Adultery in the Community?

A divorced man has recently been discovered to be philandering with married ladies, reportedly leaving several destroyed families in his path.  

Local community rabbonim decided to "out" him publicly from their pulpits, warning families to avoid him, and generating a neighborhood scandal.

Several angry men then set out to destroy the man's home & property and, perhaps, to cause him bodily harm.

It raises challenging issues of morality, the law and the role of the community in bridging gaps.

I do not know of a moral code, worldwide, which permits a man to have relations with married women. It is universally considered an evil act, destroying the vey fabric of the family unit, and of society as a whole.

Adultery is the seventh of the Ten Commandments, and carried the death penalty, for both participants, in the time of the Bible.

In the USA historically, adultery has been on the law books as a criminal offense. This dates back to the Puritan (rather than British) influence. Indeed this remains the case in several US States even now. In Florida, for example, the crime of adultery carries a 60 days prison sentence. However, this is rarely prosecuted, but can be a severe concern during matrimony disputes, that they could resulting in criminal records and even prison sentences for unfaithful partners.

Here in Israel, adultery is grounds for divorce, but not for criminal prosecution.  

Given the gap between universal morality (adultery is sinful & destructive), and the lack of criminal recourse (it is not prosecuted as a crime), this can result in outrage, anger, and with no positive channel or outlet.

The men who destroyed the alleged adulterer's property, could not report the allegations of adultery to the police – as it is not illegal. So they took the (lack of) law into their own hands, thug-style. And the police were called on them

In some ultra-orthodox communities, the Modesty Patrol ("Vaad Hatzniut") can similarly step into the gap between perceived (often actual) immorality, and lack of available legal recourse.

The Modesty Patrol in Jerusalem has been alleged to have participated in acts of violence against women, arson, blackmail and other criminal activities – against individuals in the community who may have broken either community, halachik or universal moral standards.

On a humanitarian level, these allegations of adultery in the community have reportedly destroyed marriages and families.

The women, while mature adults, responsible for their actions, were apparently clearly targeted by the man in a methodical fashion. According to the rabbinical announcements, the methodology was that he posed as having a sincere interest in becoming more orthodox & religiously observant.

Families would therefore take him in as a "kiruv" project. Once a part-of-the-family, the man would home-in on 'weak links' in those families, such as husbands who work abroad, marriage issues, etc – and exploit that for his personal gratification.

Is it appropriate for individuals or whole communities to take action, whether "outing" the man from the pulpits, or even committing crimes against the man and/or his property?

Is it appropriate to feel disgust, disappointment, or simply pain for these women and their families?

Women seeking crisis counseling can anonymously call the Crisis Line for Religious Women - 02-6730002


  1. You seem more upset at an adulterer than a rapist. Or at least I haven't heard you write about thuggery against rapists and ask us what we think like it's open to question.

    Do you really think it's a question to consider if mob violence is the answer? It seems to me that your opinion is missing. What do you think about the "Modesty Patrol" in general?

    What I think is that the thugs belong in jail. If the adulterer blackmailed women into sleeping with him, otherwise coerced them, he does too. If they agreed out out of their free will his judgement it's not for us to do anything, it's a question for the families to deal with. Privately.

    But the story smells rotten. Are there that many frum married women who are open to sleeping around? And they went after him only after his name was publicized?

    Also, if he did this in one place, what's to keep him from relocating it and doing it somewhere else? If those rabbis don't publicize his name worldwide, they are responsible for what happens in the future, too.

  2. David - I am tired of Anonymous comments.

  3. I agree that this paticular series of Anonymous comments is itself a sub-article, rather than a "comment".

  4. I think that there is no support for women in RBS.
    I like many I think, feel very isolated and cannot access the help we need. The organisations mentioned here are only useful in a very narrow sense and I dont think can be accessed by most women who are feeling very low for a multitude of reasons.
    I think this isnt even the tip of the iceburg. There doesnt appear to be really anything out of the 71 or so Kehillahs here that women can comfortably go for help. The Yerushalym organisations are too far away and only apply sometimes. I do believe something needs to be setup so there is a central point for women to go for help and have some follow up that
    1. Help is given
    2. Follow up is done to make sure things are OK.
    3. Men (particularly husbands) who are recalcitrant are dealt with
    4. The rest like this articles issues.
    If anyone knows of help I can access, please let me know.
    RBS A

  5. I decided to remove a series of Anonymous comments.

    1. My article avoided naming names, following the lead of the rabbonim in that community. The comment named names, was explicit and detailed.

