Friday, February 18, 2022

Abuse: The Lessons Not Learned

After the Walder horror unfolded, we thought that perhaps the charedi community, generally a few decades behind the rest of society, had learned the necessary lessons. Perhaps many people did. But not everyone.

Two weeks ago, authorities in France arrested the entire faculty of a yeshivah. Sixteen rabbis at Beth Yossef in Bussi猫res were charged, not with sexual abuse, but with aggravated assault against the sixty minors at the yeshivah, including their being “locked up, confiscation of their identity documents, poor conditions, acts of abuse, lack of access to education and healthcare, and no possibility of returning to their families.” Vos iz Neias News quotes multiple students as saying that they were severely physically beaten.

Now, I don't know exactly what happened, but it is obvious that there are, at the very least, serious grounds for great concern. But according to one sector of Orthodox society, it's all an anti-religious conspiracy.

The Lehovin newspaper represents the most extreme sector of Lithuanian charedi Jewry in America. Under the leadership of Rav Aharon Shechter of Chaim Berlin, they are kin with the Etz/Peleg faction in Israel. And the latest issue has much to say about the situation in France.

The newspaper insists that it is inconceivable to think that talmidei chachamim could be guilty of abuse:

"A talmid Chochom and tzaddik, well into his eighties, who has been moser nefesh to be mechanech and megadel talmidim, was locked up like a criminal... Talmidei chachomim who are devoting themselves to teaching Torah and raising talmidim, were all thrust into prison on “allegations” and “suspicions" ...Do a cheshbon hanefesh for a moment. If you even believed the possibility of their guilt, you have violated many grave sins. If you are unsure, hilchos shemiras haloshon should be on your urgent “to do” list."

Dismissing the accusations of physical abuse as "vague," Lehovin engages in a tirade about what they claim this is really about - that the yeshiva refuses to teach evolution and have mixed classes! And it's all part of the Global War Against Torah.

I had decided not to write about this, because I figured that it was of limited relevance; Lehovin represents a minority group that is opposed and ridiculed even by most charedim. But then I read some other things which made me realize how widespread a problem this is.

Recently a prominent Rosh Yeshiva was arrested for raping various young men and women, including his own children. A person from Magen who was involved in helping the victims was discussing the story, and someone mentioned that after the Walder affair, they met a woman from the charedi community who said that such a thing could never happen with a real rabbi. This woman was absolutely scandalized at the notion that a genuine rabbi could possibly ever commit such crimes, and ridiculed the possibility.

This is why Rabbi Meiselman's insistence that Walder was not a true charedi and not a true talmid chacham is so dangerous. It reinforces the false and dangerous yet pervasive belief that "real rabbis" cannot do evil. In an extremely powerful letter written by a survivor of Walder, she addresses Rav Aaron Lopiansky's call to address the fatal problem of the "halo effect" - the mistaken notion that someone who does good, cannot possibly be bad. She points out that this "mistaken notion" is absolutely fundamental to charedi society and is not going to disappear. Emunas Chachomim, in its absolute broadest sense, is the bedrock of the charedi world. They are not about to change their entire approach and start teaching that roshei yeshiva can be rapists.

And this is why the charedi community is a pedophile's paradise. 

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55 comments:

  1. The Chareidi community is a pedophiles paradise???
    That is one of the more vile things you have said.

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    Replies
    1. I didn't think I was even saying anything remotely questionable. Is it not obviously true? In the charedi community, it is near-unthinkable for rabbis to be disgraced, for abuse to be reported, and for victims to be empowered to take action.

      Delete
    2. It is true and undeniably so

      Doesn't mean there aren't other communities where the same applies. The Catholic church have their own averos to own up to.

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    3. Don't think of it as, "the charedi community encourages pedophelia," but as "a pedophile would have a hard time finding a community better suited to operating without fear"

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    4. @Avi your statement would be more accurate if the pedophile happens to also be a "talmid chacham".
      But in reality, I don't think that aspect is unique to chareidim. Powerful, successful people in any culture are much more likely to get away with abuse, that's just the sad reality.

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    5. The charedi community is a paradise for a pedo with status. If he was a baalabus or some form of lo yutzlach then proper ethical standards would apply.

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    6. The reality is any community is a paradise for any sexual abuser with status. Like our beloved presidents (not saying which ones, don't want to get "Shmuel" mad). On the Israeli side we have Shimon Peres, Rechavam Zeevi, and countless other alleged predators who are still glorified by secularists to this day.

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    7. It is obviously true that in any society, people with status and money can be protected or ignored and have their indiscretions swept under the rug.

