Monday, June 18, 2012

Pure Torah law vs. pragmatic "weeding out the thorns" - BM 83b

[updated again June 18th] There is an underlying issue in my debate with those who insist that the rabbis are the best address for dealing with child abuse. Those who insist that rabbis should take care of abuse are claiming that the Torah has its rules which we are to follow. They assert that we can not modify the Torah to get certain results - but rather we must follow precisely the path prescribed by the Torah. Thus Torah provides a protective barrier against action for them. Action only occurs if that barrier is surmounted by the path defined by Shulchan Aruch.

Rav Sternbuch told me that the welfare of the child is first priority. Thus a community focused on protecting the innocent focuses on "not to stand idly by the blood of your fellow man." We don't sacrifice a child to preserve the image of the community. We don't sacrifice a child to preserve the financial well being of a yeshiva. We don't sacrifice a child to preserve rabbinic authority. That theoretically should be agreed to by everyone - but it isn't. The ones who feel that the community image is first priority, or we must be 100% sure that the innocent aren't slandered or that the welfare of the family of the abuser is first - will look at the situation differently.

Rav Sternbuch also told me that the first task of a posek is to  establish the fact of what is happening. Is a child being threatened or harmed? Who is apparently the perpetrator? Only after the facts are gathered do you go to the Shulchan Aruch and see what the Torah allows you to do in that particular case. The obligation to investigate is required even if the posek/menahel/parent/neighbor needs to listen to rumor and lashon harah to clarify the matter. Those who focus on the image of the community - work the other way. They have a high barrier that much be passed before they get involved. 1) Are there proper witnesses - if not nothing can be done. 2) Is there a crime that is punishable by the Torah? 3) Secular government can't be used if the punishment is greater than that prescribed by the Torah. 4) Using social agencies and the police constitute mesira. 5) use of secular courts is prohibited
 
However if you accept that protecting  the child is first priority a number of apparent halachic problems arise. 1) Most of the time there are  not proper witnesses according to the Torah which requires 2 frum adult males. Those whose prime value is protecting the child utilize the Rema that permits testimony of women and children in situations where men are not found. Those who focus on the image of the community or avoidance of involvement with secular government insist that the strict Torah law be followed and thus since most of the time there are not proper witnesses - their hands are tied which allows them to do nothing while following the laws of the Torah. 2) In addition the advocates for children use the concept of rodef which removes the necessity of formal witnesses and allows the use of circumstantial evidence. Rodef is non-judicial - it simply means you can protect yourself if you think you are threatened or someone else is threatened. However the Rav M. Klein - who is a clear example of following Torah law to do nothing - objected to this approach because he said minimal force is not used to stop the rodef - but rather the police are called. In fact Gedolim such as Rav Eliashiv are well aware that the community is often not effective in stopping a molester and therefore permit the police  be called in and that is in fact the minimum force needed to protect the child. 3) However the concept of Rodef has significant limitations. It is useful to stop perpetrators or suspected perpetrators only when it involves a sin punishable by capital punishment - such as sodomy. But rape of little girls is not such a crime. Rav Eliashiv gets around that objection by categorizing child abuse as pikuach nefesh - which is an implicit acknowledgement of the view of mental health professionals. Therefore the victim is to be saved even when there rodef would normally not apply because of the type of sin or lack of physical harm. (The Tzitz Eliezar results to the use of the Rambam - about one who torments the maases for a heter in this case - see Shulchan Aruch C.M. 388) However the ones defending the community image say - there is no pikuach nefesh because they say an increase in suicide rate 20 years later amongst abuse victims doesn't constitute pikuach nefesh. They don't view psychological destruction as pikuach nefesh. 4) Mandatory reporting - it is clear from BM 83b that if reported required by secular government is obligatory and one does not have to suffer the penalties for non reporting. However those who focus on community image and rabbinical status - argue that only a rabbi can decide the complicated interaction of factors to decide to call police. The child centered advocates says that mandatory reporting can be decided by the average adult and that there is nothing in BM 83b which requires consulting with a rabbi. 5) Community image focused rabbis focus on the serious prohibition of lashon harah as described by the Chofetz Chaim with all the conditions. Rav Sternbuch has written a teshuva strongly criticizing using the prohibition of listening to lashon harah to avoid protecting the children. 6) Using the approach of self-defense rather than the judicial model of guilt or innocence enable the utilization of circumstantial evidence as well as involving the police. The community defenders insist that the community can handle the problem internally and that the prohibition of mesira and use of secular courts is too great a sin. And so the argument goes back and forth.

 A clear example of the pure Torah law versus pragmatic goal oriented halacha - is found in the beginning of Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat.  Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 1) goes through all the things we can't do today without semicha which is required by the pure Torah law. However  Shulchan Aruch (C.M. 2) provides an alternative pragmatic system focused on results not procedures. In fact the Aruch HaShulchan (C.M. 1:1) it cites the Rashba that the Temple was destroyed because of the insistence on following the strict letter of the law - instead of focusing on necessary goals.

Consequently a very functional defense of the victim happens when these alternative Torah paths are followed. However focusing on protecting the innocent rather than focusing on the strict parameters of Torah law takes power away from the rabbis - as Rabbi Zwiebel succinctly summarized the issue.


It is important to be aware that the argument between the goal oriented halachacists and those who view the halacha as a barrier to prevent action -  has been going on for a long time. Here is the granddaddy of them all. R' Eliezar is cooperating with the government to catch thieves who will be crucified. He took the job to prevent the innocent from suffering. However Torah procedure is not being followed. Goyish government is heavily involved. Death penalty is utilized by the Romans for stealing which is not what the Torah prescribes. A prominent rabbi is cooperating with the government and is moser Jews. He justifies it by saying that he is just weeding out the thorns - tikkun olam. The reply of his opponents is that the strict laws of the Torah must be followed and it really doesn't matter whether they are helping the individual or society - any injustice is up to G-d to correct. We are soldier's in G-d's army and our job is not to second guess the will of G-d which is manifested in the Torah.
Bava Metzia(83b): R. Eleazar, son of R. Simeon, once met an officer of the [Roman] Government who had been sent to arrest thieves, ‘How can you detect them?’ he said. ‘Are they not compared to wild beasts, of whom it is written, Therein [in the darkness] all the beasts of the forest creep forth?’ (Others say, he referred him to the verse, He lieth in wait secretly as a lion in his den.) ‘Maybe,’ [he continued,] ‘you take the innocent and allow the guilty to escape?’ The officer answered, ‘What shall I do? It is the King's command.’ Said the Rabbi, ‘Let me tell you what to do. Go into a tavern at the fourth hour of the day. If you see a man dozing with a cup of wine in his hand, ask what he is. If he is a learned man, [you may assume that] he has risen early to pursue his studies; if he is a day labourer he must have been up early to do his work; if his work is of the kind that is done at night, he might have been rolling thin metal. If he is none of these, he is a thief; arrest him.’ The report [of this conversation] was brought to the Court, and the order was given: ‘Let the reader of the letter become the messenger.’ R. Eleazar, son of R. Simeon, was accordingly sent for, and he proceeded to arrest the thieves. Thereupon R. Joshua, son of Karhah, sent word to him, ‘Vinegar, son of wine! How long will you deliver up the people of our God for slaughter!’ Back came the reply: ‘I weed out thorns from the vineyard.’ Whereupon R. Joshua retorted: ‘Let the owner of the vineyard himself [God] come and weed out the thorns.’
One day a fuller met him, and dubbed him: ‘Vinegar, son of wine.’ Said the Rabbi to himself, ‘Since he is so insolent, he is certainly a culprit.’ So he gave the order to his attendant: ‘Arrest him! Arrest him!’ When his anger cooled, he went after him in order to secure his release, but did not succeed. Thereupon he applied to him, [the fuller] the verse: Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles. Then they hanged him, and he [R. Eleazar son of R. Simeon] stood under the gallows and wept. Said they [his disciples] to him: ‘Master, do not grieve; for he and his son seduced a betrothed maiden on the Day of Atonement.’ [On hearing this,] he laid his hand upon his heart and exclaimed: ‘Rejoice, my heart! If matters on which thou [sc. the heart] art doubtful are thus, how much more so those on which thou art certain! I am well assured that neither worms nor decay will have power over thee.’ Yet in spite of this, his conscience disquieted him. Thereupon he was given a sleeping draught, taken into a marble chamber, and had his abdomen opened, and basketsful of fat removed from him and placed in the sun during Tammuz and Ab, and yet it did not putrefy. But no fat putrefies! — [True,] no fat putrefies; nevertheless, if it contains red streaks, it does. But here, though it contained red streaks, it did not. Thereupon he applied to himself the verse, My flesh too shall dwell in safety.
     A similar thing befell R. Ishmael son of R. Jose. [One day] Elijah met him and remonstrated with him: ‘How long will you deliver the people of our God to execution!’ — ‘What can I do’, he replied, ‘it is the royal decree.’ ‘Your father fled to Asia,’1 he retorted, ‘do you flee to Laodicea!’

130 comments :

  1. two male adult frum witnesses who do not use Internet without a filter...

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  2. R. Eliazar was only satisfied and consoled he did the correct thing after he found out the perpetrator violated Yom Kippur, a death penalty crime al pi Torah.

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    1. That is incorrect. (Just added the rest of the gemora to the post.) That was only in regard to an individual who insulted him he had arrested out of anger.

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  3. Rav Elazar berav Shimon accepted yesurim on himself every night to purify himself and prove that he was innocent of any wrong doing. His ear was damaged a bit and the explanation was that he didn't protest enough against the slander of a talmid chochom. It appears that min hashomayim they agreed to his approach.

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  4. "Thus a community focused on protecting the innocent focuses on "not to stand idly by the blood of your fellow man" and utilizes the din of rodef - acknowledges that psychologists have said that abuse is pikuach nefesh"

    I'm not sure why we need psychologists for this purpose.

    See מוריה חלק טו, where the Gedolei Eretz Yisroel: Rav Eliyashev, Rav Moshe Halberstam of the Edah Hachreidis, Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, etc. ALL permit reporting abuse - and some OBLIGATE doing so. The Gemara you mention is prominently adjudicated.

    I believe that this debate is more about TRUST. Will the anti-religious bias rampant in left-leaning "professional" circles turn innocent people into inmates?

    I think you're mixing the "black and white" with the "grey".

    The Rashba uses the terminology "ברורים" for those that investigate and mete punishment. I think it's time to find people with expertise that we can trust..... But of course how do we do THAT in a community as splintered as ours?

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    1. It was in volume 15 of Yeschurun and also volume 22

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  5. Also, in his Teshuva in מוריה Rav Moshe Halberstam explains the Gemara differently: Both REBR"S and RYB"K allowed the arrest and punishment in cases where the king's punishment didn't exceed what the Torah allowed. REBR"S however held that 1) a greater punishment is also allowed, or 2) it was appropriate for someone as great as REBR"S to be occupied with such work. RYB"K disagreed.

    Rav Halberstam goes on to say that we can learn from the Rashba that the halacha is as REBRS held.

    The Torah does indeed have ample safeguards for victims. As I mentioned other times, we're still lacking the right mechinism for defining abuse and insuring honest unbiased investigations.

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  6. There is an intepretation of this gemora that the objection was not to the use circumstantion evidence but rather that a gadol should not be the one to do it. If you search the blog for 83b you will find amongst others the following.

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2009/09/abuse-pitfalls-of-relying-on-scientific.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2011/08/maharam-shickcalling-police-even-when.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2011/08/rav-wosner-mandated-reporting-of-crime.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2010/02/r-moshe-feinsteinlegitimacy-of-capital.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2011/08/maharam-shickcalling-police-even-when.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2009/08/torah-law-is-used-as-long-as-society.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2009/07/when-reporting-abuse-is-permitted.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2011/08/self-defense-against-one-who-is-only.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2011/08/self-defense-against-one-who-is-only.html

    http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2011/06/reporting-even-suspected-abuser-to.html

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  7. I stand corrected on the source.

