Got that pioneering spirit? You’re invited to help build Israel’s periphery by planting roots in southern soil with Nefesh B’Nefesh.
“Whoever has mercy on cruel people will in the end act cruelly to merciful people.” So the Midrash deduces from the story of Shaul HaMelech – King Saul. When commanded to kill out the wicked nation of Amalek, the king had mercy on its monarch, Agag, sparing his life. As evidence that Saul eventually acted with cruelty to merciful people, the Gemara quotes the Navi that years later Saul showed no such compassion when he killed out an entire city of Kohanim because they had given shelter to his nemesis David.
But is this always the case? Must being kind to the cruel inevitably lead to the reverse? If we view the Midrash as only using the example of the Kohanim to show the middah of cruelty in Saul, there is actually a deeper meaning in the observation that kindness to the cruel leads to cruelty. When one is kind and helpful and protective of those who are cruel to others, it is automatically an act of cruelty to innocent people.
Clearly there was no conscious cruelty motive in Saul’s allowing Agag to live. But what was the actual result? Although Shmuel HaNavi executed Agag the very next day, Agag still had time to impregnate a woman with a son whose descendants rebuilt the nation of Amalek, leading to everlasting misery for the Jewish people (until Mashiach comes).
The mitzvah to confront child molesters is incumbent upon each of us. As Rabbi Shea Hecht charged at a recent gathering for the National Jewish Week for the Prevention of Child Abuse, when Shimon and Levi held the entire city of Shechem accountable for the rape of Dina by only one of its citizens, it taught us for all time that someone who abuses even one Jewish girl or boy must be confronted by every member of society.
Excuses for not doing so include bogus halachic claims of mesira, lashon hara and chillul Hashem; concern over the “unfair” suffering of the abuser’s innocent family (who are often victims themselves in need of help); and fear of lawsuits against yeshivas that have knowingly harbored molesters. Not one of these makes sense when the physical, emotional and spiritual safety of children is at stake. Psychological studies repeatedly find that molested children are significantly more likely to suffer later in life from depression, anxiety, substance abuse and addictions, posttraumatic stress disorder, sexual and interpersonal problems, and suicide.
On a communal level, we have protected abusers by not exposing them. We should be ashamed of ourselves. If we are to be redeemed, we must change our ways.
An open letter in 2007 from the Vaad Harabbonim of Baltimore stated that “it is already well established by our own Poskim that an abuser is to be considered a rodef (literally a ‘pursuer’), effectively poised to destroy innocent lives and, therefore, virtually all means may be used to stop him and bring him to justice.”
It is not good enough to teach children about “good touch and bad touch” in the hope that they will be able to protect themselves. We are responsible for their protection. We cannot afford to be squeamish about sending a message of zero tolerance to those who would abuse and harm them.
This is not about punishment or justice, though publicizing the molesters does put the shame back where it belongs. It is about public safety. Having compassion on the cruel molesters and protecting their identities is an act of cruelty that destroys innocent lives. If a doctor failed to quarantine a patient with a deadly contagious disease because it was embarrassing to the patient and his family, it would constitute the height of professional negligence, not an act of compassion. Child molestation is a deadly disease and parents need to know whom to keep their children away from.
Our gedolim have finally acknowledged that children are being abused, but as of yet have not named one single molester – not even publicizing those who have been convicted of crimes. This defies rationality. How can so many be molested without there being any molesters? Are parents supposed to be protecting their children from Martians?
At parent training programs, therapists from a leading frum mental health agency present a slide show with pictures from the newspapers of non-Jewish convicted sex offenders and soberly warn parents, “These are not the people you need to be afraid of.” Would it not make more sense from an educational perspective to show pictures of the people whom parents do need to be afraid of?
In a Baltimore shul, pictures are regularly posted of convicted sex offenders living in the neighborhood – but the pictures of the Jewish offenders are removed. In Lakewood, a chain phone call recently went out warning parents that a molester had moved into their neighborhood, but he was not identified because “it is lashon hara.”
