Less than two weeks ago, the Orthodox community learned of a terrible scandal, a lowlight for rabbis around the world, as the promiscuous and abusive escapades of a popular teacher/scholar were called out. The whistleblowing was led by six geographically diverse senior rabbis, with broad-based affiliations in the Orthodox community. The important news sent shockwaves through a community of students and teachers, many of whom were acquainted with, or even students of, the abuser.
The healing has just begun for the victims and their families, and even many rabbis previously unfamiliar with the case — and still modestly unaware of the tawdry details — were terribly unnerved by the vulgar news. Many sought counsel to better understand the pathology of what had transpired, so that they might continue in their own noble work and the spiritual development of their communities without, G-d forbid, cultivating future potential scandals.
Olami, a movement dedicated to helping rabbis inspire growth in Jews of all backgrounds, arranged reflective lectures by two leading educational lights. Rabbi Reuven Leuchter, the spritual guide of Ner Le’Elef and other educational institutions, spoke to rabbis and educators around the world on “Charisma and Control”, discussing the pathology and dynamics that nurture unhealthy rabbi-student relationships. Rabbi Yitzchak Berkovits, rosh kollel of The Jerusalem Kollel,and a leading authority on Jewish Law and rabbinic training, spoke on “Moving on After Scandal and Tragedy”, instructing rabbis and educators on the “cheshbon hanefesh” (self-assessment) necessary to inspire growth in others by cultivating honest growth in oneself.
Many rabbis were moved and ennobled by the two talks and the reflective conversations that they shared after hearing them. We present them here for you or for any teacher, student, or loved one that can grow from them.
The author is on the faculty of Ner Le’Elef and Olami.