    So why not give credit where credit is due? If you knew that the Gedolim encourage reporting based on the Gemora you quote, why not admit that the issue is NOT one of disregarding victim's rights, but rather one of properly defining abuse and finding the right mechanism for investigating it?

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    1. First of all your comments - while important - are off topic. The issue I raised was the dichotomy between emphasis of reading the sources to accomplish the goal of protecting a child versus following the law as purely as possible without regard to the consequence. There are grey areas - but this distinction is important and useful to understand the rabbinic responses.

      The gedolim are not clearly in the first group. I was told that the teshovos were written in response to those who work with abuse victim. Even so there are variations compared to the version in Nishmas Avraham. For example the Tzitz Eliezar has problems where the rape victims are young girls as opposed to boys because the classic definition of rodef doesn't apply for young unmarried girls who are not nidda. In contrast Rav Eliashiv acknowledges there is severe psychological damage and says the halacha is the same.


      After the Novominsker got up at the Aguda convention and acknowledged the pain and suffering of abuse victims - the first shiur sponsored by the Aguda dealing with child abuse - addressed the "critical" question of - what is the justification that allows the gedolim to tell a person to go to the police! The Aguda has consistently avoided stating that the first priority is to protecting the child - it has always been the necessity of going to a rabbi to decide whether raglayim l'davar exists.

      Bottom line I disagree with you

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    2. > the issue is NOT one of disregarding victim's rights, but rather one of properly defining abuse and finding the right mechanism for investigating it?

      I fully agree with you, Ploni. Also your statements below that "evil people will use false abuse allegations as a form of coercion, and simple people will start seeing abuse in places where it never existed. The real losers will be the victims of REAL abuse."

      While action-resistant, pure Halachists, as DT refers them, are certainly a problem, encouraging a culture of victimology is no solution. TRUTH must be the aim. Within Halacha, which indeed gives a high priority to saving victims, but also to faithfully relying on H' to complete what we can't.

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  8. are you implying that pure torah law is not sufficient to solve problems today?

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    1. Yes - that is what this gemora is all about. Pure Torah law is expressed by the teshuva of Rav Menashe Klein. It is clear that he holds that the majority of gedolim are not following pure Torah law in this issue.

      http://daattorah.blogspot.co.il/2009/06/abuse-strict-din-according-to-torah_01.html

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    2. Not sure why that is called "pure Torah law." It seems to me that it demonstrates the dangers that lurk when the technical legalities of halacha get divorced from its meta-principles that are equally "pure Torah" such as "darkei noam" and "chai b'hem" and "or l'goyim" and "sevara." You end up on another planet.

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    3. what you describe as merely "technical legalities" are generally not dismissed by such metarules as you cite. That is basically the approach of the Conservatives. For example you don't have the requirement of two male witnesses dismissed becomes somebody will be upset or goyim view it ridiculous that woman are not accepted as witnesses. Sevara generally has to be accepted within the gemora or by major rishonim to be considered valid.

      The Gemora with Rav Eliezar is the big heter which is cited by the poskim. According to you there would be no need for the gemora because it is simple a severa. The problem is that the other side has a sevara also - how do you decide which sevra is dominant?

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    4. I'm a bit at a loss here. You obviously reject the Conservative's propensity to ignore "technical legalities" in favor of the Orthodox approach. Yet you seem to expect Halacha to advocate a "victims first" approach, regardless of the fact that some Rabonim believe that in certain cases your approach will not fit the "technical legalities" you profess to believe in.

      I happen to think that the question of blackmail and bais is a serious one in judging רגלים לדבר. I think that as the issue comes out of the shadows it'll only keep on getting worse, as evil people will use false abuse allegations as a form of coercion, and simple people will start seeing abuse in places where it never existed.

      The real losers will be the victims of REAL abuse. Like the boy who cried wolf, their voices will be drowned out by the crooks.

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    5. I guess I need to clarify. Rav Sternbuch told me that the welfare of the child is first priority. We don't sacrifice a child to preserve the image of the community. We don't sacrifice a child to preserve the financial well being of a yeshiva. That theoretically should be agreed to by everyone - but it isn't. The ones who feel that the community image is first priority or that the welfare of the family of the abuser is first - will look at the situation differently.

      Once you have accepted that the child is first a number of problem's arise. 1) Most of the time there is not proper witnesses. That can dealt with the Rema that permits testimony of women and children in situations where men are not found. The ones who are focused on community image or avoidance of involvment with secular government are not interested in using this Rema. 2) Using the concept of rodef removes the necessity of witnesses and allows the use of circumstantial evidence. Rodef is non-judicial - it simply means you can protect yourself if you think you are threatened or someonelse is threatened. Rav M. Klein objected to this approach because he said minimal force is not used - but rather the police are called. Gedolim such as Rav Eliashiv are well aware that the community is not effective is stopping a molester and therefore the police do need to be called in. 3) Rodef is useful to stop perpetrators or suspected perpetrators only when it involves a sin punishable by capital punishment - such as sodomy. But rape of little girls is not such a crime. Rav Eliashiv gets around that objection by involving pikuach nefesh. The ones defending the community image say - there is no pikuach nefesh. An increase in suicide rate 20 years later doesn't constitute pikuach nefesh they say. 4) Mandatory reporting - it is clear from BM 83b that a reporting required by secular government is obligatory and one does not have to suffer the penalties for non reporting. Those who focus on community image and rabbinical status - argue that only a rabbi can deal with the complicated interaction of factors to decide to call police. The child centered advocates says that mandatory reporting can be decided by the average adult and that there is nothing in BM 83b which requires consulting with a rabbi.

      Is it clear now?

      Your objection miss the fact that most of the time the beis din or rabbis are not deciding guilt or innocence. As Rav Silman has noted - going to the police is a preliminary to investigation by people who are trained to deal with issue. It is not an automatic conviction or jail sentence.

      so yes there are issues of blackmain and bias - but again we need to get our priorities straight. is a child going to sacrificied to the image of the community or is his/her safety the number one priority? The answer to that questions shapes the rest of the discussion. It should be the last question asked bu the first.

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    6. Thank you for this excellent summary of all the issues.

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  9. I believe that you are oversimplifying the problem. Your assumption is that anyone that really cares more for the victims would immediately notify Police about any abuse allegation and let the legal system run it's cause.

    I disagree. I forcefully condemn those that are ready to sacrifice a child's wellbeing for the purpose of image, etc. Still, I would hesitate handing the reigns over to "professional".

    An example: A permissive mother and authoritative father disagree on child rearing methods. The mother sees any denial of a child's wish as wrong. The father sees emotional regulation (fancy terminology for כבישת היצר?), as fulfilling and necessary. He is even ready to use corporal punishment or הכלמה judiciously, as stated in Shulchan Aruch. He did his "homework", and noted that contemporary Gedolim like Rav Wosner and Rav Chaim Kanievsky permit what he is doing.

    The parents haven't been getting along so well lately (midlife crises?), and the mother is uninterested in anything the father has to say. She has heard so and so's lecture series stating that today things have changed. So she calls Police..

    Will the "professional" be unbiased?

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    1. KOL haKavod, Ploni.

      Your reasoning is solid

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  10. My last comment wasn't posted, so I'll repost:

    I believe that you are oversimplifying the problem. Your assumption is that anyone that really cares more for the victims would immediately notify Police about any abuse allegation and let the legal system run it's cause.

    I disagree. I forcefully condemn those that are ready to sacrifice a child's wellbeing for the purpose of image, etc. Still, I would hesitate handing the reigns over to "professional".

    An example: A permissive mother and authoritative father disagree on child rearing methods. The mother sees any denial of a child's wish as wrong. The father sees emotional regulation (fancy terminology for כבישת היצר?), as fulfilling and necessary. He is even ready to use corporal punishment or הכלמה judiciously, as stated in Shulchan Aruch. He did his "homework", and noted that contemporary Gedolim like Rav Wosner and Rav Chaim Kanievsky permit what he is doing.

    The parents haven't been getting along so well lately (midlife crises?), and the mother is uninterested in anything the father has to say. She has heard so and so's lecture series stating that today things have changed. So she calls Police..

    Will the "professional" be unbiased?

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  11. I'd like to add something I heard from a Rosh Hayeshiva which might explain why those that share a learning based world outlook might not trust some professionals:

    He told me: Some of these "heimishe" professionals were my classmates in High School. They found it hard to concentrate on learning for more than a few minutes. It was obvious that - to them - learning was equal to torture. THEY are now going to be the יועצים about how to motivate teenagers to want to learn? Dis they ever taste the self satisfaction of יגיעת התורה to be able to motivate others to strive in that direction?

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    1. Not sure what relevance this has to do with whether psychologist know more about how to deal with child abuse then a rav or rosh yeshiva?

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    2. I think it has a world of relevance:

      Take the building roofer with many years of experience fixing roofs. That doesn't remove bias from his decision-making process. The home owner contacting him will be told to replace his roof for several thousand dollars. Another fellow with less experience but also less bias will patch the holes for a few hundred dollars and the roof lasts for many years to come (this story actually happened to me).

      The definition of abuse os OFTEN subjective.

      Take this entry from Wikipedia:

      "Despite some opposition to corporal punishment in the United States, the spanking of children is legal in all states.[22] ...The legality of corporal punishment in the US is typically established by the making of special exceptions in the state's law on the crimes of assault, criminal battery, domestic violence and/or child abuse. These laws usually establish that no crime has been committed when certain actions are applied to a minor by that child's parent or legal caregiver. However, the language is often vague. The line between permitted corporal punishment and what is legally defined as abuse varies by state and is not always clear (laws typically allow "reasonable force" and "non-excessive corporal punishment")."

      Therefore - while professionals may know MORE - they may also define differently than the father's Posek would. And they would have no right to do so

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    3. I agree with you that the definition of abuse is separate from determining that abuse has taken place.

      For example some would claim that a bris is child abuse. But on the other hand there are some rabbis who claim that abuse has not occurred unless contact involved penetration. Tztiz Elieazar had a problem of dealing with a teacher who was molesting young girls - who are not nidda and there is no prohibition of mishkav zachor.

      The fact that there are gray areas - doesn't change the fact that there are wide areas where a normal rabbi would never conceive that another human being would do certain things to their children. he is not the one to judge cases of incest and abuse. There are rabbis who should not be giving advice on intimate issues to husband and wives - the Debricziner is one of those.

      I have heard too many stories of young brides who are raped by their husbands who are told by their rabbi and kallah teacher - "try to be nice to him". there are too many cases of wives who were constantly being beaten by their husband who were told - "don't provoke him."

      I don't think you have much experience in this area - so your point is nice - theoretically - but go out and talk with people as to what actually happens.

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    4. Would you kindly comment on the specific example of a physical/emotional allegation that I mentioned earlier instead of talking in generalities?

      Would you think that the father could expect a fair hearing by many professionals -a although he is following his Rav?

      Would the child he "feels" threatened by this father be allowed to call Police, based on the "non-judicial guidelines of Rodef/Pikuach Nefesh?

      Who decides if the child will suffer psychological damage 20 yrs. later, and based on what criteria? Does Halacha and US law permitting reasonable corporal punishment play a role? If so - how much of a role?

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    5. To claim that a woman is "raped" by her husbands is enterring a GIANT grey zone. While I agree that "try to be nice" is no answer, crying rape without any attempt to get the husband into therapy and finding out what exactly is going on is even worse.

      Any spouse must indeed learn to understand the other's trigger points. Provocation is a huge issue that must never be neglected when seeking to understand what's gone wrong in a marriage. Because one member happens to react with more explicit aggression than the other is NOT a good reason for taking sides.

