Wednesday, January 5, 2022

"We Can't Judge Rapists. Only Journalists."

I was hoping to move on from the Walder mess, but something came to my attention which has to be addressed. It's something that Rav Berkovits mentioned, and which has been vaguely messaged from many parts of charedi society. But now I saw it spelled out, nauseatingly, in an essay by the generally wise and respected Rebbetzen Tziporah Heller-Gottlieb. Seriously, I feel that I have to give a warning before linking to her essay, as it is immensely triggering.

People have been sending me statements and recordings from a variety of rabbis and educators in the charedi world who condemned Walder, as if to point out their greatness, but that's a pretty low bar. Yes, Rebbetzen Heller acknowledges Walder as a serial predator. But there are a number of very serious problems with her essay. And for a woman of such influence to be saying such things is truly disturbing.

First of all, Rebbetzen Heller describes Walder as having suffered a non-Torah punishment called "Death By Shaming." This is an amplification of the terrible message sent out by Rav Gershon Edelstein, and it is wrong, wrong, wrong. No, Walder was not killed by others, and he did not die of shame. He killed himself on the day that the police started on his case, in order to avoid the consequences and trick people into martyring him. It was perfectly appropriate and necessary for everyone to shame him. And to guilt victims into thinking that they hold some responsibility for his death is horrific.

Then Rebbetzen Heller describes Lashon Hara as a "killer." Well, yes, it can be, but this was a case where speaking badly about Walder was a mitzvah and had nothing to do with his death (and would still have been a mitzvah even if it had caused it). Almost unbelievably, she invokes the verse of Lo saamod al dam reyacha (do not stand by as your brother's blood is spilled) as applying to Walder as well as his victims! Needless to say, that is a complete and utter perversion of the passuk.

But then comes the problem which I alluded to at the beginning of the post. Rav Berkovitz had mentioned something about not judging people, but Rebbetzen Heller goes into this in great detail. She writes that "you can’t ever allow yourself to be a judge unless you are a genuine dayan who has to adjudicate a case." She writes that success and fame led Walder to "lose his balance." She claims that "Pirkei Avos tells you not to judge anyone until you stand in their place, where something pure remains." 

This is so, so wrong, and such a perversion of Judaism. We absolutely must call out and condemn evil when we see it. The Torah is full of exhortations in that regard! Moshe not-yet-Rabbeinu did not have to wait for a Beis Din before accusing the Israelite beating another Israelite of being a rasha. And as for the misuse of the Mishnah in Avot 2:4, which states, "Do not judge a person until you have stood in their place," it has nothing do with assuming that something pure exists within everybody. It's simply encouraging us to think twice before taking a holier-than-thou attitude to someone for making a bad decision in a difficult situation. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't condemn serial murderers and rapists, for Heaven's sakes!

The most bizarre thing about Rebbetzen Heller's essay is that for all that she goes on about how one cannot judge people, and how even someone like Walder had something pure inside him and produced books that were "sensitively written," she has no qualms whatsoever about performing a judgment and character assassination on the Haaretz journalist that exposed Walder! She describes him as "supercilious" and as someone who spends other people's money digging up dirt on the Orthodox community, and says that he has little regard for the truth. Aside from the total lack of hakarat hatov for these journalists being the only ones who finally caused Walder's abuse to stop and did what the chareidi leadership could not and would not do, what happened to all her moralizing about not judging people?! Does that really only apply to charedi rapists, and not to secular whistle-blowers?!

It's just astonishing that such a generally wise and revered educator can send such terrible messages. Not surprisingly, there was an enormous backlash by those of her followers that are on Facebook (which may reflect a particular demographic; one fears that her non-Facebook disciples might be swallowing what she says). As I was writing this, Rebbetzen Heller issued a sort of clarification/ apology, in which she says that it was hard for her initially to accept that such a beloved figure could have been such a monster, and she regrets not demonstrating more sympathy for the victims. But she does not actually retract anything she said, and she doubles down and says "death by shaming is real" and that while this particular Haaretz expose happened to be correct, one can never accept such stories without their being verified by a Beis Din (!). This is a total perversion not only of Judaism, but of plain common sense. 

Yes, there are fortunately plenty of charedi rabbis and educators saying the correct and obvious thing now. But the terrible, dangerous messages sent out by the likes of Rav Leff and Rebbetzen Heller - precisely the people who are generally widely respected for the wisdom and inspiration that they impart - need to be denounced. I wish that people actually in the charedi community would do this rather than me, but unfortunately this isn't happening.

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92 comments:

  1. What's really frightening is that this is the stuff coming out of the "moderate" Anglo Charedi world. I can almost bet that in the native Israeli part of the Charedi world, that Walder was an innocent unfairly persecuted and the lesson to be learned is to keep our mouths shut is the standard line from above and blindly accepted down below- if the subject is even mentioned.

