Naomi Ragen and the Plagiarism Case

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83 Responses

  1. Bob Miller says:

    Some novels aren’t novel at all!

  2. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    Just by coincidence I skimmed today Richard Posner’s new short book on plagiarism. Naomi Ragen sees to be guilty of both 1) plagiarism and 2)infringement of copyright.

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    When one reads the comparisons of Ms. Ragen and Ms. Shapiro’s books, the “comparisons” are indeed staggering. I am neither a judge nor a copyright or intellectual property lawyer, but IMO, the fact that yet another author claims that her works were plagiarized by Ms. Ragen certainly would make me take anything that Ms. Ragen has written or said in the past in her books or columns with a huge grain of salt and skepticism as to its merits as well as the innate credibility of the author. IOW, one can voice an opinion on any subject and back it up with as little or as much proof as one sees fit. However, when one poses the efforts of others as one’s own product, I have a very uneasy feeling.

  4. Fern R says:

    Wow. That’s awful. I hope the case is resolved in a way that rectifies things.

  5. Sandra Ruvel says:

    Seems like a classic case of plagiarism .. Good luck to you Mrs. Shapiro!

  6. Joel Rich says:

    Perhaps (if the logic and not just the final result were provided) you could share with us why daas Torah held that this post was permissible under the laws of shmirat halashon, The court case as well (i.e. what is the proposed relief? was an attempt made to go to bet din first?….)
    The answers would give me (us) an insight into some of the practical elements often missing in philosophical discussion of this issue.

    Respectfully (and kt)

  7. L.Oberstein says:

    This is very illuminating. Naomi Ragen is a very famous writer and she obviously felt that she could glean from little-read niche publications without harm to her reputation. i wonder how many other big time writers do the same.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    How much calumny does Ragen need to heap on Chareidim before her presumption of innocence lashon-hara-wise is lost and we can take her evidently copycat writings as such?

  9. Steve Brizel says:

    Joel Rich-I would also like to see the sevara behind the psak. However, it is well known that the halachos of Shmiras HaLashon classify “toeles habaah” and preventing future harm to others as heterim for disclosing what would be halachically impermissible under the halachos of shmiras halashon. A writer who has engaged in plagiarism from at least 2 and possibly 3 Charedi writers to write novels furthering her own agenda may very well meet those requirements.

    L Oberstein-Plagiarism is a plague not just among “very famous” and “big time writers” but also within colleges,etc. WADR, one looks in vein for those who critique the business ethics of the Charedi world to at least blog about what appears to be a case of Gnevas Daas at the least and Chillul HaShem at the worst. I can just see it-Look at the Chillul HaShem of the lawsuit between two Jewish women over the plots of a MO writer. One wonders where was the sense of Chilul HaShem when the plots, lines and dialogue were recast for Ms. Ragen’s audience-many of whom are Jewish readers as well.

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    Joel-Ms Shapiro mentioned that her matter is being heard before the Jerusalem Beit Din. Ms. Tal has retained counsel and already commenced a lawsuit. FYI, CM provides that litigants before a Beth Din can obtain a Shtar Siluk Bes Din which in effect allows them to proceed before a secular court. Based upon the above article, the Din Torah involving Ms. Shapiro is being heard on the merits at a Din Torah, as opposed to Ms. Tal’s case in the secular courts. OTOH, should Ms. Shapiro prevail in the Din Torah, NY courts, and probably all others on a state and Federal level, would consider a Din Torah as a proceeding that could be converted into a money judgment.

  11. Yoni doe says:

    I’m sure Ms. Shapiro has a fine case against Ms. Ragen, though the examples she brings do not strike me as particularly original passages.

    I think it’s quite telling that Cross Currents is taking sides and letting what is really a complex secular legal issue play out on their otherwise respectable blog.

    I have to ask the moderators. Would you publish such an article if both of the principles in the case were Chareidi writers? Does that fact that Ms. Ragen often takes an negative view of chareidi life in her work play into the way you are (mis)handling this?

  12. HILLEL says:

    Naomi Ragen has publicly revealed her mean-spirited character in her lawsuit before the Israeli Supreme Court which seeks to shut-down the Hareidi-oriented “Mehadrin” buses that provide separate seating for men and women.

    She is not ashamed to join such Hareidi-hating people like Shulamit Aloni of MERETZ and the Israeli REform Judaism group in this attack on Hareidim.

    So, what’s the big deal with a little plagiarism!

  13. joel rich says:

    Steve,
    Unfortunately as a non-citizen of Israel I’m not sure how the beit din system works in this kind of case (e.g. did both parties have to agree to the jurisdiction?). BTW iiuc C”M does not require (at least outside of Israel) that any party agree to a specific beit din, so the shtar siluk aiui would only truly apply if they refuse to appear or agree to a beit din process (e.g. reuven will agree to Zabla but not the xyz beit din)

    I’d also like to know the nexus of the specific claims (including remidies) of intellectual property rights and the rules of choshen mishpat.

    I also fail to see what halachik difference it makes that the purported plagarism was “from at least 2 and possibly 3 Charedi writers to write novels furthering her own agenda ” but that’s a great point, would daas Torah have been different had the case been a 5th chareidi writer?

    KT

  14. SM says:

    I find it astonishing that prior to a legal hearing, a witness for one party, and a possible party in her own right, should publish their own account of what happened. That is not compatible with independent scrutiny.

    I am a Judge. I am entirely sympathetic to those whose work has been plagiarised – if it has been. I am entirely unsympathetic to those who seek the assistance of any Court and then propose to undercut the Court’s jurisdiction by publicising one side of the case a week before the hearing. The spinning of the above account to prejudice the orthodox reader in favour of the writer and against the other party is inappropriate.

    I find it noteworthy that the writer claims to have consulted daas torah about this article. If someone HAS told her that this article is acceptable then it would help to know whether the actual Beth Din hearing the case has been consulted. If not, why not? I must say, I am surprised. My experience of Beth Din hearings (albeit confined to the UK) is that the Beth Din is extremely concerned to meet the highest procedural standards. In my view, a failure to meet those standards would call any decision into question – certainly that would be the consequence in any secular legal system I know of and I see no reason why a Beth Din should be different (and every reason for it to be the same).

    Justice is done when a Judge who knows neither party hears the case in Court and on the Court documents. It is not assisted by attempts to drum up public sympathy or look for witnesses in this manner. If the writer wishes to inform the public what happened she should await the outcome of the Beth Din hearing. One hopes that, should she be on the losing side, she writes an equally prominent article on this Website and that she has promised CC’s administration that she will do precisely that.

    The issue is important because justice has – as is well known – two faces. Firstly, it provides a result between the litigants. One owuld hope that a Beth Din could be relied upon to deal with that matter regardless of this article. Secondly, and as important, justice ensures that there is a result to a dispute rather than two competing claims which are presented to the public for judgement. It is this second limb to which the article is inimical. What has happened is that instead of the decision, everyone is getting one side of the argument. How that assists in a true result is beyond me.

    Lawrence Kaplan’s post above makes the point exactly. That is not a criticism of him at all – it simply serves to point up the difference between a contention and a judgement. I have no idea whether Mrs Ragen is a plagiarist or not. But, if she isn’t (and presumably everyone would agree that justice dictates waiting until the Beth Din has decided the case before saying yeah or nay) then this article constitutes a real wrong against her. That is utterly avoidable and, in my view, it should have been avoided.

  15. Yaakov Menken says:

    The comment by “SM” is well argued and erudite; it is also completely at odds with the world of contemporary jurisprudence.

    A friend of mine, who is an Orthodox Jew and works as a reporter, recently complained to me that news reporting is biased against the defendant, even when that defendant is innocent. [One need look no further than Duke University for recent examples.] The prosecuting attorney must “show his hand” in order to bring charges, and at that point can repeat those charges to the press, while the defendant must not reveal the defense. It is quite routine for prosecutors in criminal cases, much less those suing in civil ones, to lay out some part of the evidence before the general public.

    In this case, the evidence is so cut and dried that the question to be determined is only the amount of damages. Ragen’s edit of Shapiro’s writing could have been used as example 2 among the three examples of plagiarism used by Princeton to show students what not to do. It is truly a textbook case.

    I cannot imagine a judge saying otherwise, because this is so routine. Without a name and credentials we cannot assume “SM” is genuinely a judge, any more than New Yorker should have accepted that the Wikipedia “expert” editor and administrator called “Essjay” was a tenured professor with a PhD when he was actually a 24-year-old college dropout.

    Yoni, if it were between two charedi writers or two modern orthodox writers or two secular writers, we would almost certainly not publish anything about it. But it is well-known that Ragen has attacked the charedi community with exceptionally virulent writing for over a decade, and has consistently shown a lack of ethics and balance. That this lack of ethics can now be demonstrated in compelling terms to the most secular-oriented reader is not, imho, irrelevant.

  16. SM says:

    [SM presented his credentials and a reference to his page, not for publication. –YM]

    I do, therefore, know a bit about contemporary jurisprudence. I don’t know R Menken’s qualifications so I shall assume he does too.

    With that in mind, I am surprised that he can assume the case is ‘cut and dried’. How does he know? Has he seen the evidence? Heard the witnesses? Forgive me, but I conceive of both as an essential pre-requisite to a just decision.

