Feb 14, 2011

A Masmidim Kallah Cleans Herself

The Masmidim community in Jerusalem is going through some tough times right now. They were recently caught in the massive case of kollel fraud, leading to their losing government funding for their kollel along with an investigation that might lead to criminal charges. Recently, the rosh kollel was arrested for obstruction of justice, threatening potential witnesses (he allegedly had all his members take a polygraph in an attempt to find out who snitched to the government about the fraud).

And the other day a young 22 year old woman from the Masmidim community, the daughter of one of the leading members of the community, got married. A couple days after the wedding, hatzolah was called in to save her life after she drank a bottle of bleach. Her explanation for what she did was that she felt she needed to "clean herself" from the wedding day.

She ended up in the hospital in critical condition. Her situation has improved slightly, and hopefully she will recover. (source: Kikar)

Her situation leads to two thoughts:
  1. She probably suffered from some sort of abuse as a child, and the wedding night revived those memories in her. It is just a guess from an armchair psychologist (me), and might be completely wrong, but it has happened before and this is the first thing I thought of when I read the story.
  2. the method of keeping your kids in the dark about how the world works, to the extreme that these yerushalmi groups do, backfires. I guess any method of child-rearing backfires at times, but when the methods employed is an extreme method the backfire is also going to be an extreme backfire.
Refuah Shleimah to the young kallah. And refuah shleimah to the Masmidim community.


  1. "the method of keeping your kids in the dark...."

    the whole topic is a tough one. there was a mishpacha article about a yeshiva ketana boy who fell into looking up pictures online, and had difficulty stopping in part because he felt he had fallen so far how could he ever do teshuva, how could his eyes ever be worthy of reading holy books, etc.

    on the one hand there are values to preserve, on the other children need some education about what to expect, when to be on their guard, etc.

  2. there is a middle ground between porn and complete and utter denial of human sexuality. You don't have to steep your child in porn in order to foster healthy attitudes towards sexuality and the body.

    Honest, straightforward conversations between parents and children are a great place to start. but that requires parents having a healthy attitude towards sex, which isn't always guaranteed. I think the value of protecting one's body and stopping another child from swallowing bleach after her first marital encounter is a value worth preserving.

    I agree with Rafi, at worst this woman was the victim of abuse, at the least she was the victim of bad education. What a terrible tragedy.

  3. This is an interesting one Rafi - I have to say - you always find the most interesting stories to report on.

    OK, so as a psychologist myself I have a couple of thoughts about this incident.

    Firstly, in this kind of community, wouldn't it be more likely for a "young" kallah to be 18? A 22 year old is already an old maid - and if she is the daughter of an influential memeber of that community she should have been snatched up young. Why wasn't she?

    Putting that aside for a moment I don't know that I can see abuse in her past - at least not the kind you allude to. The abuse that she HAS been subjected to is the notion that any form of intimacy is unclean. And she has been abused by a lack of halachic teaching for women whereby the notion of mikvah has not been taught adequately.

    I know nothing of the Masmidim sect but from what I have read in the past from you on here it seems they are a semi corrupt, keep men in learning based group. Traditionally, the womenn in these communities are subservient and poorly educated. Case in point, a bride feeling unclean after intimacy, a woman in her 20's believeing that bleach can "clean" away the "sins of the flesh".

    All in all, very very sad.

  4. hmm, good point, anonymous. maybe the fact that she was 22 indicates there was somethign "unusual" about her, or something "wrong" with her. Maybe she was already a bit crazy in the head.

    Ot maybe she simply had a difficult time with shidduchim. even kids form the best of families, with the best connections, sometimes take a long time to find the right one.

  5. also:
    I wonder what she learned with her kallah teacher that was so unexpected that it still left her in such shock

    I understood her drinking bleach "to clean herself" as a likely suicide attempt in response to the horrible act she perceived she had committed

  6. Who knows what her husband really subjected her too. Maybe she thought the easiest way out was suicide, and that is what she was trying to do.

    Whatever happened to her, I think it is pretty clear that she was attempting suicide.

  7. Anon shrink here again - I suppose we need to think about the community and what a youg lady would think a bottle of bleach would achieve. I know to the more western mind we would gather that the consumption of a bottle of bleach would be a suicide attempt. However, to a girl who felt defiled and "dirty" perhaps bleach would cleanse. Or to her it was a mix of both.

    what did the husband do to her on the wedding night? We don't know. But we can assume he did was nature intended him to do. what training did either of them get ebforehand is another question completely.

