On Halacha, no Compromises

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24 Responses

  1. Melanie says:

    But why keep politicizing? When can the Haredi PR take the higher ground?

    The article above indicates that many National Religious Rabbanim who have reviewed the issue affirm overturning this conversion. So why go back to the us vs. them mentality: National religious rabbis who claim it is possible to convert tens of thousands of immigrants…

    Perhaps there is not room in the article above, but rejecting a conversion program due to size (…new frameworks created by the Israeli government for the express purpose of solving the problem of 300-500,000 non-Jewish immigrants living among us via mass conversion) is ridiculous. Every convert was interviewed on an individual basis, just as they don’t jump into the mikvah en-masse.

    Also, the article opines ignorance of journalists to weigh in on the matter, rejecting most of the value judgements it makes yet for some reason accepting one that supports the Haredi position: the national religious who “want to bring as many as possible into the Jewish fold” – who said that’s what the majority of NR Rabbanim think?

    As someone watching from the sidelines, I see the Haredi camp thrilled to have something with which to impale the entire “other” community rather than rallying around unity – even when as stated above it is many in that “other” community who form the basis of the opinion!!!

    Instead of calling people heretics, and intimating mass-revokation of conversions sight-unseen (even less review than the original court!), why can’t the Rabbanim issue a more constructive statement, such as “Relying on a minority opinion is endangering the future of these converts, deluding them that they could joing the fold lkulo deiot.”

    Where are the Rabbanim who can meet and discuss what to do? Or are they so busy that only their handlers are available to write bans and collect the signatures?

    I know what I’ll be crying over this Tisha B’Av.

  2. Jameel @ The Muqata says:

    I found the tone of this article disheartening.

    The Rishon L’Zion, Rav Amar specifically instructed the dayanim of the Rabbinical High Court not rule on the issue of R’ Druckman’s conversions, yet the dayanim (for what reason, I dont know) ignored the direct instruction of their Halachik authority, and decided anyway.

    The halachic ramifications of disqualifying R’ Druckman’s court’s conversions are staggering. I personally heard this past Shabbat of a story of a mohel who refused to perform a brit milla, because the mother of the child was converted many years ago by R’ Druckman.

    When hundreds of people, including children from marriages are suddenly informed that they are not Jewish, one has to yell out if the ramifications were fully understood.

    Do you think a question like this posed to R’ Moshe Feinstein zt’l would have provided such a simple, blatant, psak that disqualifies hundreds of Jews, their families, children of these marriages — many of them who are frum people today?

    It’s extremely simple to be machmir and insulate yourself from the rest of Am Yisrael living in Eretz Yisrael. Am Yisrael in Israel today has serious challenges facing it with the influx of hundreds of thousands of people who are halachikally, non-Jewish. Its easy to label everything as treif, assur, and impossible to address.

    Unfortunately, Am Yisrael needs more than that today.

  3. Jonathan Rosenblum says:

    The quote about national religious rabbis was taken from a Jerusalem Post article by Matthew Wagner. Elsewhere in the article, he refers to Tzohar, a group of national religious rabbis, and I suspect that this characterization of their opinion is based on his conversation with Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, a frequent Tzohar spokesman.

    I have previously writting about the excellent work Tzohar does creating Yamim Noraim minyanim for non-frum Israelis.

  4. MYCROFT says:

    Undoubteedly there may have been gerim who were improperly converted-but the net affect has been a challenge to thousands of gerim who have been gerim for decades. The former procedure was that local Rabbonim would do the geirus, write a document and get ratification from RCA beis din if they needed it for Israel. Chazakah was crucial here-I remeber asking decades ago a Rabbi and said what will happen decades later when proof and people are gone-even Rabbonim go to the olam haemes. The response was chazakah. Someone who had been acting like a Jew for decades -went to day schools sent to day schools etc no one would question. Sadly, in this case I was right rather than the Rabbis iinvolved. Try and prove what happened decades ago. The oppression of gerim is unbelievable-frankly I know of current Rabbis who know won’t recommend that gerim go to Israel for Post HS learning etc because of the situation. It is very sad-everyone is concerned about the honor of this Rav and that Rav but not concerned about people who followed the procedures decades ago. Kavod hatorah is important-but challenging gerim en masse is scandalous. If there is a specific reason to doubt an individual gers gerut ok-but to challenge en masse what has happened scandalous.