    That is all the more important because R Menken reveals in his last paragraph a distinct feeling (I am avoiding words like ‘bias’ and ‘prejudice’) against Mrs Ragen. In those circumstances I personally would avoid any judgement, lest I inadvertently allowed my own feelings to interfere with my decision (the reason why justice is portrayed as blind).

    Moreover, the mitzvah to hear what each litigant has to say is the Rambam’s positive mitzvah 177. The Rambam quotes Keth 105b where a gardener who bought R Yishmael a basket of grapes every week brought it one day early because he was a litigant in front of R Yishmael that day and could therefore save himself the journey. R Yishmael recused himself as conflicted. Positive mitzvah 179 is the commandement to inquire into the witness’s testimony before rendering judgement – see Devarim 13:15. That the Rambam permitted a departure from the otherwise strict rules of impartiality on behalf of a litigant who was unable to otherwise present their case simply points up the strictness of the rule in other circumstances. In this case, as we know, Michal Tal has legal representation.

    Thus, to say that R Menken ‘cannot imagine a judge saying otherwise’ is to assume that a hearing would not abide halachic principles. a Judge who could not imagine HIMSELF saying otherwise could not judge the case.

    Further, it is unclear why legal qualifications or a knowledge of contemporary jurisprudence is actually necessary. The principle is simple: until the actual evidence has been heard and the arguments advanced, no one should pronounce a result. Is it seriously being asserted that halacha does not mandate that approach?

    Finally, the quote from a news reporter does not assist. Is that how CC sees itself? If not, then why does it assist to know how the tabloids deal with innocent people? There is, as is implicit in the reporter’s stance (note: he COMPLAINED), a higher standard. Good. Let’s adopt it.

  17. HILLEL says:

    Dear SM:

    Israeli custom is much different from that of the UK.

    In Israel, a defendent is often destroyed before he even gets to approach the bench–witness what happened to poor President Katzav.

    Both prosecutors and defendents routinely present selected excerpts of their arguments to the public prior to the formal court hearing. By the time the hearing is actually held, it’s often too late to change the verdict in the court of public opinion.

    As I wrote in my previous post, Naomi Ragen displays a barely-disguised contempt for religious Jews. Her actions have removed her presumption of innocence–her “Chezkas Kashruth.”

    It is entirely proper that such a person should be publicly exposed, so that she should not be able to do more damage to others.

  18. Yaakov Menken says:

    SM has conflated several matters of Halachic vs. secular law. In secular law, cases today are routinely fought in the media. While a British judge may complain about this, he’s shouting to the wind in the US or Israel, where numerous articles about the case have already appeared. In Halacha there’s no obligation to wait, or so Mrs. Shapiro determined.

    The references to hearing both sides are, frankly, irrelevant to what she wrote. When one sees a person driving on Shabbos he does not need to interview the driver in order to know that the prohibited activity was done. What he needs to know is whether the driver is part of Hatzalah, for example, in which case it was a mitzvah for him to drive to a life-threatening emergency.

    Similarly, one hardly needs to talk to both sides before seeing if there is obvious evidence of plagiarism. This is irrelevent to a judges’ obligation to look for an opportunity in court for a defendant to exonerate him or herself; the judge is to be blind to biases, not blind to the basic facts.

    Neither must one be a judge or lawyer to recognize plagiarism. Otherwise every student plagiarist would question why a collection of academics — taken from all disciplines of the university, including math and engineering, rather than specialists in textual analysis — is called to participate in disciplinary hearings. On the contrary, Princeton is only one of many that thinks plagiarism is something any freshman student can discern, and any professor is qualified to adjudicate. [I am unaware of any that calls in a lawyer or judge.]

    Finally, when I read the article I fail to see anywhere that Mrs. Shapiro calls Ms. Ragen “guilty.” She simply lays out all the evidence of her personal complaint. Lawrence Kaplan said Ragen appears guilty because the evidence speaks for itself, but Mrs. Shapiro does not presume to be the judge.

    Let’s allow other voices to be heard on this subject…

  19. Bob Miller says:

    If I reissued the Gettysburg Address with a few changes of names and dates and called myself the author, would any reader be obliged to assume, pending trial, that I was the real author? I know Lincoln is in no position to sue, but the point is clear. Mrs. Shapiro’s writings have been easily available for some time.

  20. Jacob Haller says:

    To Yoni Doe,

    Your question

    “Would you publish such an article if both of the principles in the case were Chareidi writers? Does that fact that Ms. Ragen often takes an negative view of chareidi life in her work play into the way you are (mis)handling this?”

    At the risk of sounding like a shill or cheerleader for this blog, and as a non-moderator I’ll take a stab at this one.

    I believe one reason for Cross-Currents’ success in attracting an audience is handling delicate issues that affect the “Charedi” world while keeping in mind the very narrow margin of error in stumbling into something that could be viewed as a Chilul Hashem. Whether it’s behavior on buses or vis a vis dealing with less observant Jews or the larger society I’ve seen this factor taken into account repeatedly.

    So, IMHO, I would venture a guess that a controversy between for example two Charedi writers would be handled by CC since the mostly cynical media is aware of the thirst for this kind of stuff amongst the general public and if not anything else some damage control would be called for.

    Also, you imply that looking out for one’s own is a less than noble endeavor. If one considers (like I do) that CC is “yotzai” in handling the less flattering portrayals of “Charedim” where the subject where the “Charedim” in question may not have been 100% innocent, then there’s nothing ignoble about presenting cases where the unpleasant portrayals are based on the other party’s misunderstandings if not outright mean-spirited vindictiveness.

    I’m not one to judge if Mrs Ragen is in fact guilty of that last point but you seem to think so based on your choice of words “that fact that Ms. Ragen often takes an negative view of chareidi life”.

    Taking that into consideration your accusation of CC “taking sides and letting what is really a complex secular legal issue play out” strikes me as puzzling. If it’s a known fact that Mrs Ragen is stonewalled from writing her own point of view here then maybe there’s a basis to that accusation. I don’t see CC doing anything more than reporting on an ongoing legal issue.

  21. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Isn’t there a difference between the rules that bind a judge who will (or at least may) sit in judgement on a claim, and anybody else?

    Rabbi Yaakov Menken is rendering his own opinion. Regardless of the high respect in which I hold him, it’s only his opinion. As a person who is not going to judge this matter, he may have and express opinions. This opinion may be based on the most reliable sources, because he is too busy to research the matter in depth.

    One of the judges, OTOH, would be more restricted. Judges should look for the most reliable sources of information possible. An e-mail from Mrs. Shapiro may be acceptable to RYM, but a judge would require her sworn testimony. Mrs. Ragen’s lack of public response may speak volumes to RYM, but a judge would need to explicitly give her the opportunity to respond. After expressing an opinion publicly it’s hard to retract it, which could prejudice a judge – so judges are not allowed to do that.

    There is an analogy to the Shabbat driver case. A watcher may see Ploni driving on Shabbat, know he is not in Hatzalah, and assume Mr. Ploni did something wrong. But someone sitting on a Beit Din who needed to know if Ploni is a qualified witness would do a lot more. He would check if that’s really Ploni and not his identical twin brother (Ploni is a convert, his brother is allowed to drive on Shabbat). He would ask Ploni what he did, maybe Ploni was fleeing from his former associates in the Mafia (Ploni had a checkered history before he converted – but he’s been good since then). Maybe Ploni just joined Hatzalah on Friday and the observer didn’t know that.

  22. Steve Brizel says:

    Jacob Haller-if you need evidence of Ms.Ragen’s POV on any issue, but especially Charedim, please see her web site. More fundamentally, Ms. Ragen has also attempted to defend her integrity in an interview in March 2007 when she told the Jerusalem Post that she is not a plagiarist. Given her literary track record and the evidence presented by Ms. Shapiro, IMO, such a comment sounds almost Nixonian in its simplicity.

  23. Gilad Corinaldi says:

    In a week, I will give formal notice about proceedings in the bais din.

    The first discussions were held today. Ms. Ragen chose not to appear, although she and her lawyers received the invitation from the bais din and the pertinent case material.

    A sheilah was asked as to whether it was halachically permissible to write and publish the material that appears on this site, and to speak and write elsewhere about the case, in the secular and the Orthodox media.

    The answer we received was that it is halachically permissible.

  24. Miriam Shear says:

    Hillel writes: “Naomi Ragen has publicly revealed her mean-spirited character in her lawsuit before the Israeli Supreme Court which seeks to shut-down the Hareidi-oriented “Mehadrin” buses that provide separate seating for men and women.”

    Why is the filing of a petition to ban the problematic “mehadrin” buses make one guilty of being “mean spirited”? As reported in this column previously, at least 2 Gedolim – one in Israel and one in the U.S. – have come out against the mehadrin buses as creating more problems, more Chillul Hashem than any spiritual benefits they supposedly render to the klal. Ms. Ragen was harrassed as were others, I personally was beaten up and left with a swollen face on a bus that wasn’t even mehadrin but rather mutinized by such “holy” people who arbitrarily decided to make it mehadrin, etc. Since there was no Chareidi group willing to step forward to correct these wrongs, Ms. Ragen as well as others (and this includes 2 other women who are Chareidi) joined a petition to the High Court initiated by a Reform group. Had ANY Orthodox group preceded the reform group with a petition to correct this socially unwise transportation system, I am sure that Ms. Ragen and the others would have gladly used such a group as their vehicle to press their legal action. But there was none. This was not mean spirited – this was a matter of pragmatics.

