Letter to the Editor - June 23, 2010, The Jewish Star

Not The Way We Do Things

Your front-page headline "Witness tampering charged in abuse case: Beth Medrash Govoha implicated" (July 9, 2010) cries out for clarification. The accompanying article is sorely inadequate in its attempt to attribute to the Yeshiva implication in such a crime. According to the article the source of the "implication" is the anonymously distributed flier accusing the father of a victim of "going to the police without going to a Beis Din, and without the Haskama of any rabbi...even after he was approached by prominent members of Beth Medrash Govoha."

The article's analysis of the actions by the "prominent members of Beth Medrash Govoha" as being associated with witness tampering reflects a fundamental lack of understanding as to the nature of rabbis' responsibility in communal affairs.
There is a story told of a suspected Jewish murderer hiding in the shul of the town of Satmar in the years preceding the Holocaust. The Satmar Rav zt"l was asked what to do. "Ruf der Politzei" (call the police) he answered. By contacting the Rav first, all confusion, acrimony and community divisiveness was thereby avoided from the outset.

Persons affected by events such as what happened in Lakewood should first consult with a competent Rav, a lawyer and a mental health professional prior to calling the police. The responsibility of the Rav is to teach and provide guidance. Each case is different and needs careful, sensitive evaluation as it impacts diversely on the lives of all the individuals involved, and sometimes on the community as a whole.
To ignore the Torah's authoritative and time-honored Halachic process of including Rabbonim in such matters is to invite just the sort of communal discord and invective as we have witnessed here.

May our own communities and those of all mankind be spared from further cases of alleged abuse. We are all davening for the ultimate Geulah Shleima.

Rabbi Rephael Skaist
Far Rockaway