Sexual Misconduct and the Question of Rehabilitation

 

Guest post by Dr. Nachum Binyamin Klafter

Nachum Binyamin Klafter, MD is a Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, and Director of Psychotherapy Training at University of Cincinnati

There are, presently, a number of scandals in England, Israel, and America involving rabbis who are alleged to have engaged in forbidden sexual relationships with large numbers of women. I have personally heard first-hand allegations from victims, and highly credible second-hand reports from the victims’ psychotherapists and close relatives, against three individuals. In two cases, the rabbis advertised themselves as psychotherapists and developed large and lucrative practices as glatt-kosher, frum therapists, who practice according to Torah-based principles rather than the assumptions of modern psychology which originate in the secular world. Neither of those “therapists” is licensed. In the third case, the accused is a senior rabbinic figure who serves as the manhig [spiritual leader] of important religious institutions, including serving as a dayan on a Beit Din. He has been the spiritual guide for numerous congregants and community members.

Individuals close to these scandals have asked for my assistance in advising rabbonim about how we can discern which rabbis or therapists who have violated sexual boundaries can be rehabilitated if they receive the proper help and treatment, and which cannot be rehabilitated and therefore should simply be removed from their professions so they will no longer have access to vulnerable individuals. I have prepared the following brief essay on this topic, which I thought would be of interest to readers.

The following information is relevant both to mental health professionals who provide psychotherapy treatment, and to rabbis who provide spiritual guidance in the form of pastoral counseling. For the purposes of this essay, I intend no important distinctions between the terms “therapist,” “counselor,” or “psychotherapist.” All refer to mental health professionals who are providing talk-therapy for individuals suffering from psychological disorders or emotional distress. Many rabbis who serve as pastoral counselors provide not only spiritual guidance for spiritual problems, but also emotional assistance for psychological difficulties. Therefore, the term “counselor” may also refer to the role of a rabbi. The term “client” will be used throughout this essay to refer to either a patient in treatment by a mental health professional, or a congregant or talmid [student] receiving spiritual guidance from a rabbi.


When a client comes to a therapist for treatment or to a rabbi for spiritual guidance, he or she is called upon to reveal his or her emotional difficulties and spiritual problems. Revealing shameful and painful feelings and experiences makes the client extremely vulnerable to the counselor. The counselor, however, remains in a relatively protected position, offering advice or insight but not sharing his or her own difficulties, and therefore is not emotionally vulnerable to the client in the same manner. This situation is therefore extremely asymmetrical in that there is a great power differential between the client and the therapist or rabbinic counselor.

In such relationships, it is very easy for the client to develop exaggerated feelings of admiration, dependency, and love for the therapist or rabbi. Alternatively, some clients may feel resentful of being disempowered and vulnerable, and these feelings may cause them to act desperately or aggressively in order to attempt to reestablish a sense of equity in the relationship. In order to avoid being in a submissive, dependent role, a client may try to change the nature of that relationship in order to assume a different role as the counselor’s friend, colleague, or even lover. It is therefore extremely important for therapists and rabbinic counselors to make certain that they do not exploit the power differential inherent in counseling relationships.

The term, boundaries, is used to delineate the conduct between client and counselor which will preserve the integrity of the helping relationship, such that the counselor is primarily serving the client’s needs, and not vice-versa. For example, if a therapist is treating an accountant for anxiety and depression, it would be a boundary violation for that therapist to ask the accountant to provide professional accounting services for him or her as a favor. The client may be very happy to do so, for all sorts of emotional reasons. But now, rather than simply paying money in order to receive the counselor’s professional services from the therapist, the client is now also providing his own professional services for the counselor at no charge.

When boundaries are not intact, clients are vulnerable to exploitation. The term, sexual boundaries, refers to the universally accepted rule of ethics in both rabbinic counseling and all professional mental health disciplines (counseling, social work, psychology, and psychiatry) which states that it is always a violation of ethics for a rabbi or therapist to engage in any sexual activity with his client. Sexual activity completely destroys the integrity of the counseling relationship. The counselor is no longer devoted to providing professional counseling services in the client’s best interests, but is now acting in order to gratify of his own sexual wishes. This makes it impossible for the client to receive any real spiritual guidance or true emotional assistance.

Sexual activity between a therapist and a client, or between a rabbi and congregant, cannot be understood in the same way that we think about typical sexual relations between two consenting adults. The reason we must understand it differently in this context is because of the above-mentioned power differential and vulnerabilities which are inherent in a counseling relationships. We believe that most clients (seeing a therapist for emotional assistance or a rabbi for spiritual guidance) will be in a state of diminished capacity to say “no” when solicited for sexual activity. It is also the universal consensus of therapists, rabbis, and researchers that a sexual relationship with one’s spiritual leader or mental health counselor is nearly always destructive, causing long-term detrimental effects for the client. It typically precipitates a mental health crisis, including increased risk for suicide. In cases of boundary violations by clergy, there is also typically a spiritual crisis resulting in a sense of profound betrayal by one’s religious authorities and institutions, often leading to an abandonment of religious life and a rejection of previously held religious beliefs and values.

In all disciplines of the mental health profession, any sexual activity with a current or former patient/client is absolutely prohibited and is grounds for professional disciplinary action, typically involving suspension or termination of one’s license. In some jurisdictions, this is also subject to criminal prosecution. Similarly, sexual misconduct by Rabbis is obviously forbidden by the halakha just like any other sexual activity outside of marriage, but it is more reprehensible than usual sexual prohibitions because of the destructive impact on the client’s spiritual and psychological well being. It is worth noting that there are also some jurisdictions where sexual misconduct by clergy has been criminalized.

Rabbis and mental health professionals are, themselves, only human. The vast majority of clergy and mental health professionals conduct themselves admirably and do their best to act at all times in their clients’ or congregants’ best interests. However, a small minority of therapists and rabbis, at one time or another over the course of their careers, have exploited their clients by taking advantage of them sexually or financially. Researchers who study this phenomenon estimate that between 2% and 10% of therapists have engaged in sexual relations with their clients. In other words, it is estimated that between 90% and 98% of therapists have never violated sexual boundaries with their clients. Researchers have studied the same phenomenon with clergy, including rabbis, and the numbers are the about the same: It is estimated that between 2% and 10% of rabbis have engaged in sexual contact with their congregants or students.

When it has been clearly established that therapists or clergy have engaged in sexual boundary violations with their clients, one of the first questions asked is whether the therapist or rabbi can be helped by treatment and supervision in order to be rehabilitated for the purposes of returning to his professional role in a manner that we do not expect a continued pattern of sexual boundary violations. Researchers who have studied clergy (including rabbonim) and mental health professionals who violate sexual boundaries have developed four categories under which the offenders can be designated. The following summary of these categories has been adapted from the classic text by Glenn Gabbard and Eva Lester, Boundaries and Boundary Violations in Psychoanalysis (Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing, Inc., 2002). Some minor modifications reflect my professional experience evaluating therapists and rabbis who have committed misconduct.

1) Lovesick offenders: These individuals typically have a long history of proper and ethical professional conduct over the course of their careers. However, these individuals have essentially fallen dangerously and pathologically in love with a client, and what was once a professional relationship has become a sexual relationship. By “pathologically in love,” I mean that this love leads to behaviors which are destructive for everyone involved. Typically, this episode of sexual misconduct is highly out of character for lovesick offenders, usually a one time occurrence in the course of their careers. These individuals typically feel extremely remorseful when they realize that the client has been emotionally harmed. They typically will willingly pay for treatment of the victimized client by another professional to achieve recovery from this emotional damage of the boundary violation. Lovesick offenders will typically be willing to surrender their licenses or agree to step down from their rabbinical posts while they engage in a form of rehabilitation treatment. They agree to have their psychotherapeutic or pastoral counseling supervised by a more senior colleague. The lovesick offender is typically sincerely interested in helping the individual that he has harmed. In the course of their rehabilitation therapy, we often see that these counselors were going through a divorce, suffered a recent death of a loved one, suffering from physical illness, or experiencing some other form or loss which made them more vulnerable than usual, and extremely needy for the client’s admiration and affection.

These individuals can generally be properly rehabilitated with therapy and extended supervision. The therapy they require will typically focus on the fact that their own (i.e. the Rabbis’ or Therapists’) emotional vulnerability caused them to misinterpret the admiration and gratitude typical in a counseling or rabbinic pastoral relationship and experience it as though it were the erotic love of a healthy, mature, relationship between two consenting adults. These individuals are generally not defensive or aggressive, and do not threaten their victims in order to intimidate them from reporting the misconduct. They often require good legal representation because they are very bad at advocating for themselves. They feel truly remorseful about having lost their professional judgment and indulging a relationship which caused harm to the individuals they were responsible to help.

2) “Selfless”Offenders: Like the first category, these individuals typically have a history of proper professional conduct, and the sexual misconduct is highly out of character for them. However, these individuals have difficult saying “no” or setting limits. Counselors in this category often like to think of themselves as “selfless” and “giving”, and go out of their way to be generous and helpful even at their own expense. Oddly, the relationship turns sexual not because of aggression on the part of the therapist, but because the client is extremely demanding for emotional gratification and special treatment. The asymmetry of the therapeutic relationship causes the client to feel very vulnerable, but the counselor responds to this vulnerability by indulging the client’s requests for extra time, extra contact, hugs, hand holding, special treatment, meetings outside of professional hours or outside of the office, extra affection, etc. The therapy or spiritual counseling gradually loses all semblance of a professional relationship and starts too look like a friendship and then a romantic courtship.

One of the striking features about this pattern of boundary violations is that the offending counselor feels unable to say “no” because he is afraid of rejecting or refusing the client. He may actually believe that he is saving the client, despite the fact that this sexual relationship is ultimately destructive. “Selfless ” offenders often do not enjoy these relationships and only wish they could stop them, but feel trapped, stuck, and over their heads. This pattern is probably the most commonly observed among violators who seek the help of a colleague in order to stop the boundary violations. They can be rehabilitated but require a more extensive psychotherapy than the first category because of an underlying personality imbalance which makes them vulnerable to seductive and demanding clients. This is a long term risk factor for this happening again, and long term supervision by experts to help them manage boundaries in their professional work is imperative. Like the previous category, these individuals do not threaten their clients and are typically cooperative with investigators. However, in my experience, these individuals have difficulty seeing that they have actually caused harm to their clients. They have difficulty understanding that their clients’ were operating in a state of diminished capacity. They often feel that they are the injured parties and are reluctant to see themselves as perpetrators who have harmed others.

3) Psychotic Offenders: This is the simplest category to understand. The counselor or rabbi who is a psychotic offender has become mentally impaired and simply lacks the judgment to conduct himself ethically. This is completely out of character with the individual’s normal state of functioning. It may be due to a brain tumor, dementia, a stroke, or a psychotic break due to major mental illness. The title chapter of Irvin Yalom’s well known book, Love’s Executioner and other Tales of Psychotherapy (Penguin Books), portrays the aftermath for the victim of a sexual boundary violation by a therapist who became psychotic. Psychotic offenders can be rehabilitated if the underlying medical or psychiatric illness can be successfully treated.

4) Predatory Offenders: These individuals, unlike the first 3 categories, show the following characteristics:

  • a long history of exploiting multiple clients sexually over many years; i.e., sexual contact with clients is not out of character for these offenders
  • characteristic methods to groom clients for sexual exploitation
  • purposeful selection of clients who are the least likely to report the misconduct due to their low self-esteem and lack of assertiveness
  • threaten clients with retribution, humiliation, lawsuits, or other forms of harm in order to intimidate them from reporting the misconduct
  • often pretend that they are in love with the client and that these loving feelings are unique and unprecedented, while in reality they are doing this with multiple clients simultaneously
  • have skillfully avoided numerous allegations and complaints of sexual misconduct over time through skillful lying and aggressive political tactics such as threatening their concerned colleagues with lawsuits for libel or slander, or fabricating allegations against them
  • severe arrogance
  • lack of regard for others in general, not limited to the clients they have exploited
  • absolutely no remorse; often feign remorse but their behavior (i.e., continuing to lie, threatening their other victims to intimidate them from making accusations, etc.) reveals that they in truth feel no remorse
  • unlike the above categories who readily submit to supervision and cooperate with investigators, predatory offenders deny wrong doing, continue to lie, and will not cooperate with investigators
  • they make no actual attempts to stop their behavior
  • sometimes discovered to be habitual liars in general, and have often committed financial fraud, professional ethical infractions, and/or other criminal acts
  • often extremely charismatic and superficially impressive
  • often extremely self-righteous and indignant to such an extent that they feel justifyied in making threats, filing lawsuits for slander and libel, etc., despite it being very clear that the allegations against them are valid
  • They cannot be rehabilitated. Typically there have already been multiple attempts at rehabilitation which have all failed. They need to be removed from counseling or from the rabbinate, and need to pursue a line of work where they will not have an enhanced potential to victimize vulnerable individuals.

It is also worth clarifying two other points about predatory offenders. First of all, it is important to recognize that sexual exploitation does not only take the form of sexual intercourse or other acts of direct sexual contact. Some predatory offenders abuse their patients with other sexual behaviors which, despite being perceived by laypersons as less serious, nevertheless constitute exploitation of clients by the counselor to whom they have put their trust in for guidance, and therefore cause them massive psychological and spiritual harm. For example, I am aware of a predatory violator of sexual boundaries who would not allow the clients he was victimizing to touch his body in any way; he instead had them lie naked and masturbated while gazing at their bodies. Another demanded that his male clients submit to rectal examinations. A third instructed his clients to engage in sexual talk with him by telephone. (These are not the same individuals who were alluded to at the beginning of this essay).

Secondly, the predatory sexual offenders I have learned about over the years have also engaged in many other bizarre and exploitive practices, distinct from sexual boundary violations. Here are examples: charging exorbitant fees, far higher than even the most prestigious and well-trained psychotherapists or psychiatrists in any major city, e.g. $500/hour; holding sessions for three, four, or even six hours at a time; instructing child clients to play alone with toys in another room during treatment sessions while the counselor attends to paper work; demanding to be flown first-class to other countries in order to attend professional conferences; borrowing money from clients (which would be bad enough) and failing to repay them; pressuring clients to persuade their relatives and friends to also come for treatment to the same counselor; directing their clients to procure illicit drugs for them; advertising phony credentials on their résumés; lying about their training and licensure status; inventing new modalities of treatment which are physically dangerous for patients and have no proven or even plausible method of efficacy; selling nutritional supplements or other organic products at exorbitant prices; harassing patients who have attempted to stop their treatment in order to coerce them to return for more sessions; etc.

