What may a teacher or kiruv professional do in order to make people frum? Do the ends of bringing people closer to Torah justify the means of manipulating them emotionally? And even if the methodology is valid in some way, does it even work?
According to Scott, playing mind games in the service of religion is not just wrong, but literally abusive. It potentially causes trauma, and further cements, in both the teacher and the students, the damaging idea that the teacher has special access to spiritual truth that is denied to the student. While someone who has studied Torah hopefully has a greater knowledge of Jewish law, and while he or she may potentially possess insights into spirituality, that does not translate into genuine knowledge of the mind of G-d; in reality, those who abuse often seem to profess shallow inanities that desecrate G-d’s name.
Yet some abusive rabbis have become famous and popular not despite their hurtful words, but because of them. And there are others – less famous, to be sure – who may be teaching in the schools attended by our children.
To learn more about this troubling phenomenon, Scott spoke with Rabbi Mark Dratch and Mrs. Rachel Dratch.
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