Showing posts sorted by relevance for query jewish therapist. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query jewish therapist. Sort by date Show all posts

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Jewish therapist or a therapist who is Jewish

Originally posted June 2008

A Jewish therapist or a therapist who is Jewish

What follows is a letter that I wrote together with my chavrusa of many years Dr. Baruch Shulem. I am posting it because it is relevant to the issue of mental health professionals and the role of religon and religious values in so call value-free therapies.
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We read with interest your special edition of IJP on religion and psychotherapy. We have been involved with these issues for some time and would like to share our observations with you. Dr. Buchbinder's article is an excellent summary of many issues and we would like to explicate an issue that was touched upon in his and other articles but was not clearly addressed. We are concerned with the relationship between the values of the therapist and the values of the model of therapy he uses. As you are aware, the issue of judgmental precepts of models has been a major concern of the professional literature in recent years. There is a growing acknowledgement that all models of therapy are highly judgmental and are inextricably entwined with personal, political and well as philosophical principles. Therefore the choice of any model is first and foremost a value-laden decision on the personal level. This was denied for years under the rubric of "non-judgmental attitudes". We are proposing that once a therapist selects a model, his subsequent therapeutic activities are determined primarily if not exclusively by this model irrespective of the therapists personal or religious values. As Dr. Buchbinder clearly showed that the model is at times influenced by particular concepts at certain points in therapy -- but it is in fact the model which sets the boundaries of therapeutic behavior. Otherwise why choose a therapeutic model at all? It follows then that a religious therapist might actually be using a therapy which is incompatible in part or in totality with his professed religious values. This issue was alluded to by the observations mentioned in your review articles, that Dr. Buchbinder would follow his religious values when there is a conflict with his therapy while Dr. Spero would allow the psychodynamic values to predominate.

This awareness that we can no longer claim that our professional activities are scientifically determined and therefore are value-free is relatively recent. It is obvious that many of us, however, are still influenced by this fallacy. In short, therapies must be first examined by all of us to whether they are compatible with our values and the values of our clients. In is unfortunately necessary to note, however that we are often not aware of our values. This problem is compounded for the therapist whose values are ostensibly determined by the religion he belongs to.

This lack of fit between personal and religious values and those of therapy has been a great concern to us. In our years as religious therapists we have found a significant difference between a religious therapist and a therapist who is (also) religious [1]. The therapist who is religious will be trained professionally but has learned to keep his religion out of his work. He will of course not openly violate Jewish law in this practice (e.g. encourage a client to marry out of the faith) but his therapy is not guided by religious values and goals. His basic view of man is based on his professional model and not those he learned in his religious studies. He may often find Jewish quotes which can be made to be compatible with his professional model. These he will readily use when needed as dictated by his professional model. The relation between religious beliefs and therapeutic behavior is basically pragmatic. The professional criteria determine when and if to utilize religious material. His understanding of his client, the language he uses (particularly with colleagues) and most important of all the goals of therapy are predetermined by secular theory.

In strong contrast, a religious therapist subjugates all aspects of his life and actions to Torah laws and values. Just as he would investigate the kashrus of the food he eats, and the potential conflicts involved in reading modern literature he will critically inspect the model of therapy to determine if it is consistent with Torah principals. In my own case (B.S.) I had to re-examine my professional model of working after I became an observant Jew. I had been originally trained in classic long-term individual psycho-dynamic therapy. After a serious evaluation, I found that it presents serious conflicts with traditional religious values.

The model I now use, developed by Michael White, is as far as I can see (and from the opinions of Rabbis I have consulted) seems to be much more fully compatible with Torah Values. A short but telling example is in order. Torah law prohibits talking negatively about others. The therapist who is religious will seek a blanket exemption from this injunction in order to delve into history, explore negative feelings, etc. because the model requires this type of behavior. The religious therapist would question the validity of the therapeutic need for such a (forbidden) activity on both empirical and religious grounds. This would lead the religious therapist to choose a model that attempts to avoid this type of forbidden activity. Both the therapist who is religious and the non religious therapist at this point are probably asking themselves whether this approach of religion first means that therapeutic effectiveness must be sacrificed in the name of religiously? This can be answered by the extensive research that indicates that most professional models (including White's) are equivalent in effectiveness. That being the case, a therapist should therefore focus on the match between his values and those of the therapeutic model he uses - as well as the values of the client.

In summary, it is important to look beyond the overt religiosity of the therapist when studying the interaction between therapist and client. We propose that it is no less vital to focus on the relationship between the therapist and his model of therapy in understanding value conflicts in therapy. We believe that the therapeutic model will predominate in shaping the ongoing therapeutic interaction for both the non-religious and the therapist who is religious. This is in contrast to the religious therapist who will choose a model of therapy which will support his values and the religious behaviors that emanate from them. Our religious/professional experience has shown us that by choosing a model carefully there need not be conflict between model / therapist / religion. Then all we have to do is worry about our clients...
 
Baruch Shulem Ph.D. Daniel Eidensohn Ph.D.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Jewish therapist or a therapist who is Jewish

What follows is a letter that I wrote together with my chavrusa of many years Dr. Baruch Shulem. I am posting it because it is relevant to the issue of mental health professionals and the role of religon and religious values in so call value-free therapies.

=============================================

We read with interest your special edition of IJP on religion and psychotherapy. We have been involved with these issues for some time and would like to share our observations with you. Dr. Buchbinder's article is an excellent summary of many issues and we would like to explicate an issue that was touched upon in his and other articles but was not clearly addressed. We are concerned with the relationship between the values of the therapist and the values of the model of therapy he uses. As you are aware, the issue of judgmental precepts of models has been a major concern of the professional literature in recent years. There is a growing acknowledgement that all models of therapy are highly judgmental and are inextricably entwined with personal, political and well as philosophical principles. Therefore the choice of any model is first and foremost a value-laden decision on the personal level. This was denied for years under the rubric of "non-judgmental attitudes". We are proposing that once a therapist selects a model, his subsequent therapeutic activities are determined primarily if not exclusively by this model irrespective of the therapists personal or religious values. As Dr. Buchbinder clearly showed that the model is at times influenced by particular concepts at certain points in therapy -- but it is in fact the model which sets the boundaries of therapeutic behavior. Otherwise why choose a therapeutic model at all? It follows then that a religious therapist might actually be using a therapy which is incompatible in part or in totality with his professed religious values. This issue was alluded to by the observations mentioned in your review articles, that Dr. Buchbinder would follow his religious values when there is a conflict with his therapy while Dr. Spero would allow the psychodynamic values to predominate.

