Sunday, January 2, 2022

A Dati Leumi Disgrace?

In the wake of my post criticizing the moral bankuptcy of charedi rabbinic and political leadership over the Walder case, a number of people challenged me regarding dati-leumi rabbinic leadership. There were two criticisms: first, that I hypocritically avoid calling out problems in the dati-leumi community, and second, that the dati-leumi community has just the same failings as the charedi community in this regard.

With regard to the first criticism, it is not at all true that I avoid calling out problems with the dati-leumi rabbinic leadership. I once harshly condemned Rav Druckman, in a post titled A Stain On Religious Zionism, for his protection of Motti Elon. And today I am perfectly willing to call out Rav Shlomo Aviner for his undermining the accusations against Walder. And Rav Tau, who insists that Walder was perfectly innocent, is worse than any charedi rabbi.

But Rav Aviner and Rav Tau do not reflect a fundamental problem in dati-leumi society in the way that people like Rav Edelstein and the Yated reflect a fundamental problem in charedi society, for two reasons.

One is that they are both marginal figures. Rav Aviner might have been aiming for the position of mainstream dati-leumi a few decades ago, but in the last twenty years he has been steadily discrediting himself among the mainstream and is now respected as a rabbinic authority only in a narrow segment of dati-leumi society. And Rav Tau, who claims that the accusations against Walder are part of a conspiracy because he criticized the Supreme Court, is an utterly fringe figure, regarded by the vast majority of dati-leumi society as a lunatic.

The second factor is the difference between the ways that charedi and dati-leumi society are structured. In charedi society, someone like Rav Edelstein is revered as a Gadol HaDor, which means that few would dare to overtly criticize him. And in parts of charedi society, the only material people read is Yated Neeman and the like. Dati-leumi society, on the other hand, is entirely different. Anyone can and does readily criticize rabbinic authorities such as Rav Druckman when they feel that he has done something very inappropriate. And people are reading newspapers such as Mekor Rishon, which readily printed a confrontational and seriously accusational interview with Rav Aviner.

Thus, problematic statements about Walder in dati-leumi society are marginal and readily discounted. The same is not true of charedi society. Yes, there are an increasing number of voices, including medium-level rabbinic voices, condemning Walder and announcing support for victims. But the problematic statements are being made by enormously influential rabbinic leaders whom many follow unquestioningly and others do not dare openly dispute, and by prominent people in the mainstream of charedi society.

Today it was brought to my attention that no less than Rav Zev Leff, a very popular and mainstream rabbinic figure among American charedi-lite communities, delivered a terrible shiur about the Walder case. He says that there is no proof that Walder is guilty (!). He gives equal likelihood in general to complaints about sexual abuse being genuine and being fake (!!). And he says that complaints can only be taken seriously if the victims present them to a proper Beis Din in the presence of the accused (!!!). And that anything else is forbidden lashon hara (!!!!). And that Walder's books, even if he is guilty, are perfectly fine and they should be kept, since he is already dead and presents no further harm, so the books don't hurt anyone (do the victims not exist?!).

I asked a person who works for a victim-advocacy organization to write a public response to Rav Leff. The person replied said that if they issued a response to every rabbi that is saying something terrible and ridiculous right now, they wouldn't have time for anything else at all. (The person did share some good news is that there are things going on behind the scenes which will hopefully bear fruit in the near future.) 

Meanwhile, there is a video by victim advocates going around in which they say that there is a Vaad HaRabbonim for everything under the sun - where is the Vaad HaRabbonim to deal with sexual predators and helping victims? I'm sure that the makers of the video mean well, but a "Vaad HaRabbonim" to deal with these problems is the last thing that we need. As we saw with Meron, the basic problem with charedi society is that they think that they are equipped to manage things on their own, and do not need to be part of national professional standards.


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104 comments:

  1. I think you mean "innocent," not "insistent." Although he was, in fact, pretty insistent.

    Unfortunately, there do seem to be a lot of chardali types out there all too eager to be "reasonable" and "see both sides" and buy into the whole "Let's talk about lashon hara too!" nonsense. (I'm in a conversation with one who just can't see what's so wrong with the Chief Rabbi going to a shiva. "Does he go to every shiva in the country?" I asked. "I don't know," he answered. He *doesn't know*??) And that doesn't begin to touch the ones who say things like, "Oh, I was so troubled over this for the last few days, but thanks to R' Tau I know see what's really going on! Baruch Hashem!"

    On the other hand, you certainly don't see a phenomenon like R' Adlerstein, who obviously knows the score and is still twisting himself into knots to avoid outright condemning R' Edelstein.

    R' Leff I wouldn't call dati leumi by any standard, but he has to be addressed.

    This is really getting sick. Walder clearly saw his act of suicide as an attempt to rehabilitate him and change the subject, and horrifyingly he seems to have been right.

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    1. I hate to break it to you but using exclamation points multiple times does not advance your argument.

      One thing very important to learn is that you are not the only opinion in the world. This is particularly true if many accomplished Torah scholars are of a different view.

      What that should tell you, if you are even remotely sincere, is that A) perhaps it is time for me to rethink my opinion, and B) even if I decide that my opinion is correct, and that I am accomplished enough in this particular field to express an opinion, still others may view things differently.

