“The Rabbi from the North” Scandal
A few years ago, I heard there was this amazing rabbi from Tsfat who would be giving a lecture on “10 Tips for a Better Marriage.” The rabbi, I heard, was a great kabbalist, a miracle-perfoming tsaddik, a revered rosh yeshiva with hundreds and maybe thousands of students and followers around Israel.
Intrigued, I attended the lecture along with about 500 other married women. The rabbi walked into the lecture hall with his head turned to the side, so as not to see any of us women, and a student led him by the arm to the podium. Then the student announced that while the rabbi would not be able to speak with any of us privately after the lecture since he had to rush to teach elsewhere, he promised the rabbi would bless us as a group at the end of the class.
And then the rabbi began his lecture. I cannot say the rabbi (who modestly kept his eyes averted throughout the lecture) taught me anything new, but he reminded me of some important Shalom Bayit ideas, and spoke in an entertaining way which managed to keep me paying attention and taking notes for over an hour.
Looking back, I can guess what quite a few of the women sitting beside me were thinking about the charismatic young rabbi lecturing to us on the secrets of a happy marriage….
“If only my husband was more like this rabbi!”
“Such a scholar—he knows all of Shas and the Zohar inside and out!”
“Such a tsaddik—everyone’s heard of the miraculous power of his blessings!”
“Such an amazing, sensitive husband—just listen to his wisdom about marriage and a woman’s needs! I wish my husband was hearing all this!”
At the end, the rabbi invited us to contact him through his yeshiva’s website, and assured us that even though it might take him a while to respond, he eventually would.
And that was the last I heard from that rabbi until I saw a headline this week announcing that a “Rabbi from the North” (the court is still blocking publication of his name) had been arrested on multiple charges of sexual assault after confessing his crimes to local rabbinic leaders.
B”H, the Jewish world is blessed with so many rabbis who are true tsaddikim, true scholars, true servants of Hashem.
But this shocking story, I think, should still serve as an important reminder of two things…
1. A small number of rabbis are not who they appear to be
2. Appreciate your husband.
It’s true, your hubby’s not as big a scholar as so-and-so’s husband.
He’s not as big a tsaddik as so-and-so’s husband.
He’s not sweeping you off your feet with romantic getaway’s like so-and-so’s husband.
But the various scandals I’ve witnessed over the last few years have granted me a newfound respect for the normal guys who fill our communities—for the well-meaning husbands and the good-hearted fathers who go to shul and keep mitzvoth and do their best to not break any laws–of the Torah or civil type.
Because the husband who appears to be perfect sometimes isn’t. But a true mensch is a mensch is a mensch.