Monday, November 8, 2010

Child & Domestic Abuse book: So who needs it?

  Moshe wrote:

Can you please tell me what your book is about. I mean we all know that these thing are not allowed. Anything other than 'normal' is frowned upon. Will you be giving heterim? or expanding on the issur. Is it really necessary for men (or women) to know about all these things that they exist. And if they know already what will your book be teaching them. Will someone who already 'indulges' in these practices be likely to read your book? Surely the frum world whom you are trying to sell it to through their bookstores have no need of it!


  1. Who I would want to see get a copy:

    Shul Rabbanim, principals, other communal leaders, social workers, therapists who want to understand more about the effects of the unique dynamics of the frum world on their clients, etc...

    One of the things I had in mind when writting my own essay was the intent to helping the victim and their loved ones (ancillary victims?) separate Hashem's Torah from the abusive religious leader, or the religious leadership that helped hide his abuse. To explain that the possibility of allegedly Torah-following immoral people was a danger Chazal, the Vilna Gaon and R Chaim Volozhiner discussed and warned us of. The other audience I had in mind was the person who has the ability to shift how we relate to religion and ethics so as to create a community where such things (abuse, fiscal scandals, etc...) are more rare.

    But the book's target audience isn't the abuser. It's more the people who would otherwise enable him. The person who doesn't know what poseqim have said about the relationship between protecting the community and informing on someone to the secular authorities, or the limits of lashon hara when there are potential victims at stake. And what does "potential" mean? Does every rumor halachically warrant repetition because it might be true and therefore the person might post a risk?


  2. The classic Mesilas Yesharim says that everything he wrote in his sefer is well known but bears repeating because people are not keeping it. Child molesters do not think clearly and need to be reminded that what they are doing is a terrible sin. More importantly, all of us, yourself (and myself) included, need constant reminders that burying our head in denial and thinking that child abuse and domestic violence do not go on in the frum community is a terrible sin. One that all frum people have been guilty of. The same way the gemorah says that "Everybody does Avak Lashon Harah" evreybody has not done enough in our community to protect the vulnerable. We must learn about how much it goes on, why it goes on, and how to stop it, because otherwise, chas v'shalom we will be over on the issur of "lo saamod al dam reyecha" and have blood on our hands, rachmana litzlan.

  3. My book is precisely an attempt to counter the dark ignorance and misperceptions so accurately expressed in your post. I am exposing and teaching about a public menace that exists in the FRum community. you (and so many others) so wrongly assume in your note that this only a matter on Isur v'Heter.
    What you and the others are so sorely unaware of is: 1) that child and domestic abuse in our community is as insidiously destructive as AIDS. 2) that we as a community have within our power to stop this destruction and 3)) that the ignorance of our community/ denial "sweeping under the carpet" makes us transgressors of Lo Saamod Al Dam Reacho and tacit accomplices to the Rodef

  4. Thank you for writing your concerns. I think that you are expressing some legitimate questions, while some are much less so. You ask if I am suggesting heterim? I think that is less than an honest question – and is rather an expression – all to common – among those people which should not read this book, nor is the book meant for them. It is though directed at those who want to prevent further chilul hashem and damage of untold dimensions to children who are at risk.
    I, we – all the authors in the book – firmly believe and have experienced firsthand the lack of accurate knowledge and the sense of helplessness of many good people who are in need of help as offered in the book.
    Your reference to "those who already indulge" in the terrible act will not read the book. I do not think you will read it. If you don't read it you might well be missing out on some new insight, some new possible way of helping those in need. Do you presently help those in need? The abused and abandoned?
    The tone of you letter all to well reflects the majority attitude in our community. You may rest assured that you in deed represent the vocal majority, but in our honest opinion you do not represent Torah or Yosher which the book is based on.

    I strongly disagree with your tone and questions, but believe that dialogue are necessary and painful. I will be quite pleased to continue this conversation after you have in fact read the book and can relate specifically to halachic concerns you still have. Attacking a book you have never read is like chilonim talking about the meaning, truth and relevance of Torah.



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