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October 24, 2014 / 30 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Gedolei Yisroel’

The ‘Them Vs. Us’ Shtetl Mentality Protects Sexual Predators

Friday, May 31st, 2013

In an op-ed piece by Rabbi William Handler published by The Jewish Press May 26, 2013, he warns that secular authorities, in particular New York child protection services and law enforcement, engage in overzealous investigations of reports of child maltreatment within the Orthodox communities, and persecute those accused of sexual crimes against children. With the same breath he offers his “sincere” concern that no one should minimize the harm done by sexual abuse of a child. His solution—let the gedolei Yisroel (true experts in matters of the laws of marriage and divorce) handle it.

This position is naïve at best, and dangerous if taken seriously.

The sexual abuse of children in our society is a national epidemic. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1-in-4 girls and 1-in-6 boys will be sexually abused by the time they are 18 years old. This is not a problem unique to the Orthodox Jewish Community, it crosses all social, religious and economic strata of our society.

For at least the past decade, since the exposure of the depth and breadth of the problem with Catholic Priest abuse, this issue has been in the forefront of our collective consciousness. We have learned, in great detail, how predators engage and groom their prey; about the incurable nature of the psychological disorders of pedophilia (abuse of pre-pubescent children) and ephebophilia (abuse of post pubescent children); about the latent and delayed psychological injuries that manifest later in adult life; and about the cost to our society in general. These issues have been the subject of studies by leading authorities in the field of child maltreatment who engage in scientific methodologies and peer reviewed presentations.

To suggest that the work of these experts should be rejected in favor of someone who has studied the biblical laws of marriage and divorce belies any sense of reason. To conjure up fear of persecution and advocate a “them against us,” this Shtetl mentality as a way of protecting sexual predators is criminal.

This kind of advocacy within the Jewish Community by community leaders such as Rabbi Handler does a disservice to the community, makes the Orthodox community suspect in the eyes of law enforcement, and provokes distrust within the larger national community. This kind of approach becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you have more concern about avoiding scandal and protecting sexual predators than you do for the welfare of children, you can be sure that the world will come to disrespect you. Ask the Catholic Church how it feels about that.

Internet Filtering – It Starts With Your Mouth

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Let me assure you that the purpose of this article is not to weigh in on the recent Internet Asifa (gathering) that was held at Citifield in New York. Suffice it to say, that irrespective of one’s views regarding the execution and specifics of this unprecedented event, it should be crystal clear to every sane adult that Gedolei Yisroel have brought to the forefront the perils that accompany the recent monumental advances in modern technology. It is incumbent on each and every individual to devise and implement a personal plan of action that will protect his/her family from one of the greatest dangers of the 21st century.

We must do our personal hishtadlus (individual efforts), and rely on siyatah d’Shmayah (Divine assistance) to bring our efforts to fruition. The various suggestions being put forth to filter the Internet to a level appropriate for each individual and family is part of our hishtadlus. However, there is a prerequisite to this filter that is, unfortunately, being ignored by too many. To fight the external forces of the Yetzer Hara, we must first conquer the challenges that lie within our own rank and file. History repeatedly proves that the first step in conquering the external enemy is to ensure that we possess a unified front internally. The only way to accomplish this is to invoke the assistance of Hashem; without siyatah d’Shmayah, all are efforts will unfortunately fall short, and our mission will be bound for failure.

So what is this prerequisite? Let’s revisit how Yaakov Avinu prepared for battle against Esav, the ultimate symbol of the yetzer hara in his generation. Before preparing a strategic battle plan, he turned to Hashem, utilizing the power of tefillah as his first and most powerful weapon. Today, that power, that koach that comes from davening, is still the greatest weapon we can use to combat the dangers we face as individuals and as a nation.

Parshas Matos begins with a discussion of the laws relating to a personal vow or oath. What is unique about the way this topic is introduced is that it’s missing the traditional lead-in pasuk of “Vayomer/Va’yidaber Hashem el Moshe laymor.” Instead it begins Vayomer Moshe el Roshei HaMatos – Moshe says to the leaders of the shevatim. Why is the introduction here different?

Rav Moshe Feinstein z”tl, in his classic commentary on the Torah, Darash Moshe, teaches that we can learn a profound lesson from the manner in which these laws are presented to the Jewish nation. Of all of Hashem’s worldly creations, only humans have been granted the power of speech, the ability to communicate verbally and only man has been created b’tzelem Elokim – in G-d’s image. Rav Moshe ascertains that we don’t need the pasukVayomer/Va’yidaber Hashem el Moshe laymor” to introduce the laws of proper use of dibbur, of speech. It’s abundantly obvious that this precious gift is only to be used in a manner becoming of those created in G-d’s image.

How sad is it to see how we abuse this unique gift of dibbur. We use inappropriate language, make inappropriate statements, and defile the gift of speech by speaking offensively, and insulting our fellow human beings. Perhaps the worst offense of all is the way we defile our mouths while amidst a private meeting with Hashem – during davening. Would any of us be discourteous and offensive to a hard-to-reach businessperson who has managed to fit us into his busy schedule for a private meeting? Would our minds and mouths be elsewhere if granted a meeting with the President of the United States? Would any of us display such unmitigated audacity? Yet, the Melech Malchei Hamilachim grants us a private meeting three times a day – how can we so abuse the privilege?

How can we possibly expect Hashem to assist us in combating the dangers threaten us and our families when we display behavior that flies in the face of the hishtadlus Gedolei Yisroel are asking of us? How will implementing filters on the Internet help us combat the Yetzer Hara if we can’t even place filters on our mouths while asking Hashem for help with all the trials and tribulations that face us?

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/internet-filtering-it-starts-with-your-mouth/2012/08/03/

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