      I think RNS's point is that since we venerate rabbanim as ethical bastions and not only as repositories of cold facts, Judaism in general - and yes, more right-wing Judaism in particular - has a hard time wrapping its head around the potential need to investigate such people.

      Let's not do moral relativism. Sure, true secular society really has a problem with this. But while people respect Kevin Spacey for his acting skills, he didn't command respect as an example of morality. Weinstein even less so!

      So while someone could "hide" in Hollywood for a while if they have talent, or someone could "hide" in US society if they have money, an abuser who is a "big rabbi" doesn't need to hide. Who would believe it of him?!

      This is of course most analogous to the Catholic Church, as others have already mentioned. This was a great place to hide until everything exploded.

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    8. Classic @happy weak conflation; surely every society has a threshold where power and social pressure will overpower truth and justice. Our job is to raise that threshold so it really takes alot to bury evil... In theory it should be easier for a president to get away with a crime than a nobody (even more ideally no-one would get away with anything but I'm not a utopian). The issue here is that the threshold in the charedi world is very low - it is extremely easy to get away with sexual abuse in the charedi world b/c there is no accountability and the willingness to discuss these issues are nil. Basics.

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    9. If I am not mistaken, Peres has only been accused of sexual harassment, not rape, and only in the last few years after his name has already faded from the headlines.

      Zeevi was and is detested by most of the secular public due to his extreme right wing politics which ironically are more popular among DL and charedim.

      So these aren't good examples of secular people glorifying predators, I wonder if you can come up with any better examples.

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    10. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.timesofisrael.com/in-new-book-amos-ozs-daughter-accuses-late-novelist-of-ongoing-abuse/amp/

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    11. Big Mouth, the exact opposite, it is much, much easier to engage in abuse in the secular world, given the complete lack of boundaries. In our world, there are far fewer opportunities. In the secularist world, women are ripe for the picking. As you can see that there are thousands of cases of alleged sexual abuse in the IDF per year.

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    12. Avi, frankly it's disgusting that you minimize Peres's (alleged) sexual abuse. I had low expectations of secularists, but you blew me away. These were just two example, I could come up with countless more. How about the fact that the Israeli public glorifies the IDF, where 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

      How about (allegedly) thousands of cases of alleged sexual abuse in the IDF including hundreds of cases of rape or attempted rape. Glorification indeed.

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

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    13. Yosef R, please don't talk about RNS's "point". I think you know perfectly well what his "point" is.

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    14. One can't help but wonder if the constant charedi harping about the alleged licentiousness in the IDF are not-so-sublimated lustful thoughts, desires, and jealously of female IDF personnel. It must be frustrating.

      Haaretz, of course, has its own agenda, which dovetails nicely with another charedi one.

      Delete
    15. Oh no, can't be bringing any sources with an agenda now! Not on this totally impartial, agenda-free blog!

      Delete
    16. Some people lie, some people tell the truth. I believe in objective reality, and Haaretz isn't it.

      Enjoy your fantasies.

      Delete
    17. Not that I think there's anything wrong with the Ha'aretz article, it certainly seems very plausible based on secularist culture (even if the only secularist I knew was "Nachum"!), but I did quote other sources.

      It's unlikely that you don't know about all the (alleged) abuse in the IDF, your pathetic denial notwithstanding. Rather you probably simply think it's perfectly ok, just normal social standards for your circles. Or even if not, you think the abuse is a price worth paying for your "modern" secular culture. That would explain your silence and complicity in the matter.

      Delete
    18. I'm a lot less secular than you, happy.

      And I'm done with you, you troll. Go stew in your frustrations.

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    19. Oh, you're done? Really? Are you sure? 馃槉

      Usually when people say they're done, it's because they have no response. In all the Chaim Walder posts, you had no response to my simple observation that your beautiful secularist culture has a much worse problem. All you could do was engage in ad-hominem attacks. Same here.

      I find it highly unlikely that you are less secular than me, given the fact that you are somebody who denies Creation and Yetzias Mitzrayim. And somebody who thinks it's perfectly ok that thousands of women are (allegedly) abused in the IDF on an annual basis (oh yeah, you probably don't consider it "abuse", just "being friendly". Too bad the women don't share that view.) Probably you think that the mere fact that somebody lives in Israel, no matter how much he defiles the land with sin, makes him less secular than one who lives in chu"l.

      Delete
  2. That yeshivah (a scion of Novardok which took its ideology to the extreme) is known to be cult-like. I do not doubt they are guilty of most, if not all the charges.

