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Could This Possibly Be True?
Time to Get Frightened
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

  Rated by 30 users   |   Viewed 16002 times since 10/7/08   |   68 Comments
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10/7/08

Could This Possibly Be True?

Time to Get Frightened

Since the news broke (click here and here) about the arrest of a heimishe man, for repeatedly doing unspeakable things to a girl/young woman over many years, people have been asking me the same question again and again, “Could this possibly be true?”

To all worried parents and community members who are asking this question; my unequivocal answer is, “YES.” Period. Exclamation point.

I do not know any specifics of this particular ghoulish tale other than what I read in the hair-raising copy of the federal indictment (click here and here) but I have heard far more than one or two stories like this one from credible, heimishe people in the past. (For the record; I always ask the victims to go straight to the police and report the abusers.) So even if this story is not true – and it is beyond naïve to think that federal agents would convene a grand jury and make an arrest like this one, merely on the say-so of a vindictive family member, without substantive forensic proof – the terribly sad fact is that it most certainly could be true.

It is exactly these types of horrible stories that I was referring to in the opening lines of my column in the Jewish Press a month ago titled, L'maan Hashem, What Will it Take? Here are the first two sentences of that column: It is difficult to describe the sickening, gut-wrenching sensation I experience when I get phone calls from parents whose children were sexually abused or from adults who have carried the horrible scars of childhood abuse for decades, often shredding their relationships and ruining their lives. And, I am sad to report that those calls are getting more frequent as time goes on.

If your children are married and out of your home, feel free to join those who blame these stories on “Anti-Semitic, goyishe newspapers,” and “Self-hating-Jews-who-love-to-bash-charedim.” Or, you can join those who would rather stay clueless and say things like, “Wow, did you hear that story? Please pass the salt.” You can also trust the ‘leaders’ who tell you not to worry about this since there are only an infinitesimal number of frum pedophiles. But, if you are a parent still entrusted with the care of your children, please read the non-airbrushed story in the secular newspapers and be frightened. Very, very frightened.

I suggest that you develop a mental image of a deranged frum adult walking around your neighborhood with pruning shears viciously cutting off the index fingers of any children that he can get his hands on. Then imagine seeing hundreds of frum kids walking around with bloody bandages around their hands. Are you sufficiently terrified now? Well, that is a tamed down version of how I see things as far as the abuse/molestation issue is concerned. Because these evil monsters that molest our innocent children and the soulless, immoral people who cover for them are cutting out the very neshomos of the poor kids whose lives they ruin.

I honestly do not have the time or emotional energy at this moment to write yet another column on abuse. As far as I am concerned, I have already written and lectured more than enough on the subject. (I encourage you to read these columns that I’ve written on this matter – The Monster Inside, Safe and Secure, Human Problems. Also, here is a clip of a radio interview I gave recently on abuse.) I am heartbroken that so few others in our community have had the courage to do what I have done, and that there are still charedi publications and websites that refuse to discuss this life-threatening, colossal threat to our children. I am also perpetually stunned that our communal anger is deflected from the predators and directed at those who courageously try to improve things.

All I can do is to beg all parents b’chol loshon shel bakasha to take this issue seriously and, l’maan Hashem, please start protecting each and every child of yours as if his or her very life depends on it.

Because it does.

© 2008 Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, all rights reserved



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1.     10/7/08 - 9:45 AM
Too long in galus

Rabbi Horowitz: Your enemies are waiting and hoping you will get exhausted and drop the subject. But to the victims you have been a lifeline. Yasher Koach.


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2.     10/7/08 - 10:22 AM
Too long in galus

The report on Vosizneias and ensuing comments, including someone writing in who claims to be the victim in this case, suggest that the story is not over. She and her family are still afraid that this criminal will slip out of the hands of the government and return to terrify them again. And as she apparently was threatened in the past by her community if she would bring this horror to light, I gather the family is also worried about backlash from the perpetrator's supporters. So, what can we do now, Rabbi Horowitz, Dov Hikind and others? How can we protect her and her family going forward so that this nightmare doesn't continue for them?


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3. Sad and even Sadder     10/7/08 - 10:58 AM
Steve - Passaic, NJ

I find it even sadder that this creep was employed by Torah Temima in 2002 according to the federal paper you linked in your article, "In Belgium, he ran his own Sat Mar school, and in the United States in 2002 he was employed by the Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah, an elementary and secondary school in Brooklyn." I don't find this to be coincidental. What do you think?


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4. reasons the newspapers refuse     10/7/08 - 12:06 PM
G

Lets assume the newspapers refuse to write about this because they feel that it would be too disturbing to children who would read the articles.

Would there be a revised version of the article that would be acceptable?

These heimish newspapers have our Rabbinic leaders make major policy decisons, right? Assuming they are behind you, then they too agree that more articles to create awareness are needed, right? And articles that have clout would be the best, right? So what's stopping our Rabbinic leaders from writing a letter or two themselves and having it published?

I am baffled by the apparent contradiction.


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5. We're winning     10/7/08 - 12:13 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, N.Y. - efpasik@aol.com

With every arrest, every lawsuit, and every media report, we are winning the war against the Child Sex Abuse Monster. It is medicine that is good for us. Last week, newspapers in the Albany, N.Y. area reported the arrest of a "rabbi" for molesting a young, teen-age student. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

Our holiest objects are being molested in our holiest places. We will fight wih all vigor until this Monster is eradicated from our midst.


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6. Satmar Rebbe/Rebbes     10/7/08 - 12:48 PM
Yakov Kerzner - Toronto - yakovkerzner@rogers.com

Dear Rabbi horowitz,

Isn't it time that someone demands a meeting with the Satmar Rebbe or Rebbes that lead these communities? Should we not plead with him/them to mandate reporting these abuses? Should they not be demanding of their chasidim that such abuse not be covered up? How is it possible for a Rebbe, any Rebbe, not to demand this from his chasidim?

I understand your distaste for blaming Gedolei Hador. I still find it difficult to digest the fact that Kol Korehs are arranged by Askanim for the most trivial matters. These Kol Korehs often destroy the lives of innocent people. Why are we hesitant to publish a Kol Koreh that will stop the covering up of these most heinous crimes? Why are we preparing for Yom Kippur and not demanding a communal act of Teshuvah for our past sins of neglecting the innocent victims of sexual abuse?

Perhaps the solution is a grass roots effort. We can collect signatures for a petition to be presented to the Gedolei Hador asking that public action be taken to insure that our schools and communities are protected from these crimes. Isn't it time to create standards for reporting in our schools and communities? Should we not have a registry of teachers or community members that have been found guilty of these crimes? How can we allow a sexual predator to move from one community to another and continue to perpetrate these horrible acts of abuse? The shame associated with these publications are surely less than the shame felt when the realization sets in that our communities just don't care. Shouldn't we ask ourselves the simple question, "Do we care more about our public image than our children?"

Let us stop hiding our heads in the sand and let us proclaim loudly and in unison that we will no longer allow this neglect to continue. We should not be ashamed to sign our names insisting that our children be protected.

Sincerely,

Yakov Kerzner Toronto, Ontario


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7. another preventative suggestion     10/7/08 - 1:27 PM
Yaakov - Boro Park

Commenting on last article, I recommended that parents sign up for the hourely parenting line by Rabbi Dov Brezak. A new talk is available by phone every week (sample @212-990-6160). He really knows how to get parents and kids to have a happy relationship, which is the key to having them tell you something when it (chas v'sholom) happens. Experts agree that it is the chronic abuse that is most debilitating...

One very good suggestion mentioned recently by Rabbi Brezak in his "back to school" talk, was that parents should call each Rebbe / Teacher once a week, briefly, just to find out how the child is doing. I do not know if he had this in mind too, but it should be an excellent way to keep a predator (ch'v) away from your kids, as they usually do not touch children whom they think will snitch on them.

Of course, we must also remember that almost all of the kli kodesh are just that... wonderful people. But, an ounce of prevention is a great idea, and it does not take much time.

BTW, R' Brezak's parenting line is not expensive, its $10- per month (sign up with Leah at 732-886-8821). Its the best investment we have ever made.


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8.     10/7/08 - 1:45 PM
Leah - NY, NY

It sickens me that people would rather ignore the problem than face it; don't they realize that children's very lives are at stake?! But if we admit we have a problem, it'll "look bad". Helloooooo people. Every time the feds have to go in and arrest someone for abuse and it makes the headlines (because, seeing as frum people ARE held to higher standards, it invariably will make headlines), it's a chilul Hashem a million times over! Better we should face the issues, make safeguards and standards and lift the taboo against "massering" (especially as there no issur involved in a case of abuse like this, according to gedolim Rav Horowitz has quoted in the past), rather than continue to pretend that being frum will protect us from all evils. There are unfortunately people out there who are wolves in sheeps' clothing, people who look and behave frum in public but who are committing unspeakable acts behind closed doors. Why, why, why protect these rodfim at the expense of our children?!


