Rabbi Manis Friedman, the Chabad rabbi and shaliach (emissary) who called for collective punishment and genocide against Israel's enemies (the Moment Magazine incident) and compared being sexually abused or raped as a child to having a case of diarrhea, is reportedly the co-producer of a new film – on the kabbalah’s take on sexual intimacy.
Above: Rabbi Manis Friedman
Rabbi Manis Friedman, the Chabad rabbi and shaliach (emissary) who called for collective punishment and genocide against Israel's enemies (the Moment Magazine incident) and compared being sexually abused or raped as a child to having a case of diarrhea, is reportedly the co-producer of a new film.
Friedman joined with a ba'al teshuva to make a film on sexuality and intimacy based on – Kabbalah.
Friedman is a self-styled expert on the topic who has counseled (without a license and without official rabbinic ordination) thousands of people over his years as a Chabad shaliach.
I find Manis especially distasteful because he used to be my friend. But long before I had my break with Chabad, I discovered enough about Manis to back away from him.
First there were two university events he committed to attend and then skipped without notice.
Then there was a lecture in which Manis told a story, weaving detail after detail to reach a conclusion that supported his assertions, and Chabad's. The problem was, I knew many of the true details of that story, and they didn't match up with Friedman's depiction. In fact, they often were nearly completely opposite what Friedman claimed, and rather than proving his point, disproved it.
After the lecture I confronted Friedman and asked him. Isn't this story you told about x really the story that happened with so-and-so of the World Union of Jewish Students' North American section, the Jewish Students Network? And isn't the truth that this and this and this is what took place, not what you said in your lecture?
Yes, Friedman answered, nodding, not at all ashamed.
So why did you lie? I asked him? Why completely change the facts and the meaning of the incidents? Why not tell the truth?
Because it wouldn't be a good story that way, Friedman answered.
I walked away.
Not long afterward, I mentioned this to a friend in the local Chabad community. He listed several similar incidents with Friedman that he saw first hand, and said these lies were why he stopped having much to do with Friedman.
I know with absolute certainty that Chabad officials were well aware of Friedman's lies but did nothing to stop them or to discipline Friedman. He was perhaps their most successful outreach person worldwide, and the Bais Chana Women's Institute he led was without question the biggest feeder of ba'al teshuvas into the Chabad system in the entire world.
So Friedman kept on counseling women, some of whom had suffered abuse either as children or as adults, telling them things like, would you tell your potential husband that you had diarrhea? in response to a question about whether or not a woman should tell her prospective husband that she had been sexually abused as a child.
As for the abuse itself, Friedman told women that it was their responsibility to get over it, to stop thinking about it and to simply ignore it. Everyone is damaged (except the Rebbe, of course), Friedman used to say. Why do you think your damage is that important? Get over it.
That man – so ignorant, so callous and so wrong – is still a Chabad shaliach, and his new film purports to teach people about sexual intimacy.