      No matter how much "experience" you claim to have, it may be that only certain types of cases come your way, or you have a propensity to bring out certain issues within your clients. Only an EXPERT, who has done extensive research and has written with substantial peer review, can dare make value judgments on who's to blame in spousal conflicts

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    6. For someone who has no training or expertise in these matters - why are you so confidently make pronouncements about these things?

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    7. The roofers analogy falls flat for many reasons:
      1. The roofer has a bias because he is an interested party. The licensed profesional doesnt make more money by determinng that the child is abused. The roofer has no duty to you the customer.
      2. Even if some roofers were more honest than others, would you call a Rav to determine how to fix your roof?!! It isnt a question fo bias but of expertise.

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    8. James - Actually that is exactly my point. The licensed professional is indeed biased, as he adamantly ignores Torah based criteria in defining relevant issues.

      Using physical abuse if you will metaphorically - I asked DT to explain Rav Eliashiv's statement that

      "יש גם לשקול בגדר של ההתעולות, שבהשקפה שלהם היא אחרת לגמרי משלנו"."


      When would a professional dissuade action based on the differences between secular and Torah based law?

      DT seems to avoid responding to particulars, thus using the same tactics who so rightfully condemns in the"other" camp

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  12. To dismiss the relevance of these meta-halachic considerations as conservative Judaism is just simply untrue. These principles have been applied from the Talmud and onward. Even the statement that the concern for child comes first is a meta-halachic consideration that comes from an instinctive sense of rightness in the posek (his halachic conscience or sense of yashrus), who then finds the support for that, because he knows it must be there. And he builds his psak from there applying the detailed legalities to "prove" what his yashrus already sensed to be so.

    The master posek "knows" how to apply these overarching values. That is what distinguishes the master from the technician. The latter could be replaced by a computer. The former is "pure Torah."

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    1. To simple assert that metarules exist in the way you are implying is simply not true. We don't do away with the issue of Aguna or mamzer because it is not darchei noam! Do we stop the execution of a murderer because he has done teshuva? There are a limited number of cases where these metarules or sevaros are utilized - they are not a universal tool.

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  13. Well actually, in both of those instances the meta principles are applied: We suspend the requirement of two witnesses for aguna, and we "let sleeping dogs lie" in the case of mamzerus (meaning we do not go looking for trouble and investigate every possible irregularity in lineage.

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    1. where does it say we don't investigate mamzerus and don't require two witnesses because of one of these metarules?

      And even if you find cases where the impact of various halachos is minimized - if the metarules existed the way you presented them - we would be able to simply ignore all Torah laws which seem to be in violation of darchei noam - not merely to minimize their impact.

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  14. The metarules do not supplant the legalities. And only in Sanhedrin (to a lesser degree Talmudic) times could they actually override them (like, for example, in the extreme limiting of the application of ben sorer v moreh or the decision to accept one witness in cases of agunot or the removal of corait by malkot). Rather they are the larger field of yashrus values and sensibilities, within which a posek orients. They are less concrete and are hardly articulated, so that makes them scary to talk about or work with or acknowledge. But if you look at what distinguishes the master posek from the stam ilui, its not that one is more expert in halachic legalities. Rather it comes down to these sensibilities...the sensitivity (and courage to apply) these meta-halachic values and to orient properly to them.

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    1. Totally agree with your statement!

      That is why in my revised post I contrasted Rav Sternbuch statement - that the priority is to protect the child with those who feel halacha is a series of barriers which can only be navigated one way and if they are not navigated we are free from having to do anything.

      Delete
  15. weren't these meta rules the subject of the King's justice when we had a king -istm that they later became conflated with the beit din when there was no "civil" seat of authority
    KT
    Joel Rich

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    1. interesting theory. Don't recall any evidence that would support such a proposal from the gemora

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  16. IIRC The Kings authority to "makin v'onshin shelo min hadin" (I don't think he used that term) was part of the King's powers as described by the Ramabam in hilchot melachim. We see it later in the gemara by beit din. IIRC the Kovner Rav held that beit din's power of hefker beit din actually comes from the original power of the melech.
    KT
    Joel RIch

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  17. Rav Elyashiv writes in his Teshuva:

    כל זה להתיר להודיע וממשלה הוא באופן שהדבר ברור שאכן ידו במעל... אך באופן שאין אפילו רגלים לדבר אלא איזה דמיון אם נתיר הדבר לא רק שאין בזה משום תיקון העולם אלא הרס העולם יש כאן ויתכן שבגלל איזה מרירות של תלמיד כלפי המורה מעליל על המורה או בגלל איזה דמיון שוא מכניסים אדם למצב שטוב מותו מחייו.. ואין אני רואה שום היתר בדבר.

    I believe that the statement "Rodef is non-judicial - it simply means you can protect yourself if you think you are threatened or someone else is threatened" is a slippery slope for exactly what Rav eliyashev condemns. "Thinking" one is threatened needs a basis in JUSTIFICATION. Justification requires objective analysis. Many professionals lack objectivity.

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    1. Please show me one statement in the gemora or Shulchan Aruch where its states that a person needs to first go to someone for an objective analysis before he defend himself?

      If you want an objective analaysis regarding child abuse- why do you think a rabbi can provide a judgment in an area he know nothing about?

      On what basis on are claiming that professionals lack objectivity - apparently more than rabbis or business executives?

      Delete
    2. See Rema C"M תכ"א ס' י"ג:
      "מי ששוא תחת רשותו ורואה בו שהוא עושה דבר עבירה רשאי להכותו וליסרו כדי להפרישו מאיסור ואין צריך להביאו לבית דין"

      So based on your reasoning - the father is permitted to hit his son... and then the son can "protect himself" by calling Police... Interesting line of thought...

      Delete
  18. Reb Yeruchem in explaining why Yosef was not oiver on Kibud Av by not contacting his father, explains that Derech Eretz K"LT means that when an idea is so true and necessary to you as the right thing to do then it becomes the biggest Chiuv for you and supersedes regular Torah law. That's why based on his dreams he felt that the right thing to do is to not be mekaim Kibud Av.
    Derech Eretz supports everything you have written and is an additional chiyuv to carry it out. Thank you for your well written works.

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  19. Ploni wronte: Would you kindly comment on the specific example of a physical/emotional allegation that I mentioned earlier instead of talking in generalities?

    Would you think that the father could expect a fair hearing by many professionals -a although he is following his Rav?
    ===============
    DT Not sure that following his rav is an excuse. For example there have a number of cases where people have severely beaten and mistreated there children following the directions of their rav.

    If the menahel of a yeshiva feels that a child is being too severely disciplined and the child is being destroyed - but the father insists that he is following his mesora - what should the menahel do?
    ======================
    Plonie wrote: Would the child he "feels" threatened by this father be allowed to call Police, based on the "non-judicial guidelines of Rodef/Pikuach Nefesh?

    DT wrote There are definitely cases where I would say yes. Obviously it is not a black and white issue. In the abuses such as weingartedn where the father is raping the daughter - she should definitely call the police.
    ===============
    Ploni wrote: Who decides if the child will suffer psychological damage 20 yrs. later, and based on what criteria? Does Halacha and US law permitting reasonable corporal punishment play a role? If so - how much of a role?
    ====
    DT I don't know why you are so focused on corporal punishment. The topic here is sexual abuse. There are gray areas in physical abuse - but someone needs to make the decision. If you feel that this is a din of rodef and that the child is endangered now - you can call the police.

    You clearly don't like psychologists - and you clearly are ignoring the halachic literature of self defense or defending others.

    If you were walking down the street and saw a chashiva rav beating his child or his wife - what would you do? What if you thought (but weren't sure) that he might severely harm them? Would you call the police or would you first try to locate a posek?

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  20. I'll start from DT's very last question - I hope that will illustrate the reasons why I disagree with him. He asks:

    "If you were walking down the street and saw a chashiva rav beating his child or his wife - what would you do? What if you thought (but weren't sure) that he might severely harm them? Would you call the police or would you first try to locate a posek?"

    If there was even a question of Pikuach Nefesh I would 1) IMMEDIATELY do everything I could to stop the assault, as waiting for Police would take to long. This includes physically restraining the perpetrator, regardless of who he is - במקום שיש חילול ה' אין חולקין כבוד לרב. We have a Mitzvah of לא תעמד על דם רעך, and the Mitzvoh is based on the evidence unfolding before our eyes. The היתר\מצוה of chinuch never ever allows this type of hitting. Parents 2) Next, I would try finding out the "background story", AFTER the immediate danger has passed. 3) In instances where I am unable to stop the assault, I would immediately call police, without hesitation. I would do the same if it was obvious that the perpetrator has a good chance of causing Pikuach Nefesh in the future, based on the Psak of the Gedolei Eretz Yisroel.


    Pikuach Nefesh does, however, most definitely NOT mean ANY bodily harm according to both Halacha and US law. It does also most definitely NOT mean possible psychological damage in the future. Here is were anyone in the field needs to know the Halacha AND the law.

    You lumped together "child or wife". I think they're two different worlds.

    As far as child: "Reasonable" corporal punishment לתועלת is מותר when other methods are not found to be effective. The father is the sole judge on the aforementioned, as mentioned in חו"מ ס' תכ"א סי"ג. He has the Din of Bais Din. According to the גר"ז נזקי הגוף ד' the היתר of תועלת includes teaching the child מורא וכיבוד אב.

    Therefore, if I felt this was the case - I would do nothing. Hitting only from anger is אסור, but if the father seems to have combined תועלת and anger, Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes in ס' משנת פיקוח נפש that he is probably not עובר על איסור בל תוסיף. Therefore I would also do nothing.

    As far as hitting a wife - although the מקור of the aforementioned Rema in ס' תכא סי"ג deals with hitting a wife who is transgressing the איסור of שבועת שוא, I believe the אחרונים mention that today we would never be מתיר hitting a wife, in any instance.

    I'll admit that I had to look up these answers. And this leads me to my main "gripe": Why do certain Rabonim AND heimishe psychologists ignore the intricacies of Halacha when emotionally charged issues arise?

    I didn't know the Halacha off hand, because it's not the kind of thing I'm used to seeing. But what excuse do professionals have to not acquaint themselves with these Halachos - both when action is mandatory, and when we should turn a blind eye?

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    1. Rav Eliashiv holds that the severe psychological trauma of abuse is caused pikuach nefesh. This is reported by the Nishmas Avraham and I heard it from the Bostoner Rebbe who got the same answer from Rav Eliashiv. There is also a Rabbeinu Tam which indicates the same thing.

      Regarding the distinction between child and wife - A world famous posek who was addressing a group of psychologists and mental health workers said the following - he asked that his name not be mentioned - For child abuse you call the police because the child can't protect himself. For wife abuse you don't call the police because she is an adult and if it really bothered her then she would call the police herself. This is a very interesting sevora - but the facts are that many abused wives become psychologically destroyed and blame themselves for their husbands rage. It is not clear that they have the free-will to call the police.

      Regarding the halacha there is a variety of views. The bottom line is don't let another person be harmed. An intelligent person can figure out the details.

      Delete
    2. >"The bottom line is don't let another person be harmed."

      Including the harm that comes from prematurely judging someone for a crime that has no proof, just heresay

      Delete
    3. I feel like I'm having a bit of a hard time getting through here.

      Of course "severe psychological trauma of abuse is.. Pekuach Nefesh".

      What i keep on trying to explain - so far to no avail - is that the GEDOLEI HAPOSKIM do NOT necessarily agree with how psychologists define "severe psychological trauma".

      How do you explain this quote from Rav Eliyashiv's Teshuva in Yeshurun, concerning physical abuse:

      "יש גם לשקול בגדר של ההתעולות, שבהשקפה שלהם היא אחרת לגמרי משלנו".???


