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Feb 17, 2010

Stop making me sick over Martin Grossman

I see some bloggers and haredi news sites have been hanging on every detail of the Martin Grossman execution.

They are busy telling us his last words, what he was doing leading up to the execution, etc.

Is this supposed to give me chizzuk?

It is one thing to say we need to try to get the stay of execution because he is our Jewish brother. It is another thing to make him into something greater than he was. He was a vile murderer, and he probably deserved what he got (he was a cop killer after all), though I feel bad because he was one of us.

I get absolutely no chizzuk by hearing what his last words were or how he put on tefillin before he was taken to die.

By the way, according to a Florida newspaper, he didn't ask for any special last meal. He ate a chicken sandwich from the prison canteen. Does anybody know if prison canteens stock kosher chicken sandwiches?

I don't mean to badmouth him, especially now that he is dead, but the sites that are making him sound like a tzaddik and baal mussar are making me sick.


  1. By the way, I'm not sure I believe all of the stuff being reported about him (tefillin, etc). Chabad is not above embellishing the truth to make kiruv points.

  2. I had not heard about the last meal, but then again...

    It's all fine and dandy that several major organizations banned together regarding Mr. Grossman a"h, but sad that they can't ban together for more things.

    Mark has a point...

  3. He may or may not have put on tefillin, but how does that make kiruv points? The guy is a murderer.

  4. I have no problem believing that he put on tefillin. the rabbi told him to, so he did. I dont see why that is not believable.

    That raises a question - is there any benefit to putting on tefillin? Assuming he davened that day with tefillin, as the chabad rabbi said he regularly did, is there any benefit to putting on tefillin a second time that day just because he was about to be killed?

  5. now I just saw an announcement that his funeral will be in Monsey leaving from a shul. I wonder if they are going to bring out a crowd to honor him and pay respects as if he died al kiddush hashem...

  6. Based on my limited knowledge, I doubt if there's any benefit to putting on Tefillin twice.

    It's not like saying Sh'ma several times a day (in that case you get z'char for Talmud Torah whenever you recite Sh'ma, but you can only get z'char for davening Sh'ma once).

    Also, back in the day (ie times of the Mishna) it was common for some to wear Tefillin all day long). If there was a halachik/z'char benefit to putting on Tefillin multiple times throughout the day, then I would have thought that Chazal would have instituted it.

    Also, if you say that there's any benefit to Mr. Grossman a"h putting on tefillin a second time, then it would only (I believe) be before the sun went down. His execution was at 6:00 (EST) so the sun would have still be up.

    Again, this is just based on what I've learned. Any mistake is sole due to my not understanding the halacha and does not refelct any of the yeshivos that I might have attended. :)

  7. Re: Funeral in Monsey

    It would depend if media was invited.

  8. Neil - re: the tefillin, it could be he put it on just to "be jewish" - one last opportunity. dont know if thats right or wrong, but there is at least nothing wrong with it.
    Obviously he would have had to put them on before sunset. I dont know what time sunset is in Florida, but it isn't a big deal - he could have put them on an hour before...

  9. uch. YWN has their top article a piece from the chabad rabbi that accompanied Grossman. It makes me sick. They really are making him into a kadosh elyon.

    Then again, who am I to doubt that he really did teshuva?

    Another point from the article, he says the only person that cared about Grossman on this day was the Lubavitcher Rebbe, because the Rebbe sent him as his shaliach to be with Grossman in his final moments. I would say, based on that, that Grossman died in the hands of avoda zara.

  10. Neil Harris - It's not like saying Sh'ma several times a day (in that case you get z'char for Talmud Torah whenever you recite Sh'ma, but you can only get z'char for davening Sh'ma once).

    However isn't it true that on that particular day, saying Shma an extra time might have some meaning (as in final tshuva right before you die)?

    I'll admit to something here that I've never told anyone, but whenever I am on a plane (or somewhere else "dangerous"), I have Shma in my mind to say just in case we are about to go down. Maybe a little childish, or silly, but so what?

  11. Mark, I'm not discounting the importance of saying Sh'ma at ANY time. Nor am I passing judgement on Mr. Grossman a"h. I'm sure if a Rabbi was with him then he said Viduy as well.

    My wife says Sh'ma whenever I drive. :)

  12. Did his fan club mourn the victim?

  13. Technical point here:
    It is certainly a kiyum mitzva to put on tefillin a second time during the day.
    There is a dispute amongst acharonim whether the chiyuv is once a day or to have them on all day.
    All agree that there is a kiyum mitzva for multiple times, as it is very explicit in halacha that one makes additional berachot for putting them on additional times.
    Why did "chazal" not institute doing it multiple times?
    Well, the answer is either that they did require people to wear them all day or it wasn't absolutely required, rather it was mitzva min hamuvchar.
    (Have a read through the very short masechet tefillin in the masechtot ketanot at the back of avoda zara.)
    The disadvantage to absolutely requiring it is that wearing them requires "clean body" and "clean mind" which is difficult to maintain all day.
    Which is why today we do not wear them all day. (There was a time when some people did not wear them at all for that reason.)

  14. the Daas Torah blog by Rav Eidensohn posts a teshuva from Rav Moshe Feinstein that basically says what I said in this post. He talks about the right to have a death penalty and whether the community should have tried to get a stay of execution (the request was ok), but says that not all means are muttar in doing so, and it is for sure inappropriate to have turned him into a martyr to inspire people. There are far more worthy people for inspiration. http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2010/02/r-moshe-feinsteinlegitimacy-of-capital.html

  15. Rafi I agree with you 100%.
    Look at Chadrei chareidim or Kikar Shabat. The worse are the talkbacks. A few wrote even hy''d

  16. Since the vast majority of people who got the viral email to petition the governor had no idea of the facts in the case, of course everyone is thinking he was completely misjudged.