Therefore, in many cases of predatory sexual boundary violations (actually all the cases I am personally familiar with), additional bizarre and exploitive practices raise questions about whether such practitioners are providing any real therapy at all. When counselors are licensed, there is at least recourse to report irregularities to licensing boards. When counselors are unlicensed, there is no recourse to curtail their treatment other than civil lawsuits or, if relevant, criminal prosecution. This is one of the reasons why licensure is so important. Even though licensure, in itself, does not guarantee competence or high quality of service provided, it at least indicates that a practitioner has been trained in the conventional modalities of therapy at an accredited institution and provides a venue for unsatisfied or harmed parties to register a formal complaint.

Confusion over the issue of TESHUVA with predatory offenders:

I recently heard testimony from the victim of a predatory rabbi/therapist who was discovered to be engaging in sexual relations with numerous clients, all of whom were frum, married women with many children. He was mandated by a Beit Din to attend therapy for rehabilitation, to help him stop committing these boundary violations. He was believed by the rabbis who investigated him to be sincere, and to have made a genuine commitment to teshuva, and therefore was allowed by the Beit Din to continue practicing therapy in consideration for his family’s dependency on his parnassa. He made a promise to stop seeing women for counseling and signed an agreement to that effect which was also signed by two witnesses. However during the entire time he was involved in his “rehabilitation therapy”, which occurred after he signed an agreement to stop treating women, he continued to see women for therapy appointments and to have sexual contact with them, including the victim I spoke with. In his banter with her during their sexual encounters, this rabbi/therapist mocked the therapist who was attempting to oversee his rehabilitation, calling him a “stupid, incompetent, fool.”

The rabbonim who believed he was in a sincere teshuva process had no way of monitoring whether he had in fact stopped seeing women. They made no attempt to monitor this. They made no attempt to interview other clients he had seen, and made no attempt to see how widespread his boundary violations were. In fact that they were entirely unqualified to assess anyone’s suitability for rehabilitation. They had no real mechanism of enforcement since he is unlicensed as a therapist. They accepted this rabbi/therapist’s claims of repentance at face value. My experience is that this type of investigation is the rule and not the exception when boundary violations are handled without the involvement of professionals or legal authorities. It is also my experience that when the primary objective is to prevent chillul HaShem rather than to prevent further violation of innocent clients, the victims are threatened with humiliation in order to prevent them from sharing their allegations with others. Therefore, the victims who have come forward are re-victimized.

Because teshuva is a basic yesod [principle] in Torah Judaism, many rabbonim make a seemingly reasonable assumption that predatory perpetrators can be rehabilitated because the forbidden sexual behavior is best understood in their view an issue of sin and teshuva. A lengthy exposition on this topic is beyond the scope of this brief essay, but a few points are in order: First, if a predator would sincerely engage in a sincere teshuva process, then he would voluntarily agree to leave that profession so he won’t be tempted to harm others. If he were doing teshuva, he would not continue lying and threatening his other clients, or continue his zenut [adultery] with other clients while in the midst of rehabilitation. Some rabbonim cite the Rambam’s famous description of teshuva me’ulah (“ultimate repentance”), represented by the ability of the penitent to now control his yetzer [desire], even while in the same room with the same individual with whom he had previously sinned.

There are numerous problems with this kind of thinking. Foremost, teshuva me’ulah is irrelevant to dinei Torah or ethics investigations, because whether someone has attained teshuva me’ulah can only be known by HaShem, Himself. We, as mortals, cannot attest to someone else’s teshuva me’ulah and vouch for their ability to be overcome the same nisayon [test]. Additionally, our primary responsibility needs to be to protect the public. The extensive, universal consensus of expert opinion about boundary violations is that predatory professionals cannot be rehabilitated. Our attitude must be the following: “Yes, I hope that this offender will succeed in completing the process of teshuva one day, but that is an issue between him and G-d. As far as we are concerned, he cannot serve as a rabbi or therapist ever again.”

Predatory offenders have long histories of denying and lying to cover their misdeeds. It is difficult for some rabbonim to fathom the extent and depth to which dishonesty has penetrated the character of such a person and become a basic feature of his personality. Some rabbonim naively believe that they can sit down and reason with predatory offenders. They ask them to sign agreements, and force them to make solemn pledges that they’ll never do this again. Such agreements are simply meaningless with predatory offenders.

All cases of boundary violations need to involve a consultation and evaluation by a paid professional with expertise in professional ethics and misconduct. That professional needs to be from a different community, so that he/she will be free of all social, rabbinic, and communal pressure. The findings need to be shared with lay leaders as well as with rabbonim. Education for rabbonim and lay leaders about why it is unrealistic to rehabilitate predatory offenders would be an essential part of the consultation process.

Summary: Predatory offenders show very different behaviors and characteristics than the other counselors who have violated boundaries. An experienced clinician can reliably determine whether a given offender is predatory, and therefore can make a very informed recommendation about whether he should can be rehabilitated. While there is not a guarantee that all offenders from categories 1, 2, or 3 will be successfully rehabilitated, there is indeed an absolute guarantee that offenders in category 4, “predatory offenders”, cannot be rehabilitated.


I hope to soon address the following related topics, which are beyond the scope of this brief essay:
  • A critical review of “Torah-based therapies”
  • The phenomenon of unlicensed therapists in ultra-Orthodox communities, and why they are dangerous for members of our kehillot [communities]
  • Confusion about teshuva vs. rehabilitation for rabbis and therapists who have violated sexual boundaries or committed financial improprieties
 

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About the author

Nachum Klafter

Nachum Klafter, MD is a psychiatrist, psychoanalyst, and professor of psychotherapy in Cincinnati, OH.

 
The opinions and facts here are presented solely by the author. Torah Musings assumes no responsibility for them. Please address religious questions to your rabbi.
 

128 Responses

  1. IH says:

    I do not have the expertise to evaluate the conclusions and recommendations in this post, but I am thankful for such a forthright and unequivocal exposition of this important issue. Yasher koach both to Dr. Klafter for writing it and to Gil for posting it.

    Broadening the topic to the general readership, I am struck by the 10th paragraph:

    […] Researchers who study this phenomenon estimate that between 2% and 10% of therapists have engaged in sexual relations with their clients. […] Researchers have studied the same phenomenon with clergy, including rabbis, and the numbers are the about the same: It is estimated that between 2% and 10% of rabbis have engaged in sexual contact with their congregants or students.

    How can one not conclude from this that the Rabbinic “fences” between the sexes, about which RWMO and Charedim obsess, are useless at best; and perhaps even counter-productive at worst?

  2. Machshavos says:

    Couldn’t I – just as easily – say “how can one not conclude from this that the Rabbinic fences between the sexes are useless at worst and productive at best?”

  3. Wonderful article. Thank you, Dr. Klafter.

  4. Machshavos says:

    Three answers to your question:

    1. One can not hold estimates in particularly high esteem.

    2. One can look at those estimates as correct but imprecise. One can decide that therapists, overall, engage in sexual impropriety with ~10% of their clients while the rate among the clergy is ~2%.

    3. One can draw a distinction between rabbis and other members of the clergy. I’m not sure on the numbers, but I believe that a sizable portion of the American clergy is celibate. One could conclude that the ones bringing up the sexual impropriety rates among the clergy are the celibate ones. (I have no numbers backing up the claim that celibacy increases sex abuse – my first find on Google said it doesn’t – but one could say it.)

  5. IH says:

    Couldn’t I – just as easily – say “how can one not conclude from this that the Rabbinic fences between the sexes are useless at worst and productive at best?”

    That depends on whether one thinks our Rabbis represent the best of us, or the worst of us. I opt for the former, hence my phrasing of “useless at best; and perhaps even counter-productive at worst”.

  6. Hirhurim says:

    Unless you know whether these rabbis observed these fences, you can’t draw any conclusions. Although if you’re speculating, you could say that people in such situations need stronger fences.

  7. Nachum Klafter says:

    We can’t draw any conclusions about whether dinei yichud and shemirat negiya successfully reduce extramarital affairs or sexual abuse. The reports about clergy that I saw did not compare clergy of one religion to another, and certainly did not break down rabbis by denomination. What we know for a fact is that there are Orthodox rabbis that have violated sexual boundaries. It appears to be a small number of rabbis, but those who are predators victimize many, many people. It seems to me that there are less extramarital affairs among Orthodox Jews than the general population, but if you look at the data on extramarital affairs there is a huge range of findings from one study to another. Basically, it’s very difficult to study rates of illicit activity abd the range of error in these studies is high.

    On the other hand, our ability to predict who can be rehabilitated based on their prior behavior accordingto this categorization of different types of offenders is very reliable and could be enormously helpful for rabbonim who need to decide what to do when their colleagues have committed sexual misconduct.

  8. Shlomo says:

    How can one not conclude from this that the Rabbinic “fences” between the sexes, about which RWMO and Charedim obsess, are useless at best; and perhaps even counter-productive at worst?

    Or rather, of similar effectiveness to the “fences” put up by professional ethical guidelines for therapists. Which actually looks pretty good.

  9. Shlomo says:

    These “predatory offenders” seem to simply be sociopaths. It would be interesting to explore the Torah’s attitude to a person who is born without a capability to feel empathy or moral responsibility towards others, but is otherwise normal.

  10. Mike S. says:

    One might also argue that the purpose of rabbinic fences is not to deal with the rather unusual circumstance of boundary violation in therapy, but the far more ordinary temptations of extramarital affairs. Thus the statistics regarding therapists is of no relevance one way or another.

    Indeed, rabbinic enactments are meant to cover ordinary temptations not unusual occurrences (davar d’lo shachiach). If 10% of whatever small fraction of the populace are therapists violate boundaries, that would constitute too small a minority to warrant a rabbinic enactment. Only Dr. Klafter’s first category would seem to be close enough to the more ordinary temptation that one should expect a rabbinic fence to apply. My anecdotal experience among friends and coworkers is that those orthodox Jews who are careful about both rabbinic and biblical fences have fewer affairs I know about than either orthodox Jews who are less punctilious or people who aren’t orthodox Jews. Of course, I have no way of knowing whether this is the result of small and/or biased samples or different patterns of disclosure rather than of sexual conduct. But if one wanted to test the effectiveness of Torah limits, one should do a real study of ordinary affairs.

  11. Nachum Klafter says:

    Yes, I think Mike S. is correct.

  12. IH says:

    I don’t want to belabor the point, but there is a difference between what Mike S calls “ordinary affairs” and our (current) societal norms for deviancy. The subject of this post is a form of deviancy, but there are (alas) too many other forms of deviancy we now know exist within Orthodox communities beyond the form discussed here. Since we all know there will not be a study, the best we can do is to martial the anecdotal and judicial information we have.

    There is much talk in Orthodox communities about the OTD phenomenon, but no one seems to be willing to discuss that the obsession with sexual separation may be a significant factor; although this is perhaps acknowledged by the fear expressed within RW Orthodoxy of secular universities.

  13. Hirhurim says:

    If we are making spurious arguments then perhaps the gender barriers keep more people from going OTD. Anecdotal evidence indicates that communities with fewer gender boundaries have bigger OTD issues.

  14. IH says:

    I have seen no such anecdotal evidence, but perhaps this is because RWMO views these communities as OTD ipso facto :-)

  15. MJ says:

    Dr. Klafter,

    I’m wondering if the above information justifies a deep mistrust in general for rabbis who are severely arrogant, aggressive, charismatic, superficially impressive, extremely self-righteous and indignant, and very skillful at keeping the congregants who want them out marginalized.

    Indeed, shouldn’t these traits be seen as reason to disqualify a rabbi from serving in a communal role given the association between these traits and other destructive and exploitative behaviors.

    Or to put it another way, shouldn’t we be proactively weeding out rabbis who appear to have personality disorders as evidenced by their overall patterns of behavior in interactions with congregants and/or in speeches and writings (e.g. in personal blogs and the like.)

  16. HAGTBG says:

    I think this is an important work. As others I salute Gil for posting it and Dr. Klafter for taking the time and effort to write it.

    Nevertheless I had some points of which I was wondering:

    (1) The relevance of these four categories are undefined. Teshuva is a personal process and does not explain what the societal viewpoint ought be. Further, the primary audience here, unlike the audience the works your observations are based on, can not affect rehabilitation Lets work backwards here and assume these four categories are accurate and correct. Are there distinctions between these categories in which a community ought:

    (a) allow the therapist to continue practicing in their profession, i.e. can the professional be satisfactorily trusted to have been rehabilitated in ANY of the above categories? Please see my question 4 here below.

    (b)have different reactions be different based on the diagnosis of the person treating the counselor.

    By community, I mean the persons trusted with leadership roles in the Jewish communal, as well as the average person interacting with known violators of these boundaries). I also mean, friends and loved ones of the violator, where I DO see a distinction between the above categories.

    For instance, we are talking about adultery in many of the situations here. Committed by a frum rabbi in the course of practicing his “rabbinics.” This is not merely a theraputic or psychological issue.

    I ask this because I can see the above categories being meaningful in a theraputic environment of treating the offender, but I am not clear how these extend beyond that.

    In short, teshuva is a personal process as is therapy. On this blog we generally banter on what the “community” “ought” do. So what ought a community do here in these four categories that’s different one from the other?

    (2) We are provided no statistics of these four categories. We are told that “It is estimated that between 2% and 10% of rabbis have engaged in sexual contact with their congregants or students.” Now this is anonymous data (which normally I would like to know the basis of), but at least we are starting with that 2%-10% number.

    We are provided, four categories of counselors that have offended basic sexual boundaries one would expect in a counseling situation. Well if we hear of a case, what are the statistics as to how often the counselor is in that 4th category. (2 of those 4 categories would tend to be “one-time” or two time offenders. A third has an organic (mental) condition).

