Barry Freundel Issues Apology, But Were his Actions a Crime?

First off, Freundel’s actions were absolutely a crime against God, and a חילול השם of the first order. I don’t know if God will forgive him for what he did. But is being a peeping Tom really a crime? It depends on the circumstances.

In Defending the Undefendable II: Freedom in All Realms, Dr. Walter Block has a chapter on Peeing Toms. I have not read it yet, but from the snippets my wife reads to me, it seems that being a peeping Tom is not necessarily a crime. If it were, then looking a woman up and down would be a punishable offence. Men do this all the time, without even realizing it most of the time. I do it myself, admittedly, it’s just instinct. To deny it would just be stupid.

When straight men see an attractive woman, we all look at her sexually. The question is how fast we get back to our senses and the real world, and suppress it towards more appropriate outlets. The sickos don’t, the functional men do. That’s the way the human race works.

I would say, without reading what Dr. Block has written yet, that being a Peeping Tom in public places is definitely not a crime. It becomes a little more difficult if you’re looking through someone’s window into a private residence. But then again, it is up to the owners of the home to leave their shades up or down. If you’re leaving your shades up and someone with binoculars is looking into your home, it’s your problem. You should have left your shades down.

But, if someone plants a camera in your home to look at you no matter what you’re doing, naked or not, it is an actual crime, by libertarian standards. The crime is not “being a Peeping Tom”, but trespassing private property. It doesn’t matter what you see. It’s all a crime.

However, if a wife were to install a hidden camera in a husband’s bedroom suspecting he were having an affair, since the bedroom is her property, no crime.

In that sense, what Frendel did was an objective crime, assuming that the Mikveh he peeped on had privacy written or implied in the contract or verbally by whoever was supervising it, which was him. I’m assuming the mikveh did have that contract.

Freundel’s apology seems sincere. Forgiveness is not a requirement until certain prescriptions are fulfilled, which include bringing groups of people to each victim and begging three times. Freundel’s victims are under no responsibility to forgive, yet.

But keep in mind, there are much worse crimes than voyeurism, that are much more damaging, by Rabbis that are seen as social justice saints. I would consider crimes that lead to death as much worse, like advocating against organ donation, for example. Or being the Chief Rabbi of Israel and living off of stolen money.

As bad as Freundel’s חילול השם was, people recognize it as the actions of a single flawed human being, and can eventually write it off as not representing “Judaism” whatever that is. But the actions of an entire bureaucracy of tax-receiving Rabbis is much worse. That is an entire institution that lives off the livelihood of others that millions of people hate with a passion that will not end.

The Rabbinate is much worse than Barry Freundel. Let’s keep that in mind. In terms of halachic observance, if that is your value, the Rabbinate inflicts much more damage than a Peeping Tom.

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