    The filing of this petition to the High Court is NOT an attack on Chareidim. It is, rather, a more civilized option (as opposed to beating up people and publicly humiliating them) to address an issue that posits many problems – and, as I have learned from the over 3,000 emails sent to me – not favored by all Chareidim and perhaps not even most of them.

    I have no opinion one way or the other if Ms. Ragen is innocent of guilty of Ms. Shapiro’s and Ms. Tal’s charges against her. But, if one is to take a negative position toward Ms. Ragen, let’s please base it on the facts of this case and not on other issues that really have nothing to do with plagiarism charges.

  25. Sander Goldberg says:

    I am also a judge and as much as I detest Ms. Ragen’s writings, I have to agree with SM. Rules that at times seem extreme in ensuring unbiased proceedings should be adhered to, even in cases in which one party’s public presentation appears cut and dry, for the sake of cases that are less cut and dry, and certainly for the sake of those cases which are uncut and “wet”.

    I am also a rav, who is quite familiar with Psak, Choshen Mishpat and Din Torah. I didn’t hear the Shaalah from the petitioner, nor did I hear the Psak from the rav allowing Mrs. Shapiro to go public at this point. But based strictly on the material on this BLOG, it would be seem to me that the Psak might have been in error. Despite the facts as presented, it seems obvious that Mrs. Shapiro has a dispute with Ms. Ragen as to whether Ms. Ragen violated Mrs. Shapiro’s rights or caused her damage. As such, this case is called a “Din Torah”. A rav is not allowed to even listen to one party without the presence or at least consultation with the other party (I admit that I have no knowledge that the rav didn’t consult Ms. Ragen, but I assume Mrs. Shapiro would have mentioned this to be the case). This is the Rule: a rav can Pasken on Treifus, a Maareh or Hilchos Shabbos to one party — these questions involve Yoreh Deah and Orach Chaim. But in Choshen Mishpat there is no such thing as a Psak to one party when there exists a dispute between two parties. The rav should have immediately stopped Mrs. Shapiro as soon as he heard this involved a dispute and told her to go to Din Torah. I myself once had a monetary dispute at a hotel with the proprietor. Rav Gustman Zt”l was also staying there and I wanted to ask him if I had a case. He refused to speak with me about the case and told me to go to the local Bais Din.

    As for Loshon Horah L’Toeles, one of the strict rules is that the Dibur cannot have repercussions that damage the offending party beyond his/her liability as would be found in Din Torah. I am not quite sure of the Toeles Mrs. Shapiro had in mind by going public at this point, certainly other authors may be reminded to be wary of plagiarists and copyright infringers. However, it would be questionable if one may publicly allege a charge of this type (that is, before a Psak of Bais Din) with the intentions of damaging another’s reputation to the extent of impinging on their livelihood.

  26. cvmay says:

    This is an important case of plagerism, and the courts will take time to reach a verdict. If Mrs. Shapiro is correct in her lawsuit, monetary reimbursement should come her way.

  27. dovid says:

    Ms. Shear, I sincerely feel that the attack on you was not only mean-spirited but also a cowardly act. Your desire to be vindicated is only human. I dare suggest however, that your association with Ms. Ragen and involvement in the lawsuit before the Israeli Supreme Court regarding the future of mehadrin buses is not any different from Bar Kamtza approaching the Roman governor. Nothing good will come out of it. If you wanted to strike at the Charedi community in Jerusalem, whom IMO you repeatedly insulted, then the Israeli Supreme Court is the right address. Ms. Ragen and the Supreme Court are not your friends. However hurt you feel, I don’t think you want to strike at the Charedi community. Think of the consequences to you and to the rest of us.

  28. SM says:

    In terms of halacha I bow to Sander Goldberg’s greater knowledge, so it is a relif to find that secular law and halacha are equivalent – I would feel uncomfortable if secular law was more stringent. Plainly I cannot comment on the p’sak in this particular case. One would have to know what exactly was asked and what was said. But, in this as in everything, permissible, advisable and desirable are different stages of the same process.

    I ought also to say (if he will permit me to do so) that I have had a personal exchange of emails with R Menken. It was both polite and productive – a tribute to the way in which disagreements, even of principle, can be handled if the anxiety is to do the right thing.

  29. Ilan says:

    I don’t follow Rav & Judge Goldberg. First off, Rav Gustman’s personal conduct in this area is beyond the Shulchan Aruch, and to assert that no Rav was allowed to listen to Mrs. Shapiro and advise her is, pardon me, a mistake. In Halacha, a Rav *is* allowed to listen to a question and advise the person if he “has a case” or should drop the matter instead. This doesn’t mean he’s poskining who’s right and who’s wrong! “In Hachi Nami,” that Rav can’t be part of the Bais Din hearing the case, because a *Judge* can’t hear one side first. But a Rav who won’t be the dayan can consider whether it would waste the questioner’s, the possible defendant’s, and the Beis Din’s time for a case to be filed, and, if not, tell you how to prepare your case and what you’re allowed to do in the meantime.

    The lawsuit against Ragen is a matter of public record and has been for months. It’s in multiple newspapers in Israel in both languages.

    But here’s what I don’t understand: Mrs. Shapiro took her case to, she claims, two different “respected rabbinical authorities on shmiras halashon” before writing about it. If I read the table correctly, what she has published here is basically nothing more than her complaint to the Bais Din, so how it could bias the dayanim (even if we could imagine them reading English, much less blogs!) escapes me. Her attorney says they even asked the bais din “whether it was halachically permissible to write and publish the material that appears on this site, and to speak and write elsewhere about the case, in the secular and the Orthodox media.” They all agreed it was ok.

    Whom did Rav/Judge Goldberg ask before publicly questioning whether the psak was in error and whether Mrs. Shapiro is allowed to do this, after all?

  30. Calev says:

    I have no views on the merits of Ms Ragen’s or Ms Shapiro’s cases. I wish only for their dispute to be resolved quickly and restore peace. However, I am concerned by the discussion of the dispute on this blog. Forgive me if you feel I exaggerate but there’s a whiff of a lynch mob mentality here. For many years there has been growing anger in Charedi circles with Ms Ragen’s polemics. If the discussion on this blog is any indication, the plagiarism dispute seems to have provided an opportunity for venting that anger. In our desire for justice in this case I would hope that we would be motivated by a thirst for peace and truth, not revenge.

  31. Dr. Michael Factor says:

    Hello Everyone,

    By way of introducing myself, I am Hallachically observant, not Charedi, have read Sotah, have not read Mrs Shapiro’s book, but will happily do so. She can send it to me electronically to the above address, or by snail-mail to Shimon 5, Ofra 90627. I am also an Israel registered Patent Attorney and Lawyer.
    I think Ms Regan’s writing is of a high quality and is socially significant. Regardless of whether you agree with her perspective on Haredi lifestyle, she is not condemning, but she does raise improtant social issues. The outside world and certainly the secular world see her as being Charedi. Her views on segregated buses are no doubt supported by some rabbis and opposed by others. None of the above is the issue.

    The issue as I see it, is whether the Michal Tal and Sarah Shapiro have grounds to claim plagiarism and whether the degree of alleged plagiarism is significant enough to warrant legal remedies under secular Israel Law, such as having Naomi Regan’s books removed from the bookshops by an injunction, statutory fines or calculated damages for Copyright Infringement, Unjust Enrichment or other crimes recognized by Israeli Law, or equivalent or other laws within the framework of the Hallachah.

    Under the current regime in Israel, Naomi Regan can agree to arbitration by a Beth Din, or can decide to ignore any summons that she recieves. Under recent rulings of the Israel Supreme Court (and of the UK Court of Appeals), it is unlikely that even if found guilty as charged, the plaintiffs would be able to collect damages.

    Under Secular Israeli Copyright Law, whcih is a Law from 1911 that has been ammended many times, but never replaced, the question will be to what extent is the allegedly copied material central to the works in question.

    See Appeal 2687/92 Geva VS. Walt Disney, 8393/96 Mifal HaPayis vs. the Roy Establishment, and the Samba 5 (sorry, I don’t have a reference handy).

    I have commented on this on my blog: http://blog.ipfactor.co.il/
    see http://blog.ipfactor.co.il/2007/04/23/naomi-regan-sued-for-plagiarism-again/

    and the earlier case with Michal Tal, see: http://blog.ipfactor.co.il/2007/02/23/best-selling-author-sued-for-plagarism/

    There is also a recent posting re Bobov trademarks that some of you may find interesting.

  32. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Sander Goldberg: This is the Rule: a rav can Pasken on Treifus, a Maareh or Hilchos Shabbos to one party—these questions involve Yoreh Deah and Orach Chaim. But in Choshen Mishpat there is no such thing as a Psak to one party when there exists a dispute between two parties.

    Ori: IIRC, if the other party refuses to come to Din Torah then Beit Din given permission to go to a secular court, even for a case involving two Jews – is that correct? Wouldn’t that be a Psak to one side in a dispute?

