JERUSALEM (VINnews) —While Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu took an uncompromising stand against Chaim Walder after his suicide and strengthened the resolve of those who had complained against him, a sharply different approach emerged from the words of Rabbi Gershon Edelstein, the rosh yeshiva of Ponovezh and one of the leaders of the Lithuanian yeshiva world.
In a discussion with Chareidi educators including Yad Aharon Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Yehoshua Eichenstein published by the Kan and Mako news outlets, Rabbi Edelstein quoted the gemara in Sanhedrin which says that “one who has relations with a married woman has a portion in the World to Come but one who publicly shames his friend has no portion in the World to Come.” He added that “even if according to halacha we need to beware of someone, there is no leniency or even hint of leniency allowing people to spill blood and murder a Jew. It is obvious that this is deemed murdering him and it is obvious that the murderer has no portion in the World to Come. It is clear that the great pressure he was under led him to lose his sanity and kill himself. This is called murder.”
Rabbi Edelstein also referred to how to broach the matter to schoolchildren: “Even if the melamed feels that he has a view on the matter, it is critical to transmit to children only the viewpoint of the Torah and to cry out about how dangerous it is to publicly embarrass other people. They should be told that evil people slandered him and publicized the slander everywhere until he was embarrassed to show his face outside and became mentally deranged to the point that he killed himself.”
The letter was published in response to a dilemma presented by educators on how to deal with children’s questions about Walder’s suicide.