      DT wrote "Not sure that following his rav is an excuse". Granted that not every Psak from every Rav is well thought through, and even Torah giants like R S"Z Aurbach rescinded some of his Psokim, however none of the Gedolim rescinded this Psak, and for good reason.

      Even US law understands that "don't let another person be harmed" is NOT the way to go - that's why CP wasnt prohibited.By granting any child a license to call Police and open an investigation, we our teaching our children that REGARDLESS of what GEDOLEI HAPOSKIM say and REGARDLESS of US law, children have the right to intimidate their parents at will.

      The chilling effect is a problem that many dedicated Mechanchim today bemoan.Not the "bully" Mechanchim, but rather those that RARELY hit - but would want the child to know that the POSSIBILITY exists, and those keep the child on the right track.


      I already quoted the REMA in C"M - which the מנחת יצחק brings - granting the father the power of a Bis Din in his home.

      DT's blanket statement seems to be saying that we psychologists know best in defining "severe psychological trauma". I will be dan Lekaf Zechus - The besmirching the victim and glorifying the abuser so common in our communities perhaps causes an overreaction to the other extreme. However - in my humble opinion, this is very wrong.


      Hitting as a "way of life" has no place, and is also ineffective. However, when used judiciously it DOES have its place. Someone calling Police in such cases is indeed a Moser, according to a Kol Koreh signed by 70+ Gedolei Rabonim

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    4. DT wrote: "You clearly don't like psychologists - and you clearly are ignoring the halachic literature of self defense or defending others."

      Not at all. I just don't like giving over the decision making process to those that clearly aren't interested that those decisions be based on Halacha as understood by Gedolei Haposkim, at the very least not criminilize what US law permits and not defy common sense.

      I'll be happy to change my opinion as soon as I see psychologists going into the "fine print" of when a father DOES have the כח בית דין, etc.

      Delete
    5. DT wrote: "DT wrote There are definitely cases where I would say yes. Obviously it is not a black and white issue."

      And later "The bottom line is don't let another person be harmed. An intelligent person can figure out the details."

      No contradiction here?


      By the way: I totally agree that assuming the W. father raped his daughter - she should definitely call the police.

      Delete
    6. DT wrote "If the menahel of a yeshiva feels that a child is being too severely disciplined and the child is being destroyed - but the father insists that he is following his mesora - what should the menahel do?"

      He should try to teach the father alternative methods of discipline. Assuming the father is really following a Psak that Gedolei Haposkim hold,he has no right calling Police.

      If he feels the Psak was in error he SHOULD meet the Posek and be נושא ונותן in Halacha with him

      Frankly, I'm not sure if this word be Halachic grounds for threatening expulsion.

      Why can one

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    7. DT wrote: "I don't know why you are so focused on corporal punishment. The topic here is sexual abuse."

      I took the liberty to do so 1) Because its an area I'm more aware of, being in the education line and B"H never having to deal with sexual abuse. 2) It's just a bit less inflammatory as a topic. 3) Some would say that doing nothing isnt an option - CP is an important tool to have in the disciplinary toolbox. Not to use often, but to make sure that the child knows "all options are open".

      Delete
    8. DT wrote: " There are gray areas in physical abuse - but someone needs to make the decision."

      Definitely a need for HALACHIK experts here. Not scaremongers or pick-my-favorite-chazal and ignore the others approach. There's no need to make spur of the moment decisions. How about a Sefer on the topic?

      Delete
    9. DT wrote: "If you feel that this is a din of rodef and that the child is endangered now - you can call the police."

      Are you familiar with what the Chofetz Chaim writes based on the Shaarei Teshuva about the Midah of נרגנות? Thats an unhappy person that constantly finds fault in what another person does לפי תומו. Do you understand the DISASTER that would unfold if such a person only FEELS threatened?

      Please address my specific scenario mentioned earlier about a permissive mother that can't say "no" vs. an authoritative father. Add a child that with "street smarts" that learned his "rights" and prefers the mothers permissiveness and wants to show the father "who's boss".

      A bible-belt judge would throw the case out. A NY social worker or family court judge - far from sure. Are we bound by the whims of the moment?

      Where would you draw the line as to what "an intelligent person understands"?

      How about a role reversal: The mother NEVER has supper on time, etc. The "poor" father feels beyond his wits end and sees that she does everything to spite him... He is going off his mind! He's sure that the wife's attitude is what spoiled his life, blah, blah. He feels severely traumatized, etc. He even imagines that she is "out to get him". Can he also call Police?

      There is a missing ingredient: JUSTIFICATION. Yes, we need common sense. The beauty of Torah is that it is ETERNAL.

      I KNOW you mean well. However, when judging victim's rights I feel a "filter" is missing: True Torah.

      We needn't be afraid. There is much that we CAN do - and is not being currently done - if we would only use the tools the Torah provides.

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    10. > DT wrote: "You clearly don't like psychologists (...)
      >Not at all. I just don't like giving over the decision making process to those that clearly aren't interested that those decisions be based on Halacha as understood by Gedolei Haposkim (...)"

      Again, Ploni hits the nail on the head

      Delete
    11. >PloniJune 19, 2012 2:14 AM
      What i keep on trying to explain - so far to no avail - is that the GEDOLEI HAPOSKIM do NOT necessarily agree with how psychologists define "severe psychological trauma".

      No, you ARE getting through to some of us, Ploni. All of DT's kav of glorifying this amorphous cadre of saviors known as psychologists over the gdoilim is finally being challenged by a knowledgeable voice of sanity.

      What's really going on, in my view, is that DT has his finger on the pulse of the growing discontent towards conventional Halachic culture by many frumsters. I too am among those who see many of the glaring holes in conventional Halachic culture, especially in terms of abuse-of-power issues. But the solution is NOT to turn to the secular authorities ...

      My personal opinion is that the problem is more about a lack of willingness/ time/ capability of Gdoilei HaTorah to THOROUGHLY investigate the problems raging amongst common yidden. Whether it be in chinnuch or Shalom Bayis or parnassa or sexual tensions, too many ppl in positions to spiritually guide us fall prey to superficial solutions. Their guiding light seems to be just keep the machine of yiddishkeit going, as opposed to truly seeking to understand what is morally and psychologically not working in standard yiddishkeit.

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    12. yy now that you have trashed the psychologists - because they have don't have Torah values and the gedolim because of "a lack of willingness/ time/ capability of Gdoilei HaTorah to THOROUGHLY investigate the problems" who would you turn to?

      Your house is burning - do you go to the goyim who have only secular tools "pheh!" but can at least save your house - or the gedolim who in your words don't want to do anything, have no time to do anything and are not capable of doing anything. You have 10 minutes to act before it is destroyed - who would you call up for assistance- 911 or the Aguda?

      How are you supporting Ploni when you state that the gedolim are not the answer and are not capable of being the answer? Actually Ploni - how do you answer yy's assertions? Do you agree with him?

      In fact yy - you are in agreement with me regarding the problem - my solution is working within the halacha to utilize secular knowledge and institutions when Jewish ones aren't available - what is your solution?

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    13. Firstly - thank you yy. I was feeling like a voice in the wilderness. So much "yellow journalism" contrasted by so much Chilul Hashem by the those that are meant to guide us. As the Gemara in Baba Kama says:

      כד רגיז רעיא על ענא עביד לנגדא סמותא

      And Rashi explains:
      עביד לנגדא סמותא. לעז המושכת מנקר עיניה ונכשלת ונופלת בבורות והעדר אחריה כך כשהמקום נפרע משונאי ישראל ממנה להן פרנסים שאינן מהוגנין:

      It hurts.

      So DT - with much pain in my heart I must agree with yy.

      The problem IS exactly what he says. We are unfortunately witnessing the outcome of כבוד trumping truth, where the "business" of Torah makes otherwise generous people afraid of saying or doing anything that might "rock the boat".

      The real Gedolim cannot thoroughly investigate because nobody seems interested in vesting them with that power. The fake Gedolim don't want all of their skeletons to be uncovered, the secular and proto-secular crowd just have no idea what we're all about, and the haters just want to see blood.

      I'm convinced that the solution won't come from the secular world. The precursor to Churban Habayis was the fact that one of two warring factions of klal yisroel asked the Romans to intervene. Giving the reigns to secular authorities in this matter means opening the door to פריקת עול.

      Furthermore, as yy so succinctly put it - do no harm includes "the harm that comes from prematurely judging someone for a crime that has no proof, just hearsay".

      Rav Eliyashiv et al clearly say the same. So DT, please be true to your blog namesake and listen to Daas Torah. These are not a bunch of petty, warring juveniles. They are wise people who don't get caught up in emotions and carefully judge issues from ALL angles.

      Keep up your advocacy - be a force in the direction of vesting TRUE Gedolim with the power to fix the problem based on a Torah True approach.

      I've actually tried talking to Rabonim. Some feel paralyzed.

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    14. I find your words astounding. The gedolim are not doing anything because we are not letting them?! Mondrowitz got away with molesting because we didn't invest the gedolim with power? That is utter rubbish.

      Please tell me what the Torah true approach? That of Rav Menashe Klein? The Aguda's position based on Rav Eliashiv which says that raglayim l'davar can only be decided by someone with semicha?

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    15. "this amorphous cadre of saviors known as psychologists over the gdoilim"

      weren't you the one who insisted he wanted marriage counseling? With one of those "amorphous cadre of saviours"??? I called your bluff...

      Delete
    16. I've made it clear: We have TWO sets of "gedolim". The real ones that are hurting and don't have power, vs. those that DO have power but have other "more important rthings" like "not rocking the boat".

      Our job is to back TRUE gedolim - that base their Psokim on torah based criteria. Quite simple.

      No news in my position. No "heimische" yid would "play around" with Hilchos Shabbos - we'd "look up the halacha" - why is this different?

      Delete
    17. "Why is this different?"

      Because you have to weight two problems one against the other. It is not like keep shabbat vs. mechalel shabbat, it is more like: which melachot are you allowed to do in to save a life or for health reasons. That would be a better comparison.

      There is no question, that in case of doubt, hilchot shabbat come after pikuach nefesh...

      Whoever says in such a case they know the victim is lying is a motzei shem ra, just like they say the accusers are...

      Delete
  21. "However the ones defending the community image say - there is no pikuach nefesh because they say an increase in suicide rate 20 years later amongst abuse victims doesn't constitute pikuach nefesh. They don't view psychological destruction as pikuach nefesh." JUST WONDERING - WOULD THEY VIEW DESTRUCTION OF THE NESHAMA AS PIKUACH NEFESH? ACCORDING TO AUTHOR FARANAK MARGOLESE IN "OFF THE DERECH" SHE CLAIMS NINE OUT OF TEN MOLESTATION VICTIMS GO OFF THE DERECH.

