Friday, April 30, 2010

Sefer HaNer

Seforim Blog

Not every important work written by a Rishon is blessed with popularity.[1] While many texts were available throughout the generations and utilized to their utmost; others were relegated to obscurity, being published as recently as this century, or even this year. Nearly a month doesn't pass without a "new" Rishon being made available to the public, and often enough in a critical edition. While each work must be evaluated on its own merit, as a whole, every commentary, every volume of Halachic rulings adds to our knowledge and Torah study.[2] [...]

Abuse - Mayo Clinic: Profile of Pedophilia

Mayo Clinic

A Profile of Pedophilia:
Definition, Characteristics of Offenders, Recidivism,
Treatment Outcomes, and Forensic Issues

Pedophilia has become a topic of increased interest, awareness, and concern for both the medical community and the public at large. Increased media exposure, new sexual offender disclosure laws, Web sites that list the names and addresses of convicted sexual offenders, politicians taking a “get tough” stance on sexual offenders, and increased investigations of sexual acts with children have increased public awareness about pedophilia. Because of this increased awareness, it is important for physicians to understand pedophilia, its rate of occurrence, and the characteristics of pedophiles and sexually abused children. In this article, we address research that defines the various types and categories of pedophilia, review available federal data on child molestation and pornography, and briefly discuss the theories on what makes an individual develop a sexual orientation toward children. This article also examines how researchers determine if someone is a pedophile, potential treatments for pedophiles and  sexually abused children, the risk of additional sexual offenses, the effect of mandatory reporting laws on both physicians and

Rav Sternbuch: Natural disasters

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Discrimination in dismissal of Druze officer?


Druze officers on Wednesday protested a military appeals court's decision not to demote former Gaza Division Commander Brigadier-General Moshe Tamir, who allowed his 14-year-old son to drive an army ATV and attempted to cover up the incident after the boy collided with a civilian vehicle.

The officers demanded that Brigadier-General Imad Fares, who retired from the Israel Defense Forces following a similar incident, would also be allowed to return to the army's top brass. They said the court's decision to accept Tamir's appeal was a case of harsh discrimination and racism.[...]

Bedatz bans public digital ad displays

Abuse - failure to screen workers


A 70-year-old man with past convictions for murder and rape was arrested on Thursday for allegedly molesting a suicidal 14-year-old girl at the Meir Hospital in Kfar Saba.

Yoseph Nino, a Herzliya resident, had been hired by the hospital through a manpower agency to supervise the teen during nighttime hours to prevent her from hurting herself. The teen had been hospitalized in the hospital's children's wing after attempting to kill herself [...]

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Haaretz spy scandal - Caroline Glick


Over the past two weeks Israel has been rocked by a major espionage scandal in which the Haaretz newspaper plays a central role. To understand the significance of the scandal, it is worthwhile to preface a discussion of it with a look at a smaller story Haaretz developed this week.

On Sunday, Haaretz’s Amira Hass reported that in January, the IDF published a new military order that paves the way for the mass expulsion of illegal aliens from Judea and Samaria. The story sported the disturbing headline, “IDF order will enable mass deportation from West Bank.”

In a follow-up on Monday, Hass reported that 10 self-described human rights organizations (all funded by the New Israel Fund) sent a joint letter to Defense Minister Ehud Barak asking him to rescind the order. She noted, too, that, “the international media also has taken great interest in the story.”[...]

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Goodists - those who view themselves as Moral Beings


Psychologists Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong of Toronto University recently reported a startling discovery in the journal Psychological Science: those who purchased a “morally virtuous” product, like organic baby food, were less likely to be charitable and more likely to lie and steal than those who purchased conventional products.

The Guardian summarized the findings: “[T]hose . . . who bought green products appeared less willing to share with others a set amount of money than those who bought conventional products. When the green consumers were given the chance to boost their money by cheating on a computer game and then given the opportunity to lie about it – in other words, steal – they did, while the conventional consumers did not.”  Those findings confirmed previous observations of patterns of “moral balancing,” whereby people who have proven their credentials as moral people in one area allow themselves to stray in other areas. Apparently, relatively minor acts that confer some sort of “moral halo” have the effect of licensing subsequent asocial and unethical behavior.[...]

Ramat Beit Shemesh mikve - Chareidim v. Modern Orthodox


Friction between two religious communities in Ramat Beit Shemesh has surfaced once again, this time over who should take responsibility for the mikve (ritual bath) in a neighborhood that is equally inhabited by both haredi and  national religious communities, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

The tension is focusing on a mikve that opened roughly two years ago on Nahal Dolev and was divided in two last summer by the city’s Religious Council so each community could follow its own interpretation of Jewish law.[...]