This awareness that we can no longer claim that our professional activities are scientifically determined and therefore are value-free is relatively recent. It is obvious that many of us, however, are still influenced by this fallacy. In short, therapies must be first examined by all of us to whether they are compatible with our values and the values of our clients. In is unfortunately necessary to note, however that we are often not aware of our values. This problem is compounded for the therapist whose values are ostensibly determined by the religion he belongs to.

This lack of fit between personal and religious values and those of therapy has been a great concern to us. In our years as religious therapists we have found a significant difference between a religious therapist and a therapist who is (also) religious [1]. The therapist who is religious will be trained professionally but has learned to keep his religion out of his work. He will of course not openly violate Jewish law in this practice (e.g. encourage a client to marry out of the faith) but his therapy is not guided by religious values and goals. His basic view of man is based on his professional model and not those he learned in his religious studies. He may often find Jewish quotes which can be made to be compatible with his professional model. These he will readily use when needed as dictated by his professional model. The relation between religious beliefs and therapeutic behavior is basically pragmatic. The professional criteria determine when and if to utilize religious material. His understanding of his client, the language he uses (particularly with colleagues) and most important of all the goals of therapy are predetermined by secular theory.

In strong contrast, a religious therapist subjugates all aspects of his life and actions to Torah laws and values. Just as he would investigate the kashrus of the food he eats, and the potential conflicts involved in reading modern literature he will critically inspect the model of therapy to determine if it is consistent with Torah principals. In my own case (B.S.) I had to re-examine my professional model of working after I became an observant Jew. I had been originally trained in classic long-term individual psycho-dynamic therapy. After a serious evaluation, I found that it presents serious conflicts with traditional religious values.

The model I now use, developed by Michael White, is as far as I can see (and from the opinions of Rabbis I have consulted) seems to be much more fully compatible with Torah Values. A short but telling example is in order. Torah law prohibits talking negatively about others. The therapist who is religious will seek a blanket exemption from this injunction in order to delve into history, explore negative feelings, etc. because the model requires this type of behavior. The religious therapist would question the validity of the therapeutic need for such a (forbidden) activity on both empirical and religious grounds. This would lead the religious therapist to choose a model that attempts to avoid this type of forbidden activity. Both the therapist who is religious and the non religious therapist at this point are probably asking themselves whether this approach of religion first means that therapeutic effectiveness must be sacrificed in the name of religiously? This can be answered by the extensive research that indicates that most professional models (including White's) are equivalent in effectiveness. That being the case, a therapist should therefore focus on the match between his values and those of the therapeutic model he uses - as well as the values of the client.

In summary, it is important to look beyond the overt religiosity of the therapist when studying the interaction between therapist and client. We propose that it is no less vital to focus on the relationship between the therapist and his model of therapy in understanding value conflicts in therapy. We believe that the therapeutic model will predominate in shaping the ongoing therapeutic interaction for both the non-religious and the therapist who is religious. This is in contrast to the religious therapist who will choose a model of therapy which will support his values and the religious behaviors that emanate from them. Our religious/professional experience has shown us that by choosing a model carefully there need not be conflict between model / therapist / religion. Then all we have to do is worry about our clients...

Baruch Shulem Ph.D. Daniel Eidensohn Ph.D.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The myth of therapist/therapy neutrality e.g., sex education

The following important discussion was taken from the comments section of  Psychology: Jewish alternative  to a more prominent location as an important issue in its own right. My observation is not only are therapists often not neutral but even frum therapists often assume that in conflicts between halacha and the therapy they learned - therapy wins out. Issue such as lashon harah about parents or spouses - which is sometimes permissible but often alternatives are not used because it is done for the sake of therapy. In the discussion below the mere mentioning of sex education creates major consequences which are not necessarily handled properly.
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Can JOE be more specific as to the aveiros the therapists are validating. Validating usually means acknowledging/ empathic understanding for a problem or a solution to the problem , but not that it is acceptable or the long lasting solution we want 

Allan,

That's a tall order. I intended my comment for those who have independently arrived at the same conclusion as I have. I'm not sure if I can successfully clarify my comment for others. Also, if I mention a specific case, even with hiding the identity and changing details, someone who knows me may figure out who I am referring to.

That being said, may I have your permission to build a hypothetical case? For example, let's take a teenage girl in a day school that bills itself as Modern. Let's call her "B.Y." for Bas Yisrael. I am making this up in a way that is consistent with the kinds of outcomes I've encountered. Correct at will.

B.Y. [sitting in therapist's office]: Uh, so...how do we start?

Therapist: Why don't you tell me what brought you here.

B.Y. [vehemently]: My parents! [almost spitting out the words] They forced me.

Therapist: [raising eyebrows slightly, look of intent concentration]

B.Y.: So it started out fine. I invited him to come to my house to do homework.

Therapist: Him?

B.Y.: Didn't my parents tell you ANYTHING?! My boyfriend...only he wasn't my boyfriend then. Just a classmate. We had a project due, and the teacher put us on the same team, so I said, 'Let's work on it at my house' and my parents were like, "OK."

Therapist: I'm sensing anger.

B.Y.: I AM angry. A few months before my parents had sat me down and we had a talk. They treated me with respect, answered all my questions -- I felt... [pauses]

Therapist: Yes?

B.Y.: ...I felt, you know, empowered! They were so sensitive and polite. We'd never had a conversation like that before.

Therapist: Do you want to tell me what you spoke about?

B.Y.: It was a candid and honest talk [voice drops to a whisper] about sex.

Therapist: Oh.

B.Y. [sparks flying] They said they TRUSTED me! They told me I was now expected to take on RESPONSIBILITY for my decisions!! [starts crying]

Therapist: [after a time, gently, not prying, almost like wondering to himself] Anything else?

B.Y.: [now composed] So, last week I told my parents that I wanted the same boy to work with me on some homework, and they said "No."

Therapist: [repeating] 'They said 'No.'"

