'ME TOO movement is opposed to Jewish law'

Rabbi Yehuda Zoldan says right way to deal with sex offenses is to file complaint with law enforcement rather than to shame in media.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

#'Me Too'
#'Me Too'

Publicly shaming a sex offender years after the incident is forbidden according to Jewish law, and the right way to handle the matter is to file a complaint with law enforcement authorities, Rabbi Yehuda Zoldan established in an article to be published soon in the new volume (39) of the Tzomet Institute journal.

Rabbi Zoldan writes that the publication of the name of an offender in the news and on social media, generally by surprise and after a long time has elapsed since the offense, and where there is complete trust, backing, support and immediate identification with the victim in those forums - which did not examine the nature of the assertions and complaints from the other side - is forbidden according to Jewish law.

This, despite the strong identification with one certain that she was harassed and harmed, who for a long time carried the shame and emotional injury and did not have the strength to deal with the offender for various reasons, and despite the desire to prevent similar phenomena that occur in the present and are expected to occur in the future.

"The right way is to turn to a legal system that has power and authority, and also has professional experience in finding out the truth and who is right in a matter-of-fact way," he said. “The feeling of complainants, that in the judicial system and the police there are those who belittle their claims such that they refrain from turning to them, needs significant repair, and task forces must be established that will specialize in investigating and clarifying claims of this nature in a professional and efficient manner, and with proper discretion. But even if there is still no way to prove the allegations of harassment, there is no halachic and legal justification in publicizing and harming another person."

Rabbi Zoldan argues that the Jewish laws against slander and defamation are not a cover for harassers and assaulters, and that they are not intended to protect those who do wrong. But there are rules regarding the situations in which it is permissible to publicize the actions of someone, and in what situations it is prohibited. Not everything is permitted, even if there is a positive intention behind the desire to tell and publish.

"It is absolutely and inarguably clear that the phenomenon of harassment and violence, sexual and verbal, and any other negative phenomenon, must be stopped completely. There is a need to act in a positive manner, in order to create a social, respectful, moral and modest climate in workplaces, educational frameworks and everywhere else in the public domain. This is a long and slow social process, the purpose of which is to educate to good and proper character traits, to norms of respectful and practical discourse between women and men who work and are together, and generally to get used to respecting every person, no matter who he is.”

“To learn how to overcome passions, how to halt and how to navigate the urges to positive places, and also to awaken law enforcement agencies to enforce and punish those who harm and harass, especially those who do it as an accepted norm and on a regular basis. But negative behavior is not dealt with through other negative behavior," says Rabbi Zoldan, stressing that on the other hand, in cases of false complaints and libel, the complainants must be punished.