Concern about abuse - only from 1970's

Dr. Christine A. Courtois and Dr. Steven N. Gold (Psychological Trauma 2009 1:1 page 3).For several decades now, the knowledge base about psychological trauma has been continually expanding in the professional literature (Friedman, Keane, & Resick, 2007). In the earliest days of the practice of psychotherapy in Europe in the late 19th century, trauma was recognized as playing an important role in the genesis and exacerbation of many psychological difficulties; however, for various reasons, appreciation of the relevance of the experience of trauma to many psychological problems waned through much of the 20th century (Friedman, Resick, & Keane, 2007; Herman, 1992b; van der Kolk, 2007; Monson, Friedman, & LaBash, 2007). It was only in the 1970s that the focused attention on psychological trauma resumed. This trend was catalyzed largely by the difficulties exhibited by Vietnam War veterans and emerging awareness, via the feminist movement, of the alarming prevalence of rape, domestic violence, and all forms of childhood abuse. Renewed awareness of trauma in the 1970s culminated in the inclusion of the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the dissociative disorders (DDs) in the in 1980 (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1980). Since that time empirical and clinical exploration of psychological trauma has sustained and flourished. The extensive literature that has accumulated since the 1970s has simultaneously been accompanied by burgeoning awareness on a societal level of the broad reach, financial costs, and lasting adverse impact of traumatic events. In the final two decades of the 20th century, increasing sensitivity arose about the widespread and emotionally damaging nature of domestic violence, childhood abuse, and sexual assault. More recently, acts of terrorism such as the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, and much more recently those in Mumbai, India, the return of thousands of veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and widespread natural disasters such as the tsunami in Southeast Asia in 2004 and Hurricane Katrina have been increasingly framed through the lens of trauma by both professionals and the news media.

Abuse lawsuit: Boy Scouts ordered to pay $18.5 M

Fox News

An Oregon jury's decision to award a man $18.5 million in punitive damages in his case against the Boy Scouts of America will likely be the first of many financial hits the Scouts will take as it prepares to defend itself against a series of sex abuse lawsuits.
The jury on Friday ordered the Scouts to make the payment to Kerry Lewis, the victim of sex abuse by a former assistant Scoutmaster in Portland in the early 1980s.
The case was the first of six filed against the Boy Scouts in the same court in Oregon, with at least one other separate case pending. If mediation fails to settle the other cases, they also could go to trial.[...]

Saturday, April 24, 2010

World's first full face transplant


Dr Joan Pere Barret said the patient, who is in his 30s, received a new beard from a donor as part of his new face.

In an operation at Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron University Hospital lasting 24 hours, the patient now has a new nose, lips, tear ducts, cheekbones and jaw.[...]

Friday, April 23, 2010

R' Shafran: Community's learned elders are wisest arbiters of what is Jewish

Five Towns Jewish Times

As a Jewish teenager, I absorbed a vital truth—arguably the essence of Orthodoxy: The community’s learned elders are the wisest arbiters of what is and is not Jewishly proper.

Over the many years since, I have come to see that truth vindicated time and again. Had I not perceived it in my youth, I sometimes reflect, I might have become enamored of the Conservative movement, which declared fealty to halachah while expressing sensitivity to American realities. I could have chosen to see it as the most promising standard-bearer for Jewish observance in America. And I would have been devastated to see its claim to halachic integrity crash and burn. But I trusted the elders. And, it turned out, they saw more than I did, and predicted precisely what came to be.

What brings the thought to mind are reactions to a recent pronouncement of our contemporary gedolim and z’keinim. When a congregational rabbi tried to create a new institution in Orthodoxy—women serving as rabbis—the Council of Torah Sages felt compelled to declare that any congregation with a woman in a rabbinical role “cannot be considered Orthodox.”

Ben Hirsch: Cracks in the wall of silence about abuse

Jewish Star

Last week, the Flatbush Shomrim issued an alert – a warning – to sex offenders that they would be arrested and prosecuted. The alert also instructed people to report sex crimes directly to the police. Judging from the positive blog posts and the flood of appreciative calls to the Shomrim hotline (to which I was in some cases privy) this message is a welcome one in our community. Indeed, the spate of recent arrests and convictions of those who have preyed sexually on young people seem to be a clear indication that, despite long-held communal norms and pressures, people are gaining the courage to do the right thing and report abusers to the authorities. The endorsement of this behavior by a trusted communal organization whose mission often puts it on the front lines dealing with this issue will, I believe, only reinforce this positive trend. However, in the midst of these positive developments, I am still left to wonder: where are the voices of our rabbinic leadership? While the Flatbush Shomrim alert seems to be endorsed by unnamed local rabbi(s), to date, not a single charedi rabbi has publicly expressed support for this position. Why? [...]

Rav Sternbuch: Prohibition of Lashon Harah

An Eternal Illness The Dangers of Lashon Hara  

Written by Rabbi Daniel Yaakov Travis based on a derasha from

HaGaon Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita Ravad of Yerushalayim

Kosher Speech

The Torah discusses tzara 'as, the punishment for lashon hara, at great length. Tzara 'as would first appear on a person's home, and if he does not repent for his lashon hara at that point, it would spread to his clothes. If he continued in his ways even still, then eventually, his body would be afflicted by it. 

Parshas Tazria follows Parshas Shemini, which deals with the kashrus of animals. Outwardly, there seems to be no connection between these two topics; but is there, in fact, a deeper meaning behind this juxtaposition? 

Rav Yisrael Salanter explained that the Torah does this to teach us that it if one wants to protect the sanctity of his neshamah, it is not sufficient to guard oneself from non­kosher food. One's speech has an even greater affect on his neshamah than what one eats. The outer signs of tzara'as come to show the great internal damage caused through lashon hara. 

