Thursday, December 19, 2013

Protecting Jews Even From Other Jews, Sexual Abuse, and Why Moshe was Chosen

Judy Brown, author of Hush, asked a serious question in this famous speech at the Nefesh conference in Chicago (above). She asked why do we punish victims of sexual abuse in many parts of our community and hide/protect the perpetrators? Why do we place the burden to prevent chillul Hashem, the burden to remain silent, on the children and the victims?

She asks (see the video above starting at 15:50) why, for a community that does such an immense amount of chessed, do we further victimize the victims of sexual abuse? She suggests that one reason could be that we do above-and-beyond-the-call-of-duty chessed when the victim in need of assistance is the victim of circumstances, Divine decree, or perhaps even non-Jewish persecution. But if we stood up to protect children from other frum Jews (including family members, rebbeim, etc.), we would have to admit that we (at least some of us) are the bad guys. There is no such connotation when helping perpetrator-less "victims." So we deny that the abuse exists and bully the victims into silence.

We're willing to help Jews who are victimized by circumstances or by non-Jews, but not those who are victimized by other Jews.

This is the opposite of true of Moshe. Hashem chose him in this week's parsha, Shmos, as our redeemer because he not only stood up to protect a Jew (at great risk to himself) from the non-Jewish task-master who was beating him. He also stood up to one Jew who was beating another. His accomplishments go further, but this point reminded me of Judy Brown's observation noted above.

IY"H, may more of us be like Moshe Rebbeiniu and, if presented with the choice, may we have the courage to face the consequences as Moshe did and protect children and others in need of assistance even from other Jews, no matter how powerful they are.

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Anonymous said...

This content NEEDS to be out there. But a video of a woman on this website? Feels wrong. Maybe you can pull the audio? (b"H dressed frum and talking frum, but still....)

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Thanks for the comment. First, I'm not sure why you're saying she *dresses* frum and *talks* frum... She is frum.

Second, I'm not entirely comfortable with publications (like Mishpacha Magainze which subscribe to and love), especially children's books, which have made the editorial policy not to ever show an image of an adult woman, even if she is dressed modestly. I don't think that's right and I have made the editorial decision throughout the history of this blog to have images of women.

And especially with the importance of her message, which you see as well, it's definitely worthwhile having Mrs. Brown's lecture on here. I hope more people see it and do something about it if they live in a community where this is a problem.

That is really the point of posting this.

Anonymous said...

Your friend from Florida here, disagreeing on all counts.

Please see (And then be mochel me for directing you to) her articles in Forward.

The middah of tzniyus of a bas yisroel is lacking in discussing the (non-abuse) issues that she does in public, not to mention in that publication.

The forward is not "Frum".

Publicly discussing the hormonal changes in a young maidelah's chest is not "Frum".

Discussing going to movies and then slipping back into your orthodox-lifestyle-costume is not "frum".

The vast majority of her writings there are not "frum".

[To be 100% clear, the abuse issue you posted is NOT what I object to. That should not be stifled at ALL. Her points on that issue are supremely valid and obviously painfully based in reality.]

I guess my issue is this: The soft- and well-spoken aishes chayil speaking about a VERY important issue in your video seems to be a COMPLETELY different person than the woman writing the forward articles. Which makes me think that either 1) one is pretending to be the other. Given the tone of the forward articles, as well as the author's admission that it's possible to pause your yiddishkeit to go to a movie, I assume the forward author is dressing up as a the video speaker. OR 2) maybe it's been so long that her painful experiences led to a yeridah of sorts, r"l.

In regards to your posting images/videos of women; as soon as you feel you've beat a yetzer hara, that's when it's won. Our purpose is only to keep fighting. It sounds like you feel as if you're beyond that tayvah. Like Rabbi Weinberger has said "the girl in the office who you're not worried about because she's not so pretty? She's pretty enough for you!" If you think what you see - however innocuous - doesn't affect you, that you've seen worse, or it's no big deal... that just means you've been "asher karcha baderech'd" already by the yetzer hara.

And something tells me, the author would take issue with that notion as well.

We don't need burkas and skirts that drag on the ground and red lingerie bans - that's not our way at all. But we have enough to deal with in the street, work etc. There's no need to add to the deluge on a taharadig site like this one.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Hi friend from Florida, :-)

Let's set a few things straight.

To address your last point first, it's really totally irrelevant. I don't put pictures of scantily clad women on this blog so I'm not sure what you're talking about. Are you saying that you think (and suggesting that Rav Weinberger thinks) that no frum publication should have pictures of any women ever, regardless of whether they are dressed modestly? On the rare occassion when I do have images of women on the blog, there's some reason for it, it's not gratuitous. I understand that there are publications that have a policiy of never showing pictures of women ever, but I just don't think that's the right across-the-board policy here. There's no point in it. And the idea that one must delude himself into thinking that he's beat his Y"H in that tayva in order to support publications with innocuous pictures with women in them strikes me as extreme and "not normal." And I also feel that such a policy dehumanizes women by essentially saying that no image of one can every be shown in public, even if they are dressed tzniyus-dik, because it should arouse tayvos. Should women also not walk modestly-dressed in the streets because men may look at them?

