A Thought On Abuse In The Jewish Community

I read an article in the New York Times the other day.

An article about abuse in the Jewish community.

And about the way people worked to hide it.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how I felt after I finally finished it.

It was this feeling of intense depression.

Like, worse than I felt in years.

Except this wasn’t about me.

It was about the world. About this boy. And his father. And their community. And our G-d.

And nothing about it seemed bright or beautiful or worthy.

It was empty.

And dark.

And sick.

All I could think was that I wanted it all to disappear.

Wanted the difficulties, the lies, the abuse, the anger, the horror, to just… go away.

Of course it didn’t.

And so I was stuck in my chair, looking at the computer, feeling the darkness overwhelm.

I think that was the first time I got a glimmer of a taste of why some people go “off the derech” (leave orthodox Judaism).

In the midst of all the anger and the conflicts that erupt between the people who embrace a Torah way of life and the people who leave it…

…are these untold stories.

The darkness.

The emptiness.

And it’s no wonder, then, that there are these conflicts, and these flareups, and this anger.

Because the emptiness and anger and depression that I associated for a few hours in my comfortable apartment in my happy corner of the Jewish world… that’s how some people view the entirety of Judaism. Of the Jewish people.

And when you read an article like this, you can’t blame them.

Because it is dark. And it is dirty. Dirty, dingy and disgusting.

The Holocaust can’t be rationalized away. And neither can these problems.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wish the world remembered, and I remembered, that behind each conflict between people, behind every chasm that etches its way through opposing camps…

…is often a world of deep, powerful, emotion. Ripping through us like we’re dolls. Often forcing actions without our awareness.

And when there are these abuses, these darknesses, that people have to live with…

…those emotions, and that darkness, and our doll-ness…it’s deeper, darker, than we can ever imagine.

And like a friend who yells and thrashes because he’s in pain, even if it’s directed at us, even if it is even our fault…

…all we can do is allow it, and nod, and comfort (if they’ll allow it).

We don’t have a right to do anything else.