Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Imrei Yosef of Spinka.....What in the world happened to Spinka?

The residents of the city of Marmarosh, Romania, suffered from abject poverty. The Imrei Yosef, Rabbi Yosef Meir Weiss, first Spinka Rebbe, was no exception. He lived in Marmarosh just before moving to Spinka, where he established his dynasty. In Marmarosh he didn’t even have enough money to buy wood to heat his home in the winter. One wealthy follower of the Rebbe owned several forests, and he would send wood to the Rebbe at the beginning of each winter. It was stored in a shed in the Rebbe’s courtyard.

One bitterly cold night a desperate villager stole into the Rebbe’s shed to take some wood. In the pitch dark he felt around for a few loose logs. As he was pulling out a piece of wood, a pile of logs collapsed on him, and he was badly injured. But bleeding and writhing in pain, he was able to suppress his screams of agony lest someone catch him in the act of stealing, and from the Rebbe, no less.

The next day the Rebbe found out about the incident. Word spread around town, and the thief locked himself up in his house. But just what did the Rebbe have to say about the theft? “I am ashamed to open my mouth if a poor, brokenhearted Yid risked such danger in my house because of his terrible poverty.” The Rebbe, in need of that wood to fight off the bitter winter in Marmarosh, didn’t rebuke the man. He didn’t even put a lock on the shed. Instead he put in a request to have lighting installed in the shed, just in case anyone else needed to “borrow” some wood. “If not I would not be able to call this a Jewish home,” said the Spinka Rebbe. And a lantern was lit each night in the courtyard from then on outside the Rebbe’s shed.

So what in the world happened to Spinka? 100 years ago in Spinka the Rebbe taught to give, even if one might suffer from the giving. Today in Spinka.....well, why don't we let this website remain a positive one. But if you notice, the posts on this site tend to concentrate on tzaddikim of yesteryear. We could probably fill up a whole website on stories of "tzaddikim" of our generation, but who needs such lashon hara (evil speech)? It's like my friend says: why do we throw a scrap a good non-kosher meat to the dogs of today? Because their ancestors many years ago didn't bark or make any noise when we left mitzraim. So why should their descendants get the meat? They didn't do anything. And, so too, with the Rebbes, he says. We can never stop talking of the tziddkus and ahahva for Klal Yisroel the Rebbes of the past possessed. But their descendants only bare the name. While I don't agree entirely with this statement, and I do have sincere love for the Skverer Rebbe, the Lelover Rebbe, and one or two others even though their communities are not perfect (I hate to admit that I have so much dirt) we have to admit that there are genuine problems from the top. I will admit that I don't know the personal dealings Rebbes of past generations even though I make them out to be perfect on this site. It's very possible that fraud against the goverment and other improprieties did exist with these leaders. I don't usually give my opinion on this site, but in the case of Spinka it certainly needs to be stated. Especially since the Rebbe is treated with more kavod (honor) now by the Boro Park communitie and communities worldwide. What's sad is that the Rebbe never really admitted his guilt. He even claimed mental deficency! At an asifa in Boro Park, at which he was the guest of honor, he said, "there may have been some things done which weren't right." And based on this the community lavished praise on him for "doing teshuva." But the sickest of the sick comments I heard was from a Boyaner chasid in Isreal. A friend fowarded me his disturbing email on the subject in which he says that the Rebbe was arrested because he "didn't" follow his yetzer harah (evil inclination). And additionally, that his arrest it just like the Alter Rebbe's arrest, same thing. I can't seem to remember the exact nature of the Alter Rebbe's grand financial scheme. Was it a ponzi scheme? A tax-fraud scheme? I don't mean to belabor the point (which I realize I am doing by now), but this is a major chillul Hashem, and I am bothered by all the praise for the "Rebbe." I was recenctly at a Satmar wedding in Williamsburg, and the Rebbe was called up for one of the sheva brachos. Everyone was excited. Below is an excerpt from the statements of the court:

Weisz directed others to perform the actual transactions and tasks; however, he worked out the financial intricacies himself. His conversations with co-defendant Zigelman appear clear and lucid, he corrects Zigelman’s errors and engages in mathematical calculations with precision and accuracy.

This transcript (of a recorded conversation with Zigelman) as well as other transcripts filed with the Court in connection with the sentencing of Weisz’s co-defendants, reveals Weisz to be a very hands on director of the scheme, painstakingly going through every contribution and reimbursement, reconciling accounting entries for both contributors and money remitters, determining reimbursement rates, and determining when, how and where money should be remitted.

The government agrees that the Defendant has accepted responsibility for his actions and that his outreach efforts urging similarly situated religious institutions to initiate compliance programs are helpful and extraordinary. These statements are not without qualification, however… the tardiness of his plea also goes to his level of remorse and his acceptance of responsibility.

Defendant’s characterization of his wrongful acts pose similar concerns. In his plea agreement, Weisz states that his error lay in his participation in the quid pro quo arrangement of giving cash back for contributions, his knowledge that contributors could use the charitable contribution receipts to justify tax deductions, and his “failure to inquire” as to whether receipts reflected the actual amount contributed after refunds.

The government holds a much more stark view of this case and Weisz’s involvement in that the entire purpose of reimbursing contributions appears to have been a device to promote a tax fraud and operate as a money laundering vehicle. There is no legitimate explanation for reimbursing contributions with millions of dollars of cash, or assisting individuals in wiring money from Israel to the United States by routing it through a series of Spinka nominee accounts. Moreover, there is ample evidence that Weisz was keenly aware that contributors were using the receipts to justify unlawful tax deductions.

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