Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lesson Finally Learned?

I just read this piece by R' Yitzchak Adlerstein and actually clapped upon reading it. After the horrible news yesterday about Leiby Kletzky, the little boy who was picked up and horribly murdered and dismembered by confessed murderer Levi Aron, I noted and questioned to a few friends that it would be interesting to find out if anyone knew if this Levi Aron was a molester or pedophile, and someone covered it up as has been done all too often in the past. However, without proof, I was reluctant to even mention it, until reading R' Adlerstein quote an unnamed respected rav:
I am sure he was, and I am sure he molested many others, and I am sure that there were people that knew and hushed it.
Whether this was the case here or not, there are certainly people like Levi Aron who are free because people have done exactly that: Hushed up cases of abuse, molestation, and the like. This needs to end, once and for all.

As R' Adlerstein says:
It is time to forever bury the myth that reports of pedophilia can be managed and dealt with by committees of rabbonim, even for a short time. It is time to bury the myth that there is a serious halachic barrier to going to authorities to deal with credible reports of such behavior. Enough baalei halacha have told us that there is no barrier. 
Choshen Mishpat 358:12 tells us that those who vex the public can be handed over. Any pedophile does at least that, and poses a danger of doing much more. Moreover, mesirah of a molester exposes him to a safek of danger; pedophiles pose a much greater danger level to many more victims. 
It is natural and good that many people were not eager to rush to modes of address that themselves could be too sweeping and harsh, with terrible consequences to people and their families. They thought that various types of modus vivendi were possible. By now they should realize that this is not true. Rabbonim cannot handle the issue. We have enough evidence of this. Failure to take notice of this could have been said, figuratively, to be shefichas damim/ bloodshed. 
Today, it is no longer figurative. 
It is not a stain on our record that it took time to learn the facts about molestation. Reacting far too slowly is a terrible stain, though. 
Leiby’s horrific petirah can save the lives of many others – those who could meet a similar fate, r”l, and those victims whose lives are a living death. 
I may still be proven wrong, but the analysis will not change. Parents will be speaking about safety to their children. Whatever really happened to Leiby, the fact is that our kids are often in far greater [sic: danger] in school, shul and camp than from encounters with detested “others” while walking home. 
The greatest aliyah for Leiby and nechamah for his family will come from all of us getting serious about molestation. 
If your rov doesn’t get it, think of getting a new rov.


  1. Agree completely with the concept, but until we know more conclusively about this suspect, completely wrong to use it here.

  2. I think the point is that regardless of whether *he* was one/someone knew, people let people *like him* back out on the streets by hushing stories and protecting the guilty.

  3. I understood what the point was. As of this moment, it's not applicable here. He wasn't "let back" onto the streets nor was any of his behavior hushed up. Not the right example to prove the point. "Lesson finally learned" doesn't quite make sense here.

  4. Afraid I have to agree with anonymous here. While your post is certainly one that should be read and absorbed, the example doesn't work/isn't applicable. Police have released some details and the police commissioner himself made the public statement that Levy was not sexually or otherwise molested. The murder was bad enough, but please show me any other murderers whose existence was hushed up by any rabbanim?

  5. Whether or not this man was a pedophile, I still came away with a similar thought (before reading this article).

    As R Adlerstein put it, being sexually molested/raped, especially over an extended period of time, can turn someone into "the living dead".

    Why would a community choose to hush up something as horrible as that?

    Seeing the achdus during the search, and the heartbreak and outrage over his horrific made me wonder why we don't take "emotional death" seriously, but we'll go all out to the greatest degree when we're worried about a physical death?

    We're ready to tar and feather a man who brutally murdered a child, but we look the other way when confronted with other horrific crimes. Why the discrepancy?

    Bottom line, dangerous people need to be behind bars, and pedophiles are included in the category of dangerous people and should not be overlooked!

  6. I hear your points, but that's why I put the ? on the title and noted as I did to start.

    Nevertheless, the point is not about him, but about what people who are capable of evil are capable of doing, and the importance of keeping such people off the streets. Perhaps it wouldn't have saved Leiby, but it may save other children.

  7. Sarah, agreed.

    ProfK - I should add that whether he was abused or not does not tell us whether he would have been. The story is still very confusing.