When Rav Sternbuch first came into yeshiva in London, Rav Shneider encapsulated Rav Yisrael Salanter's words with the following rule: "You are all extremely careful about the kashrus of the food that goes into your mouth. Try to be equally wary of the kashrus of the words that come out of your mouth." 

While eating non-kosher meat is a serious transgression, bringing non-kosher ideas into one's mind can be even more dangerous. At times, the problems with certain written materials are extremely subtle, and the casual reader might not even realize that his neshamah is being infected. Especially with the advent of internet, when anyone can post any idea that he wants for public view, one must take extreme care with regard to what a person reads that it is clean of lashon hara, apikorsis, and other Torah prohibitions.

Punishment For Lashon Hara

The malach who would speak to the Beis Yosef on a regular basis once told him this: 
"Do not worry about those people who have spoken against you. They haven't harmed you; just the opposite, they have helped you. When someone speaks lashon hara about his friend, his mitzvos get transferred to whomever he spoke about. If people realized this, they would have great joy when they hear that someone spoke about them. They would even give gold or silver coins to the person who spoke about them." (Magid Mesherim, Parshas Vayakel) 
The Chovos Halevavos, Shaar Hachaniyah (Chapter 7) also cites this idea. He adds that when a person who speaks lashon hara gets to shamayim, he will find that he is accredited with many transgressions that he does not remember doing. When he asks about them, he will be told that they were taken from the individuals that he spoke lashon hara about, and added to his record.
The Chovos Halevavos cites a story of a chasid whom someone spoke lashon hara about. When the chasid found this out, he sent the speaker a lavish gift consisting of the choicest fruit of that land with the following note: "You were kind enough to give me your mitzvos and take away my aveiros. I am sending you a small token of my appreciation. " 

How can we understand why a person loses all of his Torah and mitzvos by speaking lashon hara? When a person speaks badly about someone else, this creates prosecuting angels against his friend. Exchanging the mitzvos of the speaker for the aveiros of the one he spoke about helps rectify the spiritual damage that has been caused. 

When the subject of the lashon hara gets all of the mitzvos of the person who spoke about him, his reputation in shamayim is exponentially improved. Similarly, by unloading his transgressions onto the person who spoke about him, he is now considered a tzadik. These two actions counter the damage caused by the prosecuting angels, for with all of his mitzvos and lack of aveiros, they can no longer speak badly about him. 

Based on this, the Chasam Sofer (in a derasha for Shavuos) explains what Chazal mean by their statement that when someone becomes a rav, all of his transgressions are forgiven. The reason for this is that after a person gets a position as a rav, many people will speak lashon hara about him. His aveiros will be placed onto all of the people who spoke about him. 

The Chafetz Chaim hints to this concept in the sefer Shemiras Halashon in Shaar Hazechira (Chapter 7). Since this is such a crucial deterrent to prevent someone from speaking lashon hara, why didn't the Chafetz Chaim make a more open reference to the fact that one loses all of his mitzvos ifhe speaks lashon hara? 

Rav Moshe Shneider once asked the Chofetz Chaim why he did not write what the Rambam says, that someone who speaks lashon hara does not have a place in the World to Come. The Chofetz Chaim replied that he could not give people such a blow. Rav Shneider understood that if the Chofetz Chaim would write that speaking lashon hara causes one to lose his portion in the next world, people would give up hope and refrain from putting effort into learning Torah and performing mitzvos. 

This rule is especially applicable to the internet. If someone posts lashon hara about someone else, this could be seen by countless individuals, and the extent of the damage is enormous. Especially when the lashon hara is about rabbanim, one could lose his entire olam habah because of his transgression.

Asking Forgiveness 
The Chafetz Chaim writes, in the sefer that became his namesake, that if a person speaks lashon hara about his friend, he must go and tell him about it in order to get  mechila from him (4: 12). This is a very difficult halacha to follow. Hearing that someone spoke lashon hara about you is extremely distressing. 

Rav Yisrael Salanter would not write an approbation for the sefer Chafetz Chaim because of this psak. Rav Yisrael ruled that instead, a person should ask a general forgiveness from the person he spoke about, and this is sufficient. Rav Sternbuch once received a letter from Rav Dessler praising this ruling of Rav Yisrael Salanter's. 

Although there is a dispute whether one must ask forgiveness for specific lashon hara that was spoken, everyone agrees that one must ask for some form of mechila from the subject of the negative speech. The Gemara in Yuma 87a  relates the story of a butcher who slandered Rav and didn't come to ask him forgiveness. Erev Yom Kippur, Rav went to speak to his butcher in order to give him the opportunity to ask mechila. 

The butcher did not take the opportunity and did not ask Rav forgiveness for his slander. After this incident, the butcher was cutting bones, and hurt himself, and this injury eventually caused his death. 

Seemingly, Rav could have just declared privately that he forgave the butcher, and did not have to travel and speak to him. From here we see that one must get a personal forgiveness from the subject of the lashon hara. Since it is nearly impossible to keep track of everyone that we speak about, we should make great efforts to avoid speaking lashon hara. 

While a person once had to leave his house if he wanted to speak lashon hara en masse, today with the internet and email.vthings have changed drastically. In a few minutes, a person could spread the worst lashon hara to the four comers of the globe. A person should take great care to think about what he writes, and if possible, have a rav look it over before distributing it to a large number of people. 

