Jul 11, 2011
"Reporting Abuse is Not Mesirah"

"The severe prohibitions of mesirah do not apply in cases where there is evidence of abuse," Crown Heights Rabbis Yaacov Schwei and Yosef Braun write in a new letter.

Florida family therapist Chaim Itche Drizin talks about how we can empower and protect our children before the travesty happens.
Part 1 -- Part 2 -- Part 3

+ Dr. Pelcovitz: The Most Vulnerable
+ Op-Ed: This Isn't "Dirty Laundry"
+ Op-Ed: Where were you last night?
+ Mrs. Swerdlov: Abuse is an epidemic
+ Video: Who's Responsible for Abuse?
+ Shea Hecht: Am I My Brother's Keeper?
+ Simon Jacobson: How to prevent child abuse

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
Finaly the rabbies are coming out in this issue, it's about time!!
(7/11/2011 3:43:42 PM)
Kol Ha'Kovod
It's about time the Bais Din tackles issues that are rellevant, importnat to the community. Maybe it's the new blood, or just plain common sense. Either way, I hope this is the begining of a new reality for our community.
(7/11/2011 3:44:19 PM)
not doing enough
With all the stories that are surfacing lately, the schools are just not doing enough, hopefully this letter will be a first step to change
(7/11/2011 3:47:44 PM)
remember if you can, that R'Manis Friedman started coming out on this issue. Now its growing. Revealing the truth and dealing with it.
If these children aren't saved, they could end up...at best....being Borderline personality disorder. I don't want to think of what else could be.....HaShem Yishmoireinu
(7/11/2011 3:47:58 PM)
this is what contemporary halacha is all about. How to find our place within context of the larger judicial system and process.
Although most individuals blessed with common sense would not think twice before this ruling on this same subject there are many who are not as individually blessed. Mazal Tov for this important step in the halachic process.
(7/11/2011 3:48:44 PM)
Non Crown Heightser
This could perhaps be first meaningful letter and psak din from the Beis Din in some time.
(7/11/2011 3:49:46 PM)
why now just waking up?
This should have been made clear years ago, people are always afraid to say anything about abuse that they know about, whether about themselves or others.
And the consequences are very bad, as can be seen by the number of troubled youth as well as adults who never came forward about this terrible subject.
(7/11/2011 4:07:16 PM)
Yesh li Rav
It's amazing that since Harav Braun and Harav Schviei signed the psak- Harav Osdoba would not sign.
(7/11/2011 4:07:38 PM)
about time
what about spousal abuse?where is that letter?
(7/11/2011 4:08:46 PM)
let's give credit where it is due
the N'shei Chabad Newsletter came out with its landmark article on child abuse and molestation in September of 2006. NCN was the first! yasher koach to the Rabbanim and may Hashem grant them success in publicizing this. thank you collive for spreading this important letter.
(7/11/2011 4:15:21 PM)
Kol HaKavod
Kol HaKavod and Yasher Koach to both Rabbis. But, by the way, I find it pathetic that we had to wait untill today to finally have some CH Rabbonim paskening what was obvious from the very beginning: it is not Mesirahh to report child abusers.
(7/11/2011 4:19:53 PM)
There are at least 3 well known pedophiles in positions of influence within the CH community, I challenge one of these “Rabbonim” TO HAND THEM OVER TO THE COPS. Or at least give a private ruling allowing one of them to be handed over, but they won’t, as this is all fluff without any substance.
Until they do so this piece of paper will remain just that, a stunt to legitimize the new “Rov” and an attempt to marginalize the only real Rov on the CH B”D.
It’s shocking that there are people out there in our community willing to use this issue for political gain.
(7/11/2011 4:31:31 PM)
"at the time of the attack"
what is that supposed to mean? you cant notify the police after the attack? Someone please clarify! azkir al hatzion!
(7/11/2011 4:35:00 PM)
A child physical abuser is not only a rodef at the time of attack, they are always a rodef, because neither Torah nor modern science has discovered the means of turning back the mental switch in perpretators that makes abuse an urgent and irresistable need that never fades. All statistics loudly scream: Once an abuser, always an abuser. Unless they are physically prevented from attacking by jail or other real means, they will always attack again.
Please let the Rabbis update their statement to make it more realistic.
(7/11/2011 4:38:02 PM)
"evidence of abuse"
I think this psak din is very long overdue, and it could not have
happened without the charisma and chachma of our new
Rav working together so well with Rav Schwei.
I wonder if any other chassidic community has ever put
forth such a psak din. However, I would like to know who
will determine where there is "evidence of abuse". My ex-
perience with our yeshivos is total denial. When will our
minahalim be forthcoming and not coverup what has been
happening in our schools? There is always the fear of
ruining someone's life versus remaining silent and not
protecting innocent children. Who will determine where
there is "evidence of abuse" before it is reported to the
(7/11/2011 4:41:49 PM)
to 12
If what you say is true, dont just claim that it is true (which will make he rabbonim look bad) buttrather go there, get proof and show the world who these terrible people are
(7/11/2011 5:10:57 PM)
does this psak apply to melamdim too?
if so, is it universal?
(7/11/2011 5:57:05 PM)
another sneezy move
abusing a sensative issue, to futher political agendas. totaly transparent.
(7/11/2011 5:57:30 PM)
And so?
Anyone who had to ask a shaaloh before reporting abuse needs his head examined. If it was your son or daughter you'd want the creep murdered, so why ask permission to report it to the police? These sickos need to be named and shamed & their families will just have to deal with it.

