I could have ignored it, as most are.
I could have sensationalized it as some are.
I could blame it on the people who asked me my opinion.
However, all of that would not be truthful.
As a person who has had the painful experiences of crying with victims of sexual abuse for two and half decades, I have decided I cannot remain silent.
I CANNOT BE SILENT when I think of a beloved friend who was brought up in the heart of a Chassidic community and is now an avowed atheist.
When I am contacted by women who were violated and are now emotionally scarred, I cannot be silent.
And when I see people I used to respect downplaying, minimizing, and –worst of all blaming the victims, I cannot be silent.
There is no code of silence when someone is screaming in pain.
When one is silent, they are engaging in complacency and complicity.
Iyov failed to scream out when we heard of the future pain to the Jewish people, and for that, he suffered.
So too, I must scream out in pain when I see the pain of two dozen individuals spanning over two decades.
I did not sleep the last two nights as the stories of young women and men, married women, boys and girls who sit in loneliness and fear fill my mind.
I tossed and turned as I thought about those who have no one to turn to, for no one will believe them.
I think about those victims who have, in some cases, suffered years of abuse at the hands of serial molesters.
They had (and often still have) no one to turn to.
They are shamed, scarred, stained, and humiliated.
And therefore, I must scream out at the case of CW.
At the outset, I admit that every case must be handled carefully and with sensitivity.
Obviously, a lone allegation made about a person whose reputation is unstained and the allegation stems from thirty years ago must be carefully fleshed out before taking it as a fact.
However, when you have dozens of boys, girls, married women, and single women who have testified in front of the Beis Din of Rav Shmuel Eliyahu about being victimized by CW, then we must not be silent.
Some of the allegations against CW are from over two decades ago, and some are as recent as six months ago.
The evidence, in this case, is overwhelming.
I don’t know of any Rav who has spoken in defense of CW.
If anything, it seems that it was an open secret that was waiting to blow up.
Here are the facts:
Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rav of Tzfas, went personally and spoke privately to CW and pleaded with him to stop his pernicious ways. CW responded with intimidation and threats.
The Gaon HaRav Yehudah Moshe Silman – the head of the most respected Beis Din in Israel, the Beis Din of Rav Nissim Karelitz Zt”L, teamed up with Rav Eliyahu, and he also pleaded with CW to cease and desist. His pleas fell on deaf ears.
In his suicide note, CW named both Rav Eliyahu and Rav Silman and called them to a Din Torah in heaven for their allegations against him.
CW was summoned to attend the proceedings against him in the Beis Din of Rav Eliyahu and declined.
CW chose to go straight to the heavenly Beis Din with his own gun.
Both Rav Silman and Rav Eliyahu have issued public halachik decisions that one should not read or possess in their home books authored by a serial predator and destroyer of lives.
I spoke to one of the major Dayanim here in America (I did not ask permission to use his name). He, too, was emphatic that one should sanitize one’s house from the pernicious, destructive, and poisonous works of a serial rapist.
I spoke this morning to my good friend and amazing Seforim Store owner, Mr. Berman from Z.Berman Books here in Passaic.
He has informed me that CW’s books will no longer be sold here in Passaic.
I stress that I am following in the path of those greater than I, namely, Rav Silman (almost 80 years old and a great Talmid Chochom) and Rav Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Tzefas.
I must also point out that Rav Gershon Edelstein had CWs weekly article in the Yated excised immediately- even before Rav Eliyahu convened his Beis Din.
Rav Silman was 100% supportive of all of the actions of Rav Eliyahu.
CW was spoken to multiple times in attempts to avoid a public Chilul Hashem.
Rather, through manipulation and threats of his victims (recorded), CW threatened that if his accusers ever go public, he will kill himself.
This is typical of predators; they attempt to convince their victims that they are the predators if they try to defend themselves, and the predator becomes the victim as he will kill himself.
CW was confident that he would never be exposed just like all serial predators.
With regards to the claims that CW had enemies who were trying to get back at him:
It is simply impossible for anyone to have coordinated two dozen people from all over Israel in all age groups and in both genders to lie in sync because of their collective grudge against him.
The evidence against CW is simply staggering.
Therefore, in light of the psak by Rav Silman from the Beis Din of Rav Nissim Karelitz and the psak from Rav Shmuel Eliyahu, one should immediately remove all books written by CW from their house and dispose of them.
They should not be given to anyone else, nor should they be donated to a library.
Rather, they should be trashed.
Besides the psak from the above-mentioned Rabbonim, I also feel that by getting rid of the books this shows a sense of unity and identification with the victims of his predatory and evil ways.
It states that we stand with the victim, not with the perpetrator.
After all, would you allow a book by someone who murdered your friend in your library?
Violating someone sexually is akin to murder.
As the Torah says:
“If out in the country a man happens to meet a young woman pledged to be married and rapes her, only the man who has done this shall die. Do nothing to the woman; she has committed no sin deserving death. This case is like that of someone who attacks and murders a neighbor for the man found the young woman out in the country, and though the betrothed woman screamed, there was no one to rescue her.” (Devarim 22:25-27)
The Torah equates sexual assault to murder.
- All books from CW should be discarded in the trash immediately
- Families should review with their children that no one has the right to touch them in any place below their waist or on their chest.
- Never send your child to a therapist unless you have access to the therapy room- be it a two way mirror or the door being ajar.
- Never let your child go into a car with anyone alone.
- Never allow your daughter or son to be picked up by the family he/she is babysitting for. a. Either both parents have to come b. Or you drive them
- Never let your daughter (and/or son too) go into the front seat with a male or female
- Make sure laws of Yichud are always followed very stringently
- If your child is invited over for a sleepover (which nowadays is no longer a good idea), find out if there are older children or other relatives in the house BEFORE you allow your child to go.
- Tell your children that if they are Chas V’Shalom touched, they did nothing wrong, and they should never feel ashamed to tell you.
- Daven and daven more for our children’s safety
With regard to this incident, if your children ask, “Why are you throwing out his books?” Answer, “Hashem has given everyone free choice and sometimes (hopefully rarely) even good people do bad things. CW did bad and we have to remove his books. As with anything else, we are doing so based on the Psak of Gedolei Yisroel.”
Let us utilize this terrible incident as a wake-up call to do good and protect the more vulnerable among us.
Please note, the views expressed in this article are mine and mine alone. I take full responsibility for them.
I sign with tears that I had to write this….
“If Not Now, Then When?”- Hillel
Ron Yitzchok Eisenman
Congregation Ahavas Israel
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman was born and raised in Brooklyn. After marriage he spent years learning in Kollel both in Eretz Yisroel and in the States. After being privileged to teach Torah as a rebbe in Yeshiva for two decades, in 1997 he was appointed as the Rav of Congregation Ahavas Israel in Passaic, NJ. From humble beginnings the shul now hosts forty minyamin a day. In addition to his rabbinic functions, Rabbi Eisenman is a Professor at Lander College for Women. He has published three books; the latest, Shul With A View (Artscroll), is a much enlarged compendium of the columns published in Mishpacha Magazine since 2008. Rabbi Eisenman also writes a blog entitled The Short Vort, with anecdotes about the ups and downs of being a shul rabbi. Rabbi Eisenman and his family have been living in Passaic for thirty years, and their married children are spread out in the New York area and Eretz Yisroel.