THE MICHAEL JACKSON TAPES by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. TO READ OR NOT TO READ?
As you probably noticed the articles recommended in the “Oxygen” post were written in 2000/2001 by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and one of his associates. Eight years later, in September 2009 Shmuley published a book called “The Michael Jackson tapes”.
Is the book worth reading? My answer to the question is YES, but definitely WITHOUT Shmuley’s comments on Michael’s words.
You can find the comment-free version in the internet – see here, for example:
WHY WITHOUT HIS COMMENT? Because Shmuley is absolutely NO friend to Michael Jackson and most probably has NEVER been one. His today’s vision of Michael is flat, distorted and hopelessly outdated as they were not on speaking terms for 9 years since their relationship fell apart sometime in 2001.
Shmuley claims that Michael “desperately wanted the book out” but it speaks volumes that the book was not published for eight years while Michael was alive, same as it speaks volumes about Shmuley that he made it only 3 months after Michael was gone.
Even if Michael did record the tapes for some joint project of theirs the man should have been given the grace and honor to be the sole narrator in the book – with the editor or co-author being extremely delicate with the precious material he was handling. The tapes are beautiful enough to speak for themselves and interjecting comments on the deceased man’s confessions is the highest form of disrespect which can be shown by anyone to any person’s memory at all. And the fact that this was done by a rabbi makes it only worse.
Shmuley clearly wanted to capitalize on Michael’s death in terms of money and publicity – same as he expected their relationship to bring more attention to himself when Michael was alive and they were still on friendly terms. All this is a clear indication to me that any comments he may be offering on Michael’s confessions are of very little value and are highly questionable to say the very least.
BUT WHY IS IT A YES ANSWER THEN? Because no matter what Shmuley’s initial desire was, the opportunity to listen to Michael’s innermost thoughts gives us a bigger than ever chance to marvel at the wonderful and amazing person Michael was – despite all that Shmuley’s simplistic judgment, impossible arrogance and self-aggrandizing. The probable reason for this is that no lie can compete with the truth when standing side by side with it – the thing which is really genuine will always stand out… And it is Michael’s genuine nature that has so miraculously turned Shmuley’s dubious intentions into something really good.
Yes, despite all Shmuley’s misconceptions, and his grandiose effort to add even more wrong to them at every media venue he attended, and despite the mighty desire of the TV and press to promote the “freak” image of Michael they are so obsessed with – in short despite all the usual cannonade in their joint war against one deceased man the effect of Michael Jackson’s words on those tapes is SO powerful that the morning after reading all that crap you are amazed to remember nothing but Michael’s words.
It could be the result of me reading the book without Shmuley’s comments of course, but last night I did read their dialogues again and when I checked my memory today it was still only Michael’s part which stayed there. And though the feeling of disgust was still there, all that pygmy journalistic fuss over Michael’s words had somehow evaporated from my mind, while Michael’s part remained very much intact. The only things remaining there were his sincerity, warmth, his ever-present desire to share other people’s pain, and the intense and deep anguish he had to endure for too long.
The terrible abuse he suffered from that tyrant… The pangs of maturing experienced by any young man… The awful loneliness Michael was doomed to by his fame which he tried to cope with by keeping mannequins in his room… The tender memories he had of his Jewish woman tutor… His tears when hearing the AIDS victim boy speak of the clothes he wanted to be buried in… The battle with Lisa-Maria over the children he visited in prison… His anger at her slamming the telephone on some sick children who called him… His admiration for Princess Diana as really his type of a woman…. The poignant feeling of the fireworks going off when he was holding a hand of the girl he loved… His very true comments on what some women are like and the shocking type Madonna was 10 years ago and his prediction that she would change when she becomes a mother (the transformation she is indeed undergoing)… And at the end of it all that prank with tea poured into a whisky bottle and him drinking it glass after glass to crack the atmosphere of tedious business talks!
Oh, so much of everything – so fresh, real, genuine and so human in comparison with the cold sneer of those journalists and condescension from Shmuley whose interviews managed to make a complete different story out of the very same thing!
Considering that those tapes were made in private and were probably never meant for the public eye (or were supposed to be at least edited, corrected and approved) we are actually lucky that Michael turned out to be such an INNOCENT AND PURE SOUL that he didn’t say anything embarrassing, shameful or regretful any of us would have said or incidentally dropped under the circumstances.
Just imagine yourself talking for some 30 hours with someone you believe to be a friend and how much nonsense you could tell him in all those hours. I shudder at the thought that such a “friend” might afterwards show – sorry, sell — these ramblings to the general public without ever apologizing, asking for permission to publish and having the decency to offer parts of the profit to the real author fo the book or his kin.