      I know this may come as a shocker to you, but it is a very necessary element.

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    2. Why should we ban his books when he wrote wonderful books?

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    3. Why shouldn't we learn Torah from Acher when he taught such wonderful Torah?

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    4. My post contains two exclamation points, both in quoting others.

      Being a Torah scholar gives one no special insight in how not to deal with situations like this; ergo, I need not defer to a Torah scholar when he does something foolish or dangerous.

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    5. Nachum, I was referring to Slifkin. His piece is all about exclamation points and emphasis. That, to his mind, is proof of something. He is so sure that only his opinion carries weight, it frankly is nauseating. But once I'm at it, happy to include you as you are a massive kiss up of his.

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    6. First, watch your language, son.

      Second, calling me that is really, really funny.

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  2. In all the noise about Walder I have yet to hear a single rational explanation from any of his defenders why such an accomplished and capable public figure preferred to commit suicide rather than clear his name

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    1. I don't think many in the Haredi community will (or are able to) see it in the context you do.

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  3. You wrote: "Rav Tau, ... is an utterly fringe figure, regarded by the vast majority of dati-leumi society as a lunatic." I am sorry to say that you are completely wrong here. With no pretense to defend his position, you need to know that the majority of educators in RZ Mechinot, Hesder and Yeshivot Gevohot follow Rav Tau in one fashion or another - at least until now. These are the so-called "Yeshivot HaKav" - from Har HaMor to Eli, to most of the staff at the Sderot Hesder, to the Dimona Yeshiva Tichonit and many many more. Calling him a "fringe" "lunatic" is both ignorant and irresponsible. In addition, when dealing with Rabbis of this stature, it is not like you to focus on the personalities and not the issues at hand.
    Regarding Rav Aviner, you wrote: "in the last twenty years he has been steadily discrediting himself" - this can be traced back to when Rav Aviner began accepting Rav Tau as his superior authority.

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    1. Seconding this comment.
      Rav Tau is significant enough to have a knesset member (The Noam party MK, Avi Maoz) who directly represents him and his opinions.
      He doesnt represent the whole dati-leumi sector, and is actually currently much closer to parts of the chareidi world, but unfortunately he is one of the most significant rabbies in the Chardal community.

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    2. The vast majority of DL institutions, yeshivot hesder, etc. are not Kav institutions.

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    3. Yossi and Sh - absolutely correct.

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    4. Yossi - I mostly agree with you in terms of attitude towards Rav Tau, although I disagree with just how much influence he has on most hesder yeshiva's and yeshiva high schools. I do not believe it is as great as you think it is. As time passes, the *core* Kav institutions distance themselves more and more from the rest of the Dati spectrum. While Rav Tau does influence some notable yeshivas, there many other that he does not, and among them, several that are actively against his hashkafah.

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    5. I have never heard of Rav Tau before or any of his opinions. He has never been referenced by Rav Melamed, Rav Rimon, Rav Lichtenstein, etc. or anyone else who actually carries weight in the MO or DL community. Not proof, but I think Rav Slifkin has a point: Rav Tau, whoever he is, is not as important to the community as you think he might be.

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    6. Precisely. (I made a similar point on the FB post but yours is better worded!)

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  4. There's a really excellent analysis by R' Pini Dunner looking at the structural deficiencies in orthodox society - primarily but not solely chareidi - that create the opportunity space for some abusers: very worthwhile reading for everyone.

    He correctly says that the burden of responsibility now falls upon the senior rabbonim and community leaders to put in place structures, procedures, expectations and rules that will make it much harder for such cases to arise in the future.

    The validity of his argument does not rest on the guilt or innocence or Walder per se - he has correctly identified a huge lacuna in our community's otherwise often superb provision of professional and voluntary social, psychological and therapeutic support.

    https://rabbidunner.com/soul-searching/

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  5. If you want to see the leadership of a Jewish community siding with abusers at the expense of victims look no further than the case of the Schlesinger twins in Vienna. The international rabbinic leadership do not want to create sufficient protest lest they make enemies of abusers. Therefore they avoid the difficult conversations and do lots of shrugging and beard-scratching instead.

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    1. As a Rabbi who was involved with the case for a while I can say that this is not the case. Suffice it to say, it was not at all a case of one side being totally right and righteous and the other being totally wrong and a Rashah. I don't see how mixing this here benefits anyone.

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  6. I just listened to Rav Leff’s shiur and left the following comment. (Comments are moderated so we’ll see if they it go through.)
    How can Rav Leff begin this shiur by stating that he doesn’t know the specifics of the accusations against Chaim Walder, implying that he hasn’t really tried to find out, but is relying on what he “has an idea” he thinks they are, and then go on to emphasize again and again how you have to check into such accusations before making any decisions or comments? The Sefat beit din heard testimony from over twenty victims and other witnesses and came to the conclusion that he was guilty beyond any doubt. Could it be that twenty women conspired together or that each independently decided to besmirch Walder’s name? Despite his stated sympathy for the victims, Rav Leff is insulting them by soft-pedaling on Walder’s guilt and criticizing those who condemn him for his actions.

