Jan 29, 2013
What's Rabbi Manis Thinking?

From the COLlive inbox: Devorah, a former student of Rabbi Manis Friedman reveals what the renowned teacher really thinks about the issues of molestation and abuse.

My name is Devorah. I am what some people call a fan of Rabbi Manis Friedman. I am also a friend, a relative, and an acquaintance of far too many abuse victims to ignore the video I recently saw of Rabbi Manis making some all too simple comments about something as serious as abuse.

I watched the video which caused as much a hype as the actual arrest of a pedophile. And for good reason.

The anger that he riled up proved that there are now people that finally understand that abuse is not something to be taken lightly. It showed that there are many many people who are spreading the zero tolerance stance.

Nonetheless, I do believe that Rabbi Friedman has a lot more to say on the topic than you saw in an 8 minute 12 second video. I'm not here to defend Rabbi Friedman but to share some of my thoughts and perhaps give some perspective.

Rabbi Friedman is and was, for many years to me, someone I looked up to, a man who saw the world in a larger way, one who understood the complexities of individuals who have been through a vast array of experiences, specifically abuse.

My first response to seeing the video was anger. I was angry that he was insensitive to the suffering an abuse victim endures. Angry that he dared equivocate such a matter to the pain one feels when belittled by a teacher. I have always been one to advocate the reporting of abusers to authorities, to vocalize that too many of our ultra orthodox body are harboring criminals. I was always one to simply discuss the painful truth, that our insulated communities are not immune to pedophilia and abuse.

Discussing the fact that we are a few slow steps behind the rest of the world in being fully aware of abuse and taking all steps to stop it, if shared enough times, will make a difference.

After anger, came disappointment. How can someone who I've trusted and respected for so many years as a progressive, wise, and compassionate man, dedicated to admirable causes, have such primitive and cold hearted opinions.

I was also confused. I personally saw Rabbi Friedman help a teenage rape victim. I witnessed a tremendous impact that came with incredible wisdom, depth and compassion. I am sure that Rabbi Friedman has helped dozens of others with such matters. I can assure you that this girl and the many others did not think Rabbi Friedman thought abuse a joke.

I remember a certain night in a Bais Chana summer camp, having a question and answer session with Rabbi Friedman. One of the papers passed up explained a girl's difficulty to function after years of ongoing abuse. His response had a similar "get over it" vibe we saw in the video. I was furious. How dare he? Doesn't he see the scars, the shells of people walking around as a result of abuse? I felt this way until I later learned how the girl who read the paper absorbed his response.

While I was too busy being heated and enraged, Rabbi Friedman actually explained something that had a significant meaning to it. Everyone that knows the ABCs of the effects of abuse understands that the most damage comes not from the actual physical trauma, but from the harboring of a secret, from the self-hatred and blame, from the loss of trust, the shame, etc.

Overcoming such overwhelming psychological issues is about gaining perspective and the way to get over such issues are similar with whatever it is the cause. Each of these issues and insecurities can be grave and need intense help to get past, and Rabbi Friedman wasn't ignoring that. This is what I think Rabbi Friedman was saying. And this is what the victim heard. His horrible mistake was that he didn't say enough of what he actually thinks.

I do not, however, think he should not have said what he did. He should have stuck his foot in his mouth or at least been more sensitive. But I definitely don't think the Rabbi Manis you watched on that video is the real Rabbi Manis you ought to know.

Sensationalism is what sells and Rabbi Friedman is most at fault for taking it a step too far. It is not untypical for him to say things that come across as shocking, witty, paradoxical, but then he explains. Yes, it is an injustice and a disgrace to undermine an abuse victim's experience, and what he said on the video was wrong simply because through his words, many people felt pained.

But one thing I know is that the video that we all watched does not reflect Rabbi Friedman’s stance on abuse. He is not one to protect a criminal or to advise one to shove anything under the rug. Rabbi Friedman is far from the criminals he is being grouped with.

A criminal is a principal who knows that a pedophile has access to children and stands by idly. A criminal is someone who knows that a child is hurt and his perpetrator is not behind bars. A criminal is someone who gags the victim and says shhh.

Get real. If you told Rabbi Friedman that you had been abused and your abuser was out and free, he'd be the first to tell you to dial 911.

Rabbi Friedman is not the man that deserves being attacked on Facebook or to be linked to other Jewish leaders that raise money for a rapist's court fees. He is a man that saves people, a man that devotes his life to helping others, a man that listens to the plight of others. Give the attention back to Nechemya Weberman and let Rabbi Friedman continue doing all the good that he does.

* * *

In this newly released video, Rabbi Manis Friedman explores what is the response supposed to be to molestation and abuse? How should a Rabbi respond? How should a psychologists respond? What is the obligation of every individual in a moral society?

Hear more from Rabbi Manis at RabbiFriedman.com

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
Thank you for approaching this subject with such clarity.

Thank you again for your wonderful words of wisdom and inspiration.
(1/29/2013 11:18:27 PM)
to r' manis friedman
You say that rabbi's should do their roles. What about "rabbis" who have been molesters themselves?
(1/29/2013 11:33:18 PM)
Thank you for making a more sensitive recording on this subject.
(1/29/2013 11:45:13 PM)
Thank you
On behalf of many who admire rabbi Friedman, thank you Devorah for having the courage and the decency to write this. Zchus horabim tolui boch!
(1/29/2013 11:45:20 PM)
True feelings vs. Public face
There's no question that R. Friedman has helped many people over the years. What is problematic to me is that what he personally feels (as was shown in the earlier video) which is dead-wrong differs from what he says publicly. I don't believe he has really changed his thinking, and I'm not sure which is worse -- standing by his words or pretending to recant them, though the latter is certainly more dangerous. He has a lot more work to do before he can be trusted imo.
(1/29/2013 11:55:52 PM)
to #2
they arent real rabbis, they are a hoax
(1/29/2013 11:59:27 PM)
to number 2
They are obviously NOT doing their roles. Duuuuh.
Secondly, this article is wonderful. Clarifying what a good man actually means. And yes, he made that clear, his speech was well over an hour and the eight minutes publicized don't do it justice.
We stand beghind you all the way Rabbi Manis!
(1/30/2013 12:00:36 AM)
Reb Manis
We are behind you. Keep helping people.

