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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Honored to be included in this thoughtful musing. Here, I'll thread more of the answers I wrote to @EhyehLeah since obviously she could only include a small snippet in her own thinking. (Honored to be quoted alongside here!) So, thread:
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg
I want to distinguish between "atonement," "forgiveness," and "repentance," which are three different concepts in Judaism. The critical one, in my view, is repentance, where the real work is on the person who has done harm.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
There are specific steps to repentance work: 1) owning the harm perpetrated (ideally publicly); 2) do the work to become the kind of person who doesn't do harm (which requires a ton of inner work) 3) Make restitution for harm done, in whatever way possible
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
4) THEN apologize for the harm caused in whatever way that will make it as right as possible with the victim 5) when faced with the opportunity to cause similar harm in the future, make a better choice.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
Forgiveness is up to the victim (and the victim alone). Atonement is up to God. So I think the conversation here is about the repentance work that perpetrators have, or haven't, done.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
Re: dudes angling for comebacks: A public apology doesn't prove the inner work has happened, & a few months away isn't long to be gone given the work that must be done. Frankly, jumping back into the spotlight at the first opportunity raises suspicions abt where their focus is.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
I'd look for a shift in priorities if I wanted to understand their sincerity. For example: An investment of their significant wealth into work protecting victims of assault and harassment or preventing similar harm.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
I'd look for proactive restitution work directly to all the perpetrator's victims--whether financial restitution or interpersonal reconciliation work if the victim was open to that or something else directed to the person harmed--not to the public.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
I'd look for a stepping away from the ego-stroking, power-holding limelight that made the harm so easy to perpetrate in the first place.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
On a human, ethical level there is always a path towards repentance, towards understanding the harm perpetrated and doing the work of repair and restitution, to whatever degree that is possible.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
We can always grow & change & become better, & even if we can't fix the harm done, can address it to the full extent possible. Does that mean that we as a society are obligated to reward men who have done harm w/more opportunities for wealth & celebrity? I don't think it does.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 23 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
Rather, I think at this moment, doing that causes more harm than good. There are many talented people who have not caused this kind of harm, and we as a society can choose to invest in furthering their work instead--and sending a clear message about not tolerating rape culture.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 24 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
And again, forgiveness is up to the victim (and the victim alone). Atonement is up to God. It's not up to us, curious third parties waiting to be entertained, to make the determination re: whether that person is or should be forgiven or absolved. It's not our place.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 24 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
"Society" can't decide if the person is forgiven or atoned. "The network" can't make that decision, or "the fans." We have to continue to remember that.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 24 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
Going to spell this out because I guess it’s not explicit: in Judaism, you can do tshuvah/repentance work and even get right with God (be atoned) even if your victim never forgives you. They’re separate processses.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 24 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
The perpetrator must seek forgiveness genuinely (and repeatedly—three times, to be exact) but the perpetrator being forgiven isn’t a necessary part of their tshuvah/repentance process. (Tshuvah literally means “return,” like coming back to where you were supposed to be).
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 24 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
Note that part of doing tshuvah, according to the classical literature, is accepting consequences of your actions. So in the case of sexual misconduct, that may include willingly receiving consequences from the criminal justice system.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 24 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
It’s not just about “doing the time”, though. It’s also about active work of repair and reparations and seeking forgiveness (again: different from receiving it) and transforming into the kind of person who doesn’t do that thing anymore. Even when given the opportunity to do so.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 24 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
Again: whether or not victim(s) have forgiven is a separate conversation, and their business. Not ours.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg 25 Jul 18
Replying to @TheRaDR
Also, go reread the steps of repentance at the top again. Owning the harm done publicly and apologizing to the victim are different steps that happen at different parts of the process. Obviously some of the former is also in the latter but they are not the same thing.
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Dec 9
Replying to @TheRaDR
Not sure why this thread is making the rounds again but here’s the article it grew into, which expands and nuances some of this, & concretizes with both positive and less positive examples:
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Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg Dec 9
Replying to @TheRaDR
And here’s what happened when I applied these concepts to American racism, in context of the historical atrocities of enslavement of Black people and genocide of Native Americans, and everything that’s happened since:
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