Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ki Savo--Child Predators: Makah Be-seser

"Arrur makeh re'ehu ba-seser ve'amar kol ha'am amen."

According to Rashi, this refers to lashon hara.

I would propose an unfortunate but I think rather appropriate interpretation.

I can't imagine a stronger "maka be-seser" than molestation.

Except this: anyone who goes out of their way to not only protect predators, but who go so far as to sanctify the protection of these malefactors as a religious obligation. One might say they bear more responsibility than the actual predators themselves.

One could go on and on describing the various socio-cultural excuses masquerading as halacha that lead people to act this way.

I don't want to make a habit of calling out rabbis or rabbinical organizations; I'd be treading on more dangerous ground than I usually do. Besides, there are people who are truly being moser nefesh to put an end to this plague, and, having been victimized myself by religious predators (thank G-d in my case it could have been a lot worse than it ultimately was), I am not unaware that I have a axe to grind, however justified I may be.

I'll be blunt: Agudas Yisroel has no excuse to resist the fingerprinting of educational staff in any of its institutions. Certainly not now. The impression conveyed by their intransigence far outweighs any ostensible religious positive in circling the wagons.

I can draw one more parallel: the Mishna in Avot says--"ha-me'chalel shem shamayim be-seser nifrain mimenu be-gilui."

Can anyone imagine a more salient paradigm of chilul shamayim be-seser than the molestation of child by and individual entrusted with said child's spiritual and physical welfare in settings that are supposed to be pervaded with Torah and kedusha? Is there any action that maligns the Torah and Yahadus more than this?

It's not my place to speculate exactly how the priyah be-gilui comes into play. However, it isn't so much the existence of the problem more than the impression given of protecting the predators; that's where the real public chillul occurs.

Its time for our institutions to take the lead and fingerprint. No matter who objects.

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