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    1. Not true. If anything Rav Eliya is fringe. He is known as not being in control of what he says. He never said he heard from 22 victims. He heard from 22 people speaking in the name of victims. Big difference. He is not stupid and I would hope he ensured that it wasn't multiple people telling him about the same person. I think Rav Eliyahu would do Klal Yisrael a service if he would publicize a transcript of several of the victims. Obviously, while protecting their privacy. there are too many holes in this story. Did CW actually rape women? And he molested boys? Unlikely, but possible.

      I don't believe that anyone knows for sure if the young girl who committed suicide was a victim of CW or someone else. I have heard that she left the derech hatorah years ago. I'm not surprised.

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    2. If indeed he was Misyached with women and boys over a 25 year period while they unburdened their emotional problems to him, he would have to be a bigger Tzaddik than Yosef not to have done anything

      Why do you find it unlikely?

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  7. Really disappointed in Rabbi Leff. :(

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    1. Are you surprised?

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    2. @Charlie Hall and @Nachum
      I'm really curious, did either of you actually listen to the shiur?
      I took the time to listen, and while there were points that I found surprising, they weren't nearly as awful as presented here. I'm curious if you feel this blog's representation of his words are accurate

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    3. @Dave, Yes I took time to listen to his shiur and 100% share @Charlie Hall and @Nahum opinions. Rav Leff clearly sides with Walder, almost no sympathy to the victims and lots of concern for loss of "parnasa"... Very disappointing!

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    4. @ZBD I respectfully disagree. Can you please give examples of what he actually said that leads you to say that he clearly sides with CW? I suspect we are both approaching the recording with our own pre-conceived biases, so let's trade notes and see what we can come up with.

      And at this point, I'm willing to bet that @Charlie Hall and @Nachum did not actually listen before commenting, which would be extremely troubling if correct.

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    5. He's a fraud. Ask anyone from his community. Not surprised at all.

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    6. Dave, I've had some run-ins with him over the years. My opinion of him was formed long ago.

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  8. Really splitting hairs for your own benefit, eh? Both of these rabbis have big yeshivas with hundreds of students and thousands of graduates. They are very influential! See the comment of Yossi Baumol. You yourself have quoted R Aviner on a number of occasions. Doesn't sound like YOU consider him marginal! And this is only in the DL community and only this one case, ignoring all the other cases, and the routine, widespread abuse in the broader secularist community that you identify with. Here's a suggestion: Stop giving excuses for your community's failings, and people of other communities MIGHT take you seriously.

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    1. At this point, I read the blog for @happy's silly responses.

      The point is that DL leadership GENERALLY approaches these issues differently than the charedi world, which they do. Morever, there are societal mechanism that are in place to hold leadership accountable to some extent whereas this doesn't exist in any form in the charedi world.

      People of other communities DO take this seriously, albeit behind their own screens. Criticisms like these, and more importantly, responses like yours (weak superficial apologetics) make people shift. I know countless examples I'm my own life.

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    2. BM, I am glad you read my comments. The real point is that secularist apologists like you are full to the brim with excuses whenever somebody mentions the much more serious failings of the secularist community.

      Of course you CLAIM that you have societal mechanisms to hold your abusers to account. Nice excuse to pater yourselves from any further responsibility! Shoin yoitzai g'ven! Guess what, chareidim also CLAIM the same thing! Turns out anybody can claim anything.

      There's no evidence that your (alleged, claimed) methods of curbing abuse work any better than ours. And if anything, the opposite. Thousands of cases of sexual abuse annually in the Israeli army should tell you all you need to know.

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    3. I'm not sure how bringing up immoral behavior among the secular Jews has any bearing on the religious community.

      I've listened to some debates with Christopher Hitchens, and one of the things that give atheists like him ammunition is when they're told that "society needs religion in order to have a moral compass", and then they see scandalous, immoral behavior among supposedly religious people.

      Whether he was right or not, we're held to a different standard, because we claim that religion makes you a better person.

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    4. The claim that religion makes you a better person is the falsehood that is at the root of many problems in the religious world.

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    5. Yehuda, I am in total agreement. That's why I said "secularist", which includes both secular people and ostensibly religious people who identify with secular culture. If you are a religious Zionist, you need to take responsibility for what (allegedly) goes on in your most cherished institution. Nothing happens in a vacuum. If you are a secularist, you can't wash your hands of the terrible things that go on in the broader secularist community that you identify with.

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    6. big mouth and happy can both be right . in general , the MO/DL community doesn't tolerate sexual abuse, will go to the police and publicize it. the haredi community will believe the accused, cover up , deny, forbid police involvement, minimize public awareness , and generally harbour sexual criminals, as long as they don't violate a scion of a Godol....

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    7. @NatanBer: Certainly, being religious won't automatically make someone a better person, but it demands of them that they be better people.

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    8. The main difference is that the secularist community is much more immoral. It ranges from less boundaries than chareidim (on the religious end) to - mostly - a Sodom-like anarchy of no boundaries at all. A cesspool of immorality. Thus, it's no surprise that there are thousands of alleged sexual abuses in the heart of their most sacred institutions. And increasing.

      So while secularist society may be more likely to automatically assume guilt in he-said she-said cases - they also have many magnitudes more such cases. Thousands of alleged cases annually in their most cherished institutions. With no signs of slowing down. So much for their "national standards". So much for their secular "morals" and "ethics".

