Monday, October 15, 2012

Dr. Marc Shapiro:Why frum child abusers are defended

Seforim Blog - footnote 8   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.

This issue was discussed two years ago here


  1. I suspect that is one of many aspects. However it is interesting that the major piskei halachah allowing reporting to authorities are premised on the assumption that molesting has grave effects that rise to the level of pikuach nefesh.

    On the other hand there is a tendency to grade harm of molesting in relation to halachic categories. So fondling is viewed as 2-3 on a scale of 1-10 or "nisht geferlich." An act has to pretty much be d'oiraysah to provoke intense reaction.

  2. There are many different reasons for this; one is the fear of increased governmental scrutiny in the inner workings of institutions another factor is the mistaken belief that these insular communities are capable of policing themselves

  3. I think the fact that mikvahs are visited every day by men in the hasidic world is the real reason.

    1. Given this fact, the chances of abuse by predators is much higher in the Hassidic community.

      Furthermore, going to the authorities can be problematic - in the secular society around the Hassidic society, anyone who bathes with children without clothes is suspect. But this is common daily practice in the hasidic community. So the whole Hassidic community is vulnerable.

      Of course, Hassids are just as disgusted with these types of crimes as nonHassids.

  4. I don't agree. I think they want to keep it quiet and pretend its not happening because they want to believe their way of life is perfect and flawless. They are people of perfect character and the way they raise their children is perfect and everything goyish is wrong and evil. They don't want to believe that an otherwise eherlich yid with a big beard and big peos and a big hat and a big coat is actually a big rahsha. not possible in their view. Just my opinion.

    1. As a survivor of an abuser in Toronto, I agree 100% with you. I finally went forward to the police after 40 years, trust me any child that is abused is affected for life.

      Survivor of HN

  5. What it really illustrates is an utter sense of hypocricy in the community. While eating treif is not only a very severe issue but is metamtem the lev, the community has no problem about cheating on txes, foodstamps etc. Berel Wein has an explanation or rationalization, not a justification - to survive in europe the only way was to cheat. but as he notes it is 65 years since then but mentality dies slowly.

    also when it comes to mesirah both the haredi and yu reformadox communities are the biggest hypocrites as well. With divorce the wife very often files false charges of molestation but there is absolutely no protest that it is mesirah. going to arko'oys shel akum is mesirah, yet again the frummes don't care. the way the yu biryonim behave, they seem to consider it a mitzvah. the communities are just full of it, full of hypocricy. despite all the learning, we are on the lowest madreigah ever, no integrity.

    i beleive p'shat in pnei hador k'pnei hakelev, refers to the leaders who are being pulled by the money strings and could not really care less about halocho.

    if you have money a rov will help you, otherwise he can't bother.

  6. Even full anal intercourse is not punishable by death if the boy is under the age of 9.
    If you don't ask a posek but pasken for yourself you can decide that that without two adult men giving testimony in beis din it is forbidden to believe the boy or girl's story.

    1. Not according to Rav Avigdor Miller zt"l, he has said, "Believe the child before the adult".

  7. While this is probably true, I don't think it explains the ferocity with which communities attack victims and defend abusers.

  8. If what Shapiro says is true, and that "halachic" sources do not take this problem seriously, from where does RDE get his (righteous) authority in tackling the problem? Please note, I support DT in its fight against abuse, but on other issues, bringing an argument which isnt supported by halacha, is not always so successful.

    1. Rav Sternbuch told me that first you need to know the fact before you start applying halacha. Others such as Rav Klein use halacha as an excuse not to deal with facts. Dr. Shapiro's analysis applies to the latter not the former.

  9. U cant get more. Of a dioyraysa then say man on boy. Or boy on boy penetration. Its call mishkav zochor yet they consider it. To be nisht geferlich.

  10. This is silly.

    The reason that accusations of this nature are not taken so seriously in chareidi communities is because people don't believe the accusations.

    For one thing, they (myself included) don't understand whey anyone would even want to do such a thing. Consenting adults of opposite gender is an attraction we all understand, but this sounds repulsive and disgusting and its hard to imagine that anyone would even want to do such a thing. Especially if they have limited media exposure so that they are not aware of how often this takes place (at least in the secular world)

    They also can't fathom that someone who is outwardly a torah Jew would behave in a manor that is so against the Torah. Because they view it as so terrible, they don't believe someone who outwardly appears good would do it.

    It doesn't help that the accusers are usually "troubled" people. It is entirely possible to me that they became "troubled" because they suffered the trauma of abuse, but especially when already finds the whole accusation not very credible, it is hard to discount the possibility that it is a false accusation resulting from their troubled nature.

    1. "Especially if they have limited media exposure so that they are not aware of how often this takes place (at least in the secular world)"
      That's a very naive statement and a misconception. For one, media do not show child pron, it is even forbidden. and secondly, a pedophile does not need media to become pedophile. It's enough for him to have access to vulnerable children... People don't "learn" it form the media.

    2. John Smith,

      Hassidim and Haredim are not as naive as you think.

    3. You missunderstood my point with media exposure.

      The point was that if you see Jerry Sadusky's and the others on TV every day, you think anyone can be a predator.

      When you rarely hear about such an accusation it seems absurd.

      And I don't know why you say people are not a naive as I think. What do you have to back this up?

