One of the better known set of writings from the great Jewish sage, Maimonides, The Guide for the Perplexed -מורה נבוכים, was authored in the 12th century in the form of a three-volume letter to one of his students. The phrase came to mind this morning, reading the The Record and seeing this unfortunate story on the front page of the local section: “Rabbi indicted on sex charges“. One can’t help but think of Maimonides tome when reading this passage from the newspaper report: “Rivlin’s lawyer, Howard Simmons, did not return two phone calls Wednesday. Simmons said at the time of Rivlin’s arrest that his client was perplexed by the allegations.”
I don’t know Rabbi Rivlin, and the fact that he’s been indicted doesn’t necessarily make him guilty. But he’s not the first member of the clergy to be perplexed by allegations of sexual impropriety toward young boys. This idea of clergy abusing the trust placed in them by young children is deeply troublesome, and I believe Yochanan Lavie described this well as weighing the balance between the good and evil that these individuals have done. Perhaps most importantly it’s being talked about rather than being swept under the carpet. Nine centuries after Maimonedes wrote his guide, human behavior isn’t any less perplexing.