This kind of thing everyone runs to Rabbonim. Walking half naked down Kingston or not keeping the dinim...no problem.
(7/11/2011 6:16:29 PM)
Att: 18
Talking of a "sneezy" [sic] political move... Calling this a "political move" is as sleazy and political as it gets. Shame on you.
(7/11/2011 6:18:10 PM)
"rodef at the time of the attack"
Maybe this was the rabbonims intention:
The halacha of Rodef is that you may injure or even kill the attacker, whatever is necessary to stop him from attacking.
This, of course, only applies "at the time of the attack", after the attack, or before it has actually begun, you could simply call the police...
(However, my personal opinion is that once there is evidence of intention for abuse, the halocho of rodef applies; the strongest proof of intention is after an actual attack....)
(7/11/2011 6:21:12 PM)
Thank You!
I am grateful to the Rabbonim for leading us and validating our very real fears and concerns.
Yashar Koach,
Toshav Hash'chuna
(7/11/2011 6:22:24 PM)
Thank you!
It's very important that people know that they have a halachic obligation to report abuse.

"At the time of attack" means that the abuser is considered to always be attacking the victim, and therefore constantly dangerous.
NOT that he is only dangerous when abusing the victim.
(7/11/2011 6:39:49 PM)
Rav Osdaba
Rav Osdaba didn't sign this because he wasn't shown it! Simple politics.
(7/11/2011 6:50:11 PM)
I don't get it
What is this letter all about?
Did people think they needed permission to report child abusers?
What happened all of a sudden?
What possessed the rabbis to issue this letter?
(7/11/2011 7:10:21 PM)
What about the people that don't believe?
What about the people who don't believe that abuse happened and totally ignore and deny? I wonder how they will feel when it hits them close to home? I'm sure they will not keep quiet and push it under the rug.....
(7/11/2011 7:18:36 PM)
a mandared reporter
under the mandated reprter law,teachers,principals ,child care worlkers etc have been legally bound to report suspected child abuse since1976!!!! what took us so long???
(7/11/2011 7:56:25 PM)
follow through
Great so they say report it. Are they going to follow through? We had a situation in which the school was allowing abuse to go on and we could not get a single Rav to follow through to the end on the situation. All agreed what was happening was abuse and assur but they all ran the other directions. Whats the point of such a letter if they won't actually help anyone in the end?
(7/11/2011 7:59:51 PM)
They should clarify
There are several comments posted that correctly assign the designation of "rodef" to any molester even after the attack. By the rabbis using the language "at the teim of attack" it misleads the readers to think that after the attack he is no longer considered a rodef. The rabbonim should redo this psak to clarify this point.
(7/11/2011 8:02:50 PM)
to 12
who are these three why are tainting the whole community either speak up or be quite causing a damage to everyone
(7/11/2011 8:25:00 PM)
Thank you Rabbies
This may be the greatest achievement you will be zoiche too in your life.

There are at least HUNDREDS of people in our community that have been abused as children.

The affect on the victims is catastrophic. in many cases they're anger, pain, hurt and guilt which they suffer with on a daily basis makes then turn to drug and alcohol abuse, many of them are depressed and turn away from Yiddishkit. Even those that show no outward signs of trauma continue to suffer for the rest of they're lives.

There may not be a disproportional amount of perverts in our community but the climate and condition of our way of life is the perfect habitat for molesters.

