Friday, May 01, 2009

Where is the Outrage?

“I never left the Torah, the Torah left me.”

This is the ‘cry’ of yet another victim of sex abuse. One who attempted suicide! He is still observant, married, and is raising his three children properly. But he is only going through the motions.

I think I can better understand UOJ now. For those who don’t know who that is – he is a blogger that was instrumental in putting Rabbi Yehuda Kolko out of business as a sexual molester. He has also been a harsh critic of mine – for being too tepid on this issue among other things.

Not that I didn’t understand where UOJ was coming from. I did. I just did not understand the level of his anger and his resorting to Nivul Peh. Nor did I approve of his unbelievable disparagement of respected Rabbanim in the Torah world. I still don’t. But I now fully understand it. And I am in full agreement with his outrage.

Every new article that tells the story of yet another victim makes me angrier at the relative calm on this issue on the part of our rabbinic leadership. I know they all work tirelessly for Klal Yisroel. I know that they do not take public policy decisions on this issue – or any issue - lightly. I also know that they have expressed legitimate pain and sorrow for the victims.

But I do not hear the anger. I do not hear the anger at the fierce loss of innocence of a Jewish child that was molested by another member of Klal Yisroel. I hear only calm rhetoric condemning abuse and a desire to help - as long as Torah institutions don't get hurt.

I understand it. But I am at a loss to fully understand it. Yes - Torah institutions are vital to our spiritual welfare. Without them we are lost. So we must do everything we can to make certain that they are not destroyed. But the price is not unlimited. The cost cannot include one more sexually abused victim. The loss of one precious innocent child to a sexual molester is not worth all the bricks and mortar of every single Torah building in Boro Park – and Flatbush – and Williamsburg – and Crown Heights - combined!

Not a single child should be sacrificed for that. Saving one child saves an entire world. Destroying one child destroys an entire world. There can be no ‘calculated risk’.

Yes, it is important for every rabbinic leader to express sympathy. But sympathy is not enough. What is needed here is ANGER! The kind of anger expressed by UOJ.

Without anger, the response will continue to be calm and controlled.

The story told in the Forward by an abuse victim is yet another one in a long line of such stories. It is gut wrenching. Read it and weep! The victim has allowed his story to be published but still prefers to remain anonymous because he knows of the shame his family will feel in their Chasidic Boro Park community.

I firmly believe what all the experts are telling us. Sex abuse in the Frum community exists in far greater numbers than anyone imagines. I also believe that denial has never been greater. Even with all the publicity in recent years about it –I believe that denial is still pretty strong. No one wants to believe that this kind of thing takes place in the Frum community – among our own. I used to think that way. I no longer do. It does.

The sex drive is very strong. That is a fact. Chazal knew that. That is why they legislated so many Harchokos - the Halachic distancing oneself from even remotely erotic behavior. Abnormal sexual urges are every bit as strong as normal ones. That is the nature of the libido. It will not be denied. At best it will be delayed. Because of religious and societal taboos - acting upon abnormal sexual urges will almost always be delayed.

But like a spigot that is stopped up while the water pressure keeps building, it will come out with a ferocity that is unparalleled under normal conditions. The story this victim tells demonstrates that the first time he was sexually abused.

I urge everyone to read the story in the Forward and dare you not to be angry after you read it. I don’t think it is possible for anyone with anyone with any sense of humanity and compassion to remain calm.

I urge anyone who reads this post to contact your Rav or Rosh Yeshiva or Posek and urge them to do more – a lot more than they are doing now! Ask them to contact their own Poskim and express the outrage you feel. What we need now is hard action. Compassion is not enough.

One thing puzzles me. I do not understand why the Forward did not reveal the name of the abuser in the story. They explain that he will not be prosecuted in any case because of the statute of limitations. If his identity is known it ought to be revealed. He ought to be branded for what he is by the public. Why keep his identify secret?! So he can molest even more children?!