A Former Rabbi’s Proclamation On Tznius

Fellow Jews, I believe it’s essential we come to realize that the rabbis are right. Lack of Tznius is certainly one of the biggest problems in Yiddishkite today and indeed causing the Jewish people so much hardship.

I, as a former rabbi, have suffered for years watching helplessly as our community has endured the tremendous hardships of our neglect on addressing these critical issues properly. Therefore I am making my own Kol Koreh – public proclamation – to address this horrific breach in our moral standards. Tayreh Yidden! What has our nation come to!

1. Rabbis, cheder rebbes, maggidei shiurim, seminary teachers etc must not rape, molest, take advantage of students whether they are minors or young adults.

2. When we rabbis catch a known rapist or molester we must deliver then to the authorities immediately and not let them continue to rape and even worse Chas veshalom go onto run a seminary for young women. This also applies to cheder rebbeim. Don’t just fire them and send them to spiritual counseling, too many cheder rebbeim return to violating children. Once we catch a predator Report them immediately and protect our children and save countless lives from the horror of becoming victims to our antipathy.

3. These principles also apply to all frum Yidden. Do not rape, molest, take advantage of any human being. Just because our rabbinic leadership lets people get away with it does not condone such deplorable and despicable behavior.

4. Dear rabbis. Pedophilia is a crime. Even if you’re only viewing and sharing images, you are still contributing to a devastating exploitation of minors.

5. It is absolutely forbidden to secretly film newlyweds being intimate in any setting, particularly in free housing set up by us rabbis to help them get a start on life. This also applies to our mikvehs. Our congregants trust us, beyond this horrific breach of tznius we are violating people on the deepest most profound level.

6. Although the temptation may be great do not take advantage of your congregants for sexual favors. This applies whether they are bringing a niddah question to you, coming to you for marital counseling or just trying to become close to you to get emotional or spiritual support.

7. Although cheating on your wife may not be illegal in dini demalchusa, it is still a gross breach of trust to your wives- unless they consent, in which case you should still be mindful of the example it sets for those who look up to you for spiritual guidance.

8. A rabbi who preaches modesty who then frequents prostitutes should confront his hypocrisy.

9. Groping or touching people without their permission is forbidden. Don’t wait for the closed circuit cameras to catch you. Just don’t do it.

My dear rabbinic colleagues. I believe this is a good start. Let’s lay off the women for a while. By that I mean let’s lay off posting weekly declarations to women regarding how they dress in bold threatening posters. And let us focus our attention on working on the more serious breaches of tznius we’ve been shoving under the rug.

In conclusion, we know frum women are unfortunately easier to control – after all we can’t just simply tell men to keep their eyes to themselves. Perhaps we have a problem with this ourselves and realize that if we can’t control our own eyes how can we tell men to control their eyes. Yes, being that women are easier targets let’s repress the temptation to burden them more than necessary smothering them in hot uncomfortable clothing in the stifling summer months lest a man see something that distracts his learning Chas v’shalom. Maybe indeed part of the problem is our own obsessive fixation on the way women look instead of working on our own human dignity and respect for them.

17 Comments

  1. A Name July 24, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    I would only add that there is a mitzva to follow the law of the land unless it directly contradicts with our own. In these cases, the law of the land follow the laws of the Torah

    Reply
  2. Anon July 25, 2017 at 3:42 am

    Thank you for your powerful article. It saddens me that such an article is necessary, Nothing you said is a chidush and everything you said is a very basic human values that seem to have been lost by many in our generation.

    Don’t rape, molest or take advantage? Call the police? Don’t protect abusers? It’s completely abhorrent to me that these things even need to be said.

    While I applaud you for saying what needed to be said, your article saddens me. I can’t comprehend that this is how low our generation has fallen.

    Kol HaKavod. Keep fighting the good fight.

    Reply
    1. Leeba July 25, 2017 at 2:55 pm

      Amen!

      Reply
  3. James Apple July 25, 2017 at 4:06 am

    You should always follow the laws of the land, regardless if they follow or don’t follow the laws of the Torah.

    Reply
    1. Mark Bernstein July 26, 2017 at 10:56 am

      In that case, you are advocating that people in Nazi Germany should have followed the laws of the Nazis, or that people in the South of the US in the early 20th century should follow and enforce the laws against black people. Or that if a country some day decides to ban circumcision, Jews should give up the mark of the covenant. Just because a country makes a law does not make it moral or spiritual. Sometimes the correct and moral thing to do is to fight against it, and not follow blindly like a sheep or coward.

