As the Mondrowitz extradition case progresses, the charedi rabbinical establishment digs its head deeper in the sand, while the Jew-haters are having a field day. That chilul hashem, it seems, is of no concern to anyone. The problem, some PR artists reassure us with a straight face, is being taken seriously and being dealt with. And all who disagree with us are just alarmists who blow the problem out of proportions.
I simply cannot understand this attitude. What is wrong with us? I understand that there are alarmists out there. I know that facts are being distorted, taken out of context and sometimes outright invented. I’m also undecided about legislation on background checks. There are too many laws and regulations choking us as it is, but our children must be protected from potential harm, even if statistically small. Ideally, there would be self-imposed regulations, making certain information available to parents and board members… unfortunately, in real life it doesn’t work like that. Although victims of sexual abuse in general tend to hide their traumatic experiences, this is even more prevalent in a society that conceals a child’s ear infection at age three for fear of getting a less glitzy shidduch or not getting into that seminary.
Claims that most cases of child abuse are dealt within the community, and that rabbis can be fooled are not without merit. But “too little, too late” is not an unfair accusation. The rumors about serial rapist Mondrowitz have been around for a long time, and no amount of apologetics, either for the victims’ privacy or in favor of halachic approach or against false accusations can justify the mishandling of this affair.
In principle, I’d be all for dealing with such issues halachically within the community. I believe this would be more effective than endless hours of deliberations between judges and lawyers whose homes are probably full of child pornography anyway.
But halocha says: “-ובערת הרע מקרבך– you must eliminate evil from your midst”
And halocha says: “ועשית הישר והטוב בעיני 'ה– You must do the right and good in the eyes of G-d”
And: “לֹא תַעֲמֹד עַל-דַּם רֵעֶךָ – don’t ignore your brother's blood [=plight, danger]”
And halocha empowers Judges (Rabbonim) to act or override other obstacles. Such as the provision for “מכת מרדת” – flogging ‘rebels’ – i.e. punishing crimes without specific provision in the Torah.
And the principle of “עגלה ערופה – slaughtered calf” teaches that leaders are responsible for the community’s welfare, to bring criminals to justice, punish crimes, and prevent future crimes.
If any of this has been done, it had no effect. “Dealing with those problems within the community” cannot mean anything but these criminals (Mondrowitz is undeniably חיב מיתה) being eliminated like Mark Younglove –. Since we’ve failed to do this, the last option is to hand the matter over to the authorities. The secular justice system –if generalizations can be made- is not overly harsh on sex offenders. Although there are tendencies in both directions, I’d say they’re more lenient and “understanding” of criminals than the opposite. But looking the other way and downplaying the problem’s magnitude is even worse. Unfortunately, those who invent or even blow the “coverup” out of proportions only play to the hands of the “leave it to us” experts: “see! They all lie and make up stories! They have no credibility!”
Mainstream Charedi leadership will finally have to learn to face serious problems even if they come at the expense of their honor and image of immaculate sanctity.
It seems like Mondrowitz raped all he saw - now his abettors reap what they sow.
© Joseph Izrael 2007