Chaim Walder: a Post-Mortem
The religious Jewish world has been rocked by a scandal and tragedy. Chaim Walder, a highly popular Haredi author and rabbi, committed suicide last week after being accused of raping numerous women and minors. Shortly after the scandal went public, one of his victims committed suicide.
Though there has been a huge outcry across all sects in Israel against his actions, yet some leaders in the Haredi community have excused or defended this criminal. I have read a great deal of media coverage from all sides. Simply no amount of excuses or justification can make this ok!!!!!
In this weeks Torah Portion “Bo” we learn that the time had finally come for the Children of Israel to be freed from slavery. In this pivotal moment, Moshe gathers the people to deliver important instructions related to the rituals they will perform before they are redeemed and the rituals for commemorating this momentous occasion in the future. Moshe did not speak about the evils of slavery or the responsibility of freedom. Instead, Moshe spoke about children and education. In that moment Rabbi Jonathan Sacks explains “the Israelites were told that they had to become a nation of educators.”
Education is an essential pillar of Jewish life. Rabbi Sacks summed it up by saying Moshe “realized that a people achieves immortality not by building temples or mausoleums, but by engraving their values on the hearts of their children.”
Perhaps it’s time for our leaders to stop thinking about preserving their institutions or protecting their narratives. Leaders need to educate, first by acknowledging what is wrong and corrupt. Period.