Rabbi Marc Gafni As A Rorschach’s Test

When I decide on who to let into my personal life, I make judgments about whether someone is good or bad.

I only want good people close to me.

In my professional life, I rarely try to classify people as good or evil. I prefer to stick to empirical facts rather than weave theories about them.

Sometimes I can’t resist weaving theories about people.

One such person was R. Mordecai Gafni.

I talked to about ten people who knew him and in October of 2004, I wrote a long rambling essay portraying him as a charlatan and a monster.

This was way too easy for me.

I have a tendency to idealize and devalue people. I idolize Dennis Prager as the greatest Jew since the Rambam and I portray Gafni as the biggest creep since the Nightstalker.

Among my flaws, I do have some saving graces, one of which is that I can listen to people.

I can listen to people or I can defend myself but I can’t do both at the same time.

If I avoid getting defensive, I can listen to people such as Marc Gafni who I’ve long regarded with contempt and start to inhabit their world.

So where do I stand today on Marc Gafni? I don’t have any stance. I’ve spent hours talking to him over the past two weeks as I do my best to understand his life story from his perspective. I’ve reverted to journalism.

Yes, deep inside of me, there is a journalist dying to get out.

I am as interested in Marc’s perspective on his life as I am in the views of others who’ve known him.

I hope to pull the facts together one day and tell his story coherently and fairly.

Right now I’m thinking about the make-up of those who defend Gafni and those who oppose him. What separates these two camps?

One striking characteristic of those who supported Gafni (such as rabbis Telushkin and Berman and Shacter-Shalomi) and then dumped him is that they never cared much for the facts.

When they defended him, they never bothered to listen to the stories of the women who said they were ill-treated by Gafni.

Then, when charges came out in 2006 that Gafni was sleeping with many of his staff members at Bayit Chadash, they didn’t bother investigating the charges before dumping Gafni faster than yesterday’s news.

There were at least two dozen rabbis who publicly supported Gafni from 2004-2006, and then almost all of them abandoned him in 2006 without calling Gafni for his side nor doing any fact-checking.


It seems to me that the rabbis who supported Gafni prior to the Bayit Chadash scandal of 2006 and then dumped him never cared much about the truth. They either cared about Gafni personally or they cared about the values of his story as they understood it.

But empirical truth? Way too many people don’t want to be bothered. They want to look at these cases through ideological glasses.

How many rabbis have sexual scandals of their own? A lot. After the Bayit Chadash scandal of 2006, many of these scandalous rabbis could no longer afford to publicly support Gafni because it might invite scrutiny of their private sins.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
This entry was posted in Marc Gafni and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.