Below is a sort of a FILE on Shmuley based on the interviews he gave before and after Michael’s death. If any of you still doubt that Shmuley was no friend to Michael Jackson, this read is for you.
The interview with Meredith Vieira of NBS of September 25, 2009 is a complete masterpiece in terms of distorting the image of Michael Jackson by both sides to the conversation.
Shmuley’s comments are a marvel of course, but I also thought it necessary to single out the voice-overs and group them together to show that they are absolutely open in shaping public opinion against Michael even before Shmuley says anything at all:
Sept. 25, 2009
By Meredith Vieira
VOICEOVER: Author Rabbi Shmuley Boteach — a relationship expert who calls himself “America’s Rabbi” — calls it “The King Of Pop Raw,” exposed like never before. …As he opened up to the rabbi, Jackson could sound narcissistic… Forget the mask, the chimp, the baby dangling, and any other eccentric behavior we already know about. Here, Jackson talks openly about his oddest — and saddest — habits.
Michael Jackson: I needed someone. That’s probably why I had, uh, the mannequins, I would say. Because I felt I needed people, I love them, it makes me feel like I am in a room with people.
Meredith Vieira: What did you see?
Rabbi Shmuley: Indescribable pain. Tremendous remorse and regret.
VOICEOVER: “Even back in 2001, Michael Jackson seemed to be drowning in an ocean of despair. In fact, the only thing that seemed to keep him going was his love for children. … But Neverland was a place where innocence and darkness would collide as the real motives behind the King Of Pop’s connection to children raised unsettling questions. … But it was a mission Jackson seemed to take to an extreme — even telling the rabbi he sees himself as a universal father who has the power to heal sick children.”
Meredith Vieira: All of the attraction that he had to children, and the attention that he paid to children, you believe all of it was innocent?
Rabbi Shmuley: I don’t know. What was certainly true is that he wasn’t a monster. He may have done something that was unforgiveable even, but that didn’t make him a monster.
VOICEOVER: “If the King Of Pop was drawn to children, he was often shy and awkward with women, as you’ll hear in candid revelations about his celebrity dates, and crushes, from Madonna to Brooke Shields to Princess Diana. … On Tape, Michael Jackson is a man full of contradictions. …Reflective and grateful at times, so self-absorbed and brazen at others, that he sounds almost delusional about his power.”
Meredith Vieira: On the one side, he seems to be very self-loathing, hates what he sees in the mirror, insecure. On the other hand, he paints himself to be somebody who could heal sick children, who could turn Hitler around.
Rabbi Shmuley: Unbelievable statements. He was either showing me an incredibly wholesome side that made you fall in love with the kind of person he was, or a strange, bizarre dimension messiah complex. Insatiable for attention.
VOICEOVER: “When it comes to women, the King Of Pop sounds especially conflicted. He describes his mom Katherine as nothing short of saintly.”
Meredith Vieira: And yet, when he talks about other women, you got the sense that he didn’t trust women.
Rabbi Shmuley: Michael exhibited tendencies of misogyny. That women are materialistic, that women want things from you.
VOICEOVER: “Jackson describes women as manipulative, disappointing. … For a 42-year-old man, the immaturity that comes across on Michael Jackson’s tapes is startling. Sometimes, he sounds just like a teenager. …Had he been able to muster up the courage, Jackson told Rabbi Shmuley there was a certain princess who would have been at the top of his list.”
Meredith Vieira: Did you get the feeling talking to him that he ever got beyond that sort of that adolescent approach to romance, the kind of giggly, almost kid-like?
Rabbi Shmuley: For me, it was actually something, you know, it was a blessing to see such a famous man saying that holding hands was suddenly so special.
VOICEOVER: “One thing was clear though — to the rabbi, Jackson seemed incapable of sustaining any meaningful relationship with a woman. And with no adult love in his life, was the writing on the wall?”
“He talked about vanishing.”
Michael Jackson: I would like to- some kind of way disappear, where people don’t see me anymore.
VOICEOVER: “His fear of growing old.”
Michael Jackson: I just don’t want to look old and start forgetting.
VOICEOVER: “And hauntingly, his own death. He couldn’t stand the thought of himself with gray hair — and at 42, Michael Jackson was already fixated on his final resting place.”
Michael Jackson: I want to be buried right where there’s children. I would feel safer that way. I want them next to me. I need their spirit.
Meredith Vieira: There are a number of comments that Michael made to you in these tapes that in light of his premature death are– are eerie.
Rabbi Shmuley: Michael said to me constantly, “If I can’t help kids, then I will find a way to terminate my life.”
Meredith Vieira: Did he have a death wish?
Rabbi Shmuley: He lost the will to live.
