The Limits of Polite Talk

Rabbossai, there are certain things we avoid because of modesty. Usually that is good but not always. You don’t want a surgeon who is afraid to look. You don’t want a policeman who is too shy to shout. You cannot keep your clothing on when you go to a mikvah.

In our matzav now we need to tell some people to stop, we need a surgeon to remove a cancer, and we need to purify our kehilla. So we must talk about unpleasant things.

The above is an excerpt from a fable about a Rav Menachem Besdin delivering a sermon about abuse. I wrote it back in 2009.


2 thoughts on “The Limits of Polite Talk

  1. I posted this under another thread. Please post it here.

    Unfortunately, most of the frum world does not care. They will go on with their business.

    It is quite sick that we have had so many stories of molesters and coverups and our organizations/daas torah has failed us. We are told both implicitly and explicitly never to shame the family of the abuser. That is more important than anything else. We do not want to cause innocent victims to suffer…

    The only time all caution was thrown to the wind and the “bad guy’s” family, etc. was not a concern was when the rasha finkel was caught selling tarfus to the Monsey oilam. Suddenly, every single Rabbi spoke out about it and named him by NAME…no hints…they called him straight out with zero concern for his family. Why? Because rightfully so, the man deserved to be publicly shamed and any collateral damage was his fault, not those who spoke out about it. Did Rabbonim in Flatbush have to talk about it? What was their toeles? Of course, they understood that UBearta Hara. We must talk about it everywhere in klal yisroel. It was not a “local” issue.

    This is hypocrisy at its worst. Why the difference between FInkel and all others? It is because with Finkel EVERYONE in Monsey ate Treif because of him.And those who didn’t felt personally appalled that a monster was living in their midst who could have done the same to them. they felt violated. When you are screwed over, you do not really give a d__n about the innocent victims…loshon horah concerns are out the door (rightfully so). And you want to scream and yell about the terrible thing that he did. you want his name to be mentioned for evil. you are not in a mood to worry about his poor family.

    Molesting is different. It happens behind closed doors. It is a few people who are effected. The same people who would scream about FINKEL or people like him….sudden turn QUIET and become frum with silly shealos about loshon horah and worried about the reputation of the abuser’s family.

    In short, the reason for the lack of empathy and for the disproportionate concern for the abuser and family over the victims is a SELFISH one cloaked in HALACHIC pilpul. People do not feel that they are affected. The second they are personally effected, all their lomdisha sevaros are upshlugged by the obvious answer which is: “It is time to speak out about the evil. It is not the time to learn hilchos loshon hora!

    Rabbosai – It is time to care! If we would care about this issue like we care when someone feeds us treif or steals money (yes, there was a guy in the community who was borrowing money and stealing it and guess what? signs were hung around the whole Flatbush with his name and picture…no loshon hora concerns…no concerns about his family), we would rise up and shout from the rooftops…every Rov would talk about it in shul.

    Show some empathy for the victims…people whose lives are destroyed…shed a few tears for the thought of the innocents who have been brought up their whole lives on the premise of tzinius and kedusha and then have it all stolen away from them by the very figure who preached to them about the importance of these issues. Think for a second about the innocence stolen, about the lives changed, about the hours and hours of therapy, about the life-long struggles these people will face to heal…and think about what could have been had the monster meisels and others like him not been allowed to operate freely and prey on innocents. Please wake up from your sleep! Awaken, and recognize the terrible ills that our very frum society is permitting to happen under our very eyes.

    How can we in good faith look the other way? Is this what we believe Hashem wants us to do? We say every day Yasom V’Almana Yodeid. Hashem tends to those who might be taken advantage of. We learn how we should emulate Hashem. Instead, we do the exact opposite. We look at those crying out for help, we tell them that we would love to help them but we can’t because Hashem doesn’t allow us for fear we may shame the abuser’s family. What a letdown for those seeking our help or at least an empathetic pat on the shoulder or caring nod. What a turnoff from our religion. What a corruption of true ethical, moral an religious values. What a chillul hashem!

    I am out of words…it is too difficult to express in words the feeling of seeing countless times the same reaction from the apathetic members of our community and leadership.

    A word to the victims: some of us do care and more importantly, Hashem knows what happened and is with you as you struggle to move forward and live fully again. Please do not sever your relationships with Hashem and with his True Torah.

  2. This because when loshan horah makes the frum world look frummer then it is ok. But when it makes the frum world look ugly then it is forbidden!!

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