Yisroel Picker

We Have Met the Enemy and They Are Us

free use image Photo by Markus Spiske:
free use image Photo by Markus Spiske:

I often write about child abusers, and how sadly the community chooses to side with the abuser rather than the victim.

This is done for numerous reasons, none of them justifiable.

But abuse takes many different forms. It can be physical, spiritual, emotional or even psychological.

Sometimes the pain in the victims is visible to all, sometimes the pain is hidden to the naked eye.

As I sit here trying to put my thoughts properly into words, I’m troubled by the recent death of Morah Chaya Gansburg, who recently passed away at the age of 76.

I didn’t know Ms. Gansburg. But one thing about her story is extremely disturbing to me.

She was an aguna for the last 38 years of her life.

The only thing that severed her bond between her and her estranged husband was Hashem taking her Neshama back.

Child abusers get away with it because they know there are members of the community who help them get away with it.

These people are called enablers.

Very few abusers can “get away with it” without the help of their enablers.

Husbands who refuse to give a kosher get within a timely manner are also abusers.

And they too cannot succeed without their enablers.

And these enablers are already coming to the defense of the estranged husband.

Claiming that it is disrespectful to discuss the matter during this time of shiva etc.

So to these enablers, and to those who might be corrupted by the jargon of enablers, I have a few questions:

Are you ok with the reality that a woman was chained for 38 years, only becoming free due to her death?

Are you ok with other agunas seeing from this specific incident that their own death might be their only way to freedom?

Are you ok with the strong possibility that agunas might take matters into their own hands after seeing the aforementioned reality?

So if you aren’t ok with any of the above, what are you doing to change this sad reality?

And if you are ok with the above, what does that say about you as a Jew and as a human being?

I’m not advocating changing halacha or anything drastic.

Communal pressure works.

When I was growing up, there was a slogan that said: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”.

We need to adapt the motto: “A voice is a terrible thing to waste”.

We need to stop being humble at the wrong time.

Our voices have power, and we need to use them for the correct thing.

And that means slowly moving away from enabling abusers of any kind and shift our energy towards victims.

About the Author
Yisroel Picker is a Social Worker and therapist who lives and works in Jerusalem. He is a certified trauma therapist with a private practice. Additionally, he also sees clients who would like to take a cognitive approach (e.g. DBT, CBT, REBT) towards reaching their desired outcome. He writes and speaks publicly about child sex abuse prevention. To speak with Yisroel about speaking at a child safety event or to discuss a personal case, email him at To learn more about Yisroel and to read older articles, check out his website
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