B.Y.: "No." [catching herself] I mean, yes, they said "No." [Drawing out the words] So I said, "Why in the world did you talk to me about relationships if you didn't want me to have a relationship??" [puffing out cheeks, pouting, folding arms, withdrawing into herself]

Therapist: [silent]

B.Y. [after a long time of staring into nowhere, quietly, in a low monotone] The answer was they were trying to "prevent" me from having a relationship. [clams up again]

Therapist: So first they communicated with you in a way you understood to mean you had permission to have a boyfriend, while their intention was the opposite.

B.Y.: Oh, no. They DEFINITELY were signaling that they were willing to allow sex at home. I KNOW that because I found a link on their computer to an article that used the E X A CT same language they used in our original talk. Stuff like, "need not be a green light for promiscuity but can be a red light for undeclared, unpredictable, unsafe activity." They just changed their mind later when they were faced with the reality.

Therapist: Ah.

B.Y. [suddenly, looking up questioningly]: Do you you think that was right of them to act that way?

Now, Allan, I put it to you: what can the therapist possibly respond that is both professional and that will absolutely preclude the possibility of B.Y. saying to her friends: "My therapist says it's OK to have a boyfriend"?


I think I hear you. My 2 cents worth -Maybe the therapist can answer – I hear where you are coming from and sort of understand how you are feeling , but I would appreciate it if you could tell me more , I want to get a better understanding of your concerns and perspective. The boyfriend is only one solution to the kids concerns.

About your parents decisions – I think it would help if we could first get a better understanding of their concerns and perspectives

This will help the kid see the problem from the eyes of the parent and understand the consistency of their decisions. – if one finds oneself in a situation I can trust you to be responsible , but until marriage it is best build friendships with girls

A solution would be to take into account the concerns of both parties . When the concerns of parents are addressed we are setting limits. Sometimes a solution would be to give a kid more autonomy in another area to compensate

Monday, May 4, 2015

Community Alert: Allegations that a NY therapist, lecturerer on internet porn and abuse victim advocate - is himself a predator

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman 5 Towns Jewish Times
The following is a grave warning to young women and their parents:

There is an individual loose in our community who presents himself as both a therapist and an activist fighting against the dangers of internet pornography addiction. He gives public lectures and speeches in various venues presenting himself as an expert in the field. He has spoken in shuls, Yeshivos, and Bais Yaakovs. He warns young men and young women to stay clear of potential sites and predators. This speaker is eloquent, articulate, and reassuring. He cites facts and figures authoritatively. Yet he has a pattern of eventually getting involved in Biblically forbidden ways with young ladies that reach out to him. These young ladies may be single or even married.

When he speaks at a shul, school or other event, contact with vulnerable young ladies can begin. The contact between the two begins innocently enough, at times, he presents himself as a type of therapist or counselor and promises confidentiality. At first the confidentially is maintained. When the young lady begins to delineate her problem, he explains that the problem is so severe that it must be either dealt with more directly or in person.

The patterns follow typical grooming techniques which are well-documented, of others who attempt to develop inappropriate relationships with unsuspecting victims. They begin by complimenting them. The relationship quickly becomes inappropriate and professional boundaries are not maintained. This individual has an office where he sees people, or he may meet them on a more casual basis. He tells the individuals that they need to develop normal patterns of relationships, and then he models that “normal” pattern of relationship r”l.

This particular individual makes sure that he does not get involved on a physical level with anyone under the age of eighteen. The individual treats his victims as “special” and may even say that this is the first time he has been so “taken” by a person.

The author of this article has met with a victim, and has examined evidence corroborating the victim’s story. The author has no doubt whatsoever as to the veracity of the story.

The author has also reached out to five separate Gedolei Torah – each Gadol has ruled that the information contained in this article must be disseminated to the public on the internet. It was at the behest of Rav Aharon Feldman Shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Ner Yisroel  that this community alert be issued.

If you feel that you or a family member has been victimized by this individual please contact jewishcommunityalert@gmail.com. Your identity will be kept private and this will help prevent others from being victimized.

In addition, Rav Harpenes is of the halachic opinion that all situations of a therapeutic nature should be strictly gender separated. Women must see women and men must see men, according to Rav Harpenes. [This is not a widely held opinion "Please see Dr. Joel Rosenshin's testimony about Rav Moshe and others in regards to this matter, in Dr. Nachum Klafter’s book." ]

Other Poskim have said that ideally gender separation should be maintained, but if necessary and under strict observance of the laws of Yichud alternatives can be pursued. They further instructed that the following guidelines be implemented.

1] Anyone who is currently seeing a therapist or counselor should make sure that the therapist is truly licensed and undergoes regular supervision. It goes without saying that this should be verified independently.

2] All yichud situations of a male therapist alone with a woman must be avoided, notwithstanding any assurances of permissions granted by Rabbis etc.

This specific matter is being researched for any possible illegalities involving misrepresentations of a therapeutic nature, and whether there are any illegalities involved in physical involvement with someone in a therapeutic context, even if the therapist is not a licensed New York State therapist. At this point the name of the individual in question is being omitted as research into the matter continues.

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Mendel Epstein: Bad Rabbi: Tales of Extortion and Torture Depict a Divorce Broker's Brutal Grip on the Orthodox Community

Village Voice     This much Abraham Rubin knew: He was lying, blindfolded and handcuffed, in the back of a van. He could feel it winding through the streets. He figured at least three men were in there with him, plus the driver. There was the one who'd stepped out of nowhere and punched him in the face as he walked down 56th Street in Brooklyn's Borough Park neighborhood just a few minutes earlier. And two, maybe three others who'd bull-rushed him and threw him into the van.
"We only want you to be a Jew," one of them said in Yiddish.

The van stopped. Rubin heard a door open and the men getting out. "The rabbi is coming," one said. Then the sound of two or more men climbing in beside him.[...]

In Borough Park, few to'anim were as prominent as Mendel Epstein.

Epstein, now 68, was known to many in the Orthodox Jewish community as a devoted feminist. Stout and bald, with a bushy beard and a steely demeanor, he specialized in divorces. Over three decades he built a reputation for effectively representing women. Says one local rabbi, "He presented himself as a champion for the underdog."

The women who came to Epstein often had a singular problem: Their husbands refused to grant them a get, a document without which an Orthodox Jewish marriage cannot be dissolved. The rule can be traced to the biblical Book of Deuteronomy, and its sway remains stifling: Without a get, a woman who remarries is considered adulterous. Any children fathered by her new husband are illegitimate under Orthodox law and prohibited from marrying within the faith.[...]