    And note that even here, you have the "the gedolim say to go to the authorities." Even if true- and in many cases it isn't, or said in such a way that people can and do freely reinterpret it to mean the exact opposite- we should not, as individuals or as a society, have to reach that point. If all those years of (supposed) education in "Torah values" (and, let's be honest, simple "secular values," or just being an adult, would do the trick here) have any meaning, it is that adults, at least, should not have to be told by gedolim when or when not to report things to the authorities.

    Oh, and Pirkei Avot is primarily addressed to judges in courtrooms. Of course every person can and should learn ethical lessons from it, but that was its original focus.

    Speaking of nauseating, I also was quite disgusted by her attempt to actually compare her actions to those of R' Aryeh Levin. R' Aryeh *visited prisoners in jail.* He put his money where his mouth was, so to speak. (He also visited lepers, for example.) He did *not* go around excusing the prisoners (the criminals, that is) or saying that they were innocent.

    Also, R' Aryeh was a lamed-vavnik. By my account, there may have been only two or three other gedolim of his spiritual level in the last two hundred years. That doesn't mean we shouldn't *try* to be like him- I think it was R' Aviner, ironically, who once responded to a shayla saying that we should know that we'll never be on the level of R' Aryeh but that doesn't mean we shouldn't live our lives *aspiring* to that- but come on, sometimes, as in justifying a child molester, we don't even have to try.
    And at the end, when she compares Dov Gruner (she doesn't name him, and says "the boy died," which is some euphemism for a thirty-four year old man who was executed) to Walder...you almost want to throw up.

    I can't help but compare reactions to similar cases. Take Baruch Lanner, a man almost as influential, in his way and place, as Walder. Yes, the coverup was shameful. But once the story broke there was not a *single* defense (apart from, I suppose, the courtroom defense for which he was entitled) from *anyone*. No one even said, "Oh, but he had such a positive influence on kids!" No. Just blanket condemnations. The one "blip" I can think of is that when he got out of jail a prominent New Jersey rabbi, now a YU rosh yeshiva, who I assume knew him, quietly had him in his house for meals the first Shabbat. I can kind of understand that, especially if (as was of course not the case) word never gets out. But still, never a defense, never an attack on the Jewish Week who had exposed him, nothing. And of course those who had covered up for him assembled his victims in front of a huge audience which included their students, and publicly asked for mechila.

    I'm unhappy I'm part of a world in which Lanner was allowed to operate. (I knew about him well before he was exposed and, without the ability to do too much more- I knew about the facts only second-hand- I did my bit to try to make sure he didn't harm kids under my watch.) But I am happy I'm part of the world that handled him the way he did, at least, after the fact, and not part of a world that has to reflexively defend anyone who looks like them.

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    1. "But once the story broke there was not a *single* defense".

      Once the story "broke"??? There were allegations for YEARS. And he was continually defended for YEARS. Oh, and this: On learning of the newspaper's investigation—which included on-the-record interviews with many of Lanner's victims—OU officials asked Rosenblatt not to go to press, but he did anyway. Whatever wrongs the chareidi community does, the secularists Stop making excuses for the disgusting behaviour of your community.

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    2. Happy,
      You're being dishonest. Why not quote in context? Why did you leave out the preceding sentence?

      " Yes, the coverup was shameful. But once the story broke... there was not a *single* defense"



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    3. Ephraim, you and Nachum are engaging in apologetics. You are splitting hairs for your own benefit. "Yes, the coverup was shameful, BUT......" This is just standard apologetics. Do these apologetics help the victims?

      The sad reality is that even if the secularist community has *some* advantages over the chareidim in this matter, it clearly doesn't help. Because of their lack of boundaries, they have many thousands more such victims. Instead of trying to defend yourselves, work to make it better. A good place to start is working on modesty and boundaries.

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    4. Nachum,
      Like usual, you have no idea what you are talking about.

      Here's a choice tidbit of yours.


      "Oh, and Pirkei Avot is primarily addressed to judges in courtrooms..."

      Um, no. Some mishnas are focused on judges, but MOST are not. If you ever actually read it seriously, you would know the first comments from Rambam and Rav, which say exactly the opposite of what you imagine.

      Having said that, the very outset of this piece is a joke.

      "I was hoping to move on..." Slifkin, you are hoping to move on from this, like Ben Gurion yimach shmo wasn't an atheist and didn't eat pork and didn't work on Yom Kippur.

      You love this story because it means more clicks on your rag of a blog.

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    5. Modesty is indeed the biggest failing of the MO community. More awareness needs to be made about hilchos yichud and negiah.

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    6. "R' Aryeh *visited prisoners in jail.*"

      My rav o"h was a chaplain at Rikers Island. Sadly, there were many Jews from frum backgrounds there. Financial crimes, drugs, and sex were the big three. A few turned their lives around. Not many, though.

