Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Did Rav Eliyahu "Confirm" The Miracle of Rochel Imeinu In Gaza?

Snort. He did no such thing. Or if he did, it does not mean much.

Let us start with the story, though it has all sorts of variants. Apparently, some soldiers in Gaza were going to enter specific houses, three consecutive times, and were asked not to by an Arab woman named Rachel. When they searched the houses, they found that they were booby-trapped. The claim is that this was Rachel Imeinu.

Some points:

(1) Does her name being "Rachel" mean that it must have been Rachel Imeinu? For all we know, it might have been Rachel Corrie! ;) Or better yet, it might have been a random Arab woman whose name was Rachel. Yes, apparently some Muslims also bear this name, not surprising because it has a Biblical basis. See here for a Muslim woman named Rachel. Or maybe this detail, like many others, was added by some idiot. After all, this account has no mention of the name Rachel.

Yet see how Shiloh Musings reports this Urban Legend:
When he asked her who she was, she replied that she was Rachel Imeinu, and she wanted to protect and save the soldiers.
and compare with this account, from Life In Israel:
No one knows who she was. She disappeared as quickly as she had appeared. One soldier asked who are you, and she said Rachel. Other soldiers heard her say this.
So if the story happened, it is possible she just said Rachel, and then other people expanded this to Rachel Imeinu and her also saying explicitly that she was acting to protect and save the soldiers.

{Update: See that R' Lazer Brody, who spread previous hoaxes, was the initial one posting on this. And in this story, the woman does not say her name. But he writes:
Who was that woman? Sounds to me like Rachel Imenu...
And so this was the likely genesis of that particular detail.
}

(2) Did we hear of this directly?

Well, we do seem to have this direct testimony, though I have not heard it directly. To cite Shiloh Musings, which got several details wrong:
This testimony was provided by one of the Golani Brigade soldiers who was injured, and later reported the incident in the hospital. The soldier was interviewed on Galei Tzahal [Israel Army Radio].
If he was injured, then I guess Rachel did not do her job so well. Did this soldier directly talk to Rachel?

Others have it from the mother of one of the soldiers:
‘My son is in the Givati Brigade, and his unit’s job is to clean out areas around Gaza City.
Meanwhile, how does Rav Shmuel Eliyahu know the details of the story? Well, we have:
Recently, a story has been circulating about Rachel Imeinu, who appeared to soldiers in various places, and saved them from booby-trapped houses. A great Rosh Yeshiva told me that it was true, and that he knew the man told the story, and told me his name.
This is thus indirect, kind of like friend-of-a-friend. Similar "confirmations" occurred by the hoax about the black student who was a victim of the attack on Merkaz HaRav (where the source was purportedly a rebbe in the Yeshiva), and similar confirmations in the hoax about Rav Kanievsky warning of people being in bomb shelters on Chanukkah (where it was again purportedly from a person X who spoke to Rav Kanievsky). Here, he does not say the name of the "great Rosh Yeshiva," such that we can confirm details from him. I am sure the great Rosh Yeshiva exists. And the great Rosh Yeshiva told him the name of the man in the story, and that seems to be enough for Rav Shmuel Eliyahu. He should call the man in the story himself, and confirm that it occurred, and confirm the specific details. Or ask the great Rosh Yeshiva whether he heard it from the man himself, or whether from someone in the man's family or shul, etc. As it is, and as it was for the two aforementioned hoaxes, there is entirely too much potential from broken telephone and misunderstandings or who did what.

And what does it mean "that it was true?" That it was Rachel? Which version of the story is he endorsing?

(3) How did the woman appear and reappear in different houses, if not via a miracle, and if not for her being Rachel Imeinu?

