Friday, December 31, 2021

The Darkness and the Light

What a tragic week. Fortunately there is a glimmer of light that I am happy to share. One should not paint the entire charedi community with one brush. Of course it's not much of a surprise that several of the more liberal American yeshivish rabbis have condemned Walder, but even many people in the Israeli charedi community are having a "Meron Moment." 

The horrific tragedy of Meron, for the which the cause was so clear (i.e. the charedi community not considering it necessary to abide by standard national protocols for regulations and safety), had many people in the charedi community questioning the value of its isolationist philosophy, and challenging the rabbonim who blamed it on anything and everything else. Likewise here; the fact that Walder, clearly emerging as a horrific predator, was glorified after his death by important charedi rabbis and politicians and newspapers, while those who attempted to scream about the dangers are being branded as evil gossipers who drove him to his death, is just too much for many people in the charedi community. 

Both Mishpacha newspaper (the Hebrew version) and leading charedi website Kikar Shabbos (which formerly effectively defended Walder) ran editorials condemning Walder and bemoaning the criticism against those who try to report abuse. While far from perfect, they overall conveyed the correct message. Dovi Weinroth, Walder's former friend and lawyer who eulogized him at the funeral, subsequently wrote a powerful mea culpa in which he expressed utter regret. 

Unfortunately, there are still those who do not see the light. Rav Edelstein did not apologize for his condemnation of those who sounded the alarm; instead Yated ran a statement approved by Rav Edelstein which says that victims of abuse should go to rabbinically-approved organizations to deal with it (note that there was one such an organization in Bnei Brak, and it was headed by Chaim Walder), and that these things must be dealt with quietly, and the press must not report them. A letter from Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein has been publicized, in which he describes Walder as someone who everyone knows is a man who performed great acts of kindness. And not a single prominent rabbinic figure in the Israeli charedi community has openly declared Walder to be a rasha, and those defending him and attacking the press and social media to be badly wrong.

Still, the structure of power in charedi society is evolving. And while there is still much to be done, the signs of change are emerging. Here's hoping that it will be significant enough to effect a genuine transformation.

47 comments:

  1. It's not just charedim, unfortunately. On the "Kav" end of Religious Zionism, R' Aviner has attacked R' Eliyahu for saying anything out loud ("even if Walder was guilty," as if that was in doubt), and his mentor, Tau of Har HaMor, has declared Walder to be completely innocent and all attacks on him being part of a conspiracy theory because he once attacked Aharon Barak.

    Bear in mind that Tau and his disciples previously defended Katzav and Elon in the same terms.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Kalonymous the GreatJanuary 1, 2022 at 11:33 PM

      R' Thau is clearly delusional

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  2. Fresh if the press Rav Tau declared Chaim Wander innocent:
    https://www.inn.co.il/news/536558

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  3. "should go to rabbinically-approved organizations"
    another one of RNS lies.
    Where on earth does he say organisations? He was referring to the government appointed organisations and that's why he says that this can only be done after asking a rov

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    1. If it needs to be done after asking a rav, yes, that's "rabbinically approved." You're just quibbling over language.

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    2. Requiring one to report abuse to a Rabbi instead of the police is terrible on it's own. That was done with Walder.

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    3. When it comes to sexual abuse of any kind, one is forbidden to go to rabbis. They have zero training and knowledge of how to conduct a criminal investigation, they always circle their wagons to protect each other, and there's no police power to imprison. What a waste of precious time to bother them with such lewd, prurient stuff. Better they should sit and learn Kodshim.

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  4. While the Chareidi community seems to be improving, the secularist community is unfortunately getting even worse than before (if that was possible) "24% rise in sexual harassment claims in Israeli army". I guess those secular "morals" and "ethics" are really doing their job!

    https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20210216-24-rise-in-sexual-harassment-claims-in-israel-army/amp/

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Whataboutery always has been stupid, and always will be

      Delete
    2. I could not agree more. There are more abortions per capital in Israel than America. Let's be real. All the abortions are from secular people. The IDF also turns Chareidi Jews into secular. This is why Chareidi Jews should never join the IDF.

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    3. Any supposed Chareidi that the IDF "turned" secular, wasn't really with the Chareidi "program" to begin with, though, right? You're reversing the cause and the effect.

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    4. "Seems to be improving"? On what evidence?

      Here's the point: You will never, ever hear a single secular Israeli defend sexual harassment anywhere, including in the IDF, and there are never defenses after it's revealed.