(Rabbi Travis is Rosh Kollel of Kollel Toras Chaim in Yerushalayim and is the author of Shaylos U'Teshuvos Toras Chaim and "Praying With Joy - A Daily Tefilla Companion" a practical daily guide to improving one's prayers, available from F eldheim Publishers. Rav Sternbuch's weekly shiurim on the parasha are now available as a sefer entitled "A Voice in the Darkness". For more information about his work contact

Questions regarding child abuse

Hi Rav Eidensohn,

I have been following your blog for some time and specifically the topics of molestation. Additionally, I have followed stories of molestation on other Jewish sites, as well as in mainstream media with the current stories about priests.

There are a few questions I have and it is a difficult ones but I want your experienced opinion based on the information you know.

It seems from what I have read that nobody really has a clue what to do with molesters and how to solve the molestation problem. Additionally, there is no real proof that a molester can be cured. From what I have read, it seems that the only way to keep children safe is to lock these people up for life, or castrate them.

These people have a sick desire. Just like normal heterosexuals desire the opposite sex, these people desire children. Can one become homosexual with therapy if they are heterosexual? Can a homosexual become a heterosexual with therapy? Extremely unlikely, if not flat out no correct?

However it is an urge that normal people can control. Normal people don't go raping the opposite sex.

However these predators, desire children and put their desire before the welfare of the child.

Do you think a molester can be healed with therapy to the point that you can say he is no longer a threat to kids?

How many years of therapy?

Should they be in seclusion during therapy? (Prison or a mental home...)

How can we be confident that these people are healed to truly ever allow them near a child?

These are difficult questions, however it troubles me that most molesters get a few years prison and once they are out they get right back to business. Prison doesn't change. Them or deter them. It just makes them more careful and sneaky.

Personally, I think they need to be kept from chiildren permanently which means a life sentence, or castrated. This may sound extreme but is it really? How can we justify 10 years in prison when all reseaech points to the molester being likely to repeat his offenses once he is out?

I just don't see how the system is properly dealing with this problem. These guys get a slap on the wrist for destroying multiple childrens lives.

What about monetary punishment? If large cash rewards were awarded to victims (I mean over $1,000,000) would that do anything as a deterrent?

Please let me know what you think about all of this.

Best regards,

Dr. Marc Shapiro - Grossman execution & Tropper

Dr. Marc Shapiro has a fascinating post - which includes a discussion of the Grossman execution and Tropper at the end


[...] During the discussions about the Grossman execution, I looked at some of the haredi websites (until the comments made me sick). What I found interesting was the incredible level of ignorance of most of the writers, all of whom had been in yeshiva and many of whom had studied there for years. They were able to declare that a murderer cant be executed unless he was observed by two kosher witnesses and was given warning, which they thought settled matters. Had these people known a bit of responsa literature, there would have understood how things worked in the real world, and especially what was done in the days of the rishonim. Do these people think that if a guy stood up in shul and opened fire with a machine gun, killing 20 people, that a Jewish court couldnt execute him because he was never given a warning? Lets continue with R. Liebes:[...]

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Netanyahu reject U.S. demand for Jerusalem freeze


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected the Obama administration's demands to freeze construction in East Jerusalem, his bureau confirmed on Thursday.

The Prime Minister's Bureau was responding to a Wall Street Journal report that Netanyahu's government had delivered over the weekend its most substantive response yet to that U.S. request.

Obama reportedly made the demand for an East Jerusalem construction freeze, along with other requests, in a tense White House meeting with Netanyahu on March 23. His administration had seen been awaiting his reply, while Netanyahu had deliberated with his top ministers on possible confidence-building measures that would allow a revival of peace talks with the Palestinians.[...]

New Square appoint Vaad for abuse

Jewish Star

At noon on a Sunday afternoon, Isaac Brewer sits at his desk in the back of Fax Unlimited, the electronics store he operates on Route 59 in Spring Valley. The flat-screen monitor on his desk displays several camera views that let him watch the unattended front of the store. Every so often, a customer walks in and Brewer dishes with them over what printer to buy, and every so often, the phone rings and Brewer switches fluently between Yiddish and English, telling one customer that he’ll be happy to drop off a toner at so-and-so’s mother-in-law. And in between conversations, Brewer speaks about sexual abuse.

“The problem has been going on since the world has been created,” explained Brewer, black waistcoat and gray sweater draped over the back of his chair. “But the Rebbe felt a need to get serious about it and to help victims and stop predators… The Rebbe has given us a carte blanche.”

Brewer is part of a six-member committee established 18 months ago by the Skverer Rebbe, Rabbi Dovid Twersky, to combat sexual abuse inside the New Square chasidic community. The committee, known simply as the Vaad, in many ways represents a giant leap forward for the community in dealing with sexual abuse. Advocates for victims of sexual abuse are not as charitable, however, and view the Vaad as a continuation of the legacy of cover-ups that have tainted the larger Orthodox community’s past dealings regarding sexual abuse. [...]

Monday, April 19, 2010

In some adoptions, love doesn't conquer all


At times, Kelly Lytle Baehr wondered how they would all get through it.  Two years ago, she and her husband adopted three boys from Ukraine — two of them 8, the other 16 — and brought them back to their home in Omaha. She knew assimilation into a family life would not be easy; all had come from troubled backgrounds, including one who had spent the first five years of his life in a prison orphanage back in Ukraine, and had a mother who drank while she was pregnant.