      I am not even 100% sure why its naive. We all know the Happyland case. Not every accusation is like that, but how can we from the outside objectively know? I don't know the answer to that.

    4. While what you are saying is true some of the time - especially when there is not clear direct evidence and we are talking about a relative or friend or respected rabbi. In those cases we give the benefit of doubt when we don't know about the nature of abusers.

      On the other hand there are many cases of coverup - where it was clear that children were raped by teachers or parents - when nothing is done because of concern for shidduchim, community reputation or possible police involvement.

      Furthermore your theory made more sense 5 years ago - today the innocence exuse is wearing thin.

    5. Can you expound more on what you are saying?

      You are obviously much closer to the situation than I am (I have never had any personal involvment in any of this) so I am not qualified to talk.

      What I personally have seen is usually ambigious charges by questionable people that then get blown out of proportion based on rumor or worse on the Internet.

      I have seen few cases that are clear cut and unambiguos. It is almost always a he said/she said, with the accusor now off the derech.

      By no means does that mean that the accusation are false. (It is very likely that they went off the derech because of abuse). But its not clear. The more verified cases that I come across, the more I am inclined to believe accusations.

      But, outside of the Internet I have heard next to nothing about this kind of thing.

      If the Rabbonim have equal expose to these issues as I do, minus the Internet, I would not blame them for not concidering the charges credible in most cases.

      Even if there was a "cover up." There may be cases where a judgement was made that was a wrong judgement, but it would remain to me that the issue is one of "education," I have seen no evidence and find it hard to imagine that any reputable Rabbonim don't think this is a seriously damaging and terrible thing to do.

      Getting back to my first point. I have no adgenda here. I am uninvolved observer trying to add an outsider perspective. From that perspective I can sya that what may seem clear to those day to day involved in this issue may seem impossble to those not day to day involved. Insulting people, casting aspertions regarding them or otherwise denigrating them is unlikely to be helpful. Respectfully discussing and demonstrating the issues (with some acknowledgement of the shortcomings of the secular experts and authorities here) would probably go a lot further.

  11. There is very disturbing Rambam (which of course I would not translate) which strengthens Dr Shapiro case:

    אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבָּא עַל הַגּוֹיָה--בֵּין קְטַנָּה בַּת שָׁלוֹשׁ שָׁנִים וְיוֹם אֶחָד בֵּין גְּדוֹלָה, בֵּין פְּנוּיָה בֵּין אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ, וְאַפִלּוּ הָיָה קָטָן בֶּן תֵּשַׁע שָׁנִים וְיוֹם אֶחָד--כֵּיוָן שֶׁבָּא עַל הַגּוֹיָה בְּזָדוֹן, הֲרֵי זוֹ נֶהְרֶגֶת:

    Actually Rav Leib Tropper Shlita liked this Rambam and like to say that if Beis Din had the power today they should follow the Rambam

  12. also when it comes to mesirah both the haredi and yu reformadox communities are the biggest hypocrites as well.

    I do not think the YU people are hypocrites regarding messira, most of them believe that Mesira was an issue in Europe when the court was corrupted biased against Jews, they believe the American Justice system is fair and therefore Mesira is no longer relevant.

    The real hypocrites are the Haredies who believe not to go to arkaos but when their money is involved they run to secular courts as fast they can (ie Satmar, Bobov, Yaed, Ponevez etc)

  13. Observer - here is where I agree with you, but my true apikorsus comes out.
    The well known and scorned source is Sanhedrin, where mishkav zachor is permitted with a minor, since it is not "really" zachor.
    However, in Kiddushin, the Rabbanim decided that it is totally forbidden, and does possibly constitute m.z. In all the discussions, and hate sites and their reponses, I have never seen the Kiddushin being quoted.

  14. Brad. your attack on Shapiro is an ad hominem attack, in that his controversy with R' Shach was largely unconnected to this issue.
    In Part, his criticism of r Shach was a response to R Shach insulting and calling R' YBS a heretic.
    I think history will prove that RYBS was a much greater Gadol B'Torah than R Shach. I am not attacking R' Shach here, and if I did I might focus on the issues rather than taking one side or another.
    Remember also, the mess that he left Ponovezh in, his spiritual legacy, which was so extreme that the succession battle almost ended in murder of one of the claimants for his honored title of Rosh Yeshiva. My critique of the approach of R Shach and R Dessler, is their assumption that everyone can be as strict in their lives as the most revered Lithuanian Roshei yeshiva. This concept is entirely mistaken, as the violence, and yes the different types of abuse, even sexual, are evidence of.

    1. Ed: You are making baseless, historically inaccurate, comments here. HaRav Shach ztvk'l has more followers today than RJBS could ever hope to have. Furthermore, there was never anything remotely close to any murder or attempted murder in Ponovezh. Your grasping on false straws entirely discredits you.

    2. Pat - we can disagree on the RSH/RJBS dispute, my claim is that Soloveitchik was greater than even Gedolim such as R' Hutner, and possibly R Kotler z'tl. Of course that is open to dispute and/or discussion.

      Regarding how many followers RSH has, it is not a convincing argument. Even if he has a large following, that does not increase his scholarly stature, which was quite considerable.
      One notices that very little reference was made to him in the last 10 years, whilst people still regularly refer to RMF. He only seems to get credit in yated style articles.