  5. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >As the first Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Isaac Herzog

    The first???

    >National religious rabbis who claim it is possible to convert tens of thousands of immigrants without compromising on the requirement of a full commitment to mitzva observance must explain why they have produced so few ba’alei teshuva in Israel.

    What data do you have to support this?? You have numbers? Just because the RZ does not create kiruv organizations (although it has a few) does not mean it does not attract baalei teshuva. Just in my community here in Israel there are many baalei teshuva who would never have become religious if they were only presented with the chareidi view of Judaism.

    >Finally, the evidence that Rabbi Druckman signed conversion certificates falsely attesting to his presence at conversions – a practice which has already been the subject of a sharp censure from Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz – came from national religious rabbis within the Chief Rabbinate.

    yes, and the same rabbi has come strongly in defense of Rav Drukman and both Rav Avraham Shapiro zt”l and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu shlit”a have paskened that this was a beaurocratic problem that does not affect the conversions in any way. why leave those inconvinient facts out?

    Further, this is a beurocratic problem of which rav Sherman is also “guilty”! He has a complaint filed against him for siging a psak regarding a devorse dispuse even though he was not part of the procedings. Do Israeli government beurocratic regulations now invalidate a psak??? Are you really THAT zionistic?

  6. joel rich says:

    2 thoughts:
    1. In a highly politicized world (as is the State of Israel with regard to religious observance), it is hard to take any one issue and say please think of this as a separate issue not related to the greater struggle.

    2.Related to 1. above, do the rabbinic leaders of the charedi world in general view the “national religious” approach as an acceptable approach in serving the master of the universe?

    KT

  7. Baruch Pelta says:

    I’d be interested in seeing an attempted answer to Joel’s question. Perhaps R’ Rosenblum could clarify.

    Also, I have a few comments on R’ Rosenblum’s article. I usually really like R’ Rosenblum’s articles, but I found this one puzzling.

    Rabbi Avraham Sherman, author of the Rabbinical High Court decision, served for many years as an IDF rabbi, and once spent a sabbatical at Yeshiva University, the flagship institution of modern Orthodoxy.
    R’ Eliashiv worked in the Rabbanut and R’ Nosson Sherman speaks at YU regularly. That does not make either or them Mizrachi. They’re trying to do kiruv, nu.

    Another one of the judges graduated the national religious hesder system.
    And R’ Efrati comes from the Mizrachi system as well. That doesn’t make him Mizrachi.

    (Rabbi Lichtenstein’s father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Ber Soloveitchik, considered it axiomatic that conversion requires a full acceptance of mitzvot.)
    One of R’ Eliashiv’s rebbeim, R’ Herzog, believed that Chazal could be wrong about science. That doesn’t mean R’ Eliashiv has to hold such a view. But what’s your point? You want to say that The Rav’s talmidim should be forced to follow his positions? They should continue to openly affiliate with Mizrachi (and decidedly NOT the Agudah), support YU, believe in and pursue the inherent value of secular chochmas, and refuse to believe in Daas Torah?

    The evidence is overwhelming that a large majority of those converted by Rabbi Druckman were never mitzvah observant.
    Really? How do you know and how much of a majority?

  8. Bob Miller says:

    Joel Rich,

    Do all representatives of a group you belongs to deserve your total acquiescence to anything they do, or are you supposed to be objective? Have you thought deeply about Rabbi Druckman’s conversion methods, or is his label the only thing you care about?

  9. Cosmic X says:

    “The earlier decision nullified a conversion overseen 15 years earlier by Rabbi Haim Druckman.”

    Wrong:

    R’ Shirman adds that the original ruling from R’ Attiyeh did not actually disqualify the woman’s conversion or her status as a Jew, and it did not nullify her children’s status as Jews. Section 12 of the ruling specified that the woman may pursue a further judgment regarding her status; the court’s ruling was only insofar as the get which had been requested. R’ Attiyeh was only requesting that they be registered as ineligible to marry until their conversion could be examined anew by a proper court, because of the flaws which had been identified in the original .

