7 thoughts on “Judaism and Child Abuse: ‘If You Beat Him He Will Not Die’ [1] – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. This is a compelling article. (What an understatement…). I don’t know if you’ve considered having it published elsewhere, but I urge you to. People NEED to see this. I am truly stunned by what the rabinnical [sp?] schools are NOT doing.

    I also realize that it is very difficult to grapple with the issues you’ve written about. Thank you for writing this, for the clarity of your arguments and research and much else besides.

  2. E.C.: Thanks so much for your kind & encouraging words. They really mean a lot.

    I can’t tell you how many Jewish magazines & newspapers I’ve submitted this to (8 or 9). I can’t tell you how many rabbis I’ve sent it to who’ve never bothered to reply, let alone read it. Only one rabbi who read it spoke highly of it. Another rabbi reading it for a rabbinical journal attacked it savagely. The subject or possibly the way I wrote about it seem to be threatening to folks in the community.

    As a journalist, if you know of any potential publications which might consider it let me know.

  3. This is an instructive article. I’m amazed it was rejected. I’m wondering if it would be more easily accepted now – almost a year later? I was heavily verbally abused as a child and rarely mentioned it to anyone because I believed I deserved it. On the few occasions I did say something, I was told my mother didn’t mean it or that she was doing the best she could do. This may have been true, but the lack of concern for my well-being (that was used to protect my mother) simply reinforced the idea that something was inherently wrong with me.

    It’s very easy to see how these kinds of patterns are perpetuated. Like you, I dumped myself into the world of ideas which is isolating, but also eye-opening. Had I not turned to the world of ideas, it seems likely I’d be stuck in the same mentality as my mother – believing that verbal abuse was an effective means to change behavior. How can abuse end if people (especially those who children are likely to turn to for help) are not willing to look at the patterns?

  4. Dear Richard,

    You have written something very important and helpful, whether or not it is published – have you tried MOMENT magazine?

    Like you, it took me almost thirty years of therapy to piece together the very real narrative of the physical, verbal, and emotional abuse I sustained from infancy on….now that my parents are getting much older and more infirm, I suspect that the issues are coming up, right to the surface.

    Trauma is forever. As you say, there are gifts, but at such a high price.

    Thank you very much for sharing your story.

  5. I am wondering whether your research uncovered anything on the related issue of what Jewish law says about the child victim’s ability to feel anger or to use anger as a healing tool, particularly in light of the many admonitions in the Torah to honor one’s parents and not to deride them. Is the passage in Isaiah, (which is read on Yom Kippur), wherein we are asked to choose a fast which loosens the bonds which bind men unfairly, applicable to the emotionally abused child trying to work through the internal bonds created by parental abuse? Your thoughts?

  6. Thank you.
    I have not even completed the article and I can say that this has been the most help I have received in the week since my mother’s funeral.
    My mother abused me pychological and emotionally.
    Many of the people, who only wanted to act out of loving kindness, have said things like ” May your memories comfort you”. I don’t think so since I haven’t found memories that could be classified as good or comforting.
    I spoke to three Rabbis.
    Please know that your writing has provided comfort that was unavailable through other sources.

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