      If you think that doesn't make a difference, you're ridiculous.

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    5. Actually, there are far fewer abortions in Israel per capita than the US, or indeed than most of the rest of the world, and they are far more restricted and harder to get than in the US. But keep trying.

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    6. This comment epitomizes @happy's response to everything.

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    7. Secularist apologists out in full force with excuses for the widespread, routine, horrible abuse that goes on their own communities. Excuses, excuses, excuses. Denial, deflection, "whataboutery", you name it. Thousands of sexual assaults per year in one of the most cherished secularists institutions. And those are only the ones that are reported! And all you have are the most pathetic excuses.

      Here's an idea. Stop defending institutions where thousands of people are sexually abused on an annual basis. Stop defending abusers. Think about the victims. By giving these pathetic excuses, or by not LOUDLY protesting, you have declared yourselves to be utterly, terribly, morally bankrupt. And utterly complicit in this horrible abuse.

      Delete
    8. This happy dude is probably just a bored troll. Idk why people respond to him

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    9. I respond like this ever time because every time it's a good response. Evergreen. It's worth reminding people that no matter the problems in the Chareidi community, they're a speck of dust compared to the horrible problems in the secularist community. Yet every time the response is secularist apologists rolling out their tired and pathetic excuses.

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    10. Problem in the Haredi community are a speck of dust? Lol. You aren't a very educated troll.

      Delete
    11. Of course I don't mean to belittle the problems. Even one case of abuse is a gigantic universe a problem. I meant a speck of dust in comparison to the horrible problems of the secularists, that you guys just shrug off and give excuses for. Which makes you utterly complicit.

      Delete
    12. Isn't Middle East Monitor affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas? Hardly objective journalism.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Middle_East_Monitor
      Nu, at least quote Ha'aretz.

      Delete
    13. Fair enough. Wouldn't want to be quoting any biased sources on this blog!

      https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.jpost.com/israel-news/dramatic-rise-in-number-of-idf-soldiers-reporting-sexual-assault-572369/amp

      Delete
  5. sure its changing, from the bottom up.

    But its an utter shame that the bigger GODOL you are, the more steeped in Shas you are, the more famous you are the less responsible you become when it comes to rape and abuse.

    why is that? shouldn't Torah be a light to the nations, a source of wisdom. How is it that the more Torah you have the "frummer" you are the more supportive of rape you become? can someone explain this??

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not exactly that.
      But if you are a charedi leader, it usually means you're 1.very learned in Shas (but not really in other areas), 2. very old, and 3. very dedicated to the system. But the system is corrupt because there is a lot of opacity and concentration of powers, on people who, in their vast majority, believe their leaders litterally cannot err.
      I agree with Rabbi Slifkin that this ''Meron moment'' is a good thing. We need to change the system to something more open, more complying, but especially more transparent.

      Delete
  6. change is coming…!
    BUT… it is coming from the grass roots and the grass roots are dragging the “ivory tower – out of touch -in a bubble” leadership kicking and screaming. They basically have to be shamed into not supporting serial rapists and forced to not shame victims, and even then they can barely help themselves from falling back into their bad habits.

    It is a shame that the more steeped in SHAS you are, the bigger the "GODOL" you are, the more sheltered you are, the more "frum" you are, the less internet you were exposed to - the more you become "pro rape". The correlation of Frumness and acceptance of child rape it starkly clear.

    Why is that?? shouldn't Torah be a light to the nations? shouldn't Torah impart wisdom upon its learners? Then are we doing “frum” all wrong?, what gives?

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  7. More abortions per capita in Israel than in America by secular Jews. The secular community has a lot more clean-up to be done. Charedim shouldn't join the IDF which turns good, pious Jews into secularists and abortion activists. One woman died indirectly, which is a tragedy, as the result of Rabbi Walder's behavior—make no mistake, Rabbi Walder was a good person—but hundreds of children are lynched in the womb every day and no one wants to talk about that. Let's be honest here about who needs more change in their community.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. "but hundreds of children are lynched in the womb every day and no one wants to talk about that"

      Wrong on both accounts. The amount of abortions in Israel have remained stable despite the significant increase in population. And it's not hundreds per day- a number which would connote at least 200. The real figure is about 25% of what you claim. (And when you factor in dati abortions, some of them charedi, the number is even smaller). Child abuse on the other is (base on my rough back-of-the-envelope calculation) 30 times the rate of abortions. But I would rather put the calculator away because I consider such comparisons spurious & unproductive.