    “The evidence is overwhelming that a large majority of those converted by Rabbi Druckman were never mitzvah observant.”

    Could you bring a source for that?

  10. micha says:

    How exactly does this halakhah work?

    You have someone who honestly accepted all the mitzvos, he is as observant as anyone else, but since the beis din in a couple of other cases didn’t sufficiently check (or even if they never checked, but in his case it happened to be that he was serious), his geirus doesn’t “take”? I hadn’t heard of such a thing until this current matter.

    I actually could make a stronger case that “On Halachah, No Compomises” would compel you not to annul conversions willy-nilly without checking each case.

    More that that, there appears to be a general pattern of pesaq in some cases to jump to conclusions at huge cost to individuals without talking to them and getting their version of the facts of the case. Each time creating an uproar along the way. Looking at Choshein Mishpat myself, I was under the impression one is not allowed to reach conclusions without talking to all the parties.

    -micha

  11. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    Why is this happening now?
    The gemara states in a couple of places that the nation of Israel did not accept gerim in the time of David and Shlomo and will not in the time of Moshiach. The reason is that there was/will be a presumption that such a convert is doing it for an ulterior motive since it is such a good deal to be a Jew in such times. In times of severe persecution, i.e. most of the last 2000 years, there were almost no gerim because it was almost a death warrant for the ger and all those involved in converting him/her. Only when the hope and fear are balanced can there be a true free choice in the matter. The major periods of numbers of conversions were the 2nd Temple period (decline of pagan religion) and the current period (decline of Christianity). I suspect that the current crisis is the harbinger of the End of Days. When the time comes, there will be a duly-constituted Sanhedrin which will accept non-Jews to the status of ger toshav. They will keep the Sheva Mitzvot Bnai Noach and we will have a mitzvah to be concerned for their welfare as we are for fellow Jews. They will be officially allowed by halacha to live in E”Y. But they will not be allowed to intermarry with us or to live in Yerushalayim. May our eyes see it soon. BTW, I hope Toby Katz or her husband R. Michael will be giving us an extensive report on the Bnai Noach conference taking place in Florida later this month.

  12. Jeffrey R. Woolf says:

    In an incredible trompe d’oeil, Mr. Rosenblum manages to make Rabbi Sherman the victim of this story, rather than Rav Druckman and the 25,000 converts whose lives RS has destroyed. This is not the place to rebut his piece point by point. I would like to note some salient facts.

    1)While journalists can’t read responsa, rabbis can. And anyone who read RS’s ‘psak’ saw that the argumentation ran from specious to questionable. This reading was confirmed by Rav Aharon Lichtenstein’s explicit remarks at an emergency meeting of Rabbanei Tzohar.

    2) The former affiliations of the members of the Bet Din are totally irrelevant. Rav Elyasiv was a member of the Rabbinate, and resigned from the Bet Din Rabbani over the invalidation of a conversion by Rav Goren in the Langer case. Does his prior service in the rabbinate express his present opinions?

    3) As a student of Rabban shel Yisrael, Maran HaRav Soloveitchik zatzal for ten years, I can confirm that his personal opinion was that gerus requires full acceptance of mitzvot. That, however, is not the point and it is not relevant to Rav Lichtenstein’s point either. The point at issue is whether a fully constituted Bais Din, manned by God fearing Talmidei Hakhamim, can have their rulings overturned because they were convinced of the correctness of the rulings of Gedolei Torah who outshine anyone in the present generation, such as Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski zatzal and, yibadel le-hayyim tovim va’arukim, Dayyan S. Daichovsky, both of whom supported the validity of conversions where there was an acceptance of mitzvot that was not followed by observance. The two, RCOG argued, are not the same. RS’s psak is, in that regard, unprecedented.

    4)What lies between Rav Druckman and his opponents is a principled debate as to whether it is in the Torah’s best interests to convert the victims of 70 years of Communist oppression, or to withdraw into Bnai Brak and Meah Shearim. The tragedy is that when this debate emerged in the nineteenth century, between the followers of the Hatam Sofer and RSR Hirsch, no one in Pressburg delegitimized Rabbiner Hirsch or his Bet Din.