The reasons being:

* The Mashpia concept allows adults to develop a very intimate relationship with teenagers and children.

* Farbrengens with borderline alcohol consumption and letting loose.

* The Mikva which is unique to frum Jews is the ground zero for molestation.

* Overnight camp for two months and young teenagers sent away to an out-of-town Yeshiva which gives abusers an easier climate to take advantage and will go undetected by the parents.

* Lack of prior discussion or education on these topics at school, cheder, yeshiva and even at home.

* Ignorance from parents/school/society because the issue is (was) taboo which includes the stigma of reporting abuse and therefore holding back not to influence family-name and shidduchim.

And as a result, most abusers never end up in jail or treatment and allows them to roam around free and abuse many more Jewish souls.

This bold step by the Bais din may save countless Jewish Lives.
(7/11/2011 9:15:08 PM)
Hershel Moss, Crown Heights, Brooklyn Resident
Why didn't Rav Osdaba sign this?
(7/11/2011 9:15:24 PM)
Thank you COL and TheYeshiva.net for bringing this issue to public discussion!
There is no doubt in my mind that it is also thanks to Chaim Itche Drizin's video talks that have raised awareness of the severity of the crime and plight of the victims.

Thank you COL and TheYeshiva.net for bringing these classes to light.
(7/11/2011 9:51:03 PM)
Rabbi Osdaba didnt sign Because:
Rabbi Osdaba didnt sign on this piece of paper because the head says "Beth Din of CH" and it is signed by Rabbi Brown. If Rabbi Osdaba were to sign this together with Rabbi Brown on such a letter head, this would mean he accepts Rabbi Brown as the third Rov of CH, and he simply doesn't, as he has written himself and is well known.
(7/11/2011 9:58:25 PM)
the reason.......
that they just came out now,is because rabbi braun is the only rov who had the courage to stand up for this terrible aveirah and fight it head on! i have a gut feeling in the next week or 2 we r in for some shocking news!
(7/11/2011 10:10:37 PM)
Bais Rivkah Programs
The issue of abuse has been addressed several times in public in the last few years. The first event was at teh Rubashkin home organized by Bronya Schaffer. After that there were numerous events in the Museum and then this last year two events for the whole community in Bais RIvkah also organized by Bronya Schaffer. In all the events she brought in expert speakers to educate our community. This public letter from our bais din is another step along the path already started in o ur community first by the Nshei Newsletter and then by Bronya Schaffer.
I want to end with a saying I heard in a workshop which Bronya Schaffer made for parents where she said: The good news is that its never going to be like it was in the past.
That's right, with our community being open ab out it, and thanks to COLLIVE also and now this psak din it's never going to be bad like it was in the past.
(7/11/2011 10:14:29 PM)
#12 If you care about your fellow brothers, tell us who they are so we can atleast attempt to protect our children from them!!! NAME THEM, PLEEEEASE!
(7/11/2011 11:02:19 PM)
Lets Lend support
Yasher Koach to the Neshei Chabad Newsletter for being in the forefront of addressing this hushed evil. Yasher Koach to th Rabbonim for starting to deal with this evil. Continued Hatzlocho. Waiting axniously for Moshiach when this evil will be erased from the face of the earfth
(7/11/2011 11:35:12 PM)
To #32
Because he is not part of this anymore.
(7/11/2011 11:38:48 PM)
at the time of the attack means allways
the word "beshaas maase" apply to the word "rodef" and do not apply to the word "mitalel"
that means that the abuser is consider all the time as a ''rodef bishas maase'' (i dont see need for the rabonnim to clarify !!! ppl just need to know how to read from a psak)
(7/11/2011 11:57:40 PM)
to # 34
Right on!!!

(7/11/2011 11:59:56 PM)
CSA (Child Abuse)Crime Unit
If you have information regarding child molestation please go directly to the NYPD CSA Unit @ (718)330-5600.

If you have a plausible account of child abuse they will ask you to come down immediately (in Brooklyn) and after speaking to you if they believe you and its possible to arrest, they will do it on the spot.