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9. L'Maan Tinokos Shel Bais Rabban     10/7/08 - 1:49 PM
steve - Brooklyn, NY

If your children are married and out of your home, feel free to join those who blame these stories on “Anti-Semitic, goyishe newspapers,” and “Self-hating-Jews-who-love-to-bash-charedim.” Or, you can join those who would rather stay clueless and say things like, “Wow, did you hear that story? Please pass the salt.” You can also trust the ‘leaders’ who tell you not to worry about this since there are only an infinitesimal number of frum pedophiles

Even if your children are married, how does anyone with a conscience sleep peacefully, knowing what is happening to thousands of innocent Jewish children? How cold hearted and self centered can people be? How can we stand in front of HKB"H on the night of Yom Kippur tomorrow night and ask "Asseh L'Maan Tinokos Shel Bais Rabban"-Hashem, please do for the sake of the schoolchildren who have never sinned? What chutzpah! Have we done anything to protect them from these murderers? Or have we paved the way for these predators to continue plying their trade, by perverting the laws of messira, lashon hara and pidyon shvuyim? I suggest to anyone who fits this description in Rabbi Horowitz' article, to make sure to omit those words from your machzor. Do yourself a favor this Yom Kippur and don't make yourself more of a hypocrite in front of the Almighty. The same goes for the "leaders" that Rabbi Horowitz is referring to, those that continue to try to sweep this plague under the rug. The same also goes for the spokesmen who give interviews and write nonsensical articles that try to minimize and underplay the depth of the problem. Thank you once again Rabbi Horowitz for your candid and well written articles. I wish you and your family a shana tova and a g'mar chasima tova. With Hashem's help, may we merit to put an immediate end to this plague and may we be zocheh to see the coming of Mashiach soon, amen.


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10.     10/7/08 - 2:23 PM
Anonymous

"Mr. Weingarten used threats and violence to intimidate those who tried to protect the victim". "Mr. Weingarten has a very manipulative, controlling personality". "He has demonstrated a willingness to interfere with investigations and intimidate witnesses". These were all quotes of the U.S. attorneys.

PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE.......

Everyone should accept to take responsible action if they see or hear about abuse occuring. The only reason why you don't get involved is out of fear and intimidation of the abuser and his/her backers. Yes, they have manipulative, controlling, violent, and volatile personalities and temperaments. That is why people do nothing. BUT WHAT ABOUT THE VICTIM???? If you are scared imagine what they go through.

If you still choose to do nothing about a victims pain, please remember the most famous poem after World War II. When the Nazis came for the communists, I remained silent; I was not a communist. When they locked up the social democrats, I remained silent; I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists, I did not speak out; I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews, I remained silent; I wasn't a Jew.

When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out."

Sometime between now and Neilah make the commitment to STAMP OUT ABUSE from our community. Our actions are being scrutinized by the world to see how we act.

CHOOSE LIFE!


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11. From the Government's Memorandum     10/7/08 - 2:55 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, N.Y. - efpasik@aol.com

My client, Joel Engelman, pointed out to me the following critical paragraph from the Memorandum of Law in Support of the federal government's Motion for a Permanent Order of Detention, as against the defendant:

"Finally, the defendant poses a danger to other children in the Sat Mar community as well because he has a history of working in yeshivas for young children. In Belgium, he ran his own Sat Mar school, and in the United States in 2002 he was employed by the Yeshiva and Mesivta Torah Temimah, an elemntary and secondary school in Brooklyn. UNLESS HE IS DETAINED, IT WILL BE DIFFICULT TO PREVENT HIM FROM SEEKING SUCH EMPLOYMENT BECAUSE THE SAT MAR SCHOOLS DO NOT OPERATE UNDER GOVERNMENTAL CONTROL" (caps added).

I've been saying this for years. New York State has the weakest laws in the country for protecting religious school children. We need laws which require:

Mandatory fingerprinting and background checks; Mandatory reporter status for all nonpublic school employees; Mandatory ombudsmen; Mandatory abuse prevention plans; Mandatory registration of all nonpublic school employees after evidentiary hearing, mandatory discipline; Extensions of the statutes of limitations.

If we continue to operate our yeshivas without laws protecting our children, we are inviting future disasters, rachmana latzlan.


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12. what now?     10/7/08 - 3:09 PM
Anonymous - chayamom@yahoo.com

As a parent of a child who has married friends who are behaving inappropriately in regard to sexual behaviors -- boys from chasidishe homes who were at risk teens,as the mother of a married daughter who has friends that are divorced within the year due to their husbands sexual disfunction, and the perversion going on in the frum community I feel very sad that one of the yesodos of yiddishkeit is being totally disregarded. How to we protect ourselves when it comes to shidduchim. What do I tell my son when he tells me that when it comes to a shidduch for him, he isn't interested in used merchandise? What and how do I as a parent do--awareness doesn't seem to be enough?


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13. daven     10/7/08 - 3:13 PM
Anonymous

daven and when you finish daven some more


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14. I have an idea     10/7/08 - 4:31 PM
shua k - brooklyn

I am not in a position to do this, but i have an idea. EVERY YESHIVA in whichever you live should be called (may be a problem in Brooklyn heh?) and told that there will be a FULL PAGE AD in whatever is the local paper, or the Yated, which will list all the yeshiva's which have implemented certain steps. R. Horrowitz can surely suggest some, but a few might be:
  • Yeshiva will be on the list if they have a fingerprinting ploicy in place
  • Yeshiva will be on the list if they have a reporting process in place
  • Yeshiva will be on the list if they have had a teacher training in this area
This could be tastefully worded, and just being on the list will itself be a motivator to join, and parents whose children's schools are not on the list should be encouraged to call the office and ask why. My 2 cents, what do people think?


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15. Reponse to Comment #4     10/7/08 - 6:14 PM
Anonymous

Regarding this information upsetting young children:

No, the picture is not pretty and the threat is frightening. So is the danger of fire, going into the steet without adult supervision, and a million other facets of what we call REALITY, which by the way are pretty unsettling to adults as well. So--should we make pretend these dangers don't exist so our children can maintain a sunny, picture-perfect view of life?

Our children are far better off if we tell them, "Fire is dangerous; here's how we protect ourselves." Or, "Cars can be dangerous; cross only with an adult." Or, "No one is allowed to touch you, but there are some sick people that might; here's what you do to protect yourself."

There are many mechanchim who believe that to directly engage our children in conversations about drinking, abusing drugs, and inappropriate intimacy is to shatter their innocence and to spark ideas and trouble where none might have ever existed. But nearly every scientific study out there has demonstated that candor and honesty represent our most promising means of preparing and arming our children against falling victim to these threats.

Burying our heads in the sand has never really worked--except maybe for ostriches.


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16. Who is watching?     10/7/08 - 7:13 PM
Anonymous - Monsey

Rabbi Horowitz, Thank you for being the voice for those who have none. I would like to know what is being done to protect the public from the molesters who are not prosecuted legally by their victims (legal shlep & statute of limitations) but the victims just want them away from the position they are in to prevent easy access to other children? Case point would be a long time (30+ years) 1st grade Rebbe from a very large Monsey yeshiva who was fired last year for molestation.(Make no mistake he is %1000 guilty!!! This is not "allegedly"!!) He is still free to roam the streets and repeat his crimes against children, get a job with children, etc. Nowhere has this been publicized the way it should have been to warn the public nor is there any imposed house arrest or any accountability for whereabouts or tracking. He has not been run out of town either. That only seems to happen if you sell Perdue chicken as kosher. I am sure that there are other molesters like him as well. How do you think this should be handled?


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17. To number 16     10/7/08 - 7:34 PM
Elliot Pasik, Esq. - Long Beach, N.Y. - efpasik@aol.com

I'll answer your very valid question.

There is a middle ground, which public school children have, but we don't.

At the end of the day, it is the victim's choice not to prosecute. We can talk ourselves blue in the voice urging prosecution, explaining why - if convicted, the molester will be a convicted sex offender, will be identified by name on the public (Megan's Law) and other criminal registries, will have great difficulty getting a job working near children as a result if a background check is done, and so on.

But the child-victim, and family, say, That's all well and good, you're right, and even we're wrong, but we still don't want to prosecute. For whatever reason - we don't want the trauma of prosecution, testifying in court, possible social ostracizing in our community - and so on.

The middle ground, which public school children have, is an administrative hearing. You don't criminally prosecute, but you do bring up the teacher on charges within the Department of Education. A private evidentiary hearing gets held - no court, no media, no random spectators wandering in and out of a courtroom. The child-witness will have to testify, but it will be in front of an Administrative Judge, and there will be no jury, and other courtroom formalities. The teacher-molester, if found guilty, will have his employment terminated, and placed on a permanent, public roll of disciplined teachers. It will be difficult, if not impossible, for him to get another job working near children.

As I keep saying, over and over again, the religious schools in New York State don't have this. There is no one to complain to. If, on the other hand, it were legally required for all nonpublic school employees to REGISTER with the State Department of Education, we could have an authentic disciplinary system. Every rebbe, teacher, principal, janitor, would be registered by name with the State DOE. If a credible complaint of molestation, violence, or similar serious misconduct is made, a hearing is held. Guilt or innocence is determined. A punishment is meted out. If it is guilt for a serious offense, that former employee is forever barred from education employment.

We can't govern ourselves, so we need to call on government to govern for us.


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18.     10/7/08 - 7:39 PM
Anonymous - Chicago

What is it with Pre 1-A, first, and second grade rabbeim? Why are so many of them offenders?

Just Asking


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19. To #16     10/7/08 - 7:40 PM
Anonymous

If you peruse the various threads on this website, you will notice a common refrain: "What is being done about...?" "Why aren't the gedolim doing anything to stop...?" "Who is taking care of...?"