    (3) I found the above categories to be geared towards making some type of clinical diagnosis but not much beyond that. For example, the therapist treating what they believe to be the “one time” offender would not – in the definitions you provide – be able to diagnose someone as a “predatory offender.” Similarly, the predatory offender in the first instance of their offense is not, by definition here, a predatory offender.

    (4) What is the estimated adultery rate in the frum community? I ask this question. I ask this because you imply in your writing above that the “lovesick offender” can be rehabilitated. A rabbi who has committed adultery in the course of their profession should be allowed by other rabbis and community leaders to continue????? WHAT?? So this makes me think maybe I am missing the boat and we have such a high adultery rate that we must tolerate and account for this even in our rabbis. In truth, one rabbi did once tell me that he was taught in a professional context that **up to** 40% of the frum married community has engaged in adultery.

  17. Lawrence Kaplan says:

    MJ: Subtlety is not your forte. The problem is that these traits may be in the eye of the beholder. Moreover, unless there are clear violations of rabbinic norms, who is to say such rabbis have personality disorders? Who is doing the “diagnosing,” and who is doing the disqualifying? This, I am afraid, is best left to the congregants.

  18. shachar haamim says:

    “Predatory offenders have long histories of denying and lying to cover their misdeeds. It is difficult for some rabbonim to fathom the extent and depth to which dishonesty has penetrated the character of such a person and become a basic feature of his personality. Some rabbonim naively believe that they can sit down and reason with predatory offenders. They ask them to sign agreements, and force them to make solemn pledges that they’ll never do this again. Such agreements are simply meaningless with predatory offenders. ”

    So when I read this paragraph, and having read the pyschiatrist Dr. Kenneth Levine’s book on the “collective delusion” of the Jewish people when it comes to many historical bad guys as well as the raba world (specifically Yasser Arafat and the PLO), I can re-write this paragraph accordingly. It still boggles the mind to me how many of the rabbonim and lay people who are/were the most active in rooting out this behavior and youth leaders and in undertstanding that these predatory rabbis could NOT be rehabilitated, are quite often in the camp which said we had to “trust the government in making these agreements with the Rabas” that the religious Jews who opposed these agreements and negotiations were “messianic” or “delusional”. I don’t think that anyone who thought – even as of the day the Oslo Accords were signed – that Yasser Arafat and the PLO were predatory offenders who had a long history of denying and lying to cover their misdeeds, that it is difficult for some political leaders (and rabbonim!!) to fathom the extent and depth to which dishonesty has penetrated the character of such people and become a basic feature of their personality, that some political leaders (and rabbonim!!!) naively believe that they can sit down and reason with predatory offenders, ask them to sign agreements, and force them to make solemn pledges that they’ll never do this again, and that such agreements are simply meaningless with predatory offenders, was somehow a delusional or messianic individual. Actually he was acting in the way Dr. Klafter has suggested we should act. The delusiona (or at least naive) person was the one who was suggesting that we trust the “process” or the government or the supervisory mechanism etc etc.

  19. shachar haamim says:

    Regarding MJ’s comment – it would seem that, sadly enoug, the people want “dynamic” rabbis. They want rabbis who have lots of people hanging on their every word. They want rabbis who are photogenic and speak well in public. They often want aggressive rabbis. They want Rabbis who are self-righteous (some social justice “activist” rabbis for who the title “Rabbi” is just a tool of self-promotion come to mind).
    At a certain point one can say that it is the fault of the public…

  20. Hirhurim says:

    I agree with both MJ and Prof. Kaplan. It’s up to the consumer to avoid rabbis he considers dangerous. No communal organization has the authority or the expertise to do anything of that nature. Caveat emptor

  21. emma says:

    “My anecdotal experience among friends and coworkers is that those orthodox Jews who are careful about both rabbinic and biblical fences have fewer affairs I know about than either orthodox Jews who are less punctilious or people who aren’t orthodox Jews.”

    perhaps, but my anecdotal experience is that those who are more careful with fences are so in part because they view extramarital affairs as more serious and more important to avoid. many who see fences as not big deals also see illicit activities as not-so-big deals.

  22. Elliot Pasik says:

    Nachum, would you care to express your opinion on whether therapist-patient should always be same gender, so as to remove, for the vast majority, the sexual attraction component? Isn’t that a fence easily built?

  23. IH says:

    Some of the cases that have become public are same-sex abuse.

  24. ruvie says:

    Mike s. – “If 10% of whatever small fraction of the populace are therapists violate boundaries, that would constitute too small a minority to warrant a rabbinic enactment. Only Dr. Klafter’s first category would seem to be close enough to the more ordinary temptation that one should expect a rabbinic fence to apply.”
    OTOH, the caegory 4 offender can have tens if not hundreds of victims over a lifetime so a small minority ends up with an oversized effect on the community and would demand equal or more action than ordinary temptation.

  25. ruvie says:

    Dr. Klafter – thank you for your informative and thoughtful essay. does categories 2 and 3 imply consensual acts and exclude all acts that involve coercion (verbal or purposeful acting against client’s will) or with minors?
    is category 2 a repeated offender who can’t help themselves and also a risk to the community (similar to category 4) vs. category 1 that may be once or twice in a lifetime exception?

  26. Moshe Shoshan says:

    Dr. Klafter
    One issue is that there are no defined boundries for Rabbis (at least Orthodox ones) and the nature of their work seems to make even defining who is a “patient” most difficult. Do you have any thoughts on this.

  27. LkwdGuy says:

    I would not hire a plumber, electrician or auto mechanic with a history of shoddy craftsmanship. I don’t know why the standard for Rabbi’s should be any lower. To my mind, the job description of a rabbi requires first and foremost that his personal conduct be in line with the torah that he will be preaching. Rehabilitation may be something that his wife would want to know about but as a congregant, I say look for a new rabbi that can fulfill the job description.

  28. emma says:

    agree w lkwdguy. if a rabbi, in a moment of emotional vulnerability, ate pork or publicly broke shabbos, the fact that he could do teshuvah for that as between him and God would not save his job. Why should sexual misconduct be different?

  29. ACB says:

    I would not hire a plumber, electrician or auto mechanic with a history of shoddy craftsmanship. I don’t know why the standard for Rabbi’s should be any lower. To my mind, the job description of a rabbi requires first and foremost that his personal conduct be in line with the torah that he will be preaching.
    Yes but the problem is that if most people in a given community are too scared, or have been intimidated into, not talking about any abuse or unprofessional behavior that they experienced, then it is not sufficient to rely on a good reputation. There need to be external assurances in place to ensure that therapist abuse does not happen (or is less likely to) and that proper mechanisms exist for the reporting of such behaviors when they happen. As mentioned above, rabbinic fences in another context.

  30. Nachum Klafter says:

    Responding to comments and questions:
    Many comments above are thinking too concretely about the percentages. 2%-10% (actually most people cite 1%-10%) is a very large range. It seems to be true of all specialties of medicine, including psychiatry, and all other licensed mental health professionals (psychologists, licensed counselors, clinical and social workers). But whenever we are studying illicit sex which is done privately, there is no objective evidence to weigh evidence against. It is possible to cast aspersions on the data because it comes self report surveys. I personally consider that research to be reliable because it has been done in different countries over a long period of time and shows similar results, and the research seems to be very carefully done. Studies of clergy that I have seen show basically the same numbers.
    I don’t know the numbers of percentages in each category. It APPEARS to me that category 3 is the most common among offending professionals and clergy, but that is based on my personal anecdotal experience and anecdotal experiences of other clinicians. Predators are rare, but as “ruvie” points out, Category 4 despite being a tiny number of people are definitely responsible for the vast majority of victims, because each of them victimize dozens and dozens of people.
    Negiya is not only intended to prevent illicit sex. These strictures serve other purposes in our lives, and set a tone of dignity modesty which Chazal considered important separate from prevention of illicit sexuality. The enactments of negiya and yichud will obviously prevent sin in individuals who scrupulously observe them. I see no reason to extrapolate, however, that Orthodox Jewish counselors (whether licensed mental health professionals or rabbinic pastoral counselors) would have even lower rates than the rest of the population. I really believe that nothing can be learned about negiya and yichud from this information.
    If 90-98% of licensed counselors do not violate boundaries, then I would assume Orthodox Jewish counselors would be in the same category. Unless research proves otherwise, this seems to be a reasonable assumption. Lots of people try to apply sevorah to statistics and reason that one or another group will have higher or lower numbers for this or that reason. But epidemiology doesn’t work that way. Until you actually do a study demonstrating that your havamina is truthful, we have no basis in the world of science and epidemiology to conclude that one or another group has different numbers.
    Specific questions and comments:
    Shlomo: “These predatory offenders seem simply to be sociopaths.” They are generally either sociopaths or malignant narcissists, which is a different category than sociopaths. We have no good treatments for sociopaths. We do have treatments which can reach some malignant narcissists but these treatments take many, many years, and for the purposes of rehabilitation and the likelihood recidivism, we would still want to remove them from professions where they work with vulnerable populations.
    IH and Hirhurim: I believe that the severe gender separation with no basis in halakha (separate sides of street, mechitzot on buses, etc.) probably have a negative effect on tzniyut and kedusha, but that is beyond the scope of this paper. I wrote about that in my paper defending the practice of psychotherapy with the opposite gender. Whether there is an effect of sever gender separation on Off-The-Derech phenomena For me personally, I want my daughter to grow up in communities where they can be leaders if they want to, where they can speak publicly at gatherings, etc. We need to choose our hashkafa based on what we think is a balanced life according to the teachings of Chazal.
    MJ: I distrust anyone who is severely arrogant, aggressive, charismatic, superficially impressive, self righteous, etc. There is no way, however to impose a ban on such people serving in leadership roles. In fact, leadership roles do attract people with more narcissism and aggression than your average bear. A great book chapter in Disorders of Narcissism (Dr. Elsa Ronningstam, ed.) is called “Normal Narcissism” and it has a section called “Heightened Self Regard, the Zone Jut Beyond Normal Narcissism” which briefly discusses this. I think that ultimately the congregation chooses who is wants as its spiritual leader. Insensitivity an arrogance are not detected immediately. Impressive people, by definition, made good first impressions.
    HABTAG: If you want to say that no rabbi who has ever had an affair should be allowed to remain a rabbi, you are entitled to make that argument. I think that such a suggestion is unnecessarily harsh and unrealistic. Affairs are pretty common. We do not know the rate of adultery in the Orthodox community. I’d like to think it’s lower. We don’t clearly know the rate in the general population either. I have seen estimates vary from 40% to 70%. I really have no idea. But yes I think you are missing the boat and there are Rabbis who have had affairs who have gone on to serve their communities honorably.
    Shachar Haamim: I don’t think that any of this translates to the Palestinian Israeli peace process. To be more specific, the current PM of the Palestinian Authrity is Salam Fayyad. Based on what you are saying, you should have no trouble sitting down and negotiating a peace treaty with him, right?
    Elliot Pasik: It’s mutar to see patients of the opposite gender according to all of my rabbis. Rabbi Gedalya Dov Schwartz has stated this very clearly. 3 weeks ago, on Nov. 5 in Jerusalem at a conference sponsored by Nefesh Israel, Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz also poskinned that it’s mutar. We do not tell 95% of practitioners who are totally yashar that they need to shut down half their businesses because of the bad behavior of 5%. That’s not how halakha works.
    Ruvie: Categories 1, 2, and 3 are thought of as being not perfectly consensual because of the undue influence of the counselor or clergy. It’s still an act of abuse. It’s just that the offender is not a predatory, doing this as often as he possible can, and may be only a one time occurrence in their careers. Even though it’s an act of abuse, it may be that those individuals can be rehabilitated. The main point of my paper is that the individuals in category 4 cannot be and should be removed from their professions.
    Mosha Shoshan: Yes you have a point. I think that Rabbis who do lots of counseling need special training compaired with rabbis who mostly teach, poskin shaylos, and fulfill communal leadership roles.

  31. Y. Aharon says:

    Yasher koach to Dr. Klafter for his contributions in this and other areas. I wonder, however, at the naivete or culpability of rabbonim who appear willing to assume the proper repentence of someone guilty of serious immoral or unethical behavior. It’s one thing to assume the best about such a person from a purely distant perspective. It’s quite another to entrust money to someone who has previously swindled people, or to allow the placement of people in the care of someone found guilty of sexual misconduct. Allowing such a person to continue his office or practice is, at best, a gamble with other people’s lives or property. Such complicit rabbonim and dayanim would appear to be unfit for their positions.

    It seems to me that a rabbi found guilty of such immoral or unethical practices should immediately lose his position. One incident should be sufficient. Possible rehabilitation of someone who does not have the characteristics of a predator is something for a later community, which is aware of his history, to decide. An honest appraisal of the man by his prior employers should be mandatory, however, to prevent another community from being victimized.
    A therapist guilty of abusing an adult should be forced by the community into another more innocuous profession or absolutely shunned. Abuse of minors or predation in general is much more serious and requires police action and appropriate punishment.

  32. Shades of Gray says:

    Thank you Dr. Klafter for this informative and timely essay; I look forward to your addressing the related topics mentioned.

    There is an essay published in September, 2010 Meorot Journal by Dr. Rael Strous on boundaries in the rabbinate, titled “ Rabbi, Make a Fence for Yourself”, which can be downloaded from the Meorot(YCT) website.

    Also, there is an MP3 on Torah in Motion by Dr. Michelle Friedman titled “Borders and Boundaries for Physicians and other Health Professionals”, available on Torah in Motion.

    I have also been wondering if the focus on abuse in rabbinic counseling will affect the issue of cross-gender counseling by mental health professionals in some circles, an issue brought up recently. Dr. Klafter’s essay on the latter topic has been published on the Daat Torah website in February, and there is also an interview in Hebrew with Dr. Michael Bunzel of Bnei Brak concerning R. Yitzchak Zilberstein’s letter on the topic on the JDN Hebrew website.

  33. HAGTBG says:

    HABTAG: If you want to say that no rabbi who has ever had an affair should be allowed to remain a rabbi, you are entitled to make that argument. I think that such a suggestion is unnecessarily harsh and unrealistic. Affairs are pretty common. We do not know the rate of adultery in the Orthodox community. I’d like to think it’s lower. We don’t clearly know the rate in the general population either. I have seen estimates vary from 40% to 70%. I really have no idea. But yes I think you are missing the boat and there are Rabbis who have had affairs who have gone on to serve their communities honorably.

