Volume 41 Number 49
                 Produced: Sat Dec 20 22:54:18 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Abusive Behavior (3)
         [Eli Wise, <Smwise3@...>, Alana Suskin]
Citing Saadyah Gaon
         [Leo Koppel]
Explicit Jewish Laws on Repentance for Violence
         [Elazar M Teitz]
Reasons why one SHOULD demand RESPECT
         [Sam Gamoran]
Repenting violence
         [Rahel Jaskow]
Test of Faith (4)
         [Michael Kahn, <Smwise3@...>, W. Baker, Shayna Kravetz]


From: Eli Wise <ewise@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 10:57:54 -0500
Subject: Abusive Behavior

When someone has a history of abuse, merely going through the saying
sorry and forgiveness method is really insufficient. The system assumes
that all things are equal. That we are dealing with emotionally healthy
people, not those that have a tendency toward abnormal behavior. There
are people who take medicine for emotional and psychological
problems. There are often instances where the person refuses to take the
regulating medicine and the abusive abnormal behavior returns. Perhaps
the abusive husband was on medicine, shouldn't people know that? Perhaps
the abusive husband put his wife in the hospital or worse? Shouldn't
people know that?

Pirke Avos teaches us that one should not trust themselves until they
die.  Even in the best of worlds where a medical condition doesn't exist
the abusive behavior can still return. Dr. Hendel sites the example of
asking forgiveness and the one who refuses to forgive is wrong. He also
sites that when the person gets lashes he is once again your
brother. Does this mean he will never commit the same offense again? Of
course not. Even with healthy people has he never heard of friends
becoming angry, making reconciliation, and being angry again? We have
Yom Kippur each year for offense between people and offense against
Hashem. If there was a permanence for behavior there would be no need
for such a mechanism.

If someone has an abusive history is imperative for perspective spouse
to know that? I am sure even the Rambam would agree.

Eliezer M. Wise
Library Director, Tuttleman Library of Gratz College
7605 Old York Road, Melrose Park, Pa. 19027
215-635-7300 extension 159

From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 17:13:41 EST
Subject: Re: Abusive Behavior

So not to belabor the same issue--you would then be willing to have
someone close to you date and subsequently marry such a person?

I fear you speak of a situation that may not exist.  Remove the issues
that caused such behavior in the first place--can you be sure that
another set of circumstances would NOT cause him to return to his old,
harmful behavior?

If you do, then you may be performing a chesed for the abuser, but you
cannot guarantee he will remain changed, can you?


From: Alana Suskin <alanamscat@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 07:06:48 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: Abusive Behavior

The Problem appears to be that you don't understand how spousal violence
works. It is *the usual pattern* that abusers will hit - and then come
back to the woman begging forgiveness for the act. She generally does
forgive him - and then it happens again. Over time, the violence
increases - he keeps hitting her, and then asking for forgiveness -
often in very extravagant ways. The problem is that the underlying
problem is not her, it isn't the marriage, it isn't anything she can do
anything about, and it isn't local to her - it's HIM. It's INTERNAL, and
asking forgiveness is part of the cycle which continues the
violence. She can forgive him all she wants - her forgiving him will
only ensure that the violence continues.

Saying that her refusal to forgive is against Jewish law is blaming the
victim: she's probably forgiven him dozens of times, or more, as she
gets more and more endangered by his behavior. She can forgive all she
wants, but it is *completely inappropriate* to suggest that one should
fail to warn someone simply because they've asked forgiveness. Abusers
*always* ask forgiveness, even while they're denying they're at fault.

This is the last I'm posting on this, because I find this too
frustrating. Please go out and read the literature on spousal abuse
before reponding again.

Alana Suskin


From: Leo Koppel <wallyut@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 19:13:17 -0700
Subject: Citing Saadyah Gaon

Does anyone have correct source details for the following assertion from 
Saadyah Gaon?