The answer is that while there is such a thing as communal responsibility and leadership responsibility, ultimately the only power you can control is you own personal responsibility. If you worry about convicted pedophiles at large, it is YOUR problem to identify them when possible (some of the information is legally accessible to the public) and YOUR job to educate your children and YOUR job to become involved in civic life to address your concerns and help create solutions. Why are more people asking "What are others doing about problem x?" instead of "What will I take on to combat this issue?"


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20. #18     10/7/08 - 7:47 PM
Anonymous


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21. To # 19     10/7/08 - 7:47 PM
To # 19

These people are not speaking for themselves. they are speaking for those who they know who can't protect themselves or their children. If you are here, reading this, you know already whats out there, and hopefully what to do


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22. #18     10/7/08 - 7:51 PM
Anonymous

Because it's easier to abuse power against less knowledgable, worldly, and independent victims. Older kids and more confident kids have greater awareness and are not as easy to pull one over than innocent, trusting second graders.


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23.     10/7/08 - 8:05 PM
yoni

What do I tell my son when he tells me that when it comes to a shidduch for him, he isn't interested in used merchandise? What and how do I as a parent do--awareness doesn't seem to be enough?

you tell him like it is.

that his words are filthy and evil and that unless he casts them away they will act like a weight around his neck that ensures that he will sink straight to gehenom for his evil traits and judgemental attitudes.

you tell him that if he will say things like that he is a rasha and a sinner and thats the end of the discussion.

those kinds of responses make me feel sick. Girls make mistakes too y'know. its a halacha in shuchan aruch that teenagers do stupid things.


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24. Yoni     10/7/08 - 8:41 PM
Anonymous

Whaaaaaaaaaaat ????????


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25. to 24     10/7/08 - 9:16 PM
yoni

well it is! its in the halachos about choosing a shliach tzibbur. if you appoint a shliach tzibbur and a disparaging report comes out about him while he was an adolescent, you're obliged to ignore it because, (in essence what it said) everyone has a few skelletons in their closet concerning their adolescence and therefore we ignore it.


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26. People change     10/7/08 - 10:39 PM
Sherree

People do change both boys and girls and it is pretty hypocritical of both boys and their parents to deny the fact that their sons had a past when it comes to shidduchim. They changed and girls change as well. To deny a shidduch because a girl has a past is a total copout of a hypocritical and unforgiving Jew. If he compromized young women when he was on his dark journey then he has an obligation to not only listen to such shidduchim but give those young women added respect for turning their lives around just as he did. Anything else is unacceptable.


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27. yoni     10/7/08 - 10:41 PM
Anonymous

If there is ever a time to generate a personal evaluation on another person, it is in the parsha of shidduchim. And there is a huge difference between paseling a person completely and saying "this is just not what I want." I can respect a person for whom he is and for how far he's come and totally assume he has done teshuva and now stands even beyond the makom of tzaddikim gemurim, but I can still say "I have a personal problem with this; it won't work for me." (Hopefully, we are mature, honest, and responsible in formulating these decisions...)

Besides, while we may be able to completely restore our relationship to Hashem through the chessed of teshuva, there are some effects that simply cannot be undone. Teshuva cannot reverse the prohibition of a woman unkosher for a Cohen nor can it raise the cost of a dowry for a compromised bride. Our actions and choices create who we become; grow as we may from mistakes, we cannot turn back the clock.

Yoni, I share your discomfort with the precise language in which the young man chose to express his preferences--but a "rasha" he is most certainly not!


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28. Sherree     10/7/08 - 11:20 PM
Anonymous

The choices you present are so EXTREME, so black and white!! People are so much more complex. Either we agree to date a girl "with a past," as you phrased it, or we are indisputably "hypocritical" and "unforgiving?" You neglect lots of grey terrain which merits serious exploration here...

Isn't it possible that the decision should take into account my experiences, my personal preferences, my family's degree of openness, what I think I can handle, what I WANT to handle, what i can't see handling well,what i'd pefer not to handle, how stable and strong the girl has become, what her support system looks like, how healthy the situation is, how stable and strong I am, how healthy a relationship appears possible between us within the matrix of all these factors--and an infinitely long list of additional variables that vary considerably from person to person, from relationship to relationship?

Please explain the "hypocricy" of the perspective of one who esteems a person for working hard to build inner strength and character, yet rejects the possibility of personally creating a successful marriage with this person. Just to put this in another light, while I may idealize and genuinely respect the sacrifices involved in living a kollel life, I am free to assert my preference for an alternate, less demanding lifestyle. This assertion reflects primarily upon who I am and what I want, and actually reflects little at all upon my judgment of the "learner" I choose not to date. No contradictions or hypocricy exist in either scenario.


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29. Anon #28     10/8/08 - 12:43 AM
Sherree

When your decision not to "Listen" to a shidduch based on a girl's past when you yourself have a past, I label that hypocritical. If you listen to the shidduchc but she is not your type, her hashkofos and yours don't match, her personality and yours don't match, your goals and values don't match etc, then it is the same like any other shidduch and you are looking at it or rather her from the same objective perspective as any other shidduch with no bias due to her past.

However, if you have a past and made a turn-around and feel that you are above and on a higher madreigah and deserve better than a girl who has a similar background and has also turned around, you are a hypocrite. And if your parents feel the same way, then they are in the same category.


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30. to #12     10/8/08 - 1:21 AM
hurting - brooklyn, ny - abusehurtme@gmail.com

i would ask your son what he means by "used merchandise." does he mean a girl who made a personal choice (at whatever age-and i mean informed age) to become "used merchandise," or, like the girl in the story Rabbi Horowitz refers to, a girl like myself, or the hundreds (yes, hundreds, thousands really) of girls like us, who were abused. if he means girls who made a choice i honestly don't know what to say. if he means abused girls, then he clearly needs some help in understanding the difference! and i would make sure he gets that understanding as soon as possible, before someone gets hurt by his attitude...


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31.     10/8/08 - 1:44 AM
the real solution

Can we just do what society does for all criminals? You offer monetary and honor rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of these criminals. We KNOW about the one who molested in torah tmimah for years and is now looking for work in Lakewood. We know about the one who molested in Ner yisroel and still lives on yeshivah lane being "monitored by the rabbis" (is this the new plan for molesters? no jail, just send them to Baltimore to Yeshivah Lane for rabinic monitoring?) We know about Reichman in Satmar. Why can't we raise some money and offer to give any victim who has the extreme courage to come forward and put an end to the abuser's activities, we will give them a kiddush and a nice fat check. Mtoch Shelo Lishmah Ba Lishmah.


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32. Sherre, #29     10/8/08 - 2:33 AM
Anonymous

Where in comment #12 did the mother express that her son also travelled his teen years along a difficult, rocky road? Although this fact was not implied anywhere in the post, if indeed this was her point, then I can better understand your argument. I still would maintain, however, that your reaction comes across quite strong, as when you judge that if the boy and his family handle the shidduch any way but yours, their decision is unquestionably "unacceptable."

The halacha specifically establishes what may be superficially viewed as a double-standard for promiscuity in men and women. And so the halachic implications could easily invite what may appear to be a hypocritical double-standard for our boys and our girls.


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33. anon 32     10/8/08 - 5:56 AM
yoni

may I remind you that with regards to the sotah, if the husband ever had illicit relations with someone (and I am not sure what this means, it may well mean any outside of marriage, in this particular case) then if he accuses his wife of adultury and asks she be put to the sotah waters, then they will not harm her at all, and she will reap all of the blessings.

that seems to set the two of them equivelent, at least min hashemayim, don't you?

(even if there are practical differences.)


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34. Yoni     10/8/08 - 8:33 AM
Anonymous

What makes them equivalent is their mutual deceit. In halacha, when one partner in an agreement behaves dishonestly to the other, he gives up his legal rights to protect himself from the other' dishonesty. In Hilchos Shmiras Halashon, for example, the Chofetz Chaim paskens that if you know that a prospective father-in-law does not intend to fulfill whatever financial support he had committed to the chosson but you also know that the chosson has been deceitful, as well, the two deceits cancel one another out and you are forbidden to say anything to the chosson. Like the case you cited about the sotah, mutual dishonesty in a relationship infuses the situation with a whole new set of rules that carry an integrity of their own.

The situation being debated on this thread belongs to a far diferent category. There has been no dishonesty about the past on either the boy's or girl's part and they remain yet unbound by any commitment.

The decision of who we should marry is among the most important and personal we will ever face and no one has the right to impose upon anyone his views about what should or shouldn't be overlook. Again, this is not about giving the benefit of the doubt; it's about determining one's personal preferences in a partner. What you or I or Sherree or the bochur's siblings may believe about the "acceptability" of his criterion remain totally irrelevant for two reasons: Firstly, our opinions were not solocited. Secondly, we will not have to live with this girl--but the boy will and so he has to determine how he personally feels about the entire package on balance.

.


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35. 34     10/8/08 - 12:09 PM
yoni

anon, your analysis errs on several points.

A with regards to the sotah example, the criterion referenced has nothing to do with whether or not he has ever cheated on her spouse, but whether or not he has ever had illicit relations, period. ie before his marriage to his wife also. even if there is no deception, the point is that if he is not so pure in this regard, he has no right whatsoever to expect more from his wife.