      There is a federal prison in NY that has minyans 3x a day.

      https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/nyregion/michael-cohen-otisville-prison.html

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    7. Oren, Pirkei Avot is at the end of Nezikin for a reason. It is addressed to talmidei chachamim and tells them how they should act as dayanim. This is pretty clear. If we weren't allowed to judge anyone in our private lives, we'd be in a pretty bad place.

      Happy, did you even bother reading my post? I wrote that I was "on" to Lanner years before he was exposed and acted accordingly. So if your biggest response is "Nyah nyah, Modern Orthodoxy does the same thing," yeah, OK, when it's happening, it's sort of a wash.

      But Walder is *dead*. We're talking about what to *now* and how people are responding *now*. That's the topic, and don't change it. And the fact is that people are defending Walder in droves, and even more are trying to change the subject (as he wanted). And yeah, there charedism loses, badly.

      Of course, the real losers are the victims. Who cares about one-upmanship?

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    8. Yeah Nachum, I know you are desperately trying to find some small way in which, by your atrocious secular standards, secularists do better than chareidim. Uh, no, you failed.

      "Who cares about one-upmanship"???馃ぃ馃ぃ馃ぃ Have you no self-awareness at all? You entire comment was about one-upmanship and only one-upmanship! It certainly doesn't display any sympathy for the victims which your community victimizes at a much higher rate. It certainly doesn't offer any solutions for your disgusting practices.

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    9. Happy, you seem to be operating under the misconception that there are two communities in Israel, charedi and secular. Are you not aware of the existence of the national-religious community?

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    10. Rabbi Slifkin, that's why I use the term "secularist", which includes both secular people and ostensibly religious people who identify strongly with secular culture. I'm not sure if all DL and MO people are secularist. But I do know that people like Nachum and yourself ARE secularist.

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    11. My, you're a charmer.

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  2. I was listening to Rav Yarchi, from Musseif Synagogue in the Bucharim Quarter in Jerusalem. He wanted to give a shiur on hilchos Shabbos, but he felt compelled to deal with the Walder issue. Most of the shiur was him expressing amazement at the suicide. There's always teshuvah, even for the most serious sins! Not only is the suicide a sin, CW effectively threw away any possibility of repentance for his prior sins!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ziTNU_mZOjI

    He contrasted it to Moshe Katzav's case. He did his jail time, and was released. He can continue with his life. End of the story.

    However, if this would have went to court, the embarrassment would have been enormous, both to CW himself and to his family (and to those who have overlooked his actions until now): a person who purports to be an expert in educating children and shalom bayis, would be revealed as embodying the exact opposite!

    And who knows what jail sentence he would receive, with so many wronged parties.

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    1. Yes. RAV Yarchi's shiur was very much to the point.

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    2. Reminded me of the Mel Levine suicide, also a child "expert"

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  3. Aharon Rabinoviz, the journalist who broke the story, is neither secular nor "off the derech". He comes from the haredi community and until a few years ago (when he took the position at haaretz) he worked for haredi news outlets. He now works for a secular left-wing newspaper, but he is a shomer mitzvot now as well.

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    1. True, but I detect a certain schadenfreude on the part of Ha'aretz journalists, like Anshel Pfeffer in this video.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nOU4hvoz82k

      He's congratulating himself for "a job well done", and saying how this is the job of the media, to report on such crimes. But the overall sentiment is that Haredi society is dysfunctional and can't take care of these issues.

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    2. Schadenfreude or not, they're 100% correct.

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    3. "Schadenfreude" is pleasure at someone else's misfortune. It's not about the pleasure of "a job well done".

      "But the overall sentiment is that Haredi society is dysfunctional and can't take care of these issues."
      And having seen the mixed Charedi response, you disagree? (And what would you conclude about Centrist responses 20-30 years ago?)

      I don't give a damn about alleged impure motivations of Ha'aretz journalists. It's all a distraction. They'll still be on the secularist leftist fringe long after the Charedi world gets their act together- hopefully very soon. But at least, they will have less to report on.

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    4. @Ephraim: Right, Anshel Pfeffer is saying that it's a job well done, but he and Dovi Gross speak condescendingly about Charedi society, as if they're all a bunch of kids in cheder, blindly obeying what the rebbe (=the Gedolim) is telling them.

      Charedi society doesn't talk openly about sexual issues in general, because of the requirements of modesty.
      But does that mean that Charedi society should therefore talk about sex as openly as secular society?!

      One person gave a link to an American Charedi rabbi, who gave clear guidelines: Impress on children that no one is allowed to touch them below the waist (or their chest, when dealing with young girls entering puberty). And happygoluckypersonage was saying that are Charedi institutions that provide counseling for victims of sexual abuse. It's not as dysfunctional as Pfeffer is making it out to be.

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    5. I carefully mentioned "mixed" response.

      And you refer to an AMERICAN Charedi Rabbi as a response to comments about the Israeli Charedi community?
      The fact is that too much of the response has been a distraction.

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    6. The people who are trying to be 讚谉 诇讻祝 讝讻讜转 simply don't know the seriousness of the accusations. I also was incredulous, until I read and heard examples of the abuse that was inflicted.

