Sunday, August 14, 2011

Leading out of Fear

I must say that I am heartened by the words of Rav Daniel Eidensohn. Because of him Emes is prevailing.

Rabbi Eidensohn has famously published two Seforim - both Hebrew and English versions – one that alphabetically indexes the entire Mishna Berurah and the other doing the same for the entire Igros Moshe. I own a copy of both volumes and they are an invaluable aid to me. Rabbi Eidensohn is also very close the Rav Moshe Sternbuch a Charedi Posek who is a member of the leadership of the Eida HaCharedis.

Rabbi Eidesnohn has also recently self published a book on sex abuse. Mainstream Orthodox publishers like Mesorah (ArtScroll) and Feldheim refused to publish it. But it has otherwise been well received. It was recently shown to a world class mainstream Talmid Chacham to get his reaction. The reaction to the book and the words that followed were unfortunately no surprise to me – But I was gald to see them. They reflect truth and are contained in a post on Rabbi Eidensohn’s blog, Daas Torah - a post that took a lot of courage to publish.

It clearly corroborates much of what I have been saying about the rabbinic leadership of our day. They simply do not have what it takes to lead and often rule or fail to rule out of the fear of losing their reputations.

This was first noted by Jonathan Rosenblum who reported that he spoke to one such Gadol on the Agudah Moetzes that feared losing his reputation as a Gadol (i.e. being called a ‘fake Gadol’). It was for that reason that this Gadol was afraid to speak his mind on the economic situation of the Charedi world. Now the same thing has happened on the issue of sex abuse.

Many have challenged and will continue to challenge this observation as a lie- being Motzie Laz on Gedolei Yisroel. I think it is just a plain Emes. One that – as I say - was corroborated by Jonathan Rosenblum and now by Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn. If I am guilty so are they. But I do not believe any of us are. The truth speaks for itself. Here is an excerpt from Rabbi Eidensohn’s blog - which says it all:

Someone had just given him a copy of my book on child abuse. He had called me to express gratitude for my book to let me know that he felt it was necessary and that it was well done.

We talked a while about the issue of child abuse. I mentioned to him the Aguda position and the nasty editorial in Ami magazine. I said that I felt that their requirement that rabbis had to moderate going to police - even at the expense of the welfare of the children - has no justification in halacha. He agreed without any hesitation. He added that he did not think abuse was being handled properly by the rabbis.

I was surprised at his candor on the issue, so I asked the obvious question - so why aren't the rabbinic leaders following halacha. Why are they taking positions which are against the halacha?
His answer was simply and blunt- they were afraid. they were worried about being labeled a shaygetz - a liberal who is lenient regarding mesira - by other rabbis.

Bemakom SheEin Ish… where there is no one doing the job – someone has to step up and do it.

Hashgacha Pratis. God rules the world. God saw to it that victims of abuse were not going to be abandoned - that criminal acts of sex abuse would not continue to be swept under the rug as was once the protocol of the Orthodoxy. This was famously articulated by Lakewood Mashgiach Rav Matisyahu Salomon at an Agudah Convention a few years ago.

The rise of the internet and blogging took up the cause of the victim and that changed everything. Whether they realize it is because of this that Agudah has changed their entire approach from one of keeping things hidden to one of reporting abuse to the police. But even this seismic change in attitude is not without a caveat. They still require vetting all reports of abuse through a Rav. On this they are still lagging behind others. That’s why I believe a mainstream Talmid Chacham has indicated that - he did not think abuse was being handled properly by the rabbis.

God has seen to it that Emes will still prevail and that fear is no way to lead a nation. He has given us the internet.

These great Talmidei Chachamim, Zekainim, U’Noraim are indeed due tremendous respect for what they have accomplished in the Torah world and the amount of time they dedicate to Klal Yisroel. Nevertheless I think they are failing us. This is unfortunately becoming more and more apparent.