Well, there are tunnels between the houses:
The soldiers thought she probably came somehow through the tunnel network that Hamas had set up between houses, and one of the soldiers even yelled at her… Then they went to a third house – and the same woman appeared again. This time, all the soldiers froze.
And indeed, as per another account, there were tunnels:
A little while later, it turned out that the old woman was right: the houses were booby-trapped, and they had openings to tunnels. The houses exploded, and the soldiers' lives were saved!
So she could have simply run from one house to the next via tunnels.

(4) If it was really an Arab woman, why would she do this?

There are a number of possible reasons. One, she could have been a righteous woman who did not like Chamas and did not want soldiers walking into a booby-trap.

It is also possible that she had family in these houses, or she or relatives or friends owned these houses, and that Hamas, which likes to cause civilian casualties so that they can wave them at the cameras, booby-trapped the houses hoping or not caring about civilian casualties or damage to property. The woman was trying to protect loved-ones, or her home, and so warned the soldiers so as to prevent the explosion.

Thus, to explain the reason:
and started yelling at them in Arabic, ‘Ruchu min hon – Get out of here! It’s dangerous!’ The troops thought she might be trying to protect her family, but they didn’t want to take chances;
(5) Did she speak Hebrew or Arabic?

According to one account:
Outside one house, a woman dressed in black appeared and started yelling at them in Arabic, ‘Ruchu min hon – Get out of here! It’s dangerous!’
So she spoke Arabic. According to another account, she does not speak Arabic but rather only Hebrew:
The officer asked her in Arabic to evacuate the doorway, but she answered him in Hebrew, and begged him to immediately get far away from the house, since it was booby-trapped [mined with explosives], and there was a danger to him and his soldiers.
How can you believe such a story when crucial details such as whether she said a name, whether she said Rachel, or whether she said Rachel Imeinu; and whether she spoke in Arabic or in Hebrew, are at variance? Clearly if it did happen in some form, people are actively modifying it, and so even though Rav Shmuel Eliyahu heard it from an unnamed great Rosh Yeshiva who

(6) Did Rav Mordechai Eliyahu confirm the details of the story?

No, and he is in no position to do so. Rather, when told the story, he believed the story to be true. And that this was a fulfillment to his prayers, when he spoke to Rachel Imeinu and asked her to pray to Hashem for her children.

(I would note that while the Navi Yirmeyahu writes poetry about the disconsolate Rachel,saying that she is crying, כה אמר ה' קול ברמה נשמע נהי בכי תמרורים רחל מבכה על בניה מאנה להנחם על בניה כי איננו, in a way that may well be allegorical, this is not the same as an endorsement to be doreish el hameisim.)

All he asked Rachel for was to pray that Hashem grant the soldiers success and not to be harmed, not to work as a scout, as a sort of independent operating power. Yet Rav Eliyahu apparently sees this as a possible fulfillment of his request.

I say "possible" because based on the video retelling by his son, it was said in a jocular manner, and as a question. "Did she tell them that I sent her?"

And anyway, his belief is not a confirmation of reality. It is just a confirmation of his own beliefs, which may or may not accord with reality. And before Rav Eliyahu said this, I could point to any number of frum, mystically inclined individuals who also believed it. Th

Meanwhile, here is YNet's account of it, with Rav Eliyahu's "endorsement" and Rav Aviner saying that one should be skeptical, and that the pasuk in Mishlei applies, that a fool believes everything:

טו פֶּתִי, יַאֲמִין לְכָל-דָּבָר; וְעָרוּם, יָבִין לַאֲשֻׁרוֹ. 15 The thoughtless believeth every word; but the prudent man looketh well to his going.

Some of Rav Aviner's remarks, cited from that YNet article:

"יש שני סוגי קיצוניות", הוסיף הרב אבינר, קיצונות אחת זה לכפור בנסים וקיצוניות אחת זה להאמין שכל מי שמספר על נס באמת היה נס... יכול להיות שדמיינו. לפעמים אדם מדמיין, אדם בריא בנפשו. לפעמים הוא בלחץ, הוא עייף, הוא רעב, נדמה לו שהוא רואה משהו ואין, ואחר כך הוא מטפח את זה בזיכרונו. זה נקרא F.M.S - תסמונת הזיכרון המוטעה".