VOICEOVER: “In 2001, after counseling Michael Jackson for two years — and capturing 30 hours of his innermost thoughts on tape– Rabbi Shmuley cut ties with the star. He says the King Of Pop was slipping from his reach, so lured by the pull of fame — and the seduction of pain numbing drugs — that he completely lost interest in their philanthropic projects.”
Rabbi Shmuley: For two years, I really felt that I was making headway in helping Michael restructure his life, but once I saw that Michael was treating my advice as if I were a nuisance. I had to end our relationship. Was I gonna applaud as he slowly self-immolated? If I’m just another someone who’s afraid to tell him that he’s got to stop doing drugs, then what was I doing there?
Rabbi Shmuley: If I had gone back, Meredith, not only would I not have helped him, I would have been dragged into that destructive vortex, and I would have needed help.
Meredith Vieira: Your initial reaction to his death was anger.
Rabbi Shmuley: My first reaction was, you stupid, stupid man, how could you do this? How could you orphan your children? Your children have no mother.
Rabbi Shmuley: What hurt me most is that Michael threw away his life, and God endowed this special man with talent that the rest of us could only dream of. Why did it have to end tragically?
VOICEOVER: “It is Michael Jackson’s own voice, his own words, his deeply personal revelations – that now make the rabbi hopeful that in some way America can make sense of his death, that we can learn something…” Full text: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32987303/ns/dateline_nbc-newsmakers//
NO ONE will ever be able to learn anything from hypocritical information guru and spiritual advisers like that. However Shmuley is greatly pleased with this interview:
- “the general public made the book and the NBC Dateline Special into an international phenomenon and arguably the most positive statements about Michael ever to be released to the public”.
POSITIVE statements? After an angry tsunami from Michael’s supporters to those “positive” statements Shmuley toned down a bit when answering questions of the Washington Post readers – though his degrading misinterpretation of Michael’s behavior and his whitewashing of himself was still there:
THE WASHINGTON POST,
October 2, 2009
Pittsburgh, Pa.: What is your response to the autopsy report that was released to the public yesterday? It stated that Michael was in relatively good health and that there were no additional drugs found in his system, which directly contradicts your claims of him being a prescription drug addict.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: Michael himself admitted to an addiction to prescription drug medication around 1993. As has been widely reported, he sometimes resorted to painkillers in order to deal with medical issues. I told him that he had to learn to live with his pain, and make changes in his life, instead of medicating the pain away. I wanted him to address its root cause. Americans consume three quarters of the world’s anti-depressants because materialism will never bring happiness. We have to rediscover spiritual purpose, which is exactly what I told Michael throughout our friendship.
Pittsburgh, Pa.: On Dateline, you stated that you weren’t sure if Michael was innocent with regards to the child molestation charges. After spending two years taping the man — how could you possibly be unsure? Certainly, something would have tipped you off if he was guilty.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: What I have consistently said is that I never saw anything that would lead me to conclude that Michael could ever harm a child.
Ashburn, Va.: You had plenty of time to publish the book before the 2003 arrest. It could have saved his life to get his message out to the public. Why didn’t you publish this book in 2002? It feels that you are just another one in a long line of people who exploited Michael Jackson for your own personal fame and fortune.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach: This book could not have been published when there was zero sympathy for Michael in the public. It’s entire purpose was to have people open their hearts to the real Michael Jackson and judge him more favorably. The 2003 arrest reinforced an already existing view that Michael was not the person he purported to be. I am sure we all remember those times.
Did you have enough of it?
If you didn’t, here is another remarkable piece from Shmuley who evidently thinks that Michael never had any serious ailments despite his lupus, “Pepsi” burn, fall from the overhanging platform and injuries to his back, vitiligo and many other things.
Shmuley also attributes the affliction of Michael’s soul to everything except the REAL cause of it – his 15-year long ruthless and groundless harassment by the media and the lethal blow delivered to the innocence of his spirit by the insult of horrible slander.
Not having contact with Michael for the past 9 years Shmuley speaks of his drug addiction (we all know of from his then lyrics) as if this was happening only yesterday but not a decade ago. Let me remind you that the autopsy report did not reveal any narcotics in his system which means that Michael finally managed to cope with that problem!
On top of it all Shmuley sheds crocodile tears over the man whom he portrays as an abuser who “may have be guilty of serious crimes” as a result of the abuse he himself sustained in his childhood.
Who needs enemies with friends like that, I wonder?