    2. Although interesting issues and perspectives were raised, they were too long-winded for the format of "comments".

    Anonymous - if you wish to contact me off-line, feel free.

  6. I am curious - were any of the rabbanim who came out against this guy the same rabbis who refuse to oust pedophiles from their shuls?

  7. Is it true that Magen was the organization that exposed Jimmy Saville

  8. Chana - these particular rabbonim have a strong record taking collective action to protect their communities from miscreants, including alleged pedophiles.

  9. Anonymous - Jimmy Savile.
    Magen has not taken (official) responsibility for the exposure of Jimmy Saville.
    He was a part of my up-bringing in England, and I will be writing (BN) about this. Stay posted!

  10. The DIY men were probably those whose wives were almost conned.

    I was impressed by the announcement - in chutz la'aretz everyone is afraid of lawsuits or even just rocking the boat, that they would never do anything there.

    Is it appropriate for individuals or whole communities to take action, whether "outing" the man from the pulpits....

    Were there other Rabbanim against the community-wide announcement - you don't say so, but it might give more "meat" to the debate you're trying to get going here. Were there, like in the child molestation cases, Rabbis advocating different approaches to the situation?

  11. community member17 October 2012 at 10:55

    FYI, the name was publicized within the community where it happened. All of the community rabbonim agreed to announce it from the pulpit on Friday night. Some opted not to mention the name from the pulpit, but rather instructed the congregants to ask for the name afterwards. The community was in shock.

    As for the affected families, there were a couple in our neighborhood, with more in the rest of the city. I personally know one of the families, and that husband has not taken any physical action against the perpetrator or his property. In fact, after the matter was known, the perpetrator threatened the husband! There was a faction of the community which was extremely angry at the perpetrator, and there is strong sense of community. Those who may have attacked the perpetrator certainly included those who where not directly affected.
    While, I would probably not choose physical violence, I do think that strong communal sanctions should be placed on him.
    While the women involved certainly share serious blame, it is a much smaller share. He went looking for them not the other way around. They made a very big mistake once, and by now have surely repented. He was a serial seducer who specifically targeted married women.
    Someone told me that before this individual moved into the neighborhood some years ago, he had been trying to convince a married woman to go out with him.

    This is extremely tragic for the children of these families that have been torn apart and very sad for the husbands. From what I can tell the rabbis have all taken a unified approach to dealing with it appropriately. They came forward very quickly once they knew. I can confirm what David said about the rabbis taking action in other instances. There is also a very unified approach to tzedaka in the neighborhood. This includes both rabbonim who identify as dati leumi as well as charedi working together.

  12. What a shame that old Jimmy couldn't make it to RBS before being caught.

    Here he could have thrived under the protection of our savvy Rabbonim who would have used their resources to discredit the throngs of victims.

    Oh..I forgot he isn't charedi so there goes the protection.....

  13. community member17 October 2012 at 13:20

    Silly Me,
    You really are being too silly.

    The perpetrator in this case also did not identify as charedi or appear charedi at all (or in general act or appear particularly frum - other than wearing a kippa outside when he didn't have his baseball cap on).
    Although, for some reason he had his boys in a charedi talmud torah.
    Although, knowing the rabbonim involved in this case, I don't think that would be a factor in how they handled it.

  14. By blaming the male as if he is wholly responsible, and the poor women simply fell under his spell, you remove not only any sense of responsibility from the women, but you take away their own power and control and insult them as such.