"יכול להיות שזו הייתה אישה גויה. יש גם

ערביות טובות - אמנם לא כולן, אבל יש. ואולי מישהו הזה את הרעיון הזה כדי לחזק את האמונה, ולומר: אתם רואים? יש אנשים שיוצאים למלחמה ויש אנשים שלא יוצאים למלחמה אבל הם מתפללים ובזכותם באה רחל ומצילה. לכן דברים כאלה צריכים הוכחות".

Update: See also the post on this at Yeranen Yaakov.

Also, see my continued discussion of this, in another blog post.

27 comments:

s said...

Even if it wasn't her, it is still a miracle that their life was saved. Plus, eventhough the soldier was injured, he is still alive and we can't say that she didn't do her job.

Imagine this, the Jewish people uniting in prayer and those prayers protecting us -
Obviously, there is going to be some causalties because it's a war. But the numbers 1300 gazans and only 13 Israelis is miraculous.

Also, I want to point out that if someone was given a name of a soldier to pray for, and the soldier got injured, the one who prayed shouldn't think that the prayer didn't work. Maybe the soldier might have been killed, but the prayer saved him and so he was only injured but will be okay

Anonymous said...

okay, it's okay to have doubts or concerns about 'veracity'.
but i tell you, at this point in israel's history, it is a bracha that so many people hear this story and derive emunah and chizuk from it.

maybe, just maybe you are wrong and it really was her. the commander said the same woman appeared at another house almost instantly.


to 'believe' this story is not to be gullible, it is to be open to real emunah.

whether or not it is 'true' does not matter at this point. what matters is that am yisrael gets inspiration and dvekut from it.

it's worth it for that. and that may well be why 'rachel' came.

Anonymous said...

"whether or not it is 'true' does not matter at this point. what matters is that am yisrael gets inspiration and dvekut from it"

The question, though, is where will this inspiration and dvekut be around still in another month? Only if a neis leads to a concretization of the inspiration do its effects endure for the long term.

What real concrete changes has the story of this great neis, true or not, brought about in our lives?

yitz said...

I see that Josh is still into his folly, of trying to analyze stories in the Blogosphere as if they were pasukim or at least Talmudic passages. Have fun!
Meanwhile, the rest of us know that there are varying accounts of these incidents, part of the reason is that this woman was seen by MANY of our soldiers, & perhaps the variance is the accounts is due to the fact that different people are retelling what happened to them, at possibly different times. Did you ever think of that possibility, Mr. Talmudist?

yaak said...

If Rav Eliyahu believes the story to be true, that's good enough for me.
I posted on this too.

joshwaxman said...

s:
"Even if it wasn't her, it is still a miracle that their life was saved. Plus, eventhough the soldier was injured, he is still alive and we can't say that she didn't do her job."
Assuming that there is anything to this story. The embellishments make me doubt even that. But yes, if so, then it is a nes. A nes nistar, and the yad Hashem, and not some magical work of a Jewish saint, Rochel Imeinu come incarnate. There are many such nissim. My opposition here is to everyone leaping onto the latest urban legend, in contradiction of the pasuk רַק עַם-חָכָם וְנָבוֹן הַגּוֹי הַגָּדוֹל הַזֶּה.

Anonymous 1:
"okay, it's okay to have doubts or concerns about 'veracity'.
but i tell you, at this point in israel's history, it is a bracha that so many people hear this story and derive emunah and chizuk from it."

no, if it is false, and dubious on its face, it is unfortunate that people are deriving their emunah and chizuk from sheker and silliness. Just as it was unfortunate that people were deriving emunah and chizzuk from the Monsey talking fish story. It is *not* a positive thing to be superstitious and gullible. Just as it is unfortunate when Christians see the Virgin Mary in an oil stain, and congregate around it to worship it.

whether or not it is 'true' does not matter at this point. what matters is that am yisrael gets inspiration and dvekut from it.
no, it does matter if it was true. and unfortunately, this attitude has led in the past to people making up false but "inspirational" stories.

yitz:
I see that Josh is still into his folly, of trying to analyze stories in the Blogosphere as if they were pasukim or at least Talmudic passages. Have fun!
Nice defensive offense to categorize my response as folly. Meanwhile, Rav Eliyahu is passing this story off as literally true, and people are taking this as a confirmation of it. Yes, if you do not want to be gullible and fall for every urban legend, you do have to subject them to critical analysis.

Meanwhile, the rest of us know that there are varying accounts of these incidents, part of the reason is that this woman was seen by MANY of our soldiers, & perhaps the variance is the accounts is due to the fact that different people are retelling what happened to them, at possibly different times.
Snort. If you want to live in denial with that teretz then there is no way I can stop you. Yes, she appeared in multiple houses, to the *same* brigade, sequentially though in a short amount of time, such that they assumed (probably correctly) that she was using the tunnels which indeed existed between the houses.

yaak:
I replied on your blog. IMHO, Rav Eliyahu believing it to be true does not excuse you from your own obligation to think critically, especially when the story in its present form already betrays evidence of being an urban legend. And especially if it was R' Lazer Brody who first came up with the "suggestion" that it must have been Rachel. This is just evidence that there is something very wrong in that even great kabbalists can be taken in by the latest urban legend, and then their belief in it taken as confirmation for its accuracy.

Kol Tuv to all,
Josh

Rafi G said...

I have no idea if this story is true or not. It makes me uncomfortable to discount it automatically as nonsense, considering the types of stories and history we grow up with.
Though I am not chassidishe, and this is more along the chassidishe types of stories....

I do know a gadol, specifically in kabbala and emuna, who says that it is perfectly ok to make up stories for the purpose of teaching a lesson and giving emuna.

joshwaxman said...

many chassidishe types of stories are similarly made up, for similar purposes.

while that gadol and others might say this, i would disagree. don't you think this undermines emunah, when such is encouraged? how can I trust in the integrity of the mesorah, when people think it ethically and halachically justified to make up such stories? how do i now know that maamid har Sinai was not made up to teach a lesson and give emunah?

KT,
Josh

Neshama said...

The first thing 'detractors', 'scoffers' and 'doubters' do when they hear something that does not correlate with their worldview is to challenge the veracity, tear apart the circumstantial evidence, and then settle into their cognitive dissonance.

These are the same as those who say this is a 'coincidence'!

joshwaxman said...

Neshama:
but here it is *clear* what has happened, and what developed, no matter much you want to believe.

we have R' Lazer Brody detailing a much less impressive story, with his *suggestion* it must have been Rachel, and we *see* the story morphing into her saying her name is Rachel or that she is Rachel Imeinu. We *see* variants crop up, with her speaking Arabic, and then with her speaking Hebrew. And then we see Rav Eliyahu endorsing one version of the skewed story, and perhaps taking credit for it. There may well be a kernel of truth, but it is quite likely not equal to the urban legend.

But it is interesting, because you are trying to detract, scoff, and doubt *my words*, because it challenges *your* worldview, and your response it simply an ad hominem attack.

There are also a bunch of people who insist on being silly and gullible, and believing every crazy story as it comes out. R' Lazer Brody was also the one who promulgated the false story about the black student in Mercaz Harav (see here). And the same people believed that Rav Kanievsky said that people would be in bomb shelters on Chanukkah, which eventually he said that he never said it.

Think instead of why *your* folk believe every crazy story that comes out, every bit of sheker that happens to confirm your worldview.

KT,
Josh

Yid With Lid said...