      That said, it's definitely possible that certain subsets of the secularist community - mainly the more right wing of the DL - do a better job than certain subsets of the chareidi community. I have yet to see evidence. Unfortunately, this post is just self-serving hair splitting, and gives the opposite impression.

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  9. RNS
    With this post you are showing yourself to be even more of a hypocrite.
    1) You are being apologetic on the Dati Leumi community in this post as you have no personal interest in attacking them.
    2)You expect Chareidim to condemn some Charedi zealot/ moron ,who is clearly on the fringe of society let alone Charedi, for spitting at a little girl and you condemn the entire Charedi community for not speaking out. Where are all Dati Leumi Rabbanim? Why has there been no DL Rabonim and community leaders condemning Rabbi Aviner?
    3) Even if you are correct that Rabbi Aviner is on the fringe of the DL ,the fact remains that he is the Rav of Bet-el and the Rosh Yesiva of Ateret Yerushalayim with Thousands of followers/alumni. Is this not worth writing a post on?
    4)Meir Pogrow was a good friend of yours. He was found to be a sexual predator and you were being somewhat apologetic
    see your post below:

    http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/search?q=pogrow

    you write there that this has been a very distressing week, with the announcement about Rabbi Meir Pogrow being a serial predator.
    Firstly you write "Rabbi" when the "Charedi" Beth Din found him to be a Rasha,

    Secondly you appear to be distressed by the Pogrow scandal and not by Walder ,this is due to your close relationship with him. (I was actually distressed by both stories although I didn't know either of them.)

    Thirdly and most importantly you write: "I first met Meir and his extended family over twenty years ago, when they gave me much hospitality and help, and his ex-wife and her family are truly wonderful people. I feel immense pain for them and for all the victims" you appear to put his ex wife before the victims which is Wrong in my view but you also stress how nice they were etc. You don't say anything on Walder and the people he apparently helped. (just to clarify I don't think saying "how nice he was" should ever be mentioned in a sexual abuse case as this can be very distressing to the victims)


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    1. "you appear to put his ex wife before the victims"

      "appear". Are you done now?

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  10. "And Rav Tau, who insists that Walder was perfectly innocent, is worse than any charedi rabbi."

    Curious as to why you use the term "Rav" with him. It doesn't just mean teacher, it is also an honorific.

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    1. I think Rav is appropriate in all these cases. He is a rabbi, just someone doesn't stop being a professor or a doctor because he is mistaken in some of his hashkofos or opinions.

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  11. I highly recommend this article for anyone wondering about false accusations of sexual abuse. It should be required reading for every community rabbi, rosh yeshiva, congregational rabbi, and school principal.
    https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-false-narrative-of-false-reporting/?fbclid=IwAR1QtibEK0N1u-ui1ofbI2sYmxBzTew7Z0Wx24AELx86ijQU8KLG-2-GW8s

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  12. From the post on the subject it's hard to believe that the author subscribes to the theory of evolution. All people basically have the same instincts and issues. Predators are everywhere and the have adapted to survive in society. Chareidim, Dati leumi, Catholic, secular, universities, US gymnastics team....the list can go on forever. Humanity has yet to find a way to deal with the problem and the will do do so isn't there. It's not a question of morality, but of genetics. Executions may somewhat clean the genetic pool and serve as a detergent to some, but biology will trump any ideology. Just let a person skip a few meals and Darwin will take over.

    Incidentally, I was accused of rape myself and my ONLY response was that she should go to the police and make a complaint. I never commented on the accusation or protested my innocence. This is my advice to everyone in this situation. Ofcourse it's better to take the law into your own hands, if you can. But for most people the police is the more practical recourse.

    Mussolini had executed hundreds of Mafia members and jailed thousands without proper legal procedures and imprisoned thousands to successfully suppress the criminal activity. Authoritarianism is the only system to deal with this problem or, in the language of Hazal, שמעתי שבית דין עונשים שלא מן הדין.

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    1. Now if someone wondered what evolutionist extremism looks like...
      You missed a boat, buddy, social darwinism was debunked a century ago.

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    2. When the society finds a way to deal with child abuse and violent crime in general, I will reconsider my views. Social Darwinism has been suppressed but not discredited.

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  13. It sounds like the Rabbi Leff shiur mentioned in your post was delivered to a group of Anglo Michlalah students.
    Is that correct?
    I wonder if their parents know this is what their daughters are being taught...
    RBS resident

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    1. They are adults and should be speaking for themselves, if they have a problem.

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    2. Sorry- don't mean to argumentative, but I'm not sure what you mean.
      Who are the adults? The students or their parents?
      The students are 18 year old kids and my question is do the parents even know this is what their daughters are being taught.

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    3. 18 is old enough to think independently, or at least this is what I think. In today's world the parents can't control what the children are exposed to.

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    4. My stepdaughter entered a michlalah in Jerusalem at the age of 17. There she was persuaded to marry someone without the knowledge of myself and my wife (her mother). When we confronted the Michlalah rabbis, they said they were not urging my stepdaughter to marry, but only giving her information about shidduchim. Their justification was that in this way they were helping prevent her from going off the derech. As soon as she turned 18, she married this person. He turned out to be alcoholic, a drug addict, an adulterer and a violent wife-abuser. My stepdaughter is now a single mother who has "gone off the derech."