      (It seems CW would employ bribes and blackmail, along the lines of: "If you go to the police about this, I'll deny the whole thing, and reveal all of the schmutz that you've told me about your family during our sessions", and paying them hush money. Really, a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality.

      The people seeing him for treatment were powerless--but why couldn't higher-ups intervene?)

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    7. @Yehuda, at Mishpacha R Lopiansky expresses well how many of us think and how this episode shows that it isn't so.

      "Besides not being aware of the intense sufferings of these people, there is another reason why our tzibbur keeps falling into this situation time and again, and that is the “halo” effect.

      "We have the misguided notion that “if it glitters it is gold,” all the way through. We feel that if a person is doing good in one area, he is perfect in every area. In order to move forward, we need to first rid ourselves of a fatal flaw. The most fallacious statement in our misguided thinking is, “someone who does good, cannot possibly be bad in any way.” This is flat-out wrong.

      "My rebbi, Hagaon Rav Chaim Shmulevitz, would often repeat a theme during his shmuessen: “Ohr v’chosech mishtamshim b’irbuvya” [lit. light and darkness are concomitant]. Even if one has bright and dazzling light radiating in his soul, it is not at all to the exclusion of him also having patches of darkness; and vice-versa.

      "We see the characters of our world as either black or white. This fallacy permeates our mindset. Our storybooks have heroes and villains; and never the twain meet. If he is good, he can do no wrong; if he is bad, he can do no right. This is a wonderful and simple set of tools. Unfortunately, it fits nothing in reality.

      "The coexistence of good and evil is the reason why someone can build an empire of hatzalos nefashos while concurrently destroying many innocent lives. It is why a person who lived a seeming ascetic and puritan life, and was a “holy man” for many, has been jailed for molestation and extortion, and is now facing charges for setting up a murder. There are many people who may have engaged in one area of “tov,” and were automatically assumed to be good in every aspect. Fallacious assumption. Fatally fallacious because it prevents observers from processing and stopping what is truly happening. .

      "Nothing a person does, should make us oblivious to red flags. If anything, the behaviors of a public person need to meet a much higher standard."

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    8. No one is more guilty of the halo effect than Chazal. 讻诇 讛讗讜诪专 讚讜讚 讞讟讗 讗讬谞讜 讗诇讗 讟讜注讛.

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    9. @Anonymous: Nonetheless, as Rav Reuvan Nakar said, a person can perform a lifetime of mitzvos. If he is 诪讞诇诇 砖讘转, for example, he has to be punished for it. There's no leniency by saying, "Well, he kept Shabbos so many years, and this was only one time." The job of the beis din is to look at the offenses and to judge, based on the evidence available.

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    10. @Yehoshua, chareidim worship gedolim but you don't worship text.

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  4. What too many people sadly simply don't understand (and I speak as a trained professional in the field) is that in the overwhelming majority of cases, *serial* abusers aren't essentially good people who unfortunately were "nichshal", who fell into it unwillingly despite themselves because circumstances and their yetzer got the better of them. No - overwhelmingly they are people who pursue a calculated strategy with three aims: to identify and provide access to potential victims; to groom and condition potential victims so that they are more susceptible to abuse and less likely to report it; and to cultivate a public image that renders them unthinkable as an abuser. CW had charisma, intelligence, ability, and was outstandingly successful in all those aims.

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    1. Wow.

      That answers my question on a previous discussion thread here. It seems the predatory behavior was practically simultaneous to the appearance of the "Kids Speak" books--not like "the success got to his head, and it ruined him".

      Hence the disgust that some have expressed towards his books in retrospect.

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    2. Yeah! Had he been a stuttering pimple-nosed hunchback in a trenchcoat, he wouldn't have been able to even glance at a potential victim.
      Predators wear camouflage before pouncing.

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    3. There is no teshuvah possible for these people. It's genetic and they can never change.

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    4. Teshuvah is always possible.
      I don't know if the researchers have identified an exclusive genetic cause, but so far they haven't found a cure.

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    5. There's some sort of psychological counseling (and maybe even medication) that they offer people convicted of pedophilia, together with their jail sentence.

      The painful thing was that this could have been stopped much earlier--years ago, when the complaints started to pop up. CW could have still been allowed to write books and articles and lecturing, just not to work in counseling people.

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  5. I'm sorry, but who is this Tzipporah Heller? I've heard her name, but know nothing about her. Is she a "rebbetzin" in her own right, or the wife of some rabbi? Maybe this is chauvinistic, but in a world lacking in influential female educators, where does her knowledge come from? From the sources or dripped down from the "gedoilim"? Has she studied the halachos carefully and concluded it is truly lashon hara to report a rapist and child molester, or perhaps it rather stems from a misplaced sense of pietistic "human-rights" concerns?