As to your first point, I did read a couple of her articles. Just because not everything she does is ideal, first of all, should she be considered "not frum."

More importantly, you have to review a drasha I'm sure you read at the time (and which I put back online l'toeles harabim):

There is a profound broken-ness in one's humanity that has resulted in many people who were brought up the way she was because of that upbringing. While of course I don't personally feel it's right to write about thos ethings on a blog, I understand her to be writing about those things as a way of recognizing the broken-ness with which she was brought up and seeing knowledge and frank-ness as a way back to sanity.

We're friends so I'm happy to talk with you by phone sometime about it. But seriously think about what Rebbe said in that drasha. I believe it's fundamental to understanding people who've lived through that matzav and being people who can be part of the solution.

RAM said...

The question is, are we loyal to the status quo or are we loyal to HaShem and His Torah?

Anonymous said...

I'll review your link. I've been wrong before.

Understanding her "Why" doesn't make all of her "What" right.

She has this MASSIVELY important point to make about abuse that should rightly be publicized....

And because of that, the rest of her faux-frum mis'halech is justified?

Come on... Be a grown up, make a chiluk.

She' very right on the abuse issue, but very very very wrong about the manner she presents everything else she publishes.

And I doubt that Rebbe would say you should be posting images of women on a website where frum jewish men and young boys will be coming to find torah, nigunim, etc.

You can post all the disclaimers you want prior to posting divergent opinions from eretz yisroel on the matsav there.

What you cannot do, is put a disclaimer in front of a picture/video.

It's just there.

Remember rebbe's 2005-era opposition to myspace? It was that it was "out there". The young girls would put themselves "out there". leah, shlomis, etc. (maybe facebook is more acceptable since it's invitation only, who knows)

At least make it a clickable link.

It's not assur to watch that video.
It's not assur to post it.

And the truth is, honestly, no one is going to care about it. No one's going to care about an innocuous video of a properly dressed young woman.... and that only means it's one more thing desensitizing us to something that, especially during shovavim, we need to be working on INCREASING our sensitivty to.

Anonymous said...

Great great link, one of my favorites, thanks for bringing it up again.

But there's a stark difference line between those little girls singing in bnei brak, and what this lady is posting at the forward.

If your point is to EXPLAIN her reaction to her matsav, message received.

If you're trying to JUSTIFY or EXCUSE that path she's taken since, then we differ.

The articles at the forward are not from the machane of frum yidden.

I do not think that her name or video belongs here.

The audio content would suffice.

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

First, I didn't say everything she says or does in every venue is justified. But that doesn't mean it's not understandable and it doesn't mean that we should pasken that she isn't "frum." Frum people, even those who are trying to do the right things generally, do all kinds of things they shouldn't (including me). But we don't generally saying that they're not really frum because of that, or that the frum things they do are "fake."

As Rebbe said one time, we should consider the bad things people do as the "fake" affectations they put on their true righteous selves. Not the other way around as you seem to be doing in this instance. Please review this teaching from Rebbe as quoted by R. Boruch Leff:

As to this issue, I totally hear that we need to increase our vigilance in this area, especially during Shovavim. No question. But having an image of a woman once every month or two on this blog where there's a positive toeles I just don't think is part of that.

Of course it goes without saying that I'm not talking about looking at even a woman's pinkey derech hana'ah as okay. I'm talking about having the image there for a purpose and not for the purpose of hana'ah.

I just don't think the image on the blog is what you should be focusing on here. Besides that it misses the point of why I posted it, as a general policy, it just focuses on the wrong direction. See also what Rebbe's said in the "instaling the yiras Shamayim filter" shiur and in the Klal Perspectives article.

With great love,


Anonymous said...

You've got your opinion, I've got mine. Hkb"H loves a machlokes le'shaym shamayim :-)

DixieYid (يهودي جنوبي) said...

Yes indeedily doodily!

And RAM, totally agree!

Menashe said...

How does an individual that cannot deal with the image of a modestly dressed woman function in the modern world? Serious question.

Anonymous said...

I think what is not tzniyus is everyone having an argument online like this. Whatever your intentions it will beused and/or misunderstood by many

Anonymous said...

"How does an individual that cannot deal with the image of a modestly dressed woman function in the modern world? Serious question."

I think frum yidden have been grappling with this question since at least the Divrei Chaim's time.

Answers? You'd have to go by your rebbe, who knows your neshama. We have both ways among frum yidden: From Chabad's engagement of the world, to the many stories of tzadikim who refuse to look up in public places such as airports. Zu Be'zu divrei elokim chaim..... but don't underestimate your yetzer.