      You forget that a bomb was left on the doorstep of one of the Roshei Yeshiva at ponovezh. this may be hushed up in the haredi Pravda press, but denial of history does not mean it didn't happen.

      next you will be claiming that Ponovezh only has 1 R'Y and they all live in total harmony.

    3. some of R Shach's talmidim:,7340,L-3412687,00.html

  15. Shapiro makes baseless points without a scintilla of evidence. The abuse rate in the Chareidi and Chasidic communities is no greater than in the general secular community. And it is arguably less. Yet Shapiro bases his entire deck of cards in this argument on this false assumption.

  16. While some feel they need to attack Dr Shapiro, bear in mind he is a lot frummer than Avremal Mondrowitz ymsv'z or Nechemia Weberman or any member of Mishmeres Hatznius

  17. Recipients and PublicityOctober 15, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    Right on Dr. Shapiro, but what you say is only the tiniest tip of a very dark iceberg!

    There is also an even darker side and history that actually turns a blind eye and even condones acts that the Torah itself explicitly forbids outright (i.e. the forbidden arayos.)

    This stems from weird "conclusions" that have their roots in twisting and and misconstruing so-called Kabbalistic teachings that teach the ultimately there are no "rights and wrongs" in the upper stratospheres of the spiritual world. This is precisely where Shabtai Tzvi went off and both practiced and preached a form of "sexula liberation" encapsulated in his famous heresy allowing the eating of non-Kosher, allowing sexual immorality, invoking a new "blessing" of "...who has permitted the forbidden" (r"l).

    That's why one finds not just simple cases of abuse, but a sub-culture that stays silent about forms of wife swapping or affairs that lead to a so-called "love child" (that halachically would be classed as a mamzer.) But all this goes on all the time. Chasidism is the direct heir to Sabbateinism and many of the great Rebbes fought to move it away from that. Thus, cases of sexual abuse may sometimes be pure negative abuse, but because there is also a hidden sub-stratum of acceptance of sexual freedom, there is no hurry and urgency among such a society to "report" or "bring to justice" violators of what is in fact something of a secret creed.

    A famous example of this stuff, was the late singer Shlomo Carlebach who was agreat Torah scholar, yet BASED ON KABBALISTIC TEACHINGS he developed and taught a creed of no so secret physical contact for the sake of bringing people closer to God, r"l. kind of seeing sexuality and orgasmic experiences and "connections" with God, r"l. That is why there are always so may stories and cases of "Kabbalists" acting inappropriately by seducing women and teaching immorality, something like modern day therapists gone astray with amoral and immoral outlooks.

    Then there is just plain old human nature when those in positions of power over others, be they teachers or parents or bosses simply cannot control themselves and seduce underlings in displays of power-plays, not much different to the mentality of rapists.

    1. Well said, R & P! I've often thought that there is some comparison between the times we live in now, and those of Shabtei Tzvi. Being too close to the epicenter, most of us just don't see it. The rigid opposition to any real progress in fighting child abuse, and I include MBP, is so irrational, that some explanation is needed, which you've provided.

    2. @ RAP : "Chasidism is the direct heir to Sabbateinism..."
      Although I agree with much of RAP's post here, I am not sure if Chassidism was an offshoot of the Sabbatean movement.
      To give an evolutionary analogy (moshul), the thoory does not claim that Humans evolved from Chimpanzees, rather that before Chimps and Humans were around they had a common anscestor, some went the way of apes, and the others went eh way of humans. Now, lehavdil, or maybe not, Kabbalah and messianism may have been the common ancestor of both movements, especially Lurianic kabbalah. Sabbateans made a monkey business of the whole thing, whilst Hassidim in general were the menschkeit.
      Scholem attacks the Rhuzhiner rebbe, saying he was another Jacob Frank who happened to remain orthodox. Of course I disagree with Scholem on this issue. the Rhuzhiner rebbe was a great Tzaddik and giant, although he had a somewhat extravagant lifestyle, and he was skeptical of exaggerate mystics and miracle men.

      Earlier on, some bright spark used a common defence which haredim deploy whenever they have a problem which is out of hand. They say it is no more rife than amongst average secular or goyish communities. that is the dumbest argument that anyone can make. Can you imagine saying that an orthodox community has a chazir problem, ie eating treif, but it is no worse than the national average in UK or USA? If keeping strict halacha, and closing off oneself from the normal secular actitivities such as education, internet, iphone, TV etc, makes you no better than the average goy, then your ideology has severe faults to it.

    3. Recipients and PublicityOctober 16, 2012 at 5:01 PM

      To Eddie 1:
      Blaming the Lurianic Kabballah for the subsequent Sabbatein catastrophe is nothing new. But to follow your analogy, one could then land up blaming Midrashim, the Zohar, the Torah and Hashem Himself, ch"v, for the failings or even the uniqueness of movements in history because ultimately everything is connected and everything leads to the original source... (the chet of Adam HaRishon in Gan Eden, which was also a sexual sin if you will, starting with the Nachash penetrating Chava...)
      So let's not get misled or lost in that way of thinking.

      But there is another way of looking at it, and Rav A.Y. Kook zt"l has written about it, that as time marched on there was definitely a movement within the Jewish people expressing its inner yearnings based on a more mystical, neshomadikke, outpouring to come closer and connect with God that had been building for centuries also known as "Torahso shel moshiach" when the "sod" of Torah would come into the open as a positive force for good (in a sense, yes, where even evil will eventually be seen as good, but how so? it's not easy to get there). This has been fought by the more rationalistic halachists, but it has been breaking forth inexorably. The ARI popularized such an approach using the Zohar, and he came at a time post the following the expulsion from Spain in 1492 that ripped through the body of Klal Yisroel, and the ARI, with Rav Yosef Karo tried to breach and repair Jewry with their teachings.
      So you can't fault the ARI. The fact remains that Rav Yitzchok Luria (1534-1572), the ARI Hakadosh, lived and remained his entire life a Tzadik and did NOT renounce the Torah. UNLIKE Shabtai Tzvi (1626-1776), who won over almost all of Jewry with his obvious understanding of their inner yearnings and fears, especially following the Ukrainian Chmelnitzki y"sh massacres, that from the point of view of the Jewish people it was an expression of something deeper, the desire for the final messianic redemption. BUT Shabtai Tzvi eventually taught a creed that was not Yiddishkeit that became anti-Yiddishkeit. He started to break the Torah laws themselves and justified it with bizarre mystical rationalizations and teachings about the God-head and who knows what else it involved (kochos hatuma, misuse and abuse of holy sheimos -- that he admitted to stealing from others' manuscripts), and then he bombed when he became an apostate and joined Islam when trapped and confronted by the Turkish authorities.

    4. Recipients and PublicityOctober 16, 2012 at 5:02 PM

      To Eddie 2:
      However, in Europe Shabtai Tzvi left behind a vast network of secret followers and admirers, starting with the Frankists who were an outright sexual cult as is known, that the rabbonim worked on uprooting til this day. In the Ottoman Empire his followers were the Dunma.

      When Chasidism began (that taught about the inner spiritual devotion and expressing the "sod" of Judaism that dry scholastism had made difficult) AND the early Reform movement started (that preached "adherence" to the ethics and ethos of Judaism as opposed to Mitzvah observance) they found a vast, albeit undercover, instant ready audience among the scattered, but very much alive, remnants of Sabbateanism and the Frankists, that even had a "mesora" and teachings and sometimes even manuscripts to justify themselves.

      From the point of view of the Jewish people Rav Kook sees this an yet another expression of the inner yearnings of the Jewish people for the final messianic redemption, and in the case of Chasidism, Rav Kook sees it as a success that finally broke through and that the rabbonim could not suppress, in spite of the GRA's still ongoing cherem upon all Chasidim for being nothing better than the Sabbateans.

      It is a complicated combination of factors and one must search and analyze carefully since among Chasidim especially there are still very much strong threads of latent and not so latent and even not conscious, if that's possible, adherence and practice of a Sabbatean and Frankist outlook, sort of like the Shlomo Carlebach groupies where casual sex was condoned in hippie-fashion, as something "beautiful" and even r"l "godly" where even sexuality, orgies, orgasms and nudity etc etc are seen as links to the "divine" r"l.

    5. To RAP, except, I did not blame Lurianic Kabbalah for anything. I suggested that Hassidism is a good-ish derivative of it, whilst Sabbateanism is a bad one. But without Lurian, Zohar, and Kabbala, there would be no Sabbateanism. he might still be a false messiah and false prophet, but his theology would not be a kabbalistic one. BTW, his "prophet", Nathan of Aza was a big mekubal, and was accepted as such until he became a heretic - although some people had Emuans Hachamim in him, and followed him all the way.
      Nathan learned in the Yeshiva of R' Hagiz Senior (R' Moshe's father!).

      My only disagreement with you was the claim that Hassidism is a direct descendant of Sabbateanism. I am not even sure if Habad Mesianic stream qualifies for this honour, although I used to say the same thing - i.e. that they must have been Sabbateans all along!

    6. @Recipients and Publicity - "the GRA's still ongoing cherem upon all Chasidim for being nothing better than the Sabbateans": In the whole world few rabbanim really understand the GRA's objection to the Chassidim better than Rav Meir Triebetz.

      Rav Triebetz explains in his shiurim (linked to below) that the GRA strongly opposed certain interpretations of the Ari's concepts of sheviras hakelim and tzimtzum taught by the Baal HaTanya, which the GRA felt constituted some kind of "virtual paganism", if I remember Rav Triebetz's statement correctly. Possibly around shiur 9 or 10 Rav Triebetz goes into detail there, and in other places.

      It would seem that the GRA and the Leshem after him only accepted a tzimtzum system which does not allow any "Godliness" within the material universe, as this would constitute some type of paganism. Similar ideas were taught by the Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim centuries earlier.

    7. Recipients and PublicityOctober 17, 2012 at 8:57 AM

      1) To Eddie @ October 16, 2012 6:08 PM

      "Eddie said...I did not blame Lurianic Kabbalah for anything. I suggested that Hassidism is a good-ish derivative of it, whilst Sabbateanism is a bad one. But without Lurian, Zohar, and Kabbala, there would be no Sabbateanism. he might still be a false messiah and false prophet, but his theology would not be a kabbalistic one."

      RaP: In one and the same breath you both deny and affirm the same thing. You are drawing a direct line from the ARI to Shabtai Tzvi and to the BESHT which is a gross simplification of history since entire centuries separate the ARI from Shabtai Tzvi and the later Chasidic movement. Furthermore there is no "if" here because you miss the point that the entire force of who Shabtai Tzvi was is the Kabbalah of which he was already a master at a young age, he knew the holy sheimos and would use them openly. So Shabtai Tzvi is a Kabbalist, perhaps even better formally trained than the BESHT since the BESHT supposedly learned his Kabbalah informally via giluim from a bas kol, Eliyahu Hanovi and Achiya Hashiloni with visions he was granted while on the other hand Shabtai Tzvi was formally well-educated and learned in all facets of Torah and had more formalized teachings that he left over, and was treasured by many secretly upon pain of being exposed as heretics, even after he apostacized to Islam. It was this not so secret corpus of both literature and an ongoing secret following upon which the early Chasidic movement built its foundations, why it was opposed by the GRA, and was only "fixed" if you will by the Baal HaTanya, who was a Litvak scholar, who gave Chasidism a "rational" face moving it away from the Zombie-like devotional practices of its early adherents that were nothing but Sabbateans who came out of the closet. The BESHT fought hard to win over the Frankists, with little success, they preferred Catholicism in the end, but the more ordinary folks were slowly won over to Chasidism as it spread.

    8. Recipients and PublicityOctober 17, 2012 at 8:58 AM

      2) To Eddie @ October 16, 2012 6:08 PM

      "BTW, his "prophet", Nathan of Aza was a big mekubal, and was accepted as such until he became a heretic - although some people had Emuans Hachamim in him, and followed him all the way."

      RaP: Indeed, but his boss, Shabtai Tzvi was even bigger than him and that's why the majority of Jewry and its rabbonim were convinced that Shabtai Tzvi was the long-awaited "moshiach" -- but Hashem had other plans obviously, and it all fell apart, leaving behind a cadre of hungry souls, who in Western Europe became the backbone of the Reform movement and in Eastern Europe flocked to the banner of Chasidism. (Not my theory, read up on this.)

      "Nathan learned in the Yeshiva of R' Hagiz Senior (R' Moshe's father!)."

      RaP: Shabtai Tzvi had semichah from the greatest Chachomim in Greece/Turkey. He was an illui and creative genius, albeit a mad, demented, megalomaniacal and egotistical one at that.

      "My only disagreement with you was the claim that Hassidism is a direct descendant of Sabbateanism."

      RaP: It is, both historically and ideologically and in the direction it sets Chasidism.

      "I am not even sure if Habad Mesianic stream qualifies for this honour, although I used to say the same thing - i.e. that they must have been Sabbateans all along!"

      RaP: I am not getting into splitting hairs. There is not any real difference between what Chabad believes and what all Chasidic groups believe about each of their own Rebbes, that he is the greatest thing to exist (tzadik yesod olam) and is in essence the "moshiach" leading them to the geula sheleima. Every Chosid not just thinks but "knows" in his heart of hearts and very fiber of his/her being that his/her individual own Rebbe is the "moshiach" no less than the Sabbateans fervently believed that Shabtai Tzvi was the "melech hamoshiach"! That's why they let them to do anything, perverting formal Halachah in "divine right of kings" fashion, and will Chasidim will do anything, especially often getting away with sexual misconduct that some see as a "virtue" and not a "vice" in Sabbatean fashion (and NOT like the ARI in any way) as long as the Rebbe lets it happen.

  18. It's hard for me to buy this theory given that the same level of sweeping under the rug exists in incest cases with young girls that clearly viotate several issurei Koras, and Giluy Aryoes which is one of the big three, definelty more severe then eating non-kosher.

    I believe it's because there is this urgent need to push this problem under the rug, thus some Rabbonim tend to rationalize about it not really being so ossur.
    Though I do agree that the psychological needs of youngsters in general aren't so recognize in the real Chassidishe World, mainly because they do on some level reject Modern Psychology.
    The mindset seems to be "if this is the way our parents treated their children, then this must be the best way."

  19. for those who have impugned r' dr' shapiro- I am not mkabeil.
    Joel Rich

  20. What Shapiro believes or says on other matters is irrelevant.

    Why can't commenters restrict themselves to discussing the points made?

  21. I deleted the nasty, inappropriate and wrong comments about Prof Shapiro. That was not the topic. I have corresponded with him for a number of years and have read many of his articles - he clearly is a solid scholar with a strong sense of integrity and love of Yiddishkeit.

    Please respond to his proposal on its own merits.

  22. Is it possible to say that since normal men are not attracted to children, a pedophile is born sick in the same way that some people are born missing limbs or schizophrenic and we should have rachmonus on them and not send them to jail to be beaten up by evil criminals? Of course they should not be allowed to continue teaching but jail is not going to help the poor pedophile any more than would help someone blind.

    1. the analogy is not accurate. Sending a blind person to jail doesn't change behavior. receiving a jail term definitely impacts behavior and they are less likely to commit another crime in the years immediately after serving prison sentences. The beneficial impact of jail is acknowledged by major poskim. In addition while in jail they don't have access to children.

    2. Dr. Shapiro's theory does not explain why there are cover ups when the same behavior in a non-molestation context is strongly opposed. Suppose Weberman was dating a Bais Yaakov high school girl (even if she went to the mikveh). That would not be tolerated. Shapiro does not tell us why molestation is supposedly BETTER in the eyes of deniers.

    3. RDE: I've never seen any major posek acknowledge any "beneficial impact" other than to keep the perpetrator away from children (in the case of molestation.)

