Sep 22, 2008
Rav Chaim Soloveitchik on local sexual molestation/abuse against children
(Written by a talmid of Rav Chaim Soloveichik shlita, Ramat Bet Shemesh, Israel. Motsei Shabbat Parshat Ki Tavo, 5768)
Rav Chaim Soloveichik in his weekly Shabbat drasha on Parashat Ki Tavo called upon community leaders to take a more forceful approach regarding child abusers. Rav Soloveichik heads Mosdot HaRav Aharon Soloveichik – Bet Knesset Ohr Shalom, located in Ramat Beth Shemesh and founded by his father HaGaon HaRav Aharon Soloveichik.
Rav Soloveichik began his drasha by referring to the simcha which the community experiences when witnessing smachot involving the younger generation, such as brit milah and bar mitzvah. The Rav noted that such smachot are so great because of the continuity which they represent. “Our children are our future-we rejoice at smachot connected to them and we must be vigilant in acting to protect them from harm.”
Rav Soloveichik cited the vidui maasroth which is mentioned as the second mitzvah in parashath Ki Tavo and raised the question of why one must say a vidui regarding sins which one did not do, whereas generally one does so regarding sins which one has transgressed. The Rav stated that the purpose of vidui is making a "complete accounting". “Leaders, heads of institutions and rabbanim must make an accounting for that which they have and have not done for their communities.
One issue regarding which a more serious accounting needs to be done is the issue of child-abuse. I have been apprised of a local problem with an alleged child abuser who is employed as a teacher of young children by a local school. The teacher is currently being investigated for inappropriate behavior with children, and community leaders and rabbanim say that we must not remove the teacher lest his parnassa be damaged.”
Rav Soloveichik emphasized that while one’s parnassa is an important issue this does not trump the need to separate such a teacher from children for whom he constitutes a presumed danger.
There are numerous opportunities for parnassah which do not require being responsible for 30 kids.
“It is hard to believe that rabbonim who know gemara, the poskim, mishna berura, backwards and forwards do not have the sense to realize that when non-frivolous claims have been made, an alleged child-abuser must be distanced from a position of contact with children until his name has been cleared. When no leadership is demonstrated by rabbanim, then the bloggers will inevitably fill the vacuum.”
Rav Soloveichik reiterated that an approach which only allows one to separate an alleged child-abuser from talmidim once there has been a criminal indictment or conviction unreasonably endangers children.
The Rav impassionedly cried out:” Those who ask ‘what about the parnassa of the teacher?’ must be rebutted with the question ‘what about the children, what about the children?”
The Rav called upon community leaders to take vigorous action to assure that alleged predators are kept far from positions from which they can pose a threat to children. “Let us restore community initiative to the rabbanim and community leaders. We need to be the ones making the clarion calls, not just the bloggers.”
Rav Soloveichik praised the new initiative of Lema'an Achai, the Ramat Bet Shemesh chesed organization, which has established a "Safe Kids" program. Concerned local parents and kids call "Safe Kids" for professional and practical advice from qualified, experienced social workers, about child abuse.
Rav Soloveichik ended his drasha wishing upon the community that we have the zchuth to act wisely and forcefully for the sake of a better future for our children.