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    5. It's a sad story, but it doesn't contradict what I'm saying that you cannot trust anyone and a child by the age of 18 should be well aware of the dangers. It's a fact of life that children from divorced homes get the worst shidduchim. It's also a fact that the biological instinct to procreate, commonly referred to as yetzer hara, is raging at this age. There is also a fear that unless a person marries young it will be to late because the younger girls will come on the market and at the age of 21 a problematic girl might miss her chance. My ex went to Michlalah 40 years ago. It had a 4 year program and getting married at the age of 18 wasn't what they were busy with in those days. Most were trying to somehow perfectly time the marriage in the 3rd or 4th year closer to graduation. Any person from a divorced home should assume that what she is being 'red' is low quality goods. If an 18 year old girl goes to a school abroad and doesn't know that the world is full of danger and she cannot trust anyone, she isn't ready to make the trip. Schidduchim especially is a very dirty business. Shadchanim are liers and crooks and the society justifies it. Your sad story only supports what I'm saying. A person has to be able to stand on his own feet in life or he will be taken advantage off. כל אדם יהיה בעיניך כי ליסטים is a Darwinian thought.

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    6. Incidentally, my daughter went to Ofakim at 17 and was red a shidduch by her best friend's parents. She wanted to get married and I agreed. The girls, who were the best friends, married two best friends. They planned to live next to each other their whole life and the husbands would learn in kollel forever. Fast forward 15 years and my daughter's friend is in Israel with the husband in kollel, my daughter is in the US with the husband in business after 3 years in kollel. This is life - a girl from a divorced family will not get the best. But the age of 18 for a divorced child the best solution I'm general is "בתך בגרה - שחרר עבדך ונסיב לה" (פסחים קיג.).

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    7. He never said anything about being divorced. Sounds like someone's Freudian slip is showing.

      Oh, and you're a sick, sick, man, Yakov.

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    8. Incidentally, apart from the chu"l part, it seems like your daughter, despite your low opinion of her (and of yourself) got the better deal. It's very telling that you think she didn't.

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    9. Just to clarify: what this Hazal means is not to be too picky when your options aren't the best.

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    10. Nachum, I try to bring out a substantive point. I don't engage in ad hominem attacks, name calling and making statements about other commenters intelligence or mental state.

      Noname wrote about his stepdaughter which means an orphan or from a divorced home. Both situations affect children and are not good for shidduchim. That was the context.

      It's impossible for you to have an opinion on who got the better deal without knowing the actual people, but in terms of what she'd expected from a husband, it didn't turn out as hoped. This is a very simple story that happens every day.

      Low opinion of myself and my daughter? Mate, where are you getting this? She has 3 degrees, runs a business and makes enough to support the whole family without her husband's income. Her husband makes more then she so that the male superiority and dominance are maintained, which is evolutionary important for shalom bais. Lol. This was a strange assumption to make.

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    11. Um, Yakov:
      your daughter's best friend's parents suggested their son-in-law's best friend, and you consider this a situation of "nebich, the child of divorce has to make do with lower caliber options"?? It sounds like you don't think very highly of your daughter's best friend, the friend's parents, or the friend's husband!!

      And I of course second Nahum's opinion, that after a nice solid 3-year stint in kollel, your daughter's husband is now fulfilling his marriage and societal obligations by providing for his family and not living off of someone else's charity.

      Nebich! The child of divorce!

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    12. Yakov, what I said about you is quite clear from your posts.

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    13. Yosef R, אין אדם יודע מה בליבו של חבירו there is no way for me to know what the people were really thinking. The story is to illustrate a general issue, not to discuss an individual case that has no broader meaning.

      There are numerous commandments in the Torah related to orphans and other disadvantaged demographics. Children from divorced homes go through similar difficulties and is true in any society weather Jewish or Gentile. This is all very simple.

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    14. Yakov, sure. Children from divorced homes have challenges that children from classically stable homes do not. Agreed.

      Our (maybe just *my*) challenges come from your portrayal of your daughter's situation, and your deduction from that situation that children from divorced parents do poorly. Our problem is that the situation you described simply does not illustrate that fact. YOU brought up "an individual case" in order "to illustrate a general issue," when the case you picked shows nothing negative at all!

      Also, this whole thread has (regretfully?) veered way off topic.

      Delete
  14. First, there *is* "Vaad HaRabbonim" to deal with these problems: it is the rabbinical court of R.Yehuda Silman.
    Second, the main difference between DL and Charedi public that the former does not take anyone of its own rabbies too seriously. There are NO enormously influential rabbinic leaders in DL; naturally, those non-existing can not cause any damage.
    In all halachic matters recognized by DL as serious (Shabbat, Shemita..) they turn to Charedi rabbies. There is no DL alternative to Shemirat Shabbat ke-Hilkhata, for example.
    Is that may DL to be proud of? Or ashamed? Decide yourself.

