WATCH: Rav Yitzchak Berkovits on Chaim Walder: ‘Narcissism at its Best’


JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Rav Yitchak Berkovits, one of the preeminent and most respected American poskim in Israel, conducted a Zoom video call with therapists and mental health professionals in the aftermath of the Chaim Walder matter.

He discussed multiple lessons and takeaways from this challenging episode, and clarified the position of the Gedolim in this complex matter.

Rav Berkovits essentially said that any doubts that one may have had about the allegations were erased by Walder himself.

He said, “What made things very clear was the suicide note. This was not a depressed person writing a note. This was narcissism at its best, this was manipulative, this was a person preparing to commit a violent crime, murder, and the victims…all of us, [he intended that] we should all feel guilty for his death. I think to any level headed human being who has any sensitivity to human beings and a bit of nuance–it’s obvious.”

He added, “We are dealing with a sociopath, who knows how many victims we don’t know about, who knows how many lives were destroyed.”

The Rav said that he does not know why this was not handled by the conventional Bais Din protocol. He was not critical of anyone involved, however he said that victims generally do not need to face perpetrators in Bais Din, and that many Batei Din have dealt with these issues extremely effectively.

He also said that while not every complaint is substantiated, that is usually the exception and not the rule.

In addition, the Rav said that he highly doubts the claim that “nobody wanted to touch this case”, because many cases like this have been properly handled in Bais Din and predators have been punished and prevented from acting further.

He said that “Rav Shmuel Eliyahu has a heart of gold, and when he heard from victims, that was certainly not something that he could live with.”

Rav Berkovits was adamant that males should never counsel females. He told the professionals that “the number one takeaway is that there is no heter for a male to counsel a female, whether as a therapist, counselor, or coach…seminaries where young charismatic good looking men teach women, we have had too many problems, there is something sick with that.”

The Rav said there “are plenty of competent professional women and there is no reason or justification for a woman to ever visit a man.”

He said “in theory it should all be professional, however l’maaseh it is not that way.”

Rav Berkovits is Rosh Kollel in the renowned Jerusalem Kollel. He is recognized world-wide as a prominent posek and ba’al eitzah. Through his varied roles in the kiruv world, he has become a sought after speaker and his advice on complex community matters is valued by Rabbonim and leaders across the globe.

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1 year ago

As a survivor of abuse, I resent the way Walder’s suicide was recieved by the powers that be in Bnei Brak. There have been so many times in my life that I contemplated suicide. The pain was too much to bear. Killing myself seemed like the only respite. I would fantasize about it and do things that would allow me to feel closer to death. But I never did it. Not because I was afraid, not because I didn’t want to, but because I would have to answer up to my creator. I knew that suicide would not really put me out of my misery but cause a whole new problem for all of eternity. I fulfilled the mitzvah of vechai ba’hem lishmah, without any other ulterior motive other than I cannot go against my creator. Then comes this monster, the one who caused so many people to find themselves in the same predicament as me, and for no other reason other than not being able to face the music when the party was over, goes and murders himself and gets kavod melachim. It’s a chilul Hashem at its finest! Don’t think for a minute that suicide didn’t just become a little lighter in the eyes of those struggling with it. Don’t think for a minute that adultery and pedophilia didn’t just become a little less severe in the eyes of those who commit them or are tempted to. The churban they caused is immeasurable!

1 year ago

Meiredik! Even word was carefully selected, mamesh tzu di zach. No beating around the bush, no “it’s loshon hora” agenda, just plain unadulterated dealing with the topic in an eidele, very sympathetic way! A must listen – the voice of Torah!

