The secular trial of Rabbi Barry Freundel is now over, and a sentence has been passed by the DC Superior court.

Looking at the uncontested facts of Rabbi Freundel's modus operandi (encouraging attendance at his mikvah, installing video recording equipment, spending time organising and editing the recorded material, recommending "practice dunks" etc, see pp.3-8 here: http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/documents/local/freundel-prosecutors-sentencing-memo/1541/# ) from the perspective of halacha: what are the individual constituent elements? Which specific actions require forgiveness, and from whom? Which acts merit punishment, and what, theoretically would those punishments be?

  • Obviously every act he did to violate anyone's privacy causing them embarrassment and emotional damage requires forgiveness. What specifically are you looking for?
    – Double AA
    May 17, 2015 at 16:03
  • Isn't this off-topic?
    – user6591
    May 17, 2015 at 16:14
  • @user6591 Why would it be any more than judaism.stackexchange.com/q/52520/759? It asks what halacha says about a certain situation, and doesn't seem to be RFP.
    – Double AA
    May 17, 2015 at 16:19
  • 2
    @Double the focus of this question seems to be about this guy and his personal sins and his path to repentance. The phraseology of your comment should solidify that point. I don't really care (I myself transgressed by asking a question like this) but I figured I'd raise the point. It can easily be reworded to be on topic while still dragging his name through the mud or whatever was the reasoning behind asking this.
    – user6591
    May 17, 2015 at 17:03
  • @DoubleAA I suppose what I'm looking for is....if the case is broken into its constituent parts, then my thinking through all the possible consequences of the case should be easier, bringing some clarity to balance what is currently a slightly nebulous, emotional response. May 17, 2015 at 19:07

1 Answer 1


His sins would likely fit in the Maimonidean category of sins that preempt repentance/forgiveness. He has untold numbers of individual victims who suffered shame and emotional distress due to his actions. He may well have been machati eth harabim (causing communal sin) by discouraging halachik mikvah use, which is one of the categories of sin for which one forfeits one's share in the world to come. This in addition to the huge hillul hashem (desecration of G-d's name) he created, which is never atoned for before death. See, e.g., Maimonides' Yad Hachazaka The Laws of Repentance 4:1 and 4:3:

עשרים וארבעה דברים מעכבין את התשובה. ארבעה מהן עוון גדול; והעושה אחד מארבעתן--אין הקדוש ברוך הוא מספיק בידו לעשות תשובה, לפי גודל חטאו. ואלו הן: (א) המחטיא את הרבים; ובכלל עוון זה, המעכב את הרבים מלעשות מצוה

Twent-four categories (of sin) prevent repentance. Four are egregious sins that if one does of these four, the Holy One, blessed be He, does not enable him to repent because of the enormity of his sin, namely: 1. one who causes the masses to sin, and included in this sin: one who prevents the masses from performing a commandment...

ג ומהן חמישה דברים העושה אותן אי אפשר לו שישוב תשובה גמורה, לפי שהן עוונות שבין אדם לחברו, ואינו יודע חברו שחטא לו, כדי שיחזיר לו או ישאל ממנו למחול לו;

And amongst them five categories (of sin) that it's impossible to fully repent for because they are sins between a man and his fellow and he doesn't know who his fellow is that he sinned against that he could... request his forgiveness...

As afar as punishments in human hands, without a Sanhedrin, in the exile today we do not mete out physical punishments, other than social ostracization. In the times of the Temple, there would also not have been a biblical punishment of lashes etc. since one could only really talk of monetary damages for shaming a fellow.

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