Let the detractors get distracted by the next "issue" they decide to run after.
(1/30/2013 12:00:55 AM)
Much Clarity! Thank you
Thank you for being so clear on the subject.
(1/30/2013 12:04:03 AM)
How about we look at the full talk
Very nice white washing but here is an actual quote ""I could open up an office and be busy full time just telling people who have been molested so? Nobody's allowed to touch you, what are you holy?"
The quote begins on 13.18 of the audio and the full talk of molestation starts at 9.30
(1/30/2013 12:04:34 AM)
Rabbi m is human and makes mistakes too!
rabbi mannis rocks!
Thanks for clarifying.
I knew there was something there
That must have been misunderstood
(1/30/2013 12:12:24 AM)
now i understand
still pretty insensitive, and he should apologize for coming across as insensitive, but now it makes alot more sense.
(1/30/2013 12:12:33 AM)
Rabbi m is human and makes mistakes too!
Besides that many didn't understand what he said! Beautifull clear article!!
(1/30/2013 12:13:03 AM)
To the people who attack Rabbi Friedman
Can any of you shallow sensationalists claim to have helped even 1 percent of the victims that he has???? Do you think by crucifying this man it makes you more compassionate to the victims?
Did you bother to understand his full opinion on this matter, which is probably more straight forward and helpful than yours...

You should all shut up and bow before this man, for the life of devotion he has given to victims of abuse and so many others. Something none of you can claim to have done of a thousandth fold!

By taking a few of his words and disrespecting him in public, you have only god and your conscious to answer to, HE on the other hand does not owe any of you a thing.

Go on and get a real life and shame on you!
(1/30/2013 12:13:35 AM)
It must be so lonely..
Not only to be one of the only people left who still lives by the motto "Moach Shalit Al Halev," but he's also perhaps the last one in Chabad with the courage to stand up for what Torah says, and against American pop culture. All the Shluchim and "greiseh mentchin" who are so quick to distance themselves from r' manis are such a disappointment. "Let the people live in ignorance, let them only hear the secular point of view, as long as we don't have any trouble.." Is this the Rebbe's way? Has the Rebbe not taught us anything? Kol Hakavod to a rabbi who believes in Hashem and His Torah, and isn't afraid to share those truths with anyone smart enough to listen.
And to those who follow the knee jerk reactions of their emotions, maybe Takkeh go see a shrink. Tanya teaches that a healthy person is controlled by his intellect.
Now go learn.
(1/30/2013 12:14:20 AM)
about time
i was wondering when one of the thousands of people who have benefited from his work would come to his defense.

Good for you and may you be an example to the rest of r. friedman's students.

Comon folks. where are you when he needs you?
(1/30/2013 12:27:39 AM)
As I agree with this article in every way, this is the kind of thing that Rabbi Friedman needs to be man enough to say himself. I watched the original video with my wife, who is one of these girls who "just got over" the abuse like Rabbi Friedman says you would "get over a diarrhea" and she was so hurt and the incredible insensitivity the man had.

This video should have been what you wrote: a full throated apology. But he did not, and he is loosing all of our respect.

Oh and btw, about the people who should "get over" abuse? While it may have been freeing to your friend, and my wife may have tried getting over it. Guess what? The effects last for ever. The confused nature of sensuality, the inability to trust people these are things that you may be able to cover for a while, but they will change you forever. Abuse suffered is like a personal Holocaust, you may "get over it" and function but those closest to you will always feel it.... So please please don't listen to Rabbi Friendman's awful advice, make sure that you do figure things out and discuss before you get married.
(1/30/2013 12:29:39 AM)
Rabbi Manis Friedman is contrarian and will go out of his way to argue with conventional wisdom.However,"SAGES,BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR WORDS" is a quote from the Talmud(Avot 1,11),which even he is obligated to follow.
(1/30/2013 12:45:10 AM)
to R' Manis Friedman
Is there anything with admitting you were wrong in the first video?
(1/30/2013 12:48:42 AM)
What did he say wrong, ms "Devora"

(1/30/2013 12:49:49 AM)
Um, no apology?
Seriously, you made a mistake - own up to it! Rather than just posting a new video that contradicts everything else you said and brings in chanukah to make it look like you said it a while ago.
Oh, and then getting a relative to come in and defend you.