Please save our community and our children.
(7/12/2011 12:14:42 AM)
oy vay
This is not about politics, this is about a serious problem in our community, that has been ignored for years, it has nothing to do with R' Braun or R' Schwai or anyone else, it has to do with the persistence of a victim that bugged them till they agreed to do it, which by the way all 3 Rabbis refused in the beginning. if you have been a victim of abuse call the hotline 212-844-1495
(7/12/2011 12:28:18 AM)
Rabbi Osdobo's boycott is hurting himself!
I'm sorry for moving of topic, but this has to be said.

this is such a important issue to our community, and if Rabbi Osdoba wont voice his opinion because he is boycotting the other Rabbonim, then he is effectively useless and irrelevant, it makes to difference whether he is right or wrong.
if for every important issue the Rabbonim have to deal with he will run away and boycott it, saying "i disagree with him.." that leaves him dealing with nothing of use to our community, again I'm not saying he is wrong, just stating the fact.
its better to have a small say (1 out of 3) then boycott and have no say at all.
i ask the Rov's forgiveness, but i feel this had to be said.
(7/12/2011 3:33:45 AM)
For the most part readers of this site give credit where credit is due
Thank you Rabbis for addressing a very serious problem.
I will add if the elections for rabonim was the cause of this letter it was all wotrth it.(Dayainu)

Pedophiles You are put on notice if you need help get it before you bring shame on yourselfs and your families.
(7/12/2011 7:59:47 AM)
I was abused as a child and I wish someone had spoken up for me.....it had to be kept quiet. I was, after all, a kid......no one cared.
(7/12/2011 9:06:05 AM)
Kol Tzedek
Kol Tzedek is a program in the Brooklyn DA's office, headed by Henna White, specifically created to serve the frum community. Any suspicion of abuse or molestation can be brought to their attention; the caller can remain anonymous, and the matter will be dealt with in privacy and with sensitivity. Kol Tzedek works closely with frum organizations such as Ohel, Jewish Board of Family Services, Met Council...
(7/12/2011 9:42:48 AM)
Re "at the time"
This means that at the time the molester does the molesting he is considered as such, and it is implied that the ensuing time keeps him named as such. It means that moment is when you name him a molester, and this doesn't change from that time on. It is not the literal meaning of "at the time", but rather, that's when he can be called a criminal, and not before.
(7/12/2011 11:55:13 AM)
Yashar Koach to the Rabbi's
we could tell that young blood joined the bais din.
(7/12/2011 12:05:22 PM)
Is there a thought-out, INFORMED plan to deal with this malignancy once and for all? Does it include follow-through? Can the denial be overcome for the sake of our children, or will this just go on and on because there are those who can not handle the truth? Where are the priorities? Are there those who do not even think that acting in such ways is not wrong? Are there others who think that there ARE those who do not see anything wrong with it? Check Halacha, et al. What has become of us, that we do not take care of our children because we do not know how to handle their being abused? Why are we protecting three alleged molesters ? Is it because they are known leaders? Are they more important than those children? Does anyone have actual/factual answers to any of these questions?
(7/12/2011 12:10:16 PM)
What is a 'rodef"?
Many commenter clearly don’t understand what the meaning of a “Rodef” is.

The letter states clearly, that where there is credible evidence of CSA on has the OBLIGATINO to report it.

The letter ADDS (in addition to being required to report the perpetrator of äúòììåú îéðéú to the authorities), if you catch him in the act – WHILE he is molesting someone – he has the din of a “rodef” and you may stop him by causing him bodily harm (if there is no other way to stop him). This detail only applies at the actual time of the crime. After the fact, you cannot hurt him, but rather you must stop him from committing the crime again.
(7/12/2011 1:06:33 PM)
the terminology
the use of language is simply inappropriate. frum jews NEVER use the actual hebrew words to describe the issue at hand. the very same message could have been deliverd using more refined terminology.
(7/12/2011 4:32:09 PM)
Kol Hakovod
(7/12/2011 4:41:08 PM)
To # 52
The Gemara in Pisachim tells us that the Torah is very careful with its language, to the point it calls a non Kosher animal “an animal which is not Tahor” instead of “an animal which is Tomei”.

The question arises: the Torah uses the term Tomei many times?

The answer is well known: when it comes to teaching a Din the Torah needs to be clear and straight forward.
In this situation I personally think that not being straight forward and not being allowed to use the correct terms is part of the problem, and part of the cause that for so many years this issue has not been dealt with.

