Thursday, July 14, 2011

“Thank G‑d I have no need for knowledge about child abuse!” – the mitzva to use seichal


I was recently asked by a young talmid chachom what I had published recently. He told me that he regularly utilizes my seforim -  Yad Moshe and Yad Yisroel and has thoroughly studied the sources in Daas Torah and had found them useful sources of necessary information. When I said that I had just published three volumes on the issue of child abuse  he responded, “Thank G‑d I have no need for knowledge about child abuse for my children!”

This was a disturbing assertion but one which is fairly common in our community. He was saying that child abuse is something that happens to others and that since his children weren’t molested and not likely to be – he didn’t want to hear about the topic. He was also implying that child abuse was not common and therefore he didn’t have to worry about guarding against it or being concerned that someone he knew – was a victim of chid abuse or was an abuser.

The Chofetz Chaim made a similar observation about the common attitude towards misfortune and death. He said people viewed tragedies as something which only happened to those who belong to an exclusive group – the sufferers/mourners. It wasn’t of concern or relevance to the average person since he obviously didn’t belong to the group. Therefore there was no need to prepare or even think about such things. 

The issue boils down to the following claim, “What is the problem with acting with great faith (bitachon) and not worrying about unpleasant events? Don’t we have a principle – ‘Don’t open your mouth to Satan?’ If we don’t talk about negative things – aren’t they less likely to happen?

In reply to this claim we might point out that in reality abuse is not a rare event in our community. Furthermore awareness is needed to protect one’s children against abuse or rescue them from a molester. But in addition to these issues of reality, there is also a major religious principle being violated here. Avoiding and not seeking out necessary information is itself a sin and the nullification of the G‑d given qualities which distinguishes man from animals. Our Sages tell us that it is a sin not to use one’s seichal and that one ends up with needless suffering as a result.

When Bilam was criticized by the angel after beating his donkey for not obeying him  - he stated, “I have sinned because I didn’t know (Bamidbar 22:34). The Sefer Chasidim, Shaloh, Netziv and others note that Bilam had not intentionally ignored the angel. He simply had other things on his mind and hadn’t thought about why his donkey was refusing to move forward. As the Shaloh asks, we have a principle that one is not accountable for events that are beyond our control – or done without intention – so why was this a sin?

The Shaloh (Parshas Balak Derech Chaim #21 and elsewhere) answers that a person is held accountable for events that he could have anticipated and didn’t. His reaction to his donkey should have been, “My donkey never betrayed me – what is the reason for his resistance?” The Shaloh states that a person has an absolute obligation to seek out information and analyze events to prevent harm and sin (Adam Mo'ad L'Olam Bava Kamma 26a). He is liable for that which he could have known and didn't try to find out or understand.. The commentaries to Berachos (33a) and Sanhedrin (92a) state that the essence of man is his intelligence and ability to anticipate the future. Failure to do so, not only is harmful but actually nullifies the G‑d given qualities of the essence of being man – his mind. Consequently the gemora (Sanhedrin 92) notes that it is prohibited to show mercy to one who doesn’t use his seichal, it is prohibited even to give him food and finally that the Jews were sent into exile because they didn’t use their seichal.

Being a Jew demands the full use of seichal!



8 comments :

  1. He was also implying that child abuse was not common...

    we might point out that in reality abuse is not a rare event in our community.


    You are absolutely incorrect and the Talmid Chochom in this case was correct about this point. Abuse is indeed a very very rare event in out community.

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  2. Those who deal with the problem in the frum world disagree.

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  3. Is there any community at all (secular, and non-Jewish included) where molestation is a rare event? Seems like it's not rare in any community. Am I wrong, Rabbi E? What do the professionals think about all communities in general?

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  4. unfortunately you are correct

    it seems that child abuse is not rare in any society

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  5. Those who deal with the problem only see the problem. So to many of them they see the problem everywhere. Those in the real world, including police officials, understand the rarity of the issue.

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  6. O Kvetcher said...
    Those who deal with the problem only see the problem. So to many of them they see the problem everywhere. Those in the real world, including police officials, understand the rarity of the issue.

    ------------
    what people in the real world have you talked with including police officials have you talked with? I have heard the opposite

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  7. Obviously MOK is a troll.

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  8. It's one thing to be an internet "troll," it's quite another to actively go around trying to coverup an abuse problem and therefore encouraging more people to be victimized by spreading falsehood. I sense something far worse than trolling going on here.

    ReplyDelete

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