    I'm on an email group in which many of the women don't have internet access (only blackberries) and one remarked that she was stunned when she received the letter from the governor - with the gory details - standing by the original decision.

    But it sounded like she was stunned and didn't really believe it was factual (I guess based on all the invested communal effort).

  17. I don't really care if he put on tefillin, said sh'ma or even said full viduy. the fact that the Jewish world rallied around this murderer is shameful. it brought unnecessary negative attention to us as a group. to hear people say that a Jewish lie is the most important thing is insane...that innocent police woman's life was not important?

    Also, even in Jewish law when Jewish law ruled the Jews, if someone murdered there was a death penalty and in this world there is a concept of dina d'malchuta dina. He murdered someone, nobody is refuting that.

  18. Jewish life not lie...sorry for the typo

  19. Ignoring, for the moment, any of the details of his crime; the fact that he went through numerous appeals in his 25 yrs sitting on Death Row, with each appeal being denied; the fact that Gov. Crist really had no choice due to the way the FL death penalty is written; the only REAL issue is this:

    If he was a sincere Baal Teshuvah - kol hakavod. The Ribonu Shel Olam will deal with him on such merits. WE, however, are NOT H'BH, and as such, following the letter (as well as the spirit) of the law dictates that he was to die. End of story. Good night Irene.

    All of this mishegas to save him, while initially a kiddush hashem, QUICKLY turned into a massive chillul hashem.

    As I mentioned on another blog - the Agudah and the Gedolim get all up in arms to save THIS guy? Meanwhile, converts and potential converts are treated like dirt, children are abused by the very members of the community that are supposed to help keep them safe, everywhere you look frumme yidden are being arrested, indicted, jailed and sentenced - and what response have we heard from the Agudah and the Gedolim over these actions?

    It seems to me that somewhere along the way, the thinking cap got turned around some.

  20. http://www.bhol.co.il/news_read.asp?id=15384&cat_id=2

  21. by i think your'e misinformed,because he was totally insane when he cop killed

  22. spot on. I anticipated this.


  23. If it makes any sense at all it is that he had become a larger-than-death symbol of Jewish Unity. Satmar, Lubavitch, Yeshivas, Aguda, NCYI and even far left Jews of the ACLU (albeit for diverse reasons) all said Tehilim and contacted the governor in a united effort to save him.

    Too bad that we can't put aside our differences and unite in other more do-able projects.

    But on a profound level Rafi, perhaps both you and I are wrong. Maybe ther is a unique Jewish genius and Torah sensibility at work here. Isn't it striking that so many of the Torahs מצוות בין אדם לחבירו are directed towards the most despicable of Jews. Hasovas avaida speaks about returning the אויב 's donkey, preeeka is to the שונא 's donkey, (both of whom are enemies based on their sinning , per khazal), we learn the prohibition of physical assaults from the sinner who was receiving corporal punishment/ flogging from a court officer, we learn the mitzvah of honring human remains by not delaying burial from the corpse of a criminal/sinner guilty of the most heinous of Torah crimes (skeela-כל הנסקלין נתלין).

    The chizuk I get from Martin Grossman's A'H over the top kovod akhron is the same tha tI derive from my Shabbos Lechem mishna. I.e. a kal v'khomer inspiration. If the Torah wants me to be sensitive to the "bruised feelings" of the inanimate Challahs made to feel useless during Qiddush so that I cover them that I not witness their humiliation, how much more sensitive must I be to save a sentient being from humiliation.

    If thousands of jews were able to wail over the redeeming qualities of a borderline mental incompetent and brutal murderer how much more should we bewail the loss of every average person who has many more admirable qulities and utapped potential than martin had. More to the point, how much more ought we to appreciate and celebrate the lives and qualities of those around us and make sure that none of their potentail is squndered while they are still alive, free and functioning!

  24. I viewd and listened to the clip.
    as near as I can decipher the Maspid is not prasing the deceased but bewailing the fractured state of Jewry. I surmise that prior to the clip he was admiring how the CAUSE of saving Grossman from the death penalty, as distinct from the person of Martin Grossman, brought about a remarkable pan-jewish unity. The Maspid was crying because he'd like something ephemearl and fleeting to be solid and permanent.

  25. you know what, I didnt understand a word from the clip, and it doesnt make a difference to me what was said. The levaya should have had a minyan made up of chevra kadisha people and the chabad rabbi who was his friend and thats it.

    they rallied thousands of people to come to the levaya of an executed murderer?

  26. anonymous - he was totally insane? and in 25 years of appeals in the court system while sitting on death row not a single judge thought that claim was valid enough to cancel the execution, yet you know he was insane. I am impressed.

  27. I agree with Rafi completely as I posted on the other blog where this was posted.

    To have such a crowd of people at this guys levaya, a murderer for Gods sake, when so many pashuta good Yiddin, that were tzadikkim ketanim, die every year and we can barely find a minyan of men to attend their levaya IS DISGUSTING AND IS A CHILLUL HASHEM OF THE GREATEST ORDER. This mans levaya should have been quiet and at the minimum level for kovod hames!

  28. Didn't Chazal teach that those who are merciful to the cruel will end up being cruel to the merciful?

    Hashem yirachem!

  29. Joseph - two different things. I was not against the campaign to save him. I did not write against it despite my general stance of being pro-death penalty. The guy was a Jew and despite what he did I felt bad that he was in that situation.

    But once he is dead they should have buried him and moved on. They made him into a martyr even after death, they wrote HYD, they gave mussar through his words. That was way too much.


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