"Our nation is only a nation through its Torah"



From: Elazar M Teitz <remt@...>
Date: Thu, 18 Dec 2003 22:32:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Explicit Jewish Laws on Repentance for Violence

The citation, in the context of spousal abuse, of the laws of penitence
for harm done to individuals is, I believe, an exercise in irrelevance.

True, as quoted, if one person harms another, be it bodily, financially,
emotionally or by harmful speech, and the perpetrator goes through the
steps of penitence (recognizing that he committed a misdeed, regretting
having done so, resolving not to repeat it, and asking for forgiveness),
it is the duty of the aggrieved party to forgive.  This does _not_,
however, mean that the aggrieved party may not act so as to deny the
other the opportunity to become a repeat offender.

Consider a trivial example.  If I tell someone a secret after he
promises not to repeat it, but he does, I am duty-bound to forgive him
if he requests it properly.  However, I am certainly not obligated
thereafter to tell him any more secrets. Furthermore, if I have very
good reason to believe that he cannot keep a secret, I should certainly
so advise a person who asks me if he can be trusted with a secret. None
of this contradicts the quotation from the Rambam.  Certainly in the
matter of spousal abuse, which is in the most literal sense a question
of safek sakanas n'fashos (a possibility of life endangerment), one is
obligated to make the condition known.  Indeed, not to disclose the
abuser's condition is a violation of the mitzvah of lo sa'amod al dam
rei'echa, do not stand by when your fellow Jew is endangered.

Furthermore, to say "Translating this to our situation it explicitly
says that if a husband has been beating his wife, repents, pays her,
divorces her, gives her a nice settlement, changes all factors in his
life that are "causing/contributing" to it and has friends intercede on
his behalf then it is the woman not him who is the "animal" if she
doesnt forgive him" is to miss completely the point that has been made
by the professionals on this list: that the typical abuser _cannot_
change "all factors in his life that are 'causing/contributing' to it."


From: Sam Gamoran <Sgamoran@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 17:08:00 +0200
Subject: RE: Reasons why one SHOULD demand RESPECT

From: Russell J Hendel <rjhendel@...>
> Doesnt it become the first person's OBLIGATION to seek respect so as to
> overrule the 2nd person.
> Rambam hints at a similar formulation in the laws of SANHEDRIN
> (COURTS). >A person should not take Judgeship office unless he knows
> that others are inferior to him<
> Leahs view sounds safe and secure---after all why should ANYONE want
> respect for ANYTHING. The answer is, that respect is not just
> personal--it is also communal. People seek respect so they can be good
> effective leaders and therefore people have a right or even obligation
> to seek respect when others are lesser qualified.

Rav Itamar Orbach, the Mora d'Atra of Hashmonaim has given a timely
(parshat Vayishlach) drasha on exactly this.

I believe it is the Rambam whom he quotes saying that a leader must have
"a one-eighth of one-eighth measure of pride/respect (shminit
shebashminit shel gaavah)" in order to be an effective leader.  But what
does "one-eighth of one-eighth" mean?  The answer is "look in the eighth
parasha (Vayishlach) at the eighth verse "Katonti mecal hahasidim..."
Jacob says to Hashem that he is "small" or "unworthy" for all the
kindnesses done to him.  In other words a leader has to command some
respect and at the same time be "small" or "modest" - an oxymoronic
mixture that defines real gedolim. 

Sam Gamoran


From: Rahel Jaskow <rjaskow@...>
Subject: Repenting violence

Regarding Russell Jay Hendel's post on those who repent of violence:

That's all very well, when and if such a profound and all-encompassing
inner change takes place within the abuser. That is true repentance and
it's great if it happens. But unfortunately, such occurrences are
extremely rare, if they occur at all. In the cases I know of women
abused by their partners, the abusers have not undergone this profound
inner change, to put it mildly.

Also, the Rambam is speaking about the abused former spouse forgiving
her repentant abuser ("repentant" here meaning he has undergone this
profound inner change, as opposed to making the tender apologies that
are merely part of the abuse cycle), not exposing another woman to
potential violence.

