My thoughts on the judgement against a famous Rabbi for indecent acts against minors, Hashem yishmor.
I was asked, on my timeline, if I believed that the sentence passed in the relevant case was too mild.
I replied to the question, and am sharing my reply as a post as well, as I believe it is very relevant and on many people’s minds.
“This is a very sensitive one. Part of me says that this man disgraced us all,used his position as a Rosh Yeshiva and national leader to take advantage of kids, and should be given the most harsh sentence possible. Part of me, having met the man myself, and seen his kindness and caring for ALL people (even his insistence of visiting Chris Hani hospital and seeing how AIDS victims are treated), feels VERY sorry for the man, and for all of us who have lost him as a mentor, and that something could also be awefully wrong with the charges. I do not think that either approach is rational. All he was convicted of was “relatively minor” indecent behaviour. The more serious charges were NOT proven. Whether anyone likes it or not, in a democracy, a person is innocent till proven guilty in a court of law. he had his trial, and he was NOT proven guilt of rape, sodomy, or any serious sexual crime. What is also true, is that things that in western culture are considered to be sexual assault, are not always that way in middle eastern, african, or even jewish culture. Affectionately hugging or kissing a student is NOT sexual assault, unless it is done in a sexual way. I hug my students all the time, and there is NOTHING sexual about it. My uncle , Rav Tucazinsky zt’l, used to kiss and hug me, and hugging and kissing students is very common amongst many rosh yeshivos and Rebbeim, and there is NOTHING sexual in it at all. yet many secular teachers at Yeshiva College felt uncomfortable with Rabbis hugging students, which was totally ridiculous. This of course, makes it easy for Rabbis who do have sexual issues to take advantage, and very hard to tell the difference, but it also means that what to western courts are indecent acts might not even be indecent in reality. I do NOT know what Rabbi Druckman is thinking- perhaps he truly believes that the Rabbi in question is innocent, along the lines of the above, though we all know Rabbi Lichtenstein took a VERY different approach. – Personally, I wish and still hope he is innocent- he is or AT LEAST was a great man who has touched the lives of literally thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people for the better, but I am also NOt an ostrich . Even great men make bad mistakes and can do TERRIBLE things sometimes. David heMelech committed adultery and killed the girl’s husband. HE suffered his whole life for it. He did Teshuva, which was eventually accepted. Those who denied his right to repent in their self-righteous manner were also criticized. Of course, even the relatively “minor” verdict of the court would be enough for me not to let him anywhere near my kids in private, just out of caution. nor has he admitted to the charges publically, but it is NOT a halchic requirement of teshiva to publically confess to something- confession is a private matter between a sinner and Hashem, and who says he hasn’t done that? And does any of this really mean that he is so evil that one cannot learn anything from him, or that he deserves to rot for the rest of his life in prison for kissing a kid on his neck, however much it disgraced us, and however bad it might be? The judge can only take into account that which has been PROVEN in his sentence, and so can we- that is ALL. As for the rest, we have to take caution and not let vulnerable people be in private with ANYONE suspected of such things, but thats it. Would I invite him to teach minors, NO- Do I think he should be condemned for ever as an evil man and shut out of society – I dont think any of us have a right to make that call based on the above . The discussion remains open, and there is much to say and debate. It is NOt simple, it is really painful, and what is more painful is that this is not just an isolated incident, but all too common these days- it needs to stop and be stopped- but how to stop it, how to get to the root of the problem- that needs great wisdom, and I fear that we lack it!”