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    1. Rav Melamad & Rav Yosef Tziv Rimon.
      The Charedi public do not take its gedolim seriously. You're much more likely to find a sefer of the above two rabbis being learned frequently in a DL home, than a sefer by RGE or RCK in a Charedi home.
      No, RCK is not taken seriously. If Rabbi Melamad says something that is difficult to accept, there's going to be a major response- because he is taken seriously. If it's not clear whether a psak of Rav Rimon applies in a certain situation he will be asked to clarify. Because he is taken seriously.
      On the other hand, when RCK answers a question "yes"- it's immediately distorted in two ways:
      1) If we're looking for a "yes" the circumstances in which RCK answered is conflated with the question at hand
      2) If we're looking for a "no", a spurious חילוק is applied or the psak itself is denounced as the mere machinations of Yanki K.
      Case in point: RCK (& GDE) paskened repeatedly that all should follow ministry of health guidelines. Was he taken seriously?

      Never, is RCK asked to actually expand and explain what he means. Nor, is RCK taken seriously when he says that his answers are "off the cuff" and not to be taken הלכה למעשה. The masses don't bother to read his seforim & instead relegate the gaon to a brachos rebbe & a advertising mascot, ר"ל!


      "There is no DL alternative to Shemirat Shabbat ke-Hilkhata, for example."
      Wrong. There are no alternatives to שש"כ, period. It's a masterpiece of the post-war era. The same could be said for Kehati's mishnayos. Both were revolutionary- in that they are accessible to the laymen, but substantial enough for the seasoned scholar. Their greatness is evident in their influence- so many contemporary ספרים could be seen as proteges. I would recommend you look at Rav Rimon's שבת two-volume set. The excellent presentation & organization of שש"כ has been taken to new heights! (Note that Kehati was DL and R' Neuwirth was close to DL circles.)

      Delete
  15. If the USA gymnastics association and Boy Scouts of America had been suppressing these easily resolved issue for years, why would anyone expect the charedim or dati leumi societies, which are ages behind, to do better? Really, mates, the humanity has no will to deal with these issues and possibly never will. It's a universal problem that affects everyone. In my simple Darwinian mind any man that hangs around women weather teaching, counseling them or otherwise being busy with them is a suspect. I would only send my girls with a female car service driver, never a male. You simply cannot trust anyone. This is very simple. And nothing, absolutely nothing can ever change that. Don't we have a Chazal כל אדם יהיה בעיניך כליסטים והוי מכבד אותו כרבן שמעון בן גמליאל?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Sorry, but you totally distorted the message from Rav Leff. He didn't say there is no proof and that you don't take the claims seriously. He said there is no definitive proof from which we can "halachically" fully believe the allegations until it is done under the required criteria. But he clearly said we should definitely be choshesh that the allegations are true and care for the victims.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Today it was brought to my attention that no less than Rav Zev Leff, a very popular and mainstream rabbinic figure among American charedi-lite communities, delivered a terrible shiur about the Walder case. He says that there is no proof that Walder is guilty (!). He gives equal likelihood in general to complaints about sexual abuse being genuine and being fake (!!). And he says that complaints can only be taken seriously if the victims present them to a proper Beis Din in the presence of the accused (!!!). And that anything else is forbidden lashon hara (!!!!). And that Walder's books, even if he is guilty, are perfectly fine and they should be kept, since he is already dead and presents no further harm, so the books don't hurt anyone (do the victims not exist?!)."

    i will address each of your 4 outrageous statements.
    welcome to religious Judaism. the way we do things is according to halacha not how some nonjewish media dictates the secular world should be run.
    a) the reason rabbi leff said there is no proof is because in his eyes this was not a kosher bais din so according to jewish law any proof is unusable. its like searching w/o a warrant. of course he believes the victims.
    b) according to the law of dan lekaf zechus which im sure you are familiar with as you are a rabbi, there is always a innocent until proven guilty stance. especially with the world now where anyone can tear down anyone with a few posts and words.
    c) the fact that claims can only be taken seriously in front of a bais din is basic religious Judaism i dont understand how that warranted 3 exclamation points from a supposed rabbi.
    d) of course that translates to e/t else being lashon hara.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now, a few people have wondered about the technicality of this beis din. However, I struggle to remember a time when a beis din was universally accepted for these kinds of cases - there is virtually no beis din that is universally accepted by everyone, and that is a major flaw and means that any beis din will have its validity questioned by someone. Let us go with your theory that it wasn't a proper beis din, what cannot be called into question is that Rabbis Eliyahu, Silman et al are serious rabbonim who wouldn't just make up allegations as they please. Why would you need to have a beis din to warn the public of someone you believed to be a serious danger to them? You don't need a beis din to warn the public of a murderer, and, if you believe these serious rabbis, walder could basically be considered a murderer. It is very hard to create what he R Leff might consider a real beis din, when the eidim are, by definition, passul l'eidus, as they are either women or minors, and the defendant refuses to turn up. We are in a very bad place indeed if serial offenders can avoid any scrutiny by not turning up to beis din and then claim any verdict that comes out of that beis din as improper as it wasn't a proper beis din because the defendant wasn't present or whatever. Such an attitude compounds the problem. If a person absentees himself from a secular court or cannot be convicted for some technical reason, they aren't just ignored and assumed innocent. A danger to the public is a danger to the public.