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    1. @Unknown, maybe to you she's unknown, but she's very well known to many as one of the brightest female chareidi educators and writers. You, OTOH, are indeed unknown to all. ;)

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    2. Yes, I remember hearing her when she visited Boston University around 30 years ago. She was already quite famous as a charismatic teacher at Neve Yerushalayim as well as an author, if I recall correctly.

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  6. When I thought that I'd seen it all, I was surprised by Tziporah Heller's article. Truly live and learn.

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  7. I found two things very scary about her "essay".

    1. This paragraph
    In the course of my years in Neve, every so often I came across girls who had wounds so deep that healing was almost unimaginable. The dread that they felt when someone they knew and trusted would leave them feeling defiled, often times guilty, and often times full of dread. “If you tell anyone what happens” was, for them, the beginning of sentences that never end well.

    which she seemed to write as the most normal thing ever, that its not unusual for Sem girls to be abused...
    do they turn to sem after the abuse? or are they abused during their time at Sem? and if so why does this continue?

    the other thing which bothered me (more) was that obviously a lot of people read her banal rubbish, and follow her...

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    1. "which she seemed to write as the most normal thing ever,"

      That's not fair. It's your impression & inference. I don't understand her post, but she's not normalizing abuse to that degree.

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    2. Neve is, or was, a seminary for girls from secular backgrounds. A huge percentage of girls in the secular enviroment have been abused, according to what I have read. Maybe even a majority. An uncle at Thanksgiving, a priest, the neighborhood bully, a nasty boyfriend, a drunk person at a party, are all options that hardly exist in the insular frum world.
      She was referring to them, not to girls in a seminary for FFBs.

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    3. "An uncle at Thanksgiving, a priest, the neighborhood bully, a nasty boyfriend, a drunk person at a party, are all options that hardly exist in the insular frum world."

      Not sure if you are being deliberately ridiculous with those descriptions. Where have you 'read' that a 'huge' percentage of girls from a 'secular' environment have been abused - and what, pray tell are they doing in a seminary of all places? How do they get there? What kind of triage takes place? Even if what you say is true, it's just as damning of the 'seminary' and its educators.

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    4. Mr Moses, it would be a great idea for you to read full entire sentences.
      These people are not more likely to end up in a seminary. Neve is presumably a cross-section of the secular world. And in that world there are huge percentages of survivors, more than that of the insular Charedi world. It has nothing to do with the seminary, the abuse happened before those people arrived at any seminaries.

      Do you want to know where I read that? I once saw a study out of England that had numbers above 80%. I can't say it's scientific, but when I read answers and comments on Quora, I see that it self-understood that by the time a Western woman gets married, she will have had some negative sexual experience. From groping on the subway to drunken boyfriends.

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    5. No need to rely on Quora, one of the stupidest websites and a reason to ban the internet all by itself. Here's your 80% figure

      https://www.unwomenuk.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/APPG-UN-Women-Sexual-Harassment-Report_Updated.pdf

      In the US, 81%

      https://stopstreetharassment.org/our-work/nationalstudy/2018-national-sexual-abuse-report/

      In Israel, almost all the female MPs have experienced it

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/most-female-mks-have-been-sexually-harassed-or-assaulted-1.5389158

      In Israel, allegedly "We Are All Sexually Harassed in the Israeli Army, Almost on a Daily Basis"

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/culture/.premium.MAGAZINE-israeli-choreographer-takes-on-routine-sexual-harassment-in-idf-1.6717980

      Keep in mind that in all of these reports, a very high percentage is actual physical sexual assault. This what your secular "ethics" gets you. 讘专讜讱 讛讜讗 讗诇讜拽讬谞讜 砖讘专讗谞讜 诇讻讘讜讚讜 讜讛讘讚讬诇谞讜 诪谉 讛转讜注讬诐

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    6. "I once saw a study"

      Please cite the link to the study, or at least to a bibliographic reference. I want to read it and to critique it.

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    7. Abuse can take on many forms. I take your point that many women experience it (in secular society) - in whatever form it takes. And yet, the knowledge we can glean and measure (even at a high level) is gathered through the tools that open society provides. Mental, sexual, physical abuse take place in all societies. We know - anecdotally, through those cases that reach secular civil society & the courts - that the Orthodox community too is well represented in these matters - the difference is that the insularity in that community does not provide us with the data & tools to measure it.

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    8. Here is a quote lifted from a recent op-ed in Forward with supporting links to indicate that (sexual) abuse in Haredi circles is likely as high as in secular society - and likely underreported.

      (https://forward.com/opinion/412299/stop-pretending-modesty-can-prevent-sexual-assault/?utm_source=Iterable&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=campaign_3488833)

      "A 2007 study (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/5871332_History_of_Past_Sexual_Abuse_in_Married_Observant_Jewish_Women) in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that over a quarter of married Haredi women report having been sexually assaulted, a rate slightly higher than the rate found on secular American college campuses, and 16% report having been abused before the age of 13, which is likely a much higher percentage than found in the general population.


