Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Rape - does G-d want someone to be raped?

A young lady once came to me for a theological consultation. This poised cheerful woman told me that when she was 10 she had been raped by two young yeshiva students at a religious summer camp. As a result of this incident she went into severe depression, became suicidal, and was finally placed in a mental hospital for an extended time. She said that baruch hashem, she had recovered and was no longer depressed or obsessed with revenge. Her visit was precipitated by having just seen her assailants walking down the street in Geula in Jerusalem with their wives and children - as if they had never done anything evil. She said there was only one issue left from her experience which she couldn't come to grips with - Why did G-d want her to be raped?" All the rabbis she had consulted with told her that it was G-d's will and that while they couldn't explain it that it must have been good and necessary. She just had to accept it as G-d's will. Her problem was that she couldn't accept that she worshipped a G-d that wanted this horrible thing to happen. I answered her that she was being told the dominant chassidic/kabbalistic view. However I told her that the Rishonim had a different view, i.e., that it is possible for a man to chose to hurt another - even though G-d doesn't want it to happen. That she will be compensated in the Next World for her suffering but that G-d didn't cause it to happen. She was able to accept that view.


  1. A very sad story.
    Is olam haba , or a need for belief in it, a perceived failure Chas vshalom of the brachot and klalot in the Torah?
    I'm not denying the eternity of the soul, but doesn't the Torah predict that all reward business will be carried out down here?

  2. A terrible sorry and a worse justification.
    This is a result of the whole "Don't worry, God is running everything" attitude. Therefore God also actively wanted 6 million Jews to die in the Holocaust. Seriously, if that's true, I'm out of this farkakht religion.
    The real answer is that God gives us free choice. Of course He didn't want this girl to be raped. He forbid such action in the Torah. But the same God who doesn't show up in the parking lot of every Reform temple on Shabbos to wag a finger at those who are driving in is also the same one who lets "yeshivah students" make terrible decisions. They will burn in Gehinnom for their crimes, no doubt but they have to be free to commit those crimes. And sadly, crimes need victims.

  3. One would need to be a prophet to be able to give a definitive reason why a particular calamity befell a particular person.

    Since we're not prophets, therefore, when we hear of tragedy befalling people, we can only try to be there for them, and try to share their pain.
    This is really part of the age old question:
    "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

  4. My point is both better than yours (logically) and worse (theologically)
    The Torah also read says Im Bechukosai telechu... and also chosoe life, and in both we are punished , 7- fold for our bad deeds until we all repent. And the one who blesses himself and thinks he can get away with it, suffers most of all. And thisis all in Olam HaZeh - unless the karet that the torah talks about is about the next world. but why would we need cattle, and produce in the world to come?

  5. A magefa is different.
    When one is in an area of a magefa, little can help (as per Pinchas, and Moshe telling Aharon Cohen Gadol regarding ketoret)

  6. There is a solid Midrash on this topic involving Moshe Rabbeinu, Micha, mud pits and Paroah

  7. Can the Rav summarize the position of the Rishonim in slightly more detail, please?

    Did the Rishonim say G-d is unaware of all events? Unlikely they said or meant that. G-d is aware of even our thoughts. There is nothing we can know that He doesn't know. Whatever senses we have to gather knowledge of events, he implanted within us. Certainly then what people see, hear, etc. he is seeing, hearing, etc.

    Did the Rishonim say G-d is weak? Unlikely they said or meant that. G-d can resurrect the dead. There is nothing that G-d can't do.

    I would assume what they meant is that G-d chooses to limit Himself. On the one hand, G-d is All Knowing and All Powerful. On the other hand He delegates the ability to know and to act to Man.

    In this context, things we perceive as crimes happen. These crimes, such as the rape of a Jewish girl by men -- meaning males of Bar Mitzvah age and older -- can occur. It is then the job of a Bais Din to try the case. Sometimes the Bais Din does not have enough evidence to find the perpetrators guilty. Then the case is corrected by the Higher Court in Heaven. Sometimes cases never make it to a Bais Din. Sometimes, as in our times, we don't even have Batei Din that can judge capital cases. Sometimes when things get really out of hand the King or Sanhedrin or whatever government there is can institute extra-judicial measures to correct widespread crime.

    I would guess, then, that what the Rishonim meant when they said "G-d doesn't want it to happen...G-d didn't cause it to happen" is in line with, say, the case of the man in the Chumash who blessed someone using G-d's name (using a euphemism here when I say "blessed"). Moshe didn't know the punishment. My understanding is that G-d taught Moshe the law that blessing someone with G-d's name is wrong, but didn't tell him the punishment, because G-d, so to speak, hoped a case like that would never happen. But it did happen -- and G-d let it happen. But he didn't cause ut to happen. He didn't force the perpetrator to say what he did, as G-d forced Bilam to say certain things.

  8. Come on, can you give us the gist of midrash?

  9. If you look at the story of Cain and Abel, G-d certainly did not want the murder to happen, but it did, and cain had free will to do so. He was punished for his crime, but today we don't have G-d speaking to us directly , and nothing else so so open in terms of nissim.

  10. Every cheder child knows it.
    Moshe was dismayed to see the pregnant Yiddishe women working in mud pits where they tragically gave birth and packed their live babies into bricks.
    Moshe had a complaint against Hashem, kaveyachol.
    Hashem dared Moshe to pick one child to live and see what happens.
    He picked one. The child grew up to be Michah. He saw Moshe use a name of Hashem to lift Yosef out of the Nile and used it to create the Golden Calf.
    This goes to show, when Hashem does something we have no clue why but it's always for the best.

  11. That's a good example of how the world was fixed after a sin occurs. Cain repents, along with being punished. The world is back on track.

  12. It's still a heart breaking story to read

  13. Revenge is a mitzvah in this case. The issur is about a case where someone doesn't lend an item to someone else.
    She can still go to the authorities for historic crimes.

  14. God may not want it to happen but then, a parent might say "Fine, go out with your friends to that skanky party" hoping the child will exercise proper judgement and not go.


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