B with regards to the subject at hand, parents have every right and obligation to mechanech their children to bear reality in mind. Whether or not a girl has had a past has absolutely ZERO bearing the future of the marriage, and will not impact it at all, other than to dis-ease his own illigitimate insecurities and bad character traits.

if he could not live with a girl who chews bubble gum all the time, I would understand. But to refuse to marry a girl because she USED to chew bubblegum is pattently abusurd! It isn't his right to dictate these things to her. the past is in the past, and in a case like this, will not affect the future.

again, if his stated objection is something that happened in the past, and only in the past, it has no bearing on the future of the marriage, and is therefore inadmissable as a criterion to deterimine if this is an acceptable partner for marriage.

if he is considering it, it is because he is a shallow, worthless, pig unworthy of any bas yisroel. not because he has some kind of pareve preference.

it has no practical bearing on the marriage, other than assuaging a bad middah that ever parent has an obligation to try and exterminate from their children.


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36.     10/8/08 - 12:15 PM
yoni

and I will point out that, from what I have been studying, contrary to common understanding, most women who have already had their first time are still mutar to a regular cohen.

only beilas issur renders her prohibited, for instance, sleeping with her brother. NOT sleeping with someone while she is niddah or sleeping with someone with whom she is not married.

I was under the implication this was not so, but it turns out after looking up related material, it is so.

so the cohen example is irrelevant.


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37. To yoni and all those that misunderstood     10/8/08 - 4:25 PM
Anonymous - chayamom@yahoo.com

to yoni who responded to my sons refusal to marry used merchandise--I believe you misunderstood what I was talking about. His past difficulties has nothing to do with illicit relationships either male or female related. His difficulties have more to do with bein adom l'makom. I would think that you would give him credit for having principles that he will not forgo!


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38.     10/8/08 - 4:39 PM
yoni

then what does

What do I tell my son when he tells me that when it comes to a shidduch for him, he isn't interested in used merchandise? mean if not that?

this isn't an issue of principle. this is an issue of his having severely dubious values, such as not having forgives in his heart.

this really isn't an issue of values at all.


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39. Anon # 32     10/10/08 - 12:35 AM
Sherree

Where in my comment did I address Anon # 12? Where am I speaking directly to her? This is an ongoing discussion so you yourself are too quick to judge.

"Firstly, our opinions were not solocited. Secondly, we will not have to live with this girl--but the boy will and so he has to determine how he personally feels about the entire package on balance"

In response to these comments:

Firstly the reason we can comment is because OUR OPINIONS ARE SOLICITED, that's why we are here and that is why you got to comment as well.

Secondly, "this girls" as you put it or any other girl for that matter would have to live with the ghosts any boy with a past brings into the marriage. Why should a boy be treated any differently? Let's bring this down to basics. How many innocent yeshiva girls wants to marry a young man who has slept with half the girls in the neighborhood? Be real!!!!

Just because a boy turns his life around B"H, and is back on the right track, committed to torah and mitzvos does that mean that it was only a bad dream and it really didn't happen. Does that mean that all the young girls he slept with was just a fantasy and not a reality? Can that be erased like a video tape?

Does the young woman prospect who will marry him not have a right to know what kind of illness she might contract from him because of his previous adventures, or who she might bump into because of his previous life? UNDERSTAND, I AM NOT SAYING THIS IN A JUDGMENTAL WAY. I just want to make it very clear that both the boys and the girls are on the same level as any other Baalei Teshuva and come with histories and should be treated the same way and be given the same considerations.

It is absolutely not a matter of preference as you say because for a young man with a past of course the young woman of his choice would prefer that he didn't have any more experience than she does. They deserve the same pure heart, soul and body.

So if you or any young man is so shallow that they only want a blonde, blue eyed, size 2, Bais Yakov girl, then go for it. But don't go speaking about the girl's past if you yourself have one to speak of, because that's the pot calling the kettle black.

And in the case of #12 who says her son had an issue ben adom l'makom, she may or may not know everything about her son. One thing we do know the girls these young men use during their "dark days" are never the girls they marry. I only wish the young girls understood that before they fall into the trap.

BTW, I am talking about experience in trying to make shidduchim. It is a very sad situation when you try to do this mitzvah and you hit a brick wall because the young man and/or his parents have their sights set on someone totally out of their league and absolutely refuse to listen to shidduchim which are more "matim" to him and will understand and appreciate what who he is today and what he went through.


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40. To Sherree, from 32     10/10/08 - 2:59 AM
Anonymous

I read your last post several times before responding as I wanted to be sure my reaction was appropriate. Frankly,I found your comment difficult to read as your argument came through as an attack--laden with overtones of anger and annoyance.

To clarify a bit where i am coming from, I am far closer to the stage of marrying off my own children iy"H than to pursuing blue-eyed, blonde bais Yaakov girls, particularly since I happen to be female. Boruch Hashem, I've had the special zchus of facilitating quite a number of shidduchim over the years, but have also experienced the frustration you describe when people turn down what appears to be a most suitable shidduch idea.

I've also repeatedly witnessed young adults agonize in shidduchim when confronted with issues of physical handicaps, mental imbalances, and difficult "pasts" in prospective matches--and at times the decision process can become absolutely excruciating. Yes, to onlookers it might seem obvious that if the boy has chisaron x, surely he must consider a girl with the same or similar strike against her; anything else is hypocritical. In reality, however, a boy with chisaron x simply may feel he can't live with more of the same issue--he would sooner take to a girl with chisaron y. This is not a matter of hypocrisy; it is a matter of being attuned to what works for him in a relationship.Often, this degree of self awareness is hard won through much heartache and hard thinking--and we at the sidelines can do nothng but respect the process and lend emotional support for a clearly tough decision. Sometimes we are zoche to look back and see the Hand of Hashem in the process and grow to respect the decision even more. Sometimes this peace eludes us but this doesn't make the decision wrong, even if it is not the one we would have chosen.

My initial objection was to the rigid, sharp language used in response to the mother's question. My point was simply that feelings can be quite complicated and may not correspond neatly with rational expectations. So while it may be your opinion that boys with a "past" must date girls with a "past," every boy with or without a past is entitled to make his own decisions about his future. What you or I or anyone on this site or off this site deems "acceptable" or "unacceptable" is simply irrelevant. Certainly the notion that he is a "rasha" condemned to "gehenom," as one poster asserted,is just not a judgment we are in a position to call.

In response to your disagreement with my understanding that our view on the shidduch was unsolicited--I was refering to the boy himself. The boy has clearly stated his position, at least according to his mother.

I do not wish to enter into a back-and-forth argument with you especially since it seems we have strayed from the focus of this thread, so let's just agree to respectfully disagree and hope that everyone in the shidduch parsha would be zoche to lots of siyattah dishmayah.


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41.     10/10/08 - 5:53 AM
yoni

I should say that it is true that you cant always put someone with chisaron x with someone with the same lacking.

it is, for instance, not a good idea to put two people who regularly suffer from depression together, primarly because what might happen if they both shut down at the same time instead of one of them remaining healthy enough to help them through it and pick up enough of the slack that both of them and the family still function.


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42. Anon #40     10/10/08 - 9:13 AM
Sherree

"I read your last post several times before responding as I wanted to be sure my reaction was appropriate. Frankly,I found your comment difficult to read as your argument came through as an attack--laden with overtones of anger and annoyance"

That would be your perspective in the way you perceived it, I can say the same for your comments. When you write your comments which you feel are correct and justified it sounds quite calm and understandable; however to another reader it sounds quite angry and annoyed. No one can control another's perception when they read the posts and no one can guess another's emotions when they write one.

"Boruch Hashem, I've had the special zchus of facilitating quite a number of shidduchim over the years, but have also experienced the frustration you describe when people turn down what appears to be a most suitable shidduch idea."

B"H we do have something in common.

"Yes, to onlookers it might seem obvious that if the boy has chisaron x, surely he must consider a girl with the same or similar strike against her; anything else is hypocritical. In reality, however, a boy with chisaron x simply may feel he can't live with more of the same issue--he would sooner take to a girl with chisaron y. This is not a matter of hypocrisy; it is a matter of being attuned to what works for him in a relationship"

I am sorry, but again I will disagree with you. Firstly let us choose to not call this a "chisaron", this was a choice that boys and girls made in their time of darkness; and in many cases the choice was out of their hands.

Secondly we can't possibly compare this to a handicap or an illness. It just doesn't correlate at all. Maybe people who share a handicap such as blindness will not choose to marry because their needs require having a sighted partner or someone who has another handicap or illness wants some joy in their lives that has nothing to do with their situation and wants to bring a different normalcy into their lives.

Each one in this scenario the boy and the girl if it was their choice to B"H turn around and be committed once again to Torah and Mitzvos are both Baalei Teshuva and should be viewed as such and not chas v'shalom as having a "chisaron". It might help you in your shidduch process if you chose to rethink this position and take on a new point of view.

"My initial objection was to the rigid, sharp language used in response to the mother's question. My point was simply that feelings can be quite complicated and may not correspond neatly with rational expectations. So while it may be your opinion that boys with a "past" must date girls with a "past," every boy with or without a past is entitled to make his own decisions about his future"

Once again let me clear this up. You assumed that I was responding to #12, that was again your perspective not mine.

I agree with you that feelings are complicated beyond rationality. But MY POINT was that people have to change their way of thinking and that starts with everyone, the shadchin, the kids, the parents, the person on the street, shul, etc.