    I don;t care what he posed at, these are adults and could make different choices if they wanted to. maybe the husbands, instead of lashing out at the man, should look inward and say, how could I have helped more so my wife wouldn't have been looking elsewhere. maybe they should destroy their own homes and property as their wives were the ones who committed the act as well.

    I agree the man was wrong, if in fact he was targeting them. BTW, Just because they say that doesn't make it true. rabbis have been known to make up accusations.

  15. oops, should have said, so their wives wouldn't look elsewhere. and no, not a Freudian slip :)

  16. community member17 October 2012 at 18:21

    Shaya G,
    I agree. The women should be blamed as well.
    I agree that the husbands could think about how they could have been better husbands. Of course, that wouldn't justify cheating.
    The posing was not directly connected to the adultery, that is just how he became friendly with the families. The rabbis didn't make up the targeting thing. It is sadly very true.
    It wasn't the husbands (certainly not all of them, and certainly not only them) who attacked the individuals property. I don't know why you think that it was. The husband that I know seems to be pretty upset with his wife too, and again he didn't attack anyone.
    I imagine that they may wish that they had been better husbands.
    If we can blame at different levels, the male adulterer is clearly the primary culprit. That is not to absolve the women. Not at all. However, resisting a seducer is probably more difficult than not being a sneaky premeditating seducer of multiple married women simultaneously.

  17. There are many families in Beit Shemesh/RBS who made aliya, and the husband continues to work in the USA, or otherwise travels extensively.

    This is clearly an unnatural situation for these families.

    Leaving their wives vulnerable to approaches from other men, is apparently one risk.

    (Effectively) fatherless children are another.

    Is the importance of making aliya, while earning US-salaries, worth the risks?

  18. community member18 October 2012 at 11:17

    One family affected in this case, was not someone who made aliya knowing that they would have to travel. The husband worked here, but simply was not able to earn enough to make it. He mostly worked for commission. He began traveling periodically, to try to make a living.
    Otherwise, all of the families that I know who do that, seem to be doing alright, the husband is home enough to be there for wife and children, and the community is very supportive.
    That being said, a family knowingly putting themselves in that position, should consider the stability of their family before making such a move.
    I personally would not have done that, but for others it works quite well.

  19. Scared of Cowardly Rabbis19 October 2012 at 12:30

    The rabbis asked people to "be aware" but did not give the one essential tool for being aware: a photo of the guy. Anyone who can publish the creep's photo should broadcast it all over the internet and batei cneset. The Jewish dating world is full of fakers: married men posing as singles & other kinds of manipulators who keep changing their names and background stories. He'll strike again, as many times as he can. That's what predators do. The rabbis who spoke of the problem should have informed all rabbinic communication lines of the man's name and manipulative behaviors. Here's a timely lesson about sex predators

    1. Dear Scared,

      You should be scared of strangers, period. Publicizing one predator isn't the main point - people should take more precautions and be more savvy when letting strangers into their lives.

  20. David

    It is true that husbands leaving their wives and families for long periods of time has many down-sides.

    Regarding the specific issue under discussion here, the wife who stays home is busy with bringing up her family single-handed, and is under scrutiny by neighbors, friends, family etc.
    Practically, the risk of her cheating on her husband are low.

    The bigger risk of adultery, when the husband travels, is that HE will be unfaithful while unsupervised, fancy-free, lonely, globe-trotting abroad.

    I am aware of several marriages which hit the rocks due to traveling husbands who were unfaithful, and none due to cheating stay-home wives.

  21. What utter destruction! What has been the psak halacha in this matter - do these couples have to divorce now?

  22. I understand that, if the wife says she was unfaithful, and the husband says he believes her, then they are required to divorce.

    However, if the wife denies it, or if the husband says that he doesn't believe the wife was unfaithful, then they have the option to remain married.

    Obviously, these halachot are complex, and for practical purposes, always consult with YLOR.

  23. community member22 October 2012 at 11:54

    Psychologically, husbands of wives who cheated (even if the relationship didn't get down to literal adultery) feel very betrayed and don't necessarily see it as feasible to stay.


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