I am not as learned as most of the commentators, I can't quote Talmud etc. I Posted it because it was a Heartwarming story. Do I Know for sure that it was Mother Rachel? NO. Do I know for sure it Wasn't No. I do know one thing, If HaShem wanted to send Rachel to help some IDF soldiers he could. And Even if it didn't happen, its good for people to believe.

Devorah said...

Methinks you doth protest too much. Are you scared of the truth or scared of miracles?

joshwaxman said...

Yid With Lid:
Heartwarming or not, inspirational or not, it is dangerous precedent to inspire people with sheker, if it is in fact sheker. So if it didn't happen, I *don't* think it is good for people to believe. Not to mention it further shifts their worldview in a superstitious direction. Could Hashem have done it? Sure, Hashem is Kol Yachol, and *could* have made the Monsey fish talk. But taken to extremes, such is dangerous. An excellent example is in the Philip Roth short story, "The Conversion of the Jews." It is available here. Read it, especially the last page, where Oscar, threatening to jump, gets the rabbi to admit that God can do anything, including making a child without intercourse, and from there to believing in Jesus.

Devorah:
Or do not protest to much. Tell me, did you think about any of these irregularities and urban legend features before jumping on to the bandwagon? It seems that I (and of course Rabbi Aviner) am the only one approaching these many hoaxes from a frum rational perspective, and I believe that this is an important voice to be heard.

But you do touch on an important point. My general Jewish religious perspective is that now is a time of hester panim, and that Hashem, while being kol yachol, conducts the world *not* through nissim gluyim, but via derech hateva. In fact, even in Biblical times, except for explicitly stated nissim, where *Hashem*, the author of derech hateva, acted to divert it, I would be reluctant to assume a nes as at play. This is a more Ibn Ezra - oriented approach. To explain this, I would need a whole post, and perhaps I will indeed elaborate on it in a separate post. But I think that certain groups within the frum community do not believe in derech hateva, but live in a magical world where anything is possible, and so magical things frequently happen. This leads to superstitious beliefs and practices, which is not a good thing. A good illustration where we diverge on this is from last week's parsha, in my post on the long lived donkey. Read that post, and especially the comment section where I discuss with an Anonymous commenter where I diverge from you. I am unabashed at my position, and consider it a frum position. Perhaps I will take the opportunity to elaborate in another post.

KT,
Josh

Devorah said...

Maybe Hashem conducts the world via derech hateva in your vicinity... but where I am, there are constant miracles. The path you choose to follow is the way you will be lead. If you turn a blind eye to all the miracles around us, you will never get to experience any, simply because you deny their existence.

I hope that you get to experience a real miracle - one that even you cannot rationalize away!!!

joshwaxman said...

Devorah:
or alternatively, Hashem directs the entire world via derech haTeva in general, though guiding that derech haTeva, and you experience things as miracles because you are primed to interpret them as such, and because you are not used to critically analyzing cause and effect and realizing how statistics and probability play out, al derech hateva.

Here is a man who also constantly experiences miracles, in Sydney, Australia:
http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,21985,24916527-5002700,00.html

"AN Australian man says the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus have appeared in his lava lamp and ever since the “miracle” his life has been blessed.

...

“Only a couple of weeks after Holy Mary appeared to me in the lava lamp every facet of my life began to miraculously transform,” he said.

“I met the most incredible woman, my angel here on earth.”

Mr Smith believes there is no doubt that the lava lamp led him to his soul mate who had been praying for a miracle herself on the other side of Sydney.

“Since then we have gotten engaged, phenomenal job offers have come flooding in, money keeps presenting itself and we are blessed by the warmth and love of angels constantly protecting and guiding us.”"

I ask you, do you believe that this man is experiencing miracles, as a result of the Virgin Mary and Jesus?? If not, do you think that it is possible for someone to interpret randomness as clear miracles? How do you distinguish yourself from him, in a convincing manner?

KT,
Josh

Anonymous said...

Not everything in life has to be black and white. The Torah itself has interpretations and Rashi.