    "The community defenders insist that the community can handle the problem internally and that the prohibition of mesira and use of secular courts is too great a sin." HERE'S A TRAGIC CURRENT EXAMPLE: THE WILLIAMSBURG HANDLING OF THE WEBERMAN CASE: WHEN WEBERMAN WAS ARRESTED IN 2011, SEVERAL OF HIS MANY VICTIMS WERE MOVED TO GO TO THEIR RABBONIM WITH THEIR STORIES. WITHOUT FAIL, EACH RAV TOLD THE PARENTS, OR IN SOME CASES THE HUSBANDS, "WE WILL TAKE CARE OF IT, DON'T SPEAK TO ANYONE ELSE, YOU ARE ESPECIALLY PROHIBITED TO SPEAK TO THE LEGAL AUTHORITIES." WHEN THE RABBONIM WERE CHALLENGED ON THIS PROHIBITION THEY REPLIED, "IF WEBERMAN WERE TO BE GIVEN A 2-3 YEAR SENTENCE WE WOULD ENCOURAGE EVERYONE TO RUN TO THE AUTHORITIES, BUT FOR A POTENTIAL 25-30 YEAR SENTENCE - IT IS PROHIBITED TO SPEAK TO THE AUTHORITIES." AND IN THE SPIRIT OF THIS MINDSET, THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY OF WILLIAMSBERG WAS PERSUADED TO COME TO A FUNDRAISER FOR WEBERMAN. IT WAS NOT JUST A FUNDRAISER - IT WAS AN OUTPOURING OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR HIM. ANYONE WHO HAS SEEN THE CLIPS OF WEBERMAN AT THE EVENT, CAN SEE HOW HE ACTED LIKE A 'BAL SIMCHA'! CONVERSELY, THE VICTIM AND HER FAMILY HAVE BEEN PUT THROUGH A HOLOCAUST. THE PARENTS EACH OWN A SMALL HOMESTYLE BUSINESS WHICH THIS LOVING, 'BAALEI TZEDAKA V'CHESED' WILLIAMSBURG COMMUNITY HAS BROUGHT TO THEIR KNEES, THE PARENTS ARE SHUNNED, OSTRACIZED, CONDEMNED, THE FATHER CALLED NAMES IN SHUL, THEIR GRANDCHILDREN ARE NOT ACCEPTED INTO ANY SCHOOL IN WILLIAMSBURG INCLUDING THE VERY SCHOOL THAT SENT THEIR DAUGHTER TO WEBERMAN FOR COUNSELING. THE RIVERS OF TEARS THIS FAMILY HAS SHED, BOTH FOR THEIR VICTIMIZED CHILD AND FOR THE COMMUNITY'S REACTION TO THEIR TZAR IS BEYOND LOGICAL COMPREHENSION. THIS IS THE RESULT OF THE COMMUNITY HANDLING IT INTERNALLY! WHAT THEY HAVE ACCOMPLISHED HAS GIVEN MORE STRENGTH TO PEDOPHILES AND WOE TO VICTIMS IN THIS HOLY COMMUNITY.

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  22. If what concerned writes is true, it should be condemned in the strongest terms. This would constitute an extreme perversion of justice.

    Baalei Aveira do not deserve respect until they publicly repent, as mentioned in שואל ומשיב קמאס' צ"א.

    I for one have no idea what happened behind closed doors. I also do not know if indeed what you post is true - do the williamsburg Rabonim admit that he deserves a 2-3 yr. sentence? I doubt I'll ever find out.

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    1. RE: "I for one have no idea what happened behind closed doors." I PERSONALLY HEARD FROM RAV BENZION WOSNER OF MONSEY, QUOTING HIS FATHER RAV SHMUEL WOSNER: (translated from Yiddish) WHERE AN AVEIRA HAPPENS BETWEEN 4 EYES, AN ISHA AND A KATAN ARE TO BE BELIEVED'

      HERE'S ONE RAV OUT OF SEVERAL YOU CAN CONTACT RE THE 2-3 YR QUOTE: YISRUL DOVID HARFENES: 718-384-0255

      Delete
  23. love this post more than you can believe, i have been citing R' Elazer for years and everyone tries to distort the pashut pshat (including some commenters above). In addition to the famous Teshuvas haRashba on the topic of moser (which i personally believe was based on a clearly different Girsah of the R' Elazer story(i.e. the citations are clearly different), there is also the famous Teshuvas Haran (i think 9) that explains as you say, that though there is a Torah requirement for 2 witnesses etc., that is only the ideal, but when faced with real issues, the King/Nasi (and in our days, the relevant authority) may take matters into his own hands and deal justly based on any evidence that can provide the necessary birrur to prove guilt and support a punishment (also, not necesarily in accordance with the Torah prescription). And if i remember correctly the Ran seems to say that this is truly Torah law as passed down (and this explains many strange passages in Tanach and the gemara with respect to special punishments etc).

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  24. love this post more than you can believe, i have been citing R' Elazer for years and everyone tries to distort the pashut pshat (including some commenters above) of the story of this holy and brave tzadik.

    In addition to the famous Teshuvas haRashba on the topic of moser (which i personally believe was based on a clearly different Girsah of the R' Elazer story(i.e. the citations are clearly different), there is also the famous Teshuvas Haran (i think 9) that explains as you say, that though there is a Torah requirement for 2 witnesses etc., that is only the ideal, but when faced with real issues, the King/Nasi (and in our days, the relevant authority) may take matters into his own hands and deal justly based on any evidence that can provide the necessary birrur to prove guilt and support a punishment (also, not necesarily in accordance with the Torah prescription). And if i remember correctly the Ran seems to say that this is truly Torah law as passed down (and this explains many strange passages in Tanach and the gemara with respect to special punishments etc).

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  25. Ploni -

    How come over the past 5 years there isn't even one case where the Rabbonim felt that a case rose to the level of Raglaim Leduvar? Why do we not know of a single case where they publically supported the victim and stood by him as he cooperated with the authorities.

    So, the reality that all your posts amount to a bunch of theoretical nonesense. The community and the Rabbonim are not willing to tolerate one going to the police. Period. End of story. Regardless if there is raglaim leduvar or even if the abuser admitted.

    To pretend otherwise is being completely dishonest. This has nothing to do if one needs to go to a rabbi or not. And it has nothing to do about the level of proof. Because recent history has proven that even in the most severe cases and with solid proof they will not tolerate cooperation with police.

    Just be honest.

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    1. Very well put!

      Ploni with all your bemoaning about the restriction on your ability to hit some students/children once in a while - that really isn't a major issue and is simply a distraction from the points I have made regarding sexual abuse.

      Bottom line - if your children or children you know are being sexually abused - who would you turn to. The rabbis who tell you that you can't do anything and that they aren't going to do anything or the secular authorities who will investigate and have the power and the will to do something to help?

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    2. I believe that the blanket statement of "not one single case" isnt true. But I agree that this and other problems are left to fester in MOST cases.

      I am being perfectly honest. YY stated the problem well. We live in a generation where some Rabonim are afraid and others unwilling to do anything controversial, so problems fester and thorough investigations arent done about ANYTHING - not just abuse..

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    3. And to you DT - havent I already CLEARLY answered your question as it pertains to the "Chasuva Rav" question you posed? We are commanded not to stand idly by the side.

      כל שכן by sexual abuse.

      And why do you go back to the fallacy that "rabbis who tell you that you can't do anything and that they aren't going to do anything"? What happened to all those Teshuvos in Yeshurin?

      Lets say it again - the issue is using Torah criteria about defining abuse, etc.

      Delete
    4. comeonnow - I wasnt clear before. The public support was lacking because of the blackmail and intimidation which is unfortunately widespread. So the answer is - fear.

      Im speaking about the erliche Rabonim.

      The Ravs reasoning is that he lacks clear knowledge of the facts so he doesnt have to act.

      And he doesnt WANT clear knowledge, because of fear.


      So, this is the fruit of nobody being ready to do the thorough investigation that yy mentions as necessary.

      Delete
    5. Ploni please tell me what these Torah criteria are?

      Delete
    6. I dont think its a distraction. These are just different examples of problems left to fester because a thorough parsing of the facts based on a Torah-true perspective is lacking.

      Your solution is dangerous, as it still doesnt rectify that and opens a Pandoras box of new problems.

      Two wrongs dont make a right, as the saying goes.

      Delete
    7. I just re-read yy post (I guess I felt I needed a bit of Chizuk).

      He writes:

      "the problem is more about a lack of willingness/ time/ capability of Gdoilei HaTorah to THOROUGHLY investigate the problems raging amongst common yidden. Whether it be in chinnuch or Shalom Bayis or parnassa or sexual tensions, too many ppl in positions to spiritually guide us fall prey to superficial solutions. Their guiding light seems to be just keep the machine of yiddishkeit going, as opposed to truly seeking to understand what is morally and psychologically not working in standard yiddishkeit."

      That is the truth.

      Now it's time for like-minded, concerned individuals to arise - and act!

      Delete
    8. Dt asked:
      "Ploni please tell me what these Torah criteria are?"

      I believe that your question is the first step in the right direction.

      There are countless Seforim on each מקצוע בתורה - whether Bishul, or ברכת הפירות or whatever. The time has come for a well-researched sefer written on the subject matter of sexual abuse. It should have strong Haskamos, etc.

      I don't know the answers. But I know that the answers CAN be found in Torah. The Sefer should have DETAILs.. this type of touch Hallachikally constitutes Rodef, this does not.

      Delete
    9. Ploni I don't know what planet you live on. I published a compendium of all the teshuvos and rabbinic literature - including that which appeared in Yeschurun. Child and Domestic Abuse Vol II. In Volume one I published Rav Sternbuch's guidelines for dealing with abuse.

      The literature doesn't provide the explicit answers you are looking for. What it does provide are general guidelines which require judgment of how much harm is happening or might happening. For this evaluation the gedolim generally ask the psychologists and psychiatrists.

      So we just went full circle. You really are living in a fantasy world - and yet you feel it your obligation to trash those who are trying to improve the situation because it isn't the ideal Torah way!

      Delete
    10. wow. Ploni, I do feel a rare brotherhood of concern for Torah TRUTH. It is hard to be a voice in the wilderness, but such has always been the way of mechapsei emes.

      You wrote:

      >We are unfortunately witnessing the outcome of כבוד trumping truth, where the "business" of Torah makes otherwise generous people afraid of saying or doing anything that might "rock the boat".

      [...] Giving the reigns to secular authorities in this matter means opening the door to פריקת עול. Furthermore, as yy so succinctly put it - do no harm includes "the harm that comes from prematurely judging someone for a crime that has no proof, just hearsay".

      Rav Eliyashiv et al clearly say the same. So DT, please be true to your blog namesake and LISTEN TO DAAS TORAH [caps mine...] Keep up your advocacy - be a force in the direction of vesting TRUE Gedolim with the power to fix the problem based on a Torah True approach

      [...] We live in a generation where some Rabonim are afraid and others unwilling to do anything controversial, so problems fester and thorough investigations arent done about ANYTHING - not just abuse [...] Lets say it again - the issue is using Torah criteria about defining abuse [...] The Ravs reasoning is that he lacks clear knowledge of the facts so he doesnt have to act. And he doesnt WANT clear knowledge, because of fear. So, this is the fruit of nobody being ready to do the thorough investigation that yy mentions as necessary."

      I echo your call for other such voices making themselves heard.

      Delete
    11. DT said:
      "the gedolim generally ask the psychologists and psychiatrists".

      So we have indeed come full circle. If the "power" of psychologists and psychiatrists emanates from the power, it will never carry more weight than the power of the Gadol himself..

      The Gadol cannot issue a P{sak and ignore good קושיות on his Psak. Thats why every Gadol has certain stances that were not accepted (example: RM"F as far as using Shabbos clocks).

      THE PROFESSIONAL CANNOT EXPECT BLIND TRUST AND CONDESCENDING ANSWERS TO THOSE QUESTIONING HIS JUDGEMENT.

      See C"M ס' ע"ה - the חיוב is to be מברר טענות, etc.

      Hiding behind the facade of professional judgement is no better than hiding behind the facade of false daas torah that is uninterested in full investigations.

      BTW I'm happy with professional that are ready to "open up" their decision making process to scrutiny.

      Delete
  26. Ploni wrote:

    Firstly - thank you yy. I was feeling like a voice in the wilderness. So much "yellow journalism" contrasted by so much Chilul Hashem by the those that are meant to guide us. As the Gemara in Baba Kama says:

    כד רגיז רעיא על ענא עביד לנגדא סמותא

    And Rashi explains:
    עביד לנגדא סמותא. לעז המושכת מנקר עיניה ונכשלת ונופלת בבורות והעדר אחריה כך כשהמקום נפרע משונאי ישראל ממנה להן פרנסים שאינן מהוגנין
    ===============================
    The above is BK 52a,When a shepherd gets angry with his flock he blinds the leader so that the flock ends up being led in a path which causes it to be hurt. Therefore when G-d punishes the Jews He appoints leaders which are incompetent.