  33. lawrence kaplan. says:

    I do not possess the legal expertise of Dr. Michael Factor and certainly have no expertise in Israeli patent law. So he might be very well right that Sarah Shapiro would have no case in terms of that law. But I read his comment on this case on his blog, and I think his statement that it is just the the “odd sentence” in Naomi Ragen’s book that resembles the odd sentence in Sarah Shapiro’s book seriously understates the extent of the copying. The resemblance extends to more than the (many!) odd sentences; it extends to entire scenes, even if the degree of resemblance does not rise to the level of being considered plagiarism and copyright infringement in Israeli patent law. I also feel that Dr. Factor’s comment that Michal Tal and Sarah Shapiro may have been inspired by the Dan Brown case and may feel that bringing their cases would be a way of making easy money is pure speculation, and borders upon, if, indeed, it does not consitute, lashon ha-ra, which I am sure that Dr. Factor as a halakhically observant Jew would not wish to be guilty of.

    I should add that as a university professor, I, alas, confront and have to deal with cases of plagiarism. Were I confronted with Naomi Ragen’s book and its degree of resemblance to that of Sarah Shapiro, I might very well fail her, at the very least would demand a major rewrite (what Sarah Shapiro wanted in the first place), though, to be honest, perhaps I would not level a formal plagiarism charge against her with universty authorities which could subject her to academic discipline.

  34. dovid says:

    “Under the current regime in Israel, Naomi Regan can agree to arbitration by a Beth Din, or can decide to ignore any summons that she receives.”

    I trust this statement is true. You are an attorney, and I have all the reason to believe you are highly competent. However, if Ms. Ragen “decides to ignore any summons that she receives” from beis din, that disqualifies her from being classified as part of the Charedi world, notwithstanding the fact that “the outside world and certainly the secular world see her as being Charedi.” While this has no bearing on her legal case, it is only fair to the public at large to identify her correctly as someone highly inimical to the Charedi world, just as you candidly introduced yourself as “Hallachically observant, not Charedi”.

  35. Sarah Shapiro says:

    In regard to the comments of Mr. Factor:

    I would like to correct some inaccuracies in the report here and on your blog. Among them:

    The reason I am bringing the case to the rabbinical courts is that this is what’s required hallachically.

    I’m not suing for a million dollars.

    My decision to sue was prompted by one case, the lawsuit brought by Michal Tal. The reason I did so was that my work had been plagiarized.

    Please read the article carefully, and examine the material on the pdf file.

  36. Yaakov Menken says:

    Prof. Kaplan, whenever an Orthodox writer in particular uses the term “ultra-Orthodox” (unlike a non-Jew, for example, the Orthodox certainly know it is both inherently and needlessly pejorative), this alone is reason for his impartiality to be suspect. To claim that it is merely “the odd sentence” that is similar between Shapiro and Regan is transparently untrue. I see no reason to doubt Mrs. Shapiro’s story that she approached Ragen about the plagiarism years ago (Ragen admitted this to the Jerusalem Post last month). I suppose she wishes she had had the foresight to record the call, and Regan’s admission that she was “inspired” by Shapiro’s account.

    If Prof. Kaplan would not have leveled a plagiarism charge, he is indeed forgiving. A high school classmate of mine was booted for less.

  37. Miriam Shear says:

    Dovid writes: “Ms. Shear, I sincerely feel that the attack on you was not only mean-spirited but also a cowardly act. Your desire to be vindicated is only human. I dare suggest however, that your association with Ms. Ragen and involvement in the lawsuit before the Israeli Supreme Court regarding the future of mehadrin buses is not any different from Bar Kamtza approaching the Roman governor. Nothing good will come out of it. If you wanted to strike at the Charedi community in Jerusalem, whom IMO you repeatedly insulted, then the Israeli Supreme Court is the right address. Ms. Ragen and the Supreme Court are not your friends. However hurt you feel, I don’t think you want to strike at the Charedi community. Think of the consequences to you and to the rest of us.”

    Dovid, There is a WORLD of difference between a petition to the High Court and your comparison of Bar Kamtza and the Roman government! The Israeli High Court is a court run by Jews – ones with whom I’ve taken issue many, many times – and our government, as despicable as I find it on many issues – also run by Jews. I do not have any “association” with Ms. Ragen; in fact, I had no idea she was even one of the petitioners until it was published in the press. The identities of the petitioners are totally irrelevant to the facts of the case. If I felt there would be “consequences” to the Chareidi community or the Jewish people b’klal, I would have never joined the petition. The joining of the petition was to CORRECT a harm that exists and is being perpetrated on many other people – secular AND chareidim and everything in between. A favorable High Court response to this petition will have 2 results: 1) The concept of Mehadrin Egged or Dan buses becomes a non-existent entity thus eliminating the platform for anyone to beat up or insult and humiliate others, and 2) Those who absolutely must have mehadrin transportation will find a market niche quickly filled by such private services. Hooray for free enterprise! But the biggest winner is the elimination of makloket and ill feelings between Jews when they get on a public bus. That, Dovid, hurts noone and benefits EVERYONE.

  38. Steve Brizel says:

    Dr Factor, WADR, if one reads the PDF comparison in its entirety, I think that it is evident that this case involves more than lifting “an odd sentence” or the equivalent. Dialogue, sentences and paragraphs appear to have been cut and pasted from Ms. Shapiro’s work.

    Ms. Shear-Yes, you were the victim of an attack by some hooligans who pose as Charedim. Yes, one can certainly argue that gender segregation on buses is wrong. However, one cannot divorce these issues from Ms. Ragen’s agenda against all things Charedi, which you echo by referring to all of the “spiritual benefits that they supposedly render to the Klal.” When you combine that agenda with unapologetic plagiarism, Ms. Ragen’s agenda cannot be defended as furthering either RZ or MO and her qualifications to serve as a spokesperson for that agenda simply cannot be taken seriously. It is simply Gnevas Daas and a Chillul HaShem.

  39. Reb Yid says:

    Just echoing a few other posters–it does seem as though plagiarism is being utilized as a Trojan horse here.

    Although we’re only being presented one side of the story (and a big caveat to be sure), it certainly seems from the documents shown that a case can be made for plagiarism. Let’s assume that’s the case and that plagiarism is indeed a shanda.

    That is no excuse for dismissing all issues regarding elements of the Orthodox or Chareidi world that NR that raises. Strikes me as a rather triumphalist stance that is lacking an objective assessment of the totality of these issues. We’re going to dismiss Miriam Shear’s complaints just because NR also raises them? Is this yet another case on this blog where the onus of the responsibility (and indeed the guilt) is being placed on the victim?

  40. HILLEL says:

    To Miriam Shear:

    If you were the only person involved in the case, I might take your arguments seriously, but your co-petitioners are heavy-hitters from the radical hard-left–well-known enemies of Torah Judaism, like Shulamit Aloni of MERETZ and the Reform-Jewish group in Israel (and…Naomi Regen).

    I strongly suspect that there is a hidden agenda here that has very little to do with the issue of Mehadrin buses and very much to do with undermining Hareidim in Eretz Yisroel.

    I find it difficult to understand how any self-respecting Orthodox Jewish woman could associate with such enemies of Torah and Yiddishkeit.

  41. Sander Goldberg says:

    Ilan wrote: I don’t follow Rav & Judge Goldberg. First off, Rav Gustman’s personal conduct in this area is beyond the Shulchan Aruch, and to assert that no Rav was allowed to listen to Mrs. Shapiro and advise her is, pardon me, a mistake.

    I pardon you, but you are mistaken. The Mishnah in Avos states, “Don’t make yourself like the attorneys.” This means a rav who is asked a Psak, not merely to act as an advocate (or for a piece of advise), but for a decision in Torah Law, as soon as he realizes that the petitioner is asking a Halacha question which is contingent upon a dispute between two parties, he must not listen further unless and until he will be hearing both sides. Rav Gustman was emphatic that this is the Halacha and was not merely speaking “Lifnim Meshuras Hadin”. In the case as reported on this BLOG, Mrs. Shapiro asked a rav for a Psak regarding going public with her grievances against Ms. Ragen. Such a Psak is highly contingent on the merits of Mrs. Shapiro’s claims, and since the merits of these claims had not yet been adjudicated in the presence of the respondent, it was incorrect for the rav to believe Mrs. Shapiro’s claims at face value in order to render the Psak as she claims was given to her. (As I mentioned in my first posting, I don’t have all the facts. The Psak may have been based on other factors or may have included proper restrictions that weren’t followed 100%. My opinions here are based purely on the version of this saga as presented in this BLOG.)

    Ori Pomerantz wrote: IIRC, if the other party refuses to come to Din Torah then Beit Din given permission to go to a secular court, even for a case involving two Jews – is that correct? Wouldn’t that be a Psak to one side in a dispute?

    Once a respondent is petitioned to Din Torah and refuses to come, the Bais Din may give permission to the petitioner to take the case to secular court. In a case the respondent was given an opportunity to respond: to the summons, the claims, to make counterclaims and to cross-examine the petitioner’s evidence, but has intentionally forfeited that opportunity, it is not considered a “one-sided” Psak. Furthermore, according to Halacha, in a case where the respondent intentionally fails to respond, and the Bais Din has the power to enforce its decisions, it may even hear the case and decide notwithstanding that the respondent is not present (or represented).