And by the way I didn't say a boy with a past "MUST" date girls with a past. That is what you chose to read, I said that a boy with a past must consider girls with a past as well as all others, just as a girl with a past must consider a boy with a past as all others. They have no right to discriminate because that would be hypocritical.

Please understand something especially where boys are concerned. When they made the choice to sleep with these girls in their past, they knew good and well what would happen to these girls in the future. These boys came from frum homes and yeshivas and went back there. They didn't care at the time when they used these girls. THEY have no right to call them "used merchandise" and the like. THEY have no right to refuse to date them JUST BECAUSE they have a past. Because THEY are as much responsible for the girls' past as are the girls. In my book it is called accountability and responsibility.

So when a boy says it doesn't click for him, or she is not his type, or her hashkafos are different than his, her family is different than his, etc. Those are all normal considerations as is in any type of shidduch. When he refuses to consider someone with a past when he himself has a past, in my book that is unacceptable.

I hope I have made clear my position and why I say this. I am not saying it in anger or frustration. I am saying it to educate all concerned individuals on how to close the book on previous attitudes and take a new look at a different point of view.

Sherree Belsky Jewish Board of Advocates for Children


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43. A Chizuk Letter for Someone We Respect and Support     10/12/08 - 12:31 AM
Anonymous - Toronto, ONT

Rabbi Horowitz, I support you and your work and very much appreciate what you are doing. My husband,someone very special and very involved in a very unpopular line of Klall work, and I are big fans of yours.

I will contact you personally in the near future to see what can be done to help you out in terms of spreading the word and supporting those who are like minded. (I would send my contact info but do not want it to be made public for now). So many people, after I talk about my feelings about today's world and how there is a fear out there and that children are being victimized in so many ways whether physically or emotionally or through misuse of Torah values, ask me to DO SOMETHING. I do not know where to begin. I have a lot to offer and have what it takes and I need your advice as to how to begin or where to start ...

But as of now, it IS erev succos and a new day of preparations with our children for yontif is almost here so I just want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a gut gebentcht yar. Hshem should give you the koach and ability to continue your vital work. Gut yom tov.


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44. There you go again!     11/10/08 - 11:47 AM
Anonymous

I occassionally pop over here to see what's cooking. Inevitably I find this highfalutin moralizing, led by a woman with a fancy title who insists she's just "educating" us about the undeniable rights of children... which we better accept or else!

Excuse me, but I understand this is a format for mutual learning and exchange. We can present evidence and perspective but woe to anyone who believes s/he's got the last word.

Now this child's "advocate" said the following: "when a boy says (...) those are all normal considerations (...but) When he refuses to consider someone with a past when he himself has a past, in my book that is unacceptable."

I'm sorry, but it seems to me that there are NO unacceptables in this business! We're talking about people in search of their mates for life. It's an interesting point that boys with a past who don't want to consider girls in the same category might be severely running away from themselves. But to brow-beat them into seeking mates which remind them of their own skeletons in the closet??

Please get off the high horse, lady.


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45. There you go again - 2     11/10/08 - 11:56 AM
Anonymous

By the way, at the core of this argument is the fact that girls ARE at a distinct disadvantage when they allow themselves to engage in premarital intimacy. No matter how much you want to tame the boys to be more responsible, the FACT remains that the physiology and spirituality of girls is much more vulnerable. While this shouldn't be seen as an excuse for allowing boys more leeway in these areas, it does make sense to drive home to our girls that they have much more at stake.

No matter how self-righteously certain voices cry unfair, this is the reality they'll never be able to change.


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46.     11/10/08 - 5:57 PM
Anonymous

A teen engaging in risky, inapporiate behavior is a human being in deep pain, stuck in a place where it is impossible to realistically, honestly, and maturely envision what is "at stake" in the long run. Reaching out to a teen at risk, at least initially, is not really about making him/her calculate the cost of his/her behavior. It is about addressing his/her pain in the moment, about accepting feelings in a non-judgemental way, about creating a relationship where self-esteem can flourish.

Children, teens, and adults with a strong sense of self-worth are more likely to make healthy decisions that automatically take into consideration what is "at stake" in their choices. On the other hand, people in emotional turmoil with poor self-esteem are more likely to choose self-destructive behaviors (such as premarital intimacy) which are motivated by misery rather than by rational assessment.

I guess my argument is that the way to help our children lead optimally healthy, productive, Torahdig lives has less to do with a calculating approach about their future market worth and more to do with an attitude that nourishes self-worth. Nothing can be more positively motivating than self-esteem.


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47. anon 46     11/10/08 - 6:43 PM
yoni

(applause)

that is exactly what I'd like to hear people saying. :)


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48. A suggestion and a request for some context     11/24/08 - 2:03 PM
Ben Plonie - Galus, Chutz L'Aretz - benplonie@yahoo.com

Forgive the length of this but my reaction covers a few things.

I looked into this website because of the above article as published in the Jewish Press which impressed me. Taking the last first, I believe our unswerving goal can be no less than the Othodox Jewish community taking a leadership role in instituting the world's best practices in protecting the innocent and controlling the guilty. There is no reason why not, there is no choice and the current task is no more than getting from here to there (easy to say but true).

I spent a long time reading Rabbi Horowitz' other articles on abuse and the hundreds of responses to them. It is a real mechaia to see people so seriously and intelligently and practically engaged in such a discussion. Everyone has something useful to say and a valid point of view, even those who seem to be misunderstanding wach other temporarily.

And sorry for contradicting myself, but most of these statements are exhortations to be involved and take action and confront the situation and so on, but ultimately there seems to be nothing do-able on a broad scale that is legal. To be sure Elliot Pasik's legal framework will be of great emergency help, but there is reluctance to involve secular authorities just as with kosher food. It is important and at the same time impractical to put the onus completely upon parents who are desperate to trust Jewish authority if nothing else. It is the same as those who tell parents to monitor what kids watch on TV and listen to in concerts and on music players and see on the internet. It is overwhelming to personally try to investigate every rebbe and janitor. There are multiple problems and multiple actions and solutions are needed. Taking the situation as a sinking boat which it is for those lives at risk right now, the leak must be plugged, the damage repaired, and the structural design flaw that allowed the leak removed and replaced. You could say the same about Hurricane Katrina, or the financial meltdown.

As a former child, a father and a grandfather I am in full sympathy with some of the proposals expressed here: kill them, beat them, punish them, warn and frighten them. I was not a victim, but even in my days (1950's and 60's) I remember creepy people within the yeshiva and community. Perhaps form a special JDL whose job it is to administer some tough love to those who verifiably abuse our kids. These approaches obviously have legal weaknesses in a non-Torah galus society. It saddens me to see people frustrated with the Gedolim for the lack of effective responses both in the past and now. Their sincerity and committment cannot be doubted, but as with such things as concert-banning they run the risk of having their pronouncements ignored and ridiculed. By the way that is not a completely great excuse, as we have seen in the cases of Kamtza and Bar-Kamtza, of Jewish participation in the mishteh of Achashverosh with the keilim of the Beis Hamikdash, and of submission to Greek perversion and immorality in the days of Matisyahu Kohen Gadol.

However, I BELIEVE THERE IS ONE NON-RADICAL FIRST STEP THE GEDOLIM CAN DO IMMEDIATELY AND EFFECTIVELY. Rather than allowing these social terrorists to drive good people out of the community, they can be effectively be visibly barred from ours. Bearing in mind the Arab bus bombers who disguise themselves as chareidim to gain access, the Gedolim must openly, publically, loudly, unmistakably, unanimously, immediately FORBID any proven perpetrator and even anyone under serious, credible investigation to wear a beard or peyos, wear a streimel or a spudek, wear a fedora or a homburg hat, wear a long coat, wear a gartel, wear white socks, in short look like any variety of religious Jew. I would go so far as to forbid them from wearing a yarmulka. Any sexual or violent predator has bigger problems than the fine points of Yiras Shamayim. How are these people any better than Jews for Jesus who wear yarmulkes? I personally would forbid them from speaking Yiddish or Hebrew or appearing in a kosher restaurant or simcha. I personally would propose the Gedolim require them to voluntarily wear ankle bracelet or necklace transmitters. I personally would tattoo or deep-dye them on the forehead like Kain. Shoe leather dye works really well on human skin, as I accidentally discovered. The Gedolim and Mr. Pasik can work out those legal and halachic limits on technical grounds. However, the time for ANY rachmanus for people who are technically chayav missah is way down the road if ever, and anybody fully cleared of such charges may be welcomed back with open arms. However, nobody with such an appearance is going to get a job teaching Torah.

This is America, so maybe the individuals will not listen. And like President Clinton's perjury impeachment, that itself is a violation.And forgive me from darshening, but I will even bring a little mesorah. In Melachim (Judges) 12, shevet Ephraim came to challenge and fight with Yiphtach. Yiphtach chased them out and tested them from returning with a lie-detector test. He made anyone travelling into Ephraim pronounce 'Shibboleth', because Ephraim could not pronounce a 'shin' with their accent. If we can't kill them like Yiphtach, I think we could keep these people shaved and dressed down and marked without too much trouble.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Part 2, as for my request for context: I have been seeing this kind of material for decades in the larger social context, and what is being discussed here is very similar with the exception of the frum connection. And I saw comments elsewhere (from Sheree and others) saying the scope of the problem is irrelevant, just as with 'at-risk', just as with substance abuse, various developmental challenges awareness and tolerance and inclusiveness etc. And they are absolutely correct too. One is too much. But I am not seeing a real answer to the true scope of this problem among the Orhtodox.

