybe someone in the street said it. I didn’t see Rabbi Shteinman and I didn’t hear [this view],” he said, adding: “The one I really have to apologise to is Rabbi Shteinman.”
Asked about violent acts against ministers, Rabbi Kaplan said: “It is an aveira [sin] to do such a thing” and said that faced with the draft of Charedi men “the only thing we can do is learn [Torah] — we don’t hit and we don’t fight”. His apology is unambiguous, he said, calling it a “black and white” matter.
But despite requests, he did not fully explain the dissonance between what he said in the original class and what he claims now to be his view. He gave only general comments such as: “Sometimes when you are sitting, something was said in the wrong way” and “maybe someone got me excited here.”
His intended message, he claimed, was to underscore the importance of Torah study. “The message is that learning is of key importance and there are things that the people of Israel gave up all these years for learning. The meaning was not that we have to fight, God forbid.”
The JC totally misses the fact that Kaplan blames his listeners for hearing things he did not say – even though he absolutely did say them.
At any rate, Kaplan is liar, the Mir needs to act against him but has not done so, and Rabbi Natan Slifkin looks like he has again been cowed by rabbinic threats and pressure.
Update 12:41 pm CDT – Here is the original audio of Kaplan talking about killing government leaders courtesy of David of OMGWTFBIBLE.. The relevant section starts at 36:50 of the recording. (Try right clicking on the gray box and opening the file in a new window or tab to get better controls of the audio so you can fast forward to the right spot.)