  42. Yaakov Menken says:

    An esteemed Rav called me to tell me how important it was that Cross-Currents had provided Mrs. Shapiro the opportunity to tell her story. I want to emphasize from the outset that while I may have agreed with everything he said, I am expressing herein the thoughts of a respected, outstanding Talmid Chacham. I only hope I’m expressing his thoughts accurately.

    He read some of the comments, and was emphatic that one did not need to speak to both parties. Plagiarism is a matter of text. The mathematical probability of both writers arriving coincidentally at exactly the same dialog sequence, with trivial differences in wording and structure, is infinitesimal. Regardless of the grounds for leniency in court, plagiarism occurred.

    [It is also obvious that were the tables turned, a charedi writer who did this would be shredded in the secular press, along with comments implying that all charedi writers were like this — especially if the plagiarized works were those of Ragen herself. Does anyone here suspect for a moment that had Shapiro plagiarized Ragen, Ragen’s charges would not be published in detail in HaAretz?]

    As many have noted, Ms. Ragen is not an objective writer. She uses her writing to portray observant Jews in a negative light and steer people away from Torah life. As Mrs. Shapiro put it with regards to the text lifted from her work:

    • Events in my life as an Orthodox Jew were used in a work that degrades and condescends to Orthodox Jews. Some lines of my account were reproduced word for word, some were obviously modified to disguise the similarity, and some were embellished (for example, with words such as “base” and “shameful”) in such a way that the accounts would conform to the pejorative image of Orthodox Jews which Ms. Ragen’s writings promote. Experiences which were in fact life-giving and positive were given a spin whereby Orthodox observance of Judaism is made to look superstitious, narrow, confining, small-minded, backward, repressive, and whereby haredi adherents are often depicted as either hypocritical evildoers (usually male) or melodramatic, helpless victims (usually female) who must break free, valiantly and courageously, from patronizing religious coercion, rabbinical oppression and their own neurotic dependency.

    The Rav asked, whose neshama (soul) are we sacrificing to protect Ms. Ragen’s “livelihood”?

    For well over a decade, observant Jews, especially other writers, have complained that Naomi Ragen is not honest in her portrayals of the Torah world. I am sure that Rav Goldberg (whom I know personally and regard highly) and I both “detest Ms. Ragen’s writings” for this reason. We don’t think she’s a lousy writer, we think she uses her pen to poison the minds of Jews who know nothing about the observant (and especially the charedi) community from the inside.

    But those non-observant Jews don’t know that. Why should they believe us over her? If Dr. Factor can keep a straight face while saying about Ms. Ragen’s “perspective” on charedi lifestyle that “she is not condemning, but she does raise important social issues,” how could we expect a secular, unaffiliated Jew to believe otherwise?

    Plagiarism is a sign of a dishonest writer. As the Rav said, she stole material and lied about it afterwards. Does that not make the claim that her portrayals may also be false that much more believable? Is that not a positive end?

    We’re not talking about lying here. There are Halachos that must be followed here, and followed with extreme care. But it is anything but wrong to blunt her attacks upon Torah life.

    That was his opinion, and were I at liberty to share his name it would be one every observant reader would respect. In this instance, what we are showing, thoughtfully and honestly, is that her dishonest portrayal is coming from a place of dishonesty.

  43. dovid says:

    Ms. Shear, let me ask you the $1 million question. How come the Israeli police, who in the past have proven quite capable, did not capture the character that attacked you? There were witnesses. There was a description of the suspect. The one who hit you is not hiding. He is prancing around all over Yerushalaim. He thinks he is a tzadik and expects people to treat him with deference. By capturing him, the ‘justice’ system in Israel could blame one person. By not capturing him, it can blame the entire Charedi community. They don’t care about your hurt and humiliation. They despise you for being an observant Jewess. They will use you to advance their anti-Charedi agenda and drop you like a spent Kleenex tissue as soon as they don’t need you. It’s not true that identities of the petitioners are irrelevant to the facts of the case. You made common cause with the Jewish people. How can you after that make common cause with those who hate HaShem’s people, notwithstanding what that hooligan did to you? Naomi Ragen, Shulamit Aloni, justices sitting in the Israeli Supreme Court are self-loathing Jews. Let me introduce to you Ayala Proccacia, one of the justices in the Supreme Court. She kept my 13-year old niece for 42 days in jail for taking part in a demonstration two years ago in favor of the Gush Katif communities and for talking back to a policewoman. This is all she was accused of. Ayala Proccacia deemed that enough to keep her in a jail populated with adult criminals and release her to house arrest. This are the people whom you are petitioning to rectify the hurt you suffered. Ayala Proccacia is not the exception. She is the product of a perverted world.

  44. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid-One of the worst arguments that one can raise in American or Western European cultural and intellectual life is that of McCarthyism . It is a predicatble, yet hardly foolproof argument in intellectual and cultural life that essentially defuses a serious issue by shooting the messenger. By way of analogy, historians who view America during the 1950s as worse than Stalin’s Russia refuse to consider the Verona documents and view any resort to the same as McCarthyite in attempts to solve long existing debates over the complicity of the Rosenbergs or Alger Hiss in spying for the USSR.

    Yet, the Mishnah in Avos advises us that a “shochen tov” is preferred over a “shochen ra” and that one can discern much about a person by his or her choice of friends. In that light, while no one here denied Ms. Shear’s claims, her choice of allies is indeed curiuous and IMO one of them cannot be afforded any credibility because she has resorted to actions that the common law and statutes would classify as plagiarism and to which the Halacha would classify as Gnevas Daas and Chillul HaShem. Given these facts, why would anyone deem Ms. Ragen’s views as trustworthy on any issue, let alone her views of Charedi society.

    Look at it this way-many of us were all upset over a certain businessman’s deceptive business practices last summer in Monsey. We should be equally upset about a certain author’s equally deceptive business practices.

  45. SM says:

    Dovid,

    Your niece is subject to the law of the land like everyone else. THis is not the place to argue about what happened to her, nor to blame one person for it, nor to extrapolate from that happening the charcter of that person, nor to further extrapolate that anyone who sits professionally with that person is like them.

    Not everything is a conspiracy. The Judges in Israel do their job honestly and properly and the fact that you don’t like them or their decisions does not change that. You should be very careful – in a world where people will denigrate Israel for anything they can, the fact that it has an independent, well educated and thoughtful judiciary is one of the few things our enemies are bound to acknowledge.

  46. hp says:

    “The Judges in Israel do their job honestly and properly”

    This is a highly subjective statement. SM, notwithstanding his profession, is not qualified to provide an objective evaluation any more than one who has experienced a perceived injustice through the system.

  47. Bob Miller says:

    Would SM venture a comment on Israel’s Supreme Court?

  48. ben yisachar says:

    I don’t see how publishing the complaint here has anything to do with redressing Shapiro’s compaint vs Ragen.

    This leads me to conclude that instead of battling Ragen’s message with better or more persuausive literature, CC and its constituency is instead engaging in character assasination.

    At some point, CC has to define its purpose: finding/discussing emes, or knee-jerk street fighting for the chareidi cause. If the latter is the case, it is no different than all the other noisy blogs out there.

  49. Reb Yid says:

    Steve:

    On the Monsey case, your logic does not hold here. Your beef (no pun intended) should have been limited to the businessman in question. Surely no-one in Monsey (or anywhere else) was suggesting that NO kosher vendor anywhere could be trusted.

    Why should ANY critical assessments of ANY subject (including Orthodoxy or Chareidi life, secular life, steroids in baseball, etc.) be summarily dismissed because one particular individual’s accounts have been negated? It’s not like NR has a monopoly on this field–there are plenty of other accounts out there. And it doesn’t mean that anyone who is critical of aspects of religious life is necessary anti-religious (indeed, they may be inspired by wanting to improve the conditions of living within this world).

    As far as being a “shochen tov” or “shochen ra”–let’s face it, that only gets you so far. I have no doubt that our President is a nice, friendly, neighborly type and I’d love to drink a few beers with him. So when he said “Mission Accomplished”, “Weapons of Mass Destruction”, “If anyone did commit a crime, I’ll fire him”, etc–we should believe him despite the clear facts to the contrary?

    To frame the argument as “the only credible version of Iraq/Chareidi life/name your topic is the official party line position”…now THAT is the desperate attempt to diffuse an issue by imposing an artificial binary paradigm. Tell Pat Tillman’s family that they were being “unpatriotic” by daring to discover and disseminate the truth about the fabrication of his death for political purposes. Tell Miriam Shear that she’s being an “unpatriotic” Orthodox Jew for daring to make fundamental changes so that no-one in the future will have to experience what she did.

    Orthodox/Chareidi life is very nuanced, and I’m glad this blog exists. But there’s a difference between nuance and using the blog to explain away legitimate criticisms of the issue (via shooting the messenger) in this arena.

    And on the other side of the ledger, I’m sure that Woodward and Bernstein on a personal level were rather unpleasant individuals–can’t imagine I’d want either as neighbors….but the facts that they uncovered spoke for themselves and brought down–with bi-partisan support–a sitting President.