I think the halakhah not to stand by idly while someone else is in
danger takes precedence over giving a known abuser the benefit of the
doubt.  Actions have consequences -- in this case, removal from the pool
of eligible marriage partners. Let the abuser take responsibility for
his actions and bear their consequences -- that, too, is part of the
process of true repentance.

Rahel Jaskow


From: Michael Kahn <mi_kahn@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 23:28:42 -0500
Subject: RE: Test of Faith

>I believe that Avraham's response earned him a grade somewhere in

With all due respect, to write such a thing, is shocking. We are
constantly asking Hashem to remember the Akeida and this is one of the
reasons why we blow shofar. We wouldn't do so if Avraham Avinu hadn't
passed the test with flying colors. To say such a thing without a source
in Chazal is wrong.

From: <Smwise3@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 07:18:31 EST
Subject: Re: Test of Faith

<< Avraham's greatness is clear and I am not trying to take anything away
from him. But I believe that the "test" proved to Hashem that several
more generations are needed before Matan Torah.

Avraham Brot
Petah Tikva >>

It sounds like your judgment is based on 21st century sensitivities,
where people challenge everything on moral or some other grounds.  One
can equally argue that perhaps Avraham Avinu had bitachon that there
would be a yeshua at the last moment--which there was.  I also think you
walk on dangerous ground when you presuppose what Hashem is thinking.

Also, we are told the Avos kept the entire Torah before matan Torah.  In
Avraham Avinu's time there was no Bnail Yisroel yet.  What purpose what
it have served to give the Torah then?


From: W. Baker <wbaker@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 13:52:11 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Test of Faith

I have two thoughts on Avraham , Hashem and the Akeida.  In the time
that Avraham lived it was common practice among the people to sacrifice
the first born child to the local god.  Apparently not only was this the
practice, but they have found infant bodies buries in the cornerstones
of buildings.  (I have no source for this other than a course I took
many many years ago).  This situation leads me to my two possibilities.

1, Abraham might have expected such a command from Hashem, so , although
heartbroken, would have felt he must obey without question.

2, Others around might well have charged wither Avraham or his god as
wimpy for not demanding such sacrifice.  Hashem might have provided this
test to Avraham to reassure him that he was able to make such a
sacrifice, therefore he (A) was not a wimp, and to teach him that this
kind of sacrifice was NOT what was expected and animals, not humans,
were the moral and right sacrifices.

I think these are what has enabled me to deal with the emotional
difficulties of reading this story.

Wendy Baker

From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2003 08:43:11 -0500
Subject: Re: Test of Faith

This is one of the great questions in Judaism -- the conflict between
faith and reason.  But I think that the comparison with Avraham's
objection re Sdom v'Amorah and his silence on the aqeidah is somewhat
flawed--although very natural.

The discourse on S'dom was based on justice; Avraham argued the case in
terms of the rights of the just inhabitants in the cities to be
differentiated from the unjust and called on God in His "midat ha-din"
(His aspect of justice).

However, when it came to his own son, Avraham was precluded from making
this argument since he had no "right" to his son.  Yitzkhaq was given to
Avraham as a gift out of God's midat ha-rakhamim (His aspect of mercy)
and thus Avraham could only have appealed to God's khesed.  But khesed
is by its very nature outside of reasoned appeals.

Moreover, as a meilitz (advocate), Avraham was neutral in the case of
Sdom v'Amorah but nogei'a ba-davar (involved in the matter, i.e.,
biased) in the matter of Yitzkhaq.  As such, he might be said to be
precluded from arguing the latter case on the basis of midat ha-din.

Like others who have written here, I too think that there is good reason
to wonder if Avraham failed the test of the aqeidah or at least was only
a "bare pass".  But I think that the failure to object as he did on Sdom
v'Amorah is not a conclusive argument.

Kol Tuv and a slightly early wish for a happy Hanukah.


End of Volume 41 Issue 49