Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Importance of Praying that Weberman does Teshuva

Guest post by fordaas Torah

“Why is it important to pray that Nechemia Tzi ben Dina does a complete Teshuvah

The Talmud teaches that Adam before he sinned spanned from the heavens to the earth and from one end of the world to the other.  This means that on some very real level this world is actually made up of one “Adam” that encompasses the entire world.

This "one-Adam-world" was given a job to do which is really very complicated.  And unfortunately he failed; he ate from the “Tree of Knowledge” while G-d explicitly told him not to.  So Hashem developed this plan where He split Adam's job into billions upon billions of pieces, assigning it to billions upon billions of people coming down into this universe at different intervals of history, each with their own sliver of this “huge cosmic task."

Thus, while we all should be fully invested in working on our own unique mission, we must also remember that in the end we each are dependent on one another to reach our final destination.  In order for redemption to occur every piece of the cosmic puzzle must become fully actualized, so that Adam’s original task gets completed.

I believe that molestation and incest are among the more difficult issues that we need to solve as a community.   We need to work through this stuff, clean it up, and discover the underlying decay in our universe that enables such wickedness. (And perhaps even find some disguised Jewels hiding in this filth, waiting to be rediscovered, cleaned up and rectified.  Perhaps as a nation there are important lessons we can extract from these horrors that can help us get some clarity about what true Kedusha needs to look like.)

Making sure that people stop supporting this evil, support victims instead, and doing whatever we can to ensure the safety of ALL children, are very important first steps.   Then, of course, we must ensure that victims get the help they need to heal from this horrifying trauma, and perhaps even find some meaning to their suffering.

In addition though, a total soul-cleansing teshuvah by the perpetrators seems vital if we are to fully clean this thing up as a “one-Adam-world.”  There is a level of deep-core-knowing about the utter, total wrongness of these actions that must somehow be embodied in our universe.  And who can better accomplish this then a perpetrator turned Baal Teshuvah?  One can only imagine the healing that can come to our “cosmic-Adam-universe” when a perpetrator is able to fully face the despicableness of his actions, the depths of the damage caused to the victim, to himself and the entire universe, and then have the strength to live with this awareness, and have that awareness inform his day to day life.

We all know that Mr. Weberman isn't the only molester around, unfortunately.  Yet Mr. Weberman has become a "public-figure” regarding these issues.  The fundraiser and the intimidation of witnesses drew lots of attention to his trial and probably indirectly caused his steep sentence.  (Yet this is the way of the universe; actions have repercussions.  Getting people to give money for your defense because they believe you are innocent, when in fact you know that you are guilty, comes with a steep price.

Now given that all this unfortunate stuff has happened, and Mr. Weberman will probably be spending the remainder of his life in prison, wouldn’t it be such a waste of suffering if he doesn’t achieve a full teshuvah? Prison indeed is a place where people are forced, in some sense, to face who they have become as a result of their wrong choices. Yet sadly, by definition, most perpetrators suffer from extreme narcissism, which surely makes teshuvah so much more difficult for them.

But as we contemplate the fact that Mr. Weberman too is a part of our greater whole, shouldn’t we seek to do whatever we can to ensure the most mileage out of this horrible saga for our “collective-cosmic-Adam”?  I believe there are two steps we must take as a community to help move Mr. Weberman along towards this goal.

Firstly, we must stop this nonsense of insisting that he is innocent.  Teshuvah is in part the ability to see the truth for what it is, regardless of how unappealing that reality might be.  Crying “anti-Semitism”, “ community being on trial”, or “kangaroo court”, just takes the focus off from the truth, and makes it all the more difficult for Mr. Weberman to face up to the truth about himself.

And secondly, may I suggest that we each take a couple of moments every day to beseech Hashem to grant Mr. Weberman the courage and honesty he needs to enable him to move onto the path of teshuvah.  May each day bring with it for him more enlightenment about the greatness of Hashem, the utter holiness of every Jewish body and soul, specifically those of his victims.  May he realize more and more how molestation is akin to soul murder, and how accountable we each are for our actions, regardless of whether  we can hide them from the public or not.  And perhaps his teshuvah can be the catalyst to awaken our community, so that we no longer are willing to exchange real Kedusha for the appearance of Holiness.