Grow up and admit you made a mistake. Apologize to the survivors that you hurt.
(1/30/2013 12:51:53 AM)
Thank you
This really helps clarify the distinction he's making between rabbis and therapists in the first video. He was talking to a group of rabbis! Explaining to them what their positions need to be! It wasn't directed towards anyone else and shouldn't have been taken out of context in the first place.
(1/30/2013 12:53:53 AM)
Rabbi Friedman
As someone who has benefited repeatedly by the support and counsel of Rabbi Manis and look up to him as my family does, we find him in addition to being wise and scholarly, a warm kind hearted individual.
We pray you keep up your great work, and continue to bringing comfort and sagely advice to those who rely/call on you.
Al yaivesh mipnei hamaligim.
(1/30/2013 12:59:25 AM)
say I'm sorry
Well Rabbi Friedman I'm glad you are somewhat contrite, however it would behoove you to actually say the words
" I'm sorry " The unbelievable pain that you caused with your 9 minutes of sensationalism needs alot of Tshuva
(1/30/2013 1:06:36 AM)
"I do not, however, think he should not have said what he did." so you agree with him? this whole article is misleading and confusing, and seems to be lashon hara to me.
(1/30/2013 1:12:44 AM)
Just Apologize
I find this whitewashing article quite disturbing and offensive. Sounds like a cute way of trying to rehabilitate the Rabbi by playing offense and avoiding the inevitable . Why doesn't Rabbi Friedman simply come out an apologize for what he said. Let him acknowledge that he is out of his element when discussing this matter. His ignorance -- magnified by his jokes and insensitivity -- about these issues is very evident (even in 8 minutes).
Any attempt at explaining only amplifies how clueless Rabbi Friedman is. If he were a butcher, nu. But he is spending his life dispensing psychological advice.
People will be listening to that notorious video again and again, and it will confirm in many minds their worst fears -- that orthodox rabbis, even chabad ones, are invested in minimizing the effects of molestation, and are in effect complicit in covering up these profound violations. Whether this is true or not is irrelevant.
If Rabbi Friedman wants to gain respect and be treated like a teacher and leader, instead of focusing on trying to clean up his tarnished image, let him simply and humbly apologize.
Anything else continues to reflect arrogance. I believe that this is not the first time the dear rabbi has put his foot in his mouth (once about the holocaust and another time about the arabs). And then too he did not apologize, but blamed it on others, that he was misunderstood, his words taken out of context etc.
The rabbi should know the first rule in communication: Chachomm hizharu b'dvoreichem...
(1/30/2013 1:14:14 AM)
I Absolutely disagree with his approach
I dont like his perspective. I understand yiddishkeit has what it has. But I do feel it minimizes the pain and fear that I'm sure is palpably felt by anyone who has gone thru that. And To say life is good - i feel totally minimizes the survivor's pain which probably makes it easy for them to deny their true reality. People that go thru hell like that need to feel safe that their ok - that they're not crazy to feel crazy or fearful or isolated from others. They need that confirmation more than anything and to have it from the therapist alone is very isolating. When a person truly heals from shame guilt the way to heal is allowing the negative feelings to come up - and as much as they need - and then they will heal on their own and accept what the rabbi says about dirah bitachtonim - The pain must be so deep in survivors that yes im sure they themselves would rather say life is good ,,, and not think or talk about the issue. to bring it up and with a rabbi and be told life is good this is G-ds plan - in their head I believe would make them want to fight that and probably become an abuser themselves. as done to them rather then accept what the rabbi is saying. acceptance brings acceptance when the rabbi is empathetic and says wow your not crazy for feeling the way you feel and I'm sure if I went thru something like that - G-d forbid I'm sure I would feel the same way you feel if not worse. That would allow the reciepient to fully accept the rabbis way of life (happy torah true) and emulate it.) and want to be like that cuz they feel understood. to tell them life is good i think subconsciously would make them feel - if you are telling me that life is good then i must be crazy. and feel totally rejected. i dont like his approach - i think empathy - and acceptance is the key here and that will be the foundation to torah to be truly accepted in the deepest way - in a way they are a keli for it .
Another point why is the rabbi given a title and a role - they're not G-d their human beings and can make mistakes too - some humility please. That's why empathy is the key here - I believe - because we're all at fault for something and to put ourselves with a title and role - that as the rabbi i need to say x y and z and not g h and f. - Is very rigid. Why cant I be human and not have to give a message of G-d,. .
Why cant I be empathatic and just listen to the pain and acknowledge and the better I do that - the more the person will want to follow the torah life I lead. The less I do that - the more repulsed they are. When a person dies G-d gives us a morning period for that reason and no one can take that away - from the person the survivor decides how long they need to talk about their pain and I'm sure wants acceptance more than anything. People know what they need to do - the knowledge becomes action when there's acceptance and peace. to say that's only or mostly for a therapist - will not allow proper healing or destroy the healing that has already been acquired through therapy. Some food for thought for all those rabbi's out there and survivor's too- the pain must be excrutiating and obsessive and just to know your ok your feelings are ok from as many pple as possible I believe is the key to feeling a desire to have torah true happy life!!! hatzlochah!
(1/30/2013 1:45:48 AM)
A social media controversy? Shocking!
This is the same rabbi friedman who has helped thousands. The same rabbi friedman who mekarev hundreds. The same rabbi friedman whom the Rebbe chose to deliver the Rebbe's message during tv broadcast farbrengens.

Dont allow an 8 minute video clip to let you forget that
(1/30/2013 1:52:10 AM)
Great article
A little sanity in a world where anyone with an Internet connection and a vendetta becomes a noisemaker.

It is sad that the noisemakers set the tone, and heroes like R' Manis have to "clarify". If you didn't understand, ask him! He doesn't hide behind a website. He is available and has been available to thousands for over four decades.
(1/30/2013 1:57:17 AM)
"Contaminated Oil"
Rabbi Friedman, after being abused as a child, by a "Rabbi" no less, my own brother called me damaged goods and when it came time for me to get married he wouldn't let me go out with "normal" guys. I ended up marrying a guy who physically abused me..... and so it goes on.... once the oil is contaminated no one will use it.
(1/30/2013 2:17:08 AM)
Just say I'm sorry! Many, many people were hurt and deeply offended, by the first video, own up and move on.. in this video posted u would never know that just yesterday there was another video posted with a completely diffrent tune.

No need to clarify, explain, etc.. just simply apologize!
(1/30/2013 2:25:34 AM)
There's a saying those that are hurt - hurt others - im sure for a survivor - its very hurtful to hear life is good when it sure aint feel like that - so if thats his perspective i would not trust him around my kids. Rabbi Freidman does not need to change anyone - or anyone's perspective- on their life or how they view things - he needs to be there empathetically and the torah message will get across no worries!!!
(1/30/2013 2:36:24 AM)
to #2
Um... what about them?
(1/30/2013 3:09:41 AM)
Very wrong message....
"It is not a rabbis job to protect an abuser from police". He should be relaying a very clear message of the importance of going directly to the police in a case of abuse! The message is completely off and in a subtle way he is saying that it is ok to
protect the molestors. For anyone who wants to hear a very level headed torah and psychological approach to this subject I highly recommend listening to mrs. Bronya shaffer, who has a tremendous amount of insight and experience on the topic.
(1/30/2013 3:21:43 AM)
I was NOT offended!
first of all, anyone who was never been molested abused or raped has not say in this discussion.

second, i have been a victim over a few years in my school years. two cousins and a third distant relative who were all older than me have taken advantage of my body on a constant basis. i have seen forgiven them for what they did and i now have a wife and family b"h and we are very happy and healthy

having said that, i present my opinion on rabbi m. friedman's original "insensitive" video:

the joking was wrong without question, yet I was not offended at all by that he said

in fact, as someone who b"h learned to live with past wounds and memories, i think he is 100% right by saying to "get over it"

he was not saying that after an incident happens the abused should "get over it" and not do anything about it like calling the authorities, talking about it and going to therapy

he was encouraging people to speed up the healing/recovery process. not to keep dwelling on the past 20 years later, not to use that as an accuse why you are not taking care of yourself or your kids

in most cases the mark of molestation and abuse is psychological not physical. most of the therapy is for your mind not body. and what is all that for? the visits to psychologists and psychiatrists and the money spent on them? its all for one thing: to help you "get over it"