  50. dovid says:

    RE: Comment by SM — April 26, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

    Sir,
    Suspects of rape and other very serious crimes are released on bail in Israel until their day in court. Show me where it states in the Israeli law that a minor has to await her trial in court populated with adult criminals. Do you consider a 13-year old girl, with no criminal record, a public menace? Regardless of your or my opinions, judges in Israel do not carry out their jobs honestly and properly as you claim. They created a self-perpetuating system that recruits its members from a small pool of people that hold left-of-the center political views. As such, extrapolating in this case is justified. Anyone not sharing their views, stands no chance of seeing justice. If a world that denigrate Israel for everything, likes the Israeli judiciary, that definitely is not flattering the Israeli judiciary.

  51. Miriam says:

    I think we do a great disservice to frum jews around the world when we insist they cannot stand up for their rights. Many communities outside of Eretz Yisrael also have issues that end up pitting Jew against Jew. Too often one side will shout “chillul Hashem” when they are opposed by other Jews, but theyhave no problem trampling on concerns of other Jews and even non jews.

    This part of Dovid’s first post should make one suspect of his claim that it’s not the issue that’s the problem, it’s the company:

    “Nothing good will come out of it. If you wanted to strike at the Charedi community in Jerusalem, whom IMO you repeatedly insulted, then the Israeli Supreme Court is the right address.”

    When Jews do bad things to other Jews, why must we automatically just swallow it, and allow them to run roughshod over other Jews?

  52. Jacob Haller says:

    Reb Yid wrote.

    “Let’s assume that’s the case and that plagiarism is indeed a shanda.
    That is no excuse for dismissing all issues regarding elements of the Orthodox or Chareidi world that NR that raises.”

    On one hand each case should be individually. However, if the accusations hold we find someone who not only lifted copyrighted text but someone who grabbed portrayals of the assets of the Charedi world and cynically morphed and twisted them into liabilities. It will show someone not utilizing original thought, observation or analysis.

    Are we obligated to assume it was an isolated incident?’

    “Is this yet another case on this blog where the onus of the responsibility (and indeed the guilt) is being placed on the victim?”

    Proceedings in a recognized legal forum will (hopefully) determine who was the victim but from my vantage point I would like to answer in the negative regarding any possibilities that the onus of guilt has been heaped upon Mrs Shapiro but other blogs may not act in kind.

    Question for the legal experts regarding Mrs Shear. Can a plaintiff reject someone who presents themselves as an Amicus Curiae (friend of the court)?

  53. Steve Brizel says:

    SM-Professor Ruth Gavison of Hebrew U has criticized the Israeli judiciary as essentially a self-perpetuating elite of secular Ashkenazim that have an equal amount of disdain for Torah observant Jews-whether Charedi or RZ and for acting as if it knows better what is in the best interests of the Charedi world than its leaders. In some ways, the Israeli court system and in particular the High Court of Justice has a POV towards Torah observant Jews that IMO is comparable to a court in the American Deep South’s Jim Crow era. The Israeli judiciary may be “independent, well educated and thoughtful” but it can be fairly accused of an anti Torah bias in its decisions and of impeding Israel’s security interests.

  54. Rafael Araujo says:

    In his last comment above, Rabbi Menken hit the nail on the head.

    So to Reb Yid – the plagiarism charge and Naomi Ragen’s anti-Chareidi biases are bound together. Naomi Ragen has allegedly taken a Chareidi author’s work, plagiarized it for one of her novels and twisted the original intent and thought behind those words and sentences and paragraphs she has employed, to express positive views of Chareidi lifestyle, and twisted them to portray Chareidim, and Orthodox Judaism in general, in a negative light. The plagiarism charge cannot be seperated from the bias charge.

  55. Rafael Araujo says:

    SM – you shouldn’t discount the anti-religious, anti-right-wing bias of the Israeli judicial system, Aharon Barak’s influence on the system and the choices of High Court Justices and his politicization of that system, and the fact that, as Jonathan Rosenblum has pointed out many times in his columns, that the High Court’s parametres for granting standing is the most liberal. I am sorry, but Aharon Barak has single-handedly changed the Israel judicial system for the worst.

  56. LAWRENCE KAPLAN says:

    Reb Yid: I don’t think that Yaakov Menken and Steve Brizel mean to say that ALL critical accounts of Haredi life and society should be discounted on account of the rather clearcut case of plagiarism on NR’s part, just HER critical account. This is so particularly if it turns out to be true (I have not examined the material carefully enough to determine for myself if it is indeed so) that NR, when she copied from SS, deliberately changed things to reflect more negatively on Haredi society.

    Yaakov Menken: It could appear from your response to me that we are not on the same side. Reread my comment. On the issue of plagiarism, we are.

  57. Joel Rich says:

    The plagiarism charge cannot be seperated from the bias charge.

    Comment by Rafael Araujo
    =================================================

    I think this clarifies the original post and many of the comments. The readership will likely draw the conclusion that the daas Torah that allowed the original post was based not solely on the plagarism charge but the bias charge and that the laws of lashon hara being applied are based on a similar analysis. Many may draw the conclusion that if someone is biased against their subgroup, then the laws of lashon hara will allow for them to publicize other charges against the perceived attacker.

    KT

  58. SM says:

    Interview with Ruth Gavison 1st Jan 2002:

    “Our Supreme Court is very impressive. All told, it has excellent people, it enjoys a very strong status at home and high professional prestige abroad. We can all take pride in it. At the same time, this is a court that has opened its doors to everyone and every matter and has shed almost every limitation. As such, it is very different from the old court, which was far more modest, which showed far more respect for authority and for the autonomy of the elected political authorities; it believed that justiciability has limitations and thought its role was to be a supreme professional judicial authority, not a tribunal of social reformers and moral tutors. I personally prefer the approach of the old court.

    “I think it is proper for the court to give expression to our common values, such as the basic human rights. But I do not think it is right for the court to make use of its power to give priority to the values of one group in society at the expense of the values held by other groups. I do not think it is right for the court to decide in favor of Westernism and against traditionalism; or in favor of modernity and individualism and against communitarianism. I find that very problematic.

    “I also do not think that it is the court’s role to be the supreme moral arbiter of society. That was not why it was appointed, and it also unclear that it has the necessary skills for that. Judges in Israel are not selected on the basis of their integrity or their ethical code or for the social leadership they have demonstrated. They are chosen on the basis of their professional ability as jurists. There is nothing in their training that affords them the right, the authority or the ability to determine moral norms, to be the teachers of the generation.

    “The paradox is that precisely when the court purports to be a supreme moral authority, it undercuts its legitimacy as a supreme judicial authority. So it is the court itself, with its attempts at role expansion, that endangers the legitimacy of the legal system. Because as a supreme moral authority it is far from clear that the court is better than [Shas spiritual leader Rabbi] Ovadia Yosef. And it is equally unclear that the supra-legal values of the enlightened public in whose name the court acts are worthier than the supra-legal values of the religious public, for example. There are many people in this country for whom Ovadia Yosef is the supreme moral authority and for whom the halacha [Jewish religious law] is the worthy supra-legal authority. The court should not ignore them. The court should not compete with Rabbi Yosef for their hearts. The court should make it clear that it functions in a different space, where it imbues and enforces the values of the common democratic framework.”

    The position is, as can be seen, a bit more complicated than Steve sets out in his post (again, no complaint. His was short, mine is long).

    She disclaims bias and unprofessionalism. She criticises overly thin skins leading to double standards, and a determination to be acitivist in areas that she believes the Court should not be active in.

    The double standards is obviously a problem. BUT you caanot simply assume that a double standard about criticism of Judges equates to a double standard when dealing with litigants and Prof Gavison EXPRESSLY disclaims that point. The dispute about activism is the main area of jurisprudential debate today – to what extent do courts enforce a coomon morality against a government/interest group that has the law on their side if one interprets the law as restrictively as possible?

    The truth is that there is no right answer. THe UK Courts have traditionally been non-activist but went through a period in the 1980’s when they were (esp Lord Denning). In the USA it depends on the political make up of the Supreme Court. In Australia – non-acitvist. In Canada – activist. In Israel, as Prof Gavison makes clear, the current Court is more activist than its predecessor.

    But none of this suggests that a deliberate stance is being chosen to get at Charedim and I do not believe that to be the case. Moreover, when people assert that it is the case they simply sound paranoid. Where is the evidence? There are a bunch of decisions people don;t like? Big deal – what has to be understood about litigation is that it is axiomatic that there will be a winner and a loser. And the loser ususally doesn’t like it.

    As for an amicus curiae – in the UK such a person is appointed by the Court itself to assist with an objective view on a complicated issue. I have no experience of their role in other jurisdictions.

    Sorry to be so lengthy.

  59. Miriam Shear says:

    To Dovid on your #43 post: I have no idea why the police have not caught the original and 4 subsequent attackers. Neither the witness or I have names of these people. When I spoke with the police, I was told that they had literally hundreds of complaints of being attacked in some form or another by these types of hooligans. In fact, the police were quite cooperative in that they have agreed to keep the file open until I get back to Israel to help them further in identifying the attackers. Don’t worry – I have not raised the white flag in trying to identify them. Quite frankly, I did not find the police’s response and time spent on this any different than I would find in any N. American city. I’m not happy with it but I do not share your paranoia that the police are deliberately putting this on the back burner because they hate Chareidim and want these attacks to continue so we can all look bad.

