Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Chaim Walder Scandal and Suicide.

I feel that I have to put down some of my thoughts on this matter. For those of you who do not know:
Haredi author and radio personality Chaim Walder was found dead in Petah Tikva Monday afternoon, after apparently taking his own life.

The 53-year-old writer and educator, best known for his series of children’s books, Children Talk About Themselves, was found dead at his son’s grave in Petah Tikva at the Segula Cemetery Monday afternoon.

Walder’s apparent suicide comes after a wave of allegations against him of sexual misconduct, including a report by Ha’aretz which cited the claims of 22 alleged victims, including underage boys and girls.

I am not going to opine as to the veracity or the falsity of the claims against the man. Similarly, I am not going to get involved in the discussion of whether this case was handled properly. But I do have a few takeaways from the scandal and its aftermath that are worth stating regardless how one feels about the case.

1) One should avoid receiving counseling in private from members of the opposite sex. The Torah has very strict laws with regard to yichud, being secluded with a person of the opposite sex. Unfortunately we have been witness to people who should know better ignoring these laws. Rabbis are only human. They and those who seek their counsel should realize this.

2) Know the laws of Lashon HaRa. (forbidden speech). One has to know when to keep his mouth (or keyboard) shut. On the other hand, one has to know when to speak up to prevent others from being harmed.

3) Avoid getting into arguments that you are really not a party to. "He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife not his own, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears" (Proverbs 26:17). It's not a good idea to grab a dog by the ears.

4) Don't commit suicide! I almost forgot this one. I can understand that there are situations where people think that there is no other way out. But, in general, this is forbidden

This case has left a big wound that may take some time to heal. "Heal us, O LORD, and we shall be healed; save us, and we shall be saved; for Thou art our praise."

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