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  3. It doesn't help to make these categorical statements. Perhaps the chareidi community has a trust problem. But one could make a much truer statement that the IDF is a sexual abuser's paradise, given the the thousands of alleged cases of sexual assault that happen there annually. However for this blog, the IDF is sacred, above criticism.

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  4. Amazes me how you can write a post like this while at the same time you continue to know of someone actively abusing people and you won't publicize anything about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That was quite a different type of abuse
      Neither sexual nor physical.

      Delete
    2. I see. So it's only bad to cover up certain types of abuse, that makes a lot of sense. I hope you can appreciate how weak a defense that is

      Delete
  5. I don't think the infallible rabbi effect of emunas chachamim is as dangerous as you think. Once even a true reality rabbi like chaim walder is accused all of a sudden he will have "retroactively never been a rabbi." I will call this the Meisalman effect.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But that is only once enough people have accepted the allegations as truth. Until that point, the oilam will continue to believe in the rabbi-ness.

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  6. " It reinforces the false and dangerous yet pervasive belief that "real rabbis" cannot do evil. In an extremely powerful letter written by a survivor of Walder"

    The letter is clearly fabricated. Just look at the half a dozen or so blatant inconsistencies.

    The most glaring, is the claim that the letter was written in Hebrew and translated into English....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rabbi Eisenman distributed it - He can easily be reached in Passaic if one has any questions
      KT

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    2. I would actually believe that it was translated from Hebrew. For example, it uses the word "warehouse" very often. That's a mistranslation in this context for the word 诪讞住谉. Many apartments in Israel have such a 诪讞住谉, which also serves as a bomb shelter. Apparently CW used it as his "therapy room".

      It probably should be translated "storeroom".

      Delete
    3. If the Haredim define "emunas chachomim" that way, what do they make of the story of Shebna in Sanhedrin 26? Shebna was a greater "talmid chochom" than Hizkiyah.

      Delete
  7. The villains here are the pedophiles and the abusers, not necessarily the charedi community, which is the victim, not of the government, but of these sexual predators who have found a sector on which they can prey undisturbed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course, and this is how the focus should be.

      But those who protect the villains are not completely innocent themselves.

      Delete
  8. Obviously, these Haredim make this error in assumption because they don't learn Daf Yomi. All you need to do is look at today's Daf, Chagiga 9b.

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    Replies
    1. Huh? One needs to learn Pirkey Avos 1:6, not to mention Chofetz Chaim.

      Delete
    2. Huh? sounds like irrelevant nonsense. You obviously have never been to a Chareidi Yeshiva, or Chareidi community. Everyone is learning extra Masechtos in their own time.
      But then again, I wouldnt suggest that (most) people attacking Chareidim on this blog actually have an acute knowledge of what chareidim do, and how they live. Its mainly their own theories plus bias. Rationalists indeed...

      Delete
    3. I wouldnt suggest that (most) people attacking Chareidim on this blog actually have an acute knowledge of what chareidim do, and how they live. Its mainly their own theories plus bias.

      That's why I suggested to Charedi bashers to learn Pirkey Avos 1:6 and Chofetz Chaim (where I probably was not clear).

      Delete
  9. Now, I don't know exactly what happened, but it is obvious that there are, at the very least, serious grounds for great concern.

    The first part of the above sentence is genuine, the rest is loshon hara mongering. Charedim too FYI are presumed innocent until and unless found guilty by a respected authority.

    ReplyDelete
  10. What is the "lesson not learned" in the French case?? Clearly somebody called the police. You blame chareidi culture when they don't call the police. You blame chareidi culture when they do call the police.

    The reality is this is just a distraction from the fact that your promiscuous, immoral secularist culture is so much worse when it comes to the prevalence of sexual abuse. Even if they are slightly better at holding the perpetrator (or even the non-perpetrator) accountable. After the damage has already been done.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Remember basic principles
    1) A life of hardship must have a good justification, else it is quickly abandoned. The greater the hardship, the more the justification. That's why Chareidi media spends so much time attacking non-Chareidi Orthodoxy. If MO and DL had any legitimacy, then maybe large numbers of Chareidim might think "Huh, why put up with all this when we can be MO or DL, be much happier and be just as beloved by God?"
    2) If one of your justifications for hardship is morality then you need to hide any evidence of immorality by your leaders. After all, if an intense Torah life doesn't automatically create a virtuous person but instead you find people who don't know any Torah but are truly kind and caring people then why bother with the intense Torah life?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's funny, it seems this blog spends much much more time attacking Chareidim then Chareidim do attackong DL. Much more. The same goes with many DL magazines. Many writers are dedicated solely to attacking and critisizing Chareidim, and many articles will anyway do the same.
      So ,in short, while I might agree with your first point, I would suggest that the application of it goes the other way..