"The get is often the last vestige of control that an abusive man has over his wife," says Rabbi Jeremy Stern, director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, a nonprofit advocacy group for chained women. "Agunot are among the most vulnerable members of the Jewish community." [...]

Epstein publicly advocated for women's empowerment. In 1989 he published a book, A Woman's Guide to the Get Process, which advised wives on their religiously sanctioned options when seeking divorce. He wrote columns on the subject for the Jewish Press. Earlier this year, he codified his philosophy, unveiling "The Bill of Rights of a Jewish Wife" in the pages of the 5 Towns. One right states, "A wife must be treated with respect and not be abused. A woman in an abusive relationship has a right to seek a get." Another: "A husband is obligated to honor and respect his wife's parents." A third: "She is entitled to be supported by her husband." [...]

There were some exceptions. In 1997, for example, Neustein met with a woman named Libby. She came from a poor family, Libby said, but her husband was a wealthy, well-known member of the Orthodox community. He was also abusive: When she was six months pregnant, Libby told Neustein, he beat her until she miscarried. Desperate, Libby turned to Mendel Epstein. The rabbi offered one solution: He'd have her husband give her $10,000 if she left the country and promised to keep quiet.[...]

Meanwhile, in a one-room office in Crown Heights, a family therapist named Monty Weinstein was hearing stories, too. Weinstein founded Father's Rights Metro, a nonprofit group that assisted men in custody disputes. Weinstein remembers the first time he heard Epstein's name: In the mid-1980s, an Orthodox Jew approached him with a farfetched tale about how he'd been jumped by thugs and beaten until he agreed to recite the get oath.

"I was skeptical," Weinstein says. "In fact, I didn't believe it. I knew this guy must be a kook."

Several weeks later, though, another man came in with the same story. Then another. Some told of beatings, others of threatening phone calls: Grant the get or you'll be accused of child abuse; grant the get or you'll never see your kids again; grant the get, or else. By the time Weinstein shuttered the nonprofit in 1995, he says, he'd encountered more than a dozen men who'd been assaulted or intimidated over a get. [...]

After years of operating with seeming impunity, Epstein himself wasn't exactly secretive about his unconventional methods. In an interview for the 2011 documentary Women Unchained, the rabbi told of a desperate wife who came to him after her husband took off with their child. "She heard I have an ability to do things outside the normal parameters, outside normal channels," he said.

By the logic Epstein presented, he was a righteous vigilante, defending helpless women who had nowhere else to turn.

"He took advantage of their vulnerability," says Stern, adding that Epstein's motivation was not about advancing women's rights, but about enlarging his own bank account. "A gun for hire," he says.[...]

On November 16 and December 10, 1996, a "Rabbi Wieder" made calls to Belsky. In a transcript of the conversations, translated from Yiddish to English and later filed in court, Belsky describes what he knew about Rubin: "We heard this person is such a rotten animal that there is no equal on this earth." Belsky goes on to explain that he and other rabbis held a tribunal and "the verdict was that there should be compulsion." He stresses that he was not present at the beating but says, "I was in agreement, after many weeks and weeks of consideration and discussing the compulsion itself."

"If he deserves the beatings, then he deserves it," the man masquerading as Wieder responds. "You felt that he deserves it, then good."

"Yes, it's very hard on my heart," Belsky replies. "I don't keep a record, but it was the first time which I have agreed to such a thing." (Belsky, who denied in court having participated in the attack, did not respond to interview requests from the Voice. Neither did his lawyer, Robert Rimberg.) [...]

Thursday, January 23, 2020

English translation of Rav Aharon Feldman's detailed letter to Torah scholars and poskim - regarding Tamar Epstein's heter - and asking for a response

October 20, 2015

To all great Torah scholars and poskim,

A very serious matter occurred a number of weeks ago that threatens to undermine the sanctity of Jewish marriage. Since the details are known to me and I feel a strong responsibility to Heaven to do all which is in my power to correct the matter - I am turning to you with this letter to present the details before you in order that I might receive your views on the issue.

The subject is the case of Tamar Epstein - the wife of Aharon Friedman. For many years he has not agreed to give her a Get because of a dispute between them concerning custody of their daughter. A few weeks ago, one of the most authoritative and distinguished rabbis in America [Rav Nota Greenblatt] permitted her to marry another man - and even performed the ceremony himself - without her receiving a Get from her husband.

I asked this great rabbi what was his justification? He responded that the basis of his ruling, that she could marry another man, was an expert psychiatrist's report that had been given him. The psychiatrist had concluded that the husband (Aharon Friedman) suffered from the personality disorders of Paranoid Personality Disorder (PPD) and Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) from the beginning of their marriage. Furthermore the psychiatrist claimed that these personality disorders were incurable. On the basis of this information, the distinguished rabbi concluded that the marriage was retroactively annulled based on the halachic principle of mekach ta'os (mistaken acquisition).

I have a number of objections to his conclusion which I will now present one at a time.

First concerning the claim that the husband had these personality disorders from the time of marriage

1) I have determined that this woman had gone before the Beis Din of Baltimore a number of years ago to obtain a Get from he husband. This beis din carefully questioned her as to why she wanted to get divorced. At no time did she claim that the reason for her request was because her husband suffered from personality disorders. In fact the opposite is true. She only claimed before the beis din (according to the testimony of two of the members of the beis din - the third is no longer alive) that she wanted to divorce him because he was not socially adept. 

In addition during the proceedings concerning custody of their daughter, she agreed that their daughter could be given to her husband for specific periods of time. This clearly implies that she did not view her husband as not normal. In addition according to the official report of the secular court  regarding custody which was produced afterwards - she never claimed that he was not normal. 

All of this demonstrates that he in fact did not have mental health issues. And even if you want to claim that he did have personality disorders - she clearly felt that she could live with them [as she made no mention of them in the proceedings to either the beis din or the secular court]


2) Secondly one of the members of the Baltimore Beis Din told me that Tamar told the beis din that at the beginning of the marriage she was taking birth control pills - but that after 8 months she decided that she wanted a child and she stopped taking the pills and she consequently she gave birth. This clearly shows that even if there were personality disorders that she was able to live with them. Concerning this claim that she obviously had decided she could live with his problems Rabbi Greenblatt answered: "It is true that she thought she could live with the personality disorders but that was only because she thought there was medicine that could cure him. That is why she did not immediately try to get out of the marriage. However the moment that the therapist told her that there was no cure for his condition (even after many years of treatment) this established retroactively that the marriage had been a mistake."

However the truth is that there was another expert therapist who had treated Tamar and had notified her in December of 2007 that there was no cure for these personality disorders. But it wasn't until March 2008 - 4 months later - that she decided to finally leave her husband (this is mentioned on page 6-7 of the report of the expert psychiatrist). This clearly demonstrates that she was willing to live with these disorders even after she had been notified that her husband was sick with a condition that had no cure. However the psychiatrist attempted to prove that this did not mean that she was willing to live with these disorders. He wrote, "My impression is that the best explanation of why she did not leave her husband immediately on finding on that there was no cure for his condition was because of her lack of self-confidence, pressures and inability to make up her mind." It is clear that "his impression" is insufficient to provide a justification for her to remarry without a Get in the face of  the evidence before us that she did in fact feel that she could live with this condition.

Furthermore in my humble opinion, even if the reality is that at the moment that she was informed that the personality disorders were incurable she had finally decided to leave him (something which appears to me as highly questionable) we need to deal carefully with the claim of Rabbi Greenblatt that retroactively she did not accept his condition.

Even though concerning purchases there is a concept of mekach ta'os (mistaken acquisition), but the acceptance of the purchase  - can't be uprooted based on a claim of mekach ta'os. Consequently when the purchaser is notified about the defect in his purchase and he agrees to it and decides to live with it - then he can no longer claim afterwards that he didn't know that he would not be able to live with the defect.

 If this principle is not true then a person could always claim that he can not live with a product because he says he can now not tolerate its defect. This is clear from the Mishna in Kesubos (77a). [If a woman marries a man with an unpleasant medical condition or an occupation which makes him smell and she states that she can live with it. But later she says that despite her belief that she could live with it - she in truth can't - the beis din forces him to divorce her.

However nowhere does it mention that the marriage should be annulled retroactively because she had mistakenly thought she could live with the condition. She is only free of the marriage from the time she receives the Get. ]

Concerning the credibility of the psychiatrist's report

1) I saw the report that Rabbi Greenblatt relied on for his psak This expert therapist acknowledged that he never met with the husband but only with the wife. His report (according to what he writes) was based on the testimony of the first therapist who treated the wife (and perhaps also the husband but this is not clear) in the past. The psychiatrist made his determinations based on incidents that the wife reported about the husband such as his anger, his stinginess, his fears, his worries etc. and said that these proved that the husband had the disorders mentioned before and that they were incurable.

Aside from the question of the credibility of therapist based on the limited information he had available - he clearly received money in order to report his views. And he was well aware that the wife's purpose in meeting with him was in order for rabbis to retroactively annul the marriage. (This was told to me by the man who obtained the report from the psychiatrist). And it is obvious from the report as we mentioned before.

2) It is possible that Tamar received instruction from another psychologist as to how to present her husband and his actions that the psychiatrist reported - in order to succeed in having the marriage annulled.

3) Many of the incidents that the psychiatrist used to prove that the husband Aharon wasn't normal and was incurable happened after they were married. How did he know that the mental illness - if in fact it exists -  didn't develop only after they were married? Because if it did develop after they were married there is no basis for annulling the marriage.

The psak itself is questionable

1) The psychiatrist who wrote the report is not an observant Jew. His credibility is entirely based on his concern that he would be damaged professionally if it was discovered he was lying. Is this presumption sufficient in the face of the fact that we mentioned before that he was consulted with the avowed purposed of freeing Tamar from marriage and to remove her status as a married woman?


2) Wouldn't it have been appropriate for Rabbi Greenblatt to request the views of other psychologists who actually met with the husband in order establish whether he suffered from these personality disorders? Isn't it very possible that another psychologist would not reach the same conclusion as the first therapist -as is well known that this is a frequent occurrence in the deliberations of beis din as well as those in secular courts?

Because of all these considerations, in my humble opinion, the heter of Rabbi Greenblatt mentioned before can not be relied upon at all. Consequently Tamar retains the status of being a definitely married woman. Therefore she is prohibited in marriage to all men until these matters are dealt with in beis din according to the halacha. And in the mean time she needs to leave her second "husband" and if she becomes pregnant from him the children are viewed as mamzerim - unless the beis din says otherwise - according to the halacha applied the facts. If there is anyone who disagrees with me - he needs to brings his claims before beis din in order that they be carefully considered.

I now request that  you join me in my protest against the heter  - if you think what I said is correct. While I feel it is important to protest this heter to stop adultery,  but doing it by myself without the support of a group of talmudic scholars  my protest will not be accepted and effective.  My urgent concern is that this heter will open the floodgates for the ignorant in our country to decide to annul marriages in a similar problematic manner to this one. That will result in the destruction (G-d forbid!) of the holiness of the Jewish people. As you know, up until now there have been various attempts of certain rabbis who are basically ignorant of Jewish law and who have not served an apprenticeship with expert rabbis. However they have been stopped by the protest of the rabbinic leadership of our communities. However this heter is different. Since it has been issued by Rabbi Greenblatt - who is recognized as important and expert Torah scholars in these matters - the opposition to improper heterim will fall apart if there is no protest.

In addition to the danger posed because the heter has been produced by Rabbi Greenblatt, in the eyes of the public Rabbi Greenblatt  is viewed as being supported in producing the heter by one of the senior rosh yeshivos (Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky) of the present generation as well as his son ( Rabbi Sholom Kaminetsky) who is also a distinguished Torah scholar. Despite the fact that the Kaminetskys deny this, there is no question that many will rely on these rumors to permit the nullification of the status of being a married woman by means of this heter. That is because they think gedolim have clearly supported this heter.

I close with a blessing that G-d stop these breaches and dwell in our midst and that we should not be shamed or transgress.

Aharon Feldman

p.s. If you agree with what I have written, I request that you inform me at the address listed at the top of the letter.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The toxic strain of liberalism that makes blacks—and Jews—invisible


Early on in Get Out, Jordan Peele’s directorial debut and one of the most significant American films of the last three decades, a couple runs over a deer on a country road. It’s all downhill from there: Soon, the cops arrive, and the film’s real drama begins to unfurl. The driver, Rose, is white. Her boyfriend, Chris, is black. A policeman asks Chris for his driver’s license. Rose insists Chris was never behind the wheel, and so shouldn’t have to present his papers. Tense looks are exchanged. The drama of race in America simmers, threatening to boil over.

It does, but not as you might expect. Soon, Chris and Rose arrive at the elegant home of her parents, the Armitages. Dad’s a surgeon with a white beard and twinkly eyes. Mom’s a therapist with a soft smile. They’re huge fans of Obama, as they make a point of telling Chris right away. They’re every bit as welcoming as that cop was suspicious. They’re enlightened folk, good progressives who hold all the right ideas. And they may also be homicidal maniacs.[...]

What’s truly terrifying about Get Out is that its monsters aren’t the stock bigots we’re used to seeing—the sweaty, swaggering sheriffs with Southern drawls, the oily Republican preppies—but a novel, and much more realistic, kind of menace. Peele’s villains say all the pretty things about white guilt and black empowerment and racial equality, but when it comes to doing, they’re very much proponents of more coercion from on high, more social engineering, more bad ideas that put the bodies and the minds of black people at mortal risk. Chris’ experience may be more macabre than usual, but it’s not fundamentally different than, say, that of the folks living on Chicago’s West or South sides—where 762 people were murdered last year alone, and where the response of the progressive administration was to call for making the already stringent and clearly ineffective gun laws even more stringent and ineffective—or that of the kids in Detroit, where decades of progressive policies have turned the public schools into crumbling monuments to hopelessness. In those cases and too many more, black lives matter mostly as abstractions, the moving background in the morality play designed to reinforce liberal pieties, vilify anyone who doesn’t hold the right opinions as racists, and, most tragically, ignore the real lives of real people in need of real help.

American Jews, thankfully, are considerably more fortunate, but the dread evoked by Get Out is not entirely unfamiliar. In most of polite society, Jewishness is treated in much the same way as the murderous Armitages treat blackness: an idea to be celebrated while the actual people who embody it are destroyed. For proof, look no further than Linda Sarsour, one of the organizers of the massive Women’s March, protesting the inauguration of Donald Trump: Having raised tens of thousands of dollars to help rebuild a Jewish synagogue desecrated by anti-Semitic vandals in St. Louis, she thinks nothing of siding with Islamic Jihad operatives or embracing convicted terrorists who have murdered two young Jewish men. To our progressive betters, this is not a problem: They embrace Judaism but have no problem with those who kill Jews. Platitudes are offered, power is preserved, and the parade of folly goes on.

Like many, I’ve witnessed it firsthand. Spending a few years as a professor at New York University, I soon realized that while my colleagues would, if asked, go to great lengths to denounce anti-Semitism as vile, they had little patience for anyone, myself included, who believed that Jews were people who deserved basic rights. When I emailed a fellow professor and asked to participate in a weekend seminar she was organizing to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—a subject I know a thing or two about—I was ignored, and eventually informed that the event was by invitation only, and that I wasn’t invited. It was, of course, dedicated to discussing the singling out of Israel for boycotts, divestments, and sanctions, a plot that would hardly benefit from the perspective of a proud Israeli-born Jew who insists his people have as much of a right to self-determination as everyone else in the world.

It was this kind of corrosive ideology—extolling the values of diversity while enforcing a crippling orthodoxy that had little patience for Jewish identity—that eventually drove me to get out of academia. It didn’t take long for me to learn the same lesson Chris does in the movie, namely that the point of this new strain of toxic liberalism isn’t really to help victims of racism or anti-Semitism or any other sort of discrimination; rather, it’s to reconfigure the identities of white people so that they may go on and enjoy the same exact comforts to which they’re accustomed. It’s the same prejudices wearing better clothes. And it works because it projects its disdain for the unruly lower orders onto poor whites—working stiffs like that hapless cop, schlubs who probably eat at Denny’s and listen to Toby Keith and vote for Donald Trump—while continuing to deny actual black people the right to cast themselves as the protagonists of their own dramas outside of the rigid scripts written for them by the white elite. The same is true for anti-Semitism, which the same elites can now project onto Israel: The Jewish State, our intellectual and moral betters insist, is the home of the bad Jews, murderous thugs who massacre innocent Palestinian babies and therefore can expect nothing less than the knife, the bomb, and the rocket, while the good Jews are those who nod in agreement, smile politely, think little, and say less.

Chris’ purgatory, like mine, wasn’t one specific moneyed estate occupied by one specific set of psychopaths. It was, and is, the twisted version of multicultural meritocracy peddled everywhere from our finest universities to our most revered newspapers, institutions once devoted to free inquiry and now committed to nothing more than laundering the inherited privilege of the children of the enlightened elites who can then emerge, after four years of devouring the doctrine, as social justice warriors who can safely inherit their parents’ fortunes and get jobs in cool start-up tech companies, which, surprisingly or not, look like the exact opposite of the quota-based politically correct heaven-on-earth to which they aspired so fervently just a few months earlier. It’s a scam, and, as Jordan Peele reminds us, it can be a deadly one.

Watching Get Out, then, I felt the old sense of dread that gnawed at me every day of my academic career creep back. I know what it’s like to be in a room full of people who smile but don’t really believe you matter. And in life, just like in that fine movie, there’s really only one thing to do in such situations: acknowledge that the threat is real, refuse to play the game, and get the hell out.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Torah Psychotherapy: Learned from Torah or doesn't violate Torah?

 Update:8/18/13 I'd like to summarize what I understand Ploni is suggesting regarding developing a Torah therapy. 1) It is desirable to have psychotherapy based upon the insights of those who contributed to our Mesorah instead of either a purely secular therapy or one that the therapist hopefully selects elements that are compatible with  Torah and avoids those elements which are against the Torah. 2) There is also at the present no clear guidelines for the goals of therapy. Ploni is suggesting that we identify Torah appropriate goals and avoid inappropriate goals. 3) Before a true  Torah therapy is developed it is important that there be some official psak as to what secular therapy is appropriate for use with frum Jews.  4) Therapy needs on going rabbinic supervision as well a prescreening by rabbis.
My simple response to this is a practical one. I don't think it is feasible because it is essential creating mashgichim for therapy. In Ploni's future I can see that we have Bedatz therapy and therapists and OU therapy and therapists. Who are these mashgichim going to be? By and large rabbonim who don't understand therapy - but think they do. So why should they supervise it? In addition it would seem that each client would need not only to find a therapist but also a rabbinic supervisor to assure that therapy is going on in line with rabbinic approval. I find this rather intrusive and counterproductive as well as cumbersome. An alternative would be that only rabbis would be allowed to be therapists. This also is not a good idea because many talented therapists are not capable of learning properly while many Torah giants would simply relate to a client as they do a shtender. We see how child abuse has been handled with rabbinic supervision and I don't have reason to think therapy would be handled any better. I find the idea of total rabbinic supervision rather depressing. Furthermore while I think theoretically it is possible to build a Torah therapy, I am not convinced that a Torah therapy would actually work better than a selective use of secular therapy or developing new neutral techniques which don't claim roots in halacha or hashkofa.
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There have been a number of heated discussion about the issue of Torah psychotherapy. Part of the problem is clearly defining what is meant. Equally important is whether the "Torah therapy" is actually derived from Torah sources in the Hirschian sense - or whether they are simply translation of secular language and metaphors into Torah terms? In other words, does the Torah define what a good marriage or child rearing is - or are secular standards used and Torah is simply used as a tool. Does Torah prescribe ways to reduce anxiety or become more sociable or outgoing  - or is it derived from Dale Carnegie or Freud?
Update: See additional discussion about frum self-help books

