LAST SEEN SHMOOZING LEISURELY IN BORO PARK:
|RINGLEADER & FOUNDER OF THE GET MAFIA YISROEL BELSKY IS ALREADY BITING THE DUST|
“A predator looking for an opportunity to abuse a child would seek the easiest point of entry,” said Avedon.
While institutions are tempted to “wait until they have proof,” that means “waiting until a child is abused.”
“I think it’s pretty clear that the Jewish world is lagging behind,” said Avedon.
“We’re not at a level of communal discussion, response and resource provision that indicates this issue is being taken seriously.”
- Where there is “raglayim la’davar” (roughly, reason to believe) that a child has been abused or molested, the matter should be reported to the authorities. In such situations, considerations of “tikun ha’olam” (the halachic authority to take steps necessary to “repair the world”), as well as other halachic concepts, override all other considerations.
- This halachic obligation to report where there is raglayim la’davar is not dependent upon any secular legal mandate to report. Thus, it is not limited to a designated class of “mandated reporters,” as is the law in many states (including New York); it is binding upon anyone and everyone. In this respect, the halachic mandate to report is more stringent than secular law.
- However, where the circumstances of the case do not rise to the threshold level of raglayim la’davar, the matter should not be reported to the authorities. In the words of Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, perhaps the most widely respected senior halachic authority in the world today, “I see no basis to permit” reporting “where there is no raglayim la’davar, but rather only ‘eizeh dimyon’ (roughly, some mere conjecture); if we were to permit it, not only would that not result in ‘tikun ha’olam’, it could lead to ‘heres haolam’ (destruction of the world).” [Yeshurun, Volume 7, page 641.]
- Thus, the question of whether the threshold standard of raglayim la’davar has been met so as to justify (indeed, to require) reporting is critical for halachic purposes. (The secular law also typically establishes a threshold for mandated reporters; in New York, it is “reasonable cause to suspect.”) The issue is obviously fact sensitive and must be determined on a case-by-case basis.
- There may be times when an individual may feel that a report or evidence he has seen rises to the level of raglayim la’davar; and times when he may feel otherwise. Because the question of reporting has serious implications for all parties, and raises sensitive halachic issues, the individual should not rely exclusively on his own judgment to determine the presence or absence of raglayim la’davar. Rather, he should present the facts of the case to a rabbi who is expert in halacha and who also has experience in the area of abuse and molestation – someone who is fully sensitive both to the gravity of the halachic considerations and the urgent need to protect children. (In addition, as Rabbi Yehuda Silman states in one of his responsa [Yeshurun, Volume 15, page 589], “of course it is assumed that the rabbi will seek the advice of professionals in the field as may be necessary.”) It is not necessary to convene a formal bais din (rabbinic tribunal) for this purpose, and the matter should be resolved as expeditiously as possible to minimize any chance of the suspect continuing his abusive conduct while the matter is being considered.
“People are not thinking through these issues in advance,” said Berkovits.
91 percent of Orthodox youth directors had no training on child-abuse prevention, and 75 percent of Orthodox synagogues had no policies on the matter.
“The stigma around sexual abuse is a huge challenge.”
“I’m galvanized by what Shira is doing — people need to know that her work can help avert so many future disasters.”
“When we started this work a few years back, people warned us, ‘You’re going to make enemies.’”
“In the Jewish community, the anti-abuse organizations that exist rarely speak about God or reference Judaic texts in their work,” said Berkovits.