I never met rabbi friedman {I saw many of his videos} i think his opinion about this is empowering all those molested to take control of their lives after losing that control to an animalistic person

i was not offended by what he said and neither should you

(1/30/2013 3:41:27 AM)
How many hours does a man have to give to his community,
How many hours of family time does man have to sacrifice,
How many hours of free advice does a man have to dispense,
How many hours and days and weeks and months and years does a man have to dedicate to listening to people's problems,
How much compassion does a man have to show,
How much does a man have to care,
How many people, marriages and families does a man hav to save,
Before his own community will give the common decency of th benefit of the doubt???

How many of the righteously incensed defenders of the weak in this discussion really believe rabbi Friedman has anything to apologize for? For suggesting an alternative therapy to conventional psychology (gasp!)? For injecting some humor into what was a heavy discussion about some heavy issues with educators? For cracking a joke about the same problems he has taken more seriously than anyone for fort years? What?
And by the way, all you self-righteous folks demanding an apology from him, wher have you been over th past forty years that he has been giving away his nights and days to help these people you accuse him so foolishly of hurting?

(1/30/2013 4:01:07 AM)
Do you hear the entire first talk of Rabbi Manis?
I just finished listening to Rabbi Freidman's entire first talk on the subject at hand, and it is clear that many commentators here and elsewhere have not heard it in its entirety. He was very clear in providing a good mindset for the victim of molestation to be able to move forward into normal life. The mindset he provided essentially expressed how a victim might shrug off self-imposed and incorrect feelings of blame or of feeling sallied. He clearly stated that issues of mistrust and other issues are serious, but not unique to molestation. And in providing a clear distinction such as this, the victim is given permission to move forward in life instead of carrying a burden that is not his to carry. Rabbi Freidman has nothing to apologize for. Those who would listen to half a minute and fume, and publicize their views are doing wrong.
(1/30/2013 4:35:05 AM)
Never say you are sorry
Rabbi Freidman never says he is sorry. He's a pull yourself up by the boot straps kind of guy. I think, though, that most rabbis find it easier to just throw kindness around without actually trying to help people . This is just his philosophy and you don't have to like it or follow it. The problem is that so many people think Rabbi Freidman is so amazing that they go to him for every little thing and hang on every word he says. I've learned the hard way that you can't take all these rabbis at their words. Be skeptical, if it doesn't feel right to you.
(1/30/2013 6:41:48 AM)
Hiding Behind "Anonymous"
I agree with #35. If you have not been molested or abused you will never understand. You think you can go and say whatever you want while being protected by the "anonymous". If you have been and are still outraged by what Rabbi Friedman said than you should really be listening to more of what the rabbi has to say.

Rabbi Friedman has helped so many thousands of people over so many years and hardly gets a quarter of the recognition or appreciation he deserves. Then he makes one comment that your "wiser than G-d" self doesn't understand and you have the nerve to be upset with him. NOW you speak up??

Rabbi Friedman deserves our respect and appreciation. If you don't get what he said, ask for clarification.

You should be ashamed of yourselves for attacking him like this before getting the full picture.

Chaya L
(1/30/2013 7:38:09 AM)
Get Your Egos In Check!
How dare you say that Rabbi Friedman "made a mistake"?? Who are you to presume anything or jump to any conclusions??

Have you taken into account the million different points that may have lead up to those 8 minutes?

What crowd was Rabbi Friedman talking to? What had been discussed before the clip in question? What was the vibe in the room during this lecture? And lastly, why do you think you know more about this topic than Rabbi Friedman?

Take a minute to think with your head before you go spouting rude comments and random pesukim at a wise man such as he.

Thank you Rabbi Friedman for everything you have done and will continue to do for all who have the zechus to listen to your words.
(1/30/2013 7:53:52 AM)
Only someone who has suffered the devastating long lasting effects of abuse can appreciate Rabbi Friedman's advice from both videos. Of cource we are all sympathetic to the plite of the abused. Sympathy, though is not enough to help one get over it, even years later. What is most important is a solution how to face yourself as an abused person. How do you look at yourself. Have I been damaged for life? Rabbi Friedman gives us the deepest, most truthful answer : we are pure and cannot be defiled. This is a very liberating wonderful, truthful solution which does not negate in any way the practical solution of turning to autorities, and hunting down the abusers and being appauled by the atrocity. The victim, in facing himself needs to understand that in reality he remains pure. This is the powerful answer that Rabbi Friedman is giving, an answer that surely the Rebbe would give an abused person in Yechidus.
(1/30/2013 8:15:13 AM)
Ok jonny
#1 manis has saved my life more then 4 times.
I personally love his approach etc.
Now an 8 minute clip will not change all the good I know him to be.
Now after watching both videos 5 times it is clear what his point is.
However I think he should and would apologize for the tone portrayed in the first clip.
(1/30/2013 8:39:33 AM)
Only questiOn that matters
To me, the Only question that matters is this: does rabbi Friedman support reporting molesters to the police, regardless of the cost to the molester and family? Or does he use "it's no big deal" to persuade or pressure victims not to report abuse, because why nebech break up a family over a "small aveirah"? If he discourages reporting by minimizing the problem then he directly bears responsibility for the ongoing scourge of abuse in our community.
(1/30/2013 8:40:09 AM)
"I've learned the hard way that you can't take all these rabbis at their words. Be skeptical, if it doesn't feel right to you. "

Most do take them for every word, and most are not skeptical.
(1/30/2013 8:45:02 AM)
Out of disgust, I couldn’t really finish the video. But I did hear it through the part where he says our ancestors were molested by shaygetzes and still went on with life.

To me, his fallacy is thinking its okay because our ancestors went on anyway. If the whole concept of Bishul and Chalav Yisrael and all the related chumrot/halachot is to prevent mixing in a friendly or marital sense, it is highly likely that Torah and Torah opinions wouldn’t reflect so positively on goyim committing atrocities on Jews. Particularly forced physical ones. Particularly if the whole ikkur inyan is about Jews and goyim having relations.