      Haredi victims of sexual assault, because of the social gender separation and the observance of yichud, are more often sexually abused by their spouses (https://www.haaretz.com/.premium-valor-among-abused-haredi-women-1.5277386), raped by family members (https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium.MAGAZINE-the-woman-spearheading-the-fight-against-sexual-assault-among-haredim-1.5455644) or sexually assaulted by same-gender mentors. Devastatingly, 45% of sexually assaulted ultra-Orthodox respondents in the aforementioned study did not report the abuse to anyone (https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Characteristics-of-Sexual-Abuse-in-Subjects-Reporting-Abuse_tbl1_5871332), even though 76% of the time, the abuser was a relative or someone they knew."

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    9. That study is useless if it does not tell us which community the victim belonged to when the abuse happened. How many of the 'Haredi' respondents were BTs, who reported abuse from their secular life?
      One thing is clear, the more religious, the less abuse happens. 26% of Haredi respondents, vs 51% of all secular respondents. When one considers that the respondents were, in all likelihood, from the more open segments of Charedi life, it shows the opposite of what you want to prove.

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  8. The link to Rebbetzen Heller's clarification/apology is not available unless you are a member of her group.

    Can someone with access please post the text here?

    https://www.facebook.com/100063487269640/posts/345479627578277/?d=n

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  9. It is worth noting and gratifying that the views of our very own Rabbi Slifkin are considered very highly by the media. See https://forward.com/fast-forward/480205/israel-chief-rabbi-criticized-for-attending-shiva-chaim-walder/ and https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/article-690197 as prominent examples

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  10. I have read pretty much every response on the saga

    Hers was the worst

    Atrocious really

    "it was hard for her initially to accept that such a beloved figure could have been such a monster" - that is the feeling I got the whole way through. She had to condemn him a bit but overall it was remarkably sympathetic towards Walder.

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  11. i read her article and its so wrong on so many levels, seems she can't think straight
    she goes on to throw shade on Aaron Rabinowits as a lefty -out to get Cherdim - who is in the habit of lying & destroying people..

    so this is how she describes the person who outed monsters as Yehudah Meshi Zahav and Chaim Walder while she (and all in our community who knew) sat and did nothing!!!

    Aaron Rabnowits did more to help our community then all rabonim and rebitzins combined

    what a stupid article, no wonder she does not allow comments on her site, when the conversation is one way it tends to be stupid....

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  12. Don't forget that a not-so-subtle influence on Rebbetzin Heller is her disingenuous and foul mannered husband Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb. He is a very vocal and vicious Charedi apologist who openly espouses a literal reading of Bereishis and condemns as an apikores anyone who doesn't worship the gedolim sufficiently to his tastes. Just check out his blog and see for yourself.

    In fact, his son Nechemiah is a serial child abuser! See:
    https://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2012/05/rabbi-behind-anti-internet-rally-savagely-beat-children-in-his-care-345.html

    So in all fairness to Rebbetzin Heller, you could say that she was defending one of her own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nothing has been substantiated. This is just regurgitated motzi shem ra.

      Delete
    2. "disingenuous and foul mannered"

      I dont agree with Rabbi Gottleib on anything, but he was certainly neither of those traits when I spoke to him at length.

      Delete
    3. ash - I had the misfortune of having an email exchange with Gottlieb. He called me an apikores at least six times and insisted that I must believe that the Earth is flat if the Gedolim say so.

      Let's just say that it was a challenge for me to remain frum after my encounter with Dovid Gottlieb and his lies.

      Delete
    4. Did he mean that theoretically, or are there actually gedolim who say that the world is flat?

      Delete
    5. There actually was a Gadol who believed in exactly that:
      http://parsha.blogspot.com/2009/06/was-shevus-yaakov-flat-earther-it-would.html

      Delete
    6. "He called me an apikores at least six times and insisted that I must believe that the Earth is flat if the Gedolim say so."

      I would proudly proclaim myself to be an apikoros should believing that the earth is flat become the fourteenth ikkar of faith.

      Delete
  13. we know from US experience that the idea that a haimishe yid should go to jail for economic crimes [ cheating govt, cheating goyim , cheating jews etc ] is seen in Haredi theology as a travesty. Now we can add to that list sexual crimes .....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Indeed -- it is very difficult to see her response not just through the prism of generic Haredi denial and insularity but also (and perhaps far more) though a wider social-political prism that has saturated that sector (as well as other Jewish denominations) that attack the role of (legitimate) journalists and journalism and their role(s) in democratic civil society.

      Delete
  14. Her second response is no longer available- it was deleted. Anyone have a copy?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Natan, she was responding to the fact that the reporter leaked this as a sensational story, as opposed to providing the information to police to do their job. There is no justification for that other than greed and seeking renown for making headlines.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And making sure the crimes are exposed and the police do their job. But who cares about that?

