“What you’re saying…reminds me of what I heard recently about [supreme Ashkenazi non-hasidic haredi rabbinical leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman]. Some of the big [rabbis] were protesting the fact that he didn’t object to the founding of the Nahal Haredi army unit for young men who were already off the derech and on the streets. Rav Steinman asked one of these [rabbis] if anyone had come to him yet to ask him to daven that their son should die. ‘This week, 15 fathers came to me with this request regarding their sons who had gone completely off the derech,’ [Steinman said.]….
A couple years ago, Mishpacha Magazine's Rabbi Moshe Grylack wrote a few columns about kids who leave the haredi lifestyle – who go OTD, off the derech, in common parlance.
Two of those columns focused on Rabbi Yair Nahari, who works as an outreach worker to teen haredi girls who have run away from or been thrown out of haredi homes.
In his second column about Nahari, Grylack asks him how parents could be indifferent to the suffering their daughters who at 15 or 16 years old find themselves on the streets of Jerusalem or Bnei Brak (or other Israeli cities) with no food, no money, and no place to sleep and the dangers that poses.
Nahari and Grylack have a prolonged discussion about this that comes down to this. I've highlighted a key section in bold italic type:
…[T]he shame these parents have suffered because of their daughter. They feel that she’s betrayed them. She’s humiliated them in public, because everybody’s talking about how their daughter went off the derech. This is what she does to us, she puts us to shame in front of the whole world? After we sacrificed so much for her, after we nurtured and raised her, she turns around and spits in our faces? Feeling betrayed, Reb Moshe, is the worst feeling. A person who feels betrayed is capable of anything.”
“Anything for revenge?”
“Yes, for revenge. When that feeling is burning inside, all other feelings are extinguished. At that moment, it doesn’t matter that this is his own child. All he feels is the wrong that’s been done to him and his whole family. The lust for revenge is harsher than the grave. And in extreme cases, parents can come to a point where they won’t even try to find a suitable arrangement for a daughter who needs another place to live; they’ll just put her out of the house. You betrayed us? All right, then — let’s see you get along on your own! This is the feeling I get when I try to talk with parents of girls I’ve taken in from the streets. Some of them thank me for taking care of their daughters. But there are others, although not many, whose resentment over the shame their daughter has caused them is so overwhelming that they just don’t care what happens to her.”
“What you’re saying, Rabbi Nahari, reminds me of what I heard recently about Rav Steinman shlita [supreme Ashkenazi non-hasidic haredi rabbinical leader Rabbi Aharon Leib Steinman]. Some of the big rabbanim were protesting the fact that he didn’t object to the founding of the Nahal Haredi army unit for young men who were already off the derech and on the streets. Rav Steinman asked one of these rabbanim if anyone had come to him yet to ask him to daven that their son should die. The rav was taken aback by the question, naturally, and then Rav Steinman told him, ‘This week, 15 fathers came to me with this request regarding their sons who had gone completely off the derech.’ So this is the feeling that brings parents to such an insane conclusion….
“Permit me, Rabbi Nahari, to try to define this feeling of shame more precisely. Would you say I’m right in thinking that such extremely harsh feelings, which are felt by a minority of disappointed, humiliated parents, stem from a perception that their children are their personal property, and they can do with them as they please? And this is why their shame goes so deep and hurts so much that they cannot control their reactions? Let me emphasize again that I am talking only about the most extreme cases.”
Rabbi Nahari was silent for a moment, mulling over what I said — and, I imagine, recalling his own personal, painful exchanges with brokenhearted fathers and mothers. Finally, he said, “I’m not sure… but yes, I think you’re probably right.”…
I would suggest that like any cult, people and things who call the cult's foundations into question are often hated, despised and, sometimes, hurt by cult members who see in these dissidents threats to the cult member's own beliefs. In other words, much like some latent homosexuals engage in public gay bashing and, sometimes, in anti-gay violence, in order to show the world they're "not like that," not like those horrible homosexuals, many haredim do the same with people who go OTD. They blame the OTD person for leaving but not the theology or family situation or school situation or rabbi situation that drove him or her away. They'll put some money into outreach to try to keep "kids at risk" inside the haredi cult, and many will support some form of kiruv (outreach) to those who have already left.
But these same haredim, even many Chabad followers, will also bar OTD children from attending a sibling's bar mitzvah or wedding or coming back home for other lifecycle events.
As Chabad's Rabbi Manis Friedman allegedly recently told an OTD person in an attempt to justify siding with the OTD person's parents' decision to bar him from their home and from a younger sibling's first haircutting ceremony (known as an upshurnish), “would you let your son who is on drugs into your own home?” The OTD person was not on drugs and had chosen to leave Chabad and Orthodoxy for intellectual reasons.
For haredim, secular knowledge like science and history are drugs, and people who use these drugs often must be banished to protect the religious "purity" of others.
And if those OTD people do something publicly to show the world they're no longer truly haredi, the shame for some haredi families is so great, they'll pray the OTD child dies in order to remove it.
This is a cult, no different from EST or Scientology. Never forget that.
[Hat Tip: HeathenHassid.]