So…by kol v’chomer, if a goy shouldn’t be allowed to do it and Jews are supposed to elevate beyond the negative influences and habits of goyim, shouldn’t we even more so strive not to molest other Jews? If the argument is “Jews can mix with each other”, then, what of all the men molesting boys which violates the issur on male-male relations? If the argument is on a Jewish male/Jewish female perspective, wouldn’t that drag in all of hilchot tzniut, adultery, tahorah, etc.?

It seems ridiculous to suggest that it’s not so bad that it needs no fixing.
(1/30/2013 8:58:36 AM)
Honesty vs Anonymity
It would be interesting to see how many of these posts are from family members of Rabbi Freidman. But alas, anonymity provides a cover that only intensifies distortions rather than bring truth to the surface...
(1/30/2013 9:11:15 AM)
I am 38
To 44, but that's just it. If you really respect someone, rabbi or not, and you hang on every word that person says and you take all advice to heart and you get burned, you learn to be skeptical. I think that all these chabad rabbis are bombarded with people looking for guidance and all kinds of help. Most of these rabbis are not trained professionals. They guide by the Torah and with common sense, if they blessed with it. People need to remember all of that.
(1/30/2013 9:12:07 AM)
As a shlucha (and fan) I had to deal with the fallout!
A few of our community members - not Lubavitch - posted Rabbi Manis's original video as shocking evidence of our community's cavalier attitude towards molestation - Lumping us with Williamsburgh, Lakewood etc. when in fact we are more progressive than many in that we do report to authorities...that we are "exposing" the perpetrators.
That's why I was shocked. This is not the Rabbi Friedman I know. If he would apologize for at least misrepresenting us in the first video it would be so helpful. And honorable.
(1/30/2013 9:12:40 AM)
I watched both videos in their entirety
If anyone is intellectually honest, and I doubt that there are many today who are, (because people do not generally think for themselves) it is abundantly clear that Rabbi Friedman takes the issue of molestation very seriously and is sensitive to the pain of molestation.

What is also clear is that he does not believe in FURTHERING the damage done by molestation, by victimizing the victim even more.

How many people live with the idea that because they have been molested, they are permanent damaged goods? Rabbi Friedman point seems to be that we should encourage all victims of molestation to believe that, they too, can overcome and the challenges of their life, and not be drowned by them.

Far from being callous, I think Rabbi Friedman has attempted to lift up the victims and tell them they can be ok. I have a very close friend who was molested over a long period of time during her teen years, and yes, it caused her problems with trust, but she did overcome, and has a beautiful, happy healthy marriage and family today.

To link Rabbi Friedman's words, which are clearly concerned with victims of molestation, to molestation coverups, smacks of politically correct hysteria.

The emotionally driven frenzy against Rabbi Friedman is eerily similar in spirit to the lynch mob mentality of the south. It is driven by a politically correct zeitgeist that trumps all rational dialogue and opinion, even when the opinion expressed might precisely be the balm that soothes the psyche of the victim of molestation.

And, that, is the real shame.
(1/30/2013 9:17:50 AM)
Hareini Mochel.. Torah's prescription
Do we think about pirush Hamilois when we are mumbling those hebrew words?
Isn't it a Mishigas if, as an example, a woman was molested by here brother 20 years ago when they were both young, and now they are both married with children, and because she is taking that abuse so seriously and heavy, she decides that it's never too late to out him so that she can "heal." So now she goes ahead and tells everyone, and now her family is completely destroyed, her brother's marriage is over, his kids' lives are destroyed, her kids don't speak to their grandparents, etc.. all because contemporary wisdom says that this is so huge, it's totally deserving this kind of attention. He hasn't been a threat to anyone in 20 years, but she is feeling hurt!
Does this seem like the better approach to this issue? Does this seem healthy? Well, this is what we are up against. A crazy and radical approach, which was born as a response to a perceived lack of empathy for this issue and its victims. Well, this extreme is also dead wrong, so it's not a good system. So where is the correct approach to be found?
Torah prescribes for each and every one of us, that every night we go into a corner and honestly and deeply say, 'Hareini mochel L'kol mi..she'chata k'negdi... Bein b'gufi.." Torah says "Drop it!" Oh my Gawd! Can you imagine such a heartless Torah. I want to throw up..! (Doesn't that seem like a proper response to something like that?)
As Jews, as Chabad chasidim, we know where to look for our remedies. For crying out loud, the entire Sefer HaTanya is all about dealing with your demons.
So, we know where to look, where the true answers are found.
And.. we know who among us understand the text, the 'inside the books' and also understand the human, real life application as well.
(1/30/2013 9:26:37 AM)
I was used by three different men in the community and I never told anyone or did anything about it. Now im a tired 'old man'. I almost cried with joy when R Manis said that missing al hamichya is worse - that's the Torah perspective, its not my sin! I love it!
What I find hateful and idiotic is how fast the community turned against him.
(1/30/2013 9:38:05 AM)
Think Jewish
The problem here is that everyone is looking at the abuse problem from the politically correct goish mass media perspective and Reb Mannis said slow down and look at it from a torah perspective.

The torah perspective is different on many explosive issues then the present Goiish perspective. We do not have to accept what is currently the Moral Voice of society.

For thousands of years when the general level of society was one of depravity and debauchery Torah stood as a lone light of humanity in the moral darkness. Now society is ready to destroy anyone committing child abuse yet society is pushing and honoring single gender marriage, open marriage, adultery etc.

Rabbi Friedman was saying look at things from a Torah perspective. The damage is done because society is telling the victim you are a victim, scarred for life, be a victim, act as a victim, you have no say over the matter.

Reb Mannis is saying what Torah says, you always have a say over the matter, there are many negative situations that one needs to overcome and don't let society run and ruin your life. Torah tells us for the past 3000 years how to perfect ourselves and function as Yidden and as human beings.