Update: This is more than an academic question. A friend was informed by an activist in a major Torah community that 50% of community charity monies are now going to provide psychotherapy. Most of it was spent on frum therapists who had received at most a years training in a frum therapy program. The askan was not only upset about the amount of money being spent but he said he had no idea of whether the therapists were competent and had no way of determining whether the money was being well spent.

Update 8/14/13 If in fact the therapy is truly Torah therapy - then it would seem that there could be no excuse to use secular therapy. However problems clearly exist when Torah principles of what constitutes proper education or the ideal marriage clearly are inconsistent - not only with modern secular values but also that of the vast majority of Orthodox Jews. 
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Conclusion - Update 8/16/13 It is apparent from the comments to this post is that there is no such thing as Torah Psychology or Torah Therapy that was given at Sinai. There are psychological insights which are found in our Tradition which can be used in therapy - but they don't constitue a program of therapy. A psychology or therapy based primarily or exclusive on Torah sources might be desirable - but it doesn't exist at present and it clearly is not part of our Tradition from Sinai.
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There are a number of possibilities. 
1) Mental health achieved by prescribing Torah activities.  A person with low self esteem might be told to make a siyum to build his self esteem. A person who is shy, might be encouraged to do chesed to be less self-conscious. A man who has anxiety and depression by being in an adulterous relationship with another man's wife is told to stop sinning and do teshuva. A person might be told to pray at the graves of great tzadikim.

2) Therapy done by a rabbi or rebbetzin.  Some believe that any therapeutic technique that is done by a religious authority is Torah therapy. This may or may not include using religious language and examples. Thus there is absolutely no difference in the technique - only the person doing the therapy. An example is Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein's declaration that while psychologists have techniques for evaluating whether a person is a pedophile or child molester - only a talmid chachom actually knows.

3) Traditional secular psychotherapy techniques that don't violate halacha OR HASHKAFA [Ploni's correction]. A secular therapist once told me that the cure for the depression for his  yeshiva bachur client - was to get a girl from and engage in sexual relations. Obviously this was not acceptable. Another example is that some therapy is predicated about speaking lashon harah about parents and friends. A Torah therapy would seek a cure without using such techniques if at all possible.

4) Techniques developed from classic Jewish sources such as mussar or chassidic writings- without reference to secular sources. These typically involve using a conceptual framework of spirituality that if found in seforim such as Mesilas Yeshorim- often kabbalistic ideas are utilized.. No reference is made to secular psychology at all. However a secular therapist will typically recognize these techniques as variations of secular therapy.
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Thus ultimately the question is whether there is an inherent Torah approach to curing mental health problems. To answer this question it should be sufficient to observe whether great Torah scholars are also great therapists? I personally think the answer is no. Rav Moshe Feinstein is quoted in the introduction to the 8th volume of the Igros Moshe that being a gadol in Torah doesn't make one a successful politician or provide other wisdoms. Gedolim typically tell people with psychological problems to go the therapists. It is really no different than a medical problem. While there clearly are rabbis who have an innate talent for therapy - it doesn't seem that this is the result of studying Torah. There are in fact wise people from all sorts of backgrounds who are able to give therapeutic advice and direction.
A corollary of this answer that there is no inherent Torah therapy is the reality that advice from rabbis is not beyond question. One rosh yeshiva told me about a friend of his who was having marriage problems. He said it was obvious that the couple should never have gotten married. However since he was a student of Rav Moshe Feinstein he went and asked for advice. Rav Moshe told him emphatically that he should remain married. The man suffered for 5 more years and finally couldn't take it any more and got divorced. The rosh yeshiva - who was close with Rav Moshe - said his friend wasted 5 years of his life.  I have heard this regarding other gedolim such as Rav Steinman. Rabbis - even amongst the greatest - are known to have bad marriages or messed up children. This is readily stated in the Talmud.

Update 8/15/13 From Rav Wolbe's article on Psychiatry and Religion it is clear that there is no independent Jewish psychology or psychotherapy given at Sinai - but psychology which has been adapted or filtered to be appropriate for a religious Jews. this is from page 77.


היחס של היהדות הדתית אל הטיפול הפסיכיאטרי.

ידוע הוא יחס התורה של חכמת הרפואה בכללה: הרשות ניתנה לרופא לרפא - "ורפוא ירפא" כתיב  - וחיוב מוטל על האדם:

"ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותינם"  ~. ויש מרבותינו הסוברים כי פקודתו של רופא יש לה דין של "מצוה מדאורייתא" בכל החומרות שלה. והי' צריך להיות מובן מאליו, כי לפסיכיאטרי' מגיע אותן מעמד כמו לשאר ענפי הרפואה. הרי דבר פשוט הוא: כל הפרעה רצינית, אם נוירוטית אם פסיכוטית, צריכה לבוא בהקדם האפשרי לאבחנה פסיכאטרית ולטיפול מתאים. למרבה הצער, האמת הפשוטה הזאת אינה נחלת הציבור הרחב, וזאת משתי סיבות: נפוצים משפטים קדומים בכל הקשור למחלות-נפש, וגם שוררת אי-ידיעה ככל השייך לתחום זה.

