July 18, 2024
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July 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The recent “she said—no she said” regarding Mayim Bialik’s comments on the Harvey Weinstein affair doesn’t look at the more important question. Of course they are both right. If a wealthy person goes into a high-crime neighborhood wearing very expensive jewelry and maybe, flouting his wealth even more, has a hundred dollar bill sticking out of his pocket, he doesn’t have long to wait until he is attacked and possibly killed. Is he responsible for the attack? Of course not! He didn’t rob himself and he clearly is not guilty of doing anything illegal or wrong. But he is a fool! So what Mayim wrote about Hollywood is not really true. Certainly women get attacked in all situations, but her intent is clearly true. Women should dress in a tzniut manner, and not because not doing so increases the likelihood (at least somewhat and saying “it’s not her fault” doesn’t change that) that she exposes herself to cat calling and possibly a lot worse. She should do so because modesty indicates an inner beauty that is not sexual, but rather pure. (Obviously I am not suggesting that sexual expression or flirting is vile but it is if it is directed at people other than one’s spouse.)

The larger question is “What is it with men?” Are they simply like 3-year-olds who can’t resist something that looks exciting—especially when told “Don’t touch that!” To some extent it seems like that is the case. Just think about the well-known rabbis and Roshei Yeshiva who have been guilty of disgusting behavior to women and, not infrequently, children. Do they not believe what they have been preaching their whole lives? They certainly do believe it (at least the majority of them do). They just feel like they can’t control themselves and so they weave intricate schemes to be able to keep their behavior from the public.

There was an unbelievable case in Montreal some time ago. A very well-known and highly respected Chasidishe rav had built up an intricate case of putting himself out as a skilled therapist. He was very popular and mesmerizing. Over and over he convinced Chasidishe women who came to him with their husbands for marital problems to let him show them how to make love to their spouses. Usually this behavior took place while the husband was in another room doing a written assignment. The rav was then with the woman doing as he pleased! He got away with this for many years until a psychiatrist and I finally exposed him. It was difficult for his baale batim to believe the accusations, noting that “— is such a brilliant and wonderful rav.” Once they were informed of very graphic details they had no choice but to realize the truth. He was forced to leave his shteibel and then immediately took off for Eretz Yisrael where he set up shop once again.

So, again, “What is it with men?” and how can women protect themselves? Should we follow all the “very frum” publications and never print a picture of a woman, God forbid. That is obviously absurd. If anyone would entertain that, it would be better to permanently lock all men in their rooms to ensure they never see or pass a woman on the street. Or put it on women as they do in a number of countries—where they can never go out in public unless the only uncovered part of their body is their eyes. I had a student one year who dressed that way—only her eyes were visible. She even wore gloves at all times. Is that the answer? There clearly is no choice, men and women have to learn to control their behaviors and themselves.

In the final analysis, where is Hashem? How can/would He create men with such terrible lust? But we are left saying that about everything. How can/would He create cancer in children?! How can He create natural disasters that kill hundreds, thousands or, occasionally, millions of innocent people?! And all we can do is cry, scream, pray and do more mitzvos and chasodim. All of those things undoubtedly make our life more beautiful and Holy—but they do nothing to stop the pain and suffering. And we are left saying “Rabos Machshovos B’lev Ish—Vaatzas Hashem HI Sokum.” No one can understand God. Does anyone understand why we are born or why we die? Or what is life about? No one can understand any of it. We are left feeling overwhelmingly grateful and stand in awe of the magnificence of it all or, at other times, stand in awe at the terrible suffering that everyone experiences sometimes (or many times) over the course of their lives.

But what to do? What about changing male nature? There are many men who act very respectfully to women, but for the minority who don’t (whether that minority is 20% or 49%), we must take action now. Unfortunately, I have no magic answers. It is clear, though, that we need to look at the system and hopefully come up with something that will encourage men to act like mature men and not boys. Perhaps we must start by being more diligent in listening to women and ALWAYS investigating their allegations. Perhaps we start by emboldening all women to respond to improper acts by others, especially their superiors. By suggesting that women also act to help cut down on this scourge is not saying they are responsible – it is simply saying they are almost always the victims. Hopefully we will continue to make further progress in this and all areas towards making this world a better place.

 By Rabbi Dr Mordechai Glick

 

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