On April 12, 2013, the headline in the online Jewish Daily Forward read, “Top Modern Orthodox Rabbi Michael Broyde Admits Fake Name Scheme. Professor Nettled Rival Group by Using Phony Identity.” At
the article explained that Rabbi Broyde, a member of the Rabbinical Council of America, joined the more liberal International Rabbinical Fellowship under the name of Hershel Goldwasser, gained access thereby to the Fellowship’s members-only e-mail list, and used that privileged information to work mischief.
Most of the comments below the article condemned Rabbi Broyde, but the rabbi did have one persistent defender. Girding himself in citations from the Talmud and from literary history, this defender claimed that Rabbi Broyde was guilty of nothing more egregious than writing under a pseudonym. As the defender specifically put it,
“Technically he was still a member under his nom de plum.”
About the taxonomy of such a defender, who can say? Here online, the development of identity generally eventuates in a nut. But sometimes a floruit brings forth fruit, and when it does there’s an irresistible lusciousness in the scent of nom de plum.
So thank you, Rrose Sélavy, for helping forward that inspiration to the Forward. Its comment stream is not unmoderated after all. On the contrary, it is a river of peace, and henceforth Rrose is the genius of its shore.