Welcome, Guest! - or
Easy to remember!  »  VinNews.com

Jerusalem - Child Abuse and Halacha – A New Book In The Making

Published on: October 28, 2008 11:26 AM
By: Special to VIN News By Dr. Daniel Eidensohn Ph.D. Jerusalem Daas Torah Blog
Change text size Text Size  

Daniel Eidensohn Ph.D.Jerusalem - Child abuse is one of the things parents fear most for their children - physical abuse or sexual molestation. It means not only a major violation of trust – in the assumption that adults will protect children – but it can also be a source of severe lifetime psychological damage to the tender child – that can lead him/her to hurt others in turn.

But it is not just parents who abuse and molest their children - it is also siblings, extended family, teachers, clergy – and sometimes strangers.

While everyone will agree that it is horrible – the response to child abuse has been strangely muted. Even in the Orthodox Jewish community – there is often silence from the family of the victim – refusing to press charges even when begged. Sometimes there are active attempts within the community to silence the accusation. [This is true of other communities as well]. On the other hand, in the world of the communication media – especially the liberal newspapers and magazines as well as some blogs - there is almost a gleeful lynch mob mentality – “Let’s get the mamzer and show the world that the well thought of parent, educator, author, principal, teacher or psychologist is nothing but a warped pervert preying on innocent children.”

Advertisement:

How in fact should someone respond when they hear rumors or suspect that some one is molesting children in his/her neighborhood or school? What should a parent do when it seems Uncle Mark has been spending a lot of time with his 9-year-old niece – doing inappropriate things? Is the ideal response to pick up the phone and call the police?

Is it to call your rabbi? Or perhaps one should simply pickup a baseball bat and teach the person a lesson?

I am presently working on a book – Child Abuse and Halacha. Contrary to other halachic issues such as theft, or whether opening a soda bottle is permitted on Shabbos – there are many diverse and conflicting considerations when dealing with child abuse. I am exploring questions such as, “Is the primary concern the suffering of the victim or stopping the perpetrator?” “Does the potential chilul HaShem deserve the most attention or is the destruction of trust and respect of teachers and schools?” “Are we to be concerned only with the loss of Olam HaBah promised to informers or is the requirement of stopping a rodef more important?” “Are all the above considerations primary some of the time – or is there a response which is best all of the time?”

I am not only collecting the halachic sources on the issues above but also researching the psychological literature in terms of the nature of the damage. What types of abuse constitute pikuach nefesh? Is it better to focus on accepting what happened or to encourage repression of the experience? Is systematic desensitization training more useful than the concern with catharsis?

In addition, I am trying to elucidate the various perspectives that are brought to bear on the subject.

For example I recently posted  one of the earliest references to child molesting – the Tzemach Tzedek – on my blog Daas Torah. The question was whether this teshuva represented a gadol’s ignorance of child abuse or whether there simply was very little if any child abuse in the 1800’s? Alternatively it could be argued that the Tzemach Tzedek’s prime focus was not whether a serious crime was committed but whether the event could be understood as innocent enough so the rabbi would not lose his position. While the question remains unresolved, it needs to be explored further.

Finally I will be presenting actual cases which can serve as guidelines for the concerned parent, teacher or community rabbi. For example, I was once consulted by a young lady who had been molested by some frum boys when she was ten. She concealed the event from her parents and became increasingly withdrawn and depressed. As a teenager she tried committing suicide. Had a mental breakdown. Was hospitalized in a mental hospital for several years. Now at the age of 20, she seemed fully recovered, cheerful and productive.

My question to her was, now that it is over why are you coming to me? She replied that she has learned to deal with the horrible memories, the pain and degradation. She has learned to let go of feelings of revenge. She has a single problem left. She had asked a single question to all the rabbis she has consulted, “Why did G-d do this to me?” They all replied with some version of, “G-d always does what is best and for reasons beyond our comprehension felt that you had to be raped.” She said simply, “I can’t accept that G-d is so cruel!” My response was that these rabbis were wrong. That they were providing her with one legitimate view of theology i.e., that all that happens is caused by G-d. But there is an alternative view – that of all the Rishonim.

This view says that one man can harm another man – even though G-d doesn’t want it to happen. This is the view not only of Rishonim but is that expressed in Michtav M’Eliyahu, the Netziv citing the Zohar, it is also the view of the Maharal. Thus I told her, G-d did not want it to happen but He gives free-will to man, He does not stop man from acting. You have suffered greatly but will be compensated in the World to Come. She replied that she could live with such an understanding of G-d, while the other view was totally unacceptable. However other victims receive greater consolation from the original answer. One needs to be sensitive to individual differences.

If you want to contribute suggestions or material Dr. Eidensohn can be reached by email yadmoshe@yahoo.com



More of today's headlines

New York, NY - Stung by a series of gruesome deaths blamed on faulty elevators, the city Housing Authority plans to spend millions to fix the lifts that often infuriate... New York City - Betsy Gotbaum, the New York City public advocate, will not run for re-election next year, she said in an interview on Monday, drawing a starting line for...