She was often tested by the strains of raising these three new sons. The youngest of them, Ian (born Igor) had rummaged in garbage dumps in Ukraine for toys, with hub cabs and discarded car parts his only possessions. At the Baehrs’s home in Nebraska he soon became a wild, uncontrollable kleptomaniac, she said. The other 8-year-old, Erik, struggled to attach to her — kicking, screaming, biting and yelling, “I hate you.” Only the oldest son, Viktor, seemed to welcome his new life quickly, blending easily into the family and eventually making the honor roll at his high school.

When Ms. Lytle Baehr, who is going through a divorce and has custody of her children, heard the news break two weeks ago about Torry Ann Hansen shipping her 7-year-old adopted son back to Russia on a plane, unaccompanied, with just a note to the authorities, she felt something approaching sympathy. “When it boils down to it, I’m really similar to the woman in Tennessee,” Ms. Lytle Baehr said in a telephone interview this week. “We’ve all been there.”[...]

Reporting abuse does not require a judicial procedure

[I need to clarify the original post - which has been understood by some to mean that one should simply call the police in all cases. That is not what I said or meant. My purpose of writing this post is to point out that the process of deciding what to do is not a judicial process - but one of defense against harm. The rules of evidence are much more lenient in an extra judiciary process, there is no inherent need for a beis din or even a rav. However unless there is concern for immediate danger - then one should consult with experienced experts - which includes psychologists, social workers, as well as rabbis who are experienced and are well aware of the surrounding issues. Furthermore regarding a case of a perpetrator  who abused  long ago and has not  repeated his crime and there is no danger to others - than a judicial procedure is required. There needs to be adequate considerations of proportionality - one does not  need to call the police if a neighbor allowed your son to watch a t.v. show or his rebbe gave him a hug. Nor should one use a shotgun against someone who might have molested your child. The halacha in the case of rodef requires a focus on doing that which is necessary to stop the harm. If you feel that protection can only be accomplished by the police - then call the police.  You do not need to accept the promises that the person did teshuva or assurances that the perpetrator will now have adequate rabbinical supervision. Also in a case of government mandated reporting which is enforced - it is different than where there is no mandated reporting or it is not enforced.  In sum - I am saying that focus on protection from danger is the prime concern and the halacha clearly allows a person to do that which is necessary to protect children from being molested. You do not need to get caught up in a complicated halachic piplul - but need to act to protect the children. However it is not a blanket allowance to use any and all means to accomplish it and a person should act responsibly and consult those who are  experienced and wiser in these matters - which is not necessarily a rabbi. In fact an inexperienced rabbi or one not knowledgeable in these matters might prescribe a course of action which is naive and harmful to both the perpetrator and the victim. On the other hand, calling the police or social services might also not protect the child and might cause harm. Protecting the children must be the prime focus. ]

One of the major problems in dealing with child abuse is the insistence that it is a very complex and difficult halachic issue that must be judged by a beis din or at least an experienced and competent rabbi. Going to the secular system is considered mesira or as a minimum a violation of the prohibition of going to a secular court.  It is also claimed that we need two adult male Jewish witnesses as well a warning and careful investigation and cross examination. Because often these can not be done - it is considered beyond out capability to do anything -if we want to remain loyal to the Torah.

In fact - according to the halacha the above is not so. Reporting child abuse to the police is not in fact a judicial issue. It is a question of self-defense, protecting others or stopping others from sin. These do not require judicial procedures. This is the view of Rav Yehuda Silman that was published in the current issue of Yeschurun. While a beis din or a rav can be consulted - there seems to be no inherent requirement for such. In other words it is no different than the question of whether a judge needs to be consulted as to whether you can deal with an assailant who is beating you or your children or your neighbor. Similarly a judge is not needed to give permission to react to someone who is involved in sin and it is in our power to stop him. Clear circumstantial evidence is enough to act defensively. Reporting a suspected perpetrator to the authorities is not a judgment or punishment - it is done to defend our children from possible harm. Of course it is best if those experienced in these matters - whether rabbis or social workers or psychiatrists - be consulted. But not if the delay would result in harm.  Thus the case of prevention of harm is different than punishment for sin - which in fact requires a beis din. This distinction between prevention of harm and punishment of past sin is very important and in fact is often blurred and confused.

Rabbi Yehuda Silman wrote:

Furthermore in the original article [Yeschurun 15] it was concluded that that it is obvious that there is no need to have witnesses that meet the standards required by the Torah but even less than that is sufficient and I cited a number of rishonim. The reason is reporting the teacher to the secular authorities is not punishment requiring a beis din but is an action mandated by secular law (in the Diaspora) or in order to separate the abuser from committing sin. In addition according to the reason that even in the case of a possible rodef it is permitted to inform the authorities – it is obvious that is permitted without proper witnesses since all that is required is that there be the possibility that he is an abuser.

Abuse:- Jeff Anderson- chief pursuer of the Vatican

Washington Post

The Vatican's chief American pursuer once flunked out of law school and sold shoes for a living. A father at 19, an alcoholic until nearly 50, he got his start in the law by representing indigent clients. He is now a fitness fanatic who lights his ornate office here with Tiffany reproductions and drives a Lexus.

