'This has been a painful experience for me'

Read the full statement from Rabbi Joseph Dweck in response to the review panel's decision

July 19, 2017 12:18

This is the statement made by Rabbi Joseph Dweck in response to the decision made by the review panel, set up by Chief Rabbi Mirvis.

Recent weeks have been challenging for me, my family, my community and my students. There has been discord following several of my shiurim and I was keen to do all that I could to rectify this situation and bring it to an appropriate resolution.

Many of my recent shiurim have been scrutinised with a view to identifying errors in them. While this has been a painful experience for me, it has also given me an opportunity to reflect. There is always merit and much to learn from the words of one’s critics and detractors. Whilst some of the criticism was justified, the vitriolic tone and ad hominem nature of some the attacks made substantive engagement with the issues all but impossible.

After a great deal of cheshbon hanefesh, it is clear to me that there were instances where I spoke in a fashion that was inappropriate and imprudent. There were times, in the flow of discussion, when I irresponsibly applied halakhic rulings and hashkafic views. I also, at times, did not fully explain their context, which risked confusing or misleading people.

There were also instances when I referred to Hazal (our Sages of blessed memory) in a manner that was irreverent. This led some to question my commitment to our Mesora(Rabbinic Tradition) which has profoundly unsettled me. I would not wish to do anything that would divert people from their quest to follow a true Torah way of life.

Finally, I regret that there have been times when I have not shown appropriate derekh erets, by making disparaging remarks about rabbinic colleagues. This was inappropriate and, given my position, quite damaging. I apologise wholeheartedly and publicly ask mehila from my esteemed colleagues for those statements.

As the controversy grew, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who has been a source of strength and leadership throughout, responded to a request from the Rishon LeTziyon (Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel) to resolve the matter and convened a review committee. I am grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to meet with the Chief Rabbi and three of the most eminent Torah leaders of Anglo Jewry – Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu, Dayan Menachem Gelley and Dayan Abraham David.

They provided me with a forum in which I could review my teachings together with them on a range of topics which went beyond my shiur on homosexuality. I expressed regret for the carelessness of some of my teachings which were incorrect. I am deeply grateful to the Chief Rabbi and Dayanim for the measured and dignified manner in which they have conducted the proceedings.

In our discussions, I offered to consult with one of the Dayanim present, or with rabbinic colleagues agreed with them, regarding future halakhic and hashkafic teachings.

Moving forward, I have decided to stand aside from my role as Dayan on the Beth Din. I express my thanks to Dayan Yaron Navon and my confidence in his continued position as Rosh Beth Din.

It is, and has always been, my great privilege and honour to serve as a spiritual leader within Klal Yisrael. I am deeply grateful to G-d for the opportunities He has given me to help draw many people closer to Torah and mitsvot. I am humbled by the expressions of appreciation and encouragement from so many across the globe for my teachings; I also wish to thank everyone who has offered help and care to me and my family.

This unfortunate incident has been unusually painful for my wife and children; I offer them my grateful thanks for their love and support and my admiration for their fortitude over the past few weeks. I thank the many rabbis, both in the UK and abroad who have reached out to me and offered their support and assistance during this challenging time. I particularly thank the Board and yehidim of the S&P Sephardi Community for their unyielding strength, support and encouragement throughout this episode.

I would ask all those who have supported me to help put an end to the discord and negativity that has characterised so much of recent weeks. I pray that together, we can find favour in the eyes of HaKadosh Barukh Hu and our fellow human beings.

It is my greatest honour and privilege to serve as the Senior Rabbi of the S&P Sephardi Community — an illustrious and historic community that I love dearly and which I aim to serve with all my heart. I now look forward to continuing to enhance the honour of Torah in Yisrael and to lead the kahal from strength to strength in the years to come.

Rabbi Joseph Dweck,
Senior Rabbi, The S&P Sephardi Community

July 19, 2017 12:18

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