1 year ago

This week there was some shocking news going around,
Monster Chaim Walder took his life,
People are bitter at the way it sounds,
Where in me I am worked up and so upset,
So many people the pain they do not get
I keep on hearing more and more people
Protecting the evil
It is so upsetting and hurtful
Overcoming sexual abuse is so painful
People do not get the results of one inappropriate touch
They don’t understand why others are making such a fuss
To all of the people in the world to you, I want to write
You have a very near sight
You see yourself in your bubble
You cannot fathom the pain that this causes and the trouble
You cannot understand how far one-touch goes
Not always can you realize, not always does it show
 a person that’s been hurt
They fall apart
And they don’t see a reason to live
If someone can come and control their body
They have nothing left, only unsafety and uncertainty,
They feel powerless and alone
They don’t have anything that they still own
They feel betrayed
They feel hate
They feel shame
They feel guilt
If you hadn’t been there, you could not relate
The pain of it all is indescribable
Overcoming all this is hard and feels unbearable
Why are you protecting the evil?
Why do you feel sorry for him?
What about the thousandth of people he hurt?
What about the families he destroyed?
Do you know, raising a family and overcoming abuse is hard?
Hard is not the right word,
You literally fall apart
Getting up in the morning is challenging
Suicidal thoughts are often what’s happening
Do you know if anyone who he has hurt committed suicide?
Do you know how many tears have been cried?
How about trying to think of the pain
Of the people who have been hurt through him
Think about the individuals who suffered and still suffer daily to survive
Think about their family lives that are deprived
Deprived of a parent to be their wholeheartedly
A parent that is struggling to survive
Deprived of a spouse to be there when things are challenging
A spouse struggling to survive
Think about the shame these people had gone through in their life
Congratulate them for standing up and doing what’s right!!
Standing up against the world
Protecting themselves for what’s right
Even he is dead
The people he had hurt are still not set
They still feel pain
They feel loads of shame
They still have to work hard to overcome all the abuse
Overcome the fact that they have been used
There is hope for them out there
But they cannot feel alone; they need to feel that all of you genuinely care
Care about their pain
Care about their shame
Care about their name
Stop and think about what they are going through
See them as heroes see them as a gem
And please thank Hashem that you cannot relate
You cannot relate to the pain
You cannot relate to the hate
Do you know how I know this all?
Cause I have been there, that is a hard call
Its years of energy and work to overcome
It is so complex and exhausting
It is possible to get to a better place
It is possible to feel safe
But it doesn’t happen alone
You have to work hard to reach a milestone
The loneliness that comes along
It is not fair, and it is wrong
When the world can wake up and understand our pain
Being there for us would be so soothing and not the same
Seeing that others are there to protect us
It is not that we are making a fuss
The pain of overcoming sexual abuse is real!!!
It is so hard with it to deal!!!
Can you all please thank Hashem every day
That you had not gone through this and you are okay
And try to be there
And show us that you truly care
Stop protecting the ones who hurt us most
Stop protecting our ghosts
Be there for us in need
And help us overcome our trauma, you can be the right lead
You can show us that life can be nice
You can show us that people who hurt pay a price
You can show us that we are still special
You can show us that working through the trauma is worth and essential
I am looking forward to seeing people coming out
And supporting us throughout
People are happy for every little progress we make
And people trying to get our abuser in the right place
Not because we want revenge
Just because trying to protect the world
Protecting the world from the ones who hurt others
Protecting the world from the ones who others bother
Protecting the world, that משיח should finally be invited to come
And show for the world that ה’ אלקנו ה’ אחד!!!!

Concerned IL mom
Concerned IL mom
1 year ago

Thank goodness for another voice of reason. So disgusted by Walder’s many supporters.

1 year ago


1 year ago

Extremely powerful speech. Everyone should listen to it!

1 year ago

Well said.

1 year ago

Is it possible to post the recording?

1 year ago

Gut Gezuckt. It’s about time
its worse than he’s saying. Unfortunately

1 year ago

Big human kochos , high imagination, charisma…even doing alot of good .This concotion in one human is what makes the evil so difficult to detect and battle. The boy scouts and church are not frum yet they struggled immensly with this nasty tayva.

1 year ago

almost all of what he says is great


Rav Berkovits was adamant that males should never counsel females”

he convenianly forgets: Chaim Walder abused boys too, Malk Leifer abused Girls

the problem is not men, not woman, but PREDATORS!, the problem is ALLOWING PREDATORS TO GO ON WREACKING HAVOC FOR YEARS, NOT TAKING ALLEGATION SERIOSLY resulting in hundreds of victims instead of just 1 or 2.

on top of all that we must implement – never locking doors, recoding CCTV of all sessions and saving it for a year, having a receptionist close by able to pop in at all times unannounced

once we fix that why would a man not be able to counsel woman

1 year ago

Do I understand this correctly? From the Ravs words, “ The Rav said that he does not know why this was not handled by the conventional Bais Din protocol. ”. In other words, one of the biggest cases high profile case that Beis din had to pasken they decided not to follow protocol (or a nice way of saying Halacha), and now chareidem aren’t accepting this din , and that’s ok by you?

1 year ago

Thank you Rav, for thinking this through rationally, and pointing out the holes in the perpetrator’s story, and for defending the innocent.

1 year ago

Why are there no public burnings of his books?

1 year ago

I don’t get it. So to protect the narrative for the Kodosh kids in Jerusalem you give Kovod Hames to a murderer betraying all his victims. As a survivor of sexual abuse this feels like a stab in my heart! I am so angry. I cant believe in such Gedolim! This is Retzicha!

where is rav chaim?
where is rav chaim?
1 year ago

why hasn’t rav chaim kanievsky talked about this?

1 year ago

Next I think all the yeshivas need to apologize for all the emotional and physical abuse that was done to all the kids in the past 30 years.

Chaim [2]
Chaim [2]
1 year ago

There is a very fundamental question that Rabbi Berkovits does not ask: why did the Eibishte allow this to happen? Rabbi Berkovits talks about “how many lives were destroyed”. If we are ma’aminim bnei ma’aminim where is our faith that all that happens b’olam hazeh is preordained from above?