Guest Post by “Kevin in Chicago”
I don’t want to discourage anyone from recounting her experiences with Elimelech Meisels, as Yerachmiel Lopin has requested in a prior post, but I question whether these anonymous accounts will have any effect on the Israeli Beit Din. Lopin believes that “The great flaw of the Israeli Beit Din … is thinking they are dealing with isolated violations arising from spontaneous lust for which Meisels has repented.”
Unfortunately, the failure to acknowledge the predatory, sociopathic personality of serial abusers is more than an error of fact. If it were, a little reading in the psychological literature of the last 30-40 years would dispatch it. It would be better called a prejudice, which might be defined as a verifiably false belief that costs too much to give up.
The prejudice has theological roots, as Dr. Nachum Klafter acknowledges in the linked article. Deeply-rooted principles, such as the presumed character-building effect of Torah study, the ability to overcome temptation, and the possibility of teshuvah lead to wishful (if not magical) thinking. Furthermore, rabbis judging rabbis are inclined to focus on the accused rabbi’s lapse of moral control, rather than on his utter insensitivity to his victim.
Corresponding prejudices go a long way toward explaining why the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) has also handled sexual abuse so badly. Some within the RCC are recognizing that the real problem is not deviant priests so much as a culture of clerical narcissism that shields priests and silences or shames their victims. Ironically, obsession with a highly restrictive sexual morality contributes to the sexual immaturity of priests who inappropriately “act out” their sexuality with minors, as well as the shamed silence imposed on their victims, and the hierarchy’s urgency in concealing abuse.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran
Uncomfortable as it may be to consider similarities between orthodox Judaism and the Catholic Church, there is something to be learned here. Rabbinic narcissism well describes the ruling of the Israeli beit din formed at the request of Torah Umesorah and headed by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Shafran. Accepting the translation from Hebrew to English as accurate, allow me to translate the Israeli Beit Din’s language into tachlitese (results-oriented language), slicing away the verbiage to reveal its vacuity. Continue reading