Interesting to see how Shmuley’s words contradict the opinion he expressed to the Washington Post only 3 months later when he said he never saw anything that would lead him to conclude that Michael could ever harm a child:
JACKSON RABBI-FRIEND: SINGER WAS ‘A TORTURED, TORTURED SOUL’,
June 30, 2009
Brown: Thank you for being here. I want to ask, you were so concerned by what you saw of Michael Jackson’s drug use that all the way back in 2004, you told CNN you thought he’d die young.
I mean, what did you see that made you feel that way?
Boteach: Well, there was no one around to stop him. … People … are not going to interfere with what Michael was trying to do. And what he was trying to do was curb pain.
Michael always thought that he had ailments of the body. He always had a neck that hurt, a foot that was twisted. Really, he had an affliction of his soul. He was extremely lonely, he was extremely unhappy. He felt purposeless, he felt lethargic. And the way he dealt with that pain — and he was especially afraid of evasion, of that perhaps his best years are behind him.
And instead of reinventing himself and entering a new phase, he decided to medicate away his pain. And no human body was going to — would be able to sustain that kind of assault. This was inevitable, it was shocking, it’s tragic. But it could have easily been averted.
And I would say to him, “This is poison. This is killing you. You need to be razor sharp, Michael.” And he knew that it was bad for him. But the next night we had dinner together and he stood up during dinner and I said, “Why don’t you sit down.” He said, “Because I took your advice. My back hurts but I’m not medicating it.”
Brown: So, that’s amazing to me. That he would get high and then he would be medicated before he would perform, essentially, in front of a crowd. Was he under the influence of drugs around his kids, also?
Boteach: Well, let me make something absolutely clear: I never saw Michael before a concert. I never saw him in a concert.
Brown : You talk about the people around him and that that needs to be followed up on. Who were the good guys? I mean, was his family trying to get him help? I mean, obviously you talked to him but what could have been done?
Boteach: Well, let’s be honest. If we in America want to have an honest conversation about Michael Jackson — who the good guys are…. I tried to be one of the good guys. Being a good guy meant if you had to risk your relationship with Michael, that you had to put your relationship on the line — you had to look him in the eye and say, “Michael, you are killing yourself,” or “Michael, you have — there’s no normality in your life,” or “Michael, you have lost spiritual anchor.”
I mean, Campbell, Michael was a very spiritual, religious man. He was not only a Jehovah’s Witness, he was a missionary. … He used to knock on people’s doors selling Watchtowers. Then suddenly he fell out with the church. So you had this mega attention and nothing to balance and nothing to correct it. Little by little he became more egotistical.
Brown: Rabbi Shmuley, I mean, there have been so many rumors with regard to this story. What’s the one thing that you’ve heard that you want to clear up about Michael Jackson? What should the public know?
Boteach: More than anything else, I want people to understand as they read all of these very unfortunate stories about Michael. And let’s face it, Michael may have — I don’t know — but may have been guilty of very serious, serious crimes.
I want people to understand that even if it were true and I have no idea if it is or it isn’t, that this was a tortured, tortured soul, who from the earliest age did not know love because he felt that he had to perform to earn love. He lived in permanent insecurity. He was one of the most tortured souls I ever came across.
After all the fame and fortune there was a part of him that we almost could not reach and I would hope that the public, in judging and assessing Michael Jackson, would do so … knowing that that child star suffered these terrible, terrible things.
Brown: I do want to ask you, you talk about the accusations against him, criminal accusations. Did he ever talk to you about that?
Boteach: Absolutely. He said that they were absolutely not true. He promised me that he would never be alone with a child again. So I said to him, even if they’re not true, Michael, after 1993, you can never be alone with a child. And he said he understood that. I also told him, you’re not the children’s messiah. So he always said to me, it wasn’t true, he could never harm a child, it was all lies, et cetera. I mean, you know, I knew the child who was the second accuser. And the second accusation to be honest, I never believed. I sort of knew the family, I knew the child. I was all around in the first one and he had no business getting so close to other people’s children — that’s for certain.
But Michael crossed lines all the time. And this is part of the problem of being a superstar when no one wants to say no to you and when you simply withdraw from anyone who does say no to you.
Brown: Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, so appreciate your time.
Boteach: Thank you, Campbell. And I hope that people will remember Michael in the most charitable light.
Remember Michael in the most charitable light? AFTER THAT? What a quintessence of hypocrisy!
Okay, it is time we spoke about the true reasons why their “friendship” may have fallen apart and why Michael no longer had any interest in any philantrophic projects with Shmuley Boteach and why it was most probably him who cut ties with Shmuley Boteach. Here are a couple of enlightening articles on this issue:
By Roger Friedman// September 29, 2009
It’s sort of amazing watching Shmuley Boteach, a rabbi with no congregation other than an unwitting public, selling out Michael Jackson. He’s just published a book of interviews he taped with Michael back in 2000-2001. All the money goes to Boteach. There’s no charity involved. (Ironically, Boteach also recently published a book called “The Blessing of Enough: Rejecting Material Greed, Embracing Spiritual Hunger.”)