      Reply
  4. Anonymous July 25, 2017 at 5:19 am

    A note from the author. I appreciate the wide distribution and generally warm acceptance of this composition. Yes, I’m aware posting anonymously will damper the impact. But unfortunately anyone who lives in the frum community will understand the vindictive and fierce retribution such an article will draw to the author. I personally can not absorb such wrath at this stage in life and felt it was better to air these thoughts in this anonymous forum than to continue to remain silent. Maybe others who can absorb the retribution can embrace some of the ideas and give them a more pronounced platform.

    As for what motivated me. The rash of suicides from our community in recent years has been a growing unbearable onslaught to my conscience. Unfortunately I know some young souls who took their lives who had endured predatory sexual abuse and lived their lives as hallow shells never having been able to extricate themselves from their violation. I feel the biggest travesty is not how many of these individual cases were mishandled (whether through threatening the victims into submission of improper pursuit of justice) but the continual blatant and systemic general apathy of our community’s leadership. Yes, our leadership has a voice and a platform to help stem this plague yet when they do employ their voice what do they find most pressing? Not the molestation, not the abuse of influence to take sexual advantage of impressionable youths, nor any of these other issues expressed above which all have been exposed throughout the years, no, indeed tznius. Time and time again I find this caustic paradoxical hypocrisy. If tznius was truly such an important issue then indeed address it amongst our own ranks then hopefully it will trickle down to the masses.

    As discussed I wish to remain anonymous. Yes I served as a rabbi for a large part of my life but I do not have the strength or ability to absorb the certain wrath of those to whom I so desperately wish would absorb this message in earnest.

    May we all be zoche to witness a true redemption from these burning issues. I wish to thank all those who shared and expressed compassion to these thoughts. May we all be zoche to a true geula shleima.

    Reply
  5. Anonymous July 25, 2017 at 5:33 am

    The fact that you are forced to write this is a tragedy. The fact that the the leaders of the Orthodox communities believe the length of a woman’s skirt is more important than the rape of little children is a chillul hashem of the worst sort.

    Reply
    1. Stacey July 25, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Completely agree…..read my comment as well….

      Reply
    2. Anonymous July 26, 2017 at 10:31 am

      I grew up in the 1950s in an Orthodox home in NYC.Grandparents were closer to ultra-orthodox.Moved to Israel in 1959.The state of religious Jewry today,from a basic moral viewpoint is a source of surprise,consternation and bewilderment.
      Or maybe,it has taken me time to begin to understand human nature.The more you live in one place,the easier it is to see its problems.

      Reply
  6. Stacey July 25, 2017 at 11:29 am

    Very sad, but obviously exists…..the “self righteousness” needs to disappear from Judaism. Just because these people are at most times “untouchable,” and work in “the shadows,” it doesn’t mean they don’t exist, impact innocent souls, nor create brutal memories for their victims. The title of “Rabbi,” often goes to ones head, any title could, but the gyst or root of the problem is “sickness,” a “diseased mind,” “mental illness.” One would like to think that the majority of Jewish clergy are honest, but this problem seems to be more and more common, and covering it up isn’t helping to solve these issues.
    It seems in general, that there is too much focus on “robotic observances,” rather than truly feeling and living Torah. Spirituality and true feelings are numbed in the souls of men today. Anyone can recite a prayer, not anyone can truly live, feel and display daily what Judaism was truly meant to be. The Jewish people are just as corrupt as anyone else, the costumes worn, the prayers said mean nothing. A true and pure Neshama is rare today, Moshiac will only enlighten the Jewish people when all the masks come off and costumes are taken off and the veil of secrecy exposed. I’m a Jew, I’ve raised two daughters in the day school system, 1 is frum,1 no longer frum. Most Jews are just caught up in being like their neighbor, losing their individuality in the process. Hashem doesn’t oppress, Hashem uplifts and gives each soul the freedom to be an individual with Judaism being a “moral compass.”
    Get back to basics, stop the charade, live the life you want, stop trying to keep up wth the “Cohens,” and be you within a world that you create for yourself, be honest, have integrity, be kind, loving and compassionate “Always,” then maybe Moshiac will come!

