Wicked As Can Be?

A Friend writes:

I am going through a divorce myself with similarly very wicked people. My wife has made claims of child abuse which were found to be unfounded and has gone to arko’oys instead of bais din.

At least in Lakewood, people take halocho seriously. In Brooklyn one has these so-called botei din who side with the woman even if she goes to arko’oys. Hashem yerachem on this innocent man. The community needs to shun and ostracize these people and their supporters. Only this will help.

Our response:

We certainly sympathize with your situation. Going to arka’os is in itself a severe transgression, as the Shulchan Aruch articulates clearly in Choshen Mishpat 26:1. All the more so if false accusations are made to advance one party’s position.

Even so, we would refrain from terminology which implies passing judgment on an individual (in our case, Mrs. Ort) as being “wicked”. As is noted in the introduction to this website, one can never appreciate someone else’s Yetzer Horo in terms of background, pain, misguidance, etc. That is why Chazal have admonished us: “Al todin es chavercha ad she’tagia limkomo”. (Avos 2:4)

But you are certainly correct that these acts are grievous, cardinal aveiros as quoted above in Shulchan Aruch, and need to be addressed by the frum community in terms of supporting the actions of the Gedolim and heeding their call to action. May Hashem Yisborach help you to find emes v’shalom in a Bais Din shel Yisroel.

– Pushita Yid

A Friend responds:

If the Shulchan oruch deems these people wicked, then they ARE wicked! Destroying someone’s life is wicked. Raising a hand against the Torah is wicked, being mechalel sheim shomayim is wicked, being meyaker elillim is wicked, being oyver mesirah is wicked!!!

We respond:

You are asking: Since we acknowledge that going to arka’os is a cardinal sin, is wicked, is mechalel shem shomayim, as the Shulchan Aruch rules (ibid.), why do we still say we do not feel it proper to label the person who does so as wicked?

A very good question, which deserves a very good answer. We believe we have one: An act is defined only by the act itself. Therefore, if the Shulchan Aruch defines it as wicked, that’s what it is.

When you characterize a person, however, you must include in your assessment all factors and aspects relative to that person for your characterization to be accurate. Otherwise, it is like trying to draw a composite of someone’s face without knowing the details of all of his features: your facial sketch will be inaccurate.

So too when you attempt to draw a “sketch” of someone’s character quality. To be accurate, you must include all factors affecting their various nisyones, such as environment, negative influences i.e. misadvice, fear and/or stress resultant of background, etc., etc., ad infinitum. This is something that no mere mortal intelligence can claim to do. That is why only the Ribbono shel Olam is called “Hayodea yetzer kol yetzurim – The One who understands the temptations of all His creations”. (Musaf of Rosh Hashono)

Prime example: The Chazal quoted in the introduction to this website – “A person is not indicted for what he does when under duress” (Bava Basra 16B) was said in regard to Iyov having said “Ribbono shel Olam, perhaps you made a mistake and confused me with an enemy?” Is there any greater heresy than this? Chazal (ibid. 16A) unequivocally call this “blasphemy” (chireif), the exact same term the Shulchan Aruch uses on someone who goes to arka’os! Yet Chazal say that he was not blamed for this and the posuk refers to it merely as “unwise words” but refrains from calling it “wicked words” since he said it at a time of stress and pain. (Rashi ibid.)

We hope our position is now clarified. An act which the Shulchan Aruch terms as “wicked”, “chillul Hashem”, is exactly that, and we must do everything necessary that it not happen. Yet we cannot term any individual as “wicked”; that we must leave to the One and only Yodea yetzer kol yetzurim to decide.

Thanks, Pushita