      Delete
    2. Silly question, perhaps, but how should the reporter "leak" the story? A reporter's job is to publish stories. It is perhaps unfortunate that the one doing the discovery is often a writer and not a detective whose job it would be to get the perpetrator arrested. Nebich, the journalist has to do his job!

      Also, a policeman cannot act without evidence of wrongdoing. And sometimes the police are overworked or otherwise unwilling or unable to proceed (political pressure is only one reason). A writer, ironically, can publish, thereby publicizing the problem, getting other people - who might have more evidence or more clout - to present to the police. At the time of publishing, one can argue that the information is still unsubstantiated, and therefore is lashon hara, but if it leads to more evidence, and certainly to action, then unfortunately, this is a necessary step.

      Delete
  16. Give credit where it's due. R' Meiselman is very on point in this:

    https://nermichoel.org/galleries/videoshiurim-detail/id/3404

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Agreed. Despite my misgivings towards going on his site to listen to his shiur, he gives a powerful speech in which he condemns "a certain big rosh yeshiva in Bnei Brak", and utterly disproves him

      Delete
    2. I wonder if he too will 'temporarily' recall his speech for revision.

      Delete
    3. I am quite certain he won't be recalling his speech. Although, one could add, since he leans toward Aitz, it was much easier for him to call out Reb Gershon than other leading Rabbanim who lean towards Degel HaTorah.

      Delete
  17. Replies
    1. Ben Mikra - see my comment above. Her arrogant and subversive husband Rabbi Dr. Dovid Gottlieb is known to be maniacally pro-Haredi and virulently anti science. I have proof of that upon request.

      Delete
    2. That would not exactly be my question - but there is for sure a question to be asked. As a former student of hers, and alumna of Neve Yerushalayim, I have sat in many of her classes, enjoyed Shabbos meals in her home in Har Nof (with the late R' Heller), and met her in America a few times as well. While she wasn't a personal mentor, I would say I know her fairly well. Knowing her as I - and many others - do, I find it hard to accept the idea that this erudite, astute, highly intelligent woman, with many troubled young women under her wing (as she mentions in the statement on wcw on her website) is apparently so lacking in appreciation of such basic psychological truths as the fact that abusers (cw being a chillingly good case in point) use their professional skills for the very purpose of gaining access to and exploiting weaker or more vulnerable people around them. It is also pretty hard to see Rebbetzen Heller as a brainwashed woman. I don't know R'Gottlieb at all but I DO know that Rebbetzen Heller's abiliies in chinuch and communication were clearly G-d given.They in no way relied on the great R' Heller or anyone else but were clearly talents between her and H'. (This was part of her appeal to today's young women, I would say). She may indeed have been 'brainwashed' by her second husband - I don't know. On the other hand, given her independence of mind, talents, and long-standing professional status, she may not. Whatever the case, the situation begs the question, why is she saying what she is saying?

      Delete
    3. By the way, R' Mann, I don't know what you mean by the 'maniacally pro-Haredi' Rabbi Gottlieb (again, I only knew R'Heller) but Rebbetzen Heller was in the haredi camp for decades - very frum with a strong Chassidish slant in her thinking - before R' Gottlieb would have come on the scene. He is certainly not responsible for her thinkning. May I humbly suggest she may have a mind of her own in all this?

      Delete
    4. It is possible that her husband may be culpable of these same acts.
      16 years ago I lived in Jerusalem. I was in an unhappy marriage and befriended by Gottlieb. He tutored me privately, sexually molested me and exposed himself to me. I was charedi at the time so naturally simple and naive. (Gottlieb and his wife, Leiba, had also told me that women are inferior to men). When I told my husband, he told me not to stir waters; that艣 he艣 a powerful figure.
      Gottlieb one day told me that Rabbi Wolber said one could have concubines (therefore I could have sex with him). Confused, I emailed the author of a Rashi per day blog who showed why I could not.
      I found Gottlieb a charismatic figure and was debating whether to write this since I loved his mother-in-law and this is 16 years ago.

      I believe any journalist probing into Gottlieb may find a history that would interest him.

      Delete
    5. Please email me. zoorabbi@zootorah.com

      Delete
  18. Does she know some else close to her, and concerned of another story break?

    ReplyDelete
  19. "Pirkei Avos tells you not to judge anyone until you stand in their place"

    The rest of the Torah tells us not to stand in the place of rashaim.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Like I've told you before, mates, what charedim do pales in comparison to the secular world. They are learning, but are still far behind.
    https://vdare.com/articles/ann-coulter-the-great-epstein-cover-up-part-i

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't change the subject. The question here is whether anyone is defending Epstein, and blaming the media for his suicide.

      Or "suicide," but you get the point. I hope.

      Delete
    2. Halachah already imposes a lot of prohibitions before sexual abuse can occur. There's yichud, there's the issur of physical contact as well. The secular society views that it's okay for people of the opposite sex to casually hug or kiss, just as a sign of friendship, not affection.

