Unfortunately, there are elements of the Rabbanute committed to white-washing the humanity and flaws of our leadership and creating a false mythology.
This is nothing new. It is unfortunate, in my humble opinion, as clearly we have a Torah filled with characters who were human with flaws.
Compilers of our version of the Talmud removed from earlier manuscripts storys that placed the personalities of the Talmud in a negative light. The clearest example of this is Bruriah. The story of how she was seduced by a student of her husband, Rabbi Meir, which led to her suicide and her husband flight to Babylonia is now only in Talmudic commentaries to Tractate Avodah Zarah but clearly these commentators had access to earlier versions of our Talmud which still retained this story.
A modern example of this comes from the false story of Rabbi (Yom Tov) Lipa Brenner HaCohen written by Rabbi Paysach Krohn (brother-in-law of Rabbi Ephraim Boruch Bryks Halevi who is married to Brenner's daughter) in Around the Maggid's Table, R. Paysach Krohn, p.98. Rabbi Brenner has provided information to Krohn regarding the historical background of many selections in Krohn's books (p.15, The Maggid Speaks: Favorite Stories and Parables of Rabbi Sholom Schwadron, Shlita By Paysach J Krohn).
[JWB emails Luke: "Rabbi Brenner has provided information to Krohn regarding the historical background of many selections in Krohn's books. This raises further questions as to the credibility of Krohn's body of work. Proof of Brenner's collaboration can be found in Krohn's writings in his Magid books by searching Google books."]
I present to you a retelling of the false story found on a website for a Bukharian youth group that has received funds and sponsorship from at least one mortgage broker company related to Rabbi Brenner with long quotes from Krohn's book. I will follow the lie by the actual truth:
1) THE LIE:
The following amazing true story illustrates the importance of correcting others in the nicest way possible:
Being a Rabbi in a small town, far from any city with a large Jewish population is often a lonely and thankless job. True, there is much to accomplish, but the challenges that need to be overcome on the way to solidifying a minyan of shomrei Shabbos (Sabbath observers), building a day school, or convincing people to uphold and maintain standards of kashrus and family purity always seem to be uphill struggles. More often than not, a Rabbi in an area with a limited number of Jewish inhabitants gets the feeling that the Jews in the community are simply not on the same wave length as he is.
One such rav was Rav Lipa Brenner, who had been inspired to enter the rabbinate by his mentor in Yeshiva Torah V'daas, Reb Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz (1886-1948) of blessed memory. After a few years of serving as a rabbi and principal in a small town in New Jersey, Reb Lipa was becoming exasperated. The local baalei battim (laymen) were not cooperating with him in his endeavors and Reb Lipa's accomplishments seemed to dim with every passing year. Meanwhile, to add to his dilemma, business opportunities beckoned from New York. Aside from the potential financial security that was so alluring, New York offered a variety of boys' and girls' yeshivos in which Reb Lipa might finally have the opportunity to provide his children with the chinuch (education) that he felt was proper and essential.
In a quandary as to whether or not to leave the rabbinate, he decided to travel to Eretz Yisrael and seek the advice of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe, Reb Chaim Mayer Hager, of blessed memory. (1888-1972). Reb Lipa obtained his tickets and a passport, and made the trip. However, upon his arrival he was informed that the Rebbe was preparing to leave for Lugano, Switzerland, and would receive no more visitors before his departure. So Reb Lipa followed him to Switzerland.
In Lugano, Reb Lipa made his way to where the Rebbe was staying. He waited his turn to see the Rebbe and, when he was finally ushered in, the Rebbe asked Reb Lipa to sit beside him at his table. Seated across the table was another rav from Tel Aviv. After a few moments the rebbetzin (Rebbe's wife) came in with a glass of hot tea for her husband. Before she could even put the tea on the table, the Rebbe gently admonished her and said, "Please bring two more glasses of tea. We are three rabbanim (rabbis) here about to have a discussion."
Reb Lipa was astounded. The Rebbe had referred to him as a rav, and talked of him as though he were a peer. Reb Lipa trembled as he realized the significance of the title the Vizhnitzer Rebbe had inadvertently bestowed on him. But perhaps it wasn't inadvertent? Did the Rebbe know that he was thinking of leaving the rabbinate? Reb Lipa never bothered to find out. Then and there he resolved his own conflict. He would retain his position as rav.
Reb Lipa went on to teach and influence hundreds of under-affiliated Jews. For example, more than two decades later, Reb Lipa was visiting in the Mattersdorf section of Jerusalem. It was Shabbos afternoon and dozens of children were playing in the streets, which are cordoned off until nightfall. Suddenly a bearded young man came over to Reb Lipa, yelling, "Rebbe!" Reb Lipa turned around, but he did not recognize anyone. "Rebbe," the young man said, smiling, "you are Reb Brenner, aren't you? You probably don't recognize me anymore. I went to your school back in New Jersey more than twenty years ago. Come with me," the young man said warmly. "I want to introduce you to your grandchildren."
The young man took Reb Lipa by the hand and brought him to where his wife was watching their children play. The Sages tell us "Anyone who teaches Torah to a child of his friend, is as though he gave birth to [the child,]" said the young man, citing the Talmud (Sanhedrin 19b). "Thus, if I am your child, these are your grandchildren."
The young man was indeed one of the five from a foster home in New Jersey whom Reb Lipa had dedicated himself to teach Torah so many years previous. Reb Lipa had seen to it that he attend the Mirrer Yeshiva in New York, and from there, the young man went on to become an outstanding talmid chacham (Torah Scholar). Reb Lipa had all but forgotten him, but the young man had remembered. The face of his mentor had been etched in the child's memory forever. (Around the Maggid's Table R. Paysach Krohn, p.98)
We see the power of correcting others in a kind way. The Torah and mitzvahs of the young man and his family were only possible because Reb Lipa decided to stay a Rabbi. Thus, the kind words of the Vizhnitzer Rebbe had a tremendous effect on several generations. In our story, the Vizhnitzer Rebbe merely treated Reb Lipa with respect, by referring to him with the title of "Rav." There are plenty of businessmen but precious few talented Rabbis who can teach authentic Torah to the masses. Thus, Reb Lipa was much more needed in the rabbinate than in business. The Vizhnitzer Rebbe, who was endowed with enhanced spiritual powers of perception was able to see into Reb Lipa's soul and know what issue was on his mind. Therefore, when it came time to give Reb Lipa his opinion, the Rebbe did so in the sweetest way possible.
2) THE TRUTH
Rabbi "Lewis" (Yom Tov) Lipa Hacohen is a vile pedophile. He was convicted in 1996 of child molestation. The original charges included 14 counts of sodomy, sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child. He agreed to plead guilty to one count of sodomy in the third degree, a Class E felony, in exchange for a sentence of five years' probation.
Prosecutors said Brenner had sexual contact with a youth he met in the bathroom of the synagogue they attended. The molestations allegedly took place over a three-year period that ended in 1995 when the victim was 15 years old.
Yes, that is why the local baalei battim were not "cooperating" with him in his endeavors. They wanted him out of chinuch and out of their communities and institutions.
Instead, Rabbi Brenner moved from one community to the next through numerous synagogues and institutions in NJ and NY state. Brenner was a former Vice President of the Rabbinical Alliance of America and has held numerous pulpit positions in NY and NJ over the past 50 years.
See UOJ's discussion.
As to the assertion "Reb Lipa was much more needed in the rabbinate than in business". He was a complete and total fraud in both. His involvment in both is a complete chilul Hashem [desecration of God's name].
As to his business dealings, see my post about Rabbi Brenner's financial dealings and their possible impact on the child molestation criminal charges at:
Former Rabbinical Alliance of America VP & confessed/convicted child-molester: no jail time. Did his role in $57 million government fraud save him?
[JWB emails Luke: Rabbi Lewis Brenner hired the same lawyer to represent him as Rabbi Baruch Lanner, Marvin E. Schechter, former president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. It seems that Orthodox Rabbis know who to go to when they are charged with child molestation.]
Yes folks, the truth, not the lie told by Rav Krohn in his Maggid's Table Artsroll myths and his stated questionable historical background source of the many other stories that Krohn has written. His source? To repeat: A convicted/confessed child molester involved in $57 million of government fraud.