      Delete
    2. Regarding my previous point- open your average Yated and see how many times it mentions DL/MO (NOT Bennett or Kahana, just the DL hashkafa)
      Believe me, the DL magazines dwarf it (for the exact reason you mentioned, I believe)

      Delete
  12. This report suggests entirely otherwise : https://www.israelnationalnews.com/news/322503

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Inquire has a pointFebruary 20, 2022 at 8:25 PM

      From the above cited article about abuse by Reform clergy:

      "The report also found that the {Reform} movement had knowingly hired clergy who had been fired from congregations for sexual misconduct, but not out of a desire to shield rabbis from accountability. “Rather, these employment decisions resulted from sincerely held beliefs in redemption and the process of teshuvah,” the report says, referring to a Jewish concept akin to restorative justice."

      This is not a uniquely chareidi problem

      Delete
  13. 住谞讛讚专讬谉 注讘 讘
    讗诪专 专讘 讻诇 讚讗转讬 注诇讗讬 讘诪讞转专转讗 拽讟讬诇谞讗 诇讬讛 诇讘专 诪专讘 讞谞讬谞讗 讘专 砖讬诇讗 诪讗讬 讟注诪讗 讗讬诇讬诪讗 诪砖讜诐 讚爪讚讬拽 讛讜讗 讛讗 拽讗转讬 讘诪讞转专转讗 讗诇讗 诪砖讜诐 讚拽讬诐 诇讬 讘讙讜讜讬讛 讚诪专讞诐 注诇讬 讻专讞诐 讗讘 注诇 讛讘谉

    The Gemara clearly says that if a tzadik tries to break in to your house, the fact that he is a tzadik does not mean one can assume the person isn't coming to commit violence.

    Just a thought.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Isn't it saying the exact opposite? That he can't be a tzaddik if he is breaking into your house?

      Delete
    2. That probably is a more precise way of reading the Gemara, although it is ambiguous. Regardless, the point is that even though the Rambam for example says there is an obligation to judge a tzadik favorably, clearly, here we are not allowed to judge favorably.

      Delete
    3. Yup, I can agree that it's a bit ambiguous

      Delete
  14. "This is why Rabbi Meiselman's insistence that Walder was not a true charedi and not a true talmid chacham is so dangerous. It reinforces the false and dangerous yet pervasive belief that "real rabbis" cannot do evil."

    Pretty sad. Have they ever opened up a Nevi'im or Kesuvim?

    ReplyDelete
  15. Epstein story and metoo# went nowhere. Life goes on as usual. Do we even need to ask where there is more abuse in public schools or in Bais Yakov? Luganis was infected with AIDS by his coach and the whole US gymnastics team was abused for years with nobody willing to listen and do anything about it. All this has been pointed out many times. Yes, everything is true, but did the Dati community learned that much? Or found effective ways to deal with the problem? This post is an example where the tone is a problematic.

    ReplyDelete
  16. AFAIK, almost all of the charges have been dropped.
    I don't read Lehovin, so I don't know what they wrote. BUt it seems a Yeshia that takes care of troubled youth was accused of nonsense.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Question: assuming abuse is worse in any given society, are its victims comforted because others tell them that they were also victims, whereas in a society where it is more rare, its victims feel the pain of being isolated and like outcasts?

    Are the latter haunted by the question, "why me?" while the former, after the shock wears off, just say, "why not?" ?

    Plus for the former before it happens they know about its likelihood, since when is vulgar language or conversation curbed?, so when it happens the shock is milder, while for the latter they are (or had been) blissfully ignorant and unaware of it and are then hit like out of the blue.

    ReplyDelete
  18. As far as I understand this yeshiva deals with very complicated teens in some sort of boot camp setting and some x students taking revenge

    Not sure where Walder comes in here

    ReplyDelete
  19. I very much agree that this is a serious problem that needs to be addressed with utmost seriousness. I feel that it may not be the best to call chareidi society a "pedophile's paradise" as this is quite emotive language that groups all charedi societies communities together making a generalisation. As this is meant to be a rationalist forum I think generalizing should be avoided as we are aimed at creating a full and accurate picture in order to be most affective in our opinions and views. Thank you for enduring my ramblings

    ReplyDelete
  20. Here is a video showing another side of the story : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M959gWGt9Vg

    ReplyDelete

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