    Perhaps he was too busy being strapped to the lie detector test and missed an importan chasan lesson!

  8. How much more crazy can things get?what in the world is going on in our communities? That poor girl. She reminds me of the Borger boy who also took an extreme response to his wedding night.

  9. You are all speculating without any facts. This is a very big problem in the Beit Shemesh anglo world - hearsay and lashan hara. Who knows the facts here? Nobody. And all of you are alluding to the possibilities:

    a. child abuse

    b. porn inspired wedding night

    c. lack of pre-marital education

    What is with you people?

    Maybe yes to one of the above maybe none of the above. But this is how you can ruin people's lives. Reputational harm of the individuals and/or of their community. All you need is someone to say "I heard that what happened was..." You all mean well but by talking like this you are doing terrible injustice to people.

  10. I am not sure why you think anonmous comments have anything to do with Bet Shemesh. How do you know where these people live?

  11. and besides for that, we are ruining her reputation? she drank a bottle of bleach nearly killing herself, "to clean herself from her wedding" and it makes the news media, and we are ruining her reputation?

  12. A more important point would be that this is an isolated incident and it isn't necessarily fair to draw conclusions that an entire community's approach to sex education is therefore faulty.

    Even Rebetzin Salinger's parenting classes (which are very popular here in RBS) advocate keeping kids completely in the dark about these topics until chosson/kallah classes. She even gives tips on dodging questions about where babies come from, and not informing children why you're getting so fat until a couple weeks before you'll be making that surprise trip to the hospital. If they are sheltered enough that you can do that, why not?

  13. it seems to be there is a difference between sheltered that you talk about and what she was thinking. She thought she was dirty, not just missing information.
    I still wonder what she even learned with her kallah teacher if she was so shocked by the wedding night...

  14. Well maybe there is a prohibition of reporting this terrible event to prevent embarrassment - just because the media does so does not mean you should follow).

    More importantly, Rafi, you have publicly implied that she is the victim of abuse and others, in their comments, have chimed in with that comment as well as sexual innuendo (I'll just say it, oral sex). How dare any of you speculate. You are implying things that yes MAY be correct. On the other hand, maybe NONE of it is correct. The point is the anglo areas of B/RBS are plagued with a virus of gossip and dont deny it.

    Maybe her kids will read this one day, maybe some folks will report on what happened - based on the speculation posted here. Maybe someone from "their" community will read the post and report back to the "community". Can you imagine the feelings of all involved?

    And what is the upshot that people will "learn" from the story as posted and the comments:

    Maybe the dad abused her as a child.

    Maybe the mom abused her as a child.

    Maybe the abuse was from the siblings.

    Maybe the husband demanded some sex act she found repulsive.


    Dont marry into that family, they have "problems".

    Dont give that guy ploni a job he is from "that" community - a bunch of weirdos.

    I heard that she couldnt handle the wedding night no sex education in that community. So it was her fault.

    I heard the hubby made certain requests she found distasteful so its his fault.

    What? You want to marry into that family...are you nuts...?

    The list, unfortunately, is endless. Lets not speculate about what happened and lets all avoid lashan hara and gossip.

  15. Anon then why are you reading blogs at all? It's standard to take events going on and chew them over in the comments.

    Is it useful or constructive? Maybe not in this case. But I wouldn't agree with you that any communication and speculation on any issues affecting the world around us are taboo because they can be classified as lashon hara.

    And even in this case, there is the general issue of when people have trouble in this arena, that public awareness and proper channels need to exist. If we're all chanting oy vey lashon hara many more people don't get the help and support they need.

    Last, are you actually suggesting that if everyone pretended that drinking bleach was a "normal" behavior (or lied that it didn't happen) that no one would question whether or not to accept a shidduch with her sister?

  16. I have reread this post twice with the comments and thought about it a lot since your comment. I still cant find anywhere you see sexual innuendo let alone references to oral sex.
    it seems to me to be more in your head.
    I posit that she was totally unprepared for sex, and after the fact it made her feel dirty. I was referring to the normal version, not anything extra or kinky. and i dont see it in any of the comments either.
    she probably had the attitude that certain parts of her body were dirty, impure, unclean, etc. you have no need to go as far as saying they did strange sexual acts for this to have happened.

    and I dont think there is anythign wrong with discussing it. we dont know who it is, or even what exactly happened, and there are no identifying factors. Nobody is being hurt by any discussion, and I thought the discussion was pretty respectful as it is anyway


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