    Thank you for this response. Wow on the numbers.

    A rabbi who has an affair with a married woman in my view has no place in Orthodox communal leadership. Period. Moreover, if one affair is acceptable, then why not several?

    I had considered this a normative position, but I haven’t really asked around truth be told. I’d rather follow the psak of someone who did not keep Shabbat or kashrut then such as “honorable” rabbi.

  34. Tal Benschar says:

    It’s mutar to see patients of the opposite gender according to all of my rabbis.

    I don’t doubt this, and have heard it from several sources. What I wonder, though, is how one observes the laws of yichud in such a context where privacy is paramount.

  35. LkwdGuy says:

    If you want to say that no rabbi who has ever had an affair should be allowed to remain a rabbi, you are entitled to make that argument. I think that such a suggestion is unnecessarily harsh and unrealistic. Affairs are pretty common.

    This incredibly low standard that you are promulgating is mind boggling.

  36. Tal Benschar says:

    If “ever had an affair” is limited to “ever had an affair while a rabbi,” and if “remain a rabbi” means “remain a communal rabbi,” then I am with LkwdGuy, and I don’t think it is too harsh.

    (The first limitation is meant to exclude someone who years ago had a youthful indiscetion before ever joining the rabbinate, and has now matured past that.

    The second means that while the person cannot serve as a communal rabbi, that does not mean he cannot, say, work as a mashgiach in a slaughterhouse or an editor of Torah books.)

  37. emes l'am says:

    Basically, what this author id doing (behind all the excessive verbiage), is pathologizing an affair – gevalt. The author is horrifying in his arrogance.

  38. HAGTBG says:

    Gil, Dr. Klafter,

    Is it really the case that there are communal leaders in the Orthodox world out there that are known to have committed adultery while a rabbi and they have been allowed to continue in their public role (presumably because they have “done teshuva” or been “rehabilitated”)?????

  39. HAGTBG says:

    I mean allowed by their peers.

  40. HAGTBG says:

    (The first limitation is meant to exclude someone who years ago had a youthful indiscetion before ever joining the rabbinate, and has now matured past that.

    Though I have some sympathy to your view, I am reminded of Henry Hyde’s known “youthful indiscretion” at the age of 41.

  41. ruvie says:

    Dr. Klafter – thank you for your response.
    ” The main point of my paper is that the individuals in category 4 cannot be and should be removed from their professions.” are you also stating that a repeat offender in category 1,2,3 should be allowed to treat people – what if its a minor and criminal and only once (or same sex)? i assume that any person found in any category would be suspended from that position till more information comes forward. or are you advocating something else?
    i could understand an indiscretion – people fall in love and whatnot even though the person is not available to them (or is)and boundaries are cross(or abused) – but a multiple offender?

  42. zach says:

    I recently heard testimony from the victim of a predatory rabbi/therapist who was discovered to be engaging in sexual relations with numerous clients, all of whom were frum, married women with many children. He was mandated by a Beit Din to attend therapy for rehabilitation, to help him stop committing these boundary violations.

    Just another example of Batei Dinim misconduct. The rabbi should have been arrested and (hopefully) sent to prison. The members of the beit din are also guilty of concealing a crime. Disgusting.

  43. Tal Benschar says:

    zach: what crime, precisely, are they guilty of? In American jurisprudence, you actually have to identify a crime and prove it beyond reasonable doubt, not just display general disgust at someone’s behavior.

    (“Concealing a crime” — termed “misprision of felony” — is today generally only criminal if you take active steps to conceal it, not merely fail to report it. And, of course, it actually has to be a felony.)

  44. ruvie says:

    i wonder if the dr. would not immediately remove the offender once it became known. or wait to see which category he falls into. we are dealing with religious rabbis acting as advisors or therapists. wouldn’t any violation mean no access to the same type of clients or any clients? isn’t the threat to the community a greater need? would a cfo that embezzles be aloud to be a cfo again? is category 4 the only category where there is a potential criminal act?

    “Even though it’s an act of abuse, it may be that those individuals can be rehabilitated.” – does “can be” become a matir to treat other potential victims?

  45. HAGTBG says:

    “Even though it’s an act of abuse, it may be that those individuals can be rehabilitated.” – does “can be” become a matir to treat other potential victims?

    Unbelievably, based on what Dr. Klafter wrote, the answer appears to be yes. Your posek can be a recent adulterer, the local beit din might know and nothing is being done to let you know or stop this hypocrite and, potentially, abuser.

  46. Hirhurim says:

    Tal: The recent RJJ Journal article by R. Yigal Shafran about OT/PT is a good starting point, even though the issues are different in many ways: http://torahmusings.com/2012/10/new-periodical-rjj-journal-lxiv/

    HAGTBG: In the cases of which I know (only a handful), word spread quickly and the community decided to keep the rabbi but he lost all standing in rabbinic circles. I can name a few. They are persona non grata in rabbinic circles aside from their die-hard fans. One guy’s affair was literally in the newspaper but he still seems to get headlines for his interfaith work. I don’t believe the RCA kicked him out (yet).

  47. Ruvie says:

    HAGTB – I am less concerned if my community rabbi is an adulterer – community can choose what to do with him and I can choose to continue to associate with or not- than a person treating others while having using the position to create that abuse.
    Conduct of a rabbi in general is not the issue in the post. Its his conduct plus his position as a therapist of sorts with potential “clients” that creates a potential danger to the community that troubles me.
    Otoh, is dr. Klafter trying to remove those whom rabbis refuse to remove in category 4 as starting point in certain religious circles that have refuse to do so?

  48. IH says:

    I agree the focus should remain on abusive or coerced sexual misconduct, but part of the problem is the denial of the broader consensual sexual misconduct that exists in the Orthodox world just as it does in broader society. Without the self-awareness of the latter, it is very difficult to effectively manage the former.

    In regard to percentages, I agree with Dr. Klafer that we should not be “thinking too concretely about the percentages” but the issue is not the percentages themselves – the issue is the delta/difference, if any, between the percentage of the Orthodox community vs. the broader society on each of these issues.

    Lastly, we have not yet reached the point where even the discussion in this thread deals with the extant problem of abusive or coerced homosexual misconduct. That reality, too, needs to be addressed.

  49. Mr. Cohen says:

    This problem saddens me so much that I cannot even bear to read the article and the messages; it is too depressing.

  50. shmuel says:

    yasher ko’ach to Dr. Klafter for presenting this essay.

    Separately, in response to IH’s comment on the issue of yichud, it only works if you follow it. I don’t understand how anyone could view it differently.

    If I only go over to my female neighbor’s home when her husband is there (or children of a sufficient age, etc. –the exact circumstances that permit being there aren’t important for this purpose), I know for a FACT that nothing improper will happen. If someone ignores the laws of yichud, they cannot be sure in advance. If someone purposely rents a hotel room and goes there with somenoe other than their spouse, it is the individuals who failed, not the laws of yichud.

    This is one of the beautiful things about the laws of yichud –if you follow it diligently it is guaranteed to work (other than in exceptional cases of people engaging in improper behavior in public, etc, but that’s certainly not who it’s aimed at). And to the extent that someone violates what yichud is supposed to prevent when they were observing yichud on a “technical” level (petach patuach l’reshut harabim etc) then I would argue they weren’t observing the laws of yichud at all –that is, if you feel you have privacy, it violates an issur yichud no matter the technical circumstances.

    If someone sneaks a cheeseburger, do we say that the rabbinic laws protecting the issur of basar b’chalav failed?!

  51. IH says:

    Shmuel — you’re missing my point. The efficacy of “fences” can be measured. The theory of these strictures doesn’t matter.

    If the population that doesn’t have the stricture is no less deviant than the population that does, the theory is false.

  52. IH says:

    Sorry, no more deviant — obviously.

  53. Nachum Klafter says:

    Responding again:
    HABTAG: “Is it really the case that there are communal leaders in the Orthodox world out there that are known to have committed adultery while a rabbi and they have been allowed to continue in their public role..?”

    Yes, that is most definitely the case. I am surprised that you think every Rabbi who has had an affair has would be removed from his post. There is no mechanism for such a thing to occur. The world does not work that way.

    Ruvie: “i wonder if the dr. would not immediately remove the offender once it became known.”

    Doctors don’t remove rabbis. Congregations or institutions can fire their rabbi. Rabbinical organizations can censure or expel a rabbi. Community leaders can publicize the misdeeds of a rabbi. In my article I am suggesting that when rabbbinical organizations or Batei Dinim are considering what to do about a rabbi, they should get help from people who know how to do a proper investigation and give reasonable advice about whether this is someone who can possibly be be trusted to go through a rehabilitation and supervision phase.

    Ruvie: “is dr. Klafter trying to remove those whom rabbis refuse to remove in category 4 as starting point in certain religious circles that have refuse to do so?”

    Yes, that is exactly what I am trying to do.

    IH: “…the issue is the delta/difference, if any, between the percentage of the Orthodox community vs. the broader society on each of these issues.”

    I’m sorry, we simple do not know what the rate is in our communities, and our estimates in the general society are rough at best. As I said, I’d like to think there is less adultery among Orthodox Jews, but there is no evidence to support this, and the study of illicit sex, a very private event, is a difficult task.

    Lkwdguy:
    “This incredibly low standard that you are promulgating is mind boggling.”

    I am not taking the project of ridding the Orthodox world of adultery. I am, however, taking on the project of trying to inform the Orthodox world that the way we sometimes handle PREDATORS is absolutely atrocious and ridiculous. I have extremely reliable knowledge of predatory offenders being allowed to operate as rabbis or “therapists” in good standing because because they persuaded Batei Din and other rabbonim that they’d done teshuva, and they made solemn promises to never do this again. But they did it again, and again, and again. That is the situation I am trying to talk about.

    Adultery is a totally separate issue. A rabbi or therapist who commits adultery is committing a sin. However, a rabbi that commits who has sexual contact with a congregant or student who is turning to him for spiritual guidance or psychological assistance is harming the person who made herself (or himself) vulnerable to him in order to receive the assistance that he promised to deliver. That is an act of professional misconduct and is abusive. I am talking about professional misconduct by rabbis and orthodox therapists with their clients. I am not talking about the private yir’as shomayim of these people.

    I am a psychiatrist. I have no expertise in yir’as shomayim. However, I do have some expertise about professional ethics, professional conduct, and professional misconduct among psychotherapists, and I think that I have something to offer our rabbinic and lay leaders to assist them when they are handling the misconduct of therapists and rabbis in our communities. Looking at the number of scandals in the last few years, it’s clear that this rare problem harms people badly and unfortunately occurs with regularity. WE also see that in each and every one of these cases numerous lay and rabbinic leaders were aware but acted very naively, and it is therefore clear (to me at least) that we need to re-think that we need to rethink how we handle.

    Those of you who think that any rabbi who ever commits adultery should be defrocked and dismissed – I respect and understand your position and I don’t even strongly disagree with you, and have no wish to persuade you to become tolerant of one of the three cardinal averos. It’s just that this is not on my radar. I am talking about a problem which is so much more egregious and so much easier to solve.

  54. Elliot Pasik says:

    “Elliot Pasik: It’s mutar to see patients of the opposite gender according to all of my rabbis. Rabbi Gedalya Dov Schwartz has stated this very clearly. 3 weeks ago, on Nov. 5 in Jerusalem at a conference sponsored by Nefesh Israel, Rabbi Yitzchak Breitowitz also poskinned that it’s mutar. We do not tell 95% of practitioners who are totally yashar that they need to shut down half their businesses because of the bad behavior of 5%. That’s not how halakha works.”

    Muttar, but is it wise?

    Excellent article, applying the Gabbard and Lester four categories to our community. Yet, I have the lingering feeling that we Jews are different. The sheer gravity of the sin is breathtaking. How could they? How could they do it? Is G-d not watching? To commit such a sin, for a rabbinic counselor to seduce a woman seeking therapy, is tantamount to denying the existence of G-d. How could a Tropper? How could a Weberman? Aren’t they all really Level 4s? Do we restore some of them to their former rabbinic glory? Teshuva, yes, but what kind of teshuva? Certainly, a discrete youthful indiscretion can and should be subject to teshuva, but a rabbinic counselor seducing a woman – the horror of it all. I have questions here, but no firm answers.

  55. Shades of Gray says:

    “Certainly, a discrete youthful indiscretion can and should be subject to teshuva, but a rabbinic counselor seducing a woman – the horror of it all”

    What is the source in Halacha of being restored to public position in general, and is there a concept of “youthful indiscretion” in Halacha ?

    On a side note, Prof. Marc Shapiro on his MP3 “Rabbinic Biographies”(48:00) says that a “youthful indiscretion”, such as having a child out of wedlock as a teenager, is not something which should be revealed even in an academic biography because it says nothing about the subject’s character later in life and is an invasion of privacy. However, since privacy conflicts with the definition of an academic biography, he would choose not to write such a biography at all.

    In the upcoming Parsha the Torah reveals the story of Yehuda and Tamar, but that may not be a comparison for a biographer to learn from(see discussion about this by Rabbis Emanuel Feldman and Nisson Wolpin in Winter 2002 Jewish Action about Gedolim Biographies).

  56. Ruvie says:

    Dr. Klafter – I take my criticism after your last post. I hope you succeed in your project. I think your answer to the lkwdguy should be incorporated into your essay so you are not misinterpreted or misunderstood. I also think its spot on.

  57. shmuel says:

    IH — you missed my point, I didn’t miss yours. The laws of yichud are meant to prevent people from sinning, but they don’t work from merely being on the books (is this your suggestion)? You have to follow them for them to work. Keeping separate utensils for milk and meat certainly works to prevent the mixing of milk and meat, but not for people who go to mcdonalds and order a quarter pounder with cheese. Keeping the laws of yichud works, but not if you decide to ignore them.

  58. HAGTBG says:

    I have rarely been so disappointed with the sentiment about how our community operates then what I am hearing from Dr. Klafter. I have rarely felt the veneer of what we do is all a sham.