 

Total23

Read Comments (23)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Oct 28, 2008 at 11:37 AM Pinky Says:

Finally, something "Tsee der zach" (to the point)
Great! - keep up the great work.
just please get as many as haskomos as you can so it is widely accepted!
Thanks a million.
Yevorechechu hashem!

2

 Oct 28, 2008 at 11:45 AM Anonymous Says:

Tell this writer that a shayla to a RAV is answered based on how it is presented .

3

 Oct 28, 2008 at 12:15 PM DizzyIzzy Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Tell this writer that a shayla to a RAV is answered based on how it is presented .

Tell this writer that there is no excuse for a RAV to answer a shayla before considering the tragic nature of the question, who is asking it, and why, regardless of how it is presented.

5

 Oct 28, 2008 at 11:47 AM Anonymous Says:

I meant to say thay that the teshuva (RESPONSE/ PSAK) of a shayla from a rav is soley based on the presentation of the shayla .

7

 Oct 28, 2008 at 12:23 PM mechelpipik Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Tell this writer that a shayla to a RAV is answered based on how it is presented .

And some rabbonim don't even know how to answer after that.

8

 Oct 28, 2008 at 12:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Out of the all rabbi's and halachos the Tzemach Tsedek is the only one worth mentioning?

9

 Oct 28, 2008 at 12:20 PM a reader Says:

i did not know rabbi Eidensohn had a Ph.D. where did he receive it from?

10

 Oct 28, 2008 at 12:56 PM yeapb Says:

Finally, this sounds like it will be an excellent book both for preventing this kind of thing and for answers after Cholilo it does happen.

11

 Oct 28, 2008 at 12:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
DizzyIzzy Says:

Tell this writer that there is no excuse for a RAV to answer a shayla before considering the tragic nature of the question, who is asking it, and why, regardless of how it is presented.

if something is only a rumor then it does become a shyla. Suppose there is a rumor about you would u like people to lynch u?

12

 Oct 28, 2008 at 01:12 PM Anonymous Says:

FINALLY A RAV WITH SOME REASON! WE NEED NEW RABONIM WHO ARE UNDERSTING, WISE, AND BAL MIDAS TOVOS. NOT SOMEONE IS ALWAYS LOOKING FOR THINGS TO ASSUR ECT.

13

 Oct 28, 2008 at 01:43 PM Anonymous Says:

This teshuvah would imply that if not for the circumstance, the Rav should have been dismissed. We also don't know any details of the case e.g. how old was the boy, what was done ect. However , if the case warrented it , there is no way the TT would have made a cover up , and shipped him off to the next community.

14

 Oct 28, 2008 at 02:11 PM Michal Says:

Reply to #8  
Anonymous Says:

Out of the all rabbi's and halachos the Tzemach Tsedek is the only one worth mentioning?

Very stupid question!! Why do you ask? Is it because the Tzemach Tzedek is Lubavitch?

The Tzemach Tzedek was a Tzaddik and a great Talmud Chacham. He was one of the leaders of his generation.

15

 Oct 28, 2008 at 02:34 PM DizzyIzzy Says:

Reply to #11  
Anonymous Says:

if something is only a rumor then it does become a shyla. Suppose there is a rumor about you would u like people to lynch u?

Your comment and mine had nothing to do with the quick judgement "alleged" abusers receive. It had to do with insensitive and spiritually devastating answers to a victim's heartfelt question.

16

 Oct 28, 2008 at 03:21 PM shoshi Says:

Should the victim really forgive the perpetrator?
Did the perpetrator even ask to be forgiven?
Did he at least make serious efforts to "make up" for what he has done?

As long as this has not happenend, especially in the case where the perpetrator denies all charges and/or has never been brought to justice, I think there is no reason to forgive him.

In the Torah, there is a Mitzwa not to forgive: Sachor ma assa lecha amalek.
I think that something similar applies here, or at least that no victim should be pressured into forgiving (and silence).

17

 Oct 28, 2008 at 04:54 PM Shaul in Monsey Says:

So there is actuall a hava amina when someone is raped to not go to the police? The same person that goes to a rav to ask a shayla should I go to the police if I was raped by a frum person probably goes to the baker to get their suits cleaned. You don't need a heter for this, period. Its nonsense. Your fleishig knife fell in the cream of mushroom soup, rav. Your esrig fell and the pitom is hanging, rav. Your 7 year old came home complaing that the rebbe had him in the basement with his pants down, do yourself a favor, dial 9-1-1.

18

 Oct 28, 2008 at 05:12 PM MGirl Says:

Reply to #17  
Shaul in Monsey Says:

So there is actuall a hava amina when someone is raped to not go to the police? The same person that goes to a rav to ask a shayla should I go to the police if I was raped by a frum person probably goes to the baker to get their suits cleaned. You don't need a heter for this, period. Its nonsense. Your fleishig knife fell in the cream of mushroom soup, rav. Your esrig fell and the pitom is hanging, rav. Your 7 year old came home complaing that the rebbe had him in the basement with his pants down, do yourself a favor, dial 9-1-1.

you took the words out of my mouth....and said it even better!