That wasn’t the case in 2000 when I met both Michael and Boteach together one November night. It was at the home of PR guru Howard Rubenstein. Boteach had convinced Michael to start a new charity with him called Time for Kids. They were going to teach parents to spend time with their children.
There were about 3o people in the Rubensteins’ Fifth Avenue living room. Boteach gave a long speech about Michael being the “most misunderstood” celebrity in the world, said he loved children so much he had mannequins of them in his Neverland bedroom. That revelation went over like a lead balloon.
On February 14, 2001, Time for Kids had its first and only get together, People bought tickets to see Michael, Boteach and assorted celebrities like Johnnie Cochran, Mother Love, Judith Regan, Chuck Woolery and Dr. Drew Pinsky talk about spending more time with children. The event was called “Love, Work, and Parenting: Can You Be a Success in the Bedroom, the Boardroom, and the Family Room?” It was only 70% full. The tickets were $40, $30, and $20.
Michael told the crowd, when he finally spoke: “I’m having trouble finding a date for myself even though Rabbi Shmuley tells me he’s going to find me the perfect woman. And I tell him, as long as it’s not a journalist!” Here’s a transcript of Michael’s speech.
When the accounting for the event finally came in on a Form 990, it showed (I reported then) a total of $203,185 collected from direct public support. At the same time, the charity’s expenses totaled $259,432. All but $20,000 of that was spent on staff salaries and office expenses. No money went to children of any kind.
Listed on the IRS filing were an organization president, secretary and treasurer. The latter two, this reporter discovered after making some calls, were Boteach’s sister and mother. The sister, Ateret Diveroli, repeated exactly what the mother had: “I’m not part of that anymore.”
Mrs. Diveroli insisted to me that her brother was “very honest” and had stopped working with Michael Jackson “because nothing was happening. He wasn’t doing anything.”
That was pretty much it for Michael and Shmuley’s friendship. There was a trip to Oxford a couple of months later, but by June 2001 Jackson’s “Invincible” album came out. In September he performed his 30th anniversary shows. Shmuley was gone. From the time Jackson was arrested in 2003 until his death, Boteach was out of his life. Jackson surely had no memory of making tapes with Boteach, and no desire to have them published.
And yet, Shmuley is back. He will flog his short, unheralded relationship to Michael Jackson for as long as the public — or TV bookers– can bear it. The real kicker: that his publicist sent out press releases yesterday, on Yom Kippur, offering copies of the book and excerpts. While every other rabbi in the world was praying, Shmuley Boteach was busy marketing Michael Jackson for profit. Buyer beware.
Here is another instance of the same problem between them:
JACKSON’S ‘EX-RABBI’: DID $100,000 GO TO CHARITY?
April 02, 2004
By Roger Friedman
The list of con men and hustlers who’ve taken advantage of Michael Jackson continues to grow, especially where charity causes are concerned. Jackson has been in Washington this week talking about raising money for new charities, but his old ones are still dogging him.
You will recall that Jackson was involved in something called Heal the Kids with Rabbi “Shmuley” Boteach. I’ve told you before that the most recent filing for Boteach’s charity, L’Chaim Society, under which Heal the Kids fell, listed as one of its directors James Meiskin, a man currently in trouble with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office for extortion.
But it now turns out that when you call the number for the L’Chaim Society, all you get is a recorded message that says the charity is gone and so is the rabbi. There are no forwarding numbers, according to the message.
You can always hear or see Boteach on TV or radio giving his opinion about something or other and plugging one of his books. But one thing he doesn’t seem able to opine is where all the money went from the short-lived charity. And one person who might be interested is Denise Rich, who wrote Boteach a check for $100,000 in the fall of 2000 for the L’Chaim Society right around the time Boteach and his then pal Michael Jackson came to two of her own fundraising events.
That $100,000 shows up in the L’Chaim Society’s 2000 tax return. The same return shows no money whatsoever was spent on anything remotely charitable, just salaries and expenses. Rich, who is the victim in this case, thought she was giving the money to one of Jackson’s charities at the time. But a source of mine who was with Jackson at the time says Jackson never saw the money or the check. It went straight to Boteach and the L’Chaim Society.
Boteach — who is banned by the United Synagogues in Great Britian from having a pulpit — is best remembered for a quote he gave the London Independent in 1996. He said there is an 11th, unwritten Commandment: “Thou shalt do anything for publicity and recognition.”