Perhaps deeply integrating the above truths can serve towards a soul-cleansing teshuvah for Nechemia Tzvi ben Dina.
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Postscript by fordaas Torah: Perhaps one reason we struggle with accepting the realities of molestation is because we struggle to accept that someone we know personally can be such a monster.  Our habit of “black or white thinking” makes it very difficult for us to dismiss someone that we know personally as an evil individual who doesn’t deserve any sympathy whatsoever.

Also, incest by definition involves a family member, someone the victim might have strong feelings for.   So here too, the question arises for the victim; “how do I orient my feelings towards the perpetrator who has acted like a monster, yet is still my close relative?”

The answer to this dilemma might be to totally condemn the perpetrator’s actions, while still viewing him as a human being, i.e. as someone who has purpose and can contribute to our world.
I believe praying for them to do teshuvah is the way to accomplish this.  On the one hand it doesn’t minimize how horrific these actions are, while it still leaves space for us to interact with the perpetrator as a human being. 

I understand that the “teshuvah” concept is often grossly misused when dealing with these issues.  I.e. people often claim the perpetrator has done teshuvah without having any proof to believe that.  Thus the victim is then urged to stop complaining and let bygones be bygones, when the truth is that if a real teshuvah was done the perpetrator would understand that it is his responsibility to be מפייס the victim, and no way does the victim need to curb their righteous indignation in order to make the life of the perpetrator easier.

However I am advocating here for us to pray for the perpetrator to do teshuvah, not to decide that the perpetrator has done teshuvah.   I believe we can pray for this while still holding on to the truth of how difficult it is for a proper teshuvah to be done when it comes to these matters.

10 comments :

  1. What you hope for is an admirable goal. It would be great if people like Weberman could offer up genuine confessions and apologies. It would be even better if his family, instead of insisting dishonestly on his innocence, would share in the public apology.

    Sadly, I have never once seen this happen. But it would be a great start if it did happen.

    The funny thing is that these things happen sometimes in the secular world where relatives of criminals offer unreserved apologies to the victims.

    In the frum world, the new avodah zorah is shiduchim. So perpetrators and their relatives scream "innocent" even when they know better.

    For new Adams to succeed we will need new shiduchim norms.

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  2. I find it strange to speak of Weberman doing teshuvah when there is no proof that he did anything wrong. Although society had a right to protect itself from his perceived actions, no halachic witnesses imputed him of any wrong. We cannot demand repentance for something that possibly never happened.

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  3. Very interesting perspective. I would never have thought of it myself. But it makes sense. it is a way to make a difference no matter where you are or who you know. The challenge is, do we really believe that prayer makes a difference.

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  4. Repaint and thin no moreFebruary 27, 2013 at 3:12 PM

    Come now, children. Teshuvah is a very real salvation for people who have committed wrongs, and tefiloh helps. But I am struggling to understand what this writer wants. I cannot be mispallel for anyone to do anything that is dependent on his bechiroh, free choice. That is purely his perogative, not mine. Even HKB"H won't interfere (under normal circumstances), and tefiloh here is useless. We do have tefilos based on our teshuvah being accepted, as we recite in our Amidah three times every day. We also have additional tefilos asking for the Heavenly assistance to do a teshuvah shelaimoh. But the actual choice to do teshuvah belongs to the individual, and choices are the single area where HKB"H operates hands-off. This is a complex subject as it enters the realm of the famous Yedi'oh-Bechiroh dilemma.

    I have no clue how or why W's family apologizing should make any difference. Even for his own apology - too little, too late. Once incarcerated for a long term sentence, I would have no reason to expect honesty or sincerity.

    Whether W committed the acts for which he was convicted, we might be entitled to opinions. But his trashing of hilchos yichud was a clear demonstration that he did what he wanted, not what HKB"H wanted him to do. The gross irresponsibility of practicing in a field where he had no training, and the community sending to this non-professional who charged nearly twice the going fee of true therapists, is another ethical and moral violation. You could make discussion of the appropriateness of the sentence which I won't entertain. But in his "career", he was a baal aveiroh. I hope he does teshuvah, but there is no place for me to daven about something that is contingent on his personal choice.

