Moshe Katzav's Foolishness
By N. Shuldig
Whether Israeli President Moshe Katzav did or did not rape the secretaries as is alleged can not be resolved by our reading newspaper accounts. But what the president certainly did commit was a very simple error in common sense and religious observance, and considering that he is a religious man, as he does wear a kippah, it is doubly dim.
Those who dress in accordance with Jewish law are expected to act in accordance with Jewish law. They must be aware of the laws of Yechud. Yechud refers to that set of laws which prohibit a man from being secluded with a woman exactly for the reason that things can and do happen that should not. Just like keeping your eyes and hands off of some one is a cardinal principle in keeping one free from sin, so also is keeping one's body out of potential situations that are sexually dangerous.
* * *
Ten years ago I had a job working for the Israeli Army. The group that I was with was a group of very nice fellows. The rosh mador, meaning the department head, was a kippah wearing man who exhibited a sincere religious point of view. He was a person who observed the Sabbath, kashrus, and attended all of the daily prayer services. I became close with him for the period that we worked together. He wanted to be a career officer in the IDF.
Unfortunately, the army gave him clerks which he had no choice but to accept and use in his department. The girls were generally decent, some looser than others. This one time he was forced to take one girl who was known through out the base for her extreme loose morals and lack of inhibitions. She openly dressed and acted like a slut.
Most of the people in our group, clerks included, came in each morning to the base and only rarely slept in the barracks. This one girl would take advantage of her free evenings to either work late as a waitress at various weddings in the city. When she did not have a wedding to work, she would go out to the local bars and dance and have a "good time" until the wee hours of the evening. Then she would come into the base and put her head down on the desk and sleep.
The department manager could not get her to do any work. She had a miserable disposition and I as well as others just found it more convenient to stay clear of her. But the department head had to depend on her to answer the phone and to do light office work, which she rarely did. For this reason she and the department head never could get along. He was not one to yell, but he tried to discipline her which led up to a very nasty scene.
One evening he forced her to work late as a punishment. No one was in the office but him and her. No one knows really what happened if anything. She complained to the base commander that he put his hands on her in a most immodest manner. The base commander had no option but to have a "hearing" (an informal judgment) in which the department manager declared his innocence. The base commander took his good record into consideration coupled with her low reputation and let it go with a warning to him.
The girl was moved to another department and another girl was sent to take her place. This second girl was quickly brought up to date by the other girls on the base as to what had really happened. She decided to try to get special treatment from the department head and when he refused to grant her wishes, she went to the base commander and complained that he had also tried to put his hands on her.
The base commander had no choice. This was the second complaint. He moved the young officer from his job as department head to another department with a lower status. The department head was fuming and the base was humming with juicy gossip concerning him. His career plans were ruined and eventually he had to leave the army.
Whether he did something improper or not is beyond my abilities to know. The Talmud tells us that no man can be trusted not to have desires towards women. The rules of Yechud come to protect the individuals. A non religious person who lives in the permissive society is at a disadvantage. But for a religious man or woman not to utilize the laws of Yechud is simply a foolish thing.
Both my former friend, the department head, whose advancement in the army was ruined because of not employing the most simplest and rudimental elements of Yechud which he was aware of was a striking example of monumental foolishness. He ended up abandoning his army career and looking for a job in the private sector. I do not know how he is doing, but I know that it was a difficult time both on him and his family.
The same is true of Moshe Katzav. He is a religious man; he should have known better. Why only observe the laws of Shabbat, kashrus, and daily prayers which everyone expects of a religious man? He should also pride himself on his religious observance of the laws of Yechud. He would have shown the intelligence by which the high office of the Presidency symbolizes if he would have just observed the very simple rules of Yechud.
The most important rule of Yechud is that a man should not seclude himself with a woman. This is irregardless of her age or marital status. The rule is just as incumbent upon the woman as much as it is for the man. A door should always remain open to the public. If another woman is in attendance then it is not considered a violation of Yechud. There are much more details of Yechud, but would it not have been worthwhile for Moshe Katzav? It would have borne out his innocence and prevented unjust accusations against him.
Whereas it may seem strange, under the present circumstances we have seen that lives of prominent and simple people have been ruined by working behind closed doors.
If your life is worth something, don't just rely on insurance companies. Insure yourself by insisting on these simple rules of Yechud.
from the November 2006 Edition of the Jewish Magazine