Many years ago I used to read "The Agunah Chronicles" in the Jewish Press by a Rabbi Mendel ???? which was as much about various silly foibles of chareidi life as much as about agunos. The articles when not serious were funny and ironic and sarcastic, but the day came when someone must have gotten to him about leitzanus and lashon hara, and he wrote an article backing off and reminding everyone that the boys craving the Borsalino hats spent more time engaged in learning and mitzvos, and the often superficial girls spent more time engaged in chessed activities, and people should not get the wrong impression and keep the big picture in mind.

And so with this issue. I personally spend time representing an Orthodox point of view, arguing on some forums with people on "Anti-Semitic, goyishe newspapers,” and “Self-hating-Jews-who-love-to-bash-charedim.” Starting with the various lashon hara blogs, and traditionally in the Jewish Daily Forward, the Jewish Week, the LA Jewish Journal etc. and on out to the public secular media, it is just thrilling for them to report Orthodox and Rabbis involved with perversion, pornography and drugs. In my opinion this is nothing so much as the Mel Gibson variety of New Testament Jew bashing and cursing in action, internalized in the non-Orthodox and even Modern Orthodox communities, anyone in short who is ashamed of Jews and Judaism.

And my approach in those is to be dan l'chaf z'chus, to give the benefit of the doubt, show the larger context etc. I don't try to tolerate the intolerable or defend the indefensible but they all consider me a blind fanatic, and all Orthodox and especially chareidi rabbis to be perverts and hypocrites and thieves and molesters. And my answer to them is that laws cannot guarantee obediance, people are people, it has been a long and difficult galus, and that the Jewish community is not perfect but is more better and less worse than any other society in time or space, and gives more time, money, effort and pints of blood to others than any other group. I invite them to interview the heads of their local municipal and Jewish social service agencies, and find out what proportion of these problems is attributable to Orthodox Jews.

Fine. I believe that answer is correct and it works. Nobody has ever disproved me on that basis. But what is the answer for US? Am I wrong? Is it the same as in the larger society? Worse? I don't believe that. It is impossible to tell from these discussions. I would like to see someone; the true heroes Pasik, Salomon, Pelcovitz who ARE Orthodox take just a brief minute from their agenda and document this. Without diluting an atom of the urgency to solve this problem, I would like to be able to say with confidence and specificity, a la Rabbi Shafran, "Yes, we can trust our derech and our values and our wisdom and our practices and our institutions and our authorities to make us better than the gentile, the secular, and the non-Torah world at large".


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49.     11/24/08 - 3:12 PM
Anonymous

On what basis do you think anybody can forbid anybody else from wearing what they like and speaking any language they choose?

I mean, hey, if rabbis could do that, you wouldn't see any lack of tznius among frum people, but obviously, it doesn't work that way.

And what makes them "technically chayav misa" anyway? This particular article is about a male-single female relationship. What makes that chayav misa? According to the Torah, under specific circumstances, there would be a fine and the perp. would have to marry her (if she wished), but not jail, certainly no death penalty.


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50. Response to #48     11/24/08 - 4:21 PM
Benzion Twerski

Ben Plonie #48 was an entertaining read. However, its eloquence and humor actually reflect an underlying lack of maturity in thinking. If such a method would actually work, I could be convinced, but I would relegate it to the fantasy dimension.

I once asked a dayan about the advisability of banning (Kol Koreh with an issur and many signatures) casino gambling. He responded that the issur is obvious, but that those who would recognize the Kol Koreh with its issur would be those who would not go there anyway. In the secular world, there is a concept of “preaching to the choir”. The usefulness of such an issur would be difficult to find.

The tattooing of the perp (a scarlet letter) sounds quite cute. In reality, one could not violate one’s personal rights to the integrity of his body. Doing anything to cause public shame would also be a rights violation. Even personnel records are privileged records that must be kept confidential.

Much in line with the masquerade of Arab terrorists with chareidi levush, perpetrators who dress themselves with “levush” are actually costumed. But there are many others across the community whose external appearance is inconsistent with their internal level of avodas Hashem. We are no stranger to that. Our kids at risk are often responding to that dissonance in their rebellion. And it does not require something as severe as molestation to be inconsistent. How about the white collar crime that characterizes so many individuals and organizations? I won’t even cite specifics. No one is clean. The line drawn is arbitrary, and where that line is depends on the specifics, not a general rule of what is acceptable and what not.

Which “Gedolim” would undertake an intervention such as this? A punishment for a perp? To my knowledge, those involved in addressing the situation are completely focused away from that angle. The goal is to protect innocent victims. Punishment is not a deterrent. Death penalty for murder does not reduce the murder rate. Law enforcement and prevention does. Sure, the identified molester will be branded as unemployable in chinuch or other risky situations. And that is what we need most. Protection and safety. The molester will only get as far as we let him. I have no problem with punishment, but it is not the answer. With all the organizations involved trying to develop strategies, none of them adopted such an angle because it is the least effective.

Thanx for the amusing comment.

The Agunah articles in the Jewish press were written by Rabbi Mendel Epstein.

Another point made was rather pleasant. With all the problems that get reported in our own media (and some of which gets unfair play in the secular media), the frum community puts the rest of the world to shame with the extent of tzedokoh and chesed that characterize our various communities. Sometimes, we need a column in our media to highlight what’s right with us, not just what’s wrong.


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51. #49 Your questions are anticipated in my post.     11/24/08 - 4:38 PM
Ben Plonie - Galus, Chutz L'Aretz - benplonie@yahoo.com

On the same basis as they can forbid someone from playing or attending a concert, except this is more important. The basis is not in the Gedolim, it is in the individual or community that follows their decisions. The power of the gedolim is in their moral authority and their bully pulpit, not in their yedios Clallios scores. It would help take the responsibility off of the individual institutions who are evidently not up to it and do not feel the backing of the Gedolim in those decisions at this time. If the individual does not obey, the community will, and will treat the individual like a disguised terrorist, like a disguised missionary, or like Rabbi Horowitz said, like someone "...walking around your neighborhood with pruning shears viciously cutting off the index fingers of any children that he can get his hands on." The point of the example is that pruning shears are visible.

The fact that stripping a person of his Jewish identity is counter-intuitive only gives the idea more force and distancing power, the opposite of a prescription to fast and pray and learn Torah etc. Why shouldn't the community require sincerity and decency in appearing as a frum Jew? On the other end of the spectrum, what if I proposed a standard for entrance to a kollel, are you OK with that?

On the same basis that the Torah forbids avodah zara, gilui arayos and shefichas damim in the Torah society. If a Jew in ths days of the Shoftim wanted to move to Brooklyn and worship an idol the Torah does not prescribe hunting him down. The immediate problem is not that people are evil, it is that we have a hard time getting rid of them. I want to make it easier for innocent and vulnerable people to identify those who are not. In this case, I am not proposing raising the moral level of evil people as with tznius. But regular frum people can tell a hundred things about your cultural values and clique and things you are not trying to hide at a glance at your yarmulka and shirt and jacket and shoes.

And let's not quibble about my use of "technically chayav misa" (although that can indeed be a factor in abuse cases); I am talking about the folly of allowing psychopaths to disguise himself as one who seems to have yiras shamayim and thus be trusted by a hanhala, a communityu, a child, or to put another in any subordinate or dependant exploitative relationship. That is clear in my post and we can play games if you want but I am not here for that. Let's save the technicalities for your children, which I doubt you have.


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52. #48 & #49     11/24/08 - 4:57 PM
Yardena - EY

I also really enjoyed reading #48.

#49: Very good point about how people don't listen to basic halachah regarding dress, so all the more so about something more extreme...

However, I once heard a shiur about male-on-female rape (it was that week's parasha), and a second-time offender IS chayav misa - although the indirect kind where they deprive him of food, rather than actively executing him. With regard to a first-time offender, it's more than just "a fine". The "fine" is judged according to how much she would be willing to be paid to go through the experience. Since for most women, you couldn't pay them enough to be so badly traumatized, then this basically means working for the rest of his life and giving all his earnings toward this "fine". In the olden days, the rav said that the rapist would have to basically self himself into slavery.

I heard this shiur 12 years ago, so I may have gotten some details wrong, but this is what I remember.


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53.     11/24/08 - 5:39 PM
Anonymous

Rabbi Twersky, I do respect your viewpoint and I feel that we not in disagreement. Some of what I would tell you is contained in my answer to #49. I did allow my brainstorming to range into fanstasy just for fun, although not beyond my sentiment.

If dying a 'scarlet letter' is outside of the realm of the possible, than forbidding someone to dress like us or to wear peyos and a yarmulka is not. I do not even advocate the use of force (other than wishful thinking about the threat of a 'JDL-style' thrashing). And you evidently comprehend my point in your excellent examples as regards internal levels of avodas Hashem. I feel that is a fruitful area for discussion but sexual exploitation and molestation is an example of external levels of avodas Hashem, not internal. Comparing the two is to minimize the severity of the crime under discussion, which after all is overt bein adam l'chaveiro. We may well think of it in the sense of 'helping' a man see the wisdom to give a get in some circumstances.

And if a 'perp' cannot be held liable for the major crime, he can for the minor one of refusal to comply. For example if a bagel store even used OU milk that is not Chalav Yisroel, nobody will beat them up but the community would know they are in definance of the Vaad and that knowledge would be effective.

