Rabbi Yakov Horowitz writes:
Just imagine how many abused children's lives would have been saved over the years had we collectively protected Dr. Abraham Twerski by reporting the individuals who threatened him and sent clear, unequivocal messages to our elected leaders and police officers to arrest and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.
Just imagine how much of the chillul Hashem we are now suffering through in the secular press on the matter of child abuse would have been avoided had we taken his sage advice seriously and adopted reasonable, Torah-appropriate guidelines to keep our children safe.
What an olam hafuch (upside down world; see Bava Basra 10b) we have created. We sit silently by when decent, caring mental health professionals who have devoted their lives to helping Yiddishe kinder are terrorized while alleged and convicted pedophiles live peaceful lives in our communities.
I am certainly not calling for vigilante violence directed at pedophiles, but it just boggles the mind that none of the child molesters in our community have ever, to my knowledge, been subjected to anything remotely resembling the harassment directed at both Drs. Abraham and Benzion Twerski.
(And if you have any question as to whether or not there are convicted child molesters living in our community, go to http://criminaljustice.state.ny.us/nsor/index.htm and do a search of the zip codes of our heimish neighborhoods. Warning: you will probably lose your lunch.)
This incident with Reb Benzion is just another sorry example of the Chinese Water Torture we have suffered through over the years as we gradually have ceded the moral high ground to the extremists who have increasingly over the past decade or two shredded the kind, beautiful, spiritual, tolerant and moderate haredi society I was raised in with their anger, intolerance, pashkevilin (unsigned and/or fraudulent kol koreis), threats, intimidation and, often, violence.
Make no mistake about it. We - the vast majority of haredi moderates who have been bullied into submission by these immoral, violent people purporting to represent Torah values - are in a struggle for the very soul of our Torah society. And thus far we have been losing this battle.
Two weeks ago in these pages I published a column on the painful topic of child abuse titled "Lm'aan Hashem - What Will it Take?"
Here is a quote from that article:
"Is there any more sacred obligation than protecting the children entrusted to our care? Shame on us, for failing to treat it as such. Shame on us, for allowing ourselves to repeatedly get distracted with meaningless and often silly non-issues raised by self-appointed "askanim" that purport to pose spiritual risk to our children while our paramount communal responsibility to keep evil people from destroying the physical and spiritual lives of our children keeps getting bumped to the back burner."
To this I would add: Shame on the kanoim who harassed a wonderful member of our community like Dr. Twerski. You have the blood of future abuse victims on your hands - kids who could have been saved by the initiatives Dr. Twerski would have implemented.
And shame on all of us for allowing such an olam hafuch to be perpetuated.
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz, whose parsha and parenting columns appear regularly in The Jewish Press, is the founder and dean of Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey and the founder and director of Agudath Israel's Project Y.E.S. For more information on the Project Y.E.S. teen and parent mentoring programs, visit www.rabbihorowitz.com.