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Four thoughts about the Chaim Walder affair and about us

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

1. This can be a golden opportunity. This difficult episode can be a powerful impetus for change. When a storm is raging, we dare not ignore it or cover it up. We must remind ourselves and warn our children that there are people, even important and famous ones, who perpetrate serious offenses. We must make it clear that any abuse must be reported at once, and that It's not a matter of lashon hara to tell others about it. This is about heinous acts for which the perpetrator alone is guilty, and whose behavior must be stopped at once.

2. Beyond the immediate victims, there is potential collateral damage that we must take pains to prevent: loss of faith. Rabbi Chagai Londin writes that we cannot allow ourselves to say "they're all monsters" or "it's impossible to trust anyone." That would be destructive. For every abuser, there are thousands of good people. The world is full of honest and ethical individuals, even if the few who cross the line are clearly not. But we cannot paint the entire human race in black and fall into despair. The vast majority are good, a tiny minority are not, and the good majority must provide tools for dealing with the bad minority.

3. Today is the 24th of Tevet, the anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad Chasidism, the man who taught us that the most difficult battle, the real world war, is taking place each moment on the most turbulent battlefield that exists -- the human soul. Each of us needs to prevail in this perpetual battle, in the struggle between good and evil inside us. This is our principle mission in life.

4. And Chasidut also taught us that if we see or hear something bad -- it's not by chance. We cannot allow ourselves to relate to a grievous incident as just another "item." It's forbidden to just see this as another juicy piece of soon forgettable news that has nothing to do with us. We must try to learn from everything that happens, refining ourselves in the process.

May we hear only good news.


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