Naturally Shmuley had his own explanation why they were no longer friends with Michael Jackson. Below is his interview dated November 2003. Please note that in the earlier versions of his story Shmuley did not insist that it was him who cut ties with Michael – he just said that “nothing happened between them”.
It is also interesting to mention that TWO years after they stopped talking to each other he couldn’t say if Michael was in control of his life or not – while NINE years after the same event he thought he could give an informed opinion on the very same issue:
RABBI SHMULEY ON JACKSON
Rabbi Boteach agreed to an interview with a Michael Jackson message board and SJ offers extracts from the interview.
MJboard.com– How is your friendship with Michael nowadays?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach– We have no real contact any longer. Nothing happened between us. Michael went back to the recording studio and I went back to my own work in teaching, writing, and broadcasting. We are not in a fight. Our interests went in separate directions.
MJboard.com– What happened to Heal The Kids?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach– The initiative was only for one year. It did very good work and it had completed its mission of trying to get parents to prioritize their children. When Michael no longer had time for it there was no way it could continue so we were happy with the year it functioned and we left it at that.
MJboard.com– How do you feel about Michael right now?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach– I feel fine about him. He is a flawed man, like all of us. And he has a lot of good points, like all of us. I am, however, very disturbed at what he revealed in the Martin Bashir interview that he allows boys to sleep in his bed. That is immoral and unacceptable. I take him at his word that nothing is happening between him and the boys. But that doesn’t make a difference. It is utterly unacceptable for a grown man to sleep in a bed with a boy that is not his son. Period.
MJboard.com– Are you aware of the fact that some Michael Jackson fans feel as if you’ve let Michael down.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach– What an absurd statement. If anything, the reverse is true. But I’m not going to get into that. I have not been critical of Michael, aside from condemning his admission that he takes boys into his bed. So I’m not going to be critical of him now. Judaism commands me never to gossip, and I don’t. [ ] I never really comment about Michael at all because my involvement with him was not about him as a celebrity, but about the work we did together to help kids. When that ended, our relationship essentially did as well. I have no interest in having superstar friends.[ ]
MJboard.com– Do you think Michael is in control of his own life?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach– I can not tell because I have not spoken to Michael in 2 years.
MJboard.com– Didn’t you say something about getting involved with Michael was one of the biggest mistakes of your life?
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach– No, I said that I made a mistake in believing that I needed Michael, or any other celebrity pairing, in order to get attention for Judaism and promote a Jewish message. And that is still true. Judaism has shaped the modern world along with its daughter religions of Christianity and Islam. It does not need Michael Jackson, or me, or any else, to lend it credibility.
And this is what Shmuley’s fellow rabbis think of his despicable behavior:
MICHAEL JACKSON’S “RABBI”
by Rabbi Michael Sternfield, Chicago Sinai Congregation
As a rabbi of over 30 years experience, I was both appalled and disappointed in the story by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach concerning his friendship with and impressions of Michael Jackson. In so many ways, Rabbi Boteach crossed over the line of propriety and professional ethics.
Rabbis along with other clergy, along with the practitioners of all the helping professions, are bound by definite rules of confidentiality. It is precisely this rule which enables us to assist people who depend upon us to preserve the sacred bond of trust. What we discuss or experience with people who seek our assistance are meant to be kept absolutely private.
There are no exceptions. In fact, physicians and lawyers who violate this trust lose their licenses to practice should their breach of confidence be discovered. Even when those that we have counseled or befriended are no longer living, the same rule applies.
It is only because of this assurance of total confidence that people feel they can be open with us. All of us in these professions also understand that there is no real difference between professional and personal connections. The things we learn or observe in our personal relations are just as sacrosanct.
I have had numerous experiences with well known people but I have never spoken and certainly would never write about these experiences for two reasons. First, it would violate the trust of these individuals who believed they could be open and candid with me. Second, it would severely curtail my ability to be of help to others since they would feel that I was not trustworthy.
When Rabbi Boteach spoke publicly and also wrote about his experiences with Michael Jackson, he did serious harm to all rabbis and other clergy as well. No doubt Rabbi Boteach felt he was advancing his own career and public profile as the “rabbi to the stars.”
Perhaps he has, but at the expense of his own trustworthiness and also that of other rabbis. I also must wonder what kind of friend he really was for him now to exploit Mr. Jackson’s tragic death with grandstanding.
Rabbi Boteach should have given more thought to the serious damage he was doing. As he must know, he also violated several of the sacred principles of our Jewish religion which specifically prohibit tale-bearing (even when the tales may be true), gossip, and “lashon ha-ra” (meaning evil speech).