This letter was written by Rabonim. It is totally disrespectful and against Torah and the Rebbe’s teachings to write openly against Rabonim, if you think they were wrong for using this terminology you can contact them directly in a respected manner.
(7/12/2011 5:42:53 PM)
Why hasn't Rabbi Ozdobo come out with his own statement condemning child molestation?
(7/12/2011 5:50:12 PM)
Rehab for all the molesters
What we need here in brooklyn is intense rehab for all the perps. That would prevent them from commiting the same crimes in the future. Just sitting behind bars doesn't change a person, it's a mental illness that needs to be addressed as such.
(7/12/2011 6:54:28 PM)
the rebes sicho purim 5746
why dosent anyone mention the rebes sicho purim 5746

ps the rebe uses the word min in igros and lekutay sichos
(7/12/2011 7:05:24 PM)
to #53
Actually the RCV of Australia was the first to do so
(7/12/2011 7:20:16 PM)
The bottom line: IF CHILD VICTIMS OF ABUSE GET HELP, THEY CAN HEAL! THEY CAN GO ON TO HAVE NORMAL, HEALTHY LIVES AND MARRIAGES. It's so very important to catch the abusers and help the children ASAP -- that's why this whole education campaign is such a great thing. Yasher Koach to the Rabbonim for the letter they've issued, and to all who are working to bring this vital issue to the public eye.
(7/12/2011 9:56:46 PM)
As a parent what saddens me the most is, if i god forbid found out that my child was molested would i go to the police and press charges to have him locked up?

or would i keep it quiet so it doesn't embarrass my family's name?

i dont know. and i believe most parents have that dilemma.

so if i as a parent is not sure what to do. and my child knows that i would be uncertain, they mite not tell me, we truly have a big problem.

even more so, the child molester knows all of this and it emboldens them.
(7/12/2011 10:16:10 PM)
to 60, another option
you only considered 2 options, but left out the option of doing it the way we did it back in der heim: if he is a roidef, take him down.
(7/12/2011 11:16:04 PM)
be ready for a major foster care crisis
what most do not get is that this psak is not only about molesters but can be extended to the neighbour who does not like the way you discipline your child. he now will report you. child services will be called in, and we should be ready for a great hike in the need for frum kosher foster families.
be cautious, this psak is (probably intentionally) vague and open ended.
(7/12/2011 11:20:12 PM)
statute of limitations
the statute of limitations in NY for Child molestation seems like its about 5 years after you turn 18. if that time has passed what would be the best way to go?
(7/13/2011 3:32:16 AM)
To #62 , Are you saying that this psak includes family theories of discipline in its purpose? If in fact this is the intention, then instances of abuse there need to be reported, too! Its worth the risk of adults having to take a look at how they are dealing with their children. maybe some are abusive, and maybe some aren't, but again, the priority is always the children. If they are harmed psychologically or emotionally, then maybe their parents need to be educated. If they are harmed to an obviously extreme extent, then more than an education is in order BEFORE the education begins! In any case, there have to be people available so that a healing can be facilitated. Now let's get going and implement a healing model that includes adults and children affected by any hurtful behavior . After all, are we not members of a loving frum community? Or at least isn't that what we aspire to?
(7/13/2011 3:58:04 AM)
reporting shouls first go to rabbanim and leaders
have been involved in community for many years
i have seen neighbors take matters in their own hands without justification. many people have had the unfortunate experience of being under city surveillance for small accidents , or some level of mistaken neglect, or other incident.
its good to see that rabbonim care. but before anyone takes matters into their own hands, they should do everything in their power to contact rabbonim, principals, mashpiim, perhaps relatives etc
when our family was in shidduchim and we had to know about a family, one of my fathers strong points was that if it was known that in russia that family was associated with mesira the name was ruled out
let there be no question, america is nisht antersh
there are unfo a number of families struggling to cope with large families, sholom bayis issues, special needs children, two parents working etc. all this could lead to some type of less ideall issues
see something, say something to rabbonim, leaders, principals only. only they should have the right with rabbonims permission to call on some level of authority after all research is done, verification is made, family is counseled etc etc and nothing else helps
(7/13/2011 9:20:31 AM)
nightmare for families of the abuser
While it is our responsibility to report and stop any form of abuse in our community, in the process of stopping these devastating crimes and bringing the perpetrators to justice we need to be sensitive and have rachmanus on the family of the abusers who too have become victims by association. These families are frum, respectable yidden in our community like you and I. They can not and should not be held responsible for the crimes of their sick relatives- Rachmana letzan! This is definitely hell on earth for them as they are humiliated and shattered from this. Let us be gentle to the families and not make this nightmare any worse for them.

(7/13/2011 11:44:56 AM)
to #4
'at best with borderline personality disorder'
get a grip
(7/13/2011 11:57:03 AM)
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