    So again Ploni - after you and yy severely question the competence and will of the gedolim - you say even so we aren't going to turn to the psychologist and secular forces and we are going to severely criticize those who suggest it.

    So what is your point? That we live in an imperfect world? And therefore what? Trash those who suggest ways of actually doing something because it isn't the ideal Torah ways? You can't have it both ways. Either you want to focus on an unattainable ideal which won't happen until Moshiach comes or you want to help protect the innocent now.

    This gets back to BM 83b. R' Eliezar bar R' Shimon did something which wasn't the ideal Torah way to save innocent Jews from being killed. For that he was severely criticized by his peers. Nonetheless that is the halacha.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. DT writes - "Either you want to focus on an unattainable ideal which won't happen until Moshiach comes"

      DT - I'm not such a pessimist.

      Change can be incremental, and theres alot we CAN do, which while not reaching the "unattainable ideal" of perfection - would still go a long way.

      First step is finding someone to step up to the plate and do what yy mentioned as so surely lacking:

      CLARIFY Torah based principles concerning "chinnuch or Shalom Bayis or parnassa or sexual tensions".

      No coercion. No intimidation. Quote and clarify opposing viewpoints.

      We'll surely be left with a lot of "grey" areas. But we'll also start seeing the "black and white", and thereby we'll be able to אי"ה be able to start building a consensus on many of the burning issues.

      Some Gedolim will then be willing to raise their voices.

      There will be naysayers.We definitely WILL NOT win everyone over. But we can become a power for KIddush Hashem.

      Our job is just to DO, the serious השתדלות is what counts.

      מי לה' אלי!

      Delete
    2. ... and please stop quoting REBR"S. His רגלים לדבר wasnt based on liberal-leaning child rearing criteria or on concocted definitions of abuse. He was catching thieves. They stole - surely an Aveira.

      Delete
    3. Ploni - responding to you is obviously a gross waste of my time since you have no clue what you are talking about - especially the Torah sources that you claim you value.

      If you had taken the trouble of reading Yeschurun 15 - which is a collection of teshuvos on child abuse - you would have noticed that Rav Eliashiv cites this gemora as do most of the other Gedolim. So why shouldn't I follow the lead of the gedolim in understanding the applicablity of gemora? Are you not only accusing the gedolim of laziness, cowardice, incompetence but also being influenced by "liberal-leaning child rearing critiera"

      Delete
    4. >Either you want to focus on an unattainable ideal which won't happen until Moshiach comes or you want to help protect the innocent now.

      An interesting dilemma indeed. Not sure how close it actually is to ours though. Needs some more thought. Let me just toss out a few thoughts in the meantime...

      1)Neither I nor Ploni suggested "trashing"

      2)Your Protect The Innocent Now doesn't sound much different from We Want Moshiakh Now or Eretz Yisroel HaShleima Now... or Let's Make our Millions Now or let's develop the ultimate hedonistic Menuval B'reshus HaTorah Glatt Kosher Boat Cruise culture NOW! The machaneh meshutaf is that the Rsh"o is being left out of the picture. As per modern psychology, the big focus is on being in control of your own destiny. In contrast to accepting H' as the ultimate judge and that all we can do is access His Torah and strive to facilitate HIS truth.

      3) That the Torah wants us to make extra efforts to protect our children is a given. The question is why it is so unclear how the Torah defines abuse. I'm really not sure. But that doesn't justify vigilantism, especially not in the name of Torah!

      Delete
    5. Thank You yy.

      Are you brave enough to share your email, so that I can contact you (I'm still hedging about sharing mine!).

      Delete
    6. "The machaneh meshutaf is that the Rsh"o is being left out of the picture. As per modern psychology, the big focus is on being in control of your own destiny. In contrast to accepting H' as the ultimate judge and that all we can do is access His Torah and strive to facilitate HIS truth."

      Are you the same yy that posted his saga on this forum and talked about how he doesn't want to give his wife a get without 3-months counseling NOW?

      Delete
    7. Ploni -- ask DT PRIVATELY for my email

      Ploni2 -- the issue that was discussed regarding that saga in ShB was how the husband could honestly grant a Get. That she was trying to extort it from him without was an obvious distortion of every Torah principle he had learned. His request for that counseling, based on solid Daas Torah guidance, was in order to possibly fulfill what she was asking or alternatviely fulfill the great Mitzvah of havaat Shalom bein Al"E.

      It's a sad expression of desperation if someone in a discussion about about how the Torah wants us to prevent child abuse needs to stoop to personal issues that blurr the actual matter at hand. The reference to all those "religious" NOW-movements was in order to highlight the problem of cognitive dissonance among believers in H' who also feel the need to push some major envelope in their lives. For a husband to work with the status quo well grounded in Chazal that H' prefers to keep a Bayit Neeman together than not, is absolutely irrelevant to this discussion.

      Delete
  27. @daas torah

    1) I don't think that Menashe Klein holds the "pure Torah" position, since he makes no distinction between what the victim is allowed to tell and what people who heard the victim's testimony are allowed to tell.

    If he comes to the conclusion that it is forbidden to repeat the testimony for lack of two Eidim, that does not mean that the victim should be shut up, since what they report is no hearsay, they were there.

    So, even if we take the stringent approach of M. Klein, the victims would have to be allowed freedom of speech under torah law.

    However, Torah institutions intimidated victims to shut them up, which clearly indicates that they were not granting them freedom of speech, so those institutions clearly violated torah law.

    An unbiased, yet stringent Torah-approach would be to encourage the victims to speak out.

    2) The gemara you quote was, in some ways, the user manual for galut: we do not have a criminal juridiction of our own, someone has to deal with criminals, so we leave them to local authorities - in this case the romans. Even if their legislation is not as ours, it is preferable to have their laws rather than lawlessness or laws that cannot be enforced.

    During Galut, virtually no jewish community, especially not in ashkenaz, had the authority and competence to deal with criminal law on their own. The only sanction rabbinic courts could enact was a kind of herem or ostracising by the community. Which means that the offender could either move on to a different place or adopt a different religion to solve the problem.

    This is still what is largely done: when they identify an offender, they close their doors and have him move on to the next community. communities, by and large, were not bothered by the damage done to other communities. (Although, strictly speaking, it is a torah prohibition to redirect damage to someone else's plot.)

    For 2000 years, our Rabbonim have had no responsibility or authority to judge criminal cases, nor do they have today.

    It is unreasonable to entrust them with such tasks. They have no authority, no accountability, no compentence.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Las - I mostly agree with your analysis. But those of us that want to know whom to shun and whom to assist need a Torah Based manual on what the criteria of abuse are.

      Delete
    2. Well, one thing is for sure: the victim does not deserve to be shunned and not deserve to be called a liar. This is also lashon hara, since you have no proof that it did not happen.

      al me she lo yodea omer: lo yodea...

      Neutrality is required towards both sides. The problem is that the "Torah-World" is not neutral, but biased in favor of the accused, without proof.

      At least this has to be re-balanced.

      As far as going to the police, the rabbinic position could only be: I don't know, I need two witnesses, but if YOU feel it is necessary, go, you were there.

      or if you feel it is necessary to protect your child, go.

      There can be no omerta and no barring of legal recourse for victims. This clearly violates the torah prohibition of not oppressing. In my mind, this really comes down to a midat sdom - making unlaw into law...

      Why aren't the rabbonim afraid of that???

      Delete
    3. Las Definitely true about "victim does not deserve to be shunned and not deserve to be called a liar".

      Also true: what C"C writes in כלל ט' ס"א of Hilchos Rechilus - those that know have AN OBLIGATION to intervene.

      Also true: what C"C writes in הל' לשה"ר כלל י' במ"ח סק ז that we are obligated to FIRST talk to the accused and hear what he has to say.

      Also true: What he writes in כלל י' ס"ב that must be sure that a Hachik transgression occurred.

      Neutrality is indeed a major problem - as is the search for truth.

      Many Rabbonim allow going to Police WITHOUT two witnesses.

      And no - our "feelings" in this area are no more relevant than if we feel that refraining from work on Shabbos is an undue burden.

      Agreed: There should be no omerta and no barring of legal recourse for victims. But there should be a torah-true filter, no different that that applied to other areas of life.

      You'll be surprised how much the Torah DOES allow, once we get past the coercion for "blind trust" emanating from both the "heimische" and the "professional" crowd.

      Delete
    4. No, there is no necessity for a filter: the rabbi was not there, so he cannot know, so let's assume for argument's sake that he is not allowed to believe it.

      But the victim is allowed - or even obliged (because it is letoelet, to prevent further victims) to tell everyone including the police.

      As long as the rabbonim have not understood this simple distinction, they are not rendering torah-true judgements.

      The response of a Rabbi should be: I don't know, I was not there. But you know. Warn everybody you can!

      Sadly, this is not what happens. Victims were and still are shut up.

      Delete
  28. Ploni wrote to me:

    ... and please stop quoting REBR"S. His רגלים לדבר wasnt based on liberal-leaning child rearing criteria or on concocted definitions of abuse. He was catching thieves. They stole - surely an Aveira.
    ===================

    Ploni - responding to you is obviously a gross waste of my time since you have no clue what you are talking about - especially the Torah sources that you claim you value.

    If you had taken the trouble of reading Yeschurun 15 - which is a collection of teshuvos on child abuse - you would have noticed that Rav Eliashiv cites this gemora as do most of the other Gedolim. So why shouldn't I follow the lead of the gedolim in understanding the applicablity of gemora? Are you not only accusing the gedolim of laziness, cowardice, incompetence but also being influenced by "liberal-leaning child rearing critiera"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. OH! DT not again!

      I have total fealty to true Gedolim. Youve yet to answer my challenge to you - If Rav Eliyashiv tells us that torah based criteria for CP are different than secular based - please "open up" your decision making process to us laymen - reassure us that YOUR decision do not lean to the secular... in cases where the two contradict.

      Delete
  29. I read the dialogue about psychologists/psychiatrists and rabbinical authorities with interest. It seems that many assume that a Rav consulting with a mental health professional is taboo, and the converse is that psychologists undertake to decide things without regard for Torah position. Having worked extensively with both rabbonim and mental health professionals, I must proclaim these perceptions to be totally inaccurate. Every barrel, whether the rabbinate or the professions will have its share of rotten apples.

    At conferences of Nefesh, the audience of mental health professionals of all disciplines (psychiatry, psychology, social work, and others) spend much of Shabbos discussing Torah approaches, from hashkafah and halacha perspectives. Professionals are guided to establish connections with morei hora'ah and ask shailos frequently. The Agudah conducts a halacha conference for professionals and the business community. The goals of this conference are to establish relationships in either direction, for professionals to seek rabbinical guidance, and for rabbis to seek the information on professional issues. Neither can be expected, by definition, to have expertise in both halacha and their respective profession. The assumption that there is universal friction and that neither consults with the other is untrue. Again, there are rotten apples who assume they know enough about the other subject. But these are the exceptions.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Ploni -

    "I believe that the blanket statement of "not one single case" isn't true."

    Really? Why don't you show us ONE case in the U.S. where any established Rabbi publicly supported a victim's family that went to the police and stood by them as they went through the complete process.

    Don't just say that I am wrong - why don't you direct us to ONE case in Boro Park, Williamsburg or Lakewood. Can you argue that there wasn't ONE case where there was enough proof that a Rebbe sexually molested a boy in one of the very heimishe mosdes? What was done about it in those cases? Think about it.

    Everyone reading this knows that this is the case. Stop pretending otherwise. The reality is that all this back and forth about what level of proof is required is just a smokescreen.

    I will state it again: Even when the Rabbonim KNOW that a case is true they will not tolerate one going to the police. Especially if there is a risk that the abuser will go to jail.