Rabbi Michael Sternfield, Chicago Sinai Congregation
Yes, Shmuley is surely different from the other rabbis, only I am not at all sure that this difference is in his favor. But see how Shmuley’s distinction is being glorified here:
THE GOSPEL OF SHMULEY,
November / December 2005
by Benyamin Cohen
It’s easy to understand why Shmuley Boteach is controversial among Jews as well as Mormons. To many, he’s only Michael Jackson’s former spiritual guru. To others, the guy who penned the controversial 1999 book Kosher Sex (and its 2002 follow-up Kosher Adultery). He lectures around the world, writes two books a year, as well as a syndicated newspaper column. To some, he’s the rabbi who was embroiled in a public debate about morals with a Jewish Playboy cover girl. And now he’s the rabbi with his own television reality show.
Like Madonna, Britney, Bono and other celebrities he seems so obsessed with, he’s identified simply by the one-name moniker: Shmuley.
Didn’t he defend (then later speak vilely of) Michael Jackson upon his child molestation accusations? “I know I did the right thing,” says Boteach of Salt Lake City. “I don’t regret my decision.”
Regrets? Not Shmuley. But what’s he really like, this devoted father of seven with another on the way? Is it all just slick packaging, the media painting him as the wild-eyed crazy Jew? To Shmuley, the answer is a resounding yes. Like Geraldo and Jerry Springer he believes he’s misunderstood.
“From the time I was 16 years old, I promised myself I would be a defender of Judaism,” he explains with the cocksure confidence of a rabbinic maverick on a mission. [ ] He says Schneerson recognized his potential and sent the then 22-year-old to serve as spiritual leader to the students at Oxford University in London. It was there that Shmuley created the L’Chaim Society, where he played host to and debated an eclectic group of some of the world’s leading thinkers, statesmen, and entertainers including Mikhail Gorbachev, Professor Stephen Hawking, Shimon Peres, Deepak Chopra, Elie Wiesel, Boy George, Simon Wiesenthal, and even Michael Jackson.
The Chabad movement, of which Shmuley was associated with, was none too pleased with his flair for the dramatic. His lavish lecture series were attracting more non-Jews than Jews and they felt he needed to be reigned in. The breaking point came in 1994 after Shmuley invited Yitzhak Rabin to speak at Oxford. The Lubavitcher Rebbe had just died, and the Chabad rabbis in England strongly opposed the visit on the grounds that Rabin’s land-for-peace position contradicted the Rebbe’s teachings. Despite his massive fundraising base, the movement severed ties with Shmuley.
A free agent no longer shackled to a higher institutional authority, Shmuley took the opportunity and ran with it. [ ] All the while he continued publishing prolifically — columns for local papers, mystical works, and a two volume 922-page set called Moses of Oxford which weighs in at more than 10 pounds. Much of what Shmuley was writing was sexually charged, and his no-holds barred approach shocked many in the Jewish community. In 1999 he published Kosher Sex (some of which was excerpted in Playboy), the first book to have a rabbi discuss different sexual positions, bedroom toys, and being, um, master of one’s domain.
London was no longer big enough for the growing celebrity cult of Shmuley. He moved his family to America where he set up shop in New York — debating ethics with pornographer Larry Flynt, chaperoning Michael Jackson to an Upper West Side synagogue, and playing matchmaker for Roseanne’s daughter.
His habit of sidling up to celebrities landed him in the gossip pages. His focus on sex and celebrities has led many in the Jewish community to brush Shmuley off as a punch line to a late-night joke. When asked about his detractors, the rabbi shrugs. “I’m an exponent of Judaism, plain and simple. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to be.” In the background, a bark. It’s Boteach’s four-year-old Maltese named Marshmellow, a gift to his kids from Michael Jackson. “I go on TV and comment on culture and show people that Judaism is a force to be reckoned with. My objective is to get Jewish ideas into the mainstream.”
Shmuley is a walking contradiction. Just look at him. His designer duds clash with his rough and scraggly beard. His apparent obsession with pop culture doesn’t jive with what we think of as an Orthodox rabbi.
He’ll tell you that his philosophy on life is not as complex. His motivations, he says, all stem from one tenet. “I believe we have to make the world more Jewish,” he explains. “Why is it accepted that we live in a Christian world? Because of numbers? That’s an absurd reason.”
Shmuley is a man of the people. A rabbi who finds a way to make a connection. In other words, he’s a rabbi that speaks to us on our level, not from high aloft an ivory tower. He’s a rabbi that unabashedly, and with open arms, embraces the best and worst of pop culture. Janet Jackson. Kinsey. Santa Claus. Michael Moore. Joe Millionaire. All of it.