      It's still puzzling to me how charedi men who have been guilty of sexual abuse somehow bypass all these safeguards. As soon as the "therapist" closes the door, it should cause a red light to light up in the mind of the patient. All the more so when there is physical contact of any sort.

      I've been following Rationalist Judaism since around 2011. There was also a discussion of a supposedly charedi "therapist" guilty of 42 counts of sexual abuse!

      Delete
    3. Yehuda P,
      I have those very same questions regarding built in levels of protection.

      Delete
  21. Nachum, there is defending and there is covering up. The whole Epstein affair has been covered up. The media is disinterested, the evidence destroyed, one individual has been prosecuted. There is more evidence of what his circle was involved in then of Walder's activity. It's the same subject.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You remind me of Chris Rock's infamous routine, "N*****s vs. Black People." He puts on the voice of a black person responding by whining, "But lots of white people are on welfare too!" before snapping in response, "But *we* don't have to worry about that!"

      Delete
  22. But when you hold yourselves out as Gd's great gift to humanity, as exemplary in every way, as led by the holiest of the holy, as infallible, etc., etc., it doesn't matter that they lag behind the world. Their sins are amplified in the eyes of the world because they look so pious. And that's what so many don't understand.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Rabbi Meiselman has a video where he condemns Walder as Rasha, a murderer, an abuser about whom there is no such thing as lashon harah. He completely defends Rabbi Eliyau's bet din and says clearly that all those rabbanim in any way defending Walder are wrong. My only question about his video is that he says it was known for years that Walder was a bad man. In which case why wasn't anything said or done years ago.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @Mitch, some are contesting the accuracy of some of RMM's 'facts', such as Walder being in charge of a body to investigate abuse in Bnei Brak, that you bring up in the other post

      Delete
    2. Yes--wasn't there a critical mass of complaints to rabbis to tell CW to stop "counseling"? They could have told him that he can continue writing books and articles--just curtail the interactions with women and children.

      Delete
    3. Mitch,
      R' Meiselman does not say it was known what he was doing. Only that he was regarded by some talmidei chachamim as being SUSPECT, untrustworthy and as projecting a false public image.
      It is very possible that they mentioned their concerns and were ignored, especially in consideration of CW's immense popularity and squeaky-clean image. Any chareidi person who publicly attacked him a few months ago would probably have been written off as a "kanoi"

      Delete
    4. I dare say in most of these cases lots of people "know" without knowing enough to do anything about it.

      Delete
  24. If it's any consolation, Rebbetzin Heller was absolutely destroyed in the comments section on her original FB post, and often by people who called themselves admirers and pupils of hers.

    The other consolation is that the tide is turning and those people who defend CW will soon find themselves to be in a tiny, irrelevant minority.

    ReplyDelete
  25. On Facebook, she put out a mea culpa regarding her previous comments. But the second, longer part of her post was complaining that the numerous responses condemning her are truly a kind of murderous lashon hara. She's therefore disallowed the ability to respond to her post, inviting people to contact her personally. I read the comments and I thought that with a very small exception they were outraged and dismayed but not ad hominem hate messages. I would have thought that she would rather have thanked the many people who wrote for having the courage and clarity to confront her and in fact inspire her to issue her mea culpa.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Sorry I'm coming into this discussion rather late. (I do have a life.) I would suggest listening to reb Dovid Lichenstein's podcast where he discusses the Walder affair and specifically where he interviews a clinical psychologist, Tzviki Fleishman (A Chabad chasid), who has been treating victims of Walder for SIX YEARS!! Here's the link: http://podcast.headlinesbook.com/e/1822-–-shiur-353-–-don-t-waste-a-tragedy/

    ReplyDelete
  27. Want to comment about Meiselman briefly. As some other comments have mentioned, he has landed on the right side of this issue. Not only did he unequivocally call Walder a rasha and a menuval, but he lauded the bes din that declared him guilty, and criticized Gershon Edelstein (albeit without naming him).

    However, his speech had certain other issues. First, his attitude towards suicide was callous and discompassionate. He describes a suicidal gay Jew to whom he told, "If you commit suicide, it's your fault, not mine." Second, his attitude towards yichud as it relates to therapy seems quite harmful. He mentioned, in the name of a therapist friend of his, that it is inappropriate for a male therapist to serve a female patient, in part because the therapist cannot trust himself with the resulting power dynamic. This is negative in two ways. First, it perpetuates the idea that men simply cannot help themselves in assaulting women. Good people do not become serial child rapists just because they take on clients of the opposite gender; any suggestion otherwise is simply harmful. Second, it implies that men can only assault women, ignoring abuse that occurs within a single gender. The issue should not be framed as exclusive to certain gender dynamics because it isn't, and pretending that it is can only end badly.

    All in all, I must admit that Meiselman pleasantly surprised me. However, not only do I think that this is due to a shockingly low bar, but I think that the speech had genuinely toxic elements to it.

    ReplyDelete

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