    Unfortunately I am speaking from first hand experience - in a case where the abuser ADMITTED to sexual molestation. It made no difference.

    And yes, unfortunately all those tshuvas in Yishirin have zero influence when it comes to reality. It is a sad fact.

    I actually believe that the only way the "Erlicha Rabonim" will change their way is if they will be educated about the severity of the problem and the short term and long term impact of child sexual abuse. Also, they need to be educated about the recidivism rates. It is very well documented how pedophiles do this again and again. Studies show that the only thing that slows down the recidivism rate is when the abuser actually went to jail...

    Say what you want but none of them ("Erliche Rabonim") have a clue. And sadly none of them seem to be interested to find out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ComeonNow:

      Please look back to where I clarified my statement in an earlier response:

      "comeonnow - I wasnt clear before. The public support was lacking because of the blackmail and intimidation which is unfortunately widespread. So the answer is - fear.

      Im speaking about the erliche Rabonim.

      The Ravs reasoning is that he lacks clear knowledge of the facts so he doesnt have to act.

      And he doesnt WANT clear knowledge, because of fear.


      So, this is the fruit of nobody being ready to do the thorough investigation that yy mentions as necessary.

      Delete
    2. Destroy Evil:
      You raise many valid points, but I believe my critique still remains true.

      I've been in touch with Nefesh in the past. Ill IY"H try to find time later to elaborate.

      And by no stretch do I see all professionals as evil.

      Delete
  31. Ploni -

    I'm sorry, but your response makes no sense. The "Erliche Rabbonim" are afraid of the people?? They are afraid of blackmail? Are you kidding me? Do you really believe that? Of course not! THEY are in control.

    Don't you realize that they are the ones that create/enable this mindset? Can you imagine what would happen if there would be many cases - specific actual cases, not a tshuvah published in Yeshirin - where the Rabbonim would publicly support police cooperation? Don't you realize that people's opinion on this matter would change? Don't you realize that the victims family is being harassed ONLY because of the Rabbonim? It is because of them that the people can call them Mosrim, trash them behind their backs and threaten to throw their kids out of schools etc. Can the people do that when and if the Rabbonim would publicly support the family? No! The harassment always starts by the Rabunnim themselves and the askunim that are backed by the Rabbunim. And the regular people who know that they have the backing of the Rabbunim. And it is only because of that backing that they dare do what they do.

    "The Ravs reasoning is that he lacks clear knowledge of the facts so he doesnt have to act."

    Clear knowledge of what facts? Of any specific case? My point was that even when they have the facts and know of a specific case to be true they still don't allow it.

    So, I guess you must have meant that "they lack clear knowledge" of the damage of sexual abuse? Is that your position? (That's somewhat similar to mine.) But here again, how about a case where a child was clearly aggressively molested for a long period of time, would you still then argue that they lacked the knowledge of the facts how such abuse will affect the child? Would you make the same argument if the abuser did that same act to a married woman? Of course not!

    So again, please explain to me why you cant point to a single case over the last five years where the "Erliche Rabonnim" publicly supported the victim with his police cooperation. Surely there was at least one case that was definitive enough for you. And surely there was at least one case where the Rabbonim should have understood the damage.

    Sorry, but by pretending that this issue has ANYTHING to do with halacha you are making yourself part of the problem. The halacha has clearly been established - at least in many cases. And even in those cases cooperation is not tolerated.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. To answer the questions posed by destroyevil and comeonnow
      I'd like to quote the definitions of abuse from the childwelfare.gov website.

      Before I do so please allow me to explain that the emphasis of my comments concerns "BORDERLINE" cases and not the lurid, repulsive cases that end up splashed across the newspapers.

      The professionals can correct me if I'm wrong, but it would seem obvious that the degree of abuse would depend on many factors including Intent, severity of long-term damage, frequency, etc. That should obviously be balanced with the severity of the action itself.

      After reading the definitions several things become obvious: 1) Many cases are "grey" and open to the interpretation of the social worker, judge, etc. 2) Abuse allegations can easily be used as tool by manipulative or angry spouses and children. THIS was the concern of the Gedolim. Even the allegation can ruin lives. The truth can only be known after thorough investigation of subtle factors. Such investigations invite bias....

      Not only those following Torah law, but also many secular reasonable people will tend to see this a problem. To say "if you feel threatened, call police" is wrong.

      Now for the gov. "general" definitions. My comments are in [] brackets.

      Delete
    2. continued...


      "Physical abuse is nonaccidental physical injury (ranging from minor bruises to severe fractures or death) as a result of punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting (with a hand, stick, strap, or other object), burning, or otherwise harming a child, that is inflicted by a parent, caregiver, or other person who has responsibility for the child.2 Such injury is considered abuse regardless of whether the caregiver intended to hurt the child. Physical discipline, such as spanking or paddling, is not considered abuse as long as it is reasonable and causes no bodily injury to the child.

      Comment: [How do we define reasonable? Will the typical judge/social worker's definition match the Gedolei Haposkim's? Forget about giving parenting ADVICE. Are we permitted to have a fellow Jew's reputation ruined, (even if he is eventually cleared), if he follows a more traditional approach? Wikipedia says that " a man who had spanked his 12-year-old son 36 times with a maple paddle and who was declared innocent by the Minnesota Supreme Court". Can you imagine a NY judge doing the same. Whose side will the psychiatrist take?]

      "Neglect is the failure of a parent, guardian, or other caregiver to provide for a child's basic needs. Neglect may be:.. Emotional (e.g., inattention to a child's emotional needs, failure to provide psychological care, or permitting the child to use alcohol or other drugs)

      Comment: [Imagine a scenario where a child MIGHT have a psychological issue and one parent wants to work with his/her child himself. The other parent instructs the child not to listen and calls Police. Should he land in jail]?
      Sexual abuse [I am intentionally leaving out the graphic definitions of sexual abuse. But DT brings one fine essay where a speaker considered himself a survivor because his H.S. Rebbe put his hand on his thigh and left it there for an uncomfortably long time. Should he be prosecuted? Reasonable people would consider intent, frequency, etc. as clues. Should we hand that decision to someone who sees abuse everywhere - where the Rebbe has no prior record, etc?]

      "Emotional abuse (or psychological abuse) is a pattern of behavior that impairs a child's emotional development or sense of self-worth. This may include constant criticism, threats, or rejection, as well as withholding love, support, or guidance. Emotional abuse is often difficult to prove and, therefore, child protective services may not be able to intervene without evidence of harm or mental injury to the child. Emotional abuse is almost always present when other forms are identified.

      Comment: [This is a biggie - " withholding love, support, or guidance" is like saying "Parents beware". The Gemara in Eruvin says: רבה אמר במי שמשחיר פניו עליהן כעורב רבא אמר במי שמשים עצמו אכזרי על בניו ועל בני ביתו כעורב כי הא דרב אדא בר מתנא הוה קאזיל לבי רב אמרה ליה דביתהו ינוקי דידך מאי אעביד להו אמר לה מי שלימו קורמי באגמא
      Was he guilty of abuse? What will the psychologist say?]

      Delete
  32. "Call police when you feel threatened" can be an extremely serious Issur בין אדם לחבירו not only becuse the judge/social workers judgement in "grey" area is questionable, but also because the mere ALLEGATION ruins lives...

    Causing a fellow jew such harm, in cases where there WAS no Halachik abuse is terrible.


    Risking the wrath of those suspecting me of defending criminals, I'll quote part of an article in the National Post that Garnel linked to elsewhere:

    The writer says:

    "I'm convinced that, in some cases at least, police or prosecutors are perfectly happy to let sexcrime files drift on for years in the court system. They know that, in most cases, they don't really need a conviction to ruin someone's life. Eventually, the mere accusation does the trick in and of itself".

    ReplyDelete
  33. My comments about "Erliche Rabonim" pertain to those thusly defined based on criteria offered by the Chazon Ish: Those acting without self-interest, or נגיעות.

    They would NOT allow every allegation to go forward, for reasons I hope I've explained. They WOULD have the guts to report what needs to be reported.

    ReplyDelete
  34. As to ComeOnNow's challenge that these "Erlich Rabonim" are in control - unfortunately, based on the aforementioned Chazon Ishe's definition, they are most definitely not.

    I won't speak in generalities, but my experience has been depressing. Part of the job description of having a large Kehilla seems to be "insulate the top person from anything with even a whiff of controversy". They call it plausible denial.

    In my humble opinion, these are not people worried about לא תעמוד על דם רעך. I imagine that their justification is that somehow they never "really" heard anything bad....

    I've spoken to serious Talmidei Chacomim and Dayanim. Their attitude is that the choices are either 1) I stay quiet and make sure never to hear too much and life goes on, or 2) I open my mouth and get my reputation besmirched and I will in any case accomplish nothing and lose everything.

    Perhaps we can educate the tzibbur of what real halacha requires, and turn the tables on those involved in terror. Let the terrorists feel the wrath of the masses... But first we need to find a way to judge what constitutes abuse more objectively and based on Torah.

    ReplyDelete
  35. to destroy evil who wrote:

    "It seems that many assume that a Rav consulting with a mental health professional is taboo, and the converse is that psychologists undertake to decide things without regard for Torah position.....I must proclaim these perceptions to be totally inaccurate. Every barrel, whether the rabbinate or the professions will have its share of rotten apples".

    I don't think it's taboo - just today I met a psychologist in my office. Based on my experiences I must however say that finding good people is often like a roll of dice - each comes with his unproven set of theories and many expect to be viewed as authorities even when their logic isnt exactly airtight. I would trust my family to some, but not to many.

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  36. and while I dont know if i have the energy for a whole new angle - I know about Nefesh meetings too. If youd like, I could elaborate on what the Rasha"b and others wrrote concerning the fundamental clash between traditional talk therapy vs. Haskafa.

    This critique wouldnt seem to apply to Behavior modification or something more forward looking like DBT or CBT programs, but its still not simple.

    Even something like Shais Taub's interpretation of the 12 step program would need clarifications.

    I guess I'm one of the rotten apples you talk about - I imagine I can talk about psychology!

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  37. Ploni -- don't give them any fuel by such remarks like that sarcastic rumination abt yourself as a rotten apple!

    Your emphasis on the dangers of "call the police when you (merely) feel threatened" is hitting the issue smack on the head. FEELING threatened is what it all revolves around. Who doesn't feel threated by myriads of dangers and bugaboos and mood swings amongst those in our lives. We need to learn to cope with these matters, perhaps to neutralize them with our own capacities of self defense and self-esteem building, and certainly when these threats become chronic to consider consulting with experts in domestic violence. But knee jerk reliance on the secular police to do our bidding is extremely dangerous, as you've been pointing out.

    LAS said earlier: "The problem is that the 'Torah-World' is not neutral, but biased in favor of the accused, without proof. At least this has to be re-balanced." I agree, sadly, that the Torah world is far from objective, including the favoring of some accused -- but certainly not only. There are MANY biases... which have to THOROUGHLY investigated. No declarations about needs to re-balance are ever acts of emes, but proverbial pendulum swings which make many new victims!

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    1. Well, of course one must be carefull so that unfounded abuse accusations do not become the new whitchhunts, that is clear.

      Police & courts do their due diligence, and it is quite difficult to get a predator judged and punished. More than 50% of cases are thrown out for lack of proof.

      Of those that are convicted, the punishements often are horribly low (10 years for regularly raping the own daughter from age 2 on, selling her to other men for sex, wounding her with a knife and leaving her to die; less than 5 years for 1000 rapes against daughter committed over a time-span of 10 years).

      Unfounded sex abuse allegations in cases of divorce are quite rare. They exist, but they are rare.

      Since a mother will most likely seek divorce once she discovers her spouse molests her children, you cannot just say that if the accusations are brought up at divorce, this is a sure sign they are unfounded.

      I am quite appalled that you don't condemn spousal rape.