19

 Oct 28, 2008 at 06:19 PM Anonymous Says:

Go Shaul, Go!

20

 Oct 28, 2008 at 07:31 PM Anonymous Says:

I think that it is important to note that in the time of the Tzemach Tzedek, reporting such a crime could lead to a death sentence. It is possible that for this reason the great Tzenach Tzedek decided diffrently in this case.

21

 Oct 28, 2008 at 08:11 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #17  
Shaul in Monsey Says:

So there is actuall a hava amina when someone is raped to not go to the police? The same person that goes to a rav to ask a shayla should I go to the police if I was raped by a frum person probably goes to the baker to get their suits cleaned. You don't need a heter for this, period. Its nonsense. Your fleishig knife fell in the cream of mushroom soup, rav. Your esrig fell and the pitom is hanging, rav. Your 7 year old came home complaing that the rebbe had him in the basement with his pants down, do yourself a favor, dial 9-1-1.

well put but sad that something so obvious has to be pointed out

22

 Oct 28, 2008 at 10:29 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #3  
DizzyIzzy Says:

Tell this writer that there is no excuse for a RAV to answer a shayla before considering the tragic nature of the question, who is asking it, and why, regardless of how it is presented.

Just to add to your point. A Rav has to consider Halacha and common sense, first and foremost.

23

 Oct 29, 2008 at 12:04 AM Anonymous Says:

When the book is ready for publication, please do the following. 1. Let me know, 2. Make sure that you let us know not only who gave an endorsement, but also who refused to give an endorsement and why. This kind of a book translated into all languages that Jews communicate in is highly overdue. Much misery and devastation is suffered daily because of this by many folks all over the world for the rest of their lives.

24

 Oct 29, 2008 at 08:57 AM tzoorba Says:

Rabbi Eidensohn says

"This view says that one man can harm another man – even though G-d doesn’t want it to happen. This is the view not only of Rishonim but is that expressed in Michtav M’Eliyahu, the Netziv citing the Zohar, it is also the view of the Maharal. Thus I told her, G-d did not want it to happen but He gives free-will to man, He does not stop man from acting. "

This is certainly not the view of all the Rishonim. Rav Yeruchem Levovitz z"l, the Mirrer mashgiach, disagrees with this interpretation of the Rishonim. He discusses this in Parshas Haazinu in Daas Chochma umusar in the topic hashgacha clalis vehashgacha pratis. The majority of current baalei hashkafo also agree with Rav Yeruchem that Hashem is directly in charge of every event that happens to any person and will not allow things to happen at random because of the bechira of another person.

Certain bad events are not in the nature of punishment but rather they are a form of a test (that the person will not be faulted for not passing initially). Others, such as the death of infants, are because Hashem wants to preserve free will and he will provide a special reward in the world to come to those children for being placed in this situation.

25

 Oct 29, 2008 at 03:11 PM Daniel Eidensohn Says:

Reply to #24  
tzoorba Says:

Rabbi Eidensohn says

"This view says that one man can harm another man – even though G-d doesn’t want it to happen. This is the view not only of Rishonim but is that expressed in Michtav M’Eliyahu, the Netziv citing the Zohar, it is also the view of the Maharal. Thus I told her, G-d did not want it to happen but He gives free-will to man, He does not stop man from acting. "

This is certainly not the view of all the Rishonim. Rav Yeruchem Levovitz z"l, the Mirrer mashgiach, disagrees with this interpretation of the Rishonim. He discusses this in Parshas Haazinu in Daas Chochma umusar in the topic hashgacha clalis vehashgacha pratis. The majority of current baalei hashkafo also agree with Rav Yeruchem that Hashem is directly in charge of every event that happens to any person and will not allow things to happen at random because of the bechira of another person.

Certain bad events are not in the nature of punishment but rather they are a form of a test (that the person will not be faulted for not passing initially). Others, such as the death of infants, are because Hashem wants to preserve free will and he will provide a special reward in the world to come to those children for being placed in this situation.

"This is certainly not the view of all the Rishonim. Rav Yeruchem Levovitz z"l, the Mirrer mashgiach, disagrees with this interpretation of the Rishonim."

So? Rav Dessler disagrees with him. The Lubavitcher Rebbe also disagrees with him. As do most authoritative discussion of this issue.
But of all that I presented why is Rav Yeruchem's revisionism of such significance? You must obviously agree that what I said is a legitimate point of view - even if you personally don't like it! My concern was merely illustrating the point that people subject to abuse have to be treated as individuals - even as to the appropriate hashgofa.

26

Sign-in to post a comment

Click here to sign-in.

Scroll Up
Advertisements:
Sell your scrap gold and broken jewelry and earn hard cash sell gold today!