He gets his balance from Zen Buddhism, his persistence from the reporters who felled Richard Nixon and his inspiration from the sexually abused clients who trust him to make the Roman Catholic Church pay for the sins of its fathers.

Jeff Anderson, who draws headlines and epithets and rarely sleeps more than four hours a night, is using his manic energy to challenge one of the most powerful and secretive institutions in the world, a 2,000-year-old church with hundreds of millions of devoted followers.[...]

Rav S' Kaminetsky & Rav Pam: Child abuse conference 2000

Rabbi Reisman -introduces topic
David Mandel of Ohel - moderator

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Blogging & Fair Use Doctrine

With all of the struggles and controversies surrounding the news industry these days, there is a lot of confusion out there about what falls under fair use and what doesn't. The more savvy bloggers who have been in the game for a while usually have a better grasp on the concept, but there are still plenty of others who aren't so well versed. After all, anyone can start a blog, and not everyone comes from a news or legal background.

Video: Baruch Lebovitz - convicted child abuser


Dr. Shapiro's theory for abuse coverups

Dr. Marc Shapiro wrote: in the last footnote

There is another theory as to why the sectarian hasidic world in particular has had so many cases of covering up and defending child sex abusers. It is that they simply do not regard these people as so terrible. The evidence for this appears obvious, in that in case of after case we see that they continue to allow sex abusers to teach and refuse to turn them over to the authorities and warn the parent body. Had they caught the rebbe eating at McDonalds, you can be sure he would have been fired, but not so when it comes to fooling around with kids. The question is why do they have this outlook, and how come they dont regard child sex abusers as so terrible? Here is a possible answer (which a wise person suggested). Look at where these societies get their information about human nature, the information that they regard as authentic and true. It does not come from modern psychology, but from Torah sources and folk beliefs. If you look only at traditional rabbinic literature, you wont conclude that child sex abuse is as terrible as modern society views it. Yes, it is a sin and the person who commits it must repent as he must do with all sins, but there is nothing in the traditional literature that speaks to the great trauma suffered by the victim. How do we know about this trauma? Only from modern psychology and the testimony of the victims. Yet this type of evidence does not have much significance in the insular hasidic world (unless it is your own child who has been abused). Certainly modern psychology, which is often attacked by figures in that community, is not given much credence, especially not when they are confronted with an issur of mesirah. This theory makes a lot of sense to me and I am curious to hear what others have to say.

Bribing kids for academic success?


In junior high school, one of my classmates had a TV addiction — back before it was normal. This boy — we'll call him Ethan — was an encyclopedia of vacuous content, from The A-Team to Who's the Boss?

Then one day Ethan's mother made him a bold offer. If he could go a full month without watching any TV, she would give him $200. None of us thought he could do it. But Ethan quit TV, just like that. His friends offered to let him cheat at their houses on Friday nights (Miami Vice nights!). Ethan said no.

One month later, Ethan's mom paid him $200. He went out and bought a TV, the biggest one he could find.

Empathy - how to not raise a Bully


Since the Jan. 14 death of Phoebe Prince, the 15-year-old in South Hadley, Mass., who committed suicide after being bullied by fellow students, many onlookers have meditated on whether the circumstances that led to her after-school hanging might have been avoided.

Could teachers have stepped in and stopped the bullying? Could parents have done more to curtail bad behavior? Or could preventive measures have been started years ago, in early childhood, long before bullies emerged and started heaping abuse on their peers? (Read what can be done about bullying in school.)

Increasingly, neuroscientists, psychologists and educators believe that bullying and other kinds of violence can indeed be reduced by encouraging empathy at an early age. Over the past decade, research in empathy — the ability to put ourselves in another person's shoes — has suggested that it is key, if not the key, to all human social interaction and morality.[...]

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Obama - paradigm shift on Israel


It was just a phrase at the end of President Obama’s news conference on Tuesday, but it was a stark reminder of a far-reaching shift in how the United States views the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how aggressively it might push for a peace agreement.

When Mr. Obama declared that resolving the long-running Middle East dispute was a “vital national security interest of the United States,” he was highlighting a change that has resulted from a lengthy debate among his top officials over how best to balance support for Israel against other American interests.

This shift, described by administration officials who did not want to be quoted by name when discussing internal discussions, is driving the White House’s urgency to help broker a Middle East peace deal. It increases the likelihood that Mr. Obama, frustrated by the inability of the Israelis and the Palestinians to come to terms, will offer his own proposed parameters for an eventual Palestinian state.[...]

Tropper - update

Troppenstein's monster cites Failed Messiah

The following charlatans sent a "discharge" letter to Yeshiva Kol Yaakov over a month ago proclaiming themselves as the "roshei yeshiva & mashgichim" and dismissing the current administration:

Leib Tropper
Chaim Weiss
Mendel Ashkanazy
Nachman Kramer (Bais Yaakov Monsey)
Eliyahu Berney (son of Nosson Berney)

Then 2 weeks ago, Tropper submitted a notarized affirmation to the the court that while he was oyver on some little "indiscretion", he remains the "rosh yeshiva" and the people running the yeshiva, specifically Moishe Raice, are "immoral".