    Dovid, I share your disgust and disdain of many of the High Court’s decisions and what happened to your niece is abominal beyond words. Unfortunately, there is no other alternative to correct the abuses of the Mehadrin bus system. What motivated me more than anything to file this petition is the fact that the incident involving myself happened on a NON-mehadrin bus. Dovid, if you have a suggestion or alternative to correcting this without going through the High Court, I would like to hear it. But so far nobody has come up with anything.

    The important thing here, in the interest of intellectual honesty, is not to mix apples and oranges. Ragen’s petition to the High Court should not be used as “proof” that she plagiarized a Chareidi woman’s work because filing such a petition is another “proof” of an anti-Chareidi agenda. At least 2 other petitioners are also Orthodox. Our issue – shared by many – is to suspend the mehadrin buses because of the abuses that are taking place. These abuses were not occurring when Mehadrin status was confined to private bus lines.

  60. Sander Goldberg says:

    Yakov Menken wrote: An esteemed Rav called me to tell me how important it was that Cross-Currents had provided Mrs. Shapiro the opportunity to tell her story. I want to emphasize from the outset that while I may have agreed with everything he said, I am expressing herein the thoughts of a respected, outstanding Talmid Chacham…

    The Rav asked, whose neshama (soul) are we sacrificing to protect Ms. Ragen’s “livelihood”?…

    Plagiarism is a sign of a dishonest writer. As the Rav said, she stole material and lied about it afterwards. Does that not make the claim that her portrayals may also be false that much more believable? Is that not a positive end?

    We’re not talking about lying here. There are Halachos that must be followed here, and followed with extreme care. But it is anything but wrong to blunt her attacks upon Torah life.

    That was his opinion, and were I at liberty to share his name it would be one every observant reader would respect. In this instance, what we are showing, thoughtfully and honestly, is that her dishonest portrayal is coming from a place of dishonesty.

    Sander Goldberg responds: I wish you were at liberty to share his name so that I could discuss this with him. Although I probably respect him for his knowledge in other matters, I question whether his opinion is a correct expression of Torah justice in this matter, especially since it would appear from your words that he accepted as true the entire claim of one side to a dispute prior to any decision of an adjudicating body. I have no problem for you or anyone else to lambaste Ms. Ragen’s writings for their content, but the Torah doesn’t give anyone the right to decide a matter in dispute and air it to the public outside of a proper judicial venue. Once the case will be heard and decided by a Bais Din (or under the proper circumstances, a court) then it is perfectly legitimate to link the guilty party’s proven dishonesty with their hostile and distorted opinions as expressed in their writings. It is quite possible that Ms. Ragen’s loyal readership will take the CC expose’ as a hatchet job, and even if Ms. Ragen later loses in a judicial venue, they will blame it on the media castigation she received before she even had the opportunity to state her case. We all know how common it is nowadays that people who are tried in the press can no longer get a fair trial. I personally was involved in a case that once it went to press, destroyed the availability of equitable and just treatment for a particular person. However, had CC waited until a verdict was rendered, and only then exposed Ms. Ragen based on the outcome of an impartial trial, the linkage of dishonesty with the contents of her writing would make a much greater impression on her loyal readership, those who most need to be convinced that her portrayals of Torah Judaism are distorted.

  61. Steve Brizel says:

    I am sure that any competent author could find fault with either the Charedi or RZ?MO sectors of Israel. However, as Dr Kaplan has indicated, one should not have to resort to plagiarism of anyone, let alone a writer with an opposing POV to express oneself. WADR, we seem to be forgetting that ethical conduct includes both the meat that a merchant sells us as kosher and the books that we purport are the product of our own creativity. WADR, selling products that are treife or your book which is cut and pasted from another’s work should be viewed as equally reprehensible.

    SM-thanks for the quote from Professor Gavison. Although it does not address how judges are selected, the selected passages ilustrate my point about how the High Court of Justice has overstepped its boundaries and eviscerated procedural doctrines such as standing, justiciability, etc in order to serve as a supreme legislature and promulgate what it deems appropriate in a manner that constitutional scholars in the US would call “substantive due process.”

  62. L.Oberstein says:

    Hooray for Cross-Currents for airing this and other important issues. Perhaps one of the wise people can explain to me if there is a relationship between “knee-jerk” and “jerk”.

    Some of the bloggers constantly find a way to divert attention from the issue by forbidding its discussion and equating the Jewish Religion with thought control and censorship. Such people always find a way to hide issues under the carpet by invoking their idea of what Judaism says. Instead of appreciating Mrs. Shear or Mrs. Shapiro, they implicitly demean their character over and over again like a broken record. As far as Naomi Ragen, there is also a distinction between legitimate criticism of a sub group e.g. chareidim and false stereotypes that reveal an animus. A lot of her criticism may stem from righteous indignation at what she views as a perversion of the religion she was taught. Unfortunately, when she uses fiction to create vile stereotypes she goes too far and hurts her cause. Instead of a concerned member of the orthodox community she becomes a bearer of false tales. There is plenty of “bathwater” to throw out but she causes others to throw out the ‘baby” also.

  63. Yaakov Menken says:

    My apologies to Prof. Kaplan. I did not mean to imply any disagreement on point; I only added that I believe he may be more forgiving than others when confronted by plagiarism in a student’s work.

    Similarly, I think Rabbi Goldberg and I are also in agreement on point, and only arguing procedure. The procedural question is whether, by going to print now, Mrs. Shapiro might bias (Hebrew-speaking, non-blog-reading) dayanim or the eventual jurors in a civil trial. According to the comment by Atty. Corinaldi, the dayanim themselves were unconcerned.

    But to reiterate what I said earlier, Mrs. Shapiro’s expressions of her own emotions are incidental. The force of her article is found in the examples given and the accompanying tables. Mrs. Shapiro’s only “weapons” are the texts themselves, side by side.

    So when Rabbi Goldberg says that some might call this article a “hatchet job,” he is saying that the comparison is damning all by itself. On that, he, Prof. Kaplan and I are in complete agreement.

  64. Bob Miller says:

    Here’s a well known case from the world of music:
    http://ccnmtl.columbia.edu/projects/law/library/cases/case_brightharrisongs.html

    Note that the professor’s comments are somewhat bogus. Any normal listener would have agreed with the judge’s decision and analysis as excerpted there.

    When I first heard the copycat song years ago, I was immediately struck by its blatant use of a well-known tune, with altered lyrics. I didn’t need some judge to fill me in.

  65. Mark says:

    Miriam Shear writes:

    “I do not have any “association” with Ms. Ragen; in fact, I had no idea she was even one of the petitioners until it was published in the press. The identities of the petitioners are totally irrelevant to the facts of the case.”

    I do not understand how Mrs. Shear can say this. I still have her original email, as distributed widely, right in front of me. The one where she spelled out the incident in all its gory detail. That email was addressed to Naomi Ragen [naomi@naomiragen.com], begins with the words “Dear Naomi” and concludes with the following:

    “P.S. I have sent an email to Egged filing a formal complaint. I am asking that the # 2 bus not be granted Mehadrin status as I feel that this privilege has been nullified by the actions and inactions of the # 2 passengers. And YES – you may print this, post it on your web site, forward it, do with it as you please. Covering up what we are afraid will be a Chillul Hashem will not rein in such evil – only exposure.”

    How can she honestly say that she had no idea Naomi Ragen would join the petitioners after she invited Ragen to join her fight with Egged? Because “all she did” was invite Ragen to post it on her web site and spread the word?

    Mrs. Shear enlisted Ragen as her ally, whether or not she knew every detail of what her ally was doing.

  66. Miriam Shear says:

    Mark (#65) writes:

    Miriam Shear writes:

    “I do not have any “association” with Ms. Ragen; in fact, I had no idea she was even one of the petitioners until it was published in the press. The identities of the petitioners are totally irrelevant to the facts of the case.”

    I do not understand how Mrs. Shear can say this. I still have her original email, as distributed widely, right in front of me. The one where she spelled out the incident in all its gory detail. That email was addressed to Naomi Ragen [naomi@naomiragen.com], begins with the words “Dear Naomi” and concludes with the following:

    “P.S. I have sent an email to Egged filing a formal complaint. I am asking that the # 2 bus not be granted Mehadrin status as I feel that this privilege has been nullified by the actions and inactions of the # 2 passengers. And YES – you may print this, post it on your web site, forward it, do with it as you please. Covering up what we are afraid will be a Chillul Hashem will not rein in such evil – only exposure.”

    How can she honestly say that she had no idea Naomi Ragen would join the petitioners after she invited Ragen to join her fight with Egged? Because “all she did” was invite Ragen to post it on her web site and spread the word?

    Mrs. Shear enlisted Ragen as her ally, whether or not she knew every detail of what her ally was doing.”