    Reply
  7. Cynical Saint July 25, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    .

    Obviously the Jewish & Catholic NATIONS “HAVE FALLEN GREATLY”.

    Unfortunately, the Sheople continue to allow the LOST SHEPHERDS to RAPE Humanities INNOCENT & MOST VULNERABLE of their Physical, Mental and Spritual WELLBEING and then Left Alone in a Desert to Die ALONE through the Abuse of Alcohol/Drugs and or Suicide.
    …WE ALL HAVE the BLOOD of INNOCENTS ON OUR HANDS, whether by Commission or Ommissiin.

    “True Evil, Lies Not In The Depraved Act Of The One, But In The “Silence” Of The Many”.

    SILENCE IS THE VOICE OF COMPLICITY !

    .

    Reply
  8. Not Carrie Clueless anymore July 25, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    #1 and #2. Jews and Non Jews should not take advantage of people in health care situaions. a therapist who did this to me cuased me damge for close to 2 yeary. I trusted him, paied him and he became weird and sexual.

    Reply
  9. Ben Avi July 25, 2017 at 10:53 pm

    Have mercy! To have to tell someone rape is unacceptable indicates a level of depravity that’s alarming. Surely this must be a letter to correctional institution inmates, and not Rabbis… no?

    The necessity for this letter is disturbing.

    Reply
  10. Judith July 26, 2017 at 9:03 am

    Thank you.

    Reply
  11. Malka susswein July 27, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    It seems that readers of this article are responding to human characteristics that MANY humans have had and will have in future and rabbis are certainly not immune to
    And they are: power corrupts absolutely
    By giving the individual the false sense of grandiosity and of being above the law
    Additionally , cognitive dissonance is a powerful brain denier
    If we can’t believe it’s true it’s not

    These 2 factors prevent honesty and then ” sheker” takes and creates an illusion of truth but it’s foundation is rotten

    Reply
  12. Yedida Shalhevit Fink July 28, 2017 at 8:56 am

    These basics do need to be said – but the issue I have with the article is that it still dances around where the problem stems from. Yes, people (not only women) do need to dress/be tzniut – but every time something happens, it cannot be blamed on women’s lack of tznuit, because that is utter nonsense. The root of the problem is in the fact that Hashem did not create people to live in a box – to have every single aspect of their lives dictated by other men, to the point of being so abnormally repressed that they become nearly unable to control the urges that Hashem created. It is not normal to have gender segregation so strong that a boy will cover his eyes or cross the street to avoid even seeing a female. It is not normal that females are blacked out of school books and not pictured in publications. It is not normal that boys and girls are told not to interact at all, ever. It is not normal that teens are never given any biological education at all, and are told that it is not tznuit to speak of it – to the point that they haven’t a single clue about how their own body functions…. and the list goes on and on, with the edicts that people (NOT Hashem) fabricated… So that these communities are actually creating deviants! 🙁 (Just as – if a child was told all their life that candy is bad – it will rot your teeth, it will give you diabetes, it will make you sick, it will cause cancer and kill you – don’t eat it, don’t touch it, don’t even look at it, it’s evil – as soon as that child gets a chance, they will grab, gobble and gorge themselves on all the candy they can. That is human nature). Add to that problem the additional problem that in the enclave type communities, the boys have their masculinity removed, by not only being so repressed, but by their every move being completely controled in every way, so that they do not ever learn how to be independant and be decision-makers. They also have no clue how to interact with the opposite gender, because they’ve never been taught, so they revert back to male-only relationships (often becoming deviant), or else seek out and end up [secretly] running after the forbidden things. On top of that, they are taught that it is meritorious to sit and “learn” rather than work, and they are not given an education to be able to go out and work, and they continue the cycle of living off the system. This whole situation sets boys up to stay immature repressed boys, and never develop into real men. There is more to it – but suffice it to say that this article points out obvious facts, but does not go to the root of the problem, which needs to be addressed. All I can say is, the leaders in these communities, who dictate such repression, have a lot of blood on their hands.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous August 29, 2017 at 11:18 am

    I’m crying from the bravery and courage writing this must have taken…..it takes humility and strength to voice this….means a lotttt thank you…especially for those of us who have had “Rabbanim” misuse their position of authority to hurt us

    Reply

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