      Delete
    2. Rav Reuven Nakar mentions that there is a kuntres, לא תעמוד על דם רעך, where it deals with using children's testimony in cases of child abuse (and they're the only witnesses, and the adult can easily deny the accusations).
      Starting at the 7:00-minute mark, dealing with judging a person if he doesn't appear before beis din, etc.:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsmxzgncXmY

      Delete
  18. In his eyes this wasn't a kosher bes din? Really? But in Rabbi Eliyahu's eyes it was. Now what?
    I think he'd find any bes din hearing a rape case to be inadequate.

    And I have a theory as to why sex abuse of children is so accepted in religious circles. It's because we think it's OK to marry real young girls, since they did that way back in the day. That attitude, straight from Torah sources, colors the eyes of some of our observant brethren.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "And I have a theory as to why sex abuse of children is so accepted in religious circles."

      Sex abuse is not accepted in religious circles- whether Charedi, DL, OO or even among the non-orthodox.
      The crisis here would be one of denial or insufficient response. But "acceptance"? Doesn't exist.

      Delete
    2. Name one "real young girl" married in Tanach.

      Delete
    3. Really? The Torah says she was very young?

      Delete
  19. To the best of my knowledge we're dealing with abuse, not marriage.

    ReplyDelete
  20. There seems to be a perception that beit din is limited to the technical rules of torah witnesses and procedures. Perhaps this will be true again in moshiach times but the authority of beit din to "makin vonshin"[extra-legal authority] (perhaps based on the king's powers) has been well established throughout the history of post churban courts.
    kt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rabbi Reuven Nakar (who was part of Rav Shmuel Eliyahu's beis din in this matter) said that there is a book that Rav Ovadiah Yosef put out about dealing with children's testimony. (I assume it applies to women as well.) Ostensibly, children are invalid as witnesses. So, an abuser can just deny all of the child's accusations.

      Rav Nakar said that there is a procedure for accepting a child's version in cases such as these.

      Delete
    2. The British, in establishing the Rabbinate, made three requirements of the batei din: That they record their decisions (which isn't *forbidden* by halakha, so is no big deal), that they allow appeals (which required a bit more halakhic creativity, as there is no basis for it in halakha), and that they allow the testimony of women. The last has halakhic precedent: In cases involving marriage, where the beit din has sole jurisdiction, women- being an interested party- have always been allowed to testify. In other cases, the presence of the parties (as opposed to going to secular court) is voluntary, so they have implicitly accepted whatever changes the beit din has made, such as the testimony of women.

      Delete
  21. Anyone who wishes to know what the view of Gedolim are on reporting abuse
    see below:

    https://www.kikar.co.il/409163.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xXYojUGT-g

    Of course by Chasidim the situation is different unfortunately

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. מרן הגר"ח השיב: "צריך ללכת למשטרה בשקט, שלא יידעו".

      Please explain what this means. Also the question was about פגיעה קשה what does this mean? Anyone in the know please enlighten us.

      Delete
    2. But is that what RCK really said? The captions does match what I hear. (Granted, his voice isn't clear.)

      Delete
    3. @Yakov
      RCK is of the opinion that it should not be made public until the police has substantiated the allegation, this is in view of the fact that there is great embarassement involved for the extended family, this is similar to the opinion of RGE that the media being involved prior to the conviction is counter productive for the victims and is also a problem of lashon Hara for people who are not directly or indirectly affected.

      @Ephraim
      I am fluent in Yiddish and he very clearly instructs (in the second video) the individual to go to the police. The individual tries to convince him that it may be a good idea to go to Beth din first and he wasn't having any of it.

      Delete
    4. Talmid,
      I typed too fast! I meant to type "The captions DON'T match what I hear." I was referring to the Hebrew Kikar video, not the Yiddish youtube clip.
      So, what did RCK actually say in the Kikar video?

      Delete
    5. @Ephraim
      He very clearly says to go to police but quietly.

      Delete
  22. The reason that there are so many that refuse to condemn Walder adn in fact, defend him was made clear in the ambiguous statement released by the Rabbis when they said the "shaming Walder was worse than incest". They were actually admitting that he was a pedophile when making that sick comparison. The reason is that "pedophilia" is not forbidden in the Torah let alone even mentioned. For some in certain religious circles pedophilia is condoned which has its source midrashim. For example, the midrash that Rivka was 3-years old when Yitzak married her. Even if he worked for Laban 7-years before marrying her, she would have only been 10 years old. Many of the halachot d'Rabban have been added and amended over the centuries. But pedophilia doesn't seem to be worthy of their attention. Shame on the Rabbis!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. RNS,
      It may be a good idea to delete this strange comment, given that the commenter has unwisely used an email address.

      Delete
    2. It's a very strange comment. No rabbis condone marrying children today! Times have changed. And rape was a horrible sin, even in Biblical times. See the story of Amnon and Tamar.

      This person is obviously completely unfamiliar with even the basics of religious Judaism, or is familiar, and is engaging in malicious slander.

      Delete
    3. Even according to Rashi, who says that Rivkah was 3 when Yitzchak married her, he also says that Yitzchak waited 10 years to consummate the marriage. He then waited 10 years to see if Rivkah would conceive without Divine intervention, and only then prayed to Hashem to have a child.

      If I remember correctly, Da'as Zekenim brings a source that says that Rivkah died at age 137. If you work it back, it comes out that she was 13 when she married, and 33 when she had Ya'akov and Eisav.