      Please backup which poskim allegedly say otherwise and what "beneficial impact" jail has, as Torah Judaism has no such penalty as jail. (Other than extremely rare circumstances such as starving someone to death.)

    4. I would suggest you get volume II of my Child and Domestic Abuse - where I have a chapter on the subject of jail


      Rav Moshe Halberstam (Yeschurun 15 page 646): Let’s return to the original question concerning a wicked molester whose evil inclination forces him to sin and be wicked and it is possible to turn him over to the government in order that he be incarcerated in prison for a number of years until he calms done and returns to G d wholeheartedly. According to the sources we discussed before it is clear that there is no sin or transgression in handing him over to the authorities. In fact the opposite is true – it is a mitzva because by doing so he is caused to stop from doing the disgusting deeds. In addition we know that the government will not execute him. Therefore the essence of his punishment is that he will be forced to dwell for a number of years in prison. This will be beneficial to him in that they will assign him a psychologist or psychiatrist who will supervise him and his activities with a watchful eye. Perhaps he will be able to find a resolution of his torment by means of this treatment. So in such a case it is obvious that it is a good thing to save him and to save his family from his incestual attacks on them.

      Rav Moshe Halberstam (Yeschurun 15 page 649-650): …Bottom line if it is known that a specific person is actually sinning with children now then it is obligatory to save him from his sin by reporting it immediately to the government authorities so that they lock him up in jail. He should be imprisoned for an extended period of time until his lusts get under control and in a manner that there is no question that he will not repeat his crime....

      Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Ve’aleyhi lo Yuval, volume 2:113-114 from R’ M Broyde’s Informing on other’s): R’ Yehuda Goldreicht said: “I asked Rav Auerbach about a particular Jew who stole a large sum of money and he was caught by the police in America. He was sentenced to a number of years in prison in America. Was it proper to assist in the collection of money for him [we were speaking about a large sum of $200,000] in order to fulfill the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim to have him released from prison? When Rav Auerbach heard this he stated “Pidyon shevuyim?! What is the mitzvah of pidyon shevuyim here? The mitzvah of redeeming captives is only when the goyim are grabbing Jews, irrationally, for no proper reason, and placing them in prison. According to what I [Rav Auerbach] know, in America they do not irrationally grab Jews in order to squeeze money from them. The Torah says “do not steal” and he stole money—on the contrary, it is good that he serve a prison sentence, so that he learns not to steal!”

      Steipler Rav (Within the Domain of Gedolei Torah Vol 2 page 557-560): … When Rav Lorenz told the story to the Steipler Rav, the Steipler screamed, “A Jew who sins and repeats that sin, it is better that he be punished in this world and not – G d forbid – in the World to Come.” He explained, “The punishment in this world is minor compared to what happens in the World to Come. Furthermore if you succeed in stopping the jail sentence he will continue to repeatedly commit this crime. It is better that he receive his punishment and perhaps learn self restraint…In addition if I give you permission and you testify for his benefit it is obvious that every newspaper and all the public media will publicize the matter and it will also be a chilul HaShem when he sins again…”

    5. Again, the above cited poskim are mainly allowing him to be jailed to keep him away from future victims. Then some of them are adding on additional benefits jail may have. But their main argument is that it keeps him from future victims.

    6. I wrote: The beneficial impact of jail is acknowledged by major poskim. In addition while in jail they don't have access to children.

      You responded that you had never heard of such a thing. I showed you sources that do. I don't understand your problem. Do you understand what "beneficial impact of jail" means? I didn't say it was the only thing or the main thing or was instead of separation.

  23. Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,
    Did you forget that you posted this quote of mine two years ago? In any event, I will return to it in a future Seforim Blog post as I have a piece of evidence relevant to the thesis. Remember, I am quoting someone else (from the haredi world) as the source for this theory. I was curious to hear reactions. I am not sure if it is correct.
    Re. my comments about R. Shakh made twenty years ago (in what I thought was a private discussion among subscribers to a listserv, where I was expressing my feelings of hurt, and wanting to hear the responses of others to these feelings). I already publicly apologized more than once for my inappropriate somewhat youthful comments. I even did a few lectures on R. Shakh for Torah in Motion that anyone can download and hear that my treatment is respectful and fair. As someone who has writen many thousands of words, the comments I made are one of the only things I ever regret writing (again, even though it was for a private forum). It wasn't just R. Shakh's statements about the Rav that so upset me but also what he said about the Lubavitcher Rebbe (One side of my family comes from Habad, I had yechidus with the Rebbe, went to Chabad camp etc.). I actually had a talk with R. Aaron Soloveichik about how to respond when a gadol says inappropriate and hurtful things about one's Torah teachers, and I believe that I have properly followed his guidance in the last twenty years.

    1. I recently came across the your comment again on your post on Seforim blog and thought it was important in light of the Weberman case. it was easier to repost it then to refer back to the previous discussion. I think Rav Sternbuch's distinction of whether you determine reality and then apply halachic reasoning or apply halachic reasoning so you don't have to deal with reality is very relevant. Looking forward to your future postings on this matter

    2. I have a question for both Professor Shapiro and Rabbi Eidensohn, regarding specifically disputes between and with Gedolim.