History should have taught us by now that societal standards can never supersede Torah standards and teachings, and never will. Toiroh zue loi thihei muchlefes.
(1/30/2013 9:46:04 AM)
To #36
Right on! You brought out very important points...
(1/30/2013 9:46:11 AM)
Not an apology
I wish that instead of posting a roundabout explanation, deleting all the posts on his Facebook wall criticizing him, and deleting the video to replace it with this one, he had handled this more directly. This comes off more like a PR move than even a straight apology would have. And at the very end of the video, he essentially criticizes all the people that have attacked him.

I don't think the way everyone has criticized him so roundly is right. There are always many people, OTD folks, angry atheists, etc, that are always waiting in the wings to take advantage of these videos and use them to attack an entire group of people for their own agenda. The fact that others have not tried to quiet this video but spread it more shows that they aren't interested in minimizing the pain it caused but in their own campaigns.

But his original video has caused real pain. Real hurt. And to not acknowledge that, to not acknowledge he made a mistake, if only in HOW he presented himself, is an even bigger mistake. It also exacerbates the pain even further, especially for those who trusted him before his video came out.

The attempt to quiet the outpour won't help. The attempt to delete anger won't work. Only direct honesty, and not veiled criticism, will truly communicate his message to the people that need to hear it most.
(1/30/2013 9:49:05 AM)
oh small people. kleine narisher menshen.

this failed rosenberg misfit,does't come to Rabbi Friedman's misset. Leave Friedman alone. If all you complainers would live 300 years, you would not reach the wisdom and accomplishments he has attained.
(1/30/2013 9:49:44 AM)
to number 14- A REAL MANIS FAN
"You should all shut up and bow before this man" a shining example of a manis fan. do you really think he can do no wrong?

His approach is based on a shock value, on saying things that are not readily understood. I
As many other people quoted, the torah warns him, Chachomm hizharu b'dvoreichem, He likes getting us worked up, he thinks he can explain his way out of everything... this is how he got his fans. this is also how he will loose respect.
I wish he would just apologize for the jovial way in which he spoke about molestation, if nothing else. I know he would never do that.
I do not want a explanation, he can never explain his laughter. I want a clear apology.
(1/30/2013 9:54:01 AM)
To number 26 - Rabbi Friedman's "SINS"
Lets examine the 3 big sins of Rabbi Friedman.

(1) The holocaust: Rabbi Friedman said that G-d was there by the crematories and let it happen. If you disagree with this statement check your understanding of hashgacha protis. You are wrong and Rabbi Friedman is right.

(2) Arabs in Israel: Rabbi Friedman said Isarel belongs to the Jewish people and not to the Arabs. If you disagree with this check your knowledge of chumash. Again Rabbi Friedman is right and you are wrong.

(3) Molestation: Rabbi Friedman said that an abused victim has the ability to overcome his past and lead a productive life. He also said that an abused victim should be aware of his inherent value that nobody can take away from him. Again Rabbi Friedman is right and you are wrong. If you don't agree with him read Victor Fraenkel's "the meaning of life" one more time. you can also read Simon Jacobson's "toward a meaningful life". Finally learn a bit of Tanya and get on with your life and it can be a good life.
(1/30/2013 10:02:16 AM)
for all the good he has done and continues to do
has anyone every posted a "thank you" to R/ Friedman for what he has done to help people? you always know a great man when he gets flack for a one time insensitive or wrong. Moshe Rabbeinu was severely penalized for simply not talking to the stone...
v'hamaivin yovin.
(1/30/2013 10:14:37 AM)
to # 36
The answer my friend is blowing in the wind.
(1/30/2013 10:18:10 AM)
Its so ridiculous to say that Rabbi Friedman is insensitive to victims.
He helps more victims then any of these haters. more then chaim levin more then scott rosenberg!!
what have these guys done for the world other then spread loshon hara about others
(1/30/2013 10:29:57 AM)
Mr Abused
Dear Rav Friedman,

With considerable deference to your knowledge, I have to tell you that I was abused as a young child (I am from a chasidish background) and was hurt by the Rav's comments and feel that the Rav is very wrong on this issue.

For the Rav to dismiss the effects of abuse in the manner in which you did, e.g saying everybody is damaged, is not only hurtful to people like myself but also, I'm sorry to say, it shows that the Rav does not really understand the severe issues that being abused as a child can cause.

I am pretty well clued up on hashkafa etc etc and know full well that Hashem lays out our life map to provide us with the challenges we need to grow, unique to our neshoma. But the fact remains that most people do not have to have to cope with multiple issues all at once such as self esteem issues, addiction problems, lack of emunah and trust, intimacy issues, suicidal thoughts and worse still and so on.

Abuse causes all the above, plus much more for many people, to be loaded onto one individual's life GPS and it is unfair to victims to say "everybody is damaged"

That Hashem ordains everything is a given but in ones mind one constantly thinks why me? It is a secret illness which only the abused individual knows about and that makes it all the more difficult.

I could go on and on but that would be unfair on the Ravs time. I apologize for writing this much.

I'm sure the Rav is familiar with statistics quoted by those who deal with boys and girls who go off the derech that abuse is the main reason for people going OTD. However, the ones who go OTD, they have allowed their life to be dictated by events rather than them shaping their life and in my opinion, although they are of course suffering, they are losers preferring excuses to real work. They also use their life choice of enjoying all the "good the world offers" as a coating to hide their pain.

Please may I suggest that the Rav takes the time to speak in detail with some survivors, ones who have not used the excuse of abuse to go off the derech, and see how these people suffer tremendously internally and in silence - for an eternity. The problem is however, that we are difficult to find, precisely because we suffer in silence.

