Friday, May 19, 2006

Received by email

What follows was sent to me by email. I do no know Aryeh Ginzberg, and I do not know what FTS/FTJC is.

At the request of Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg, we, the moderators of FTS/FTJC,have approved the distribution of the below letter (which is also attached in pdf format). Rabbi Ginzberg has informed us that he has been approached by numerous community members to clarify -- and issue a ruling on -- the matter addressed in the letter. Given the urgency of this message, and the unavailablity of other effective means in which to distribute this information on a Friday afternoon, we believe it is important to use this list to support the request of a community Rov.

Finally, we assure you that this was in fact authorized by Rabbi
Ginzberg and have met with him personally to confirm.


Dear Community Members

Over the last few days, a number of people have brought to my
attention an article from a secular publication asserting that a
world-renowned Rosh Hayeshiva issued a halachic ruling regarding child molestation. This alleged ruling – through this publication – has resulted in widespread Chilul Hashem and gross misrepresentation of clear and indisputable Halacha.

The purpose of this letter is not to address the context of the quote, the alleged ruling in question or the specifics of the primary accusations made in the article. This letter is about clarifying the position of halacha with regard to child abuse, to the extent that position has been clouded by these recent events. Moreover, this letter is about urgently disseminating essential halachic facts which -- hopefully -- will serve to mitigate the potential damage and destruction caused by this mischaracterization.

It is incumbent upon all Rabbonim worldwide to unite and unequivocally declare that Orthodox Judaism absolutely forbids child abuse of any kind – sexual and non-sexual. And, as with any other allegation of halachic wrongdoing, the appropriate testimony must be given, and the appropriate proceedings must be convened, in order to establish the truth of any accusations.

Allow me to be among the first to make this declaration, and I speak not only for myself but also for the Rosh Hayeshiva named in this publication, with whom I have consulted:

Sexually abusing a child in any form is a flagrant violation of our Torah. Halacha absolutely prohibits any and all such conduct. No "benchmark" exists to qualify a sexually motivated act as child molestation, and there are no "technical defenses" to justify child abuse. To be crystal clear: the touching of a child in a sexual manner is utterly forbidden by our Torah and by our mesorah.

It is my hope and prayer that this letter will serve to clarify any confusion about the Torah view on these very serious issues.Obviously, this is not a scholarly letter or article -- now is not the time for Talmudic sources, lengthy discussions or intellectual debates. It is simply the time to set the record straight – solely for the purpose of abruptly ending the Chilul Shaim Shomayim facilitated by the dissemination of the supposed Torah viewpoint reported in the article.

Child abuse is forbidden. An issue this easy does not need further clarification. It is my sincere hope that, in consultation with other Rabbonim in our community, we can collectively and effectively formulate appropriate strategies to ensure that the issue of child abuse is dealt with appropriately, proactively and swiftly in our community and beyond.

Good Shabbos.
Rabbi Aryeh Ginzberg

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