  13. Dovid Kornreich says:

    Chazakah was crucial here-I remeber asking decades ago a Rabbi and said what will happen decades later when proof and people are gone-even Rabbonim go to the olam haemes. The response was chazakah. Someone who had been acting like a Jew for decades -went to day schools sent to day schools etc no one would question. Sadly, in this case I was right rather than the Rabbis iinvolved.

    No, the rabbis you consulted are stiil 100% correct.
    In this case the chazaka of the Russian converts is working in the opposite direction and R. Druckman was apparently ignoring it.

  14. Melanie says:

    Rabbi Rosenblum: “I have previously writting about the excellent work Tzohar does creating Yamim Noraim minyanim for non-frum Israelis.”

    I must be misunderstanding something. Writing nice things about a group in a separate article gives one permission to use their quotes as broad negative generalizations in another?

    Please, please explain.

  15. joel rich says:

    Joel Rich,

    Do all representatives of a group you belongs to deserve your total acquiescence to anything they do, or are you supposed to be objective? Have you thought deeply about Rabbi Druckman’s conversion methods, or is his label the only thing you care about?

    Comment by Bob Miller

    I’m happy to respond to your questions but would first point out that they are tangential at best to the point I was making – that it is difficult to look at a particular case in a vacuum. ( For example, a friend who hurts your feelings on a particular issue may be more easily forgiven than one who consistently seeks to put you down.) If the answer to my second question is no, then we have much greater problems than relying on a minority opinion in geirut.

    To your questions, one needs to be objective in the context of their responsibilities to themselves and to the tzibbur (R’YBS often reflected that we are judged on both) and yes, I have thought a lot about it and think that the specifics are worth discussing in the context of the more general issue I mentioned including labels.

    KT

  16. Shalem says:

    “but since the beis din in a couple of other cases didn’t sufficiently check (or even if they never checked, but in his case it happened to be that he was serious)”

    YEs, “never checked” and have done so with intent and more so: they were convinced that the whole “conversion” was insincere in terms of commiting to observe mitzvot.
    Rav Aharon Lchtenestein himself acknolweges how the majority of posskim would not accept the stance of Rav Duckman. HOw can one then fault those who follow the majority of posskim? Do oyou expect them to be dishonest and untruthful? The question that all ccritics are shooting at haredim should pointed to yourselves: Why did you (genereic you) allow an approach that you were aware that the “majority” of posskim are against your apporach (,leshitasschem) in issues so important and so critical for the unity of the jewish people and for the mitigiation of intermarriage?

  17. joel rich says:

    As a proof text to my point ( that it is difficult to look at a particular case in a vacuum) may I present testimony from the just posted thoughts of R’ Shafran – “It is possible that Rabbi Yoffie’s harsh judgment of Pastor Hagee’s sermon reflects a broader disconnect between the two gentlemen.”

    KT

  18. Yisroel Moshe says:

    Druckman is not a Gadol by any means. I challenge you to find me one RZ community in Eretz Yisroel who holds him in such esteem. Commenters on cross-currents who state he is a Godol are making an assumption because he is a public figure with a long white beard.

    First and foremost, he is a politician. He sat in the Knesset. While being a Knesset member does not automatically make one suspect, we can’t forget just how corrupt the Knesset really is.

    A few years ago, Harav Aaron Bina, Shlita, my old Rosh Hayeshiva of the overseas program at Yeshivat Hakotel, came to speak to the alumni in America. He told us the horrific story of how he and all of the overseas Rabbanim (effectively the entire overseas program) were cruelly fired and removed from the Yeshiva just weeks before. The coup was orchestrated by the leaders/rabbis/politicians of Yeshivot B’nei Akiva, led by Druckman. We were all shocked to hear how far these politicians would go, including ignoring the advice of the Gedolim of the RZ world, to destroy the overseas program. One quote from that speech which I will never forget was what R Dovid Abuchaztzeria told Rav Bina: “Druckman has no Yiras Shomayim!”.

    This entire unfortunate episode has merely affirmed everything I already knew. Namely, Druckman has a long white beard, is a politician, in the pocket of the government, with no Yiras Shomayim.

    (These words are far kinder than what Ravs’ Shirman and Attias had to say about him).

