Last night, in conversation with two sensible people, I was flummoxed to find the arcane view expressed that in theory someone accused of non-consensual sodomy should not face justice as
- it was “many years ago”
- they may have done T’shuva
- they haven’t been involved in such things for the last few years
Now, before anyone gets too quizzical or Machiavellian, we were not speaking about Australians. Indeed, we were focussed on principles.
I asked my two interlocutors
- what the meaning of ובערת הרע מקרבך meant in the context. Does it mean that if the person has allegedly done תשובה that there is no חיוב?
- how they defined תשובה in the context of the רמבם?
- what הלכה said about the recidivism attributed to perpetrators by experts
- whether expert advice needed to be heeded
- what their reaction would be if a victim was one of their children “many years ago”
- what if בית דין find out that someone bashed another person, but the bashing occurred 5 years earlier and the basher had done תשובה so to speak. Would the case not be heard? Would the דין not be meted out? Would a בית דין act in a way less than a western court of law?
- what are the responsibilities of a person who is aware of a past injustice. Do they have a דין of לא תעמוד על דם רעך?
I opined that there was a world-wide awakening, across religions, groups within religions, and elsewhere, with the strong view that society needed to be more open and change. Society had now not only drawn a red line, but was now ready, especially through new media, to protect beyond that red line and do all that was in their power to see that
- justice is served
- the future social environment is safer
- those affected are counselled and supported and not marginalised via internal ructions throughout their life
- see that education across the board is enhanced through the realisation that there is no room for the proverbial “carpet sweep”
As R’ Schachter explained to me, Yidden may not be in a situation where the ethical and moral standards of general society are, and are seen to be, more virtuous than ours. We are enjoined not to allow such a situation to exist via the positive Torah command of קדושים תהיו as per the רמבן and others.
We need to carry out a significant change in our thinking and actions. Issues regrettably continue to emerge. This one is another indicating we have learned precious little. In response to an apparently dangerous person stalking children in Ganei Geulah, Rabbinic authorities are using the papers etc to warn people to watch their children, but suggest that the police not be informed because it’s לשון הרע.
שומו שמים = “the mind boggles”