      "no one wants to talk about that."
      No one? Feel free to send a donation to the Efrat organization.

      Delete
    2. Far *fewer*.

      I'm repeating it because you seem obssesed with it.

      Delete
    3. Kalonymous the GreatJanuary 1, 2022 at 11:32 PM

      You are comparing Hareidim in Bnei Brak to a small sector of the secularists. And on what basis was Walder a good person? His multiple adulterous eishes ish affairs? Or sodomizing boys and girls (maasei sdom)? The only good thing he did was to shoto himself, and it was at least 25 years too late.

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    4. Kalonymous - by negating Walder's good side, you just lose your audience and distort the facts.
      The Charedi community owes a great favor to Walder, which is why it was so hard to accept these allegations. He was the one who introduced Ritalin to the community, if not for him, thousands of children would still be suffering with no hope in sight. He was the one who, ironically, opened people up to their feelings, allowing victims to come forward and out their abusers. His books, ignoring their psychobabble, were useful for children who need books to read. The more religious books there are for children, the less they need to read non-religious ones.

      There was plenty of positive there, which is how the story needs to be viewed. If you ignore the positive, you are setting the stage for another story to happen. People need to know that even otherwise good people can commit such terrible acts. Others people will always just judge good/bad, and that is counter productive.

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    5. I agree with you, ZD.

      Before we attack Rabbi Walder, think of all the good he did. How many people did he bring to Torah? The good outweighs the bad.

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    6. The good outweighs the bad?
      Orwellian. Evil is good. Good is evil. I'm living in an upside-down world. No need to go to heaven to prove it.

      Delete
    7. I never said the good outweighs the bad, I did not make a judgement at all.
      I just said that facts don't change, and he was also a positive force. If we ignore that, we tell ourselves that anyone who does good things cannot be a predator. Which is patently untrue and a dangerous lie.

      Delete
  8. "note that there was one such an organization in Bnei Brak, and it was headed by Chaim Walder"

    This is just simply wrong and proves that you have no idea what you are talking about. There is a beis din in Bnei Brak under Rav Nissim Karelitz led by Rav Silman that was set up specifically to deal with these issues and has been overall successful in doing so discreetly by cooperating with the police who are sensitive to the community. Everybody "in the know" knows about this. you are not in the know.

    If you don't believe me - see Rav Aharon Lopionsky at the agudah convention say just this: https://www.torahanytime.com/#/lectures?v=169114
    (see from 21:30 on) I believe the posek he is referring to is Rav Yitzchak Berkowitz who is very involved in these issues.

    Rav Berkowitz himself just a couple of days ago gave a zoom conference to mental health professionals in the wake of this tragedy and spoke about his first hand knowledge of how effective this beis din is in general in dealing with these cases discreetly and how he's sat in on many deliberations. He said that tragically the CW case was not handled effectively and he is still not sure why.

    But you Rabbi Slifkin clearly are not involved in any of this in any serious way. Maybe just be quiet and let the responsible adults that actually have the achrayus handle the situation. You have no appreciation for all the complexity involved.

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    1. sure it was SOOO effective that they caught and stopped Chaim Walder. then comes along Aaron Robinowitz and the leftist Haaretz to take credit for it!

      Do you have any other bridge you wanna sell us because we ain't in a buying mood now

      Delete
  9. If all of you would be as critical of wrongdoings within your community and not just of those outside, this world would be a much better place.

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    1. "If all of you ..."

      No and no. Either it's "If all of *us*" or you're just a another self-promoter.

      Delete
  10. Rabbi Edelstein still seeks to silence those attempting to unmask rapists and child molesters. He still seeks to maintain the awful silence of the dozens of victims. He seeks to prevent publication of reports against predators and provide them cover.
    Outrageous, shocking and inexcusable!

    If there was a gunman walking about shooting random people, what do you do? Cover it up? Not allow anyone to speak up? Warn against the danger? Be concerned about the mental health of the gunman and how he may feel when exposed?? What!?? You SCREAM from the rooftops!

    And let's face it. Had Ha'aretz not published the expose, it would not have come out. Thank God for them, doing the job the charedi world would never have dared touch.

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  11. Perhaps this should be posted on another discussion thread here:
    My daughter found in the very first volume of "Kids Speak" (in Hebrew, ילדים מספרים על אצמם) a story entitled "Beware of Strangers".

    In the story, the narrator, Natan, relates how he was always an exemplary student. One day, he was approached by a man, "Natan, can you help me move something in my house?"
    Natan couldn't understand how the man knew his name--was it from the name written on his backpack?
    The boy says, "I don't want to go into details about what happened in that man's house."
    He then relates that he couldn't concentrate on his studies, and only 6 months later was he able to gather the strength to tell his father what had happened. They went to the police, and eventually managed to apprehend the molester. But even after that, Natan couldn't say that he was as attentive in studies as before the incident.

    (I want to point out that this type of "cold reading" is a common trick of con artists--they pick up on a small detail--in the story, Natan's name on his backpack--and it makes you start to wonder, "Maybe this guy is an old acquaintance, and I just don't recall his face?" And you start to trust a totally untrustworthy person.)

    What intrigued me is that Chaim Walder published that story in 1993--almost 30 years ago. The accusations were from people around 20 years ago. Was he writing this so that people shouldn't suspect him? Or did he somehow go "off the derech" later on?

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    1. Unless you ask an expert, it's all speculation. Does the story reveal any details of the grooming process? Or does the story imply that the kids was abused the first time he met the sicko? Does the story actually reveal enough details to serve as adequate & effective warning against abuse? Or does it paint a unrealistic picture of how predators operate?

      ודי לחכימא ברמיזא

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    2. Or was he trying to perpetuate the idea that abuse occurs largely at the hand of strangers?

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    3. @Ephraim: Well, I did notice that the boy picked up on "how did he know my name?". I've been approached by people wanting tzedakah or even loans, and they act like they've known me for years. It's a common technique. If only these con-men could use their skills for something useful.

      The story is very short--only 4 pages. It's actually pretty generic, since there are a lot of such Natan-incidents, unfortunately, and the predators all take advantage of a child's innocence and trust of adults.

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    4. There are 2 possible explanations:
      1)CW didn't write all the stories himself. (editors and copywriters wrote them for him)
      2)CW did write it and he did feel bad for victims but was so sick that he couldn't control himself (if the stories about him are true)

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    5. "Secularist apologists out in full force...."
      There are not secularists.
      They are not apologists.
      They are not out in full force.

      "excuses. Denial, deflection, "whataboutery", you name it. "
      No excuses, nor denial or deflect. And no names either.

      " most cherished secularists institutions. "
      Nope. Not cherished. I'm not even sure they are institutions.

      "Here's an idea. "
      But what follows is not an idea.

      " Think about the victims."
      Think about anything. But think!

      At least, the spelling and grammar were correct.

      Delete
    6. Ephraim, you too are giving excuses. And they are definitely secularists. The Israeli army is definitely an institution, and is definitely cherished. What in the world are you talking about? All I ask is that the secularists admit to their community's horrible failings, instead of giving excuses. All I want to see is Rabbi Slifkin writing a post about the terrible abuse problem in the Israeli army (and other secularist institutions), and his brilliant solutions. Or even one of the secularist commenters mentioning something to that effect. But all I see are excuses, denial, or simply ignoring the problem.

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    7. "Ephraim, you too are giving excuses."
      No, I'm contradicting you.

      "What in the world are you talking about?"
      I'm talking about your conflation of respect with worshipful admiration unrestrained by any criticism. I'm talking about secularists who despise the military (which would be a lot holier if the Charedim would stop drafting the נערי שוליים). Ha'aretz itself who some claim put a "hit" on Walder, is a secular outpost whose reason d'etre is to bash every single one of Israel's "cherished institutions".

      "But all I see..."
      You haven't looked.

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    8. We're kosher and have to answer to an even higher Authority.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvsthRP1pjs

      "Secular" Jews have an entirely different outlook.

      We, as religious Jews, are held to a much higher standard. And rightfully so. Any criminal activity is not just yielding to one's animal desires, but a chillul Hashem.

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    9. Ephraim, it's unfortunate that it takes a newspaper whose reason d'etre is to bash Israel's cherished institutions to find criticism of said institutions.

      It's unfortunate that you secularists cannot engage in any self criticism and reflect on the gaping faults that your own society is riddled with. That you cannot make a cheshbon hanetesh about the deep flaws in your own institutions. And instead rely on a hostile newspaper to do it.

      Delete

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