    As others note, I certainly get that its a local community and not some national body, that determines if a rabbi stays or goes. But when a beit din knows and doesn’t step in … forgives the act… doesn’t disclose it to the local community … to protect the livelihood of religious pastoring … that makes them collusive.

    Our batei din keep their mouths shut when they believe a rabbi did teshuva – is forgiven by G-d – for sleeping with a married women (whose husband would mind that fact I assume) in the course of nhis duties and I should think G-d cares if I eat cheese without a hecsher or regular wine??

    Do you realize how subversive this is?

    On a side note, Prof. Marc Shapiro on his MP3 “Rabbinic Biographies”(48:00) says that a “youthful indiscretion”, such as having a child out of wedlock as a teenager, is not something which should be revealed even in an academic biography because it says nothing about the subject’s character later in life and is an invasion of privacy.

    I read this and wish I let it all out as a teen. Really, this youthful indiscretion garbage is beginning to get annoying. Of course it’d be relevant, even if its something that can be overlooked and understood. Invasion of privacy is what a biography is all about.

  59. HAGTBG says:

    I am not taking the project of ridding the Orthodox world of adultery.

    No one here is. We are talking about practicing Orthodox rabbis acting in the course of their duties. You are saying that committing adultery (or other obvious sexual activities) in that fashion once or twice is ultimately okay because somehow that are not “PREDATORS”.

    (Of course that raises the question of how the 5th woman seduced by the PREDATOR is any more a victim then that first woman in the relationship with the “lovesick offender.”)

    Who do you feel we can get on without that 2%-10% of pastoral rabbis who you submit may be engaging in adultery or similar behavior.

    I have extremely reliable knowledge of predatory offenders being allowed to operate as rabbis or “therapists” in good standing because because they persuaded Batei Din and other rabbonim that they’d done teshuva, and they made solemn promises to never do this again. But they did it again, and again, and again. That is the situation I am trying to talk about.

    Well if you adopted a “zero tolerance” policy like I’d think would be obvious then the problem is better addressed.

  60. HAGTBG says:

    Should read: Why do you feel we need the 2%-10% of pastoral rabbis who you submit may be engaging in adultery or similar behavior? Get rid of them all and let the other 90-98% of the rabbis take care of the problems.

  61. Shades of Gray says:

    “Invasion of privacy is what a biography is all about”

    Prof. Marc Shapiro writes in “Of Books and Bans”( Edah Journal 3:2):

    “Every biography involves choosing from a mass of information in order to portray various characters. When dealing with potentially controversial matters, my own yardstick has always been whether the information will help in one’s assessment of the individuals concerned, or if is it simply voyeuristic gossip.”

    The discussion in Winter 2002 Jewish Action:

    R. Nisson Wolpin:

    “…But this is Torah. And only because the Author of Torah deemed it to be print-worthy is it chronicled in such critical detail. By contrast, there is absolutely no license for any contemporary author to take the lid off any family’s life, and examine the strife and apparent shortcomings of “Reb Joe and his bro”—or pick through the tensions and struggles of any gadol and his family. Yes, Chazal warn us not to favor one son over another, citing Joseph as an example. But no agenda of instruction or inspiration permits us to publicize the struggles or weaknesses of others, unless the Torah or Chazal have already done so. Yes, limitations of shemiras halashon restrict us even in regard to our reports and comments of those no longer alive.”

    R. Emanuel Feldman:

    ” Rabbi Wolpin’s concerns about halachic constraints of lashon hara are well placed. It is a classic issue in halachah whether such constraints apply to incidents and facts that are well known, and where the clear intent is to instruct readers and not to denigrate the subject. And if, in fact, halachic constraints prevent us from relating the crucial inner struggles and conflicts that might have been present in the lives of today’s great Jews, perhaps we should consider finding a name other than “biographies” with which to label a genre which has the noble purpose of uplifting and inspiring, but—because it cannot relate the entire, balanced story of a life—will not succeed in uplifting and inspiring.

    The issue is certainly not clear-cut. One recalls Rav Yitzchak Hutner’s famous comment in his Iggerot Ukesavim in which he complains that in dealing with the lives of our great people, “the impression makes it seem as if they issued from the Hand of their Creator in their full stature and stance….But who knows about their struggles, their failures, their falls and their regressions….(For an insightful and invaluable discussion of the problems of dealing with the lives of our greatest people, see the Foreword to Rabbi Nathan Kamenetsky’s newly published work, Making of a Godol.” This magnum opus is required reading for anyone interested in the Jewish religious history of the last 100 years.)”

  62. HAGTBG says:

    Shades of Gray on November 30, 2012 at 1:06 am,

    Yes and R’ Schwab believed you are outright allowed to falsify history if need be. So what?

    I appreciate that each of the persons you cite feel it is appropriate to falsify history through purposeful omission.

    I am not saying every salacious detail need be told but facts can be told clinically, particularly if they help take the measure of the man.

    For instance, did the man provide for the child out of wedlock fathered as a teen? That’s truly irrelevant? Frankly, if he stood up and did I would have boundless admiration for such a person. And if he did not, then lets not pretend this is only about measuring an evening of lust.

    I personally feel I gain for instance knowing that Lincoln, a great man, had a horrible home life. Pretending people are so much better then they really are … and that’s what this is all about … just makes it that when you recognize this truth that even the truly pious get tarred by the doubt they do not deserve and that it justifies the desires you may yourself wish to engage in since for all we know all our righteous were really adulterers.

  63. Shades of Gray says:

    “For instance, did the man provide for the child out of wedlock fathered as a teen? That’s truly irrelevant?”

    Dr. Shapiro makes this distinction on the MP3.

  64. Nachum Klafter says:

    HABTAG:

    I don’t understand your reaction. I am saying that our rabbis have erred in trying to rehabilitate predators. Predators are an extremely rare phenomenon, probably less than one percent of therapists or rabbis. But they do lots of damage, and when they have been allowed to pretend that they are rehabilitated, they do additional damage.

    Experts in sexual misconduct who have done research on this phenomenon for the last 40 years have developed a system of classifying those who commit sexual boundary violations.

    If you were under the impression that no Orthodox rabbi has ever committed an affair, or that if any Orthodox rabbi has ever committed an affair he would be immediately exposed and defrocked, you have simply been relying on erroneous information.

    But there is no reason to become disillusioned. Orthodox rabbis are only people No group of people is perfect. People make mistakes, repent, grow, and change. That’s what teshuva is all about.

    Predators, however, are deliberately harming people and do not care in the slightest, lie about it, bully others when they are exposed, etc. They cannot be rehabilitated. They are a constant danger and menace, and unsuspecting vulnerable clients need to be separated from them.

  65. Nachum Klafter says:

    HABTAG: “Our batei din keep their mouths shut when they believe a rabbi did teshuva – is forgiven by G-d – for sleeping with a married women (whose husband would mind that fact I assume) in the course of his duties and I should think G-d cares if I eat cheese without a hekhsher or regular wine??”

    You can’t really believe that. The fact that a the Rabbis on a Beit Din, because of their lack of knowledge about sexual predators have erred in judgment about whether a certain avaryon has repented and changed has nothing to do with your obligation to observe the mitzvot.

    There is nothing “subversive” about what I am saying. I don’t understand your reaction.

  66. HAGTBG says:

    People make mistakes, repent, grow, and change. That’s what teshuva is all about.

    Sorry, I call this. Next, let talk about whether the rabbi who committed arson once is okay and but three or four times is a problem.

    Part of repentance in this instance would be to never put themselves in the position to do this again.

    And yes, I’d like to think that a rabbi I rely on is a moral person who respects family life. I am not interested in asking psak of an adulterer and if I found out my rabbi were one – or that he put someone else in the position of having to find that out – I would feel like a sucker.

    That rabbis cover for this is an outrage.

    Let me ask one other question: is the rabbi who only commits pedophilia once okay to teach again? Or would you advocate he avoid temptation for the good of all?

  67. HAGTBG says:

    The fact that a the Rabbis on a Beit Din, because of their lack of knowledge about sexual predators have erred in judgment about whether a certain avaryon has repented and changed has nothing to do with your obligation to observe the mitzvot.

    A beit din is supposed to be G-d’s judgment here on earth. We are supposed to treat the little commandments like the big ones … not the other way around.

  68. HAGTBG says:

    I am saying that our rabbis have erred in trying to rehabilitate predators. Predators are an extremely rare phenomenon, probably less than one percent of therapists or rabbis. But they do lots of damage, and when they have been allowed to pretend that they are rehabilitated, they do additional damage.

    Dr. Klafter I truly do get that a person aiming to seduce wives is worse then one who stumbles into the situation and certainly one who has some organic (health) issue arise that triggers the act.

    I also get that in some marriages, maybe adultery is not really cared about. But I assume in most the other spouse does and your article doesn’t make any distinction so that’s not the point. Anyway, the Torah makes adultery forbidden and we are all taught this from when we are little as the core for the many sexual limits put in place. That and menstruation.

    A teacher is taunted daily by his students, snaps and hits a student. He is caught. He will never work again and might even go to jail.

    Truthfully, I can understand why the teacher might snap. I can even sympathize that what the taunting was objectively worse and provocation few could endure. Yet the teacher will never work again.

    A rabbi should be held to that standard about core issues like adultery.

    I can appreciate a rabbi who stumbles unto adultery needs treatment and can do teshuva. These are both things that can benefit him. That does not mean he ought ever again be a communal rabbi providing pastoral care.

    Similarly I can appreciate a predator might not benefit from treatment, be incapable of teshuva and be on a generally lower level then the rabbi in the paragraph immediately above. I appreciate also a predator affects more woman.

    You ask why this is subversive? The answer is it makes everything a mockery. Adultery is the sexual violation of all sexual violations. So easily overlooked, according to the beit din, by both G-d and man. And I should prevent myself from getting food in the nearest nonkosher restaurant which would be ever so much more convenient? Why?

  69. Shlomo says:

    HAGTBG, I think I agree with your conclusion, but the comparison is not apt. The yetzer hara for adultery can overcome a high level of commitment to Torah observance. There is no comparable yetzer hara to visit a non-kosher restaurant, and doing so indicates that one had little commitment to begin with.

  70. Shlomo says:

    If David Petraeus can lose his position due to a past incident of adultery, I would think our leaders, who actually need moral and spiritual stature to perform their job, should be held to no less a standard.

  71. Anonymous says:

    I don’t think you can really draw a connection between those statistics and the halachot of Yichud etc. which are built to be guards against this behavior.

    1. Those halachot are meant to protect normal people from sin, but will obviously be unable to prevent someone with a pathological illness. Presumably, the percentage of pathological sexual deviants is the same across different groups, so I wouldn’t expect there to be a marked difference between religious or non-religious guidance counselors.

    2. These people are violating all of the gedarim set up to protect them from sin, anyway. You can’t speak to the effectiveness of fences when the fences aren’t being observed.

  72. IH says:

    The laws of yichud are meant to prevent people from sinning … You have to follow them for them to work.

    Shmuel and anonymous@3:32am – My point is that some people sin irrespective of the strictures (that they claim to follow); and others don’t sin irrespective of the strictures (that they do not know about). If the percentage of sinners is more/less the same between those who claim to follow and those to whom it doesn’t apply; then the theory behind the strictures is proven false.

    Of course, if you believe these strictures are Halacha l’Moshe m’Sinai, then it doesn’t matter. But if they are Rabbinic “fences” then it might – particularly in respect of what is used as a sociological litmus test.

    —–

    On the to/from between HAGTBG and Dr. Klafter, there is an intrinsic link between predatory misconduct and societal mores of consensual misconduct particularly in the grey area of mature adults.

    I agree the focus should remain on abusive or coerced sexual misconduct, but the denial of the broader consensual sexual misconduct that exists in the Orthodox world just in broader society is part of the problem is. Without the self-awareness of the latter, it is very difficult to effectively manage the former. And, frankly, just saying that “I’d like to think there is less adultery among Orthodox Jews, but there is no evidence to support this” is not sufficient. The clean demarcation Dr. Klafter is seeking to make is not as discrete as he would like to believe.

  73. Rafael Araujo says:

    “If David Petraeus can lose his position due to a past incident of adultery, I would think our leaders, who actually need moral and spiritual stature to perform their job, should be held to no less a standard.”

    Aye, but that wasn’t the main issue with Patraeus. The issue was that he used his work email and facilities, hid this, therefore showing his dishonesty and untrustworthiness for his position, and possibly revealed military secrets to his “biographer”.

  74. Rafael Araujo says:

    IH is right. Let’s just scrap yichud. Who needs it anyhow. Of course, we should since we should extrapolate from the figures presented about Rabbis taking advantage of their constituents to the general Orthodox world and claim misconduct. I mean the stats support that Orthodox Jews are horndogs who live a double life of dressing like a penguin while mating like a beaver, right IH?

  75. Rafael Araujo says:

    IH – you have no evidence of any “broder sexual misconduct that exists in the Orthodox world just in broader society” and you know it. Stop making vacuous and baseless motzei shem ra claims. After raading your comments here the past few years, I am not suprised.

  76. IH says:

    Rafael – “De Nile is a river in Egypt”.

    BTW, the standard defensive refrain ’round here whenever there is news of a new scandal is something like: ~”well we’re no worse than everyone else”~. You can’t have it both ways — either these strictures work, or they don’t.

  77. IH says:

    For the benefit of doubt, my issue is not “scrap yichud”. My issue is the obsessive prioritization of the structure with RW O society and its use as a sociological marker — because, together with other strictures used as sociological markers, it has a consequence of objectifying women as sexual objects which may be undoing the good that comes from teaching the principle of “yichud” without obsessively mechanizing it. It’s a forest and trees issue for me.

  78. Rafael Araujo says:

    IH – with all due respect, when you post this kind of stuff you come across as a troll here. Nobody is going to agree with you and scrap hilchos yichud. Only somebody who does not feel that halochoh is binding is going to propose and agree to scrap these laws. That is not a solution. So then, what’s your point? What purpose do your comments serve other to rile up Orthodox Jews like me (and I fell for your it :()

    Also, I see you didn’t address that fact that your claims of broader sexual misconduct in the Orthodox community is complete baloney and is based on your own delusions and unfound assumptions, which is assume is based on a view you share with other anti-religious types – to more puritan, the more hanky panky goes on.

