Question of the Day About Teshuvah

al chetWhen did teshuvah go from being a demanding process to an alibi?

I Tweeted this question earlier today and Rabbi Yossie Bloch replied, “About the same time rabbis figured out child abuse was bad.”

To which I replied, “If so, the degradation of teshuvah is an unintended consequence of anti-abuse advocacy. Oi vey!”

How would the rest of you respond to my question?

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11 thoughts on “Question of the Day About Teshuvah

  1. One element of teshuvah for a transgression one person commits against another is for the transgressor to come before the person against whom s/he sinned and secure forgiveness. An important element of that process is acknowledging the transgression. In addition, one has damaged another person, there are other requirements, including paying for the cure. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damages_%28Jewish_law%29

    The next time someone says about a molester, “but he did teshuvah”, perhaps the appropriate response is to ask the person making that statement if s/he knows for a fact that the molester went to all of his or her victims, acknowledged the transgression, satisfied the Halachic requirement imposed upon one who does damage, and received the forgiveness of all the victims.

  2. This tshuva buissness is all a big hoax it could never be accomplishe or reached by most people especially molesters who would never ever go to their victims and ask for forgivenees no such thing its all its all an intellectual mind game.

  3. I’d be interested to know of a single case where a molester sought forgiveness from his victims. It’s certainly very rare. In their warped minds, molesters may (at most) view their actions as a personal aveirah, without having any clue as to the terrible harm they have caused their victims. The dubious claim that they’ve done Teshuva (only after they’ve been caught, and as a feeble attempt to keep their positions) is based on this warped understanding of abuse. If their Teshuva were sincere, they would seek Mechilah from their victims, which would, at the very least, include financial compensation for the victims’ therapy expenses.

    • Often, when confronted they will apologize for misunderstandings or for hurting the feelings of the victim. That is a far call from teshuvah. Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn’s Daas Torah blog has an interesting discussion of the right of a victim to refuse mechilah if the apology is insincere, or the damage is not repaired. Some sex abuse effects cannot be repaired.

      • To clarify: I’m not talking about apologies that ignore the gravity of the abuse committed, nor am I addressing whether the victim is required to forgive the abuser (she isn’t, even assuming that the apology is sincere).

    • I beg to differ. Balei Teshuva are expected to do the real thing. They do admit their past lives (even though many of them can be classified as tinokim shenishbaru). In contrast, it is FFB molesters who know they are sinning who are most likely to invoke teshuva as an alibi.

      • FFB molesters certainly know they are sinning, or at the least, breaking the law since many of them have a long family history of felons convicted of the same crime (maybe even on both sides of the family). But they think they are too superior to be caught or judged. Witness Herr Belsky still insisting on the innocence of the two KOLKO’s. What phenomenon is that, elyonut and das torah, or Alzheimers? Are the Kolko’s grateful to Belsky, or do they consider him an Axx.?
        I don’t think we’ve heard the last of Belsky’s mistakes.

        • Believe it or not, even goyim know they are sinning, or at the least, breaking the law. 🙂 In accepting a claim of teshuvah as an “alibi,” overlooking whether the requirements of halakhah have been met, Orthodox Jews are following the Catholic script. But to claim, like R’ Belsky, that someone is being punished unjustly because he is innocent, notwithstanding the evidence, is Jewishly “theologically correct” if the claim is sincere, even if it suggests pathological denial. I suppose it would be forbidden to challenge the conclusion of a beis din having “da`as Torah,” but that can never apply to civil/Gentile courts. 🙂

  4. When did teshuvah go from being a demanding process to an alibi?
    when people can’t squelch their egos long enough to say “I’m wrong”

  5. Since I have worked at a very orthodox very right wing day school, it is sad how many are more interested in protecting the “group” or “cult” than serving HaShem and doing the right thing. Sad to say, because they think as a group they will conform to whoever is paying the bills or giving tzedakah to their day schools. The victim means nothing to this particular right wing of orthodoxy. I don’t know how they developed this way-but if you question them, they seem to hide behind self-righteousness. I find it sickening and shameful. Sad to say, there are many upstanding people that I see in the day school, however, they are ‘afraid to speak out as they will then be not part of the group mentality. Their children are being raised by children and as a result, their behavior is terrible. I told a rabbi that I was worried that many of the kids do not seem to be of conscience—he did not even understand what I was talking about.

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