The Conversion Psak: Some Comments and One Observation

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104 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Unless one has read the Psak/Opinion from the beginning to the end, one really should withhold comment on the same. Having fulfilled that opinion, I am initially reminded of a story involving RYBs. When microphones were becoming acceptable within CJ and even in some MO shuls, CJ’s RA issued a “responsum” permitting the same. The Agudas HaRabbonim issued either a Teshuvah or Kok Koreh condemning the same. RYBS stated openly that while the RA did not understand Halacha, the Agudas HaRabbonim, of which he was a member, did not understand the scientific principles at work.

    IMO, the Psak/Opinion raised the important issue of whether Kabalas Ol Mitzvos and Hilcos Gerus should be watered down to solve Israeli demographic woes, but did so in a way that cast suspicion on many fine Batei Dinim and invited second guessing of their modus operandi based upon the alleged transgressions of R Druckman and engaged in what can be called rhetorical overkill vis a vis R Druckman,as opposed to simply restating the elements of Kabalas Ol Mitzvos as understood by the Riv Binyan UMinyan of Rishonim, Acharonim and Poskim. IMO, it is far better to dissect and critique the message in circumstances of this nature, as opposed to essentially shooting the messenger, of which the Psak/Opinion does so in excess.

  2. SS says:

    You are obviously unaware of Rabbi Rosen’s most recent article where he says that this is indeed an attack on the dati-leumi by the haredim. See

    http://www.zomet.org.il/?CategoryID=160&ArticleID=4004

  3. Dovid Shlomo says:

    While it might very well be true that, “Much of the much-touted recent psak was lost on so many who have taken vocal positions about it,” this does not account for the fact that the most vocal position of all was taken by great, highly respected Talmid Chacham who would seem to be very much informed, both as to the halachic logic and as to what is behind that halachic logic.

    His name is Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein.

    He said:

    “How much hatred, animosity and demonization comes through in this awful and terrible ruling… The Conversion Authority has God-fearing and scholarly judges who have devoted their energy and their lives to the Torah. One cannot simply push them aside and throw them into the street. On this point we must be firm: We must not come to terms with this kind of approach… Where did we ever hear or see that someone who relies on a minority opinion against the commonly held one is considered a willing heretic? Woe to the ears that hear such a thing and woe to the biased court that has expressed itself in such a way!”

    Eighty Rabbonim in Eretz Yisrael, including Rabbi Rozen, signed a petition rejecting the psak of Rabbi Shirman’s Beis Din in a very forceful manner.

    Is it possible that these Rabbonim understand the situation better than we do?

    Given this blog’s often-touted insistence that we subordinate our judgment to that of the great Rabbonim (and be careful in our criticism of them), I was wondering why this would not be the case as well as regards to the judgment of Rav Lichtenstein et al that, no matter what the pedigree of Rabbi Sherman’s Beis Din, that there was more to this psak than meets OUR eye.

    (I’m not voting here as to which side is “right.” I’m only questioning how Rabbi Adlerstein could be so self-assured that politics were not involved when those closest to the situation (and Talmidei Chachamim themselves) would seem to disagree.)

  4. mb says:

    “Before recommending a beis din, make sure that its standards are beyond cavil.”

    Cavil, nice word. Couldn’t find that in BB 31 B.
    Regardless, what is “beyond cavil” keeps changing and presently growing ever more stringent.By current standards, 30 year old or more for example, conversions look no better than Reform

  5. Yosef says:

    You wrote

    “The only way to safeguard against this is to operate conversion courts according to standards acceptable to all”

    That means that the RCA and the Dati Leumi must now adopt the standards of Satmar and Brisk! What sense does that make? Maybe the Haredim should adopt the more liberal standards, and make that the “Orthodox” position. Why does the most machmir position always get a veto over other positions?

    I have a better suggestion. Let each beit din operate in accordance with its own understanding. If someone from the dati community becomes haredi and it turns out that his mother was a convert, perhaps he will then have to convert le-chumra, but until then, why should halachic communities have to give up their autonomy to satisfy outsiders, especially when these outsiders couldn’t care less about the dati halakhic authorities.

    I am really surprised at you Rabbi Adlerstein. Could it be that you don’t realize that the haredim in Israel don’t think that datiim are valid religious communities? And kal ve-chomer their rabbis are not reliable? If I converted under R. Herschel Schachter and then wanted to marry into a Bnei Brak family they would make me do another conversion, because he is pasul also. That is what we are up against.

  6. Shalem says:

    #

    “While it might very well be true that, “Much of the much-touted recent psak was lost on so many who have taken vocal positions about it,” this does not account for the fact that the most vocal position of all was taken by great, highly respected Talmid Chacham who would seem to be very much informed, both as to the halachic logic and as to what is behind that halachic logic.

    His name is Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein”.

    But his vocal position cannot silence the vocal position of Posskim in the statue of RAv KOOk, Rav HEertzog, Rav Chayim Ozer, Rav Moshe F, RYBS, Lubavitcher REbbe, Satmar REbbe, Minchat YItchak, Rav Shlomo Zalman, RAv OVadya, that conversion iwthout KAbalat Hamitavots is null and void. A Conversion where it is known from the outset that prospective convert does intend to to commit to observe is null and void. THey voiced their opinion since the past 100 years in great alarming concerns and we see that in their responsa. Rav Aharon Lichtenstein with all due respect, is not yet in their caliber to counter the force of their rulings.

    But moreover, let us analyze what Rav Aharon himself writes in your own word
    “He said ( I’ll only quote the part that is relevant to this post) :

    “… Where did we ever hear or see that someone who relies on a minority opinion against the commonly held one is considered a willing heretic?…”

    He is acknolwedging that we have at stakee here is one RAbbi ruling according to miunority opinion agaisnt the majority opinion. Is his koach Hapssak strong enough to be machria like one minority versus the majority? Furthermore: WE are not talknig about issues that could perhaps affect his own camp only; the issues which is undertook to perform was something immediately afects klal yisroel, as the convert will try to marry a bas yisroel, which according to RAL himself is not going to be considered Jewish by the MAJOORITYOF POSSKIM! How can one (not in the caliber of any of the above) take upon himself to perform such a procedure which will be contested by the majority of klal yisroel which follows the majority of the posskim?

    “Is it possible that these Rabbonim understand the situation better than we do?”

    IS it possible that Rav Kook, Rav Hertzog, Reb MOshe, REb CO, RYBS, LR, SR, RSZa, etc. understood better that RD? And RAL who knows that, did not voice his staunch position to ask RD to change his procedures? Why don’t we hear RAL requrest from those RAbbis who perform as RD that they too follow the majority position in matters that will one or another affect majority of jews?

    Let us hope that we could sort all these issues to find the truth and at the same time to bridge all all of us with Ahavat YIsroel.

  7. Shlomo says:

    Since Yitzchok Adlerstein mentions the RCA as having a responsible attitude towards conversion, it would only be fair to quote what the RCA said about R’ Sherman’s ruling:

    “Having reviewed the ruling of the Bet Din Elyon in detail, and being fully mindful of the respect due the rulings of duly constituted rabbinical courts in their respective jurisdictions, the RCA finds it necessary to state for the record that in our view the ruling itself, as well as the language and tone thereof, are entirely beyond the pale of acceptable halachic practice, violate numerous Torah laws regarding converts and their families, create a massive desecration of God’s name, insult outstanding rabbinic leaders and halachic scholars in Israel, and are a reprehensible cause of widespread conflict and animosity within the Jewish people in Israel and beyond. The RCA is appalled that such a ruling has been issued by that court.”

    (from http://www.rabbis.org/news/article.cfm?id=105297)

  8. Eric says:

    R’ Shirman’s ruling calls R’ Druckman an “apikoros bemezid”. Regardless of whether R’ Druckman’s conversion procedures are flawed or not, there is no excuse for the lack of respect shown to him. I have not heard a single charedi person express the slightest unease about using this language regarding a rosh yeshiva and talmid chacham. Since he’s dati leumi, apparently everything is permitted! Especially that for which chazal say you lose your share in olam haba! Is it any wonder why so many dati leumi people (NOT just converts) feel that they are being run out of the Jewish people, and why they are reacting so angrily?

    “shalem” calls on us to suck it up and deal with it, because of “ahavat yisroel”. But you can’t insult and slander someone and then tell them not to respond because of “ahavat yisroel”. First YOU have to stop the delegitimization and apologize to the people you have hurt. Only then can the reconciliation, and the discussion of legitimate halachic disagreements, begin.

  9. joel rich says:

    The only way to safeguard against this is to operate conversion courts according to standards acceptable to all.
    ===============================
    A RABBINICAL PROCLAMATION Adar 5695 (February 1935)

    We have observed the conditions prevailing in the general Jewish comrnunity, where some youth have left the haven of their faith and have assimilated with non-Jews; in certain cases they have made efforts to marry gentiles, sometimes without any effort to convert them, and other times an effort is made for conversion to our faith, .m action which is absolutely invalid and worthless in the eyes of the law of our Torah. We have therefore bestirred ourselves to build and establish an iron wall to protect our identity and religious integrity and to bolster the strong foundations of our faith and religious purity which we have maintained for many centuries going back to our country of origin, Syria.

    We, the undersigned rabbis, constituting the Religious Court, together with the Executive Committee of the Magen David Congregation and the outstanding laymen of the community, do hereby decree, with the authority of our Holy Torah, that no male or female member of our community has the right to intermarry with non. Jews; this law covers conversions, which we consider to be fictitious and valueless. We further decree that no future rabbinic court of the community should have the right or authority to convert male Or female non-Jews who seek to marry into our community. We have followed the example of the community in Argentina, which main. tains a rabbinic ban on any of the marital arrangements enumerated above, an edict which has received the wholehearted and unqualified endorsement of the Chief Rabbinate in Israel. This responsa is discussed in detail in Devar Sha ‘ul, Yoreh Deah, Part II to Part VI. In the event that any member of our community should ignore our ruling and marry, their issue will have to suffer the consequences. Announcements to this effect will be made advising the community not to allow any marriage with children of such converts. We are confident that the Jewish People are a holy people and they will adhere to the decision of their rabbis and will not conceive of doing otherwise.
    Chief Rabbi Haim Tawil
    Rabbi Jacob Kassin
    Rabbi Murad Masalton
    Rabbi Moshe Gindi
    Rabbi Moshe Dweck Kassab

    KT

  10. Garnel Ironheart says:

    First of all, (and I’m working from memory because my seforim are 70 km away) I seem to remember the mishnah in Eduyos noting that the reason dissenting opinions are mentioned throughout the gemara despite the halachah not following them is because sometimes exceptional circumstances arise in which the accepted norm isn’t the best way to respond and it’s always nice to have a backup opinion if that’s the case.

    I’m not declaring that the current situation in Israel vis a vis a large number of non-Jews wanting to convert pro forma is definitely such a situation. But the question can be asked: Is it possible that this is so? Here we have people living in a Jewish state, living the same lives as millions of Chilonim, who serve in the army, pay their taxes and speak Hebrew fluently and who, for better or worse, have cast their lot with the Jewish people. Yes, ab initio one cannot argue that kabalas ol mitzvos is necessary for a conversion to take place. One cannot take in a geir who declares that he has no interested in accepting the Torah’s rules upon him. But there are minority opinions which differ. Is it possible that these exceptional times allow for use of those minority opinions? Is it possible that this is what Rav Druckman was relying on?

    In addition, the real shanda of all this hasn’t been the psak itself. It has been the publicity, the outpouring of perceived sinas chinam that has resulted from the goings on. That’s what is really concerning. Yes, Rav Adlerstein is correct that there should be one universally held conversion standard to avoid messes like this in the future. But as Yosef (5) wrote, that will lead to the extreme right wing of the Chareidi community dictating terms to the rest for what is to be the bare acceptable minimum in standards. I hardly thing that such a thing will be acceptable to most Orthodox Jews.

  11. Moishe Potemkin says:

    It would be nice if the same generosity of spirit imputed to Rav Shirman et al (in Rabbi Adlerstein’s assertion that it is “a real stretch” to view this psak as part of a war of delegitimization) was also applied to those on the left, rather than the unkind and untrue claim that their actions are undertaken “to make their egos feel better”.

  12. Bob Miller says:

    I think everyone can see the danger in having each group of Rabbonim offer its own take on gerus, incompatible with the others. Unless common ground can be found that is rooted in Halacha, marriages involving gerim or their descendants will be very difficult to arrange outside the group that the rabbi(s) who originally converted the ger belonged to.

  13. Dovid Shlomo says:

    The intent of my comment was only to question Rabbi Adlerstein’s confident assertion that the psak was apolitical despite the view of those fully informed, who say otherwise.

  14. Yaakov says:

    Excellent post, Rabbi Adlerstein: well thought-out, cool-calm-and collected, without tring to grind personal ax and impose individual ideology. Fully deservant of serious contemplation. Thank you.

  15. Raymond says:

    Until this morning, I was completely unaware of this entire story. I only got a vague sense of what is going on from the person I fist heard it from, and now get a much clearer accounting of it thanks to Rabbi Adlerstein’s account above. Because I am just an amateur, I am afraid I would only confuse myself if I first read the comments to Rabbi Adlerstein’s article, before I make my own comments. So I will give my response, then read what everybody else wrote.

    My first reaction has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but may be a larger question, and that is, why isn’t there a Rabbi Moshe Feinstein with us today? I find it hard to believe that Jews as a whole are any less religious then we were twenty years ago; on the contrary, there has been a significant whole return to Torah Judaism since then. Since Rav Eliashev is the name I constantly hear in Orthodox circles as the greatest living Rabbi today, why isn’t his rulings considered universally authoritative?

    My other reaction is to recount a conversation I recently had with a mother who was very proud of her son, who happens to be the author of a very important book on the modern political scene. I will resist the temptation to mention his name, but it is an extremely Jewish one. Furthemore, this author has a Jewish father, he is brilliant in the way that many Jews tend to be, he was brought up Jewish, he had his bar mitzvah, and strongly identifies with his Jewishness.

    The problem is, is that his mother, who is also a famous celebrity, is definitely not Jewish. When I pointed out to her that her son is therefore not Jewish, she was terribly insulted. My dialog with her came to a quick end.

    I was puzzled by her reaction. If her son truly identifies with the Jewish part of his lineage, then why would he object to undergoing a proper Orthodox conversion to Judaism? Such an action should be painless to him, like removing a hair from a cup of milk. It is precisely her objection to him doing such a thing, that convinces me that he is not as identified with his Jewishness as his proud mother would like to believe.

    While I do not know all the specifics of the current conversion controversy, it strikes me that if these people who thought they were Jews but are really not Jews due to an improper conversion, yet truly and strongly identified with being Jewish, then they would respect Jewish law, and undergo a proper conversion this time. Such an action should be as painless and routine as walking out to one’s lawn on a Sunday morning to pick up the daily newspaper.

  16. Raymond says:

    Okay, I just read most of the other comments made, and now wish to make a comment or two in response.

    I am not religious, but even if I were, I would probably be a religious Zionist and modern Orthodox, the way my twelve years of formal Jewish education was during my childhood and teenage years. Nevertheless, even a semi-heretic like me, recognizes that there is a certain authority that the ultra-Orthodox have that no other kind of Torah Judaism has: it follows the strictest, most uncompromising approach to Jewish law, Torah study, and Judaism in general. It is no accident that the last universally recognized Jewish legal authority, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, was definitely in the ultra-Orthodox camp. I have no doubt that if Moses himself were alive today, that he would be ultra-Orthodox.

    While my nature is too restless and rebellious to live that way, it just seems like basic logic, that when issues as serious as the legitimacy of a conversion is at stake, that we should follow the most stringent of approaches. This would insure that the conversions are valid to all groups loyal to the Torah.

    I do not understand why this issue has to be any more complicated than that. Maybe those who are making it more complicated, have a not-so-hidden political agenda.

  17. mycroft says:

    “The RCA deserves much credit for swallowing the pride of some of its members, and worrying about the good of the many.”

    The RCA does not deserve any credit. they are not backing up conversions that were done using the procedures that the RCA followed atthe time and which the CR accepted atthe time. Too much has been written about kavod of one Rav or another Rav-a Ravs kavod should be secondary to oppressing gerim. The RCA has raised questions about decades of gerim.
    I would add that the standards of people being megayer were much higher than those in Israel which were being done to solve a demographic problem. It frankly smells as examples of vayakam melech chadash-every generation likes to make themselves seem better than their predecessors. One finds this atitude in many other Jewish contexts-how often have we read that community x might have been a midbar before some came their. Normally no big deal-so current occupants of positions wish to make themselves look better-but the gerus situation is scandalous one is affecting generations when they were led to believe that chazakah after decades woulod be enough to prove their geirus.

  18. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    I will reiterate what I have said before. I was not interested in siding with or apologizing for either side. The more I read, the more uncomfortable I am with both sides! I stand behind my main thesis – gerus is unlike muktzah or an eruv. Adopting a kula rejected by rov minyan v’rov banyan of decisors is worse than playing with fire. I sit on a gerus beis din. I have seen what started as a trickle, and has grown to a stream, of people caught in a limbo not of Rav Shirman’s making. These people seek a redoing of their conversions, because their (or their parent’s) conversions were overseen by rabbis whose track record for producing observant converts was problematic. It did not take Rabbi Shirman to create the buzz – especially about conversions here in the States. These people are either encountering, or worried about encountering, suspicions and difficulties with shidduchim, because people will wonder whether their gerus was really up to snuff. Whoever converted them did them no favor when they allowed their reputations to be sullied by embracing standards different from the consensus. It is utterly presumptuous to suppose that a rav who follows the overwhelming majority of important decisors is going to bite his lip and affirm the kashrus of another court that doesn’t. All the sympathy in the world for the convert caught in the middle, all the kavod for another group of rabbonim cannot get him to say “kosher” to what he believes is treif. (Do our readers expect that other groups respect and approve Orthodox shuls that give aliyos to women based on the psak of a single contemporary rabbi?) That is not the way Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai got along. They helped each other maintain their standards – but refrained from marrying into the other group. Do we want that for Klal Yisrael? All Rabbi Shirman did was bring the issue to a head, and add an official stamp to an attitude that has been out there for years.

    I will address some of the comments, one by one.

    I had not seen Rabbi Rozen’s remarks. I now have, and find them just as disturbing as Rabbi Shirman’s. He speaks of a halachic imperialism, of battle lines drawn. His words are at least as acrimonious, accusatory, and divisive. They may be entirely justified and correct, but the reader will never know. He tells us that there are many halachic reasons to justify a different stance towards gerus – but offers us none. There is no way for us to evaluate them. He says nothing about his own role as the discoverer of the fraudulent signatures. He describes the stance of his “halachic universe” as encouraging the production of kulos. Truth be told, my personal attitudes towards the State are likely closer to Rabbi Rozen’s than to Rabbi Shirman’s, but I don’t find an announced program of looking for kulos (and I understand why we might want to do so!) heart-warming or encouraging. We do so where Chazal tell us so: aveilus, agunah. We can only do the same for gerus if there is a host of supporting halachic evidence. Without it, the residents of such a halachic universe should not be surprised when others look at them askance. (Note: I am not suggesting that part or all of Rabbi Shirman’s intention was to nail the guys in the competing camp. I have no way of knowing. I am only suggesting that if you strip all the political stuff from the discussion, there is a very real problem that remains.)

    I don’t know why Dovid Shlomo thinks I am self-assured. I am far from it. I have great regard for Rav Aharon Lichtenstein shlit”a. His anguished words don’t help me, because he doesn’t tell us what this minority opinion is. I know of none other that has to be reckoned with other than a single teshuva of Rabbi Uziel which we’ve discussed before. I wish he wrote something to explain more to the rest of us. I will admit that (as I alluded in my post) I found it disturbing that Rabbi Shirman went beyond the very teshuvos he cited, and insisted that dayanim who held a different opinion in order to do what in their eyes was a mitzvah, need to be termed halachic “reshaim.” I emphasize once again, however, that the real issue is thrusting a kula upon the whole community and expecting them to accept it as valid. When Rabbi Rozen invokes (just as I had) the specter of Reform patrilineal descent, I still think he has it backwards. Those who are introducing a new standard are the ones introducing the division. Despite what all the charedim-haters who write in believe, conventional halachic thought would put the default configuration with those who reject gerus without accpeptance of mitzvos.

    MB, if you can’t find evidence of the word “cavil” in Bava Basra 31B, you better review the amud.
    I think Yosef exaggerates. Among serious halacha people, no one would cast aspersions on the gerus presided over by R Hershel Schachter. To be sure, they will murmur about him behind his back, but begrudgingly have to concede that he knows halacha.

    Either the RCA knows much more about the background than we mortals, or they rushed to judgment. I hope to find out more at the RCA convention, where I will be speaking.
    I do not remember Rabbi Shirman calling Rabbi Druckman an apikorus. If he did, I find it contemptible.

    Joel Rich’s contribution is clever, but not relevant. The position of the Syrian community is not one that derives from halachah, but from a takanah to protect the Syrian community from certain problems. When it comes to acknowledging the validity of the gerus itself, the Syrian community uses the same standards of halachah. I would be very surprised indeed to learn that Rabbi BenZion Abba Shaul would accept bedieved a gerus demonstrated to have taken place without kabbalas hamitzvos

  19. Dovid Shlomo says:

    Raymond –
    Thank You for admitting that you are an amateur, when you describe this situation as a mere walk in the park for those involved.

    Let me point out to you that the professionals, Rav Yaakov Ariel, for instance, who is probably the most significant posek in the Religious Zionist community and known as a moderate, considers this an earthquake.

    If you’d like to know just how widely-respected and highly-regarded Rav Ariel is, you could read up on what was done to block his ascension to Chief Rabbi. The reason: Since the goal was to delegitimize the Rabbanut and consolidate control over Shemittah, hashgachos, and the court system, the last thing they wanted was to have a Chief Rabbi who is a highly-regarded talmid chacham and posek who affiliates with Religious Zionism.

    Whatever the merits of this particular psak of Rav Shirman, this is one more step in the continuum of politics at its most brutal, a war for control of the Rabbanut.

  20. Jerry says:

    Does the Haredi community not agree with the concept of Bdieved?

    That there is a preferred way to do things (i.e. the opinion of the poskim mentioned above who do not accept Gerut without a real KOM) and there are situations which are not preferable- such as the gerut situation that exists in Israel after the influx of refugees from the FSU and Ethiopia?

    In these situations, there is plenty of halakhic backing for relying on minority opinions.

  21. Yehudit bat Avraham says:

    I’m sure it’s incredibly interesting to debate this entire issue from the perspective of being a rav or otherwise learned person.

    I’m just as sure that in addition to it being interesting, it’s incredibly frustrating to the hundreds or thousands of gerim who did, in fact, accept the mitzvot at the time of their conversions and are now terrified on many levels.

    I speak of this as one whose teudat giyur has the rubber stamp of R’Druckman on it, and whose giyur is now under suspicion.

    Something I have yet to see any mention of is what happens to the people who did accept the mitzvot? As in, if their conversions are under suspicion, are they, or are they not Jewish? My rav says I am, which is fine for now within my community. However, I am fully aware that when I, please G-d, should get married in the State of Israel and have children, issues may arise casting doubt on my Jewishness.

    Meanwhile, for anyone casting doubt — does it mean that all of the wine I’ve touched and all of the Jews I’ve fed will have unknowingly had their neshamas damaged? Or is my lifestyle of keeping mitzvot going to be enough to protect my status? Whose word will be good enough to witness my commitment to mitzvot?

    The vast majority of people converted under the Beit Din Giyur are people coming from Jewish backgrounds. Many of us were raised as Jews, rightly or wrongly, and decided to follow the true path. But because of the ties between the rabbinic establishment and the government, we were told that it was necessary to convert under the auspices of the government in order to be sure our conversions would be considered valid by the State. For any of us who are coming from a Zionist perspective, this is important.

    I appreciate that this issue is being taken on and discussed — I just wish someone would come out with at least a few words of comfort for those of us who took our vows at the mikveh seriously.

  22. Yosef says:

    Why do you keep saying that the conversion took place without kabbalat ha-mitzvot? This is adamantly denied by Rabbi Druckman and his followers. The fact that the person today does not observe all the mitzvot does not mean that was no kabbalat mitzvot 15 years ago.

  23. joel rich says:

    My first reaction has nothing to do with the topic at hand, but may be a larger question, and that is, why isn’t there a Rabbi Moshe Feinstein with us today? I find it hard to believe that Jews as a whole are any less religious then we were twenty years ago; on the contrary, there has been a significant whole return to Torah Judaism since then. Since Rav Eliashev is the name I constantly hear in Orthodox circles as the greatest living Rabbi today, why isn’t his rulings considered universally authoritative?

    WADR this statement reminds me of the famous drasha on the parshiyot of acharei mot/ kedoshim. R’MF was in my lifetime and trust me, his psak was not always universally (or even always locally) accepted. Eruvim and artificial insemination come to mind for starters. In fact, I wonder whether all the agunot cases after the holocaust should now be revisited to see if R’MF and others factual decisions pass muster by today’s seemingly new standards. I’m not expressing an opinion on if this is good or not, just the facts before historical revisionism sets in.

    KT

  24. joel rich says:

    Joel Rich’s contribution is clever, but not relevant. The position of the Syrian community is not one that derives from halachah, but from a takanah to protect the Syrian community from certain problems. When it comes to acknowledging the validity of the gerus itself, the Syrian community uses the same standards of halachah. I would be very surprised indeed to learn that Rabbi BenZion Abba Shaul would accept bedieved a gerus demonstrated to have taken place without kabbalas hamitzvos

    Ouch, I guess I can’t take credit for the cleverness if I disagree on the relevance (unless we hold palginan deburai but that’s a different subject).

    The relevance issue is imho a general and specific one. The general one (which one might argue is not applicable here if geirut is considered a unique case – but imho we see this approach elsewhere) is that a system which includes high in its rules of operation a rule that we always yield to the stricter opinion, will quickly converge to the strictest opinion ever posited on each subject. Kach mkublani mbeit avi abba vrabotai this was not the process promulgated by chazal and it has the added disadvantage of losing the underlying reasons for psak (at least for the vast majority of people.

    In the specific case, as the world becomes a global village, will you track all descendants of geirim to ensure this community retains its rules? Would they accept a geirus done not in accordance with their rules? Thus if one wants those who have a different definition of kabbalat mitzvot to accept their definition, why would the syrian community be any different (would they accept a R’ shirman convert who was in love with a syrian?)
    KT

  25. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Despite what all the charedim-haters who write in believe, conventional halachic thought would put the default configuration with those who reject gerus without accpeptance of mitzvos.

    Can you please, please stop doing this? People can be wrong without being charedim-haters, and it is far beneath your dignity to write this way.

  26. Joseph says:

    Raymond (#14): Thank you for your well thought out comment!

  27. LazerA says:

    Some comments on this issue (based on comments I made on a different blog website):

    When I first heard about this episode I was inclined to think that R’ Sherman’s beis din had overstepped, perhaps egregiously. I do know of a pattern of some activists (based in Israel) to establish an excessively stringent standard for conversions. As one whose occupation requires him to occasionally research conversions (and being the son of a convert, as well), the issues involved are not foreign to me at all.

    However, after seeing the defenses for R’ Druckman coming out from the Modern Orthodox rabbinate, I have become increasingly inclined to believe that R’ Sherman’s beis din acted correctly.

    It is clear, from statements attributed to both R’ Druckman and his defenders, that R’ Druckman had a clear goal of dramatically increasing the numbers of conversions, and was willing to forgo many of the traditional safeguards built into the conversion process.

    The idea that it is acceptable to, l’chatchila, establish a minimal threshhold for conversion (for entire populations, thousands of people!), because it serves the interests of one’s religious ideology, seems to me to be unprecedented in halacha.

    I feel that the references to the issur of onaas hager by the RCA and others are disengenuos. A beis din’s function is to hear testimony and issue halachic decisions. This, by definition, involves activities that, in any other context, would be assur as lashon hara and onaas devarim (among other things). The issue of onaas hager can only arise after you have determined that the beis din has fundamentally overstepped its legitimate role. It is hard to see how that case can be made.

    Outside of ideological bias, there appears to be no reason why we should give more benefit of the doubt to the beis din of R’ Druckman over the beis din of R’ Sherman. If R’ Sherman’s beis din had confirmed the geirus at issue, no one would have claimed that they overstepped their role. If so, they have the same right to pasken the opposite.

    Moreover, given that it is widely acknowledged, at this point, that, in the past, R’ Druckman signed false ‘b’mosav tlasa’ conversion documents, it is legitimate to question his truthfulness in other aspects of conversion activities.

    The fact that these documents are “administrationial” and that the conversions are not dependent on them, doesn’t change that they are halachic statements of eidus, and are used to provide halachic proof that a valid conversion was performed. Marriages are performed based on such “administrationial” documents. To falsify such documents is not a minor issue!

    Some of the left-wing defenders of these conversions seem to feel that they need not be concerned about the Chareidi/right-wing rejection of these conversions. After all, the argument goes, Chareidim would never marry the children of these families anyways.

    This is an extraordinarily shortsighted view. As Jews, we have a responsibility to think in terms of generations, not just 20 to 30 years down the road.

    Five or six generations from now (probably sooner), the Jewish people will probably look back on the Religious Zionism/Modern Orthodoxy debate in a manner similar to the way we view the Maimonidean controversy or the dispute over Chassidus. It will be a matter of interest, it may inform some contemporary issues, but the debate itself will no longer be that important. The various communities of Ultra-Orthodox and Modern Orthodox will have merged for the most part, intermarriage will be commonplace, and both sides of the debate will be studied with great interest. This scenario may not seem plausible today, with the intensity of emotions invested in this debate, but history shows that this is what usually happens with such debates in the Torah world.

    HOWEVER, this can only happen when neither side takes steps that place irreconcilable halachic obstacles between the groups. Such obstacles include establishing significant divergences in the way we determine personal halachic status. Areas such as conversion, divorce, descent, etc. It is vital that we maintain as unified a standard as possible in these areas (even if, “chas v’shalom”, it has to be a more stringent standard, which is how these things tend to work), to prevent generating not just different communities today, but fundamentally different nations 200 years from now.

    The claim that chareidim wouldn’t marry the children of these converts “anyways” (asides for being an mischaracterization of chareidi society) is not relevant for the great-grandchildren of those converts, who will be fully inegrated into Jewish society, assuming their is no reason to question their halachic status. But if it becomes general wisdom that the MO world is heavily intermarried with a large group of non-Jews whose conversions were considered invalid by the majority of major authorities of the previous centuries, then this will affect the status of ALL descendants of ALL Modern Orthodox Jews, long after the entire ideological debate will have been relegated to history.

    I would also like to make a separate point about the basic premise of these conversions. Some left-wing Modern Orthodox defenders of R’ Druckman have been arguing, among other things, that these converts are committed to the (political) State of Israel (as demonstrated by army service and similar) and that the political benefit to the State is of religious value. In fact, many of these defenders seem to feel that this, alone, is enough to justify these conversions and that it is precisely the Chareidi rejection of the State of Israel’s theological significance that has caused them to reject these conversions.

    I want to point out that even if such a argument could be valid halachically, it is stil a short-sighted and dangerous path to follow. The Jewish nation has suffered in the past from mass conversions that were performed irresponsibly. This happened in the days of the Hasmoneans, when the Idumean population was converted for reasons that were seen as serving a political benefit. It was from this population that the destructive King Herod descended. Now, it seems that the Idumean mass conversion, while heavily criticized, was NOT found to be invalid. Nevertheless, in the end, that error, while halachicly acceptable, caused great suffering, ultimately leading, in part, the destruction of the Second Jewish Commonwealth.

    Are we creating a new population of Herods? Are we creating an entire population of Jews who, although perhaps halachicly valid according to some authorities, are not truly committed to the goals of the Jewish people? Whose basic cultural values are, and remain, non-Jewish? Who exist as a largely distinct subculture and whose committment to Judaism, the Jewish people, AND the Jewish state, is essentially one of convenience? Could this policy, done for the short term benefit of the Jewish state, ultimately contribute to its downfall?

    We need to start looking at the long-term big picture.

  28. LAWRENCE KAPLAN says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein: It is true that Rabbi Sherman himself does not refer to Rabbi Druckman as an apikoros. But in the origianl pesak of Rabbi Attiya, cited by Rabbi Sherman we find the folowing:

    Rabbi Druckman and his Bet Din are invalid because they contemptuously disregard (mezalzelim) the halakhah as it has been decided by the Shulhan Aruk and all the poskim. Therefore they are to be viewed as kalei daat and mezidim (deliberate transgressors) and “apikorsim.” All these things make them into invalid judges.

    It should be noted that R. Attiyah puts quotes around “apikorsim.” So R. Druckman and his rabbinic associates are, in R. Attiyah’s view, just metaphorical apikorsim. (One, I suppose, should be grateful for small favors.) In his defense of the pesak of R. Attiya, R. Sherman does not himself refer to R. Druckman and his Bet Din as apikorsim, even with qoutes around the phrase, but he does accuse them of willfully disregarding the standard halakhah, forgery, deliberately violating lifnei iver, and a host of other sins, all of which completely disqualify R. Druckman and his collleagues as valid rabbinic judges. Is it so difficult for Rabbi Adlerstein to understand why those who respect R. Druckman, even if they may take issue with his halakhc views and halakhic procedures, were so outraged by R. Sherman’s pesak?

  29. Mordechai Y. Scher says:

    Rav Rozen made known the response he received from Rav Avraham Elkana Kahana Shapira z”l and Rav Mordechai Tzemah Eliyahu yibadel l’haim. They told him the problems were *administrative* only, and how no relevance whatsoever to the validity of the gerut. They also instructed Rav Drukman shlit’a to change the manner in which signing documents was handled. That was it. To all evidence available, two giants such as Rav Shapira and Rav Eliyahu saw fit to lend at least tacit support to the halachic validity of Rav Drukman’s work. Rav Rozen felt that his involvement was somewhat misused by Rav Sherman.

  30. Garnel Ironheart says:

    As for the comment “Chareidim haters” in Rav Adlerstein’s rebuttal a few comments back:

    It’s a well known technique in debating to inflate your opponents moderate position into one of extremism. Then, having redefined him as a fanatic, yo can easily dispose of his position and win the debate. For example, if I take a pro-abortion position, I can easily villify my pro-life opponent by accusing him of wanting pregnant women put in jail and beaten if they even think of aborting. By the time he’s done trying to refute my position, I’ll have won the debate.

    In this case, the term “chareidim hater” appears to be a similar tactic. Rav Adlerstein, those of us who are critical of your position are not Chareidim haters. Those of us who routinely write in to point out obvious weaknesses in certain assertions on this blog are not Chareidim haters. When I was younger, my sister and I had fights that made the neighbours wonder if it was time to call in the SWAT team. Did I hate her? Of course not. One can be angry, one can disagree, one can criticize, without hating.

    Unless one’s view of the world is so black and white that all disagreement is equivalent to hatred.

    In this case, what people are concerned about does not relate to hatred of Rav Shirman, Rav Attiya or Chareidim in general. It is an emotional response born of a concern that there are political changes, not religious ones, that are redefining the Torah world around us and leaving many who believe themselves to be observant on the outside. Dismissal of that concern as baseless does not alleviate it, nor does justification of indefensible positions.

    And once again, just to be clear, it is not out of hatred that people criticize on this blog. Rather I would posit that it is out of love for the Jewish people in general and a very real fear that our limited Achdus will be further broken that people write in so strenuously.

  31. michoel halberstam says:

    Because this issue, perhaps more so than many others we have lived through recently is likely to cause an eartjquake in Klal Yisrael, Rabbi Adlerstein is clearly correct in trying to defusa the political/communal/halachic implications, and making it look more like the average halachic disagreement. The problem is that we have been witness in the last few years to the phenomenon of an increasing number of Talmidei Chachomim from the Dati Leumi camp, and a simultaneous, effort to discredit them from some Chareidi elements. It is pointless to deny this, because all of us have witnessed elements of it. Without going into specifics, this type of attack clearly bore spolied fruit when it was done in Europe, and there is no reason to think that it will not happen again. In fact, the times in whis we live are very dangerous , and we don’t need this.

    There is alot more that needs to ber said. In the interests of allowing people to make their own decisions however, I think we should be careful when making arguments which are probably correct, but which leave the maker open to a scurrilous attack on his Yiddishkeit, made for any number of reasons, of which kovod Shomayim is usually not one.

  32. Bob Miller says:

    Does anyone titled “rabbi” who has a folowing and government funding have the legitimate last word on halacha? Could it be that some such people, with the best of intentions, promote an essentially non-halachic agenda?

  33. Shalem says:

    Jerry,

    “Does the Haredi community not agree with the concept of Bdieved?

    That there is a preferred way to do things (i.e. the opinion of the poskim mentioned above who do not accept Gerut without a real KOM) and there are situations which are not preferable- such as the gerut situation that exists in Israel after the influx of refugees from the FSU and Ethiopia?

    In these situations, there is plenty of halakhic backing for relying on”:

    Of course the HC agrees that there is a bedieved, for instance, when there is gerus leshem ishut which is not lechatchila but is kosher bedeived. So too, there may be many examples where there is no ideal observance of mitzvot but the HC does not negate all these kind of gerut bedieved. What is discussed here is when there is no kabbolas hamitvot whatsoever (for a verbal declaration without intent is mmeaningless and void according to the rubah derubah of posskim) where it leaves no room for “bedieved” (like if the mikvah was passul even bedievad).

  34. Ori says:

    After how many generations is there “chazaka” that somebody is Jewish, without having to inquire into that person’s maternal ancestors?

  35. Baruch Horowitz says:

    Partially related to this thread, there was an interview a few weeks ago on “Around the Dining Room Table”, about the background of the RCA’s GPS protocol, and its agreement with the Israeli Chief Rabbinate (particularly 31 through 38 minutes and 44 minutes into the interview, basically elaborating on the March 11, 2008 RCA statement of “The RCA Supports all Valid Past Conversions by its Members”).

    http://www.ouradio.org/ouradio/channel/C271

  36. Ben Tzion says:

    To L. Kaplan #26:
    I have difficulty understanding how one can have any respect for R. Druckman after knowing the facts. Do you respect professors who plaigerize? Lawyers who suborn perjury? Accountants who falsify audits?

    Halachikally speaking; There is a vast difference between a minority opinion and a lone opinion. I’m referring to Rav Uziel. Many poskim would call his psak a mistake. Bdieved we don’t rely on any lone opinion.

    To the admirer of R. Ariel: Why is it politics when some people don’t want the dati-leumi candidate, but it’s not politics to object to the chareidi candidate?

    Yasher Koach to R. Adlerstein for cogently presenting the core issues without resorting to rancor. I’m still wating for the RCA to do the same.

  37. L Oberstein says:

    I was in Atlanta, Georgia yesterday in one of the fine kosher eateries and there were 3 individuals having lunch, wom I knew casually. They saw me sitting alone and invited me to join them , as is customary in the Deep South. I want to describe the three men. They all have beards, one has chasidishe payos, two have their tzitzis out. Two are geirim and the third is in the process of converting. They all had big black kipot on their heads. This phenomenon is not rare “out of town”. many orthodox communities have a significant number of converts, who are baaleit teshuva since first converting or who originally converted strictlyu orthodox. I hope we can absorb this needed additon to our ranks without chasing them away.

  38. Mordechai Torczyner says:

    Jack L Weinberg –

    You can find the original Hebrew here.
    I have posted an English digest of the psak here.

    Be well,
    Mordechai

  39. LAWRENCE KAPLAN says:

    Ben Tzion: See Mordecai Scher’s comment # 27, the one right after mine. To compare R. Rabbi Druckman’s addmittedly improper actions to falsifying the books or plagiarism is a gross exaggeration. There are different degrees of impropriety, some very serious, some very mild, most in between.

  40. Amram says:

    Rabbi Alderstein, with all due respect you have committed a terrible act with this post. It reveals neither honesty nor an attempt to deal openly with the issues, but rather an attempt to cloud them.

    You repeat, once again, the cliche that Rav Uzziel is a solitary opinion. Forgetting what must be well known to you: Rav Unterman, Rav Haim David Halevi, Rav Goren and others. Rav Z Drori and Rav Druckman in our day, along with Rav Shear-Yashuv Cohen who went so far as to publically castigate the dati-leumi courts for being too *strict* and not relying on Rav Uzziel entirely! Now, these people may or may not be “gedolim” in your eyes, but in the eyes of religious Zionism they are more significant than Rav Elyashiv.

    Furthermore, Rav Uzziel’s is a matter of majority/minority amongst rishonim, but a claim about simple pshat in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch. There are other ways of reading the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch, e.g. the Ritva and the Beit Yitzchak, but that is a matter of interpretation. The fact that the Beit Yitzchak’s reading was accepted by most acharonim is certainly not enough to disqualify Rav Uzziel as a daas yachid, and along with him the entire world of religious Zionism. Especially when the religious Zionist courts themselves don’t rely on him in practice, but rather try to make sure converts keep mitzvot! Please drop the cliche, Rabbi Alderstein. This *is* an open attempt to delegitimize an entire Torah world. And you have lent your hand to that evil.

    Rav Rozen, according to you, is “acrimonious” while Rav Lichtenstein is “anguished” (but you don’t understand him). Only Rav Sherman’s vicious attack is a perfectly reasonable example of halakhic debate for you. It is “reasonable” to disqualify Rav Druckman, dozens of his colleagues on other courts, and thousands of gerim, for a procedural flaw that was already called to the attention of the relevant authorities many years ago and dealt with. It is “reasonable” to disqualify Rav Druckman and the others as dayyanim for relying on a shitah that you don’t think should be relied upon (though you have failed to convince others of this just as they have failed to convince you). But nothing Rav Rozen or Rav Lichtenstein wrote is reasonable or understandable according to you.

    The most terrible thing you write is of the people coming to you to be “reconverted” because doubt has been cast upon the rabbis who once converted them. You write that you do it with a heavy heart, and that it proves the need for universal standards.

    No, Rabbi Alderstein. There is nothing heroic about what you are doing doing, but rather the opposite: If a rabbi devoted to Torah converted those people, then your moral responsibility as a dayyan is to tell them so firmly, and to rule that they need no “reconversion.” Anything else is a lack of respect for Torah. The problem is not a lack of universal standards, but a lack of respect for other rabbis and Torah scholars. Exactly as with Rav Shirman.

    “Universal standards” is cover for ammunition in an ideological war, not a way to help people. You claim not to see this war, but many of us do. The cannon is the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, and what it shoots are attempts at “universal standards”: Sometimes aimed at the RCA (two years ago) and sometimes at the religious Zionists (now). It is never aimed at the charedi world, because all sides are content to allow that world to continue to go to its own dayyanim. But they are not content to let us go to ours.

    Gerut is exactly like kashrut and eruv. If a specific community wants to act like Beit Shammai, that is their choice.

    You write that you will speak at the RCA convention. I hope that you will reconsider your words, and not say what you wrote here. But thank God that you at least have a right to speak, because the RCA is a place where all Torah viewpoints can be heard, where the disqualifications and silence of opposing viewpoints typical of the world of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Sherman are not to be found. You will have your say at the RCA, but others will as well.

  41. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Why do you keep saying that the conversion took place without kabbalat ha-mitzvot? This is adamantly denied by Rabbi Druckman and his followers. The fact that the person today does not observe all the mitzvot does not mean that was no kabbalat mitzvot 15 years ago.

    It certainly doesn’t. But there are others who just as adamantly insist that many people were converted despite their obvious intention not to observe. As I have said repeatedly, I have no knowledge, and no bias in this case. I found plenty to complain about in R Shirman’s psak. That does not lessen the need to clarify the halachic issues.

    Why would the syrian community be any different (would they accept a R’ shirman convert who was in love with a syrian?)

    The answer is simple. They would not accept him/her as a spouse for a member of the Syrian community, because of their takanah not to do so. But they would not regard said convert as a non-Jew. On the other hand, I would have no compunctions selling my chametz to someone who converted before a Conservative beis din that told people that keeping 613 mitzvos was too difficult, and that they should pick a few they are committed to. I actually did sell my chametz to one such person years ago. According to all the major players in the world of halacha that I know, with the sole exception of R. Daikovski, if a convert in front of an Orthodox beis din showed no difference in behavior immediately after the tevilah, one could hold them to be vadai – not safek!- non-Jews, and indeed sell them your chametz.

    In his defense of the pesak of R. Attiya, R. Sherman does not himself refer to R. Druckman and his Bet Din as apikorsim, even with qoutes around the phrase, but he does accuse them of willfully disregarding the standard halakhah, forgery, deliberately violating lifnei iver, and a host of other sins, all of which completely disqualify R. Druckman and his collleagues as valid rabbinic judges. Is it so difficult for Rabbi Adlerstein to understand why those who respect R. Druckman, even if they may take issue with his halakhc views and halakhic procedures, were so outraged by R. Sherman’s pesak?

    It is not difficult for me to understand the pain, and to be more than suspicious about the timing and motives for the launching of the missive. However, no one is serving R Druckman well by rallying around a flag, rather than addressing the halachic issues. I was looking for something resembling a defense in Rabbi Rozen’s statement on the Zomet site, but found nothing. Among my own friends, I have offered counterarguments to each of the three main arguments offered by Rabbi Shirman – but I am not a posek, so would prefer to find confirmation of my arguments in the careful analysis of baalei halacha. Rather than outrage, R Shirman’s contentions should be met with halachic answers. Please remember that R Shirman did not term R Druckman a rasha because he sees him as a morally deficient person. He refers to a specific halachic category. If in fact R Druckman has no one at all to rely upon for his standards, then he may be a nice person, but he would in fact be a rasha in terms of validity of courtroom testimony, in the same way that R Aharon Soloveitchik insisted on witnesses who were careful about the prohibition of chadash – holding that all others fit into the halachic category of reshaim.

    Rav Rozen made known the response he received from Rav Avraham Elkana Kahana Shapira z”l and Rav Mordechai Tzemah Eliyahu yibadel l’haim. They told him the problems were *administrative* only, and how no relevance whatsoever to the validity of the gerut. They also instructed Rav Drukman shlit’a to change the manner in which signing documents was handled. That was it. To all evidence available, two giants such as Rav Shapira and Rav Eliyahu saw fit to lend at least tacit support to the halachic validity of Rav Drukman’s work. Rav Rozen felt that his involvement was somewhat misused by Rav Sherman.

    I did not know this. It is encouraging.

    In this case, what people are concerned about does not relate to hatred of Rav Shirman, Rav Attiya or Chareidim in general. It is an emotional response born of a concern that there are political changes, not religious ones, that are redefining the Torah world around us and leaving many who believe themselves to be observant on the outside. Dismissal of that concern as baseless does not alleviate it, nor does justification of indefensible positions

    The concern is real, and impacts on lots of us in different ways, whether in going to concerts, or believing in an old universe, etc. None of that changes my essential point, which remains that gerus requires a different standard than a psak about borer or kashrus.

    Now, these people may or may not be “gedolim” in your eyes, but in the eyes of religious Zionism they are more significant than Rav Elyashiv.

    This is not the forum to discuss this. I’m not sure that there is one, without violating laws of lashon hora. Suffice it to say that many people who have absolutely no animus to anyone on that list would so completely disagree with your statement, that they would find it difficult if not impossible to have an intelligent and respectful conversation with anyone who could utter that line. As I have observed many times in this forum, the key issue is who is in the “major league” of halacha, and who is a respected spiritual leader. You don’t make it into the majors by public acclamation. There are performance criteria.

    A Ram in Skokie pointed out to me the irony of those lambasting R Attiyah by arguing that a gerus once performed can never be questioned ( R Shirman’s psak attributes this position to his predecessor, R Daikovski.) In effect, they are reopening the wounds of the Langer case, and calling for invalidating Rav Goren’s zt”l psak that the first marriage was of no effect because his gerus was invalidated retroactively for lack of kabbolas mitzvos!

    Furthermore, Rav Uzziel’s is a matter of majority/minority amongst rishonim, but a claim about simple pshat in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch. There are other ways of reading the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch, e.g. the Ritva and the Beit Yitzchak, but that is a matter of interpretation. The fact that the Beit Yitzchak’s reading was accepted by most acharonim is certainly not enough to disqualify Rav Uzziel as a daas yachid, and along with him the entire world of religious Zionism.

    Again, I reject that contention utterly and entirely. And in the last week, I had a chance to speak to major halachic figures who are NOT in the haredi camp. I asked each one whether there was anyone of major import besides R Uziel who held the same position and needed to be factored into a halachic analysis. They separately but emphatically said that there was no one.

    No, Rabbi Alderstein. There is nothing heroic about what you are doing doing, but rather the opposite: If a rabbi devoted to Torah converted those people, then your moral responsibility as a dayyan is to tell them so firmly, and to rule that they need no “reconversion.”

    We decidedly do – when there is a tzad in halacha to rely upon. When they insist that they want to clear the cloud of suspicion hovering over them, we are in a real bind, not wishing to impugn the reputation to others, living and deceased. The convert then winds up at the disadvantage, dealing with shadchanim and the like.

    Anything else is a lack of respect for Torah. The problem is not a lack of universal standards, but a lack of respect for other rabbis and Torah scholars. Exactly as with Rav Shirman.

    I cannot agree. Disagreeing when you feel than another halachic opinion is dead wrong – not just a bit off – is something that must be done, is part of the milchamta shel Torah, and has been going on since the time of the Talmud

    Gerut is exactly like kashrut and eruv. If a specific community wants to act like Beit Shammai, that is their choice.

    We will disagree about that one as well. I once heard from Rav Bick zt”l that in Europe, the practice in many places was to avoid a “machlokes eruv.” Although there is a huge disparity of opinions about key matters in eruvin, rabbanim in Europe would try to achieve consensus before building an eruv, simply because a psak affected the entire community. This is all the more so regarding issues of personal status.

    You write that you will speak at the RCA convention. I hope that you will reconsider your words, and not say what you wrote here. But thank God that you at least have a right to speak, because the RCA is a place where all Torah viewpoints can be heard, where the disqualifications and silence of opposing viewpoints typical of the world of Rav Elyashiv and Rav Sherman are not to be found. You will have your say at the RCA, but others will as well.
    Having returned from said convention (where I spoke about a different topic entirely), I can only say that I did not meet a single rav there who had read the psak who was not concerned about the halachic issues to the same degree I was!

  42. mycroft says:

    I once heard from Rav Bick zt”l that in Europe, the practice in many places was to avoid a “machlokes eruv.” Although there is a huge disparity of opinions about key matters in eruvin, rabbanim in Europe would try to achieve consensus before building an eruv, simply because a psak affected the entire community. This is all the more so regarding issues of personal status

    Since it is not realistically possible to build an eruv according to the viewpoint of the Rambam and the followers of Brisk-clearly there were not consensus eruvim. It is just not possible to follow everyone-Chadash in America was the doing of RAS. It has clearly bot been followed by many others-including BTW as a requirement by his more famous brother.

    “As I have observed many times in this forum, the key issue is who is in the “major league” of halacha, and who is a respected spiritual leader. You don’t make it into the majors by public acclamation. There are performance criteria.”

    Gdolim make into the majors by public acclamation and by general acceptance of their performance-it is not based on any examination of their knowledge-it is based on public acceptance. BTW-that is why the Schulchan Aruch is acceted not because R Yoseph Karo and R. Moshe Isserles were necessarily the greatest gdolim-but their work was accepted by Klal Israel. Certainly-the gdolim have much knowledge-but others do too-it is by acclamation that they are accepted. To the extent some are accepted and others are not-that is not based on knowledge. Does anyone doubt that RYBS was certainly a world class talmid chacham-but does anyone doubt that in general the “Yeshiva World” did not accept him as an authority.

  43. Amram says:

    Rabbi Alderstein wrote:

    “Suffice it to say that many people who have absolutely no animus to anyone on that list would so completely disagree with your statement, that they would find it difficult if not impossible to have an intelligent and respectful conversation with anyone who could utter that line. As I have observed many times in this forum, the key issue is who is in the “major league” of halacha, and who is a respected spiritual leader. You don’t make it into the majors by public acclamation. There are performance criteria.”

    I think this really is the crux of the matter. The Religious Zionist gedolim mentioned (especially those current like Rav SY Cohen, Rav Druckman and Rav Drori) meet the performance criteria by any definition, and are considered such by an entire world of Torah. But that world of Torah is less familiar to you, perhaps even a little bit foreign and unusual in your eyes, as opposed to the Litvishe charedi world that you know very well, even if you don’t always agree with it.

    If the people you know can’t even have a respectful and intelligent conversation just because we don’t see eye-to-eye about which names are in the “major leagues” of halakhah, that is a very sad thing. And it fits in precisely to an atmosphere of delegitimization.

    The campaign of delegitimization going on is exactly for this reason: To disqualify major gedolim and poskim as not being gedolim and poskim. To claim that they don’t meet the “perfomance criteria.” The striking thing is that this campaign has succeeded so much for so long (several generations) that you don’t even realize you have done *exactly* the opposite of what you declare, namely: You have decided who makes into the “majors” by public acclamation. The public acclamation being the chorus of the charedi world.

    The Torah world of Religious Zionism will accept this no longer, the current smear campaign with huge social consequences being a truly watershed event. For some perspective see here: http://myobiterdicta.blogspot.com/. The likely result will ultimately be the dismantling of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, which may be a positive thing from a Torah perspective.

  44. Tal Benschar says:

    “Gerut is exactly like kashrut and eruv. If a specific community wants to act like Beit Shammai, that is their choice.”

    This is exactly where many of the defenders of the Conversion Beis Din fall off the track. This is not the beis din of a “specific community.” This is the beis din set up by the State of Israel, supposedly so that its converts would be accepted by all of klal yisroel!

    Then, however, it turns out that it was relying on what may chartiably be called a minority opinion. (From my recall of the sugya, admittedly some years ago, R. Adlerstein is more accurate — it is a da’as yachid.)

    Everyone likes to reference Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel, but they conveniently forget the part about each telling the other if the potential shidduch was posul. Let’s not mince words — acc. to Beis Hillel, the product of a union permitted by shittas Beis Shammai (re tsaras ervah) is a Mamzer! The respect shown by Beis Hillel and Beis Shammai to each other did not mean that they gave up their shittos in halakha — to the contrary, Beis Hillel treated as mamzerim Jews who acc. to Beis Shammai were perfectly kosher! And Beis Shammai told them about it! Imagine such a thing today — I can already hear the RCA complaining about a Chillul Hashem, and others complaining about onaas ha almanah.

    If the Conversion Beis Din were honest, it would announce openly that it’s conversions are only acc. to a minority view, and that most of the Orthodox world won’t accept them. Then they would indeed be acting like Beis Shammai and Beis Hillel, and be due the same mutual respect.

  45. michoel halberstam says:

    To Ben Zion,
    The notion that it is merely politics whether or not we want a Dati Leuni candidated as opposed to someone clearly less qualified, who will follow instructions from the Chareid camp is not nearly as simple as you describe it. In most of the countries from which our ancestors hail, major Rabbonim of important Keehilos belonged to the Mizrahi. Even after the rise of Agudas Yisroel, and the preeeminence of Gedolim like Rav Chaim Ozer, it was never the case that Rabbonim of stature would have their opinions cast into doubt becuse of politicalkconsiderations like this. There is of course the exception of those countries where the kehilos wre split, but that was a special case. Moreover, not everyone was happy with that situation.

    The fact is that we cannot demand kovod hatorah when we at the same time denigrate rabbonim we don’t like because of theIR party or camp Affiliation. THIS IS A MAJOR PREOBLEM AND WE MUST DEAL WITH IT HONESTLY.

  46. Moishe Potemkin says:

    This is the beis din set up by the State of Israel, supposedly so that its converts would be accepted by all of klal yisroel!

    Perhaps this is the point of disagreement between Religious Zionists and Charedim in this regard. Even if one eschews the belief that “where there is a rabbinic will there is a halachic way,” it is undeniable that issues that affect klal yisrael have to be evaluated differently. I think Charedim and Religious Zionists differ in their evaluations of the significance of challenges facing Medinat Yisrael.

    I know less than nothing about the halachos involved, but isn’t it possible that Rav Druckman and his colleagues see the sociological challenge facing klal yisrael in Eretz Yisrael as one that warrants the reliance on a da’as yachid/minority opinion? (This was clearly R’ Eliezer Berkovits’ view, for whatever that observation is worth.)

    Also, this may just be yet another byproduct of my ignorance, but I don’t understand how Rabbi Adlerstein can oppose kulos in geirus because geirus affects the klal, while still accepting kulos in agunah, which have very similar implications.

  47. Ori says:

    Tal Benschar: This is the beis din set up by the State of Israel, supposedly so that its converts would be accepted by all of klal yisroel!

    Ori: Since when are religious authorities in Israel accepted by all Jews, or even all Jews living in Israel? The beit din was set up by the State of Israel because the state has to officially know who is Jewish and who isn’t to administer its laws. Not because any of the organs of the State of Israel is accepted as valid by klal yisroel.

  48. Shalem says:

    “Rav Unterman”,

    Can you please cite a source for him holding that one is a ger even when he does not intend to keep any mitzvot and we this in advance?

    ” not relying on Rav Uzziel entirely!”
    I would make an interesting point: If one looks inside the respnsa by RAv UZziel one sees that *part* of the rationale he employs for the permission for such conversions is the thought that the converts will later observe mitzvot after the conversion after we wil mekarev them etc. It would be very intereresting to know if Hhis position would change had he seen that the vast majority of the converts that are performed in conditions and situations where the outcome is known ahead of the game ended up with an unsuccessful result (contrary to his assessment), would he still continue to rule the same as he did in the past.
    yashiv.

    “Furthermore, Rav Uzziel’s is a matter of majority/minority amongst rishonim”,

    What do you mean by this? The literal reading of most rishonim seems to be like the “majroity” today!

    ” but a claim about simple pshat in the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch”.

    I fail to understand these words. “simple pshat” of Rambam and Shluchan ORuch clearly state that kabbalat hamitzvot and sicnerity to observe are of the utmost necessity in any conversion. Rambam places this in the essential meaning of gerut “sheyirtzeh lehikaness labrit, lehistofef tachas kanfey hashchinah, lekabel ohl torah”. SO states that kabbalat hamtizvot is meakev to be done in front BEis Din during the day! IT is mishpat! What else is it if not a serious court ascertaining that there was sincere acceptance to observe mitzvot?

    “There are other ways of reading the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch, e.g. the Ritva and the Beit Yitzchak, but that is a matter of interpretation”.

    What are you talking about? What are ways than the simple meaning that one has to commit to observ emitzvot!?

    ” The fact that the Beit Yitzchak’s reading was accepted by most acharonim is”
    The reading is the simple reading by sagesprior to BEys Yitzchak and unrelated to Beys YItchak and frankly i do not understand why everyone gangs on the Bays Yitchak?

    ” certainly not enough to disqualify Rav Uzziel as a daas yachid”,

    Please present a earleir sage that explains the ltieral reading of the rambam in the same manner sd he does!

    “ather the opposite: If a rabbi devoted to Torah converted those people, then your moral responsibility as a dayyan is to tell them so firmly, and to rule that they need no “reconversion.””

    How can you state that a dayan who follows majority opinion should not voice his honest opinion that the convert is not considered a convert according to the majority opinion?
    “Gerut is exactly like kashrut and eruv. If a specific community wants to act like Beit Shammai, that is their choice’.

    No, because gerut is where the beis hillel opinion (according to your perspective which I do bnot agree with) will atetmpt to marry a boy from BEyt Shamay descendants and vice versa and your position! In addition it divides not only jewish practices but JEWISHPEOPLE!!

  49. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    The Religious Zionist gedolim mentioned (especially those current like Rav SY Cohen, Rav Druckman and Rav Drori) meet the performance criteria by any definition, and are considered such by an entire world of Torah.

    This is just false. Not just “the entire world of Torah”, but by anyone.

    Take a Sefer like “Mikraei Kodesh” by R’ Moshe Harari of Mercaz Harav. You’ll find P’sakim by – R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach, R’ Chaim Kanievsky, R’ Moshe Feinstein, R’ Avigdor Neventzahl, R’ Shaul Yisraeli, R’ Ovadia Yosef, R’ Mordechai Eliyahu, maybe R’ Ben Tzion Abba Shaul. [Maybe R’ Dov Lior (?)]. Rav Elyashiv is perhaps not cited there (though maybe he is), but he is certainly of that caliber and in countless Sefarim is cited as a Bar Pelugta of RSZA or RMF in every area of Shulchan Aruch.

    There are NO Sefarim at all, even RZ, that I am aware of, that cite R’ Druckman as a Halachic authority with a particular Shita on anything at all. R’ Tzefania Drori is a capable Rav, but, again, is there ANY area of Halachah that one can say – “R’ Moshe/RSZA holds X, but R’ Tzefania holds Y”? I would be surprised if there is even one Talmid in the Kiryat Shmonah Yeshiva (!)who has ever said that in say, Hilchos Shabbos, or Niddah, or Kashrus, or Pesach, or anything at all. And the same would apply to RSY Kohen.

  50. Ben Tzion says:

    To M Halberstam -44: You make it sound as if the Mizrachi was around for years without any opposition. true they were founded before the Agudah, but they were always a minority. Also, many gedolim used extremely sharp terms when dealing with them.
    But let’s talk about “political considerations.” R. Druckman and friends are converting people FOR that very reason. They admit it. That deserves the strongest condemnation possible. (BTW, last Friday’s Yated Neman (Heb.) included scathing criticism from some 10 of the leading gedolim. They also published letters written some 20 years ago from the gedolim of that dor.)
    You speak of kavod haTorah, but it’s hard to have kavod for these geirus rabbis. #43 is correct: The Druckman Bet Din should have told everyone that many people won’t accept their geirus. The few people I know personally who converted through that bet din were sickened by what goes on. Therefore, they did another conversion that would be accepted. They know what the word sincere means.
    Someone mentioned R. S.Y. Cohen of Haifa. I heard him speak in the early ’90s on the east coast. It was sickening. He admitted to all that he has an agenda to convert all the ethiopians. This is not based on halachik considerations. I would have publically protested during his speech, but I was a guest in this shul and felt it would be counterprouctive. Remember that Rav Moshe F. paskened they were goyim and needed real, proper geirus.

  51. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >It was sickening. He admitted to all that he has an agenda to convert all the ethiopians.<

    Why is this improper??? First, according to Rav Ovadia, the ethiopians don’t even need a conversion (Yabia Omer Vol. 8, Section E”H #11)! Second, why is this an impropper consideration for a communal leader to have? I understand Rav Adlerstein’s post, he is expressing an overriding meta-halachic concern regarding there being a conversion track not acceptable to a wide segment of mainstream Jewry (and make no mistake, there are many in the RZ world who are very concerned about conversions without kabalat haMitzvot as well). What I don’t understand is why a similar meta-halachic concern such as that of Rav Sha’ar Yeshuv shlit”a is “sickening”. Let us not pretend that meta-halachic concerns are not part of halachic decision making (and also that such concerns are often the result of an hashkafic/political disposition of the posek). This is true whether one is discussing metzitzah bePeh, heter mechira, sheirut leumi or a whole bunch of other issues which are of great importance to a great many people.

    Regarding the ever unproductive discussion of “who is a REAL gadol” (which I have often been a part of), keep in mind that one can be a great halachic authority without publishing shu”t literature. Rav Sha’ar Yeshuv, Rav Dov Lior, Rav Yaakov Ariel and others in the RZ camp can go toe to toe in learning and psak with the chareidi rabbinic leadership, but they do not serve the public through publication of the types of sefarim that give gedolim credibility in the chareidi world.

  52. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the Comment by Chareidi Leumi — May 26, 2008 @ 1:48 am;

    I would have much more confidence in the psak halacha of the highly learned Mizrachi-affiliated Gedolim if they showed a willingness to publically repudiate politically motivated decisions originating from less learned Rabbonim within their own camp. However, such decisions taken at the behest of the State are seemingly shielded from their reproach. This blind spot can’t be brushed aside rhetorically.

  53. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    keep in mind that one can be a great halachic authority without publishing shu”t literature

    No, one cannot be considered a great Halachic authority without extensive shu”t or Piskei Halachah, either B’ksav or B’al Peh, which have been subject to scrutiny and review by other leading Poskim.

  54. Raymond says:

    Only because there are so many comments made above, I read only a few of them. So I will only comment on those that I read.

    As for the statement that it is historical revisionism to claim that Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s halachic rulings were ever universally accepted, I beg to differ. I am old enough to remember very clearly that even back in the day when it was actually happening, his word was considered the final ruling on the matter. There were some disagreements among some Chassidim, but not among mainstream, normative Orthodox Jews.

    As for this whole conversion controversy being some kind of grab for religious power in Israel between the ultra-Orthodox and the Modern Orthodox, my attitude is this: the ultra-Orthodox have set and must continue to set the standard for what it means to follow G-d’s Torah. Please recall that I am saying this in spite of the fact that I am not religious, and even if I were, I would be some combination of Modern Orthodox and a Religious Zionist.

    But I also believe in standards. On the increasingly rare occasions that I go to shul, I almost always go to an ultra-Orthodox one, because I know that they are carrying out the prayer services in as authentic of a way as possible. I know that Rabbi Bess will give over Torah thoughts that are the product of classic Torah scholars, rather than some New Age mumbo jumbo with a few Yiddish words thrown in to fool the audience.

    While my personal kosher habits are not always ideal, when I attend some Jewish event, I am relieved when the food being served is Glatt Kosher, rather than just regular kosher. I am a very passionate Zionist, yet I am appalled at how much its government and its courts deviate from Torah True Judaism. Again, my attitude is that while I fall far short of what G-d expects of us Jews, I want our Jewish institutions to remain as loyal to the Torah’s original teachings as possible. Modern Orthodoxy appeals to me because it fits my personality more, but that does not make it as authentic as ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

    And finally, to Joseph (comment #25), thank you for your kind words. It is gratifying to know that somebody reads my comments, and even likes them. 🙂

  55. Amram says:

    “Rav Sha’ar Yeshuv, Rav Dov Lior, Rav Yaakov Ariel and others in the RZ camp can go toe to toe in learning and psak with the chareidi rabbinic leadership, but they do not serve the public through publication of the types of sefarim that give gedolim credibility in the chareidi world.”

    Yes, that is the central problem here. They can and they do. Although the lack of recognition of their stature, I think, has less to do with the kinds of sefarim that they do or don’t publish, and much more to do with the conscious adversion mentioned by Rabbi Alderstein to recognize them as gedolim and poskim in the same breath as those who are “recognized” in the Litvishe world.

    Actually, while for the Israeli charedim it is conscious adversion, for the Americans I think it is sometimes simply a matter of ignorance. For instance, how many American talmidei chachamim have even heard of Rav Yaakov Ariel shlit”a, let alone know the high regard he is held as a posek? Yes, in the RZ Torah world he is considered far more relevant source of psak than Rav Elyashiv. (Rabbi Alderstein was shocked that I wrote that earlier, but in Israel it is common knowledge.) And Rav Ariel is fully supportive of the Conversion Courts and of Rav Druckman (see the Tzohar statement which he signed and his personal comments on it).

  56. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >I would have much more confidence in the psak halacha of the highly learned Mizrachi-affiliated Gedolim if they showed a willingness to publically repudiate politically motivated decisions originating from less learned Rabbonim within their own camp. However, such decisions taken at the behest of the State are seemingly shielded from their reproach. This blind spot can’t be brushed aside rhetorically.No, one cannot be considered a great Halachic authority without extensive shu”t or Piskei Halachah, either B’ksav or B’al Peh, which have been subject to scrutiny and review by other leading Poskim.<

    They have extensive Piskei Halacha beAl Peh and b’Ksav that are subject to scrutiny and review by other leading Poskim who are not in the chareidi camp. That being the case, I don’t really think you are right. An halachic authority gets his legitimacy from the fact that a community accepts his authority – not through being “knighted” by some undefined group of gedolim from a previous generation. In fact, this is precicly how Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l described his own status as a posek – people simply continued to ask him questions so he became an authority.

  57. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >No, one cannot be considered a great Halachic authority without extensive shu”t or Piskei Halachah, either B’ksav or B’al Peh, which have been subject to scrutiny and review by other leading Poskim.

    They have extensive Piskei Halacha beAl Peh and b’Ksav that are subject to scrutiny and review by other leading Poskim who are not in the chareidi camp. That being the case, I don’t really think you are right. An halachic authority gets his legitimacy from the fact that a community accepts his authority – not through being “knighted” by some undefined group of gedolim from a previous generation. In fact, this is precicly how Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l described his own status as a posek – people simply continued to ask him questions so he became an authority.

  58. Garnel Ironheart says:

    To Binyomin Eckstein:

    > No, one cannot be considered a great Halachic authority without extensive shu”t or Piskei Halachah, either B’ksav or B’al Peh, which have been subject to scrutiny and review by other leading Poskim.

    Really? So Rav Schach, z”l, wasn’t a great halachic authority?

  59. Ben Tzion says:

    To #54-
    Is R. Y. Ariel or his brother, (or both) the “learned posek” who permits Jews going to Har habayis? This is something that has been known for hundreds (really thousands) of years that we don’t go there. Yes I know they have their “proofs” and can tell you which areas are allowed and which are not. Do they think all the poskim of previous generations didn’t know these things? I don’t have much respect for those people (and this includes many of the other rabbis from your “RZ” camp) regarding anything they posken. I wouldn’t ask R. Druckman et al the simplest question in basar bechalav!! It hurts me to write this, but it’s true.

  60. Amram says:

    To #56: No, Rav Yaakov Ariel is not the Machon Hamikdash person; that is his brother and the two are very different. I don’t see what this has to do with anything.

    You have every right to choose who you go to for psak, and I would never dream of interfering. Just as I have every right to choose who I go to for psak.

    You posted that you “don’t have much respect for those people, and… many of the other rabbis from your “RZ” camp.” You wouldn’t even ask Rav Druckman for Basar ve-Chalav. Sad sentiments, but that is your choice and I have no quarrel with you. As for myself, I would never go to Rav Elyashiv for any psak.

    Let each Torah Jew freely choose whom he goes to for psak. That is exactly what this whole conversion war is about.

  61. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    An halachic authority gets his legitimacy from the fact that a community accepts his authority – not through being “knighted” by some undefined group of gedolim from a previous generation. In fact, this is precicly how Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l described his own status as a posek – people simply continued to ask him questions so he became an authority.

    If the community accepts the authority of an ignorant Apikores, that doesn’t make him an Halachic authority. What Rav Moshe said in an interview to the NY Times is a model of his humility. There is no question that R’ Moshe would not have been recognized as a giant in Halachah without the acclaim of the previous generation and his contemporaries as such.

    So Rav Schach, z”l, wasn’t a great halachic authority?

    No. He was a tremendous Rosh Yeshiva, perhaps the last one whose Lomdus Sefarim (Avi Ezri) can be considered as written by one of the Acharonim, and an expert on the fifth section of the Shulchan Aruch. But he was not renowned as a great Halachic authority.

    But, that said, R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach said that had Rav Schach focused his energies on Psak, he would have been the greatest Posek of the generation, and added that when Rav Schach did clarify Halachic matters, he (RSZA) considered Rav Schach the greatest of the Poskim. [This is what R’ Shlomo Lorincz says in his recently published Sefer about Harav Schach.]

  62. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >Is R. Y. Ariel or his brother, (or both) the “learned posek” who permits Jews going to Har habayis?

    R. Y. Ariel does not permit it. His brother R. Yisrael Ariel does as do many others.

    >This is something that has been known for hundreds (really thousands) of years that we don’t go there.

    Not well known at all. There is actually evidence that Jews used to go up there often. The Rambam permits it explicitly (בית הבחירה פרק ז’ הל’ טו-יח). Further, the areas where people go up are ones that are not part of the Azara according to all opinions, both textual and archeological. There are reasons to avoid going up to Har HaBayit but they are almost all related to public policy considerations. Those who go – have on whom to rely.

    >Yes I know they have their “proofs” and can tell you which areas are allowed and which are not.

    Why put proofs in quotes? If you don’t like the arguments then answer them with your own arguments – no need to mock.

    >Do they think all the poskim of previous generations didn’t know these things?

    Yes, some of these things they indeed did not know. Also some of their considerations were matters of policy whose time may or may not have run out. That is a matter for debate, not for mockery.

    >I don’t have much respect for those people (and this includes many of the other rabbis from your “RZ” camp) regarding anything they posken.

    That is too bad, especially considering that we just finished mourning the fact that the talmidim of Rabbi Akiva didn’t act honorably towards one another. I guess the lesson was not learned.

    >I wouldn’t ask R. Druckman et al the simplest question in basar bechalav!! It hurts me to write this, but it’s true.

    You don’t sound too hurt. However, it is your loss if you wish to close yourself off from talmidei chachamim with whom you do not agree.

  63. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Also, BTW, Rav Yechiel Michel Tukachinsky zt”l already called for an establishment of a shul on har haBayit in his book HaKodeh veHaMikdash over 80 years ago!

  64. Rudy Wagner says:

    55 wrote: An halachic authority gets his legitimacy from the fact that a community accepts his authority – not through being “knighted” by some undefined group of gedolim from a previous generation.

    According to your logic since conservative (and maybe even reform) clergy are accepted by entire communities and claim to apply halacha should they be legitimate halachic authorities? And if an “undefined” group of Gedoilim from the previous and current generation state that they do not make the grade, do you consider these Gedoilim as just protecting their own “dukedome”?

  65. norm says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein,

    In defense of Rav Dikofsy please see the earlier psak here: http://www.rbc.gov.il/judgements/index.asp#
    where Rav Sherman was over-ruled as the minority opinion. The case there was more complex as the giores in question was observant at the end. In any case the context of the case helps shed light on Rav Dikofsy’s position and I don’t thnk it is fair to assume that he would validate a geirus where “a convert in front of an Orthodox beis din showed no difference in behavior immediately after the tevilah.”

    It is also interesting to see how Rav Dikofsky responds to Rav Sherman’s arguments, although in that psak Rav Sheman makes no attempt to disqualify the dayanim by either of the two means employed in the current psak. His position relies solely on the absence of kabalas mitzos of that particular giores. I would also direct your attention to the last sentence in paragraph 2 on p. 7.

    BTW doesn’t RMF indicate that you cannot pasul a rav for being lenient in geirus? (see IG”M E”H vol 4, #15). I didn’t see anyone bring this up.

  66. mycroft says:

    “An halachic authority gets his legitimacy from the fact that a community accepts his authority – not through being “knighted” by some undefined group of gedolim from a previous generation. In fact, this is precicly how Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l described his own status as a posek – people simply continued to ask him questions so he became an authority”

    Generally agree-but one in fond rememberance of what we are missing 22 years already-one should probably state that RMF was universally revered and respected, he was probably the one most rabbonim in the US followed to the extent their Rebbe did not pasken differently. RMF was in general one who got along with the MO world. To compare 2 gdolims approach to different issues where they disagreed with the psak of RYBS is instructive. In the 1950s Rav A. Kotler ZT”L led a proclamation of an issur against Orthodox participation in the
    Synagogue Council of America. Concerning non theological dialogue with non Jews RMF ZT”L was very much opposed and tired to convince RYBS not to permit the dialogue. But did RMF attack publicly with issurim against those who did? No. Note the result of the difference between ksnaot and a more moderate personal approach. All are acting in their hearts “leshem shamayin” but note the difference in unity of klaal Israel in the different approaches.

  67. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >If the community accepts the authority of an ignorant Apikores, that doesn’t make him an Halachic authority. What Rav Moshe said in an interview to the NY Times is a model of his humility. There is no question that R’ Moshe would not have been recognized as a giant in Halachah without the acclaim of the previous generation and his contemporaries as such.

    AND

    >According to your logic since conservative (and maybe even reform) clergy are accepted by entire communities and claim to apply halacha should they be legitimate halachic authorities?

    my response:

    I do not define halachic authority according to how the definition can or can not be used to legitimize or delegitimize heterodox movements.

    The fact is that a rabbi who rejects the halachic system (reform) can obviously not be considered an authority on decisions within that system. Same can be said for someone who pays only lip service to the system (conservative). That whole communities may in theory accept guidance from such people has nothing to do with what we are discussing, which is after all, how one becomes an halachic authority within the observant world.

    In fact, what I describe is also the case in the chareidi world. There is no question that leaders become gedolim in the chareidi world due to various communal forces that have little to do with what a previous generation decided. When Rav Ovadia saw he wasn’t getting anywhere in the Ashkenazi world he started his own party. In the ashkenazi Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah (both of them – of course the chassidim and litvaks each need their own) there are very wide degrees of scholarship. When Rav Shach was alive, he designated R Shteineman as his successor, but there was a problem R’ Shteineman supported Nachal Hareidi, which was not acceptable to the chareidi community, so he is not of the same authority as other leaders in the chareidi camp.

    The reason that someone like RSZA zt”l was such a great posek and leader is NOT just because of his chochma and not because he was chosen as such by some undefined group of gedolim but rather because he was accepted and loved by a HUGE array of people who came to him thirsty for Torah.

    In sum, of course a halachic authority has to have compency in halacha, no one can argue with that. They must know shas and poskim. They must deal with precedents and with other halachic authorities of their generation. Of course! (one has to question whether leaders who follow an extreme form of daas Torah But this is not worth much if they are not accepted by a community of people who follow their lead. The chareidi leadership has set up barrier after barrier not allowing some 20% of the shomer shabbes community in Israel to accept their leadership. On the other hand, other rabbis, who are proficient in halacha, DO speak to this community, and therefore, they are correctly called halachic authorities.

  68. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >20% of the shomer shabbes community in Israel

    should read 20% of the Jews in Israel (who are shomer shabbes)

  69. Garnel Ironheart says:

    Unfortunately, the 64 comments posted so far could be summarized as follows:

    1. I’m right and I don’t care what you think!

    2. No, I’m right and I don’t care what YOU think!

    Repeat.

    People tend to forget that until World War 2 misnagdim and chasidim didn’t get along very well. The stories of the fights between the two groups and the nasty things they did to one another over the centuries are legion. Go back enough decades and most of the comments made by the chareidi posters on this board against the RZ ones, or vice versa, would be very similar to those made by misnagdim against chasidim and vice versa.

    In other words, intolerance and delegitimization by one group of religious Jews against and of another group of religious Jews with a different philosophy is nothing new.

    So what’s new? Well why do misnagdim and chasidim get along (well, more or less) today under the label “chareidim”? Could it be what happened to their communities during the Shoah? Could it be that, having been decimated (may Hashem avenge their blood) they realized how stupid their infighting was and abandoned it?

    Now we have the struggle between the RZ’s and the Chareidim, once again if you read the posts it all comes down to one side snickering that the other isn’t really religious and that other side pointing out all the flaws and self-righteousness of the first.

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the border are millions of Arabs waiting with guns and rocket launchers loaded waiting for the first opportunity to start firing on us. And once again, just like 60 years ago we’ll continuing infighting until they do and then scream at Heaven: God, why are You letting this happen?

    Listen, all of youse. Rav Eliashiv is a great posek, a genius, and an inspiring leader. So are Ravs Shteinman, Wosner, and all the rest. No one in the RZ or MO camps should ever question this. However, on the other side of the fence are many great authorities like Rav Ariel (both of ’em), Rav Lichtenstein, Rav Aviner and all the rest. Be honest with yourself – if any of them were to put on a black hat tomorrow and stop saying the prayer for the State of Israel you’d label them as “Godol” too.

    And should you doubt this, go look in old newspapers. The Rav was called a Godol before he jumped to YU. Rav Sliffkin was called a “future Godol” before some askanim decided to ruin his life. What, they got stupid overnight?

    If Rav Ariel (whichever one) says that you can go up onto the Har Habayis, he must have done halachic research on the matter and, using his judgement, reached that conclusion. To patronizingly dismiss that because it’s not the conclusion another sage reached, one who is coincidentally part of the same political/religious group and you are as opposed to Rav Ariel who isn’t, is not defending halachah. It’s demeaning it by saying the system is a simple bunch of “yes” and “no” answers. It’s also hatred against another Jew.

    Has everyone forgotten that the basis of psak is for the Rav to know and have some connection with the person asking the shailoh? If I have a question, why would I ask a huge authority for the answer when he has no idea who I am, what shitos I follow or what my personal hashkafah is? I would ask a rav who knows me and if he doesn’t have the answer I’d assume that he’d refer me to another rav he trusts who could. One psak does NOT fit all and it is condescending to God and halachah to think so.

    You know why we’re still in Golus? Because we were doing this 2000 years ago when God took our Temple (may it be speedily rebuilt) away. Do you think the various factions back then admitted they were spreading sinas chinam through their self-righteous attacks on others? Of course not. They were so convinced they were right that they never stopped to consider that they might not be, that there might be merit to the other’s sides thought. It was more important to be right than anything else.

    And it’s the exact same thing today. In 2000 this stiff-necked people hasn’t learned a single damned thing. And that’s why we’re still out one Temple and kingdom and why Tisha B’Av will happen right on schedule this year, like it has for millenia now.

  70. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    “In the 1950s Rav A. Kotler ZT”L led a proclamation of an issur against Orthodox participation in the Synagogue Council of America. Concerning non theological dialogue with non Jews RMF ZT”L was very much opposed and tired to convince RYBS not to permit the dialogue. But did RMF attack publicly with issurim against those who did”

    For the record, Reb Moshe signed the issur. And in 1973, he stated in writing that it was ossur to read the writings of Emanuel Rackman (while he did not mention his name, he made it clear that it was Rackman by referencing articles written by him in The Jewish Week).

  71. Mordechai Y. Scher says:

    Binyamin Eckstein, despite Rav Drori’s tremendous modesty he is the posek to whom communities throughout northern Israel rely upon to solve problems in every area of Shulhan Aruch. When Rav T.Y. Kook urged him to go there 40 years ago, Rav Kook knew exactly what faced him up there, and knew that the young Rav Drori was more than capable to deal with the challenges. Not only is he the most relied upon posek in the North, but that certainly isn’t limited to “Hilchos Shabbos, or Niddah, or Kashrus, or Pesach, or anything at all”. Rav Drori has paskened on some of the most difficult issues in agriculture, industry, and other large scale and public issues. Having the all-to-brief privilege of sitting in Rav Drori’s beit midrash, I can tell you that the talmidim and citizens in the area rely very well on his direction, and can tell you so! Have you even visited Kiryat Shemonah and it’s environs? Have you ever sat in the beit midrash or heard shiurim there? I have, and I have a very different impression than yours.

    “And the same would apply to RSY Kohen.” Yes, it does indeed. I suspect you haven’t a clue what Rav Shear Yishuv Kohen has been involved in over the years. Or maybe you think being a senior member of the Chief Rabbinate Council has been ceremonial all these decades? Maybe you think being the rav of a major port and industrial city doesn’t require large shoulders in halacha? Never mind the many rabbanim who learned in the institutions he is involved in. That includes my many haredi associates in the batei midrash at the Machon Gevoha in Bayit V’gan 20+ years ago. Have you ever learned anything penned by Rav Shear Yashuv, or heard shiurim from him. I have, and again I have an entirely different impression from you.

    I suspect you are personally ingorant of these people’s accomplishments and responsibilities. I have no problem with disagreement; I have much trouble accepting your uninformed disrespect and disdain for talmidei hachamim.

    I have said many times over the years, as a yeshiva student I NEVER heard a word of disrespect for talmidei hachamim with whom my teachers had obvious and severe disagreement. In haredi circles, however, I am of the impression that such disrespect is rampant. You are showing us that example. To my mind, that is as great a failure of Torah as any imaginable.

  72. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Mordechai Scher,

    Apparently, you did not read my comment carefully, and you’re attacking a straw man, while being unable to resist the broadside attack on Charedim in general and tacking on impressions of what goes on by the Charedim. Please tell me something about which one can say “Rav Moshe/Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach hold X, but Rav Tzefania holds Y”, (which is what I actually wrote) and where I can find such references.

    I said he (and RSY) are capable Rabbanim – which you described very nicely and articulately. Thank you very much.

  73. mycroft says:

    “In the 1950s Rav A. Kotler ZT”L led a proclamation of an issur against Orthodox participation in the Synagogue Council of America. Concerning non theological dialogue with non Jews RMF ZT”L was very much opposed and tired to convince RYBS not to permit the dialogue. But did RMF attack publicly with issurim against those who did”

    For the record, Reb Moshe signed the issur.”

    My point was of issues that the parties initiated-once Rav Kotler initiated the “issur” against participation in the SCA-not signing it required standing up to and disagreeing publicly with Rav Kotler. I am referring to an issue which at least on the surface is a much more aggressive position of RYBS-support for non theological dialogue with non Jews in which RMF disagreed but did not initiate public issurim against versus his suppoprt of the SCA which was a mixed lay rabbinic group which NEVER dealt with theological issues.
    Of course, R. E. Silver is an examples of those who did not sign the issur against the SCA-despite his personal opposition to the SCA-because of Rav Silver not wanting to engage in public attacks against another gadol.
    I believe my statement “Note the result of the difference between ksnaot and a more moderate personal approach. All are acting in their hearts “leshem shamayin” but note the difference in unity of klaal Israel in the different approaches” is accurate despite Lawrence Resimans correct observation about Rav Moshe.

  74. Ori says:

    Garnel Ironheart: And it’s the exact same thing today. In 2000 this stiff-necked people hasn’t learned a single damned thing. And that’s why we’re still out one Temple and kingdom and why Tisha B’Av will happen right on schedule this year, like it has for millenia now.

    Ori: Well said. However, it seems that the system is biased towards that.

    1. There are laws that everybody needs to obey. Those laws are complex enough that there are bound to be disagreements about them.

    2. “Kol Israel Arevim ze Laze”, meaning you can suffer because somebody else is misinterpreting the law. This makes it imperative to get other people to follow the laws. Not their wrong interpretation of them, but your own which you believe is correct.

  75. Shalem says:

    “BTW doesn’t RMF indicate that you cannot pasul a rav for being lenient in geirus? (see IG”M E”H vol 4, #15). I didn’t see anyone bring this up”.

    He does not indicate in that teshuva that you cannot passul his gerus if the geruss was done carelessness; he rules that the lack of care in this area does not mean that he is not “choshud” about eyshes ish. He also states another reason: that lack of “diyuk gadol” in gerus area is also found in many rabbonim yireh Hashem as it is not clear in posskim.

    What he does not say or speak in trhis teshuva is: that he does not kasher the gerus done without kabbalat hamitzvot! He talks about them not being done “sheloy bediyuk” and does not kasher rabbis who do gerut without kabbalat hamitzvot at the outset or knowing from the outset that the person is completely insincere. He talks only about their reliability in other areas although the y lack “diyuk” in gerut.

    In fact in YOreh Deah 160 he questions and struggles with the kashrut of the gerut which was lacking sincerity at the outset where it was obvious from the beggining that the fellow was not interested AND he questions the validity of rabbis who perform those gerussim and struggles to find some reason that they are not deemed less than “hedyotoss”.
    Comment

  76. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding “Comment by Garnel Ironheart — May 28, 2008 @ 8:09 am”

    You’re doing the antagonists one better; you’re giving them all a blanket condemnation, not conceding that some may be right for the right reasons and in the right way. Your comment may not fall under sinas chinam, but it’s more a part of the the problem than a part of the solution.

  77. Edmond says:

    Kavod HaRava Adlerstein,

    you wrote “A Ram in Skokie pointed out to me the irony of those lambasting R Attiyah by arguing that a gerus once performed can never be questioned ( R Shirman’s psak attributes this position to his predecessor, R Daikovski.) In effect, they are reopening the wounds of the Langer case, and calling for invalidating Rav Goren’s zt”l psak that the first marriage was of no effect because his gerus was invalidated retroactively for lack of kabbolas mitzvos!”

    It is interesting that you make this point, since it works both ways. Rav Goren’s psak was very similar to that ot Rav Attia and Rav Shirman. However, the reaction by the Haredi world was the exact opposite. In one case, they caused a war, caleld on eof the greatest Gedolei haDor a heretic and disenfrachsied him, denying any halachic legitimacy, not only to the psak, but to all his other piskei Halacha. In the other case, the Haredi world support the psak (of course becasue it is made by their own people), and are now applying it widely. So , 35 years ago there was a psak whcih was “unprecedented and frauduletn”. Today, the same methodology has been utilised by its detractos as standar practice. We are grateful to the RAM who pointed out this contradiction. I never went along with the condemnation of Rav Goren – and these vents prove he was inocent of all accusations against him!

  78. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Edmond –

    I would be most happy to accept (undeserved) credit for helping repair some of the damage to Rav Goren’s zt”l reputation.

    While it has been many years since I looked at that psak, I seem to recall that the issue was not the invalidation of the gerus, but the strength of the evidence that the first husband was completely non-observent (and a church-goer), including the fact that there was no testimony in his presence.

    My point remains the same. The chief opposing voice to R. Sherman is R. Shlomo Daichovski, and he writes that it is impossible to ever invalidate a gerus for lack of kabolas ole, since it is impossible for a beis din to determine that he/she did not have full intent for a split second at the time of the immersion. Such a position would indeed run counter to the psak of Rav Goren. More accurately, we can add Rav Goren to the list of talmidei chachamim on all parts of the Torah spectrum who affirm that a gerus that took place without kabolas mitzvos is null and void ab initio.

    Most perplexing to me (I really don’t care who “wins” the turf battle; my concerns are halachic principle itself, and the well-being of gerim past and future who have to function in a society in which whoever “wins” cannot really rule the street by fiat) is the difference between the controversy back then and today. Rav Goren wrote a psak that displayed his virtuosity in Shas and poskim. Many disagreed – vehemently – with many of his points. Other major league talmidei chachamim agreed! In the present case, we’re hearing a lot about political maneuvering, insensitivity to gerim, lack of societal vision, etc. What we are not hearing is a serious response to the substantive halachic issues raised by Rabbi Sherman – at least not from ba’alei halacha who can speak intelligently to the sources.

  79. Lawrence M. Reisman says:

    Mycroft:

    You write that “Rav Kotler initiated the “issur” against participation in the SCA.” Please bear in mind that Rav Kotler did not “initiate” the “issur.” It started with a shayloh from members of the Rabbinical Alliance (which was basically a Torah VoDaath alumni association at the time) to Rav Kaminetzky and Rav Schorr about joining in activites with the RCA (basically a YU alumni assocation at the time)in view of the RCA’s participation in the SCA and the NY Board of Rabbis. In view of the gravity of the issue, Rav Kaminetsky and Rav Schorr asked the other nine roshei yeshiva (which included two from YU: Rav David Lipchutz and Rav Menachem Zachs)to join them in issuing a psak.

    The “issur,” as you refer to it, was an psak in answer to a specific question. It was not issued in a vacuum.

  80. norm says:

    Shalem,
    You missed my point. The question (and I think the big chidush in Rav Sherman’s psak) is not only invalidating the geirus but the dayanim as well (m’din rasha)therby invalidating any geirus even those where full kabalos mitzvos was clear. Rav Sherman bases himself on Teshuvs V’Hanhagos. I think this point is contradicted by the teshuva I cited. Rav Moshe ZT”L was asked about the validity of a get. I think it would follow from Rav Sherman’s psak that a get signed by and delivered in front of Rav Druckman as a witness would be posul.
    As for your distinction between complete insincerity and “shelo bedikduk”, from reading the psak it sounds to me like, at least this specific case, was a question of “shelo bedikduk”. Regardless, Rav Moshe ZT”L is talking about the validity of the geirus not the dayan. In halacha less than hedyotos is not the same as pasul or rasha. The former being a classification specific to geirus while the latter having far reaching implications in other areas of halcha.

  81. Edmond says:

    Shalom Rav Adlerstein,
    There were a number of points on which Rav Goren was attacked for his psak. Since I have only heard and read about them in retrospect, at the time I was a young child, there are only the few articles on the matter that one can read. Nevertheless, one of the accusations against him was that he allowed “mamzerim” into the Kehilla of Israel. This was one single case of a Ger who he invalidated, and the offspring of his ex-wife. Yet, the Dayanim in today’s case have invalidated Rav Druckman (no coincidence, a Talmid of Rav Goren) as a Kosher Dayan, and pay no attention to 15,000 Geirim, many of whom may be shomer mitzvot, and if they remarry without need for gittin, could well be producing illegitimate offspring, if they are still halachically Jewish.
    Rav Attias said openly to the lady in Ashdod, that she did not need a Get. That is Precisely what Rav Goren said to Mrs Langer, and the acusations piled upon him. You correctly mention this is not the forum to discuss who is Major League Gadol, and I am not qualified to make such statements. However, some “minor league” writers claimed that Borokovsky (the Ger in the Langer case) was a Ger Tzedek, even though the evidence for his conversion was virtually non existent. IN the 15 years which have passed, thousands have taken courses, studied Torah, had documented immersions with dayanim instructing them. Yet they have all been dismissed, without lookign at their own evidence of conversion or intent, based only on the ideological differences with Rav Druckman.
    I agree there should be a halachic response from the Druckman side. my main purpose was to point out that the very same people who even today do not recognize rav Goren’s Halacha, are using the exact methodology that they themselves so viciously attacked Goren for! It is like saying that anyone who consumes Cholov Akum is a goy, and then officially giving a Badatz hechser to the same Cholov Akum.

  82. mycroft says:

    Mycroft:

    “You write that “Rav Kotler initiated the “issur” against participation in the SCA.” Please bear in mind that Rav Kotler did not “initiate” the “issur.” It started with a shayloh from members of the Rabbinical Alliance (which was basically a Torah VoDaath alumni association at the time) to Rav Kaminetzky and Rav Schorr about joining in activites with the RCA (basically a YU alumni assocation at the time)in view of the RCA’s participation in the SCA and the NY Board of Rabbis. In view of the gravity of the issue, Rav Kaminetsky and Rav Schorr asked the other nine roshei yeshiva (which included two from YU: Rav David Lipchutz and Rav Menachem Zachs)to join them in issuing a psak.

    The “issur,” as you refer to it, was an psak in answer to a specific question. It was not issued in a vacuum.

    Comment by Lawrence M. Reisman — May 30, 2008 ”

    Of historical interest is that :”Some of these refugees reached the United States in 1941, including six famous rabbis: Aaron Kotler and Reuven Grazowsky (Kamenetz yeshivah); Mendel Zacks (Radin yeshivah); Abraham Yaphin (Belt Yoseph yeshivah of Bialystok); David Lifschutz (head of the Suwalki rabbinical court); and Moses Schatzkes (head of the Lomza rabbinical court”
    Thus Rav Kotler and the 2 names you mentioned from YU came to the US the same time period. BTW Rav Mendel Zacks was a bochen of mine at one time and Rav Lifshutz was a mecgutan to Rav Yakov-Rav Nason Kamenetsky was and is married to the daughter of R. D. Lifshitz=one can see a picture of RYBS and his brother for the Sheva vrachas they attended for Rav Noson in R. Rakefets book on RYBS.
    The issurs fame was because of Rav Kotler-note the vamous retort to Rav Kotler by Rav Eleiezer Silver who refuised to sign the issur despite his Rav Silvers opposition to the SCA-he told Rav Kotler your students do not belong to the SCA-they are relying on their Rebbe and thus the issur is not one intended for Rav Kotlers students but those of RYBS.BTW that statement would be true for the both the students of the Ohr Gedalayahu and Emes leYaakov=they also were not belonging to the SCA/
    A posak that is truly attended as a psak gets answered to those who ask the psak not used as issurim. If for a talmid of RGS or RYK they could answer their talmidim after consulting with whom they wanted to. Why ask RY of RIETS/YU if thats their intention.

    “in view of the RCA’s participation in the SCA and the NY Board of Rabbis”
    I note that the RCA did not participate in the NY Board of Rabbis-no Rabbinical group did. RYBS was in favor of belonging to the SCA but NOT the NY Board of Rabbis. Thus, there were close talmidim of RYBS who belonged to and were active and leadership roles in the SCA-I am not aware of close talmid of RYBS belonging to the NY Board of Rabbis.

  83. MYCROFT says:

    Lawrence Reisman re your 80 comment-I attempted to respond to your comment 80 with much detail-which really is not germane to the basic topic of the Conversion topic. Apparently, the moderators of this blog for frankly understandable reasons may not wish the topic that you and I are discussing to be the center of this blog. Suffice it to put for the record my apparent silence is not shtika kehodaa

  84. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    I agree there should be a halachic response from the Druckman side. my main purpose was to point out that the very same people who even today do not recognize rav Goren’s Halacha, are using the exact methodology that they themselves so viciously attacked Goren for! It is like saying that anyone who consumes Cholov Akum is a goy, and then officially giving a Badatz hechser to the same Cholov Akum.

    I see your point, but believe that the problem weighs far more heavily upon the other camp. In the Langer affair, those who took sharp issue with R. Goren did NOT question the notion of retroactive undoing of a gerus. They challenged R. Goren’s evidence that Berokovsky had never accepted mitzvos in the first place. Berokovsky had converted under unknown circumstances in Poland. His ex-wife maintained that he had never accepted mitzvos; he disputed this. (At one point, he tearfully appeared before a rally in Bnei Brak and proclaimed that he lived as a Jew, and would die like one.) Claims in both directions suffered from lack of halachic credibility, but he had a chazakah of being Jewish, having been assumed as such for many years by neighbors. Contradictory claims would have to be seen in the context of such a chazakah.

    In the Ashdod case, R Attiyah claimed that the evidence all pointed in a single direction, and that it upheld the previous chazakah of the woman prior to her conversion, which was non-Jewish. Those attacking R Attiyah and R Sherman are arguing that gerus can NEVER be invalidated, because we can never be sure that the candidate was insincere for the single moment it takes to submit to the immersion in a mikvah. This position (as articulated by R Daikovski) would make Berokovski Jewish regardless of which evidence was accepted, and leave the Langer twins mamzerim. There, to me, lies the real contradiction.

  85. Edmond says:

    Of course both sides face the same contradiction – if those who are in the Druckman camp are claiming solely that no conversion can be annulled, then they cannot really defend Rav Goren’s psak. However, Goren was arguing that Borokovsky was never observant, and there was evidence that he ate treif etc, even at the time of his alleged conversion. If “appearing at a rally in Bnei Brak and proclaiming one’s Jewishness” is a proof, then many people would be Jewish, even those who didn’t go through a conversion. All of the Druckman converts claim they are Jewish. Is there a source that by attending a political rally , one is confirmed of his Jewishness? Ironically, this kind of argument is also used by the Zionist camp, eg that these people serve in the IDF, yet this is mocked by the Charedi world as being irrelevant or even a disqualifier!
    But, there are a string of contradictions faced by the Haredim in the current controversy.
    HaRAv Zolti ztl, who was a sharp critic of HaRav Goren Ztl in the Langer case, brings the Zofnat Paneach on the Rambam Issurei Biah 13:17, that a convert who conducts himself even briefly as a Jew, and then reverts to his old ways, the conversion is valid.

    Remember, this was Rav Zolti’s argument against Rav Goren. Today, Rav Eliashiv’s followers are using Rav Goren’s argumentation against Rav Druckman, and Rav Druckman’s camp are or at least should be using Rav Zolti’s argumentation against Dayans Sherman and Attias!

    So there is a complete role reversal and contradiction on both sides!

    One last point: It is clear that both sides have an agenda. Rav Goren had an agenda to clean the Langers of mamzerut (this may be a noble and halachic agenda, I do not judge). The Hareid side had and have the same agenda – to discredit Rav Goren, and today to deligitimise Rav Druckman, as is painfully clear from the language used.

  86. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Edmond –

    You are merging the issue of an insincere conversion from the start, and the issue of a Ger Shechazar L’Suro retroactively annuling the Gerus – which RSG was willing to rely on in his Heter. It is the second point that RBZ was disputing.

  87. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “Rav Goren had an agenda to clean the Langers of mamzerut (this may be a noble and halachic agenda, I do not judge). The Hareid side had and have the same agenda – to discredit Rav Goren”

    Why do you ascribe the most noble agenda to RSG and the more pernicious to all the Gedolei Hador (including Rav Shaul Yisraeli). Perhaps RSG had an agenda of becoming the Chief Rabbi?

  88. norm says:

    In the Langer case Rav Eliashiv himself contends that even if in the past someone who was otherwise fully observant wolud weaken his chazoka of being a ger by violating a Rabbinic transgression, today he would not if he was living among others who were also not careful. The question is how far can you extend this argumanet.

  89. Edmond says:

    Binyomin, thank you for your comments:

    #87 – According to the essay by R JD Bleich shlita, in his CHP, RSG made several arguments together, ie if there ever was a conversion, it was not with proper intention; they married in a church, no record they remarried in a Kosher place; and he never adhered to Torah , he lived upstairs with his inlaws, but cooked chazir in the bathroom etc.
    Rav Zolti ztl’s argument is poignant today, because it can be applied to perhasp the vast majority of the converts of the special court of Rav Druckman. If 15 years on, Rabbis Attias and Sherman see people who are no longer Torah observant, that is no proof that they were never observant. The emphasis in the Langer case was to prove that Borokovsky was always a frum Yid, whereas today the same detractors are trying to claim that all 15,000 were all insincere and never observed anything. I am sure that the overall standard kept by the 15,000 I far higher than B – who could not even complete the first line of Shema Yisrael!

    #88 a) You presume that removing the stain of mamzerut is noble, whereas his detractors claims that RSG was increasing mamzerut eetc.
    b) In order to “sell” the propaganda against RSG to the masses, they had to make claims that it was a bribe, ie the job of being Chief Rabbi. He actually stood against Rav Unterman in around 1964, and lost only by a few votes. After the 6 day war, having been Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, and rav Unterman’s old age, Rav Goren was the most likely candidate for this job, regardless of the heter.
    c) My skeptical view of the attacks on Rav Goren looks at the major points where he was attacked, and how history has proven him correct. i) The Dakar submarine – he was attacked because he paskened that the submarine sank, and the sailors had no chance of survival. This was a Torah Giant and military giant – a position that no other Torah gedolim could fill. History proved RSG correct, since the remains of the ship were found at the bottom of the meditaerranean. It wasn’t swallowed up by some Russian spaceship, which some rabbis claimed.
    ii) Land for peace: The Haredi leadership made a campaign soon after the 6 day war against keeping the liberated lands of Yehuda and Shomron. The dati-leumi camp were mocked, called warmongers, and the quasi-halchic notion of land for peace was used against rav Goren’s issur to give land back to the arabs. I don’t need to cite what has happened since Oslo, but I can say that history has proven the Haredim wrong and RSG right.
    I had been waiting some time for the final piece of evidence , ie a vindication of RSG in the Langer case. Ironically, the same Haredi leadership which attacked him for his actions are now using his very methods , 15,000 fold, in a wholesale manner, with untold consequences.

    d) As far as I know, Rav Yisraeli and Rav Ovadia, whilst opposed on Halachic grounds to RSG , did not call him Mr Goren, and did not use vile terms and make all his Halacha void. Rav Ovadia Yosef still attends RSG’s azkara, and is on good terms with the Goren family. One simply has to look at the terminology used against R Druckman to see that the intentions are not noble, and that the argumentation is circular. R Druckman is a heretic, hence none of his conversions are valid. Why is he a heretic? He follows a minority opinion. If so, then even if all his converts are frum, their conversions would still not be valid? And what if he were a great tzadik, but some of his converts lapsed?
    The greatest support for R Druckman is the opposition to Rav Goren!

  90. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “The emphasis in the Langer case was to prove that Borokovsky was always a frum Yid”

    That is not the case. There was no question that he was not ‘always’ frum. It was that he had spent time living as what might be termed a religious lifestyle by the standards around him.

    “whereas today the same detractors are trying to claim that all 15,000 were all insincere and never observed anything.”

    They certainly don’t know that and can’t claim to. But due to the great number of people who we know for sure acted in the exact same way both immediately before and immediately after they ‘accepted Mitzvos’ all of them are called into question

    #88 a) “You presume that removing the stain of mamzerut is noble, whereas his detractors claims that RSG was increasing mamzerut eetc.”

    You raised the possibilty, not me.
    “In order to “sell” the propaganda against RSG to the masses, they had to make claims that it was a bribe, ie the job of being Chief Rabbi. He actually stood against Rav Unterman in around 1964, and lost only by a few votes. After the 6 day war, having been Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, and rav Unterman’s old age, Rav Goren was the most likely candidate for this job, regardless of the heter.”

    This is total revisionism. RSG said openly before his appointment that he would find a Heter, and received the support of Meir and Dayan on those grounds.Read the newspapers put out during the period. I also wonder why you think Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Moshe Feinstein didn’t do the same to Rabbis Herzog and Unterman if they had such lust for Chief Rabbinate blood.

    I also would call your attention to the public campaign of Rabbi Goren to have Rabbi Zolty removed from the Jerusalem Rabbinate for the sin of opposing RSG’s Psak.

    No Gadol Horaah, not one, publicly supported his Psak. This is virtually unprecedented.

    “History proved RSG correct, since the remains of the ship were found at the bottom of the meditaerranean. It wasn’t swallowed up by some Russian spaceship, which some rabbis claimed.”

    Who exactly claimed this – and since when do we say that someone who is Mattir a woman on insufficient grounds (I’m not saying that it was the case here necessarily) becomes vindicated when the husband is found dead?

    “Land for peace:… I don’t need to cite what has happened since Oslo, but I can say that history has proven the Haredim wrong and RSG right.”

    I am sure you realize how subjective your judgement on this is. There have been numerous governments who have been willing to give it all away negotiating out of a position of weakness after a loss of thousands of lives, not to mention the present actual destruction of the entire Gaza Strip enterprise, which could have been avoided had the Haredim been listened to then. But that discussion is well off topic.

    “As far as I know, Rav Yisraeli and Rav Ovadia, whilst opposed on Halachic grounds to RSG , did not call him Mr Goren, and did not use vile terms and make all his Halacha void.”

    That would have been politically very unwise due to their Rabbinate positions at the time. RSG might have worked to have them fired too.

  91. Edmond says:

    This is a particularly funny and sad quote from the ShmaYisrael site:

    “First and foremost the petition was intended to obtain all of the documents and Goren’s psak, a task initiated by gedolei Yisroel. There was also another necessity: to malign the psak, which was entirely based on [the claim] that Burkovsky was not Jewish, contending he was a ger who had returned to his former ways, and therefore his entire marriage with Langer was annulled. And since it was decisively clear that Burkovsky was a Jew in every respect, it was also important to help this ger tzedek in his fight.”

    So, eating Pork , according to the world of Yated, is being a Jew in every respect?

    Reading this article, one is astonished why there is silence regarding the “psak” of Attias and Sherman, since they are doing exactly what Gedolei Torah accused Rav Goren of doing!

  92. Raymond says:

    How about if we temper this long argument with some related humor?

    Shimon makes a comment, to which Reuven says, “Shimon, you are right.” Then Levi makes a comment that completely contradicts what Shimon said, to which Reuven says, “Levi, you are right, too.” To which Yehuda says, “But Reuven, Shimon and Levi can’t both be right.” To which Reuven says, “Yehuda, you are right, too.”

  93. nachum klafter, md says:

    Rabbi Adlerstein writes: “What we are not hearing is a serious response to the substantive halachic issues raised by Rabbi Sherman…”

    There are two main halakhic issues raised by Rav Sherman as I understand his arguments:

    1) A conversion process which relies on the ruling of Rav Uziel and fails to carefully scrutinizing potential converts for their kabbalat ol mitzvot

    AND

    2) Dayanim who preside over converesions and sign a certificate along with Rav Druckman which makes it appear as if he were present.

    As far responses to Issue #1, they are following the pesak of Rav Uziel. Relying on a da’at yachid of the stature of Rav Uziel should not undo a dayan’s or a beit din’s chezkat kashrut. Even those authorities such as Rav Sherman who vigorously reject the ruling of Rav Uziel (though why he does not mention it is clear) have no basis to invalidate the status of courts or judges who accept this ruling. Therefore, regarding converts from the special beit din, those converts who are observant should retain the chezkat kashrut of their ger tzedek status. (It seems unavoidable to me that converts who are not observant cannot be presumed to have originally made a kabalt ol mitzvot because this court did not require one.) So, it seems to me that the observant coverts should be acceptable, and the unobservant should not. I see no reason that issue #1 would invalidate the conversions of those conversts who have been observant since the time of their conversion.

    Issue 2: First of all, let me clarify that it seems to me that the fact Rav Druckman signed documents when in fact he was not present should in itself be irrelevant to the actual conversion. According to Rav Sheerman’s argument, what IS problematic is that the dayanim who were in fact present colluded with Rav Druckman by allowing him to sign this document along with them. In other words, whether Rav Druckman can be fairly designated as a transgressor based on this behavior is irrelevant to these cases. What IS relevant is whether the dayanim who WERE present can be designated as transgressors and whether they should therefore be invalidated as proper judges. It would seem to me that their intent needs to be considered. I wonder if the following scenario should be mitigating: If the judges believed (even erroneously) that Rav Druckman as the administrative head of this special court would be entitled to sign on the basis of his knowledge of the judges who did preside, then they did not knowingly transgress any laws and therefore are not deliberate transgressors. If these dayanim would learn that allowing Rav Druckman is unacceptable, and they now refrain from allowing Rav Druckman or any other dayan who was not present to sign the certiricate, wouldn’t that be a clear demonstration that this was an inadvertant error? If so, each conversion would still have been presided over by 3 legitimate dayanim, and their mistake in allowing Rav Druckman to sign would not render them rashayim or invalid judges.

    I believe that these are reasoned, non-political, legal responses to Rav Sherman’s objections as I understand them.

  94. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >This is total revisionism. RSG said openly before his appointment that he would find a Heter, and received the support of Meir and Dayan on those grounds

    There is revisionism here, but it is not from Edmond. Rav Goren became involved in the psak WELL before there was any talk of the chief rabbinate position opening up. He was an advocate of finding a solution for the Langers for a long time. Meir and Dayan would have supported anyone who took the position Rav Goren did, this does not mean that their support caused Rav Goren’s position c”V!

    >I also would call your attention to the public campaign of Rabbi Goren to have Rabbi Zolty removed from the Jerusalem Rabbinate for the sin of opposing RSG’s Psak.

    I am sorry but with all due respect, the “feud” between Rav Zolty and Rav Goren goes all the way back to their days at Hevron. Further, Rav Zolty did not just appose the psak, he led what can only be described as a smear campaign against the very persona of Rav Goren. I don’t see, however, how bringing up rabbinic fueds brings any kavod to the Torah. I can also start listing inner-chareidi fueds which often turn very ugly (in both the chassidic and litvish worlds).

    >No Gadol Horaah, not one, publicly supported his Psak. This is virtually unprecedented.

    Maybe according to you, but I do consider Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook and Rav Avraham Shapiro gedolim of the highest order, and they both supported the psak. Further, there were other gedolim who did not support the psak but were against the smear campaign against Rav Goren. Rav Henkin said explicitly that no one has the right to question Rav Goren’s competance as a posek (while still not supporting the psak).

  95. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >That would have been politically very unwise due to their Rabbinate positions at the time. RSG might have worked to have them fired too.

    LOL. This is rich! what a conspiracy theory! Rav Goren must have been an all powerful rabbinic autocrat who had all the rabbanut rabbis living in fear! And while we can not possibly accuse the chareidi side of the conflict with having less than noble motivations in smearing a gadol baTorah, we can of course accuse Rav Ovadia and Rav Yisraeli of being driven by fear of the all powerful Rav Goren!

    (Next you will reveal to me that the Pnei Yehoshua supported Rav Emden because he was afraid of being labeled a Sabbatean by him. Actually, that must also be the reason the Gra opposed the chassidim, he was also afraid of Rav Emden.)

