I’m not really sure how to come to terms with what I just found out. Not only can’t I stomach the details, but it leaves me confused, overwhelmed, scared, and ultimately doubting myself, my intuition and my sense of what is real and true.

I know you want the details, but I just can’t bring myself to share them. What I will tell you is that someone I trusted, someone who influenced my life greatly, someone who I thought I knew, has been indicted for the most horrific abuses possible on the most innocent victims imaginable.

I didn’t just “know” this monster. I respected him. I liked him. I admired himAnd where does that leave me?

To contextualize, I haven’t seen this person in over a decade. He was a teacher of mine. A role model. Someone who represented a way of life and values and morals that, to this day, I have tried to emulate. I can’t tell you how often throughout the years his advice or lessons have passed through my mind in certain situations.

I now know he was a fraud. I get that he was a manipulator, a classic abuser, and I know there was no way I could have known or imagined what he was capable of. Blah blah blah.

And yet, I didn’t just “know” this monster. I respected him. I liked him. I admired him.

Was he doing such despicable and unforgivable things when he taught me in college? Possibly. But probably not. But does it matter? He was capable of it, even if it took many years to be acted upon. And what if I did still know him now? Would I have allowed my children around him? Would I have still trusted him? Probably.

It is so easy to want to throw out anything that was ever associated with him. To burn it and leave nothing left. But I can’t. You see, so much of who I am is because of him.

So where does that leave me?

Every single Shabbat, as I prepare my salad, a specific Jewish law always comes to mind, which—to be perfectly honest—I have found a bit annoying and seemingly unnecessary. It is the law of borer, separating.

It goes something like this . . .On Shabbat we are not allowed to separate things; this prohibition, called borer, does not allow us to remove the undesirable from what is desirable.

So what is allowed is taking the “good” from the “bad,” but what is not allowed is removing the “bad” from the “good.” In regards to my beloved salads, this means that when I want to separate the good parts of the avocado, I can’t just cut out what is black, but rather I need to work around what I don’t want to get to the nice and green parts, which I do want. Yes, you now see why I wrote that I have found this quite annoying and unnecessary.

Really? It matters if I pull out the green or just remove the black?

And yet, I think that for the first time I understand the difference. We are allowed to take the good from the bad. We recognize there is bad, and we don’t want any part of it. What is good, we can take and we can use. It hasn’t been spoiled by being near or associated to the bad.

But the other way around just doesn’t work.

We can’t try to pull out all the bad, hope we get it all, and work with what is left. What if there was something we didn’t see? Something we didn’t remove? Then there is still bad left. The only way we can be sure that what we have is good is if we take only the good. We might leave some good behind in the bad, but what we have taken is most definitely all good. And the bad? We leave in its place until we can dispose of it.

What if I did still know him now? Would I have allowed my children around him?I guess this is the only way I can come to terms with who I am and how I am associated with this person. I must reflect on what I learned, what was positive, what was good, and remove it completely from him. He was not the source of it; he simply was the vessel that I received it from.

The good is unblemished. He couldn’t destroy it, even if he tried. And now it is safe with me. For I have taken that good and tried my hardest to internalize it. And unlike him, I will do my utmost to continue to use it for the good. For if anything, I guess he has inspired me in yet one more way. I will do everything in my power to work that much harder to eradicate the evil that people like him wreak on this world. What he has given me and taught me will, ironically, be what ultimately destroys him. For it is the light that will drive away the darkness. And I have no doubt that, one day, in either this world or the next, he will most dearly pay for the darkness he has caused so many.