Chaim Walder
Chaim Walderצילום: דניאל רצבי

A senior haredi rabbi lashed out Tuesday against a rabbinic campaign to shame children’s author and radio personality Chaim Walder, saying the efforts had led to Walder’s suicide and were tantamount to murder.

Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, dean of the Ponovezh Yeshiva in Bnei Brak and spiritual leader of the United Torah Judaism’s Degel Hatorah faction, was quoted in a letter written to haredi educators Tuesday responding to Walder’s suicide in a Petah Tikva cemetery Monday, amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

“It is totally obvious that the great pressure on him is what led him to mental illness and forced him to commit suicide.”

In the letter, Rabbi Edelstein urged haredi school teachers to refrain from weighing in on the Walder scandal.

“Even if there is a teacher who thinks that he has an opinion in the matter, etc., it is imperative to only tell the children the Torah perspective, and to warn how dangerous it is to publicly humiliate someone, and to tell them that bad people smeared him everywhere to the point that he was too embarrassed to show his face in public, causing him to become mentally unwell to the point that he killed himself.”

Walder, 53, was best known for his series of children’s books, Children Talk About Themselves.

He hosted a radio show on Radio Kol Hai, and penned a regular column in the Yated Ne’eman newspaper.

Prior to his suicide, Walder faced accusations of sexual misconduct and abuse, including a report by Ha’aretz which cited the claims of 22 alleged victims, including underage boys and girls.

A special rabbinical court summoned Walder earlier this month to appear for a hearing into the matter.

Walder had denied the accusations, and in a suicide note, reiterated his claims of innocence, challenging the rabbis leading the public shaming efforts against him to a “Torah trial in heaven.”