Maccabee's Wars

A venting rage against the ills of our society with some hopeful observations.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Come Out from Beneath the Covers

One can only read with disgust about the recent allegations of monstrous child abuse taking place outside of our community. However, after speaking recently to Rebbeim and teachers who are providing Chinuch, it seems that the percentage of cases within the orthodox world is not significantly lower than in the world at large.

Having worked for a Jewish Social Service Agency, I am well aware of the distressing accusations and alleged behavior within the community. But one cannot help but be concerned about false accusations as well. It is all too easy. How many times have spouses, who are in the midst of a bitter divorce, made false accusations? How many times have people in an abuse of power made false accusations?

The Loshon Hara is not exclusive to child abuse. The media is currently having a field day with the accusations against a renowned Rabbi in upstate New York in reference to a lawsuit against the Rabbi for behavior involving sexual harassment.

Lives are being destroyed on a daily basis. Yet, what if even a small percentage of the accusations leveled against alleged abusers are true? Where do we draw the line between protecting those who cannot protect themselves and protecting the falsely accused?

In a recently published book by Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein , Chief Rabbi of South Africa, entitled "Defending the Human Spirit - Jewish Law's Vision for a Moral Society," Rabbi Goldstein stressed that there is a theme or principle in all laws. In Jewish law, it is the Vulnerability Principle. The Torah mentions time and again to do justice by the stranger, widow and orphan. It is a theme to protect those who have difficulty to protect themselves. Though a judge in Jewish law is not to be swayed by the poor against the rich or vice versa, he may advocate on behalf of the poor person because they may not be in a position to advocate for themselves.

The question remains, however, who is that vulnerable person in each particular case?

Let's be careful out there.