So does life.

Just chill out and stop analysing every little thing with a microscope. Some things are just because they are.

Should the stories of Eliyahu HaNavi appearing over the centuries be abandoned as imaginary?

If Rabbi Eliyahu confirmed the story, then one may rely on him to believe it.

Start working on your Emunas Tzaddikim unless of course you believe that you are the Chochom Hador yourself :)

"Rochel M'vakah Al Boneha"

joshwaxman said...

1) please pick a pseudonym. anonymous commenting gets confusing.

2) "Not everything in life has to be black and white... Some things are just because they are."
nice slogans. but what does that have do with anything. the intelligent thing to do when analyzing something which has all the marks of an urban legend is to actually *examine* it. or are you afraid it will not stand up to scrutiny, as it hasn't?

3) "Eliyahu Hanavi"
A good question. Certainly a good many of them are indeed urban legends, or claims that it was Eliyahu Hanavi in disguise where there were in fact other explanations in play.

And there were theological problems discussed in halachic sources with people *possibly* setting a table for Eliyahu, in thanks for what they believed to be Eliyahu haNavi's direct intercession, which would be problematic if they belived this. See here, in an earlier parshablog post, where I translate something about the practice.

4) "If Rabbi Eliyahu confirmed the story"
Did he? How did he confirm it? He *believed* the story, and claimed credit for it. Did he speak to the actual soldier to confirm the details? Did he travel to Gaza to see if an actual woman fitting the description lives, or does not live there?

No, I do not believe Rav Eliyahu has magical powers to know this without derisha and chakira. And I think that such an endorsement is not positive for Judaism, as it moves people into a superstitious direction, to believing in praying to Biblical characters to come incarnate as *saints* to take practical action, rather than the slightly less problematic idea of asking them to pray to Hashem.

5) "Start working on your Emunas Tzaddikim"
thank you for the mussar. but no thanks. no, I do not believe that Rav Eliyahu can work practical magic, or has mystical insights from on high about this. Even *if* he believes that he does. (Which I don't see anyway from the secondhand statements from him.) And Emunas Tzaddikim is not the same as Emunas Chachamim.

6) "unless of course you believe that you are the Chochom Hador yourself"
no, but I do believe that we have an obligation not to be stupid, and if something smells, like this urban legend does, we do not stand back and not question and analyze it. I think it would be *wrong* to stand back and not take a position on something with potential theological significance, because of the stature of the people involved. As the pasuk states, ולא תהדר פני גדול.

I would note that I am not the only rabbi who has taken a stand against this.

Rabbi Cherlow has taken a stand against this (thanks for the tip, nechama) -- see here, calling it doreish el hameisim. He is probably bothered by the idea that is being presented that one can request physical intercession from a dead person, and have them physically intercede. Even though that is not what Rav Eliyahu said he requested, that is the message people are going to get.

And there is also Rav Aviner's statement.

6) "Rochel M'vakah Al Boneha"
Yes, I addressed that in the post. That is *poetry* by Yirmeyahu saying what she is doing, for her children going into exile (specifically the kingdom of Israel, led by Ephraim, rather than the kingdom of Yehuda). That is not the same as praying to her, or having her appear as a scout for bombs in Gaza.

KT,
Josh

joshwaxman said...

though i see you probably read the vos iz neiaz article already. you are commenter #19 there, right?

KT,
Josh

Anonymous said...

I am who I am, no Mother Trucker don't give a damn - except for you who feels the need, urge and desire to dissect every single article, every single word uttered by people, every comment etc.

Get outside of your little box. Travel, let yourself loose, smile, laugh, have fun..Live life!

joshwaxman said...

no *rational* response, huh? my analysis is to demonstrate that this bears many traits of an urban legend, or broken telephone.

it is a shame that you do not feel that emes is important.

i do feel this is important, since theology is just as important as halacha.

PS: Please watch your language. Thanks, and KT,
Josh

Anonymous said...

All is good. Our thoughts shape our world. Whatever you say to someone will produce some kind of reaction in that person. Good, bad or somewhere in between. Our words carry messages which create reactions in others.

Batya said...

The most important thing was that the soldiers were saved. That was a miracle in itself.

And there are Jewish/Israeli women living in Gaza with the Arab husbands. One named Rachel could have spoken to the soldiers.

joshwaxman said...

indeed, to both your points.

KT,
josh

Devorah said...

In his motzei Shabbos drasha, Chacham Rav Ovadia Yosef Shlita expressed words of gratitude to outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for his support of the chareidi community and its institutions.

“I personally spoke with Olmert who assisted our yeshivas. He never said no and sent NIS millions for our yeshivas and talmidei torah,” state the Rav.

The motzei Shabbos shiur was the Rav’s first in a month, following a procedure to relieve the Rav’s serve back pain which doctors learned was caused by fractured vertebra, the result of a fall in his home sometime ago.

The Rav also mentioned the now famous story from the Gaza War, reported by soldiers in combat that they saw Rachel Imeinu outside booby-trapped buildings, saving them. The Rav spoke of the “open miracles” and “Yad Hashem” that was evident during the war.

The Rav stated that Hashem sends his messengers and we can only rely on Him for the future, explaining “no one knows what tomorrow will bring.” Referring to the new American president, the Rav stated “No one knows if he will be good for Israel or not. We must rely only on HaKadosh Baruch Hu”.

Rav Ovadia called on supporters to not only vote Shas in the upcoming election, but to persuade others to do so.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)

joshwaxman said...

thanks.
bli neder I will address this as well.

KT,
Josh

Anonymous said...

You try and discredit R'Lazer by alluding to the Mercaz Harav "hoax". What basis do you have for claiming as fact that it is a hoax? R'Lazer has one version of the story from one faculty member and the other bloggers have a different version. Perhaps Doron did wash dishes to get in but some faculty weren't aware? What about dan lichaf zchus? Have you been in touch with faculty from mercaz harav or with Rav Brody to discuss the story? The same embellishment you accuse R'Lazer of, you do yourself.

joshwaxman said...

I cannot help it if you choose to believe both hoaxes. Yes, R' Lazer presumably did hear something from some faculty member. But there are some major problems with this version of the story. Firstly, it is racist. The black student must not have had a Jewish background, and must have worked as a dishwasher. Secondly, it is rather negative for the yeshiva, to have barred him entry, to have only allowed him in as a dishwasher. And it does not make sense. Had he wanted to learn about Torah, having no background, there are many Torah institutions in Israel that would have let him in for free, that the yeshiva would have, and should have, directed him towards.

One faculty member did not just give a different story to bloggers, but actively told a certain blogger (Dr. Jeffrey Woolf) that the competing version was untrue in all its details:
"Yesterday, I received a phone call from a young member of the Merkaz HaRav faculty (the son of one of my oldest friends), who told me that aside from Doron being a big Lamdan, the story was untrue. He actually was a graduate of Kfar HaRo'eh and was, ab initio, a regular student at Merkaz."

See here:
http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2008/04/folly-of-embellishment.html

and here:
http://hirhurim.blogspot.com/2008/04/another-e-mail-hoax.html

and here:
http://myobiterdicta.blogspot.com/2008/04/merkaz-harav-urban-legend.html

I read in comment sections that people asked R' Lazer Brody for clarification. I never saw any clarifying post.

It was not just that the faculty member was not aware. He stated the opposite; and if he was a graduate of Kfar HaRo'eh, he was already a yeshiva graduate, not initially an ignoramus who would not be able to learn, as he was portrayed.

No, I do not have to personally investigate every story to see if it is a hoax. There is enough here to know that the story smells; add to that the general trend of people liking to make up fake "inpirational" stories in the wake of such events.

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