OU Misrepresents Haredi Leader's Ruling On Child Sexual Abuse

By Shmarya Rosenberg (Failed Messiah blog)
June 17, 2013

What this OU author has done is, in effect, endorse Agudath Israel of America's false position that Rabbi Elyashiv held that all allegations of child sexual abuse must be filtered through senior haredi rabbis before police are notified, and only those rabbis have the power to allow that notification to take place.

From the Summer 2013 issue of Jewish Action:

Reporting a Molester

In 2004, the American posek Rabbi Feivel Cohen posed the unfortunately contemporary question of whether it is permissible to inform the authorities of the activities of a child molester (vol. 3, teshuvah 231).

Rav Elyashiv bases his response on Teshuvot HaRashba (3:393), which states that when there are clear witnesses that someone has committed crimes, beit din is allowed—even in our day and age—to impose upon him monetary fines and corporal punishment. The Rashba asserts that this is part of our responsibility of kiyum haolam, sustaining the world. For were we to limit our punishments to the precise parameters that we find in Torah, our code of law would not suffice to maintain society. It is therefore appropriate for beit din to enact appropriate laws in addition to the laws of the Torah, so long as the government of that particular time and place gives us the authority to do so.

Rav Elyashiv adds that even if the government does not grant us such authority, it remains incumbent upon beit din to ensure tikkun haolam. Therefore, even if the community cannot impose penalties, the tikkun haolam of curtailing molestation is sufficient reason to inform the authorities of the perpetrator (so long, qualifies Rav Elyashiv, as the charge is borne out by evidence).9

The teshuva is represented as if Elyashiv was allowing a beit din to report child sexual abuse to police if they choose, as long as there is evidence the abuse took place.

Only if you bother to read footnote 9 do you learn that the article itself is extremely misleading:

9. Rav Elyashiv indicates that the available evidence must at least meet the halachic criterion of raglayim ladavar (literally, “the matter has legs”). He does not define the criterion in this teshuvah. However, from Rav Elyashiv’s dissenting minority opinion in a 1968 case before the High Court of the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel (Piskei Din Rabbani’im Mishpatei Shaul, siman 19) it emerges that one definition of raglayim ladavar is the presence of abnormal phenomena consistent with an assertion. I would venture that in the case of molestation, the criterion would be met by unusual behavior patterns on the part of either the perpetrator or the victim that are consistent with an occurrence of molestation.

In other words, Elyashiv did not require "evidence" – he required "raglayim l'davar," which in halakha is a very different thing.

But more importantly, the OU's author (who hails from a Chabad family) distorts the question and answer to make it appear as if a beit din must make this determination when in fact the actual question and the ruling apply to an individual, as well.

What this OU author has done is, in effect, endorse Agudath Israel of America's false position that Rabbi Elyashiv held that all allegations of child sexual abuse must be filtered through senior haredi rabbis before police are notified, and only those rabbis have the power to allow that notification to take place.

The OU should be ashamed of itself.