  8. Sarah,

    I feel as strongly as you do about the covering up of abuse in the Jewish community. It's deplorable and inexcusable on every possible level. For the record, I believe we'd accomplish more as a society, both Jewish and otherwise, focusing on the sickness rather than the criminality. I don't want to come across as one of the people who brushes real abuse under the table with "oh, he's just sick, let's cure him." Of course harming children in any way should be a crime. But people who have the urge to are so stigmatized that they don't even seek help and then when they are unable to control themselves, the results are disastrous.

    All that said, my original point still stands. Your comments are out of place here.


    You've been reading blogs long enough to know that you can put a "?" at the end of any blog post to add relevance or intrigue, even if there is none. And again, Levi Aron has nothing to do with keeping known or strongly suspected pedophiles away from children. That's not the lesson here.

  9. Anon - I don't think her comments are out of place.

    I do agree strongly with your point about focusing on the sickness; another friend emailed me similarly, and I'm planning on posting about that either tonight or over the weekend sometime.

    I think if you look at my general style when I use a ? in a title it's because I'm questioning the premise of the post.

    (As an aside, since there are many anons here, it'd be helpful if you picked a consistent handle of your choice so it's easier to differentiate. Thanks!)

  10. Original AnonymousJuly 14, 2011 at 8:02 PM

    Changed, but as of now I've been the only anon on this post.

    We can argue grammar style all we want, but while it's a more honorable topic and idea to introduce, this isn't that different from a blog with a certain political bent using the same tactic. (Completely made-up example: "Biden's Anti-Semitism finally revealed?" Story is about a violent anti-semite in Biden's hometown. Biden doesn't comment. So maybe he condones the violent anti-semite. Boom - blog post that mentions that he didn't actually condone the violent anti-semite, but the question mark in the post title helps lend some intrigue.)

    I didn't mean Sarah's comments were out of place in the sense that they were wrong or inappropriate, rather this whole discussion is the right one in the wrong place.

  11. Original AnonymousJuly 14, 2011 at 8:37 PM

    The right response? This one.

  12. I knew you were on this post, I mean in general if you comment here...

    I understand what you mean about the ?, but that's not how I typically use it in titles. (Nor do I write like that at all.)

    Understand now re: Sarah.

    Heh! I was putting my daughter to sleep, but I was about to hit publish on the post now above this before you said that.

  13. Original AnonymousJuly 14, 2011 at 9:01 PM

    Not "before [I] said it," rather "before you saw it." Blogger gives me two minutes over you.

  14. No, it was before you said it... but I didn't hit publish until after I came back. :)

  15. Original AnonymousJuly 14, 2011 at 9:05 PM

    Ah, noted. I take back the comment. The reason I prefer Dr. Schechter's take to Rabbi Adlerstein's is his mentioning of quieting abuse is worked much, much better into the larger context of his overall point, especially its relevance to the recent news.

  16. Understood; I do however think R' Adlerstein's point is an important one as well, though obviously the former's fits better with this particular story.

  17. Be it as it may, regardless if this post is in the wrong place, it is still in the right time. The point is, that we don't know and may never know, but it is extremely probable that Levi Aron was molested, abused, verbally abused, etc but a family member or teacher. It is possible that because of the stigma it was never dealt with, and he turned into the "monster" he became, as Sarah mentioned an "emotional death". I could be wrong on all levels, but even if i am, discussing things needing to not be hushed in the orthodox community, in this forum, is 100% relevant. The mere fact that in the BP. Williamsburg and even Monsey communities, kids are taught they can trust anyone who "looks the part", because that's all they grew up with and all they know, that's naivety in it's truest sense and that comes out of things being "hushed". It may not be intentional but the mere fact that some insulated communities and parents in these communities don't even know that crazies and pedophiles lurk among us, the fact that they think they can instill their kids with the fact that people who look ,like them can be trusted, means that the parents and adults were either not taught about this stuff, because it was "hushed", or they brush it off, because it's hushed, so either way, this is the perfect forum and this post does belong here!

  18. "Leiby’s horrific petirah can save the lives of many others – those who could meet a similar fate, r”l, and those victims whose lives are a living death. "

    This quote sums up the post I am refraining from putting up on my blog, for fear of starting a debate.

    The fact is, we all went out searching for Leiby A"H the day he went missing, which is quite admirable. We do, however, continue to pretend the many children who are dying inside don't exist, based solely on the fact that their physical bodies have not gone missing.

  19. Thank you for this post. Good points.

    I am not sure who is R' Adelstein, where is he a Rabbi?