Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita - Guidelines for calling the Police V - Similar views

Rav Hershel Schacter's views on calling the police seem to be the same as those of Rav Moshe Sternbuch.

Even if one is guilty of a crime and deserves a punishment according to the laws of the land, but due to anti-semitic attitudes he will probably suffer more than if he were a non-Jew; or, the (state) prison conditions are such that he will suffer at the hands of the other inmates (or at the hands of the guards) in a manner that is not proscribed by law, then turning the offender in would constitute mesirah, since his added suffering will be shelo kadin. However, mesirah is permitted in situations where one is a public menace (see Shach to Choshen Mishpat 388, 59), or if one is physically or psychologically harming another individual (for example, in instances of sexual abuse of children, students, campers etc., or spousal abuse) (see Shach to Choshen Mishpat ibid, 45).

The Jewish community does not have the ability to investigate these types of cases. Wherever there are raglayim ladavar that there seems to be a problem, the proper government agencies should be contacted to investigate.

Just as in other areas of halachah, one should consult a competent moreh horaah when faced with such a shayla. Just because one is knowledgeable in Yoreh Deah vol. I or one delivers a good pilpul shiur on sugyos in Nashim or Nezikin, it does not necessarily follow that that individual will be qualified to pasken on hilchos mesirahlehakel or lehachmir.

Rabbi Yosef Blau wrote:

Virtually all poskim agree that if there is danger to future victims then there is no halakhic issue of mesira, but practically the taboo of mesira remains. Victims are discouraged from coming forward on other grounds as well; it will potential hurt shiddukhim , not only for the victim for members of his family as well. Compassion is expressed for the reputations of members of the abuser's family as well. The probability that family members may have suffered abuse themselves and continue to suffer from being in ongoing contact with the abuser, is not understood.

Taking the accusation to a Beis Din, unfortunately, is rarely effective. Few rabbis have any training in recognizing abuse and rabbinical courts have no investigative arm. Some abusers are charismatic leaders and have followers who will say whatever they ask them to say. Perjury to a Beis Din is not punished and in many cases the witness, in support of his mentor, has no difficulty with distorting what occurred. The cultic element in the guru's leadership is hard for us acknowledge. A rabbi promoting Judaism is seen as incapable of being a cult leader.

Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz wrote:

I cannot understand why members of our community are not willing to report the criminals who are selling drugs to our kids directly to the police. This is, in my opinion, a misplaced application of the concept of mesirah. Ten years ago, I asked our leading gedolim if I should pass along information to the police regarding drug pushers. I got a unanimous psak that drug dealers have the full status of a rodef (one who poses life-threatening danger to others), and that I have not only the right, but also the obligation to do everything in my power to have them arrested and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. In my opinion, there is no substantive difference between a drug pusher and a child molester. Let the system work and let’s finally start protecting our children before there are any more shattered lives and suicides.

I think it is a terribly sad statement that an individual who sold non-kosher food in my hometown of Monsey ran for his life the moment the story broke and was not seen since, while a fiend who molested both Jewish and non-Jewish children in Boro Park is living comfortably in Jerusalem while evading extradition. I am most certainly not promoting or condoning vigilante violence. But it would be a positive step forward when accused child molesters in our community need to ask for police protection for fear of being harmed by righteously indignant people.

Incredibly, in that case, only the non-Jewish parents pressed charges. Here is text from a Nightline article on the subject: “The only victims that cooperated with the investigation were Italian. They were neighborhood boys who trusted the rabbi because he bought them gifts like bicycles. Not a single Orthodox Jewish boy or their parents would talk to the police. The statements of four Italian boys, aged 11 through 16, were the basis for the indictment against Avrohom Mondrowitz. He was facing eight counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, endangering the welfare of a child, and five counts of sodomy in the first degree.”

I ask, “Are Jewish children less sacred and worthy of protection than are non-Jewish children?”

Rabbi Michael J. Broyde has an excellent discussion of the issue of mesira in JLaw. In his summary he states

[102. Abraham Sofer Abraham, Nishmat Avraham Volume 4, pages 307-11, quotes responsa from Rabbis Auerbach, Elyashiv and Waldenberg in agreement on this point, that one must report cases of child abuse. No alternative view is quoted in this enclyopedic work. Rabbi Abraham writes:

A child or infant who is brought to a hospital with symptoms of being a battered child... it is prohibited, after an investigation to return him to his home as they will continue to beat him until he might die. Because of the real danger, it is obligatory for the doctor to inform the courts, and with an order from the court, place the child with a foster parent or agency. There is no problem of informing since we are dealing with danger to life and the parents are the pursuers. This is permitted even if they will place the child, due to no choice, with a family or agency that is secular. It is incumbent upon the Jewish court to do everything in its power to insure that the child is placed with an observant family or agency. Particularly in the diaspora it is important that the Jewish court work to insure that the child not be placed with a Gentile family or agency. Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach agreed with all of the above.
Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv recounted to me that it is permitted for the doctor to inform the authorities even if it is possible that the child will be placed with a family or agency that is not Jewish ....
Rabbi Waldenberg wrote "if there is a real risk that the parents will continue to hit the child .... it is obligatory for the doctor to report the matter to the police..." Sexual abuse (of either boys and girls) is no different than physical abuse. [Rabbis Waldenberg, Elyashiv and Auerbach agree that reporting is mandatory also.] Rabbi Elyashiv writes "there is no difference between boys and girl since one is dealing with a seriously life wounding event (pegiah nafshit) and a danger to the public ... this is much more serious than theft and one certainly must report this matter to the school administration and if nothing is done, even to the police even in the diaspora."]


  1. BS"D

    It doesn't really matter what Shlomo Aviner says, nor if he happens to be correct on this issue or not. Rabbis Lior, Yosef, and Levanon remind us that since Shlomo Aviner instructs people to transgress Torah prohibitions punishable by Karet, one may not ask him, listen to him on ANY issue, nor trust in his articles or books:

    Shlomo Aviner ignored the Bet Din set up by Rabbi Mordekhai Eliyahu, even though he said he would show up and listen to their ruling.

    He really should not be included with these other poseqim.

  2. Questions About Aviner said...
    It doesn't really matter what Shlomo Aviner says, nor if he happens to be correct on this issue or not. Rabbis Lior, Yosef, and Levanon remind us that since Shlomo Aviner instructs people to transgress Torah prohibitions punishable by Karet, one may not ask him, listen to him on ANY issue, nor trust in his articles or books:
    Material was removed

  3. These are some very powerful teshuvos, and although they were on a blog form 5 years ago they have much to offer us.

    I am especially impressed by RSZA signing the Teshuva which says a child can be put with secular caretakers to save his life!

    This principle of Pikuah Nefesh was violated, by some some who said it is ok to be killed, eg in Europe, than to risk being in a secular enviroment!


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