Some may argue that the government’s Megan’s Law registry of sex offenders has not proved effective in decreasing child sex abuse. But in our tight-knit frum community, where an individual who is caught selling treif chicken is tarred and feathered, thus assuring that nobody will ever trust him to sell meat again, a rabbinic pronouncement that Ploni and Almoni are “not recommended” as safe to be alone with children would surely give parents a fighting chance. It would at the very least assist schools, camps and youth groups that earnestly want to screen out known molesters from being hired.
Child molestation may be an illness, but covering it up is just plain wrong.
Dr. Asher Lipner is a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice who specializes in treating survivors of sexual abuse and their families in the Orthodox community. He is executive vice president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author: Rabbi Asher Lipner, Ph.D., is vice president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children. This essay was adapted from a speech he gave at Assemblyman Dov Hikind’s March 1 Boro Park rally in support of victims of abuse.
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
No tweets found.
Starting next week, Professor Beres’s column will be on summer hiatus until September. * * * * * In June 1998, Prof. Beres, following publication of an op-ed article in The New York Times, was invited by then-Swiss Ambassador Thomas Borer to present personal testimony before the specially-constituted Swiss Commission on World War II in [...]
Israel is a country that understands security concerns. Many civil rights have been sacrificed in the name of security and Israelis are used to being checked every time they enter a shopping center, a large store or any public building. Americans recently learned that they, too, are subject to many checks on their most private activities.
Without a vision, strategy is impossible. Tactics become farcical.
No one can envy President Obama’s current dilemma over Syria.
His decision to begin arming the Syrian rebels challenging Bashar Assad’s regime drew charges that the rebel forces are driven by jihad movements, particularly al Qaeda. Further, many rebel spokesmen have regularly denounced Israel and suggested that once in power they will end Mr. Assad’s policy of not rocking the boat with Israel. How, then, critics ask, could the president align the U.S. with the rebels?
In a gushing report on the election of Hassan Rohani as Iran’s new president, The New York Times began with this: “In a striking repudiation of the ultraconservatives who wield power in Iran, voters…overwhelmingly elected a mild-mannered cleric who advocates greater personal freedoms and a more conciliatory approach to the world.”
Last month in this space we noted that the New York State Assembly was considering legislation that would prohibit domestic insurers from including on their financial statements investments in companies that engage in investment activities in Iran. These financial statements are relied upon by the state to determine whether the company is solvent and able to pay claims. That bill has since passed the Assembly, but the New York State Senate is balking at passing it as well.
There is no other candidate running for mayor who supports our community’s values as Salgado does.
If the eyes are the window to the soul, then children’s eyes are the window to the Almighty Himself.
Adding Turkey to the list of volatile states would mean even more uncertainty for Israel.
Is there no one who remembers this recent history?
Making Rouhani the president was a brilliant strategic move for Khamene’i.
Noone, least of all me, wants to see any Arab child suffer, God forbid.
The Sanctuary was built with an ezrat nashim, a separate area for women.
“Whoeverhas mercy on cruel people will in the end act cruelly to merciful people.” So the Midrash deduces from the story of Shaul HaMelech – King Saul. When commanded to kill out the wicked nation of Amalek, the king had mercy on its monarch, Agag, sparing his life. As evidence that Saul eventually acted with cruelty to merciful people, the Gemara quotes the Navi that years later Saul showed no such compassion when he killed out an entire city of Kohanim because they had given shelter to his nemesis David.
The stories of Moshe Rabbeinu and Esther HaMalkah are very similar. Both lived in luxurious conditions while their people were suffering. Moshe was raised in the house of King Pharaoh; Esther was the queen of King Achashveirosh. But each felt so connected to their brothers and sisters that they risked their lives to protect and save them, even though they themselves were neither suffering nor in danger.
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/a-lesson-from-king-saul-on-exposing-child-molesters/2011/01/19/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: