Six years ago I got a call from a Rabbi who wanted me do psychotherapy with his nephew who was charged with molesting six of his own children. The Rabbi told me that the family court and the Bais Din (Jewish Court) both agreed that his nephew be separated from his family, attend therapy and refrain from visiting his children. I met with the man, but he denied the charges against him and saw no reason to come for therapy. It did not take long to see that not only would he not be compliant with treatment, but he was continuing to see his children in violation of both court orders.
On another occasion, I saw a 14 year old developmentally disabled girl from a large religious sect. The case had been brought to the Jewish court by the principal of the special school where she attended. The school social worker said that the girl's mood had become agitated and depressed; and that she was especially frightened to get on the bus at the end of the school day and go home. Her developmental challenges prevented her from verbalizing her feelings, but her drawings spoke even louder than words: she drew about her terror and rage in the context of explicit sexual content that was neither age-appropriate or culturally appropriate - especially considering her strictly insulated background. After a few sessions, the girl's father confessed that he was indeed living with his daughter as though she were his wife and felt that he had every right to do so. The father's claim to his daughter was in fact so strong that he threatened to board a plane to Israel with his daughter if anyone would interfere with his situation at home.
On yet another occasion, I was asked by the leader of a very large community to treat his personal (male) secretary who was destroying the souls of countless teenage boys in his charge. I told the Rebbe that it was not possible to treat his secretary while he continued to live amongst children - he required institutionalized care. The Rebbe balked at this idea, not wanting to send his secretary outside of the community for help. So I suggested to the Rebbe that he establish his own treatment center, but he dismissed this idea too. His said that he was afraid that other religious groups would think that his group had the highest number of cases.
Health and mental health workers in the Orthodox Jewish community can sometimes feel stuck in a legal, ethical and religious dilemma. As "mandated reporters" we are required by law to report child abuse; while according to some Rabbi's, a frum (religious) therapist is forbidden to report a fellow Jew to the secular authorities under any circumstances. Other bold rabbis consider this a criminal cover-up that only perpetuates more crimes and more victims, G-d forbid.
In our times, when the Jewish courts have practically no teeth to enforce their rulings, in these cases, the position of these cover-up Rabbi's has all but eliminated any meaningful deterrents to child abuse in their communities. Religious politics and not the true welfare of the children (or the offenders) is prevailing in these places. I estimate that in a ten year span I met with more than 600 people whose lives were shattered in one way or another by abuse and I am just one practitioner. Sexual addiction is probably the fastest growing addiction that there is because many of the victims ultimately became offenders themselves.
Fortunately for us Hashem will never abandon His world however dark it has become. The true and qualified leaders of our generation know how to interpret Jewish law correctly and are not in the least bit frightened of making the right decisions. The true Tzaddikim (righteous holy leaders) of our day elevate the welfare of our children to the highest possible priority and when necessary will send sexual offenders to prison where they belong.
In the meantime, we must continue to pray for all of the pure and tender souls who still suffer - they are trapped somewhere in their own personal hell. I have spared you the more horrific examples of what is going on. What is written here is benign in comparison to many other stories that I have heard.
It will only be through a connection with Tzaddikim that you can protect your young. I can see that there is much greater Divine Protection in the community where I live now. The powerful Blessing of a Tzaddick, like Rabbi Shalom Arush, cannot be compared in any way to our own prayers or to the prayers of religious leaders who do not have emuna.
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Zev Ballen, LCSW has been a practicing psychotherapist for 32 years. He is licensed in Israel and the State of New York. Zev has the endorsements of prominent Gadolei Yisrael such as the Nikolsburger Rebba, Shlita, Reb Yitzchok Fagelstock, Shlita, The Kasaner Rebbe of Forshay, Shlita, Rav Shalom Arush, Shlita, and Rabbi Lazer Brody, Shlita. He resides with his family in Jerusalem where he learns in Rav Arush’s Kollel and maintains a part-time practice. You can write to Zev Ballen at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at: 845-362-8600 (US line) or 054-840-9499 (Israeli line). See the new blog at: www.zevballen.com.