Some people still don’t seem to get it

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

  1. it was “many years ago”
  2. they may have done T’shuva
  3. 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

  1. 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?
  2. how they defined תשובה in the context of the רמבם?
  3. what הלכה said about the recidivism attributed to perpetrators by experts
  4. whether expert advice needed to be heeded
  5. what their reaction would be if a victim was one of their children “many years ago”
  6. 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?
  7. 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

  1. justice is served
  2. the future social environment is safer
  3. those affected are counselled and supported and not marginalised via internal ructions throughout their life
  4. 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”

Author: pitputim

I've enjoyed being a computer science professor in Melbourne, Australia, as well as band leader/singer for the Schnapps Band. My high schooling was in Chabad and I continued at Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh in Israel and later in life at Machon L'Hora'ah, Yeshivas Halichos Olam.

10 thoughts on “Some people still don’t seem to get it”

  1. you wrote in question 6: “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”?

    the answer is a simple: no! as there is no case. halacha looks at bashing without damages only as an Aveira sh’bein adam lamakom (rosho lomo take reacha) and once he did teshuva there is no more any aveira.

    See here: halachcha 1+2.


  2. I believe it is time for mental health professionals within our community & other experts in the field to be called upon to explain what the scientific facts are about child abuse.There should be public lectures given on this devastating evil.Each religious institution should state loud & clear what is their policy on this matter.No more hyprocisy of espousing one thing in public & another thing privately within the community.Perhaps there are communities that do want these problems kept in house.Good oh then say so . Let the community then vote with their feet & their money.If a community starts to lose financial support because of its treatment of difficult issues like this & other issues like fiscal funny business etc it will have to change its ways or go the way of the dinasaurs.Do the right thing even if for the wrong reason.Fake it till you make it.Until the Rabonnim make strong drashas & heartfelt pleas on this matter no much will change.When it comes to something dubious in kashrut or a hiddur here or a chumra there the Rabonnim can get very animated & passionate.They should do the same & more on paedophilia.


    1. The key is asking people what רגלים לדבר means in defining suspicion leading to action. I wanted to speak with R’ Elyashiv about that definition but didn’t manage an audience



    “Warning Regarding Ganei Geula Pedophile” – Is False Report!
    Dear Reb Daniel,

    As a parent of children, who lives near Ganei Geula, and frequently davens there, I was extremely concerned when I read your posting regarding a possible pedophile who may be lurking in the neighborhood.

    As a frum Yid, I was also concerned by the apparently idiotic response allegedly attributed to the new rav, Rabbi Berger, which serves as fresh cannon fodder for all the “rabbi bashers” out there in cyberspace.

    Being the sensible person I am, I approached Rabbi Berger this morning, asking him if he was aware of the story going around. He said that he actually had not been aware of the story until an acquaintance of his from Benei Brak faxed him a copy of the original article, a copy of which he pulled from his pocket to show me. He was also preplexed as to how such a story appeared in print and who was behind it, as there was not even a crumb of truth to it!

    I gently asked him, if he meant that there actually had been an incident, but his response was different then reported, or did he mean to say that the entire story is fabricated?

    He emphatically answered, that as far he’s concerned, the entire story is FABRICATED!

    He is not aware of any specific allegations of any possible pedophile lurking in the neighborhood. He was NEVER approached by any reporter, and he surely never said what was FALSELY attributed to him. In addition, as the rav of the neighborhood, he is also not aware of any other rabbis in the neighborhood who have taken the position he allegedly quoted from them!

    To use his words: כל הסיפור מצוץ מהאצבע

    Rabbi Berger told me that he’s still trying to find out who’s behind this false story, and is seriously contemplating legal action against the original publishers of the story.

    I humbly learnt an important lesson today. Don’t believe everything you read! Do your due diligence before spreading some juicy lashon hara about someone else!

    I would appreciate if you could post this e-mail as a seperate posting. While I’m a very busy person, I’ve taken the time and effort to write this to you, as I feel that a great Chilul Hashem has been perpetrated by the publication of this story, and it would be an appropriate attempt at Tikkun to publish this rebuttal.

    I would appreciate of you you withhold my name from public. Should the need arise in the future to make my name public, we can revisit the subject again.

    kol tuv,
    xxx xxxx

    PS I posted the following comment to the NRG-Maariv site. They have of yet to publish it:

    דיברתי הבוקר עם הר’ ברגר כדי לברר אמיתת הכתבה. הוא ענה לי בבטיחות, שכל הסיפור מצוץ מהאצבע, ולא היה ולא נברא. הוא אף פעם לא ראויין עך ידי שום כתב, וגם רבני השכונה שכביכול מצוטטים על ידו, לא ידועים לו כאלו.

    הר’ ברגר הוסיף, שאינו יודע מי עומד מאחורי הכתבה השקרית, אבל הוא שוקל ברצינות להגיש תביעה משפטית נגד הגורמים בדבר.

    ראו הזהרתם!

    ולכל אלו המאמינים לכל סיפור עסיסי על החרדים, תנסו פעם לברר אמיתות הסיפור לפני שאתם מפרסמים את זה הלאה!

    show details 7:36 AM (1 hour ago)

    Update: The NRG-Maariv site has published my comment


  4. Rabbi Sholem Kaminetzki the RY of Philadelphia was asked your question in beis hatalmud last night, and his answer was that there isn’t any definition to Raglaim ladavar.

    Raglaim ladavar means only that there are indicators but not a proof.

    לטוען שהטוענים שהמאמינים לכל סיפור עסיסי על החרדים, ינסו פעם לברר אמיתות הסיפור לפני שהם מפרסמים את זה הלאה, שינסה לחשוב שישנם כאלה שאינם מאמינים לכל סיפור שחרדי מספר


    1. Did he give examples of רגלים לדבר or examples where it’s less than רגלים?
      It seems to me that this is the crux of the issue together with who may conclude רגלים לדבר.

      I would go as far as suggesting that since we are talking about a ספק about which there is now clearly a מיעוט המצוי then it can’t be less strict than the שרצים that they אסור. Unless we are in a מדינה where there is an overtly corrupt judiciary, one surely should quietly go directly to the authorities. Perhaps the definition of רגלים לדבר should be: that which the authorities would consider significant enough to investigate?


  5. he didn’t give any examples, as there is nothing to give, but he said that in any case a person should ask a rov whether it is or isn’t.



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