      The "appropriate" response, is most often silence, especially on the side of the Rav, for example. This was also the case with his son-in law, R Lichtenstein shlita. However, why is this "appropriate" for one side, and not the other? let us say a regualar Rav or a Gadol attacks leaders of a haredi community for being "meshuga", a heretic, or extreme and misleading Israel. Silence is rarely the response on the side of the haredi world. So why is there such a skew?

      I like to throw in little stories to illustrate my point. It is told of Freud, that when he grew up Vienna, it was unheard of for a Jew to defend himself or strike back if he was attacked by a goy. Of course, I am not suggesting that it is the same regarding gedolim chas v'shalom, but why must one side of the debate remain silent, and the other is given a license to say whatever they want?

    3. I think this is an individual issue both in terms of personality and the productivity of fighting.

      Rav Shurkin told me that Rav Soloveitchik wasn't tough and didn't know how to fight like Rav Shach did. He told me that when Stern College wanted to start a gemora class for women they asked him to give the first class. He refused saying that he didn't want a big scene made out of it with newspaper reporters etc etc. He was promised that it would be kept quiet. Of course it wasn't kept quiet and Rav Soloveichik's worst fears were realized. Rav Shurkin said - you know what his reaction to this betrayal was? Nothing. He did nothing at all. He said, "Can you imagine if it were Rav Schach who was betrayed?"

    4. The only betrayel here was the publicity. He was fine with teaching girls gemora. I believe his evolutionary view of issues prevented him from taking a stand on many issues that he stuck to.

      Did his elementary school in boston not teach gemora to girls before stern?

    5. there is a story of R' Tzvi Yehuda Kook ztl, who would go to the shiur of the Brisker Rav ztl. However, he was frequently harassed and abused by kanoim there. He said that he was strong enough to withstand it,and learning Torah was more important. Finally R Aryeh Levine, the tzaddik of Jerusalem, told him to stop going, as it was below his dignity as a Torah scholar to suffer such abuse.

      I know of only one Torah personality who did "fight" back, but it doesn't really stop the other side. What is also a problem is that followers of one Gadol or the other will take sides, and abuse the opponent Gadol.

      All of this discussion is not to prove one side right or wrong in their hashkafa, although obviously I favour one side more than the other.

      Perhaps this isn't even seen as a problem in some places, hence the one sidedness of the problem.

    6. Rav Shurkin's view of RJBS is so far off base. You can speak to RJBS's children, grandchildren, and main talmidim.

      Not only did he volunteer to give the first shiur, he was proud of it. He had instituted women's learning in Maimonides way before the Stern program existed.

    7. You missed the point. Of course Rav Solveitchik thought it was a good idea. But he didn't want a lot of reporters showing up and he had a specific agreement that they would not show up.

      The point is how he dealt with a betrayal of a commitment not whether he was doing something he was ashamed of.

    8. Fair enough. Your comment above seemed to imply that he refused to give the shiur BECAUSE of the publicity and only agreed to give the shiur when promised that there would be no publicity. I do not believe that is true.

      RJBS was very tough. He knew how to fight for what needed to be defended. He fought in Boston and received death threats over his defense of proper shechita. He was a terror in the shiur room. What he wasnt was a demagogue.

  24. The story of r tzy k and brisker rav is absolute lie.
    אפילו משל לא היה...

  25. Obs - were u a regular there 60 - 70 years ago?


    Ha-Rav Tzvi Yehudah Ha-Cohain Kook
    Visits to the Brisker Rav
    Our Rabbi would go to hear the Divrei Torah of the Brisker Rav, Ha-Griz - Ha-Rav Yitzchak Zev Soloveitchik, and when he was there, the "zealots" (extreme anti-Zionists) would insult him. When Ha-Rav Shabatai Shmueli, the Yeshiva's secretary, heard about this, he was shaken and turned to our Rabbi to stop going there. Ha-Rav Avraham Shapira also attempted to convince our Rabbi to stop, but he wanted to hear Divrei Torah from Ha-Griz. Ha-Rav Shmueli and Ha-Rav Shapira requested that Reb Aryeh Levin - who frequented there – speak with our Rabbi. He agreed and said to him: "Reb Tzvi Yehudah, you must cease going there. It does not bring honor to the Torah. It is also insulting to Maran Ha-Rav ztz"l." Our Rabbi tried to justify continuing the visits by saying that it does not affect him, and Ha-Griz is one of the great Rabbis of the generation etc., but Reb Aryeh interrupted him and said harsh thing about the "zealots," even though there was a great lost in not hearing Ha-Griz. When our Rabbi heard this from the mouth of Reb Aryeh, he did not return (It was quite rare for Reb Aryeh to speak this way since he had incredible patience and was able to endure anything. If our Rabbi had heard insults about Maran Ha-Rav Kook he would not have remained quiet). (Imrei Shefer of Ha-Rav Yitzchak Dadon, pp. 236-237)

  27. Dr. Eidenshohn:

    Check out this article:

    Seems that even the secular authorities still have a long way to go.

  28. Y dadon is a prover shakran... Look in daas vetzionut by r y elhanAn where he quotes dadon and shows his lies

  29. Dadon made fairytales about theporush family which they completly deny

  30. The shiur of the completly could not walk in and sit in the back row.
    Only by invation.
    Rav aviner knows this but chooses to ignor.