      I am quite appalled that you buy into the "well don't provoke him" logic in case of domestic violence. The right approach is for the one who feels provoked to go out of the situation, leave the room, the place, until the anger is calmed.

      Delete
    2. Sorry you had such a mistaken impression. I DO condemn spousal rape!!!! And I most definitely would drop the "well" from your next statement with which you want to associate me. Don't provoke IS an important ethic to learn in close relationships. In fact Chazal warn us exactly about that in regards to setting off t. chachamim (p. avos). We're talking there about not provoking those who are presumed to be TSADDIKIM!

      But again, this does not justify violence; only puts it into context. There are many ways to skin a cat. Public humiliation, for one, according to Chazal, is akin to murder. So what if a man publically humiliates his wife -- wouldn't her slapping him be an understandable (tho less than ideal) reaction? The reverse should also be considered.

      Delete
    3. Well, of course it is not nice to taunt people, but the approach "don't provoke" is not an adequate response for domestic violence, for the simple reason that a person who cannot manage their anger will always find a reason to feel provoked. when you tell the victim "don't provoke", you side with the one who cannot manage his anger,laying some blame on the victim and you further reduce the breathing space of the victim. That is wrong, from a moral perspective and from a practical perspective.

      The adequate response is, to the victim: "don't let yourself be intimidated, and if he threatens or hits call the police" and, to the one who cannot control himself: as soon as you feel anger mounting, leave the situation.

      Delete
  38. yy - thanks again

    Even if we totally remove the accused's rights from the picture, there are so many OTHER valid reasons why the widespread emphasis on FEELINGS is misplaced.

    On careful analysis, the one you mention, namely "We need to learn to cope with these matters, perhaps to neutralize them with our own capacities of self defense and self-esteem building" is an illustration of why emphasizing FEELINGS over SELF-CONTROL ends up damaging THE ACCUSER.

    Those that are taught to constantly blame outside factors for their own misery very often don't learn how to deal with life's inevitable ups and downs.

    Furthermore, they see life's obstacles as impenetrable barriers and shy away from difficult challenges. This not only inhibits them from spiritual growth that involves pain, namely יגיעת התורה, but also stymies their ability for fulfillment in the areas of life that they themselves see as important, such as business endeavors, relationships, etc. It ends up being a lose-lose situation. Not for naught do Chazal say צדיקים לבם ברשותם, רשעים ברשות לבם.


    And thanks for a new word I didnt know existed:

    bug·a·boos
    1. An object of obsessive, usually exaggerated fear or anxiety: "Boredom, laziness and failure . . . These bugaboos, magnified by imagination, keep [the workaholic] running" (Dun's Review).

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    1. "Those that are taught to constantly blame outside factors for their own misery very often don't learn how to deal with life's inevitable ups and downs."

      What a callous statement, when applied to victims of crime.

      Being a victim of child sexual abuse is not part of "life's inevitable ups and downs". If you want to learn more about long term consequences of abuse, you might want to read up.

      Delete
    2. "they see life's obstacles as impenetrable barriers and shy away from difficult challenges. This not only inhibits them from spiritual growth"

      If what you say was the derech of the torah, the torah would be a system without justice.

      However, having a justice system is even a Mitzwah beney noach. The torah says "tzedek, tzedek tirdof"

      Arguing that being a victim of crime brings an opportunity for spiritual growth, and hence the perpetartor does not need to be persecuted is the contrary of justice.

      Delete
    3. Las - Of course what i said is true. "Growing from adversity" is the basis of the successful multi-billion dollar self-improvement movement.

      It also happens to be a Torah obligation, as in
      "חייב אדם לברך על הרע כשם שמברך על הטובה - אוח ס' רכ"ב"/

      I think that youre assuming that I'm using that argument as an excuse not to punish abusers. I'm not.

      I'll say it again: CRIMINALS NEED TO BE PUNISHED, REGARDLESS OF THE FALLOUT.

      And equating any accusers "FEELING" of being abused with real abuse is ignoring the millions of daily occurrences of people hurting other peoples feelings, which are usually magnified millionfold in cases of domestic strife.

      The criminal should be punished - and the victim should be given the tools to grow from his experiences.

      The connection between learning to deal with adversity and not punishing criminals is a Non Sequitur.

      Delete
    4. "Arguing that being a victim of crime brings an opportunity for spiritual growth, and hence the perpetartor does not need to be persecuted is the contrary of justice."

      In a nutshell:
      "being a victim of crime brings an opportunity for spiritual growth". YES - IT DOES.
      "the perpetartor does not need to be persecuted" FALSE -HE SHOULD BE PROSECUTED.

      Simple.

      Delete
  39. Ploni and yy . Your logic and points concerning borderline cases as a general defence against reporting abuse , are actually wild , half baked , ridiculous and disingenuous.

    First of all these borderline cases are the extreme minority of cases that are reported to rabbonim , if they ever are. These cases even by non religious are usuoally not reported and definitely not by religious yidden to their rabbonim who have a society based in " spare the rod , spoil ect." .
    In addition the mere fact that they are borderline means that they are up to interpretation and are defensible if one did not report it.
    On the other hand real cases of abuse are more extreme and are done over and over again until the police get involved , these cases are unarguable that they constitute a case of pikuach nefesh to the victim and must be reported to the police.

    ReplyDelete
  40. My last comments in response to yy haven't appeared. Is anything sinister going on here?

    ReplyDelete
  41. avf: Do we have a bit of a comprehension issue here?

    I've stated over and over that "real" abuse needs to be reported, as per the Psak of Gedolei Haposkim.

    And as to your assertion that borderline cases are extremely rare, you're in for a shock. In the context of serious familial discord abuse allegations are common. When thoroughly researched my gumption is that most will fall into the category of "borderline", with a large dose of what yy called "bugaboos" rendering them factual in the eyes of the accuser - and also in the eyes of those that hear the accusers narrative.

    In the most "heimische" neighborhoods well-meaning "advocates" counsel gullible wives to ask for order of protections (this is stated in a Kil Koreh signed by approx. 70 Rabbonim concerning this issue).

    The OOP serves as a "paper trail" and is a prelude to a filing for divorce on the grounds of "cruelty". This is the easiest way out of a divorce when only one spouse wants to leave the marriage.

    Divorce is a prelude to court ordered alimony and child support.


    Here's what wiki has to say on the matter:

    "Misuse of restraining orders is claimed to be widespread. Elaine Epstein, former president of the Massachusetts Bar Association, has remarked, “Everyone knows that restraining orders and orders to vacate are granted to virtually all who apply…In many cases, allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage.”

    A 1995 study conducted by the Massachusetts Trial Court that reviewed domestic restraining orders issued in the state found that less than half of the orders involved even an allegation of violence. Similarly a West Virginia study found eight out of 10 orders were unnecessary or false.[4]

    ReplyDelete
  42. avf wrote:
    "Your logic and points concerning borderline cases as a general defence against reporting abuse , are actually wild , half baked , ridiculous and disingenuous"

    Allow me to make a partially tongue-in-cheek comment:

    YOU have just committed verbal abuse.

    as per wiki: "Verbal abuse may include aggressive actions such as name-calling, blaming, ridicule, disrespect, and criticism, but there are also less obviously aggressive forms of verbal abuse. Statements that may seem benign on the surface can be thinly veiled attempts to humiliate; falsely accuse; or manipulate others to submit to undesirable behavior, make others feel unwanted and unloved, threaten others economically, or isolate victims from support systems".

    Luckily this is your first time. But do this several times and we have a "pattern". Ah! I see dollar signs! Please hand over your bank account numbers - It's a pity we arent married, I could have sued for half of the house...

    Name calling is wrong (excuse me for saying so -but that includes what you just did. But criminalizing lapses in Midos isnt protective, least of all because the judgers arent usually any better than the judged!

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  43. Ploni, don't let the paranoia bug enter the fray! Just hang in there with your willingness to swim against the currents of half-baked Torah justice...

    Did you see my note above abt asking DT for my email?

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    1. Yes I did. I'm debating whether I want DT to know who I am.... LOL

      Delete
  44. I'd like to add additional pointers concerning VERBAL ABUSE, and using "feeling" as the basis for judging such abuse, as opposed to careful analysis of the "hard" fact.

    1) Torah law DOES consider emotional abuse to be an extremely serious transgression - as in המבזה את חבירו ברבים אין לו חלק לעוה"ב. In fact, while such transgression are usually not cause for monetary damages, the Shulchan Aruch in C"M ס' ת"כ סל"ח mentions that יש לבית דין בכל מקום ובכל זמן לגדור כפי מה שיראו, or מנדין אותו, or as the Rema states מכין אותו מכות מרדות. However, as mentioned in C"M סימן א' our current Bais Dins aren't vested with this ability. Still - the seriousness of the transgression is not diminished.

    2) However, as Rav Elchonon Wasserman states in קובץ הערות ס' ע', what many would consider verbal abuse is מותר לתועלת, just as the איסור of speaking Loshon Hora is מותר לתועלת. This is brought by contemporary Poskim, such as Rav Nissin Karelitz in his Sefer חוט השני.

    3) The Achronim compare the היתר of אונאה לתועלת to the היתר לשון הרע לתועלת with all its details, and therefore require that it be done only when the תועלת cannot be obtained otherwise.

    4) Based on the above, I believe that psychologists who disallow אונאה in ANY CASE and force their view on parents are seriously wrong. If they belittle a parent for doing the aforementioned, THEY are guilty of אונאת דברים. If they use their misguided view as the basis to allow calling Police, they are parties to the איסור חמור של מסירה.

    5) The question arises - Who and how does one judge the criteria of "can the תועלת be obtained otherwise". The Rema in ס' תכב says that the father has a כח בית דין. This is brought by contemporary Poskim, such asמנחת יצחק ח"ג סוסימן ק"ה . It would stand to reason that this כח only applies in grey areas, not where he is obviously abusive. "Ehrliche Rabonim" wouldn't hand this judgment over to secular authorities, or to those whose judgment in these matters is influenced by current, secular trends.

    6) I repeat: We aren't giving a license for nastiness. Only לתועלת and only were other means have been exhausted. And hey, is the business world ever this careful?

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    1. Ploni - you still are way off topic. You are raising issues and situations which are not the top priority or even on the radar screen -in making progress in the protecting children from abuse. You are not only raising them but you have been writing reams of comments - which have nothing at all to do the post.

      From the comments of those responding - they indicate that my readers really aren't sure what your point is. According to your responses they are misunderstanding your words which requires more reams of comments to the clarify the issue - but you still not succeeding. The only exception being yy - who has a similar problem.

      So I am serving both of you notice that I will be restricting your attempts to hijack a thread.

      While I try hard to let a variety of viewpoints be presented - it is also important to me to maintain some semblance of order

      Delete
  45. I may not agree with everything Ploni and yy say, but I'd hardly say their comments are off-topic. They're entitled to their viewpoint.

    I would have preferred that you offer answers to the issues they raise, instead of censoring them.

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  46. I may not agree with everything Ploni and yy say, but I respect their viewpoint, and I vote that the thread stay open.

    I would have preferred that you offer rebuttals to the issues they raise. Restricting them seems to give the appearance of censorship.

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    1. I have absolutely no objection to closing this thread, especially since you've had the fortitude to open a similar thread, namely the "4 views on Rabbinic role".

      Like David Kempsky states, I too "would have preferred that you offer answers to the issues (they) [we] raise".


      With all due respect, DT - כוונתך רצוי' ואין מעשיך רצוים

      I think the only way we'll know if this is a thinly veiled attempt at censoring views that don't exactly mesh with yours is to see if you allow this discussion to continue in other threads.

      Delete
    2. Ploni if you would like to write a guest post to open a thread on the topic it would be fine with me

      Delete
    3. That sounds like a fair proposal.

      Delete

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