Rabbi Milton Yehosua Balkany, former Agriprocessors VP Sholom Rubashkin's brother-in-law – was recently released from prison after serving time for attempting to extort hedge fund head Steven Cohen. Balkany joined fellow haredi rabbis at a convention of the Rabbinical Alliance of America, and Balkany was honored by the RAA with giving a lecture on the halakha (Orthodox Jewish law) or marit ayin.
Above: Rabbi Milton Yehosua Balkany
The haredi Rabbinical Alliance of America (RAA), also known as Igud HaRabbonim, held a conference in Brooklyn Sunday.
Where in Brooklyn?
At the Bais Yaakov of Midwood, the school run by convicted extortionist Rabbi Milton Yehosua Balkany.
Balkany – former Agriprocessors VP Sholom Rubashkin's brother-in-law – was recently released from prison after serving time for attempting to extort hedge fund head Steven Cohen.
But that didn't stop the RAA from holding its conference in Balkany's school – or from allowing Balkany to speak.
And Balkany did not give just any speech. Instead, he presented a lesson in halakha (Jewish law) on marit ayin, the law that prohibits taking an action that is in its essense permitted but which may appear prohibited in the eyes of people who see the action take place – for example, eating a Reuben sandwich made of corned beef, sauerkraut and non-dairy soy cheese when eating dairy products with meat is prohibited according to Orthodox Jewish law:
…Rabbi Yehoshua Balkany masterfully presented a halachic overview of Mares Ayin, circumstances which might prohibit that which is ordinarily permitted because of misleading appearences. An example would be eating almond cream [non-dairy cheese] with meat which might look like dairy cream cheese [which is by Orthodox Jewish law] prohibited to be consumed with meat. Contemporary food production, however, creates non-dairy ice cream and vegetable burgers, amongst many other products that, in combination, appear prohibited. However, in reality are perfecttly acceptable. Rabbi Balkany explored whether Mares Ayin applied to rabbinic enactments or only to Biblical commandments. Carefully reviewing coments of the Shulchan Aruch [Code of Jewish Law] and leading commentators [on that code], Rabbi Balkany carefully defined Mares Ayin and its restrictive aspects.…
Apparently both the RAA and Balkany agree that marit ayin doesn't apply to having a recently convicted felon lecture in Jewish law to a haredi rabbinical association.