  31. There is now a new case in London, golders green, were a hareidi rabbi seems to have abused his position. He seems to have given marriage counceling sessions (in his own flat located over his beith hamedrash) to women and seems to have abused those sessions to approach them sexually.

    the Jewish Chronical published a short article saying that this rabbi was approached by other rabbanim and asked to leave the town, but rumors could not be confirmed.

    On the theoretical hypothesis that the allegations are true - is asking the Rabbi to leave town, without publicising his deeds - an appropriate reaction?

  32. Other question: what should be done if the son of a respected rabbi opens a boarding house for sem girls in Manchester and uses the opportunity to become intimate with those girls.

    1) Should the public worldwide be warned about the boarding house?

    2) Should legal action be taken against the person?

  33. Also tbe historian of brisk, rav shimon maller says the story is fiction

  34. Ob: the NK and satmar kanoim also deny that Rav Avraham Kook ztl was on relatively good terms with R' Sonnenfeld, ztl, and that they went on a mitzvah campaign to a secular kibbutz together. The book that tells the story orignally had some good haskomos, but the publishers were forced to remove them because of pressure and threats from kanoim. R Bernstein ztl of London called them "terrorists" for this attack on the book.

  35. Observer, you claim this story is not true, because the shiur was only by invitation.
    This article shows that a) the shiur was open to suitable students,
    and b) Rav Platchinsky was a close talmid of the Brisker rav, and the son-in law of R' Aryeh Levine.

    Presumably your underlying motive is that nobody from the Zionist camp was allowed near the Brisker Rav. Rav Platchinsky taught in Rav levine's yeshiva, thus he was close to both sides.

    Oh, I guess you can retort that Hamodia is also full of lies..

  36. I just had a look at Meller's book online, it makes an interesting revelation. The Brisker Rav would stand up for the goyisher national anthem and honour the government of the gentiles in Brisk, but considered the zionist establishment as avodah zarah. Sadly he was unable to save his wife and family from his beloved Brisk, although he enjoyed relative peace and safety in Israel.

  37. Another theory why molestation isn't dealt with (which I think is closer to the mark):

    Quoting the authors of the book "nudge" on Amazon, talking about why people make important decisions with LESS thought than trivial ones. They're not talking about molestation, but rather about major financial decisions. Still I think the reasoning is the same: You point out that most people spend more time picking out a new TV or audio device than they do choosing their health plan or retirement investment strategy? Why do most people go into what you describe as "auto-pilot mode" even when it comes to making important long-term decisions?

    Thaler and Sunstein: There are three factors at work. First, people procrastinate, especially when a decision is hard. And having too many choices can create an information overload. Research shows that in many situations people will just delay making a choice altogether if they can (say by not joining their 401(k) plan), or will just take the easy way out by selecting the default option, or the one that is being suggested by a pushy salesman.

    Second, our world has gotten a lot more complicated. Thirty years ago most mortgages were of the 30-year fixed-rate variety making them easy to compare. Now mortgages come in dozens of varieties, and even finance professors can have trouble figuring out which one is best. Since the cost of figuring out which one is best is so hard, an unscrupulous mortgage broker can easily push unsophisticated borrowers into taking a bad deal.

    Third, although one might think that high stakes would make people pay more attention, instead it can just make people tense. In such situations some people react by curling into a ball and thinking, well, err, I'll do something else instead, like stare at the television or think about baseball. So, much of our lives is lived on auto-pilot, just because weighing complicated decisions is not so easy, and sometimes not so fun. Nudges can help ensure that even when we're on auto-pilot, or unwilling to make a hard choice, the deck is stacked in our favor.

  38. I think that what they're saying can in essence be restated as: These kinds of decisions 1) need lots of brain cells and detective work, 2)It's hard work, 3) it's often hard to pin down the truth and hard to pin down the degree of guilt, 4) activism invites all kinds of mafia-type responses.

    Easy way out - bury your head in the sand and find excuse to assuage guilt.

    Nice theory?

  39. See my new post regarding when people actually act against child abuse

  40. Dr. Marc Shapiro: "[T]he information that they regard as authentic and true ... does not come from modern psychology, but from Torah sources and folk beliefs. If you look only at traditional rabbinic literature, you won’t 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."

    I think Dr. Shapiro's source may be, at least partially, conflating categorizations, which can differ across civilizations, with phenomena. An example of what I mean: we know empirically that the halakhic yatom is at significantly greater than average risk of being groomed by a child sexual abuser. Would anyone claim, e.g. looking at the Rambam's basic treatment of the subject [here:], that (1) it does not involve what we would today call 'psychological trauma' or (2) it is not an extraordinarily severe aveira?

    I recall also what I've heard in the name of my rabbinic ancestors ("ultra-orthodox", Austria-Hungary, 1800s). In that period, before modern-Western psychiatry, the devastating psychological trauma of child sexual abuse was known, as a matter of accumulated and correlated observation and experience, rather than as theory, by any town doctor, and by any rabbi wishing to inquire of him.

  41. I am not impressed by the various arguments about the impact of Lurianic Kaballah, Sabateanism and Frankism in producing child molesting in the orthodox world. There is plenty of molesting in the most rabidly anti hasidic circles and plenty of cover ups.

    Contrary to Mark Shapairo, I want to argue that there is indeed a deep appreciation of the extent of damage from molesting. There is even an exaggerated insistence that it is always deeply damaging and those molested are "damaged goods." Hence the obsessive attempts to hush it up to protect shiduchim.


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