    Mark, When I sent the original email – to approximately 50 people – I did indeed address it to Naomi Ragen. However, I had no idea that there was any plan of action by Ms. Ragen – or anyone else for that matter – to file a petition with the High Court on this issue. In fact, I cannot even take credit for the idea of sending it to Ms. Ragen. It was suggested by several CHAREIDI friends – that’s right DIE HARD CHAREIDIM suggested I send it to Ms. Ragen. I had no problem with Ms. Ragen – or anyone else – publicizing this atrocious event for the reasons you cite in my original email. Furthermore, I pretty much had resigned myself to the fact that pretty much nothing would ever come of it other than to raise people’s consciousness of the dangers of extremism. I was contacted by several groups – some orthodox, some feminist, and IRAC, a reform legal advocay group. I responded to each group but made it clear that I do not view this as a “feminist” issue but rather a societal one. It was ONLY the reform group that informed me of a plan that WAS ALREADY IN PROCESS prior to my incident to submit a petition the High Court. At no point was I ever informed of the identity of the other litigants. As I’ve already said here before, I didn’t ask either for the simple reason that it is irrelevant. Truth is truth and fact is fact whether the other litigants are Moshiach or Mickey Mouse. Would I be willing to file an affidavit adjoining the petition? I asked what cause of action was being sought. I agreed to file a notarized affidavit detailing the events which was being attached to the petition. It was only after I submitted my affidavit did I later become aware of whom the other litigants were (through the press). So, Mark, that is how I can honestly say that I had no idea Ms. Ragen was part of the petition. But really, what I don’t understand is why this is relevant to the discussion. If there is a situation in society that needs correcting as its existence DOES affect everyone, then what makes the difference who joins together in common cause on that particular issue? Do you patronize establishments owned by non-frum Jews? Do you associate with those who have different political views than your own? Do you still not try to find common ground where you can? If anything, a person should be applauded for separating the wheat from the chaff and not creating more division by taking the “all or nothing” approach.

  67. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by Miriam Shear — April 27, 2007 @ 2:11 pm:

    The lady doth protest too much…

    [Full disclosure: note that I just quoted Shakespeare or someone else thought to be Shakespeare]

  68. Joel Rich says:

    Bob,

    From e-notes.com “Queen Gertrude speaks these famous words to her son, Prince Hamlet, while watching a play at court. Gertrude does not realize that Hamlet has staged this play to trap her ” So if you (taking the role of Queen Gertrude) are saying this to Ms. Shear (taking the role of Hamlet)…… Hameivin Yavin (he who understands will understand)

    Thanks to Rabbi L Dulitz for being both a great Rebbe and senior English teacher in MTA

    KT

  69. Bob Miller says:

    Joel Rich, you are a maivin so you know what I’m driving at in Comment by Bob Miller — April 27, 2007 @ 2:58 pm

    This quote has taken on a life of its own in conversation, writing, etc., and has well-known connotations. See, for example,
    http://www.goenglish.com/ProtestTooMuch.asp

    In any case, I’m not saying this to Ms. Shear, but about Ms. Shear.

  70. dovid says:

    April 28, 2007 @ 11:28 pm

    Bob,

    I trust KT understood. So did the rest of us.

  71. Mark says:

    Mrs. Shear writes:

    “In fact, I cannot even take credit for the idea of sending it to Ms. Ragen. It was suggested by several CHAREIDI friends – that’s right DIE HARD CHAREIDIM suggested I send it to Ms. Ragen.”

    Does Mrs. Shear realize this sounds silly? I have no idea who these “DIE HARD CHAREIDIM” are, and how does it excuse joining hands with an avowed Chareidi basher [and I say this having read some of her books and being utterly repulsed by her portrayals of anything Chareidi]? It may have been an expedient means of disseminating the information, but surely a responsible woman like Mrs. Shear would be very careful before she gave a known Chareidi basher more fodder for her cannon. No?

    “It was ONLY the reform group that informed me of a plan that WAS ALREADY IN PROCESS prior to my incident to submit a petition the High Court. At no point was I ever informed of the identity of the other litigants”

    So not only did she decide that her cause warranted involving Mrs. Ragen, but she also joined hands with IRAC but DIDN’T know anything about their motives, either?

    So we have here two parties that feature the disembowelment of Hareidim prominently on their agendas and everyone but Mrs. Shear knew about that, or she never knew they were involved. She only bothered to look into the details later. Is it not possible that Mrs. Shear may have acted a bit recklessly here?

    “But really, what I don’t understand is why this is relevant to the discussion. If there is a situation in society that needs correcting as its existence DOES affect everyone, then what makes the difference who joins together in common cause on that particular issue? Do you patronize establishments owned by non-frum Jews? Do you associate with those who have different political views than your own? Do you still not try to find common ground where you can?”

    The answer is yes to all, but I’d never join hands with sworn enemies of Torah Judaism. IRAC in Israel is bent on undermining Torah in every manner possible. I’d never join hands with them and provide them ammunition for that. Whatever it took, I’d look elsewhere for a solution. To date, I haven’t seen any evidence that you did so. You went straight to Ragen and mass emailing. No evidence of nuance there at all. After all, neither of those two can be accused of separating the “wheat from the chaff”. Both are hellbent on destroying Chareidim any way they can.

    After all I’ve read, I’m sorry to say that something just doesn’t add up here.

  72. SM says:

    Mark,

    THose die hard enemies of Torah Judaism make up a large part of the Israeli army. Would you really NEVER join hands with them?

  73. Bob Miller says:

    Mark said,
    “After all I’ve read, I’m sorry to say that something just doesn’t add up here.”

    More broadly, this question pertains to evasive public statements by revolutionaries, past and present, who have found it necessary to conceal their true purposes until support increased enough to allow candid public disclosure.

    Today, evasive public statements often come from feminists who wish themselves and their views to be thought of as 100% Orthodox. We read these in connection with worship at the Kotel, legal actions against Chareidim as a class, education of women to “pasken” (render decisions in Jewish law) for women, etc. Their idea is to confuse and disarm their opposition. We should not take their protestations at face value.

  74. dovid says:

    “Those die hard enemies of Torah Judaism make up a large part of the Israeli army.”

    That’s ain’t so. Able-bodied young men and women are drafted, or least most of them. A minority of them are leftists. Most young Israelis are not enemies of Torah Judaism.

  75. hp says:

    “THose die hard enemies of Torah Judaism make up a large part of the Israeli army.”

    I’m stunned to read this.

    Are secular Israeli’s in the IDF “die hard enemies” of Torah Judaism? They are young (or not so young) hard working soldiers who have not (yet) had the opportunity to learn Torah. How about the many Religious Zionists in the IDF? Are they too enemies of Torah Judaism?

  76. dovid says:

    “Those die hard enemies of Torah Judaism make up a large part of the Israeli army.”

    A new trend actually is emerging within the leftist camp, (they certainly are highly hostile to Torah Judaism) to dodge army service.

  77. Mark says:

    SM wrote:
    “THose die hard enemies of Torah Judaism make up a large part of the Israeli army. Would you really NEVER join hands with them?”

    Huh? You lost me on this one? I know many soldiers in the IDF – have worked with many of them, and spent plenty of times on IDF bases and I have rarely met a soldier who is a die-hard enemy of Torah Judaism. Many of them want no part of it but they’re anything but die hard enemies. Furthermore, their stated goal and focus in life has never been to undermine Torah Judaism. The same cannot be said for the Reform movement in Israel nor for Mrs. Ragen. Joining their petition against a Chareidi entity [even one that some Chareidim oppose] is a form of strengthening their hand. I imagine a competent judge should be capable of appreciating this distinction.

  78. Charles B. Hall, PhD says:

    Israel is one of the 12 countries with the worst copyright protection according to this report from the US Special Trade Representative:

    http://www.ustr.gov/Document_Library/Press_Releases/2007/April/SPECIAL_301_Report.html

    This doesn’t necessarily have anything specific to do with this particular case, but why would Israel be as bad as some of these true rogue states?

    Also, what exactly is the halachah regarding copyright? Is there any halachic prohibition beyond the obligation to obey secular law?

  79. Bob Miller says:

    Charles B. Hall asked in regard to copyright protection, “…but why would Israel be as bad as some of these true rogue states?”

    Possibly, there are rogues somewhere in the Israeli government.

  80. lawrence kaplan. says:

    Dr. Hall: Re the halakhah regarding plagiarism, see the references in note 5 in the most recent post by Dan Rabinowitz in Seforim.

  81. Steve Brizel says:

    Aside from this blog and the J Post, AFAIK, this case has received scarcely any coverage in the Anglo Jewish secular and Federation subsidized media ( “the media”). As others had pointed out, if a Charedi author had been the defendant, as opposed to the plaintiff, Haaretz, which purports to be the NY Times of Israel, would no doubt have had at least one story. IMO, that is the key-when a Charedi or RZ/MO is accused of some improper conduct and newsworthy in the media, it is a lead story. However, in covering anything positive or a wrong perpetrated against a member of the Torah world, it simply does not exist as news on the antenaee and radar of the media.

  1. April 27, 2007

    […] The case against the Egged Bus Company’s “Mehadrin Lines” is moving forward and in the news. I think it deserves its own comment thread, independent of the plagiarism complaints against one of the parties. […]

  2. December 11, 2011

    […] December 11th, 2011: A Jerusalem Court has ruled in favor of Sarah Shapiro, who wrote four years ago about her plagiarism suit against Naomi Ragen. Ragen is the well-known author of Sotah, […]

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