But although nobody can hear us, our pain is real, very real. And if chareidi society would accept this, it would become accepted for abusers to sometimes be locked up (sometimes the only way) and for the abused to be treated early on, something which rarely occurs, because chareidi circles are just are not aware of the extent of the damage it causes.
(1/30/2013 10:55:47 AM)
He said what many professionals know. The truth is that a child that has been molested is not harmed by the actual act of an adult using their body to selfishly get pleasure. It's the adult that will be harmed, because he is wasting all his inner love, on something, which is not his wife. And therefore will not be able to exhibit those feelings to his wife or future wife.
Unfortunately, 80% of kids are molested by someone somewhere and the vast majority grow up to have nice lives and families.
There are children with Psycological problems that is ruining their lives and of course they'll blame it on the molest of 15 years ago.
(1/30/2013 11:01:54 AM)
to number 43
Its pretty clear to me that the topic at hand, the topic to which rabbi friedman advises "its no big deal" is SPECIFICALLY in response to the ABUSED. To the abuser he would most certainly advise otherwise, acknowledging that it IS a big deal.
A wise man knows WHAT must be said and TO WHOM!
(1/30/2013 11:12:42 AM)
I was abused by an older bochur at the age of seven or eight, and I carried the secret till well past my eighteenth birthday. Rabbi friedman, tzu langeh gezunte yor'n, changed my mindset of "the world is closing in on me" to that of "so what? He touched me? And therefore what? Am I damaged goods?? Certainly not!"
He changed my mindset by simply showing me, explaing how I am NOT UNIQUE in that sense. How that doesn't make me a different creature!
I kicked back at first, because I had gotten used to playing victim and having people feel sorry for me, but ultimately I couldn't deny anymore the fact that it did remove a huge bolder from my heart, and I thank rabbi manis friedman for the clarity he used to eleviate my trmendous pain.
Yasher koach rabbi, all you can apologize for is on behalf of the nudnik who posted an 8 minute, out of context video on such a universaly sensitive subject.
(1/30/2013 11:27:00 AM)
What is going on here?
Look what's going on here. "Devorah" has the decency to thank rabbi Friedman instead of join the Motzi Shem Ra/Lashon Hara bandwagon. Then all the geniuses who have to hear themselves speak chime in.
For example:
#5 agrees that RF has "helped many", but insists he is "dead-wrong". Never considered the possibility that he himself and modern psychology fads might be wrong.
#21 is in such a rush to judgement that s/he decided that Devora must be related to RF. And sees nothing wrong with saying to a world-renowned teacher "grow up"!
#26 decides that it is time RF gets some guidance as to how to "gain respect and be treated like a teacher".
#32 says about this amazing man - and in public! - "I wouldn't trust him around my kids". Can you even imagine how many children are growing up in healthy happy families solely due to RF's intervention and counseling?
And the icing on the cake is #42 who decides that RF does not want you to call the police on child molesters. Or rather, we're not sure what RF believes but he might "directly bear responsibility for the ongoing scourge of abuse in our community."
People! This is mentchlichkeit? This is how Jews talk to each other, much less to respected leaders? This is Chabad?
Rabbi Manis Friedman embodies the devotion, warmth, caring and yes, sensitivity that Chabad stands for.
I'm done. Thank you for posting.
(1/30/2013 11:43:58 AM)
I was molested
And like hundreds of other women I spoke to the Rabbi about being molested, to which he laughed me in the face and said ok, now that you got it out, you're fine, and get over it. Until I decided to not listen to him and go for therapy, I felt more guilty after speaking to him. Guilty for being upset about being abused by a number of family members for years. For some reason he thinks that logic can heal emotional pain from molestation. It has nothing to do with moach sholit al halev.

G-d supports our feelings and loves us even when we are hurt. He is our father. psychology may have views that are extreme, but they are proven to help. Rabbi Friedman may have this view completely wrong, but has proven to help thousands of people in all other areas. He should not be put down, but it is important that this awareness be created.

Couples marriages have fallen apart because one or both were abused. Its a fact that survivors have a hard time trusting, and feel guilty throughout their life.

Yes one can heal. But telling someone to get over their broken leg before they go to the hospital and fix it, is sheer foolishness. Fixing a problem that damaged emotions, needs to repair emotions. Not damage them more by suppressing them with logic.

I am happy people are finally talking out about this because rabbi Friedman is a respected Rabbi, and it's unfair for so many people to get hurt because they take literally, an opinion he has. Yet just because one may disagree, he need not be rejected completely. There is a middle ground for everything, as there is for evaluation of the damage of the issue.

It isn't hopeless, and it isn't no big deal. It is a terrible experience but there is hope.
(1/30/2013 11:45:04 AM)
lots of gut points. I get the approach, however, can't help but wonder would this really still be the same tone had any of his children or grandchildren chas v'shalom experienced such trauma? I don't want to make any assumptions. Maybe so.
(1/30/2013 11:47:50 AM)
Move on
With over twenty years of community service, there is no doubt that way to many victims use their past experience as a crutch not to move on in life.
What I hear Rabbi Friedman saying to the Rabbis (it was a lecture to Rabbis and educators that was publicized), when a victim approaches you, encourage him and her to move on.
The mere suggestion to request an apology for that is absurd. That is absolutely the message the Rabbis need to hear, and the message that those coming to Rabbis for guidance and strength needs to hear.
An individual coming to the Rabbi is not asking for Psychological advice, is not asking for his tooth to be removed nor for any other reason but to hear what Torah has to say, and Torah tells us to be productive and do another good deed.
We live in a generation where deranged individuals with zero responsibility, zero life experience, zero accountability no degree of any kind, who have not worked a day in their life (living of disability), in addition to never volunteering in the community in any shape or form, who has been a leach of the Jewish community in addition to eating at Rabbi Friedman’s table for many years. Have created a blog and have caused untold damage, pain and suffering to the Jewish community over the last decade. The G-d Almighty has his ways of dealing with such blood suckers.
For serious people to get agonized and demand an apology of a Rabbi who has counseled tens of thousands, has thousands upon thousands around the world who look up to him as their father/mentor/guide/spiritual advisor, who for over forty years has been and continues to be a very successful shliach, educator and mashpia (words the Rebbe wrote) is sheer absurdity.
To end on a good note, the midrash tells us in the time of Moshiach dogs will lead! Well now that we have fulfilled that portion of the prophecy, it’s time for rest of the prophecy to be revealed with the Rebbe and Rabbi Friedman closely behind ushering us to the geulah.
Again, thank you Rabbi Friedman for all you do and please don’t let the dogs of the day have any effect on you and on the work you do.
(1/30/2013 11:57:26 AM)
This video offers clarity.

The problem is, that although rabbis have a different role, if the self is damaged, the person only feels more guilty or angry when told that life is good. They need to be encouraged to seek therapy to heal the self, in order to be receptive to something more global.