  79. Rafael Araujo says:

    Forest and trees – like we haven’t heard those claims about halochon before. Fetishization of halochoh is another. The Torah requires us to live our lives according to proscribed halachic minutae. Are you saying that LWMO would let these halochos slide? If so, how can it be taken seriously?

  80. IH says:

    Perhaps that is why you are Charedi, so as not to think through difficult issues such as the realities of sexual deviancy in the Orthodox community. Shame its your community that seems to have more such issues than mine — and your children and women who suffer as a result.

  81. Y. Aharon says:

    I understand Dr. Klafter’s emphasis on dealing effectively with predator rabbis and councelors, and that supposed repentence can’t be verified, may not last even if initially sincere, and is therefore no excuse. How is it that rabbinic bodies and courts don’t understand what appears to be self-evident? This suggests that these bodies are more interested in protecting their associates or the community’s reputation than in following either halacha or reason. If so, then that speaks poorly of current Orthodox standards.

    What also disturbs me and has disturbed other commentors is the picture of rabbinic behavior that is being presented. Dr. Klafter and R’ Gil have mentioned cases where adulterous rabbis have kept their position. That is, of course, a decision for the congregants, but it points to a great deterioration of morals in some Orthodox circles. These same congregants would be righteously incensed and would take prompt action if their rabbi would be caught eating treif in a restaurant. Eating treif is, at worst, a biblical transgression entailing lashes, while sex with a married woman is a capital crime. Tarfus effects the individual, while a rabbi engaged in adultery directly impacts female congregants and their families. A rabbi who succumbs to the blandishments of a married female congregant is a fool, but one who initiates such a sexual liason is a rasha. The first case need not destroy the career of the rabbi, the second case most certainly should.

  82. Hirhurim says:

    Y. Aharon: What usually happens is that the rabbi denies it and some people believe him no matter what. Or, less frequently, the rabbi expresses great remorse and people believe his teshuvah.

  83. Nachum Klafter says:

    There is absolutely no evidence anyone can cite which would show more sexual misconduct in the Orthodox world. At the same time, there is no evidence of less adultery in the Orthodox world. As a religious Jew, I’d like to think there would be less, and since we have but I don’t KNOW that there is less based on any studies or surveys.

    HABTAG: Of COURSE we hold rabbis to higher standards, and of COURSE if a congregation were to discover that it’s rabbi is engaged in an extramarital affair it may well be the end of his job.

    But there is an error in your logic. Please do the following: Go to a posek whom you trust and to whom you have access, and ask him this question: “If I found out that a shul rav was involved in an extramarital affair, what would I be obligated to do.”

    Shlomo: Patraeus’ affair came out not because of sanctimoniousness about adultery, but because he gave his mistress access to his email, which has been deemed a national security breach. Believe me, if the FBI learned of an extramarital affair which involved no security breach, you and I would never have heard about it.

    “A beit din is supposed to be G-d’s judgment here on earth. We are supposed to treat the little commandments like the big ones … not the other way around.”

    That is incorrect. G-d’s judgment is dinei shamayim. The Beit Din does not mete out dinei shamayim.

    IH: “And, frankly, just saying that “I’d like to think there is less adultery among Orthodox Jews, but there is no evidence to support this” is not sufficient. The clean demarcation Dr. Klafter is seeking to make is not as discrete as he would like to believe.”

    Don’t you understand that there’s a difference between what you think should be reality, and what IS reality?

    The demarcations I am making are the following:

    CASE 1: I am a the member of a synagogue whose Rabbi is caught having an extramarital affair. I’m sure I would endeavor to persuade the board to terminate his contract. Indeed, many synagogue contracts have clauses which actually state that “moral turpitude” or “behavior unfitting to a spiritual leader” is grounds for being fired.

    CASE 2: I am living in city where there are 5 Orthodox synagogues. The Rabbi of another synagogue, where I am not a member, is caught having an affair. I don’t have a say in what they do with him. If they asked me, I would advise them to fire him.

    CASE 3: I am living in a city where there the rabbi of another synagogue, of which I am not a member, is preying on many different women who had turned to him for guidance and counseling. Unless case two, the fact that he is preying upon women in my city (potentially my own wife and daughters, my friends’ wives and daughters, etc.) makes me an actual stakeholder. I will endeavor to have him deposed from his rabbinic position. I will make sure the entire Jewish world knows about this so that he will not be able to move to another city and begin victimizing more women.

    Do you not see that CASE #3 is fundamentally different from CASE #2? Do you not see that CASE #2 is fundamentally different (for ME, not for the RABBI) than CASE #1?

    I am worried about case #3. I don’t think that you can possibly justify your argument that the reason that case #3 has occurred is because I was insufficiently worried about CASE #2.

    We cannot stop adultery. That’s up to each individual to do. We CAN stop sexual predators from continuing to work as therapists, counselors, or clergy.

  84. HAGTBG says:

    That is, of course, a decision for the congregants,

    I agree. However, some statements here make it appear that the congregants don’t always find out.

    That raises a question I have. Dr. Klafter provides the instance of a predator rabbi continuing to use pastoral care as a front for adultery even as a beis din had barred him from providing such care. Now on the one hand, if it was known communally he was barred and the reasons why then it would seem to me that Dr. Klafter would be hard pressed to classify the woman as a victim, as he did. Yet, the rabbi seems to have confided in her about the process. This makes me wonder why its appropriate to call her a “victim” in the first place.

  85. Rafael Araujo says:

    IH – pretend I’m not Chareidi (I am actually not really Chareidi since I wear coloured shirts – in fact, I am wearing a navy and light blue striped dress shirt right this minute :)) Think about what you are arguing…that taking what Dr. Klafter has presented, you have made baseless extrapolations that feed into your own disclosed biases (Chareidi RWMO bad/problem filled communities where they can’t keep their pants on/steal and justify it/enslave women)? I am sure you wouldn’t attempt to put forth such balioney about, lets say, Reform Jews.

  86. Nachum Klafter says:

    Y. Aharon: “A rabbi who succumbs to the blandishments of a married female congregant is a fool, but one who initiates such a sexual liason is a rasha. The first case need not destroy the career of the rabbi, the second case most certainly should.”

    This is interesting to me. Everybody has their own personal criteria for who should never be allowed to serve as a rabbi again. I am not trying to persuade you to be “ok” with the fact that sexual affairs, however rare they are among Rabbis, have in fact occurred. What I am saying is that your shock and outrage are distracting you from an different issue which can be addressed.

    By the way, in the real world, there is no way to know in an affair who was “the initiator.” There will always be two different narratives.

    Sexual affairs are a matter succumbing to temptation. They well understood in the classical paradigm of sin and sinfulness. Sexual affairs are the example the Rambam uses for “teshuva me’ulah” (ultimate repentance) in his Hilchot Teshuva.

    Sexual predatory behavior by a therapist or a rabbis is NOT about sin. It is sinful yes, but it is not well understand in the classic paradigm of sin. It’s about a truly vicious disregard regard for the dignity and welfare of others, and a horribly entitled view of others as legitimate objects to exploit for one’s own gratification. The individuals who perpetrate are hazardous and dangerous, and cannot be “saved”.

    I think you are missing very important points if you don’t see the difference between an extramarital, consensual affair and predatory behavior by individuals who wield power over vulnerable people that have sought their help and who have trusted them.

    I am not talking about sechar ve-onesh. I’m talking about management and safety for others.

    Let’s take this example: A contract killer has murdered over a hundred people in his life for money. When he is hired to kill someone, he does not know or even care why they are being targeted for murder. Is he comparable with a person who has never been violent, never committed a crime, but becomes enraged during an argument, picks up a knife and stabs someone in a crime of passion? It is deliberate but was not planned/premeditated. And this person feels horrible remorse and guilt. He does not try to hide his deeds from the prosecution.

    Do you not understand why the contract killer should NEVER be let out of prison? If we are considering how long the person who committed the crime of passion should be in prison, would we not come up with a different answer? Or if we are in a state with the death penalty, would you not think that the contract killer is a more appropriate candidate for execution than the person who committed a one time crime of passion?

  87. HAGTBG says:

    What about:

    CASE #4: The rabbi who committed adultery is your patient. Do you advise him he may continue to provide pastoral care? Here are some scenarios
    A. He only committed the act one time and he was seduced by her.
    B. He only committed the act one time and he seduced her.
    C. He had one adulterous relationship, it was started by her but mutually continued. He had sex with her several times over a few month period. Her husband doesn’t know nor does his wife. He regrets the relationship now.
    D. Same as C, but people know what happened.

    Concerning your case 3, you use value judgment words. Why is a rabbi in one relationship not assumed to be “preying” on the woman? I can hardly think he is forcing himself on his multiple victims … clearly there is some level of consent, however asymmetrical the power dynamics are. Otherwise we could make a rape claim. (Can the PA make no real deals with Israel because it has no army?) How do you know he is preying on them or they are all somewhat loose with the morals? And by rumor that does happen – I’ve heard of a lesbian adulterous ring in one Orthodox community a few years ago … Either you ran your own investigation or this came about in the patient context, where you have a confidentiality duty.

    But, assuming your facts, I think in all cases you ought disclose whats happening to all the powers that be and I agree with your course of action for Case 3.

  88. HAGTBG says:

    The contract killer -crime of passion is an excellent example Dr. Klafter. I agree the contract killer is infinitely worse to the point where its probably insulting to compare them. The enraged person may even be a good man overall. They did an act that was somewhat similar but they are very different men. But I’d want neither as my rabbi.

  89. shmuel says:

    IH, if you are suggesting that yichud needs to be taught differently in order to prevent people from ignoring it and losing its benefit (as I said if you are careful about it, it pretty much always works, but if you ignore it, it cannot ever work), then you might be right.

  90. Nachum Klafter says:

    “The contract killer -crime of passion is an excellent example Dr. Klafter. I agree the contract killer is infinitely worse to the point where its probably insulting to compare them. The enraged person may even be a good man overall. They did an act that was somewhat similar but they are very different men. But I’d want neither as my rabbi.”

    And I also would not want either of them as my rabbi. But the point is that you do see a difference between them.

    I will tell a story in a manner that you will have no way to know who it is about. A rov with a shteller in another city was referred to me because he had become involved sexually with a woman he was counseling for shlom bayis issues. He realized that she had fallen in love with him and that he had really harmed her emotionally. The way it all unfolded revealed that he was in category #2 – the “Selfless” offender. She initially would say that she was suicidal and if she could only hold his had she’d feel better. Then it became hugging, then it moved on to real sexual activity (excluding intercourse). Now, what had started as shlom bayis counseling became something way over his head. He has no real training as a threapist. He is a chacham in learning and had talent for helping couplse listen to one another better and find ways to express their dissatisfaction with one another in a way that the other would not be insulted by. For many couples, he had lots of success with this type of counseling. But his woman was truly disturbed and needy for affection and love, and he was not able to manage her difficulties at all.

    I helped him find a way to explain that it was his concern and compassion for her that has caused him to realize that they can’t continue a sinful, sexual relationship which is going to destroy both them and their families and their children. He knows that she is going to be extremely hurt and angry, but he can’t continue doing this. He paid about $10,000 toward two years of psychotherapy for her with a colleague of mine whom I trusted to be able to provide good therapy for her. They were never allowed to have any contact with one another again. He gave me permission to notify a beis din about his situation. He agreed to have a mashgiach appointed over him who would know about all of his rabbonus work. THe actually passed their test and said “no.” He was not allowed to do any counseling with women for at least 2 years, and he had to see a qualified therapist of my choosing. He actualy decided, in the course of that psychotherapy treatment, that he didn’t like talking about the issues that were brought up in therapy, and decided that he will never do any counseling with women or couples again. If a female congregant would approach him for counseling, he would simply refer her to therapists in the city. Therefore he prematurely ended his rehabilitation because he found it too demanding.

    This rabbi is not a villain. He is not a predator. When you talk in depth with people who have made horrible mistakes which they regret, and do their best to accomplish as much tikkun as they can, you see things are not so black and white.

    Now, if you say that it is wrong to allow him to even continue in the manner he is working, I respect your decision. But I really don’t think how we deal with this man has anything to do with how to deal with serial predators.

  91. Nachum Klafter says:

    Oh there is an error in that last piece I will explain. It should say this.
    They tested to see if he was following their agreement by having an attractive woman approach him to meet privately for counseling. He said “no” and passed their test, which he did not even realize they were going to do.

  92. HAGTBG says:

    Dr. Klafter,

    First off, I don’t think being a chacham in learning qualifies someone to do couples therapy and I think its unfortunate, in a place where a more professional alternative exists, that someone would chose a less qualified individual.

    I do not think the individual you helped should be allowed to continue as a shul rav until this matter has been brought to the community’s attention or, at the very least, his shul board. Personally I do not think he should practice as a communal rav again. Here is why:

    I accept your analysis that this man is a good man, no predator who was seduced by her and got in over his head. I accept that the beit din went above and beyond its normal analysis by testing that this man was adhering to what he agreed to. I even assume he is in good faith going to follow their rules. I will also say this man sounds like a decent follow, perhaps a much better person overall then me except that someone made the effort to seduce him. I feel sorry for him.

    The thing is, he violated his professional responsibilities in a fundamental way. Who is going to be supervising this 5-years out, 10-years out and 20? What if he moves? How will he view the matter in the intervening years? Personally, I doubt he will be adequately supervised and therefore, he should not be in a position where the only real thing preventing him from getting into the situation again is really his own good faith to the process.

    Even though he is not a predator, I do not believe there are the resources to adequately supervise him. In that context, I believe it is his career that must suffer to prevent the possibility in the macro context that someone will be abused in the future.

    Further, if there was a morality clause, he breached his contract and the board of the shul is entitled to know. Did that happen? I bet if that got out, the shul would have lost several members. So the congregants probably weren’t given a say. If he moved to another area, that shul would be entitled to know before he was hired.

    And it also comes down to a matter of respect of the congregants. I would want to know if my rabbi was a killer, an arsonist, ate treif on occasion or engaged in adultery or the like. I have the right to know who I’m speaking to.

