Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Defending Rabbi Arush, shlita

Rabbi Shalom Arush, shlita, is the rabbi of yeshiva Chut shel Chessed in Jerusalem, and known as the Breslev Tzadik of Meah Shearim.  He has a sizable following and institutional base in Israel, and is represented by Rabbi Lazer Brody who travels worldwide sharing some of R. Arush’s teachings and fundraising for his Torah institutions.

He’s recently come under fire for announcing he will no longer meet or directly council women (or directly give women blessings), that questions or request for blessings for the rabbi should be brought by their husbands (or, assumedly if unmarried, by their fathers’), or sent in writing to the rabbi.

Almost immediately after making this statement the wolves and trolls attacked.  Here’s a few:

-- If these men can't control themselves then make sure the door is open - which should be anyway - and there is someone sitting in the next room. What's next? Demanding that Jewish women wear burkas????

-- control thyselves.  Rabbis can always walk away or say NO.

-- It sounds as if women should have their own planet and nobody should be trusted in front of them because their have been some sick people who could not control themselves. And of course it must also make alot of sense to you that it is the women's problem that some men can't control themselves.

-- Men of any type can learn self control,so damn ridiculous. I've consulted with many rabbi's and NEVER had any hint of lust from ANY of them!!!!! Surely no mensch would EVER rape a woman! Disgusting to give any excuse for this vile behavior.

-- If these learned men can't control their urges around women why don't they live in enclosed communities similar to monks where they can avoid women at all cost.

The first and important question to be asked is what drove this change in position?  Rabbi Arush, shlita, did not EVER meet privately with women, so what’s driving this change from public / open door / and group meetings to complete avoidance?

The answer is seeing too many rabbis, rabbis of some renown, failing in this area.  And while in percentage terms it may be merely a handful among thousands or tens of thousands of rabbis, clearly:

.. There is inherent risk in this type of pastoral counseling, where vulnerable people are coming in vulnerable situations for advice / assistance / blessings.  This can lead to misdirected emotions toward the person providing help, similar to people falling in love with their doctor or nurse.

.. There is also an inherent power balance problem, and advice can have unintentional emotional impact.

.. Everyone has challenges with desires.  Under normal conditions, people keep their desires in check.  But what if you were presented with THOUSANDS of opportunities, some telling you how much they love and need you?  Are we expecting super-human perfection from our rabbis?

.. In a day of cell phones, Youtube, extreme feminism, and aggressive lawyers, even the slightest incident can be misinterpreted and reputation destroying (and edited down to make it appear that way).  And some incidents can indeed be set ups and attempts to take a rabbi down.

So in a month and year where a number of rabbis have had such negative claims brought against them, Rabbi Arush (shlita)’s reaction is VERY REASONABLE.


  1. ...and, hopefully the answer to another question: What are the women who need help going to do now? See this article by Batya Medad (Shiloh Musings): If Rabbis Aren't Able to Counsel Women, Maybe the Time Has Come for Females to Get Official Roles.

    Somebody's gotta do the job. Where there can be no man, be a woman? ;)

  2. protecting the men again, as if they are really the victim.
    Yes, I agree that the time has come for women not to confess and confide personal problems to Rabbis (men) as these conversations contain very sensitive emotions. I agree with CDG that Batya Medad's call be heard and acted upon, for the sake of the women. (Question: Isn't this what Rabbi Riskin was trying to accomplish? Consider tachlis, not politics.)

  3. What are they to do? What's wrong with sending a letter? A guy has a right to not subject himself to temptation and is even commanded to refrain from it. What i don't hear in the responses of the women is actual Torah about the issues at hand.

  4. This blog post is really sad - for many reasons. What Rav Arush has chosen to do is only relevant to people if you are part of his kehilla so why do people need to be chiming in with all their motzei shem ra? And there are many, many rabbonim who to do speak to women - Rav Chaim Kaniviesky does not and neither did his father the Steipler. And there are rabbonim who meet with women in an appropriate tznius manner - go to them if you need to. But don't slander Rav Arush!

    A husband or father is anyway the mashpia and should be the one bringing the Torah into the home. Really the test is on the men as whether they intend to properly lead their homes or not chalila.

  5. Anon July 23, 2015 11:11 AM: Maybe you don't consider Pirke Avoth to be part of Torah? My statement, "Where there can be no man, be a woman," was a play on it (see 2:6). And also see the haftorah on Parashath Beshallach...

    I agree with you that, of course, a man has the commandment and the right not to subject himself to temptation. Now, understand that a woman has the right not to subject herself to the humiliation of speaking of home life behind closed doors that she would not feel comfortable divulging to a man, in the first place. A two-sided dynamic has always been going on in this area that has been - and IS - difficult to resolve, of which certain women took advantage at the expense of the men to themselves become rabbis (or rabboth or whatever).

    What's wrong with writing? It's writing; and email, especially, can be used against the woman and even forwarded to H'-knows-where. Do you think that's any better than the man's dilemma?...I leave it to you to complete the dot connection. I hope this helps.

    TJ, be very careful; you might be painting with a broad brush when it comes to that most serious sin, motzi shem ra. Please be specific if you think you see some. I'm sure the Rav stops by now and then and checks up on us.

    Everyone, I, for one, do not blame any rav for taking Rav Arush's decision (although, as I understand it, he has taken the path of the Steipler and his son, Rav Chaim Kanievsky all along, but spoke up anyway). Considering the state of the world now, no one should withhold the respect the Rav deserves for his principled stand.


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