Friday, November 5, 2010

Child & Domestic Abuse - Volumes I & II & III

Both volumes are now available by means of the links on below. They should also be available soon on Amazon (which has free shipping for orders of $25 or more). Volume III costs $13

To order from my e-store

Volume I 

Volume II 

Volume III 

To order either volume directly from Amazon

Volumes I & II ------------Amazon---------------------------

Volume III Compact Practical Guide

In preparation for the presentation I am giving Lag B'Omer at the White Institute conference on abuse in the Orthodox community and in response to those who  just want to know the basic halachic parameters of abuse in an inexpensive volume - I have just published a compact practical guide to abuse. This contains the text of Volume I including the Synopsis of Rav Sternbuch's views and the Practical Guide and my essays. However it does not contain the  important essays contributed by  rabbis, psychologists, and lawyers which fully describe the nuances of the psychological and legal issues. I also included the teshuvos of contemporary gedolim from Volume II dealing with abuse and calling the police or social agencies - both the translation and Hebrew source. However it doesn't include the many texts describing important associated issues. Thus I have selected 150 pages of the basic core material from the 800 pages published in Volumes I & II. This compact guide can serve as a stand alone source book or as an introduction/review of Volume I and II. Currently it is only available from the Amazon Createspace store (click link to order) - but should be available on Amazon  in another week. Volumes I & II are currently available from Amazon

Let me reiterate the cautions printed in Volume I

The subject matter of this book is one that is inherently upsetting and unpleasant. Consequently much consideration was given to what to describe and what type of language to use. It is typical in the Orthodox community that these things are not talked about and or euphemisms are used (Pesachim 3a). Even the word “sexual” is rarely used. The Rambam (Moreh Nevuchim 3:8) in fact asserts that is why Hebrew is called the holy language [The Ramban (Shemos 30:13) disagrees]. Most of the material in this book is in fact presented in a neutral manner and the word “abuse” is typically used to describe the issue under discussion. However there are discussion which are more graphic and language which is more explicit. Some of this is simply the translation of classic sources such as the Talmud or Rambam (See for example Commentary on Mishna Sanhedrin 7:4). Hebrew is less shocking then English.

However it is impossible to adequately explain how to protect children without explaining what the danger is. Euphemisms are appropriate when the reality is known but someone wants to allude to it rather then use lurid details. In fact much about abuse is not imaginable by the average person and therefore the danger and horror can only be conveyed by more explicit language and detail. Much of the psychological damage is the result of abuse by those who are known and trusted by the victim. This betrayal must be described to be properly understood.

One of my early supporters backed out when he saw some of the essays. He said, “I thought that you would simply say abuse happens and it is bad and therefore we need to protect our children. I thought you were writing a book that the typical Beis Yakov graduate or Chassidic mother can read.” Hopefully they will in fact read this book – despite it being an unpleasant experience - for the sake of their children. Therefore if you do not want to deal with these types of descriptions and language – don’t read this book – or at least be prepared to skip or skim some of the material. This also means that one needs to be careful who will read it.

This concern is not so simple however. I once mentioned to the Noviminsker Rebbe that Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky had stated that children should be educated about sexual matters at the age of 16. His reply was, “It is too late for children today (this was 25 years ago). Even some 8 year olds know more than I do.”

Difference between Volume I and Volume II

Main Divisions of the two volumes of this book

The book is composed of five different types of material in two volumes.

Content of Volumes I and II

This book is divided into two volumes – each of which is a complete work and yet they clearly supplement each other. Volume II deals with the classic Jewish sources that are relevant to define and understand the issue of abuse, obligations to help one another, sexuality and saving others from harm – as well as the nature of rabbinical authority. It includes the responsa from the major poskim on these issues.  This material is presented in a systematic conceptual framework for ease of locating and recalling the material. There is a separate listing of the core sources arranged according to author for easy access. These sources are all translated into English but the original Hebrew text is also presented. Volume I is thus a summary of Volume II while Volume I serves as a commentary and explanation of the meaning of the material in volume II. This second volume is essential for understanding the Halachic dynamics of the complex demands that the issue of abuse produces and anyone who wants to understand these issues properly needs to study these sources very carefully.

Volume I

1. Overview & summary survey the major issues of abuse as well providing a concise summary of practical concerns. It includes an Introduction, Practical Guide, Protocols of Orthodox Organizations for dealing with abuse and a Synopsis of the halachic and psychological issues that was reviewed and annotated by Rav Sternbuch. It also has chapters describing a number of actual abuse cases - including those written by survivors of abuse. 

2. The Essays provide in depth analysis of a variety topics by experts (rabbis, psychotherapists and lawyers) who share their knowledge and experience on critical issues.

Volume II

3. Translated Sources arranged by Topic is a comprehensive collection of Jewish legal sources that are organized according to topic for quick access on the major issues. These texts concern the need to protect the individual as well as his right to protect himself. It contains many texts related to child and domestic abuse, rabbinic authority, the relationship between Jewish and secular law and authority, and the Jewish view of sexuality and deviance. It is indispensable for those who wish to learn and understand the original legal sources. It also serves as a convenient and accessible reference for rabbis who wish to review and refresh their understanding. Lawyers, community leaders and psychologists will also find it useful to understand the parameters of legitimate response when developing strategies to deal with the problem. The third section presents the accepted mainstream views on the topic – including the authoritative writings of the major contemporary authorities.
4. Rabbinic Sources section is comprised of more complete citations of the material cited in the book. They are arranged by name rather than by topic. They are presented here for convenience of those who remember the author of the citation but not the section where the citation is quoted. It is also valuable because often only a part of the material was mentioned in the book.

5. Original Hebrew texts are provided in endnotes to the translation.


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.