A great injustice is ongoing in the Torah world. An injustice that should be upsetting to anyone who fears God no matter what slice of Judaism they belong to. It shouldn’t matter if you are Haredi, Modern Orthodox, or even Conservative or Reform. In fact it shouldn’t even matter if you are Jewish or not!
The story is unfortunately all too familiar and well known to the blog world. It involves a Haredi Jew who has been falsely vilified by his peers and former employers. Vilified because he reported to the police a man who sexually abused his son. I am not at liberty to reveal his name. But he is identified as Rabbi S.
Rabbi S was a member in good standing in the very Haredi world of Lakewood. He was widely respected there. He even gave a Chabura – a regular Talmudic lecture to advanced students at Beis Medrash Govoha (BMG more commonly referred to by its location in New Jersey as Lakewood).
He played by all the rules there. Not because he just wanted to get along… but because he believed in them. Even after suffering the trauma of his son being sexually abused. The accepted procedure there is to go to the rabbinic leaders who will decide whether it should be reported to the police. Whether or not this appropriate is beside the point I wish to make. Which is that he listened to his ‘Daas Torah’– even when I’m sure that every fiber in his body told him to go to the police right away.
Those rabbinic leaders told him not to go… but believed there may have been a problem and required that the accused abuser undergo therapy. At that point Rabbi S. did not report the abuse to the police. Under therapy the abuser admitted his guilt. But then after a session or two he stopped going thus violating the conditions under which he would not be reported. When Rabbi S found out about it, he went immediately to the police.
Long story short the accused was tried in court, admitted his guilt, and was convicted. – even though he recanted before his conviction saying he was pressured into admitting his guilt.
Rabbi S. was ‘thanked’ for his efforts with huge smear campaign. Prominent members of the Lakewood community publicly vilified him – in writing – as a Moser (someone who informs on a fellow Jew to the authorities). A Moser is about the lowest form of human being a Jew can be in these circles – not that Rabbi S actually was a Moser.
Adding to all this was Torah VoDaath Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Yisroel Belsky. He publicly insisted that the abuser was innocent and that his accuser – Rabbi S was the true guilty party – implying that he sexually abused his own son! Rabbi Belsky has since denied that this is what he meant. But knowing the convicted abuser personally – he still maintains his innocence despite the admission of guilt.
Rabbi S was chased out of BMG and Lakewood. He has relocated to another city where he joined a Kollel and is being paid a small stipend… which is not really enough to provide for his family.
Since all this happened, a prominent signer of the above-mentioned vicious attack realized his error and publicly apologized to Rabbi S for his part in harassing him and family. I have also been told that Lakewood mashgiach, Rav Matisyahu Salomon (who was involved in the initial response to Rabbi S and the abuser) now regrets his part in it too and is quite agonized over it.
For their part – the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the OU publically applauded the conviction of that abuser saying that justice was done.
Rabbi Belsky however remains intransigent. He is the Posek for the OU. The OU responded to criticism of Rabbi Belsky by saying that his job at the OU is secure and that he is entitled to his views – with which they disagree.
Rabbi Belsky is important to the OU – the largest Kashrus supervision agency in the world. He is widely respected by the right wing. His presence at the OU gives them credibility with the right. Which increases their prestige and wide acceptance of products they certify as Kosher.
About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.
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