A local Rabbi has recently been accused of secretly observing women as they prepared for the Mikvah. My first reaction was to feel defiled and betrayed, not because this Rabbi might have seen me naked at the Mikvah for my conversion, but because anyone might have insinuated himself (or herself) into such an intensely personal moment.
I checked to see if it was the Mikvah I had used at a Conservative synagogue. It was not. I felt sick to discover it was a well-respected Orthodox Rabbi at an Orthodox Mikvah–and one who had been a Rabbi for 25 years at that. It’s not that I expect Conservative and Reform Rabbis to be voyeuristic perverts. It’s that I never expected an Orthodox Rabbi to be a voyeuristic pervert.
Upon reflection, I’d have to say I hold an Orthodox Rabbi to a higher level for two reasons. One is just plain moral decency. The other is that anyone espousing that level of religious observance had better do more than talk the talk. Until now, it was not within my scope of possibilities for any Rabbi, let alone an Orthodox Rabbi, to behave in this way, just as it was not within the scope of possibilities for a Pope to resign.
I was stunned to see a woman defending this Rabbi on a news report. As far as I remember, she said we must remember that he is a genius and an inspired leader. Really? That makes it okay? It certainly doesn’t for me.
My time at the Mikvah was integral to a moment that remains one of them most significant and personal moments of my life. That anyone would ever dare to intrude on such a moment is beneath contempt.