  96. M. Gardner says:

    No one seems to be touching on the root of the problem concerning the “major league” status of the religious Zionist rabbis and why they are rejected by the chareidim rabbonim and even chareidi rank and file.
    Look at the huge difference between how the chareidim produce their major league rabbonim, and how the religious Zionists do.
    For the chareidim, there is an exhausting, lengthy process involved, requiring the chareidim rabbonim to be involved in a dedicated learning environment for a minimum of 30-40 years. As soon as they finish high school (and in Israel, after 8th grade), they are involved in a learning program that goes on from early morning until late at night and often includes Shabbosim. They study in yeshivos and kolels where they are taught and do shimush by rabbeim who are acknowledged leaders in the previous generation and who are passing on the mesores that they themselves learned from their teachers. They begin as junior poskim or roshei yeshivos, and with the years, having proven their prowess, and having received the approval of their previous generation’s poskim and their colleagues, they eventually move up into major league, usually around the age of 50 or 60.
    Of premier importance are two main issues: the fact that the chareidi community sees its ultimate hero in the premier Torah scholar, and their belief in emunas chachamim. This creates a powerful milchama shel Torah that spurs scholars to achieve excellence.
    They fulfill the dictum of the Talmud that a thousand enter chumash, and less go into mishna and even less to Talmud, until finally the best reaches the top. In their community, tens of thousands are studying in chedorim and yeshivos, and only the very best will make it through the system to reach the top. While only a few make it to the top, there are hundreds who are respected poskim and rabbonim and thousands who are proficient scholars who can write chiddushim and meforshim.
    Moreover, there is tremendous motivation to maintain standards and resist pressures for leniencies or sell-outs because of the thousands of first-tier and second-tier Torah scholars who fill kolels and batei midrash and will call foul.
    The fact that halachic scandals periodically roil the community is due to the fact that the chareidim care about a psak emes. Fidelity to Torah is sacrosanct in their eyes and anyone who is seen as deviating is tarred and feathered.
    Finally, the chareidim have no political agenda other than maintaining the community’s Torah lifestyle as it was handed down throughout all the generations. Because of this they are largely impervious to the political pressures of the kind that causes the RZ rabbis to buckle.
    Compare this to the religious Zionist community: They don’t even believe in emunas chachamim. Rabbanim are not viewed as the ultimate hero in their community; those who fight politically for settling the land are. Moreover, they have heroes of all kinds — Herzl, Etzelniks, Sharon (until the Disengagement), etc. received equal rating among the RZs.
    RZ Kids typically finish yeshiva high school and then at best spend a year in beis midrash; most go to Hesder or military prep schools, followed by university. The amount who sit in full-time Torah learning for 10 years are not more than several dozen, if even that. When rabbis are not looked up to as the community’s most important resource, the community’s best talents will not be directed to the rabbinate.
    Another point: The total dedication to Torah studies that is found throughout the chareidi community is non-existent in the RZ community. The majority of the RZ rabbis also attend university and get decrees.
    The few times where the RZ rabbis tried to take a Torah position against the State (such as Rav Shapira’s stance against the Disengagement) they were basically ignored by their own community.
    Consider this point: The chareidim have 25,000 youths studying in yeshiva gedolos and another 20,000 in kolels. Their leading yeshivos like Ponevezh, Chevron, Orchos Hatorah, Tifrach, Ohr Yisroel, etc. have thousands learning there. What do the religious Zionists have in comparison? Even making the generous assumption that all the RZ yeshivos have attained a level of serious scholarship, how many students are studying in them?
    The chareidim are mistrustful of the RZ rabbis not because of political brinkmanship but because of their mediocrity, emphasis on secular education and political agenda. That is why the chareidim simply do not trust these rabbis or their psakim.

  97. Edmond says:

    #91

    “That is not the case. There was no question that he was not ‘always’ frum. It was that he had spent time living as what might be termed a religious lifestyle by the standards around him.”
    What kind of fudgy statement is “he had spent time living as what might be termed a religious lifestyle by the standards around him”? If I asked you for a measure of matzo to fulfill a mitzvo, you would have an ultra halachic measure down to the last mm. Yet, in this case (and that only applies to Borokovsky) you come up with a wishy-washy statement that is meaningless! And what exactly was “a religious lifestyle by the standards around him”? The standards in Bnei Brak where he joined a rally and claimed to be a Jew? Or secular tel aviv, where eating sufganiot on Hanuka is considered traditional? And is it ok to eat pork, if the people around u also do? And why cant R. Druckman’s people use your same elastic measures?

    “They certainly don’t know that and can’t claim to. But due to the great number of people who we know for sure acted in the exact same way both immediately before and immediately after they ‘accepted Mitzvos’ all of them are called into question”
    Oh, but didn’t they live a religious lifestyle by the standards around them? I would be the first to agree that any “convert” who eats pork on the way home from the mikve is a fraud, and should have his conversion annulled. The error you are making is that many of the converts are frum, shomer mitzvoth, and I am personally acquainted with some of them. Others are what would be classed as traditional, eg keeping kashrut and holidays , while not yet strictly observant of certain other mitzvoth.

    “This is total revisionism. RSG said openly before his appointment that he would find a Heter, and received the support of Meir and Dayan on those grounds.Read the newspapers put out during the period. I also wonder why you think Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and Rav Moshe Feinstein didn’t do the same to Rabbis Herzog and Unterman if they had such lust for Chief Rabbinate blood.”
    Having a manifesto for an election, is not the same as a bribe. He said it is possible to implement a heter which he believed was within the realms of halacha. The bulk of the argumentation was that no such heter existed, but today it is being applied wholesale. Far be it for be to say anything about Gedolim mentioned. I do know that Rav Eliyashiv was a talmid of Rav Herzog in his Zionist days. And recently , a “chief rabbi” was elected , who has a string of allegations of various sins against him, and is not even a noted Talmid hacham, whereas the power that be opposed the election of a pure and righteous Rav, who is one of the greatest Torah scholars in Israel. Now, the great irony in what you are saying, is that the 2 cases are pretty much identical, RSG and R Attias/Sherman. The difference is their political siding. I am not convinced by any of the arguments on the subject, that there is any halachic substance to the dispute. If there was, then the Haredi world would have bashed Sherman et al, in the same way they did Goren. The reason they didn’t is that it is politico-ideological. One definition of Hypocrisy I read is the refusal to“..apply to ourselves the same standards we apply to others”. There may be other reasons for the timing of these decisions. The haredi world is in deep trouble, since many of its great institutions now face civil war. This is not only in Satmar and Lubavitch, but also Ponovetch. The violence taking place in these arenas, eg the placing of a bomb on the doorstep of one of the nominee Ponovetcher Roshei Yeshivot, is unheard of since the battle between Beit Shammai and Beit Hilel. Sometimes a civil war can be forgotten if you start a war with a convenient enemy, and religious Zionism always is the convenient enemy of the Haredi world. The campaign against Slifkin only backfired, so attacking Druckman is a more viable strategy.

    “I also would call your attention to the public campaign of Rabbi Goren to have Rabbi Zolty removed from the Jerusalem Rabbinate for the sin of opposing RSG’s Psak.”
    Noone is denying that Rav Goren ruled with an iron fist. I mentioned Rav Zolty for reasons which seem to elude you. If , as you imply, Rav Zolty’s position was correct, then it is equally correct today, ie in favour of Rav Druckman, and in opposition to dayanim Attias and Sherman. It is a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it, and not say Mezonos.
    “No Gadol Horaah, not one, publicly supported his Psak. This is virtually unprecedented.”
    Well, have you heard of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy? Yours is simply a variation of this. There is another version touting around, where the Haredim say there are no Gedolim in the Zionist or MO camp. When we mention a list of about 10 Gedolei Torah, each one is disqualified, because of x,y and z.
    “Who exactly claimed this – and since when do we say that someone who is Mattir a woman on insufficient grounds (I’m not saying that it was the case here necessarily) becomes vindicated when the husband is found dead?” My Talmud teacher inOhr Sameach made such a statement. This is hardly the place to go into detail about the Dakar case. The point is he was proven correct, ie his estimation.

    “Land for peace .”
    “I am sure you realize how subjective your judgement on this is. There have been numerous governments who have been willing to give it all away negotiating out of a position of weakness after a loss of thousands of lives, not to mention the present actual destruction of the entire Gaza Strip enterprise, which could have been avoided had the Haredim been listened to then.”
    Had the haredim been listened to in the 1930s and 40s, perhaps even more would have been killed in the Shoah.
    But your statement is really useless, in that Rav Shach himself spent a quarter century vilifying the National Religious, spearheading a campaign against the Settlers, calling for talks with the PLO – and at the last moment, when the Oslo talks took place, he retracted, and took the identical position of Rav Goren – forbidding the ceding of Holy Land liberated by divine miracle! This took so many Haredim by surprise, that they felt let down by Rav Shach. A great man can admit to the truth. But many mediocre men cannot do so.
    And what exactly do you mean by “There have been numerous governments who have been willing to give it all away negotiating out of a position of weakness after a loss of thousands of lives”. Does a secular Prime Minister also have daas Torah in your topsy turvy world? You are implying that it is OK for a Haredi leader to make a mistake, because anyway Olmert or Sharon would have made the same mistake. So, if a Haredi leader would permit fire on Shabbat, would that be ok, because “There have been numerous governments who have been willing to?”
    Again, regarding my statement on land for peace, I don’t see the figures as being subjective – since Rabin’s Oslo, the number of Israelis being killed by terrorists is far higher than the preceding 15 years. If a Sanhedrin had made such a blunder, there would be many many sacrifices necessary. However, since Daas Torah means being infallible, then the shogegot are not necessary, and their defenders need to fudge and talk in circular arguments, so as to deny their part in this tragedy.
    We really should be focusing on the Druckman case. My point is still the same, and it remains unchallenged. The many venerable Rabbis who opposed the Goren psak, had arguments which support Druckman. If the reverse had happened, eg Druckman had cancelled conversions in the way that Goren (and Attias and Sherman did), then there would again be a big furore as there was in ’72.

  98. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >And since it was decisively clear that Burkovsky was a Jew in every respect, it was also important to help this ger tzedek in his fight.”

    oy vey! Does a Jew in every respect attend church?? Does he eat pork?? Does he cross himself often and in public?

    Hashem Yerachem from such “journalism”! “decisively clear” – it was not even decisively clear the the dayanim who first heard the case, but to Yated it is.

  99. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Charedi Leumi,

    “There is revisionism here, but it is not from Edmond”

    You have not explained what I revised. Your carefully worded, and very misleading, response, actually exposes the depth of the problem. That he became involved in the Psak and advocated finding a solution does not equal virtually guaranteeing that he would find one, prior to actually sitting on a Beis Din and hearing the evidence, and receiving the support of Meir and Dayan on that basis.

    “Further, Rav Zolty did not just appose the psak, he led what can only be described as a smear campaign against the very persona of Rav Goren.”

    I don’t think that is true if one reads his initial rejection of the Psak, which was harsh, particularly about certain very dubious Halachic analogies, but not personal. But regardless, there is no question that RSG turned to the Attorney-General to review whether RBZ’s opposition to the Psak was in consonance with his being able to sit on the Jerusalem court.

    “but I do consider Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook and Rav Avraham Shapiro gedolim of the highest order, and they both supported the psak”

    Based on criteria I mentioned earlier, Rabbi Kook does not qualify as a Gadol Horaah, and I believe Rabbi Shapiro opposed the overall disqualification of RSG’s ability as a Posek, not that he supported the points raised in the Psak.

    “And while we can not possibly accuse the chareidi side of the conflict with having less than noble motivations in smearing a gadol baTorah, we can of course accuse Rav Ovadia and Rav Yisraeli of being driven by fear of the all powerful Rav Goren!”

    Perhaps you have not been following the discussion closely enough, but the point here was that there is no objective reason to paint RSG as the great saviour and all the Haredi Gedolim as satanic. Any claim can be spun any way at all.

    There is absolutely nothing on the record of many of those who vehemently opposed and discredited RSG that would suggest that it was political.

    There are, though, sufficient grounds for blinking a number of times and rubbing one’s eyes when perusing some of the bases for RSG’s Psak – and this sense does not at all run along party lines.

  100. Edmond says:

    Another very interesting about face in the Druckman case, also quoted in Yated, is that Rav Moshe Feinstein z.t.l criticized Rav Goren on procedural grounds, especially that if he has any new evidence, it should be presented to the Beth Din that originally heard the case, and not to take over the case. Guess what Rabbis Attias and Sherman did? They denied the validity of the Beth Din that made the conversions, and started their own judgements on the conversions, without even speaking to the original Dayanim!

  101. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >That he became involved in the Psak and advocated finding a solution does not equal virtually guaranteeing that he would find one

    I am glad to see someone still uses Yated as an actual source of information.

    >I don’t think that is true if one reads his initial rejection of the Psak, which was harsh, particularly about certain very dubious Halachic analogies, but not personal.

    The article in Pardes, and some of the other anonymous articles now known to have been authored by Rav Zolti were very personal in nature.

    >Based on criteria I mentioned earlier, Rabbi Kook does not qualify as a Gadol Horaah,

    I have nothing but disdain for this comment.

    >and I believe Rabbi Shapiro opposed the overall disqualification of RSG’s ability as a Posek, not that he supported the points raised in the Psak.

    No, he defended the psak in haTzofeh. Regardless, he would have been disgusted by your assertion regarding Rav Kook as well of your accusing Rav Goren of producing a psak to get into office. The same goes for Rav Henkin. The problem is not your disagreement with the psak, but rather your willingness to accuse R’ Goren of the basest of motives. He was scencere. All his private correspondence from that era shows his sincerity.

    >There are, though, sufficient grounds for blinking a number of times and rubbing one’s eyes when perusing some of the bases for RSG’s Psak

    Sorry, don’t buy this, I have gone through the psak carefully, there is nothing which I found which is more “out there” than the normal stuff I have seen in teshuvas which deal with things such as agunot and mamzerut.

  102. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    “I am glad to see someone still uses Yated as an actual source of information.”

    Actually, I used Rav Moshe Feinstein’s statements quoted in Hapardes.

    “The article in Pardes, and some of the other anonymous articles now known to have been authored by Rav Zolti were very personal in nature.”

    Quote?

    “I have nothing but disdain for this comment.”

    I’m sure you’re not alone. But dem’s the facts. Can you tell me one classic area of Halachah where Rabbi Kook contibuted to the Halachic literature?

    “No, he defended the psak in haTzofeh.”

    Did he put his name on it? If not, then I guess he was the one who was reduced to saying that while Rabbi Zolty hit on a number of points in the Psak that were indeed unsupportable, he hadn’t knocked down the foundation of the Psak – which Rabbi Zolty ably showed was incorrect.

    “basest of motives”

    All of this goes both ways.

    “Sorry, don’t buy this, I have gone through the psak carefully, there is nothing which I found which is more “out there” than the normal stuff I have seen in teshuvas which deal with things such as agunot and mamzerut.”

    Making a comparison between Chezkas Gimmel Shanim and Chazakah D’MeIkara in terms of requiring a Taanah, based on a totally irrelevant comparison in the Yerushalmi about Tit Hanarok, is but one example of where many Poskim on both sides of the aisle were reduced jaw dropping incredulity.

  103. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >Quote?

    Open the pardes back issues from that era and take a look.

    >I’m sure you’re not alone. But dem’s the facts. Can you tell me one classic area of Halachah where Rabbi Kook contibuted to the Halachic literature?

    He was the final address to dozens and dozens of yeshuv rabbis and neighborhood rabbis all over Israel. He was asked to decide dificult questions in almost every area of halacha by his students and had the full respect of gedolim who did publish their responsa such as Rav Shaul Yisraeli, Rav Avraham Shapiro, and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu.

    >Did he put his name on it?

    No. but he successfully defended the psak, which was indeed a difficult one … as are many piskei halacha in this area. Difference is, this one became political.

    >All of this goes both ways.

    And therefore…

    Over Shabbat, I talked to one the talmidei chachamim in my community about the psak. He told me that when he was in yeshiva, many people took to saying things about Rav Goren. The rosh yeshiva got up and said that if someone wants to take on the psak with an halachic response, then fine … but if anyone takes a personal attack on the motives or person of Rav Goren, then it’s an eitzat haYetzer.

    >Making a comparison between Chezkas Gimmel Shanim and Chazakah D’MeIkara in terms of requiring a Taanah, based on a totally irrelevant comparison in the Yerushalmi about Tit Hanarok

    That is ONE seif out of about 26 that does not make the psak stand or fall (as Rav Shapiro pointed out). Futher, Rav Goren gives several justifications for his postion on this. One is a sevara that you can take of leave (on page 96 of the psak). Next he points out that the Netivot (ח”מ סי’ ע”ח סעיף א) apples this property of chezkat gimel shanim to all chazakot that exist. He of course brings other achronim as support. Some are stronger, some weaker. Point is, that to get from what you may legitimatly call a bogus pshat or sevarah to accusing R’ Goren of paskening in order to become chief rabbi is a long rode. One I would not take.

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