Sunday, March 30, 2008

Re Ramat Bet Shemesh child-abuse case

Some in the Orthodox community joke about the current tendency toward promoting chumrot, strict interpretations of halachah/Jewish law that go beyond what halachah actually requires—they describe those who follow this tendency as members of the “chumra of the month club.” But there may be a price to being too strict in one’s interpretation of halachah. Harry Maryles is of the opinion that some twisted souls use excessive piety to attract cult followers. In the Ramat Bet Shemesh child-abuse case, the cult of Jewish women wearing burkas acted as a cover for immoral, cruel, and negligent behavior. Here’s his post concerning this case.

A more detailed analysis can be found at Frumhouses’s How One Person’s Neurosis Can Become a Cult Following, to which I found a link in a post by My Obiter Dicta.

In his own post concerning this case , My Obiter Dicta says “The solution to every social woe (Drugs, promiscuity, Gossip, Theft, and Talking in Shul) is always (as one therapist noted): 'Throw another smatte* on the women.' In other words, the crazies simply read the signals that inundate the community and are constantly preached by rabbis, educators and others and took them to their logical (if absurd) conclusions.”

Links to some other posts concerning this case can be found in the current edition of Haveil Havalim, thanks to H.H. host Rafi G. of Life in Israel.

In his own post, Rafi G expressed the opinion that those with extreme views on modesty are sex-obsessed, and said that Rabbi Yakov Horowitz agrees. The same post, but with different comments (worth reading), can be found here.

*smatte, or shmatteh: an item of clothing (literally, a rag)


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