Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Child abuse:Bringing out the crazies

When I started working on my book of abuse I was well aware that the issue elicits strong emotions. I was well aware that the traditional understanding of halacha and rabbinic authority and the suspicion of mental health workers as well as the inherent disgusting nature of abuse  and informing the government - would cause some talmidei chachomim to disagree strongly.
But what has actually happened so far is something far different. In the last two year there has been a strong shift of the mainstream chareidi organizations and rabbinical authorities to publicly acknowledge the need for involvement of mental health workers, lawyers and even the police. In fact so far I have not found any talmid chachom that I talked with who is strongly opposed to my views. As one of my friends said, "the pendulum is already swinging toward a more enlightened view and if you don't get your book out soon then it will be the mainstream view instead of a pioneering effort."
Instead what is happening is that it is bring out the crazies. These people are very frum - some are FFB and others are well educated baalei teshuva - who are acting weird in the clinical sense because of the discussion of this topic. They present themselves as if they were concerned with piety and knowledge of the halacha - when in fact it has nothing to do with halacha and everything to do with mental illness. In fact none of them display an understanding of the halachic issues. But that doesn't stop them from viewing me and others as a manifestation of Satan. This is clearly seen by the individual who has sent in a number of off the wall comments to the posting of the excerpt of R' Micha Berger essay. I have received a number of emails containing very strange comments - that have everything to do with the break down of ego boundaries and clear indications of trauma and disassociative states and nothing to do with dealing with abuse. In short they act as if they have been abused or have suffered severe trauma or mental illness and perhaps are currently abusing others.


  1. It reminds me when you help break thew Tropper sex scandals, some BT and others were attacking you viciously here and on other blogs, proclaiming that Tropper is innocent and you are on a mission to smear him.

  2. I would say this post shows how cognitive dissonance (the uncomfortable feeling caused by by being pushed to hold conflicting ideas simultaneously) is an emotional response, and thus causes people to seek emotional rather than rational resolution.

    Which is actually counter-productive, since you can't actually resolve the internal conflict that way. If you hear something that bothers you because it sounds both likely and conflicts with cherished beliefs, it's only by reasoning out the contradiction that you'll be truly convinced it isn't real. (Even if it's the cherished belief that ends up needing emending.)


  3. Recipients and PublicitySeptember 22, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    Your conclusion is actually not all that surprising because the true rabbonim have usually been ahead of the curve and are well-aware of the real issues and what it would take to solve them.

    However, especially in the Charedi world there is the equivalent of mob rule, and in Israel for example they go under the rough label of "Kannoim" not much different to the baryonim of old. They are not all as nuts or troubled as you make them out to be. Many of them especially the bosses are no different to hard-core criminals who manipulate their underlings in cynical power plays view themselves as the "true custodians" of what should be "accepted" in Yiddishkeit and they have no qualms in attacking true Chachomim who would like to do the kind of things you advocate but are afraid of what the dangerous and often violent "kannoim" not just in matters of mental health but in the full range of sociological, political and religious issues.

    Thus it's the same crowd and mentality that will throw acid in the face of a modern girl whose hemline they deem too short or punch in the face an elderly woman who refuses to go to the back of the bus, or they will fly to Tehran and join Holocaust-deniars and anti-Semites, and make protests and provoke the police into confrontations.

    It runs deeper than just a fringe-element of screwballs, it's a trend of fanaticism and Khomeinism and fundamentalism that afflicts all religions across the globe, that are not in the ways of Chazal and the true Chachomim who spoke and practiced the ways of peace and avoidance of unnecessary cultural and religious wars.

  4. RandP: The productive part isn't acknowledging the problem or even narrowing down what it is.

    It's coming up with a concrete plan for reducing it, and then actually implementing.


  5. The fact that you are proud to be associated with a moyser like Dovid Cohen means many are against you.

    When the halochah permits one to go to the authorities then Cohen says no, just like in the case of the arrest last week of an ohel worker, cohen said not to report him.

    when it is ossur to go, like in many divorce cases when the court itself has rejected orders of protection, then cohen is gung ho its muttsar go.

    cut out your false sence of piety and caring. you cannot fool everyone all the time. we know =who you are and which reshoim you wish to emulate.

  6. There are too many extremists who have convinced themselves that all life within the Chareidi community is perfect, that every family lives an Artscroll-like existence without any defect in their observance or level of purity. When someone comes along and says "Well no, we're human like everyone else, we have problems we need to address and the halacha permits us to do that" you threaten their entire worldview. Is it any wonder they're fighting back?


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