People who are emotionally damaged are not intellectually receptive.
(1/30/2013 12:02:40 PM)
Pure evil
This attack on rabbi manis is pure evil. Even if he was saying what they wish he was saying, the attack is not commensurate with the vitriol. It is evil and like every evil in history, it claims to represent a good cause. Bah! Rabbi Manis will save a thousand abuse victims before they and their indignant save one.

Save it folks, you ain't fooling anyone and the sooner you disappear the better off all your beloved abuse victims will be.
(1/30/2013 12:06:09 PM)
rabbi friedman presented THE TRUE TORAH APPROACH you may not like it but this is the only perspective that really works , too many are starting to believe " the well intended, but misguided activists"
(1/30/2013 12:30:02 PM)
Shake off the shmutz
Rabbi Friedman has always hit the mark with his sage advice. Walllowing in it only benefits the therapists. So yes, like everything else in life, build a bridge and get over it. It may seem insensitive in our politically correct society, but it's the TRUTH.
(1/30/2013 12:59:08 PM)
that is your opinion (and you did not put a name there, so we do not know your status - you could be a certified nut living of disability, or a productive expereienced PHD......), however if they are going to Rabbi Friedman (who has put his name out there for more then forty years) they will get his opinion.
The G-d Almighty should continue to give him the strength to being there for those that turn to him.
I am reminded of a story, Rabbi Sholom Ber Gordon took a Rabbi from NJ to the Rebbe, who complained about the pushing and lack of organization, he then said to RG "if I were Rebbe I would....." to which RG responded "dont worry you dont have that problem" :)
(1/30/2013 12:59:17 PM)
Even Rabbi Manis?
As a BT of many years, I am relieved to see the felonious aveira of molestation at least being dealt with, but I am appalled by the frum world's denial, blame the victim syndrome, criminal cover-ups cloaked in self-righteous piety and elitism! Ain't no Moshiach coming with broken children, injustice, and fundraisers for perps! A major Rav accuses an innocent Jewish girl of being a zona on Shabbos and then cries anti-Semitism when the monster Weberman is sentenced?! I shudder to imagine a world controlled by such rabbis!

Did the Rebbe ever address this issue? Surely, some distraught parent must have written a letter to him at some point? Clearly, women need to play a larger role in shaping the moral values of our community!!!!
(1/30/2013 1:02:48 PM)
loved the way r' manis brought out the lesson from the chanuka story. very powerful. I hope I remember to use it in the future in similar situations. We should be thanking HYB for giving us R' Manis, a light of emes in this world of sheker and dakness. He should be healthy and strong and continue his holy work with more strength.
(1/30/2013 1:19:16 PM)
As a survivor myself...
I have moved on with life, started a good business, have a lovely family, done everything I can to 'get over it'...
The original video was extremely offensive and hurtful. After watching it I had an awful nights sleep and was plagued by nightmares. Molestation is never something to joke about, and 'getting over it' is not a simple thing.
(1/30/2013 1:21:08 PM)
Take a deep breath
If you're offended consider yourself apologized to; i.e. he certainly didn't mean to offend you. He was making a deeper point and if you dont appreciate deeper points stay with the superficial.

If you were judged by an eight minute clip of your life you may not come out smelling like a rose except to those who know you.

Rabbi Friedman is not a stranger to any of us. We know what he thinks on every subject. Google him. This is not the first time he has adressed the issue of abuse.
(1/30/2013 1:57:56 PM)
HEy you!
you guys are contaminated with the society's way of thinking of shtinking politiclly correct rule and how everything must be said nicely even though "IT COVERS THE TRUTH"
the ones affected have declared already that his message was actually of great help! STOP STOP STOP saying veltdike shtusim, and try to understand somethings as a jew proud to be jewish and not with goyishe thinking.

GROW UP GUYS, this VELT is not a NICE movie.
(1/30/2013 2:18:20 PM)
Ever heard of a quote being repeated out of context? Maybe you all should listen to the entire lecture before you comment on this clip. Listen and hear what he really said!!
(1/30/2013 2:51:30 PM)
SF's take on this subject
I heard someone (He is not a professional in this field, however he did) say something that really makes sense:
Learn to dis-identify. It's not who you are. You don't have to identify yourself as a victim. Maybe right now when it happened, but not in the long run. We keep on using the word "survivor"; you don't want to identify yourself as a survivor! In other words, ok, that happened to you, that's horrible and painful, and you do have to work some stuff out about it. But don't spend the rest of your life identifying yourself as a survivor!
Yes, its important to experience your wound, but its also important to distinguish yourself from your wound. You have to transcend the whole thing and see it as something that happened, a detail in your life.
(1/30/2013 3:45:27 PM)
(1/30/2013 3:52:19 PM)
To #43
R' Friedman does not think molesting is a small aveira. He is discussing the side of the victim. He is explaining to the victim that from the perspective of sin, the victim does not have to worry. He explains that for the victim, not saying al hamichya is a transgression, while the molestation was not a sin he is responsible for, it was done TO him.
(1/30/2013 4:29:35 PM)
He actually made only ONE mistake...

The original talk/video should have NEVER gone public.

That was a lecture to a specific audience - Rabbis, in the field of Education. Almost confidential. I'm positive that it wasn't meant for the public at large...

To have it "thrown" in the Internet - that was for sure greatly insensitive. And an apology would be called for.

R. Friedman, you have tought us so well about boundaries...this video gone public broke some of them...and people are hurting.
(1/30/2013 6:19:44 PM)
like all the above people said: you don't understand what he meant? Ask him! He's accessible 24 hours a day.

The chutzpah of people getting on this rechilus bandwagon to malign a man who has done nothing but good, mostly at no charge, to thousands of people is mind-boggling.

ask for clarification, he does not need to apologize. if you understood the context, he said absoluetely nothing wrong....witness the victims of abuse who have written on this site to say they AGREE with him.

I rest my case...except to say: Hang in there Rabbi Friedman, this will soon be yesterday's news and you will, in the end, be totally vindicated. Thank you for the courage to speak your mind about issues most people are shoving under the table.
(1/30/2013 6:55:01 PM)
Thank you #84!!
(1/31/2013 1:39:16 PM)
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