– Marc Gafni’s friends, collaborators, and colleagues speak out for the sake of restoring integrity. This statement by Leila Grossman on Mozart, Salieri, Jealousy & the Marc Gafni Story was first posted as a comment to the Center for Integral Wisdom statement on centerforintegralwisdom.org. You can read the statement below or listen to the audio. –

Recently, a few of us, friends of Marc’s, had occasion to watch the 1984 Milos Forman film of the Peter Shaeffer play Amadeus. It tells a story that is curiously reminiscent of what is going on in the current Gafni ‘drama’. The film tells the dramatic and fictionalized tale of how Mozart was subtly destroyed by a rival composer, Antonio Salieri. Salieri was an influential contemporary of Mozart’s in the Viennese court of the Habsburg emperor Franz Joseph. He became obsessively jealous of Mozart’s genius.

In the play, Salieri recognizes that Mozart is literally channeling divine music—he calls Mozart’s music ‘the voice of God.’ Yet, this genius is also unconventional in his behavior—he marries a lower class woman, and has no qualms about speaking truth to power, even when it works against him. The religiously inclined Salieri cannot understand (according to the play) why God would so favor a man who doesn’t behave conventionally. He comes to resent that a person who doesn’t share his own religious beliefs and practices should be gifted by what to him is divine inspiration. In his jealousy and resentment, Salieri then sets about to destroy Mozart. He circulates whispers that the composer is not to be trusted with young women, and that Mozart’s librettos (for the great operas like La Nozze do Figaro) exalt revolutionary ideas considered dangerous by the Habsburg monarchy. Salieri’s malicious rumor-mongering works behind the scenes to ensure that the composer is denied opportunities for financial support and freedom to stage his groundbreaking operas. Mozart died, broke and ill, in his thirties.

Watching this brilliant film, I was struck by the parallels with Marc’s story. Marc is a teacher and thinker of radical talent, who often speaks from a state of inspiration. His unconventional character has long been used by envious fellow teachers as an excuse to take him down. The attacks have now moved from ‘whispers’ to outright false statements, in which these ‘rivals’ use their influence to draw others into demonizing Gafni. One of the chief instigators of the current attacks—the organizer of an online petition on Change.org—is a perfect example of a Salieri. A journeyman rabbi and former student of Gafni’s, this man’s gifts are no match for Gafni’s. From here, it seems obvious that he is using accusations of immorality to justify a deeply held resentment of Gafni whose gifts, like Mozart’s indicate a rare degree of connection to higher realms of insight. While this is not the whole story, this is one of the unspeakable truths at the heart of so much of the vitriol that we have witnessed. In our society people are willing to admit greed and even lust. But primal jealousy which eats a person up and moves them to malice inspired action, is always carefully hidden behind noble sounding motives.

The difference between Mozart and Gafni is that Gafni’s supporters are standing with him. They are standing with him not from blind loyalty but because of their extensive personal contact with him and experience of this character.

Leila Grossman