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    1. Berurya, eishes Rebbi Meir advises that we pray for "sin to cease," (rather then sinners,) Moshe prays for Yehoshea to be saved from the plan of the meraglim, Jewish parents have been praying and collecting blessings for their children's Yiras shomayim from the beginning of time.
      I believe that Hashem doesn't take away one's behcirah and force him to do teshuvah, however there are many things Hashem can do to help a person recognize how teshuvah can be really beneficial for him, and thus inch him forward to that option. and that is where I believe our prayers can help.

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  5. Everything depends upon choice. If the rule is that we can't pray for anything that depends upon choice then we can't pray for children to stay on the derekh, and we can't pray for the job we've applied for because it depends on the owner's decision, and we can't pray for good aitza because it depends on the choice of the rebbe, etc.

    To pray for someone to do a complete (and public) teshuva for their avayrot, is praying that out of all the options this soul could take to its destiny, please HaShem help him to choose the high road, the kiddush HaShem road, which is the best option for him, for his victim, and for HaShem (who prefers not to cleanse our souls through yisurim). Our Yomin Noraim refrain is that everyone should turn to HaShem and bow to and honor Him. That is teshuva. We are praying for the world to do teshuva.

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  6. That is a pretty tall order.We all know what happened to the girl.But he has to do tshuva for giving his community who trusted him a black eye as well.To Mr.Lopian. I understand what you mean but I believe he ruined his own kids prospects as well.They can say what they want but I doubt anybody really believes him now.

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  7. While, I usually find most of the opinions of D. Eidensohn very inspiring, I don’t agree this time. I don't know Weberman,and only followed the story somewhat, I must concur with the previous post of Avraham 1. The prosecution at trial never provided even one valid witness against Weberman. The accuser in this case is a girl with an ax to grind against Weberman, motivated by Weberman's statements years before against her boyfriend - a statutory rapist. Even under secular criminal law, where there must not remain even a shadow of doubt in order to convict, clearly there was a strong semblance of bias on the part of the accuser/witness, and there should not have been a guilty verdict coming from the jury. The above is said without additionally having shown that there were never any Halachicly valid witnesses against Weberman.
    I also question, if it is believable to say that a man who is allegedly molesting sexually a minor girl for so many years would seek to do an action (causing the reporting of the girl's boyfriend) that could directly invite a criminal investigation on the very same related issues? I believe its not rational, and against human nature, and even sub-human nature, to do something so foolish. I therefore believe he was accused falsely by his accuser, and would suggest that many of us should consider doing teshuva first.
    I wish to add that I have been advised that Weberman himself had previously enjoyed mixing himself into domestic disputes, similarly like the Ora wackos -always on the side of the woman, absent knowledge of any true facts. And while I would love to see the rasha Jeremy Stern of Ora put off the streets for 105 years, and while I possess no special affection for Weberman, I hope and pray to see his conviction overturned on appeal.

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    1. Two separate individuals, whom I trust, told me that they were approached by 2-3 other victims who claimed that they too were abused by Weberman.
      A third person told me she actually has a good friend, a married woman, who went to Weberman for marriage counseling and ended up sleeping with him.
      A fourth person, a therapist I spoke with let me know that years ago she had a client who went to Weberman and then came to her, and things were FAR FROM OK between Weberman and this girl.
      Weberman's guilt is well known in the Williamsburg community to anyone who is interested in knowing the truth.
      I find it very disturbing when people analyze the court case and try to proof why it can't be relied upon, when I'm certain that if they only wanted to know the truth and asked around a bit they would know beyond any shadow of a doubt that he is guilty.
      being stupid isn't a virtue. Actually much harm is done to Klal Yisroel with this approach.

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  8. "But I am struggling to understand what this writer wants. I cannot be mispallel for anyone to do anything that is dependent on his bechiroh, free choice. That is purely his prerogative, not mine. Even HKB"H won't interfere (under normal circumstances), and tefiloh here is useless."

    Noach was supposed to davven for his generation to do Teshuvah.

    Yes, there is free choice, but when Hashem reveals His light to a person, that person can do Teshuvah far more easily, just as when He hides Himself, it is far more difficult not to sin.

    The loshon ha'mekubal is "ye'areh alav ru'ach mimorom."

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