      Delete
    4. Uh, dude, Yaakov worked for Lavan for seven years for Rachel. Not Yitzchak for Rivka.

      Also, the pshat is very obvious that Rivka was much older than three years old.

      Ah, the perils of knowing midrash better than the actual text.

      Delete
    5. No acc. to Rashi (25:20) he married her when she was 3, the age when marriage can be consumated. Then he waited 10 years till she could conceive, and another 10 years like his father had done with his mother (25:26).

      Delete
    6. Great. That's Rashi. I said pshat.

      Now you explain to me how a three-year-old can carry on conversations like that and draw enough water for ten camels.

      Do you know what "consumated" means, by the way?

      Delete
    7. @Nachum, my comment from 7:46 AM was responding to Yehuda P., who was working with Rashi, not you.

      We're back to the Pshat vs. Rashi divide, which I didn't want to get involved with. There is apparently an unbridgeable difference of opinion as to which is primary, and I had no intention of throwing a Rashi at a Pshatist.

      There are these mix-ups about who a comment is addressing, but I'll assume you're asking me if I know what consumated means. Meanwhile I found out that the word is really spelled consuMMated but anyway I do know, and I used it as a euphemism for the more direct Hebrew word that Rashi uses.

      Delete
    8. As an aside, I always had this question about Rivkah's birth. Rashi takes the position that Avraham was told of Rivkah's birth right after the Akedah, waited 3 years, and married her off to Yitzchak.

      However, Rashi also states a rule that when it says ויהי אחר הדברים האלה, it's something that happens immediately after the preceding events. Thus, the command for the Akedah came right after the covenant Avraham made with Avimelech.

      However, after the Akedah, it says ויהי אחרי הדברים האלה--and אחרי means that this event happens long after the preceding parshah. Thus, relating the birth of Rivkah could have been long after the Akedah, and Avraham only got word of it now!

      Delete
  23. dovid lichtenstein's podcast for next week is promised to be about Halachic aspects of the Walder situation....

    ReplyDelete
  24. Rabbi Tzvi Tau, dean of Har HaMor Yeshiva, meets with chief rabbi of Tzfat following his criticism of handling of Chaim Walder case:
    https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/319762

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And as R' Amnon Bazak pointed out, the subsequent silence is deafening.

      Delete
  25. The progression of this case was really strange. Initially, the rabbinic leaders treated it with some humility, banning walder's books and implicitly condemning him, without saying so outright. As soon as he committed suicide, Walder began to be viewed as a martyr. His death was the fault of the secular world trying to impose their will on the chareidi world, not Walder's actions.

    There are many takeaways from this entire situation, including the points in the current article about chareidi faith in rabbinic leadership, and lack of external viewpoints. But I think there is a broader point as well. Why did the attitude towards walder shift? Why were chareidi rabbis more likely to defend walder than DL rabbis?

    Chareidi society as a whole is not just isolationist but terribly defensive and neurotic about external infiltration. I don't know where this instability stems from, but there is something incredibly toxic about the way every interaction the secular world has with the chareidi world is turned into an "us vs. them" fight. Even if the rabbis believed the sexual assault accusations were false (hard to believe), from a strictly halachic standpoint they should not be celebrating someone who committed suicide. But since the secular world attacked "one of us", we have to defend the chareidi culture and fight back. It would be comical if it weren't terribly sad that this is the narrative that the rabbinic leadership chose to take in the case of such a horrible sexual predator.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Unfortunately, some in the DL world (and even the secular right-wing world) feel the same, that they have to defend anything charedim do because they're "us" and everyone else is "them."

      Delete
  26. So what if Rabbi S. is a hypocrite? That's the DL's problem, that he's allowing them to lower their guard and he's delegitimizing their victims. He's only sticking up for the Chareidim. What a hypocrite he is!

    ReplyDelete
  27. RNS, putting aside for a minute whether your critiques are accurate or not, the challenge against you is that you disproportionately critique chareidi society vs your own society. Saying that once, over the past 5-10 years you called out a DL rav is really just proving this point. Do you honestly believe that the issues that need to be addressed are so skewed that your ratio of coverage is justified?
    Are you so blind to the fact that you have a major agenda to attack/expose chareidim? At least be honest about that

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe- and I'm just spitballing here- charedim are more guilty of these things than other Orthodox Jews.

      Delete
    2. The point is that there is no need to be a whistleblower in the DL/MO community: it does so for itself. RNS's point (correct me if I'm wrong, please) is to highlight that this sort of thing is covered up and ignored in Chareidi society. This does happen to line up with the ideas (and ideals, I suppose) of Rationalist vs Mysticism/Non-Rationalism.

      In short, he is not needed to point out DL/MO people.

      Delete
  28. There was an interview roughly two years ago on KAN news where a young victim accused Zev Leff of siding with a rapist and discouraging her from reporting the incident (and assured the victim that she's clean klapei shomayim). He's a wolf in sheep's skin. A disgrace to Judaism.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Just like there are different letter for each variation of the covid virus - eg Delta, omicron etc. , the same is the case with each fool who denies any wrongdoing by Walder..

    α Aviner

    ε Eichenstein

    ρ Rebbetzin

    τ Tau

    ReplyDelete

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