ישנם משפטים קדומים רבים בענין, הראשון - המחריד ביותר: יש החושבים, כי חולה-נפש מהווה כתם על המשפחה כולה. בעיני ראיתי, איך משפחה טובה מאד התכחשה לבן יקר שיצופרני; בתחילה התכחשה לאבחנה. אחר-כן. עם התקדמות המחלה, התעלמה מהחולה עצמו, שעזב את הבית והתגלגל במסדרון של איזה מוסד בחוסר כל ובלי שום טיפול. כמוכן, כל מי שיש לו השפעה על משפחות החולים, חייב ללחוץ על המשפחה שיביאו את החולה לטיפול פסיכיאטרי, ובהקדם! - משפט קדום שני מכוון נגד האישפוז: על מי שהי' מאושפז פעם, מוטבעת גושפנקא של "אינו מן הישוב", וזה מערים קשיים על עתידו אפילו אם הבריא לגמרי. עוד זאת חוששים קרובי החולה, שהאישפוז עצמו יגרום הרעה במצב החולה. גם בזה יש צורך בהסברה לציבור הרחב, כי הרופאים מודעים לאפשרות זאת, והם עושים כל אשר ביכולתם למנוע אישפוז מיותר. רצוי שהציבוו ידע, כי היום עומדות לרשות הפסיכיאטרים תרופות חדישות שחוללו מהפכה בטיפול במחלות פסיכוטיות. [...]

בעיות אלו משותפות לציבור הדתי ולפסיכיאטרים. יש צורך דחוף בארגון קורסים לרבנים בפועל ולמחננים, במטרה להפיץ ידע בסיסי על הסימפטונים של נוירוזה ןפסיכוזה ודרכי הטיפול שלהן בקווים כלליים, כדי שידעו להפנות חולים בהקדם אל הרופא. ידיעה בסיסית היתה מסלקת הרבה משפטים קדומים!

Monday, February 27, 2017

A Letter From A Mother of a child abuser - the perspective from the other side


It takes courage to write my story. I am not a young woman anymore and I feel compelled to put my family’s story on paper to give us a voice when we have none. I hope that by sharing our painful story, other parents can learn from our mistakes and that we will ultimately be able to open a dialogue about judgment and forgiveness – for ourselves and others. What follows is story of a regular family and a tragedy that unfolded while we were not looking. In that, ours is a cautionary tale for every parent.

It all began with a phone call. I was on my way to work when a woman called saying, “Do you know that your son Yisroel [a pseudonym] sexually abused my son in camp several years ago?” So shocking was this accusation that at first, I didn’t quite take it in. In the few seconds it took me to assimilate the information, I blurted out, “No. I don’t know anything about it, but I will find out and do whatever has to be done.”

I can’t really explain the effect this call had on me. I wondered if it could be true. This wasn’t the introverted, gentle son I knew – could he have done this terrible thing? Then, as any parent would, I started searching for any hint that I could’ve missed; what didn’t I see? And I searched my heart, wondering what I had done wrong. This child had been born at a chaotic time when I was overburdened with family troubles. My mother had cancer, and I had been turning the world upside down in a futile search for the doctors and treatments that would save her. Sadly, my efforts were too little and too late, and I was left grieving and feeling guilty. The next few years brought the death of my father and other medical crises, but despite it all, our family life seemed normal. In all the hours of soul-searching that followed, I wondered if this child, who perhaps needed the most attention of all my kids, didn’t get all that he needed. I know we had struggled to do the best we could.

Yisroel had been diagnosed with ADHD and had difficulty making friends at school. He was bullied and became sullen and withdrawn, and he seemed to lack social skills needed to make close friendships. We sought advice from a child therapist but nothing helped. When he finally made what seemed to be a good friend, a neighborhood boy a couple of years older than him, I was so happy. But my impression was terribly wrong. My son was being sexually exploited and I was totally oblivious. These events took place many years ago, and in those more innocent times, such things were unimaginable to most people. This older boy was “frum” and from our own Orthodox neighborhood, and I felt very comfortable. In fact, I saw this new relationship as a “bracha” for my child who was so bereft of friends. [...]

By the time the distraught mother called me with the accusation, Yisroel was 22 years old and immersed in Torah studies. I immediately confronted him and told him about the call. I won’t lie; I hoped with all my heart that he would be shocked and deny it. I hoped it would wind up being untrue, a mix-up – that it was not my son; that it didn’t happen. But my son just looked at me with an expression I couldn’t interpret and was silent. Heartsick, my husband and I took him to see a therapist, a specialist in the treatment of sexual abuse recommended by an Orthodox referral service. A battery of tests confirmed that he had been abused himself and also had abused his camper. My husband and I, together with our other children, were enlisted in Yisroel’s treatment plan, charged with enforcing his attendance in therapy and monitoring his comings and goings, but he was anxious to cooperate in the treatment and continued willingly for six years.

Life went on almost normally. Eventually, Yisroel met and began dating a young woman. Concerned about whether he was ready for marriage, we consulted his therapist, who assured us that he was healthy and posed no danger to the community since he had received treatment early and had never repeated his offense. He gave my son his blessings for the marriage, and we were thrilled that our son was finally reentering life, albeit with a heavy burden.

It was three years after his marriage and almost 10 years after the abuse incident that another surprise phone call upended our lives again. This time, the former camper himself called and accused my son of molesting him. Yisroel readily admitted his guilt, apologized profusely and explained that he was still in therapy. But, unbeknownst to my son, there was a police detective listening in and recording the conversation, and in a classic sting operation, he arrested my son based on his admission.

Life has a way of forcing us to learn many lessons that we would rather never know, and so, we began our tutorial on the legal system that would occupy such a dominate place in our lives to this day. We became aware of the various classes of felonies: since the statute of limitations had passed, the state would have to apply the higher-level offence, which subjected our son to a mandatory sentence of five to 25 years. We learned that our only option was a plea bargain which required an admission of guilt, 10 years probation and being registered as a sex offender, and mandatory therapy through the court system, although he had already had six years of specialized therapy. We learned that in some respects, the law is unfair to the victim, instituting an unreasonable time frame for charges to be brought, and to the perpetrator, in that all offenders are lumped into one undifferentiated bunch. There was little we could do other than agree to the terms we were offered. We live with enormous guilt and anguish knowing that our son so grievously hurt another child and caused tremendous suffering to the victim and his family. To undo the damage is impossible, and we made the only reparation we could, paying unstintingly for the victim’s therapy, which ran into six figures.