Tropper claims to the court that R' Moishe Green, R' Aron Schechter & R' Elya Ber Wachtfogel agree with him on this.

Kol Yaakov's lawyer filed a counter-affirmation as follows:

Tropper had once invested $1 million of the yeshiva's money with Nosson Berney's investment firm. They are now trying to bankrupt the yeshiva by giving much of the money away to Tropper's friends in the Rabbonus with the remainder being pocketed by Tropper. Nachman Kramer padlocked the yeshiva office so that no one can get all the documents that prove this.

R' Reuvein Feinstein issued a written psak to the Monsey beis din that Tropper cannot take back his resignation and that there is no issur arkaos to stop him in court. (Does this mean there is no more money being doled out by Tom Kaplan?)

Meanwhile, Berney sent the following checks out to the rabbonim, as submitted as evidence to the court:
Rabbi Zaks, Chofetz Chaim Monsey $75k R' Shmuel Gorelick, Kollel Beer Mordechai Monsey $50k
Rabbi Malick, Ohr Moshe Monsey $40k
Keren Ezra, 11 Gwen Lane Monsey $25kRabbi Holzcer, Ohel Avrohom Monsey $25k
R' Amram Rosenberg, Chasidim Tovim Monsey $25k
Chasdei Avos, 8 Elyon Rd Monsey $25k
Mesila Baarav, Yerucham Israel $15k
R' Moshe Mosebacher, 5 Carlton Lane Monsey $15k
R' Michel Yuda Lefkowitz, Ponvizh $5k
R' Doniel Alter, Gur $5k
R' Shaul Kanievsky $3.5k
R' Eliyahu Levin $2.5k
R' Chaim Kanievsky, Bnei Brak $2k
R' Moshe Solomon $2k
R' Zalman Dovid Zuckerman $2k
R' Dovid Rotenberg, Yershalayim $2k
R' Yaakov Kupshitz, Beit Shemesh $2k
R' Yosef Kupshitz, Beit Shemesh $2k
R' Efraim Kupshitz, Beit Shemesh $2k
R' Tzvi Kupshitz, Yerushalayim $2k
R' Nechemia Waldenberger, Beit Shemesh $2k
R' Efraim Frank, Beit Shemesh $2k
R' Pesachya Sternberg, Beit Shemesh $2k
R' Yoel Turczin, Beit Shemesh $2k
Rav Sokolover, Beit Shemesh $2k
R' Nosson Kupshitz $1.8k
R' Moishe Mordche Schlesinger $1.8k
R' Yitzchok Scheiner, Kaminetz $1.8k
R' Shmuel Deutsch, Kol Torah $1.8k
R' Y. Levy $1.8k
R' Nechemia Zuckerman $1.5k
R' Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz $1.5k
R' Moshe Carlebach $1.5k
R' Yomtov Stern $1.5k
R' Nochum Schiller $1.2k
R' Moshe Sumter $1.2k
R' Yitzchok Kalmanowitz $1k
R' Osher Kalmanowitz, Mir $1k
R' Yehuda Kravetz $1k
R' Chaim Zeibald $1k
R' Eliyahu Rimmer $1k
R' Sar Shalom Marzel $1k
Rav Schmeltzer (Telz / Monsey / Miami?) $1k
R' Yitzchok Kossovsky $1k
Rav Eltovitzky $1k
R' Netz Elzas $1k
R' Aryeh Kanievsky $1k
R' Mordechai Carlebach $1k
R' Refoel Shapiro, Beit Shemesh $1k
R' Avrohom Rivlin, Beit Shemesh $1k
R' Chaim Jacobowitz, Beit Shemesh $1k
R' Eliyahu Mittelman, Beit Shemesh $1k
R' Chaim Solomon $800
R' Refoel Solomon $800
R' Moshe Battelman $800
Rav Klein $600
R' Avrohom Bernstein $600

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Barzilai emergency room to be built on graveyard


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that Barzilai Medical Center's fortified emergency room will be built according to plan, despite the discovery of ancient burial ground in its intended location.

Netanyahu made the decision in his capacity as acting health minister, ordering the graves be relocated.[...]

Baruch Lebovitz given 10-32 years for sexual abuse


A New York rabbi was sentenced today to a maximum of 32 years in jail for the repeated sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy, prosecutors said.

Baruch Lebovits, 59, was convicted last month on eight charges of abuse of the teenager between 2004 and 2005, and was given the maximum sentence on each count -- meaning he would serve between 10 years and eight months and 32 years behind bars.

The rabbi is also a prominent businessman in the Borough Park neighborhood of Brooklyn, where the teenager also lived, said Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes.

Two separate cases of Lebovits's alleged sexual assaults on minors are still pending.[...]

Gay & Ger - Hiding at the Seminary

United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism

There have been times in my life when I have felt like the prophet Jonah, pushed by life, or by God, to embrace the destiny from which I had run away.

In 1996, after three years working as student-rabbi for the Orthodox Jewish community of Naples, Italy, I quit my position. I had loved every moment of those years. The interactions with the various members of the community, the closeness that the position allowed me to have with them, the intellectual challenges, the spiritual high, had given new meaning to my life.

But I did feel a subtle, increasing pressure from the rabbinical establishment that I should get both an Orthodox smichah – ordination – and a wife. While I would have agreed to the smichah in a heartbeat (after all, it was my dream) I could not deal with the idea of a wife. I was a closeted gay man.[...]

