In honor of Mother’s Day Weekend, the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA) has urged Rabbis across the region to raise awareness about issues of domestic abuse. Sadly, one in four women, across all race and class lines, experience domestic abuse in their lifetime, whether it's emotional, verbal, sexual or financial.
Recently, I was invited to chair JCADA’s Clergy Task Force, helping the organization expand its reach throughout our larger community, and sensitizing its staff to issues of Jewish culture and Jewish values that can inform best practices with clients. I am continually impressed with JCADA’s staff and facility, and feel thankful that our community is blessed with their presence.
This Shabbat, we read a story in the parsha about a young man known as the Mekalel, the blasphemer, who curses God as a result of his misfortunes. The full picture of the plight of the Mikalel is complex, and shrouded in uncertainty in the text. However, many of the commentaries suggest that his mother was the victim of intense abuse, which subjected him to a painful upbringing as a child. Ultimately, the boy’s transgressions go too far for the courts, but before he is punished, God requires of all who heard his misdeeds, to lay their hands upon him in an odd sentencing ritual. This scene invites comparisons to the “laying of hands” on a guilt offering, before it is sacrificed for atonement. It is as if God wanted the community to share in the responsibility of this young man’s plight. To remind them that in the future they must become more attentive to the abuses within their community, and provide the necessary support before it is too late.
May those who experience abuse find open doors in our community, and also know the non-judgmental, loving, professional support available to them at JCADA.
Rabbi Uri Topolosky
Shared with permission from Rabbi Uri Topolosky.