Harav Mosheh calls upon Rav Druckman to take responsibility...

Click here to read the original letter in Hebrew.




24 Shevat, 5779


To the distinguished Rav Chaim Druckman, shelita,[1]

אחר דרישת שלומו הטוב.[2] I write these words with a heavy heart and with full recognition of your many merits in the fields of Torah education and community leadership, but also with deep inner conviction regarding the need to commit the following to writing.

I carefully read your letter that was sent out last week to the Roshei Yeshivot and the Ramim, and I must say with sorrow that the letter was most disappointing. For over a month, the sons and daughters of the Religious Zionist community and their parents have been waiting for your response regarding your well-documented support for Moti Elon over the course of the years, even after his shameful conduct became widely publicized, and even after he was convicted in a court of law. Your position of leadership, the public support that you gave to Elon, and your pursuing a course contrary to the view of many of your colleagues, demands a public response. The way to respond is not with a passing remark in a letter comprised of general and consensual statements, but rather by addressing the issue directly and explicitly in a letter or declaration dedicated exclusively to the matter. When there is an elephant in the room, one must relate to it directly, rather than comment on its shadow.

However, the disappointment stemming from the incidental manner in which you related to the issue pales in comparison to the disappointment that arises from the actual contents, which include no apology, no recognition of a mistake, not even a mistake in judgment, and no attempt to seek the forgiveness of those who were hurt as a result. I fail to understand how it is possible to say to the community that the mistakes that were made are a false impression, and nothing more. Is the need to appease an injured party and ask for his forgiveness satisfied by blaming the community for a lack of understanding?

Since I am certain that you recognize the importance of admitting a mistake and asking for forgiveness, and cannot imagine that you would not apologize if you knew that you had hurt another person, there is no escaping the conclusion that you still do not recognize the severity of the matter, that you are not aware of the power and wiles of impulses, and that you do not understand that presuming propriety and repentance is not the way to deal with sexual offenders. Your letter expresses no understanding of the significance of supporting a serial molester and the damage that this causes, and fails to satisfy the community's expectation of an assumption of responsibility and asking for forgiveness. 

The letter and the atmosphere that it broadcasts achieve the very opposite of the declared goal of emphasizing "our total commitment to deal with sexual offenses, and to stand alongside the victims and against the offenders." The dissonance between the declared objectives and the deeds and statements of recent years and the failure to assume responsibility hurts the victims, disappoints the community, undermines the goals in the letter, and will lead to uncertainty and mistrust regarding the seriousness with which sexual offenses will be handled in the future.

In light of this, I turn to you with a request that you write a new letter dedicated solely to this issue in which there is an assumption of responsibility and a recognition of the damage that has been done, and also a clarification of the steps that will be taken in the future to prevent a similar situation in the future.

I am sending you this letter for your prior consideration in the hope that a new letter will be drafted. However, seeing that the existing letter has been widely disseminated, and has even received media exposure, I am considering publicizing my letter as well, should that become necessary.

With respect and esteem,

Mosheh Lichtenstein


[1] Please note. In the original Hebrew, Rav Mosheh addressed R. Druckman in the "third person" manner ("the Rav"). The translator chose to change to second person ("you") to fit better with accepted English conversation. Translator: David Strauss.

[2] The original Hebrew opens with אחדשה"ט - "After the demand of his good health" - an accepted opening verse of personal letters in Rabbinic language and in the writing influenced by it.-ed.