    And that gets me back to my thinking back to your examples above. I think in all of them a person should try to get the rabbi fired and make sure any future congregation knows of the past activities prior to him being hired elsewhere – and outing him in his new position if it was not disclosed beforehand. As a practical matter, I believe that it talking about the end of his career.

    I was thinking earlier today, I saw a distinction in a one-time circumstance where he was seduced and a “fool.” Pretty much the case you now provide. However, you noted that it generally becomes he-said, she-said in the scenario, though here you have a specific narrative. Anyway, to me it all comes down to lack of any ability to prevent this from repeating and the fact that this person is in a position of great trust that he fundamentally broke.

    Yes, as a human being and in terms of being a real danger, he is not in the same category at all as the “predator” just as the mass murderer and crime of passion tell us very different things about the person doing it. Nevertheless, I think both have a similar catastrophic impact on the rabbis career.

  93. Nachum Klafter says:

    Our disagreement is over this: You think that rabbis should have a one-strike-and-your-out policy. For the third time, I am telling you to ask a posek you trust and I think you will be surprised at what you are told.

    I am not trying cleanse the Orthodox rabbinate of sinners. I actually think by and large the Orthodox rabbinate are admirable people and cases like this are extremely rare.

    I am trying to rid our communities of predators who have access to vulnerable people. One topic has nothing to do with the other. I have enjoyed this discussion with you, but I do not really share your concerns about individuals like the person I described above.

  94. Shachar haamim says:

    Dr. Klafter
    I would just as soon sit down and negotiate with Salam Fayyad as I would vote at a shul meeting to hire as a rabbi a rabbi who protected or enabled Boruch , a convicted predatory offender.
    I think you get my point. Let’s not pretend that this issue is only about the predatory offender who most often does not operate in a vacuum.

  95. Elliot Pasik says:

    “I will tell a story in a manner that you will have no way to know who it is about……”

    Nachum has a point here. The man was seized by madness, which is what the yatzer hara is. He corrected it. We’re not all Yosef HaTzaddik. The sliding scale can sometimes be applied, but I still bear in mind, there was a natural attraction here between two adults, and the woman initiated the contact, not the man. Child sexual abuse, entailing an unnatural yatzer, for which there cannot be any consent, is a different story. The consensus of psychologist opinion is also that the deviant desire for child sexual activity cannot be cured, only managed. As such, while a one-time straying rabbi, of the type in Nachum’s account, might be restored to his position, that should never occur for a CSA rabbi.

  96. Ebilith says:

    I think Dr. Klafter makes a clear point, and I wish him hatzlacha in educating Rabbis and lay leaders. It’s clear from all the posts from readers who don’t understand what he’s saying that there is much work to be done.

  97. Nachum Klafter says:

    Thanks Ebilith.

  98. Dude says:

    As a synagogue Rabbi myself, I would say that there is only one way to ‘rehabilitate’ these offenders: cut off their willies!

  99. HAGTBG says:

    I briefly did ask my rabbi. He said something about a low recidivism rate for adultery as opposed to pedophilia, as though anyone knows the statistics. So, like you he feels they can be rehabilitated.

    Thank you. I learned adultery is in fact not so bad.

    Elliot Pasik: Rabbis are men. Other men are also men. Its good to know that the other men in the community, if they succumb to their own urges to commit adultery, may be able to commiserate with their beit-din approved posek. I can now better understand better why pedophiles wonder why people think their urge – which is not biblically prohibited – can be rationalized when people think its fine to suppress information about an adulterous rabbi. (Hint: If its so okay, why wasn’t the congregational body told about it?)

  100. HAGTBG says:

    Nachum Klafter, our difference is this: You are taking part in allowing adulterous rabbis to take the pulpit without the shul body having a say. To the degree that you are bound by doctor-patient privilege I do not condemn you, but in your rationalizing the result as optimal if not perfect, I do.

    You, and perhaps most of the rabbinate, may think that’s okay but I do not. The rabbinate is supposed to be our exemplars. Now I have to wonder what the local Vaad is covering for, just what my own rabbi may have done in the past or who he has sanctioned in the past to continue in a similar role.

  101. IH says:

    I’m curious: Where do all the RW O Jews who jump up and down about society’s tolerance of homosexuality stand on tolerance of adultery? After all: י וְאִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר יִנְאַף אֶת-אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ, אֲשֶׁר יִנְאַף, אֶת-אֵשֶׁת רֵעֵהוּ–מוֹת-יוּמַת הַנֹּאֵף, וְהַנֹּאָפֶת.

  102. Nachum Klafter says:

    HABTAG:

    A professional organization is also discussing my essay, and someone asked a question about whether we SHOULD be rehabilitating therapists or rabbis even in cases where it’s possible to do so. Because you and I have been having this debate here, I was able to respond more effectively. This is what I wrote. It clarifies a few things which have been missing from our discussion. This is what I wrote:
    ———-
    That is a very fair question. On a blog, my essay is being debated and discussed, and there were a number of commentors who were absolutely astounded that anyone would ever think of rehabilitating any offender in any situation. In fact the debate there was about whether a rabbi who has an extramarital affair (not even with one of his congregants) can ever serve as a rabbi again.

    I think that many of these issues are a matter of social policy and not an issue of expertise by a clinician or forensic examiner. Whether a given individual CAN be rehabilitated is a clinical question for an expert. Whether an individual SHOULD be rehabilitated or should be removed forever from the rabbinate SHOULD be rehabilitated is a question should be decided by our rabbinic leaders and our communal leaders. In other words, it’s not a matter about which an expert in psychotherapy and sexual misconduct should have any privileged voice.

    Switching hat’s now, as a Jew, member of the community, and communal leader (i.e., not as a psychiatrist) I don’t personally desire a one-strike-and-you’re-out policy for rabbis or therapists. But it is clear that there some people who believe a one-strike-and-you’re-out policy for rabbis. I don’t feel very strongly about it, but when you talk in depth tho individuals who have committed misconduct for one single episode during their careers, who came forward themselves for help, who felt terrible about what they had done, who voluntarily offered to pay for the treatment of the people they had harmed, and who would have been willing to step down from their positions if that was what their professional organizations mandated, it really clarifies that truly good people can get over their heads and make mistakes.

    On the other side of this argument is the notion that anyone who would begin a sexual relationship with a client or congregant may be so flawed that in order to protect our professions and clients it would be unwise to allow them to ever have access again. I think that many laypersons may feel that way, and would be concerned that we are not adequately protecting them if we rehabilitate even one-time offenders in categories one and two. A problem with that approach, however, is that it will discourage a therapist or rabbi who is in trouble from seeking help and may actually backfire in that the professional or clergy who is over his head will not get help. In the cases I am familiar with, the therapist or rabbi who was violating boundaries was not able to actually stop the sexual activity until there was professional help by a colleague or therapist who became aware of the misconduct.

    In any case, I think that reasonable people can disagree about whether a one-strike-and-you’re-out-policy, but the point of my paper is about a different sort of case about which I don’t think reasonable people can disagree. Predatory serial offenders need to be removed from the clergy as well as from the mental health professions. They cannot be rehabilitated. Even though this is a very small group people, they victimize so many clients that they do far more damage than all the other categories combined and by many orders of magnitude.

  103. Shlomo says:

    I’m curious: Where do all the RW O Jews who jump up and down about society’s tolerance of homosexuality stand on tolerance of adultery?

    Oh, that’s an easy one. There is no societal movement arguing that everyone must celebrate adultery. Did you really think nobody would be able to come up with an answer to this particular question?

  104. HAGTBG says:

    There is no societal movement arguing that everyone must celebrate adultery.

    But there is a societal movement that adultery is not a big deal. Even in WWII … I was shocked when I finally saw Casablanca 2 years ago to discover it was celebrating adultery where the cuckold was the most noble human being imaginable. Other countries have famously accepted adultery as part of marriage (France). Dan Savage today, if the married couple agree to it …

    Frankly, outside of the Torah context, there is much sense to that in my mind. But we are talking about the Torah context and the primary person teaching the Torah context to the congregation. This is yehareg v’al ya’avor.

  105. Elliot Pasik says:

    Re-reading the post, the rabbi has a “shteller”. He counsels couples. Facts have been altered to protect identities, perfectly appropriate. The rabbi might be a shul rav, a shtiebel rebbe, a yeshiva rebbe, a kollelnik, an author, something else. The actual facts do matter. There is an element of professional elitism versus democracy in the debate here. Who decides, and how? Its Old Europe versus America. Sex abuse is out in the open now, because democracy and American legal values have been injected into the process. If there is a shul board involved, should the shul board know? HAGTBG says, yes. Legally, I have to agree, as a matter of basic contract law, and non profit corporation governance. There is the Jewish spiritual component. Rav Avraham Kook and the Malbim write that the basic morality of the Jewish people exceeds the rabbis, who can be Torah acrobats. The Jews want a spiritual role model for their children, and themselves.

  106. Richard.Gross says:

    PART I
    I am professor in Psychology in New York. Rabbis and courts rely on me when ruling on child custody. In divorce proceedings, parents frequently claim the other spouse has sexually abused the children. The Rabbis and Juries are presented with recorded statements and with affidavits to proof abuse. That is when my assessment of the circumstances and proofs is requested. I regularly advise on education issues too. I have cooperated in the past with many London Rabbis, RCH inclusive. I feel I must voice my opinion.
    RCH שליט”א needs urgently professional help. It is vital for frum London that RCH gets professional help. Please read why. וכי זו בלבד עשה לנו בן עמרם?

    A It is definitely impossible that Velvel’s description of the alleged abuse in Velvel’s posting of 29 November 12:10 was written by a Rav. The terminology used is exclusively used by psychiatric professionals. Even specialised lawyers could never describe abuse with such a concentrated professional vocabulary as it used in Velvel’s posting alleging how they ”sit without a physical barrier between them”, “create a sexually charged atmosphere”, “a high level of sexual tension between them” “touch the subconscious expectation of the victims is for sexual touching to occur”, and more of it in the 7 points of “detail description”. I can guarantee that this language is the work of a psychiatric professional. Who and why?

    B Last Saturday 24 November, the same Velvel still purported to know for a fact that RCH is a rapist. On 29 November he has completely withdrawn the rape allegation. Why?

    C On 15 November, Velvel purported to know for a fact that the police are questioning “victims”. This has been withdrawn abruptly. Why?

    It is utterly evident that Reb Chajim Halpern’s enemy has engaged since last Sunday, 25 November, on a tactic known as “pre-fiction-opinion”. Someone has paid in excess of $20,000 to a psychology professional to design and conclude the tactic against the present victim. What is “pre-fiction-opinion” ?

    We find this often in custody battles in divorce proceedings. One party hires a psychologist and enquires which alleged parental behavior would lead to an expert opinion concluding that the parent is unfit for custody. The psychologist then develops a story of a pattern of such abuse-claims which are impossible to clinically prove or deny. Rape or intercourse leaves traces in the body long afterwards, and is therefore clinically refutable. Consequently, such is never part of the fictional allegations, since the defending parent can counter-claim it for slander. Forensic investigation of the accusing child can refute false allegations.

    Most fictional claims involve exclusively touching, gazing, scaring, kissing and the like. Such conduct leaves no traces and cannot be clinically rejected. The alleging parent makes the children approving prepared statements with such allegations. This is where the trouble starts for the victimized parent. The complaining parent asks the ‘expert’ for an opinion. The expert writes an opinion, that the behavior – as he made the child to “describe” – renders the parent unfit for custody.
    Most Rabbis have never heard of pre-fiction-opinion. The blindly believe the affidavit and the Opinion. The Rabbis suggest a settlement, very detrimental to the victimized parent. This is a very unfair practice indeed, and is forbidden by law. There are some psychologists infamous for doing so, for a hefty payment. The Rabbis are completely unaware of such tactics and are duped again and again by such malpractice. This is where we come in.
    PART II
    This is where we come in. If the defending parent has the mental and financial ability, he turns to professional help. We investigate the allegations. We use forensic methods. One example is forensic linguistic software. We can proof if affidavits contain typical language of certain disreputed professionals. We can also demonstrate when expressions are used that is far beyond the child’s abilities of expression. And finally, if we are allowed to have a session with the children, we find in most cases that they have been suggested by the claiming parent what they should “have felt and endured”. The “victims” more often than not consented to state what is asked of them.

    I give you my view of what happened in London, in your case.

    Last Sunday, for whatever reason, someone felt the urge to elevate allegations and engaged a professional, paying him not less than $20,000. Dr Klaft of Cincinnati is widely disreputed among charedim for these kind of services. He is infamous for advocating malicious zero-toleranc for Yeshivas and Chadorim, demanding “legislation to make our Yeshivos/schools safe for all students.”, and “…we will follow appropriate guidelines for reporting child abuse and molestation to legal authorities”. Dr Klafter has signed together with Nochum Rosenberg a infamous “Yom Kippur Resolution to demonstrate there is broad community support for our schools to enact genuine zero-tolerance policies for child abuse.” http://groups.yahoo.com/group/QueensCentralShuls/message/4219
    Nachum Klafter and Nachum Rosenberg are the known troublemakers touting permanently abuse allegations in every charedi corner.
    Dr. Klafter has published a paid opinion against RCH. The article convicts such patterns which have by then, Wednesday 28 November, yet nowhere been alleged against RCH. Then, a day later, on 29th November Velvel used exactly the language drafted by the same Dr Kraft on this and on another blog to detail RCH’s alleged crimes. No rape any longer! Dr Kraft educated Velvel that rape is refutable by clinical investigation. Instead, the new pattern “gazing” “rubbing” and the like is alleged. These do not leave traces, therefore are secure to allege. Affidavits are not written by the “victims” but by professionals, to be signed by undisclosed “victims”.
    On the next day, 30 November, this blog published the link to Dr Klafter’s opinion, basing on these newly presented patterns.
    This is the classic case of a “pre-fictional opinion”; the fiction has been created to be followed up by the opinion damning exactly such conduct.
    Poor Reb CH, look whom they engaged to bring you down. Dr Klafter is expert in bringing down Rabbis. Look at http://www.nefesh.org/klafter.pdf
    Dr. Nachum Klafter claims to be a Professor working at Cincinnaty University. Wrong. Look http://www.psychiatry.uc.edu/Home.aspx and search in the search box “Faculty/Staff Quick Search” for “Klafter”. Klafter is not there. Now search the entire University for Klafter, you will find him as a volunteer, that is an unpaid volunteer. This is the lowest possible association. Klafter desperately loves money. See http://www.vitals.com/doctors/Dr_Andrew_Klafter and click on the clients opinion.

