Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kolko case Correction: The Family requested the Psak from Rav Sternbuch - not Beis Din

I want to make a correction regarding the reason for Rav Moshe Sternbuch's involvement in the Kolko case. Contrary to what I reported in some of my posts - the beis din did not request the psak. The family of the victim requested the psak and received one in writing  - that they were obligated to report the abuse.   The actual psak - Hebrew and English - is found here.

This doesn't change the essential point - since the father received a psak to go to the police he can not be a moser. Even if he hadn't received a psak he was obligated to go because of the din of rodef.

I have correct my posts to reflect this information. Please let me know of instances that I have missed.
This is the translation of the psak.
Concerning your question regarding someone who is suspected of the disgusting and serious crime [of pedophilia], And there are those who claim he confessed and a high level rav verified that there seems to be a solid basis to the suspicions and it is also well known that this disease [pedophilia] is difficult [for the pedophile to stop abusing children]. Therefore we are obligated to report him because he is a danger to the community. In addition someone who interferes with reporting him can possibly be causing additional harm to the community. In particular in our days where pedophilia has become widespread - we are obligated to report him. See the Taz Yoreh Deah, #154.


  1. And there are those who claim he confessed and a high level rav verified that there seems to be a solid basis to the suspicions and it is also well known that this disease [pedophilia] is difficult [for the pedophile to stop abusing children

    This psak seems to change nothing in terms of promoting the view that suspicions of child abuse must before reporting to the police and the authorities first be approved by a rabbi. This upholds the position of rabbis as gatekeepers who control who gets reported to the police or not for suspicions of abuse. It is most disappointing. Rabbis are not competent and do not have the specialist psychological/psychiatric, investigative and forensic training and experience to determine whether the suspicions merit reporting to the police or not, particularly where a potential informant believes the suspicions should be reported. It is also in breach of legal obligations in many jurisdictions (including in US, UK and elsewhere) to report suspicions of abuse as soon as possible to named authorities and/or to the police, particularly where the abuse is suspected to have taken place in or via educational settings.

    A psak like this is exactly what has enabled Chaim Halpern and other suspected abusers in UK Haredi schools and organisations to avoid police charges (as opposed to arrest) till now, because of rulings and practices common by rabbis and organizations under the auspices of the Union of Orthodox Hebrew Congregations.

    1. I strongly disagree. Rav Sternbuch is not issuing a general psak halacha here. He is stating the facts of the case in which the basis for approaching authorities is the determination of raglayim ledovor, which happened to be the confession to a Rav and a therapist. There may be other versions of raglayim ledovor that do not require a Rav. This psak does not address that, and inferring this is inaccurate.

      It remains appalling that the complainant here followed halacha to the "T", and was labeled a moser by a major posek in NY. That continues to be unacceptable, and I still await a retraction of the nasty letter written by Rav B.

  2. Incorrect. Getting a Psak from an individual as opposed to a Bais Din does not permit one to go to arko'oys or the authorities.

    The relevant issue here is that since this is an issue of rodef the issur does not apply.

    1. Is reporting a molester arkaos. I think not. It is not clear to me that any posek has argued for needing a beit din rather than a psak. I wonder if those who argue for beit din vetting of police reports claim it is halachically required per se or is just the practice or takkanah of particular communities.

      Rabbi Eidensohn, can you enlighten us?

    2. Stan. According to u . One would need a bais din to pasken that he was indeed a not following your logic.

    3. Rodef does not require a psak of a posek or an beis din. One is trying to save someone from harm. This was the incredible case of the San Diego bomber that the rabbi of the shul who recognized the bomber in his shul - first called his rabbi before calling the police. That was an incredible error since he was endangering others by doing so.

      In a case where there is not a danger of immediate reporting Rav Sternbuch says you should get a psak from a rabbi before going to the police "so that the world should not be hefker" Even the Aguda said that there is no need for a beis din in reporting a molester or suspected molester to the police.

      None of the rulings of gedolim reported in Yeschurn vol 15 required getting a ruling of beis din before reporting to the police - they all involved asking a rav.

      As far as I recall only Rav Menashe Klein (16:58) requires a beis din to report child abuse. He rejects the concept of rodef used by the gedolim as a bases to call the police.

  3. There will inevitably be a court case even if rigged which involves arko'oys so I think Yerachmiel Lopin is wrong even if the state is plaintiff - they are acting for the victim.
    I am not debating the right to report a rodef. However I do not see what rav sternbuch's psak in this case adds. Rav Elyashiov said when there is raglayim le'dovor in molestation you can report without a psak. So respectfully what is R Sternbuch adding in this case? Frankly in my opinion absolutely nothing.
    And in the regular cases like divorce you need a hetter abis din to go to arko'oyus. the psak of a single rov no longer suffices as per the psak of rav elyashiv, rav karelitz and rav wosner.
    As for the hypchricy of the agudah it is breathtaking. They have no problem with mesirah when it comes to divorce, they even turn a blind eye to it. So why in the case of child molestation are they so worried about it? they clearly don't care and have covered up molestation for a long period of time. they have long outlived their purpose and should go the same route as all other corrupt organizations - into oblivion. Let zwiebel actually earn his $250k a year annual salary somewhere where he contributes to society assuming that is possible.

  4. The real benefit of getting the psak from Rav Sternbuch was to make sure that when the inevitable fake protests of mesirah are received the father has someone to back him up which is obviously valuable but not valuable enough to stop his being persecuted by those who choose to keep quiet when real mesirah takes place in many divorce cases in the tri-state area.
    It is rather unfortunate that in many cases even the "gedolim" in eretz yisroel refuse to offer proper protection to the victims even though they could easily have someone ascertain the facts if they wished. it really depends on your connections not on the Emes.


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