Nowhere in my comment did I mention punishment or inducing charata in the feelings of the 'perp'. "The goal is to protect innocent victims", right? I am just trying to make those invisible pruning shears visible to all. But let us realize that such a person is being allowed to perpetrate some kind of denial, to feel that because of appearances he is somehow superior to another actually good-hearted individual without the uniform or the 'gang colors'. Correct me if I am wrong. As an example, I am not always the greatest davener and bracha-maker. But the day of my mother's petira, I acutely felt the loss of these things. I do actually know that disallowing Jewish appearance and particpation is rather radical. But it is do-able, and it is morally corageous. something tells me that the Syrian community would have no problem adopting this solution. If we do not posess this tool than let's not let inertia deter us.

In my last point which was a serious request, I am not merely looking for a feel-good time-out from the depressing aspects of this issue. If as Rabbi Shafran said there are reasonable grounds to infer a much lower rate of molestation among frum people than not from the spotty data, that is equally worth knowing. If a secular social scientist tried a school program that reduced drug use or violence or out-of-wedlock pregnancy by even a few consistent percent, the New York Times and NPR would dance for joy. If it is true that the rates of molestation among the Orthodox are significantly lower than outside of them, that says important aspects of the system that we take for granted are working, not broken, and encourages us to shore up a next level of protection inaccessable to those living without an implicit moral foundation.


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54. 48     11/24/08 - 6:01 PM
Anonymous

I often wonder why every problem in our community always comes back to the gedolim. It would be interesting to explore how the role of talmidei chachomim and rabbonim in "law enforcement" has varied through Jewish history. My guess is that the state of klal Yisroel as well as the individual personalities of our leaders have influences various levels of assertiveness in this area at different times.

The prevailing consensus today appears to be that if we disapprove of a particular strain of music, the rabbonim should ban it, if we are offended by longer sheitlach, the gedolim should assur it, if we disagree with the content of a book, the vaad Hamoetses should censor it. Who determined that this is,in fact, the rav's role? And, historically, have there existed distinctions between the responsibility of local rabbonim vs broader agudos such as the vaad Hamoetzes (other than the Sanhedrin, of course)? Also, what is the binding authority of, piskei halacha issued by a gadol in, say Europe, to residents in the United States?

Obviously, these questions are not simplistic nor meant to be resolved al regel achas. My point is merely that we need to think about the role in which we cast our Rabbonim, especially when we then express disappointment when our expectations remain frustrated.


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55. And I forgot...     11/24/08 - 6:04 PM
Ben Plonie - Galus, Chutz L'Aretz - benplonie@yahoo.com

Sorry, forgot to sign the last note (I would think that being logged on to the website should take care of that.) People who look frum and have a standing in frum institutions but make the news in degraded ways do not represent themselves, they represent me and you. If you remember, the Neturei Karta was denounced across the board for kissing up to Ahmedinejad, but those pictures of them undid the efforts of untold hours and people and organizations. We say it in the Hagaddah every year, the Bnei Israel were distinctive in Egypt by their clothes and their names and their language. Who should be in charge of those, the individual or the Zekainim?

I am not the degree of talmid chacham to know the complete extent to which we can go to prevent a chillul hashem, but it's pretty far.


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56. To #54 (our comments crossd in the mail).     11/24/08 - 6:21 PM
Ben Plonie - Galus, Chutz L'Aretz - benplonie@yahoo.com

Your points are valid but a little abstract. All of the threads on this topic are a part of raising awareness of a problem and a search for a solution. An obvious avenue is to involve the authority and leadership of the community. It is not a demand at least on my part, it's an opportunity. By your lights, the Gedolim are free to make a statement saying "It's not my business, don't bug us about it". Obviously they cannot and should not do this or risk becoming irrelevant. Or on the other hand becoming more serious and responsible and respected and influential. And again as with a previous comment, to compare the gravity of this issue with the length of shaitels is absurd. The protection of the lives and sanity of the community, the avoidance of chillul Hashem, the demonstration of moral authority and guidance, and the strengthening of the confidence of the community in Das Torah is more than sufficient reason to act upon a solution with a chance of succeeding. How about a pilot program just to prove the point?

The Gedolim can take it or leave it. Just remember, according to Rabbi Horowitz the status quo is not an option. I have daughters who feel no less strong about the value of their integrity than Yardena.


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57. 56     11/25/08 - 1:26 AM
Anonymous

Okay, I will try to say this a bit less abstractly:

You experience disappointment that the gedolim don't stand up tall enough for causes that you feel are so very basic and critical. Chilul Hashem, abuse, tolerance of abuse within our infrastructure: these are issues you believe deserve top priority treatment by our leadership.

You write, "By your lights, the Gedolim are free to make a statement saying "It's not my business, don't bug us about it". Obviously they cannot and should not do this or risk becoming irrelevant." Yes!! Talmidei chachomim, erudite and pious as they may be, who do not rise to the challenge of leadership are by definition not leaders! You got it!

So, if they are not inclined to lead on these issues, can we demand leadership from them? Can we lead someone into being a leader or bully them into fighting our battles?

You observe, "An obvious avenue is to involve the authority and leadership of the community." This is not so indisputably obvious and logical as you state. Authority and leadership is inspired from the top down; it cannot possibly be forced out of reluctant rabbonim by the masses' brute manipulation. That wouldn't qualify as leadership, would it? There is a salient contradiction in our perspective and expectations here which requires understanding and adjustment.

The curiousity I expressed in an earlier post regarding the historical role of Rabbanim in enforcing compliance with their piskei halachah and particular hashkafos is really a bit of an attempt at a reality check to explore the validity of our expectations. I question whether discussion of what we can do about any challenge can legitimately focus on what our Rabbonim can or should do.

Ultimately,we are all capable of addressing the problem on some level in whatever way we choose.In this way, we become our own self-directed leaders capable of effecting change in our own unique way. We also eliminate the cynicism and disappointment, leaving us free to appreciate our gedolim for whatever gadlus we do recognize.


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58. Q for R' Twerski:     11/25/08 - 9:41 AM
Anonymous

Punishment is not a deterrent. Death penalty for murder does not reduce the murder rate. Law enforcement and prevention does.

What is your understanding of the Torah's punishments such as lashes and fines and execution? Some spiritual thing only, to lessen the person's punishment in the World to Come?


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59.     11/25/08 - 9:47 AM
Anonymous

That is clear in my post and we can play games if you want but I am not here for that. Let's save the technicalities for your children, which I doubt you have.

Okay, you just pasel'd yourself with your personal attack. You are nasty (and wrong).


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60. bones     11/25/08 - 9:53 AM
Anonymous

R' Twerski: I think beating up a known perp would work wonders. Big problem is in REALLY KNOWING if he did something wrong. Is anybody willing to beat someone up, or have someone beaten up on the say-so of an individual?

Well, IMO sometimes.

My 3 yr old cousin cried and pointed and her mother thought she may have a urinary infection or worms, but she didn't, and then the little girl said, "asur l'daber" (I'm not allowed to say), and it turned out that the ganenet's husband was molesting the little children, and he had a reputation. He had lived in Bnei Brak and had to leave, was now living in Jerusalem. Then yeah, I think he should have had his bones broken. Because a 3 yr old is "meisi'ach l'fi tumo" (speaks in innocence).

And several years ago, when a daycare setup for 2 year olds was busted in Lakewood, yeah, I think bones should have been broken.


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61. To #59 whom I assume is also #49     11/25/08 - 10:51 AM
Ben Plonie - Galus/Chutz L'Aretz - benplonie@yahoo.com

First - as I said, the blog software should insert a name when a member is logged in. I now found that under the 'Members' drop down in 'Preferences', there is a box that can be checked off to do just that. If more people used it we would get less 'Anonymous' contributions.

OK, I apologize for being nasty but not for being wrong. As I have said, I come here from a world of very rough flame wars and insults, and I am not as used to the serious and sincere tone of this site. So I recognize that that in those terms your failure to read that (as per my title), "Your questions are anticipated in my post" and your trivializing my long comment with a technical digression on a minor passing point are equally nasty and pasel [i]yourself. If I had said 'potentially chayav missah' would that handle it? Games.

As for being wrong, it was just my assumption that anyone not engaging the issue of this thread in a serious way can have no personal shaichus with it, i.e. no responsibility for a helpless and innocent and dependant child. Fine, I'll take your word on it that you have a child or children.

Now, after all that talking about talking about talking, what did you actually say?


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62. To Anonymous 54 and 57     11/25/08 - 8:06 PM
Ben Plonie - Galus/Chutz L'Aretz - benplonie@yahoo.com

I would say you are misreading me, or I can take full responsibility and say that I am not exressing myself clearly or appropriately or respectfully. Or both. We all come from different places in our thinking. I have always enjoyed reading Rabbi Horowitz' articles but this is the first time I spent any time focusing on his website and I have obviously stepped into the middle of a vigorous back-and-forth on the role of gedolim and our expectations. That is not at all my thing, it is not the center of my interests and agenda (at least today), and I am not that interested in attacking or defending a position on them. I don't care as you think I do; you are dragging in your reaction to someone else on this site. I only mentioned them because in light of the tightrope Rabbi Horowitz and Rabbi Shafran have to walk, it is unavoidable to include them in the discussion. Let them lead or not lead as they see fit, but that leaves everyone else to follow or not follow as they see fit; something that gets people more upset and pointing fingers than the reverse.

I feel that the action I propose (not demand) would be effective, would be bold yet uncontroversial, would make transparent sense, and is something they could get behind. You might appreciate that it is a service to the gedolim and to us ketanim to discover some agreement on some common viewpoint on some definite issue and some definite stand and some definite statement and some definite action that is halachically and morally and logically clear and targeted and effective. Molestation? Arayos? Action? Prevention? Hello?

But let's address the issue for a minute. You seem to want it both ways. The essence of your earlier note was to soften the concept of Torah leadership in every way. It varies with the times... with the issues... with the local conditions... with the expectations... and that's all fine and understood. Well, we certainly don't want to pin anyone down or make them uncomfortable. You say - "You call them Talmidei chachomim, erudite and pious as they may be, who do not rise to the challenge of leadership are by definition not leaders!" So now we are talking about erudite and pious people and not leaders. I agree, they are different things, so let's not put words in my mouth as if it is I who is mixing them up. It is not an aveira not to be a leader (although see as I mentioned Kamtza/Bar-Kamtza and the mishteh of Achshveirosh for the opposite view. It was not Matisyahu but his at-risk daughter who inspired the revolt of the Chashmonaim).

So forget the plain yoshvei ohalim. Let's just say that those who do wish to assume leadership on wigs and vegetable bugs and water bugs and concerts can do it. You say - "Authority and leadership is inspired from the top down; it cannot possibly be forced out of reluctant rabbonim by the masses' brute manipulation. That wouldn't qualify as leadership, would it?" Wrong. That is not the current thinking on leadership. Inaction is not leadership. Responsiveness to community needs and emergencies is leadership. Assuming power to make all the decisions and boss people around is not leadership. Sometimes the leader is Yiphtach, who was recruited by the masses.

Back at the ranch, in America, as Rabbi Twersky pointed out, there is no legal means of exerting influence upon an individual or a community. The only means we have is acceptance or exclusion, and the smart and ethical way to conduct that would be via the moral jusdge and spokesman for the community. Period. More to the point, come up with a better idea than just leaving us all on out own to "become our own self-directed leaders capable of effecting change in our own unique way", something that can descibe the molester as easily as the ethical change agent.


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63.     11/25/08 - 9:15 PM
Anonymous

1. "I only mentioned them because in light of the tightrope Rabbi Horowitz and Rabbi Shafran have to walk, it is unavoidable to include them in the discussion." Sorry, but it's impossible to read between the lines on a blog and discern motivations for comments. If you say something, I assume you mean exactly what you say and care about what you state. By definition, that is the essence of honest communication.

2. "The essence of your earlier note was to soften the concept of Torah leadership in every way. It varies with the times... with the issues... with the local conditions... with the expectations... " The essential intention of my note was not to soften or intensify or draw any cut and dry conclusions. It was simply and honestly, as i stated, a question posed for exploration with intellectual integrity. No agenda here besides the emes.

3. "come up with a better idea than just leaving us all on out own to "become our own self-directed leaders capable of effecting change in our own unique way", something that can descibe the molester as easily as the ethical change agent." 100% on target--that is the essence of bechira. We can choose to victimize or to stand up for victims.

What we do to fight this evil depends on our personalities, positions, resources, and inclinations. A teacher dealing with children can work on heightening her awareness and keeping a lookout for red flags; a pediatrician asking the right questions at the right time can save a child from years of abuse; psychologists can support victims in a more direct, therapeutic way; attorneys can offer support on the legal front; anyone so inclined can open a home to a victim of abuse in need of a foster-home--the list is endless. And of course, we can all daven.

Rabbinic leadership on this front would surely be welcome, as would everyone's commitment and involvement. But we can't decide for anyone but ourselves what an appropriate contribution may be. The only question we can ask is , "what can I personally do to help?"


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64. Again, to 63/57/54     11/26/08 - 2:39 AM
Ben Plonie - Galus/Chutz L'Aretz - benplonie@yahoo.com

I do mean what I say. My only further qualification was that the gedolim issue was not the heart of my submission, just included in deference to the host of the website. My post #48 included a title, "A suggestion and a request for some context ". I chose those words so as not to leave anyone in the dark as to the focus for the motivation behind my comments.

And the passive reflections upon bechira, of private and personal actions and reactions is just too Zen for this issue. It is legitimate to seek efficient and pro-active solutions rather than as I mentioned leaving all of us on our own. I am sure that sombody around here has mentioned "Lo ta'amod".

Let's assume that such a villain yet paradoxically clings to his identity as a Jew, even a frum Jew. No less than a classic nazir, or sufferer of tzora'as, he will likely accept the verdict and the edict to enter a personal galus, to strip himself of an identifiable Jewish appearance and environment, at the least to leave the rest of us out of his subversive lifestyle choices, and at most to benefit from the wisdom and moral clarity of that process.

Meanwhile, the children who are conditioned to extend various levels of trust to people they perceive as trustworthy or admissable in Jewish society would be spared a degree of vulnerability.

Or - he will not accept it, and trigger the more severe onus of open rebellion to the will and policy of the community.


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65. #60 proves the point     11/26/08 - 3:06 AM
Yardena - EY

#60 "bones" describes a horrifying scenario. Yet nobody went to the police, the family just moved to Jerusalem where presumably he will continue his wickedness there.

As has been pointed out on this site several times, many charedi communities feel that if they chased the perp out of their community, then they've been proactive enough.

So Bnei Brak is now a little safer for children. What about Jerusalem's children?

#60, I definitely share your sentiment about harsher methods for perps, but did any of the victims' families call the police or inform the Jerusalem community? Even doing an anonymous middle-of-the-night posting of signs with the perp's name and preferably a photo along with warning phrase is much, much better than doing nothing.

And I think the wife, in this situation, also has achreiyes. Did she really not know what her husband was doing DURING gan?

The truth is, perps need to be removed from society. Beating them is a great short-term solution, but they will eventually do it again and just be much sneakier about it.

Judaism recognizes the reality of unrehabilitatable individuals with the din of roidef. Incarceration is the least we can do.


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66. Punishment as deterrent     11/26/08 - 8:52 AM
Benzion Twerski

Punishment as a deterrent – nice idea, but it does not work. Let us just glance quickly at the facts. A beis din of today has zero enforcement powers, and cannot levy a “knas” (a fine), or administer malkos (lashes) or misa (death penalty). Even the beis din of the times of the Beis Hamikdosh, which could do so, would require quite stringent criteria, with kosher witnesses and appropriate hasro’oh (warning) that was given immediately prior to the offense. There were multiple efforts to find a redeeming factor (zchus) to avoid levying a punishment. And a unanimous beis din to punish or rule that the subject was chayav (guilty) was an automatic acquittal. The reality is that the entire message of the punishments was not in order to control the behavior of the masses, and it would not serve as a deterrent. The comment that this contains spiritual messages is accurate.

As far as breaking bones, I personally do not feel bad for the guilty perpetrator who gets a well deserved beating. It will not even deter further violations by him, since he can easily relocate and melt into another community, as we have observed many times. Often, the beaters who take justice in their own hands get the brunt of punishment from governmental authorities. While I do not recommend this as the strategy, I also do not feel bad. However, this has little to benefit the problem in a more global way, and that is the issue that is getting so many of us irritated.


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67. not reading all responses     12/8/08 - 1:55 PM
little sheep - brooklyn, ny - littlesheffele@gmail.com

i'm not going to read all the responses, as the paragraphs are long and hard to read on screen. you'll get a better response from me after i print out the responses.

i have only one thing to say before i read everything else: right now, as a survivor of molestation by a brother, i can say i am worried about one thing only: with all the arguing about what should/shouldn't be done, have any of you: a) asked a survivor? b)tried to find out what actually happened to the young lady in the story? is the case progressing? is she safe? how is she doing?

until you've done those things, i don't know if any of you have the right to make decisions about what should/shouldn't be done.


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68. What is corruption and what can we do about it?     12/10/08 - 2:32 PM
Eliezer - Toronto

I know this is not the topic of this thread, but I would like to raise an issue related to a troubling event which occurred recently.

I found out that a parlor meeting was held in my community in support of a well-known yeshiva in Brooklyn. I know that our Rebbe and host, Rabbi Horowitz shlit"a, does not want names used on this blog, so let's just say that this Yeshiva has been in the news quite a bit in the past year or so for harboring a pedophile. At this parlor meeting the Rosh Yeshiva, who has been broadly implicated in covering up this situation over a period of decades, addressed the gathering, as well as one of the most respected Rabbonim in the community.

I recently came across a definition of corruption from a major international organization, as follows:

"It can refer to the destruction of one’s honesty or loyalty through undermining moral integrity or acting in a way that shows a lack of integrity or honesty. It also refers to those who use a position of power or trust for dishonest gain... Corruption comes in various forms such as bribery, law-breaking without dealing with the consequences in a fair manner, unfairly amending election processes and results, and covering mistakes or silencing whistleblowers (those who expose corruption in hope that justice would be served)."

In light of this definition, I think we can fairly say that this Rosh Yeshiva, sadly, has exhibited significant corruption. What shocked me about the parlor meeting was that this individual was given kavod by the community as well as a community Rov that is widely admired and respected.

Am I missing something, or does this not make sense? How can I continue to have respect for this Rov, and what can we do to communicate our concern to the Rabbonim?

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