    Orthodox London, you cannot fight this alone.

    PART III
    Orthodox London, you cannot fight this alone. You need professional help. 50 Rabbis or 100 Rabbis will easily be duped. When they are confronted with “affidavits” “recordings” and a Jewish Professor’s opinions, they will conclude “having seen enough strong evidence that there has been very serious abuse”. And still, all and everything is fabricated by professionals. We have it here in USA every other week, that tens of Rabbis and the public at large is 100% convinced that there is serious abuse. The more frum the Rabbis are, the easier they are to convince. Only after professionals move in with the defending party, then the entire mirage evaporates quite swiftly. Not a shred of abuse remains. Your Rabbis don’t know how the infamous professionals work.

    The first round of “evidence” was rape. That was completely withdrawn. The second wave of “Independent confirmation” was the police. That evaporated into a lie, as for the newest version of misconducts there would never be any police interest at all. The third round of allegations is not written by Velvel, but on guidance by infamous professionals, to be followed up with professional opinions, to be presented to the Rabbis, to make them move to ban the targeted individual.

    How do I know? The fact that Dr. Klafte was engaged and paid for by the opponetnt of the Halperns. The fact that rape was withdrawn. The fact that Dr Klafter’s version of “events” is the now going version. The fact that nothing but 2 “affidavits” were shown to Rabbis. All that evidences beyond reasonable doubt that a well-planned well-paid campaign is behind it, to bring the individual down.

    Reb CH needs professionals. They will file a slander and libel-claim. Klafter will receive a subpoena to tell who paid him for his piece. Klafter will have to admit that he drafted Velvel’s text. Google will have to disclose Mr Tickle’s identity, and Mr Tickle will have to disclose which posts he surpressed. RPR will be investigated, who has first made him to voice an opinion, and of what grounds. Chronicle will have to disclose who misfed them the rape-allegations.

    After 3 – 6 month of investigations, RCH will most probably be as cleared from every and any abuse claim as the parents in all my divorce cases are.

    This costs money, and time. I suggest that this should not be instigated by RCH himself, but by his shul. You owe this to your Rav, frum London owes this to his family.
    If you cannot do so, at the very least you must put together a task force going around to all rabbis making them utterly aware of the above, showing how they are duped all along, possibly based on zero misconduct. Even the phrase “we knew it all the years” is usually always completely untrue and is just another part of the fiction.

    נחום כותב שאי אפשר לעשות תשובה ע”ז, אל”פ.
    בפרשת השבוע הריהו מופרך.
    ארבעים שנה היה עשיו צד נשים מתחת בעליהם ומענה אותן, בכל זאת נענש יעקב שלא נתן לו דינה והיתה מחזירו למוטב

  107. shaul shapira says:

    IH- Where do you stand on consensual incest between adults? (e.g.. brother ansd sister or father and daughter?)

  108. shaul shapira says:

    Also IH, do you have a theological problem with the fact that a pedophile can’t fulfill his sexual desires? (I understand that there’s a victim involved, but that’s a law enforcement issue, it doesn’t adress the morality of forcing someone to stay celibate.)

  109. IH says:

    Our society has deemed “consenual” incest immoral and illegal, just as it has “consensual” sex with underage children. In the latter case, one can find textual halachic acceptance, but our society considers it immoral and illegal — does that make a difference to you?

  110. IH says:

    To the extent there is a theological issue, Shaul, it is one that Thomas Nagel summarizes in http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/dec/06/what-can-be-proved-about-god/

    …the most powerful argument against the existence of God, the argument from evil. The theistic responses to that argument of which I am aware seem unpersuasive, and I find it hard to understand how belief in an all-good and all-powerful deity can survive in the face of it. Even if a theist supposes that the problem has a solution that we humans are unable to grasp, that would mean that God, who created us with the capacity to discover the laws of nature and to find the world scientifically intelligible, has made us incapable of finding the world morally intelligible.

    But, I think the theological issue is afield of this post.

  111. Matthew P says:

    I have just belatedly read this article and ongoing discussion and wanted to thank Dr Klafter for a very well presented and forceful article, and for the gracious way he has answered all of the commenters, which has deepened the debate.

    One of the saddest thing I see is how Rabbis without the requisite training and background, and for all the best intentions, enter an area for which they are completely unequipped – this applies to Dr Klafter’s categories 1-3 and the batei din who assume they can deal with category 4. I only hope that this article reaches a wide enough audience that some Rabbis who might fall into these categories take notice before it is too late.

  112. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “BTW, the standard defensive refrain ’round here whenever there is news of a new scandal is something like: ~”well we’re no worse than everyone else”~. You can’t have it both ways — either these strictures work, or they don’t”

    R B Wein frequently comments-there is nothing wrong with Judaism. However, many Jews commit transgressions that cannot be defended by any definition of Judaism. The strictures work for those who adhere to the same.

  113. Shades of Gray says:

    In ‘Are “Gedolim Stories” Good for Chinuch?’ Rabbi Simcha Feuerman discusses the concept of emotional disconnect:

    “Another side effect that comes from denying the feelings and emotional process inherent in many stories, is that people can become split off from their emotions–allowing them to live double lives. When they are behaving and feeling frum they are one kind of person. But when they have negative and dangerous feelings, they disown them and perhaps disassociate from themselves. This allows them to sin in far worse ways, as they feel as if it is another person doing it.

    Is it then any wonder that we sometimes hear disturbing news of a supposedly great rabbi or community pillar being caught committing horrible and reprehensible acts?

    Thankfully, these situations are rare. And it is not my point to be outraged or surprised that even great people can stumble and sin. No one is perfect, and temptation is great. Hazal tell us, ein apotropos le’arayot. However, how can we understand the psyche and conscience of a man who can give a moving and inspiring derasha at one moment, and in the next moment commit reprehensible acts? The answer is via this mechanism of emotional disconnect and disassociation. This kind of psychological problem can find fertile soil in a culture that denies and represses feelings.”

    In the Intermountain Jewish News(5/13/10), Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman is quoted similarly:

    “The rabbi has also had to struggle with the ethical dimensions of what motivates an individual to commit as heinous a crime as pedophilia, especially when the perpetrator may be a religious person, sometimes even a rabbi.

    “From conversations with psychiatrists and therapists, I’ve learned about the term disassociation, where literally both the victim and the perpetrator are able to disassociate themselves,” Rabbi Eisenman says.

    “When they’re involved in the criminal act, they’re one person. When they get back to the synagogue and put their tallis on top of their head, they’re somebody else. I’ve realized this on my own, and when I spoke to therapists they validated this.”

    Often, the rabbi adds, the pedophile or molester fits a mold that was fictionally described by Robert Louis Stevenson, as the “Jekyll and Hyde” dual character, in which one aspect of the personality doesn’t even remember what the other has done.

    “Exactly,” the rabbi says. “They live with an inner conflict and the conflict is very, very deep. When they pray, they pray with sincerity. Unfortunately, when the addiction takes over they become a different person. It’s very scary.”

  114. shaul shapira says:

    IH-
    I have no idea what you were getting at in your last comment

    I was simply pointiong out that
    http://www.hakirah.org/Vol13Rapoport.pdf
    “Dr. Elliot Dorff… writes: “I find such a position
    theologically untenable. I, for one, cannot believe that the G-d who created us all produced a certain percentage of us to have sexual drives that cannot be legally expressed under any circumstances… To hold that G-d created homosexuals to be sexually frustrated all their lives, makes of G-d a cruel playwright.” Based on this theology Dorff erroneously concludes that homosexual intercourse must be permissible for homosexuals.”,

    Can be equally applied to a pedophile who has no sex drive towards adults.

    The fact that society hasn’t come around yet to the idea that incest is okay is irrelevant to me. Was segregation moral in the forties?

  115. shaul shapira says:

    As to your point of going off topic, I suggest you read the first comment on this thread (your own). It hijacked a post about predators and rehab, into your pet topic of the need for Halacha to evolve.

  116. AJ says:

    Dr. Klafter’s point is eloquently made and crystal clear. Some commentators and Dr. Klafter have debated the one-wrong-step-and-you’re-out approach, -I think that you are overlooking a gmara. In Baba Basra 21b, Rava states that professionals (including, but not limited to clergy) whose unprofessional conduct [necessarily] causes irreparable loss whether financial or spiritual/psychological, are considered pre-warned that any such mistake means their immediate removal from office. I understand that this might be more of a deterrent policy than punishment, but all the same…
    Another point: The differentiation made here between the concern with “my Rabbi” or another Rabbi when it comes to the first categories, is purely emotional/sentimental, if I would like to know (and believe that I am entitled to know) what you know about my Rabbi, then I should be obliged to tell you what I know about yours…

  117. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote in part:

    “You can’t have it both ways — either these strictures work, or they don’t.”

    Toras HaShem Temimah. Yet, all of us in our private lives have the ability to be in our own ways either a Moshe Rabbeinu or a Yeravam Ben Navat. The fact that people transgress a particular Halacha, whther Bein Adam LaMaom or Bein Adam LChavero has no relevance to the same being binding on such a person. Look at it this way-merely because people commit all sorts of criminal acts, regardless of how the law defines such conduct, does not mean that a criminal statute makes no sense. Such an argument IMO leads to both individual and communal anarchy.

  118. IH says:

    Steve — What strictures do you recommend to prevent more cases like this: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/nyregion/ex-principal-in-brooklyn-convicted-of-abusing-boys.html

    “The former principal of a private school in Brooklyn was found guilty in State Supreme Court on Monday of sexually abusing three boys over the course of a decade, including one boy who was 7 years old when the abuse started.”

    “Before his arrest in 2009, Mr. Yegutkin was the principal of Elite High School, a private Jewish school for Russian-Americans in Bensonhurst. He had volunteered for two summers at an Orthodox Jewish camp in the Catskill Mountains called Oorah’s Boy Zone, and was a volunteer for Hatzolah of Flatbush, the private Jewish ambulance service, those organizations said.”

  119. Steve Brizel says:

    Ih-For a start, I think that the linked following article http://www.drsorotzkin.com/pdf/PSYCHOLOGICAL-FACTORS.pdf and many of the articles at Dr Sorotzkin’s website are quite helpful for anyone interested in the issue-educators, parents and teens.

    I am not a fan of Oorah, and I think that the organizations that hire individuals in the formal or informal educational areas of school and summer camp have to do develope objective criteria to screen out such individuals. That being the cases, such cases reflect poorly on the individuals and the organizations that hire such persons, but such persons should never be seen as anything more than a Chilul HaShem for their conduct, as opposed to their “good names” being dragged thru a perp walk and a criminal prosecution.

  120. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “How can one not conclude from this that the Rabbinic “fences” between the sexes, about which RWMO and Charedim obsess, are useless at best; and perhaps even counter-productive at worst”

    This is what called throwing out the baby with the bathwater logic.

  121. IH says:

    A more apt analogy is re-evaluating a drug that was designed to prevent xyz, but turns out to have no better results than a placebo; with the possibility it even made things worse by exacerbating related abc more than the placebo.

  122. Steve Brizel says:

    IH wrote:

    “A more apt analogy is re-evaluating a drug that was designed to prevent xyz, but turns out to have no better results than a placebo; with the possibility it even made things worse by exacerbating related abc more than the placebo”

    See my post from 12.3.12 at 8:59 PM

  123. Marty says:

    A relative of mine had serious issues that interfered with daily life. A rabbi ‘therapist’ who served prior as an administrator of a Jewish institution in Brooklyn volunteered to help her, no fee. The RABbi was more dangerous than the dead of WINter. He claimed he was using his own therapy techniques based on halacha. Sounds nice. In reality, he entrapped his victims (mentally & physically raped is a better term) at their weakest point. He did not hesitate to twist halacha to have sex with his victims even when they were a ‘niddah’. Use of contraceptives & withdrawal was deemed permissible as he explained that it was ‘pikuach nefesh.’ He even said that his victims were following halacha by helping him because his wife didn’t want to have sex since she was not young and was ‘dry’, and it was painful for her. At one point, he even bragged that he used his technique to help a number of women.

    When my relative finally broke free, she realized that she needed help to come to terms with what had happened. She initially turned to two individuals. The first was a well know Rav in the Flatbush Frum (Hareidi) Community and an advisor to a well known youth facility. His response, “The Rabbi and the woman are 2 consulting adults.” (Googling his name & abuse revealed that he has protected other abusers.)

    My relative then called a well known frum therapist/columnist. When my relative told her that she had been abused for 5 years, the columnist/therapist said “Oh, you were really into it.”

    Luckily, my relative then turned to an excellent therapist who has helped her come to terms with what happened.

    While it’s true that abuse rears its head in all segments of the Jewish community, we have no idea of the true numbers of the different forms of abuse that are prevalent. As long as Hareidi leadership hides & protects predators, screams ‘moiser’ & harasses the victims who turn to the D.A., the problem will not go away. My friend’s experience with a Flatbush Hareidi leader & the frum therapist/columnists shows the absurdity of the Agudah decision that one should first discuss the situation with one’s Rav and ask if one should go to the D.A.

    The foxes are in the hen house.

  124. Elliot Pasik says:

    Thank you, Marty, for your informative comment. I agree with your observations. Some rabbis, of the type you describe, have made halacha into a dirty word. You, your relative, and an increasing number of others are insuring that “Jewish” will always be exalted. Kol tuv and a freilich Chanukah to you and your relative.

  125. HAGTBG says:

    My relative then called a well known frum therapist/columnist. When my relative told her that she had been abused for 5 years, the columnist/therapist said “Oh, you were really into it.”

    While I think that was cold and inappropriate in a therapeutic context, and while I STRONGLY feel the original therapist should never be allowed to practice again and publicly shamed and protecting him or excusing him is bad policy both morally and practically, I also think its true that she was a consenting adult and it was a long time to be in that relationship. I can well understand why she went to someone else but what does that observation have to do with a cover up?

 
 

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