Guest Post by Yossi Ginzberg
Clearly, a murderer of children is not a normal person. No proof is necessary, no commentary is adequate, and no elaboration is needed. There is no way to make sense of this, and any attempt is futile. The only possible response is Emunah, faith that Hashem knows what he’s doing and that somehow in the heavenly accounting system this all meshes sensibly.
There are a million defensive responses: Look how rarely a Jew is a killer, look at how many killers thought to be Jewish turned out not to be (like the “Son of Sam” and the killer of Yoseph Robinson last year), a dog biting a mailman doesn’t make the news but a mailman biting a dog does, and so on.
But how do we get past the knee-jerking, past the defensiveness, to reach a place of safety, a place where we can actually effect change to prevent such things? Stipulated that at this early point it seems that there were no obvious signs that there was anything seriously wrong with the accused killer, but we all know- or should know- that there are others out there, if not killers molesters and perverts of all types. Is a rapist any better? How about a gay rapist? A serial molester?
We’ve all heard if not seen actions like this within the Charedi community. I myself once saw from my second-floor window a young Charedi-looking man sitting in his car in front of my house, looking very innocent until he called the children playing in front over and opened the car door to show his pants down. He escaped before I got down, probably luckily for me too as I was too incensed to control my actions.
One of my daughter’s once (foolishly!) on a freezing day accepted a short ride from Flatbush to Boro Park along the bus route from a man with a long beard and Peyos. One block into the eight-block ride he pulled out a large picture, apparently a Playboy magazine centerfold. Frightening to this young girl, but potentially deadly to one who might jump out of a car without looking, reacting in fear.
But what is the answer? Should we stop adulating insane responses- the girls who allegedly pinned their skirts to their skin, the girl who jumped from a stalled tram car rather than stay alone with a boy, the girl who apparently is being taught to mutilate herself rather than wear a too-short skirt?
Or do we react in horror to the perversions of the Chofetz Chaim’s philosophy, whereby we never relate anything bad about anybody, enabling them to continue harming others?
Perhaps it’s the time to speak again of the enablers, the many schools, rabbis, and organizations that have been protecting molesters and abusers for decades. Israel, the USA, the UK and Australia have all had significant scandals in recent years, and aside from the most important human damages, there have been significant Chilul Hashem issues. How can we allow this to continue? Those responsible have never apologized or paid in any way. Had they been CEO’s of a company, they’d have paid with their jobs and perhaps their freedom. As rabbis and heads of schools, they have walked away free while the abused suffer forever.
More, most experts apparently attribute a majority share of the OTD phenomenon to these abuses. If true, this would make the responsible rabbis greater damagers of our youth than any missionaries! Despite the great efforts and expenditures of the missions, one never hears of a Frum child actually leaving Judaism for any Christian sect, but it’s every day we hear and see “Datlashim” (Dati l’she’avar, or formerly Frum), a one-time rare phenomenon but now so common it has its own well-known acronym.
Admittedly, I am writing in anger and in frustration, enraged over the senseless murder of little Leiby z”l, and that might be affecting my judgment in posting this. It is clearly not possible to draw a straight causative line from being overly strict on Tznius and Lashon Harah to abuse, rape, and murder.
Still, as Charedim we adhere to the concept that the body is only temporal while the soul is eternal.
Given that, the destruction of the souls forced off the path of Judaism by having been abused or molested, is actually (in religious terms only, of course) WORSE than being killed. Yet we scream about today’s headlines and ignore the thousands now OTD because of these reasons.
Can we get past our visceral reactions to put our anger and frustration to good use?
There are some who do- we have seen the growing acceptance of Rabbi Horowitz’s words, and there have been a few positive statements by qualified rabbis calling for police reporting without waiting for permission from the Agudah. But still, the abusers laugh at justice, and as long as they do, we will continue to suffer as their progeny- the evildoers they helped create by their inaction, if nothing else - multiply, as each abuser creates more and more abusers.