Monday, April 12, 2010

Reconsidering anonymous online comments


From the start, Internet users have taken for granted that the territory was both a free-for-all and a digital disguise, allowing them to revel in their power to address the world while keeping their identities concealed.

A New Yorker cartoon from 1993, during the Web’s infancy, with one mutt saying to another, “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog,” became an emblem of that freedom. For years, it was the magazine’s most reproduced cartoon.

When news sites, after years of hanging back, embraced the idea of allowing readers to post comments, the near-universal assumption was that anyone could weigh in and remain anonymous. But now, that idea is under attack from several directions, and journalists, more than ever, are questioning whether anonymity should be a given on news sites.[...]

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Teaching kids about the Internet


When Kevin Jenkins wanted to teach his fourth-grade students at Spangler Elementary here how to use the Internet, he created a site where they could post photographs, drawings and surveys.

And they did. But to his dismay, some of his students posted surveys like “Who’s the most popular classmate?” and “Who’s the best-liked?”

Mr. Jenkins’s students “liked being able to express themselves in a place where they’re basically by themselves at a computer,” he said. “They’re not thinking that everyone’s going to see it.”[...]

Journalist turns in pedophile sources


To say that pedophilia is a hot-button issue is an understatement. But in France, a new dose of controversy was added this week when a television exposé on cyber-predators ignited a debate over journalists' ethics in the era of hidden-camera reportage. While conducting research for a program called Pedophiles: The Predators, the most recent installment of the France 2 network's hidden-camera investigative series, Les Infiltrés, reporter Laurent Richard communicated with multiple alleged pedophiles online and in person — and then turned them in to the police. But in betraying his sources — repugnant as they were — did Richard and his producers betray their profession?  [...]

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Palestinians try less violent path


Senior Palestinian leaders — men who once commanded militias — are joining unarmed protest marches against Israeli policies and are being arrested. Goods produced in Israeli settlements have been burned in public demonstrations. The Palestinian prime minister has entered West Bank areas officially off limits to his authority, to plant trees and declare the land part of a future state.

Something is stirring in the West Bank. With both diplomacy and armed struggle out of favor for having failed to end the Israeli occupation, the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority, joined by the business community, is trying to forge a third way: to rouse popular passions while avoiding violence. The idea, as Fatah struggles to revitalize its leadership, is to build a virtual state and body politic through acts of popular resistance.[...]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Catholic Church's Catastrophe

Wall Street Journal

There is an interesting and very modern thing that often happens when individuals join and rise within mighty and venerable institutions. They come to think of the institution as invulnerable—to think that there is nothing they can do to really damage it, that the big, strong, proud establishment they’re part of can take any amount of abuse, that it doesn’t require from its members an attitude of protectiveness because it’s so strong, and has lasted so long.

And so people become blithely damaging. It happened the past decade on Wall Street, where those who said they loved what the street stood for, what it symbolized in American life, took actions that in the end tore it down, tore it to pieces. They loved Wall Street and killed it. It happens with legislators in Washington who’ve grown to old and middle age in the most powerful country in the world, and who can’t get it through their heads that the actions they’ve taken, most obviously in the area of spending, not only might deeply damage America but actually do it in.[...]

Dying peacefully or fighting?


By the time she was 38, Dr. Desiree Pardi had become a leading practitioner in palliative care, one of the fastest-growing fields in medicine, counseling terminally ill patients on their choices.

She preached the gentle gospel of her profession, persuading patients to confront their illnesses and get their affairs in order and, above all, ensuring that their last weeks were not spent in unbearable pain. She was convinced that her own experience as a cancer survivor — the disease was first diagnosed when she was 31 — made her perfect for the job.[...]

Friday, April 2, 2010

Vatican Priest:Criticising Church in abuse cases is like anti-Semitism


A senior Vatican priest speaking at a Good Friday service compared the uproar over sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church — which have included reports about Pope Benedict XVI’s oversight role in two cases — to the persecution of the Jews, sharply raising the volume in the Vatican’s counterattack.

The remarks, on the day Christians mark the crucifixion, underscored how much the Catholic Church has felt under attack from recent news reports and criticism over how it has handled charges of child molestation against priests in the past, and sought to focus attention on the church as the central victim.[...]

White Shul: Shir HaShirim

This Shabbos afternoon between  6:15 & 7:00  I will be talking about Shir HaShirim at the White Shul in Far Rockaway. I will being discussing the issues of the relationship between physicality and spirituality as well as reality and metaphor.

Child abuser: Jail or therapy?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Cycling & Parkinson's disease


The man had had Parkinson’s disease for 10 years, and it had progressed until he was severely affected. Parkinson’s, a neurological disorder in which some of the brain cells that control movement die, had made him unable to walk. He trembled and could walk only a few steps before falling. He froze in place, his feet feeling as if they were bolted to the floor.

But the man told Dr. Bloem something amazing: he said he was a regular exerciser — a cyclist, in fact — something that should not be possible for patients at his stage of the disease, Dr. Bloem thought.

“He said, ‘Just yesterday I rode my bicycle for 10 kilometers’ — six miles,” Dr. Bloem said. “He said he rides his bicycle for miles and miles every day.” [...]