So he’s not just Michael Jackson’s rabbi. He’s got more depth than Sharpton. And, at the end of the day, even the Mormons will tell you: Shmuley is just Shmuley. And he’s fine with that.
More about it: http://www.atlantajewish.com/content/112005/shmuley.html
“The Gospel of Shmuley”, “The growing celebrity cult of Shmuley”, “a former spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson”, “not just Michael Jackson’s rabbi”, “Shmuley is a man of the people“… And this is the man who accused Michael Jackson of being “INSATIABLE FOR ATTENTION”?
Shmuley claims his book has won universal praise. However here is the opinion of a reviewer with whose comments 99% of the Amazon.com readers agreed on the subject of Shmuley’s effort:
30 PIECES OF SILVER,
September 26, 2009
I read this book because I wanted to know Michael Jackson the person, although it didn’t feel right to pry this much into someone’s private life. I wish I hadn’t.
I had read Shmuley’s thoughts about MJ on his blog and knew what was coming, and indeed he didn’t disappoint. Shmuley’s writing is not so much a reflection of who Michael Jackson was, but more a reflection of how judgemental he himself can be. Instead of letting Michael speak for himself, he has to tack on his own interpretation to everything that Michael said and did. An interpretation that is judgemental, biased and sanctimonious to the extreme. He’s so holier-than-thou, he even puts himself above the court of law!
He delights in pointing out Michael’s ‘faults’, and sees faults where there are none. I find it ironic that someone who always tried to see the good in others would seek help from a counsellor who always tries to find bad even in the good. This speaks more of Michael as one who always believed that there is good to be found in EVERYone. This is not megalomania, as Shmuley would put it. It is love. Something that Shmuley sorely lacks.
Michael said that people do evil because they had not known love as a child. If their hearts were filled with love, they would not feel the need to hurt others. Shmuley was clearly not loved.
He openly flogs Michael and uses Michael’s ‘failings’ (at least in his mind) to illustrate his preachy “morality tales” of just what is wrong with society. (I wonder why he never writes about the morality of discussing other people’s personal failings in public?) He even does this to some who are still living. If he receives a lawsuit out of this, he richly deserves it. Certainly there is a way to make a point without demeaning people like this. Crassness has achieved a new level. Extremely unbecoming, especially for one who calls himself a man of God.
Above all, it disgusted me how he could make public something which was shared with him in the strictest of confidence. He has not only ended his own career as a confessor, he has damaged the trust that people hold for the clergy and the counselling profession as a whole. Who knows if something you told your confessor might one day be blared out for the entire world to hear? Stripped naked and held up for the world to judge and ridicule? Leave a legacy to remind your children how you failed in life? Oh wait, it’s not for the world to judge, because Shmuley has ALREADY judged and is asking you to part with your money to hear HIS judgement. Nice… Aren’t counsellors supposed to listen without judging? And keep your discussions confidential? What’s that sound? Oh, it’s 30 pieces of silver tinkling.
One could easily write another book using Shmuley’s life to illustrate what is wrong with society.
At the time of their conversations, Shmuley was working on writing Michael’s speech at Oxford and a book for their child prioritisation initiative – a project to encourage parents to make time for their children. Michael mostly talked about children, childlike qualities and how adults can break their conditioning and become more childlike, to return to innocence. Shmuley used these conversations and some offhand comments for a whole other purpose instead.
In their conversations, Shmuley does the bulk of the talking and puts many words into Michael’s mouth. For example, he uses 80-100 words to ask one question, then Michael responds with just one: “Uh-huh.” This happens far more often than I can stand. If there is something good said by Michael, it is quickly obliterated by Shmuley’s judgement and hubris. When discussing spiritual matters, it is quite pitiful to witness Shmuley’s complete inability to grasp Michael’s far more mature understanding. Naturally, he overcomes this with more bluster and hubris.
In this book, you will learn more about Shmuley than Michael Jackson. There is nothing new at all in here for MJ fans. If you want to look into Michael’s soul, read http://www.dancing-the-dream.com/Dancing_the_Dream/dancing_the_dream.html and forget about this dreck.
Shmuley’s intent is clear to see. He is making a quick buck off his “dear friend”. If you think Bashir was bad, Shmuley is worse. If anything, this book gives an intimate view into the minds of hangers-on that Michael had suffer with his whole life – those who praise him to his face, then stab him in the back. Preferably while making a few coins in the process. Don’t buy this book and give this bloodsucker another penny!!
If this really was Michael’s idea from the start, why didn’t Shmuley list Michael as co-author so that Michael’s children can get half the profits? Self-explanatory!
I truly regret reading this book because it’s going to take a long time to clear my brain of all that filth.
Michael’s words are fine, it is Shmuley who is insufferable.