When Your Mentor Is A Monster

Shalom Auslander grapples with the news that his favorite rabbi from high school has fled the US, accused of molesting students:

[T]hat’s what makes this whole sordid tale so personally difficult. Because while my other rabbis encouraged me to be observant, to be a Good Jew, George encouraged my interest in art. He encouraged me to draw, to go to museums. He encouraged me to write, and to read, and to write some more. He encouraged me to not let my friends keep me from my goals, to not let myself get dragged down by the others around me.

Auslander’s affinity for Rabbi George makes the ordeal all the more ghastly for him:

The strange thing about monsters is that, as children, we believe in them and the adults tell us they’re not real, that there are no such things and we should just go back to sleep. And we believe them. But later, as we grow up and become adults and we see the world in all its misery and suffering and injustice and cruelty and shit…we decide to believe in monsters again. Because monsters help us to make sense of the world. Monsters help us feel better about our obviously non-monster selves.

There are monsters, after all, and then there’s…us. If only.