    I hope this sets the record straight. I challenge all the readers and writes of cross-currents to disprove anything I just wrote.

  19. Steve Brizel says:

    One can clearly argue that R Druckman’s view on Kabalas Ol Mitzvos ran contrary to Rov Binyan of Rishonim and Poskim. However, such an argument need not be accompanied by rhetorical overkill and statements re the abilities of other Batei Din.

  20. Shalem says:

    “Rav Elyasiv was a member of the Rabbinate, and resigned from the Bet Din Rabbani over the invalidation of a conversion by Rav Goren in the Langer case. Does his prior service in the rabbinate express his present opinions?”

    NO, because that was an incident where there were conflicting testimonies as to the level of observance of mitzvot at the timeof the conversion in that case; whereas in our case there is the Beit Din was convinced that the convert NEVER observed (and never intended to observe).

    “3) … The point at issue is whether a fully constituted Bais Din, manned by God fearing Talmidei Hakhamim, can have their rulings overturned because they were convinced of the correctness of the rulings of Gedolei Torah who outshine anyone in the present generation, such as Rav Chaim Ozer Grodzenski zatzal … both of whom supported the validity of conversions where there was an acceptance of mitzvot that was not followed by observance. The two, RCOG argued, are not the same. RS’s psak is, in that regard, unprecedented.”

    Please re-read carefully Achiezer 3/26 and see for yourself that what you and other repeat what Rb Chayim Oyzer says is NOT EVERYTHING that Rav Chayim Oyzer says! Yes, he states that if there was a serious commitment and then the convert reverted back to his old ways for “teavon” (succumbing to materieal temptations) reasons then the conversion is still valid; but at the same time, he writes that if at the outset it was clear to all that his verbal acceptance was not serious at all, the conversion is MEANINGLESS (not that we have to “Annul” it “Retroactively” but that it NEVER TOOK PLACE at all!). This is written there BEFERUSH!

    It also appears from his Teshuva (extremely strong implication): That in the event that it was clear from the outset that the fellow would succumb to temptations regarding shabbat, kashrut and taharat hamishpacha (and all observance of all mitzvot) that there is a problem with that conversion. It is there in the same teshuva where Rav Chayim OG rules the kulah of knowing in advance that he will revert in some mitzvot for teavon reasons.

    It is very unfair and sometimes dishonest to attack a group of people who have the backing of Gedoley Yisroel for rulings in issues that matter to all klal yisrael by mislabeling the proper portrayal of the situation.

    Yes, it is tragic that many of serious converts are now in a problem, but why do not we see the people who concur with your opinion have a real cheshbon hanefesh? If your position really has the backing of Gedoley Yisroel “who outshine” everyone in our generation, why do we see that Gedolim like Rav Kook, Rav Hetzog, Rav Chayim OG, Rav Moshe Feinstein, Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Shlomo Zalman Aeurbach, Dayan Weiss etc etc disagree with the position that you present as the correct one?

    “4) What lies between Rav Druckman and his opponents is a principled debate as to whether it is in the Torah’s best interests to convert the victims of 70 years of Communist oppression, or to withdraw into Bnai Brak and Meah Shearim.”

    Could be that it is part of it, but it is NOT the underlying reason thereof. The main debate is a matter of Halacha : Are these conversions Halachikally acceptable or not? And in addition: Are we doing any favor to anyone by giving a false stamp of approval to an intermarriage which halacha does not endorse? And is also Halachikally acceptable to perform conversions where the converts would not keep torah and mitzvot? IN addition to these Halachik questions: Can we say that these “conversions” can foster more intermarriage where some will feel that they will date non jewish girls and get a “conversion” from the rabbis where there is no seriousness to keep shabat kashrut and taharat hamishpacha?

  21. Baruch Pelta says:

    I take no issue with Cross-Currents for censorship. To the contrary, Cross-Currents posts quite a few comments of those who vehemently disagree with the bloggers.

    However, I feel it necessary to inform readers that Cross-Currents is not publishing my second comment, which is nothing more than a summary of R’ Jeffrey Woolf’s defense of R’ Druckman. The reason I feel the need to say this is that it might appear from my first post that I’m only disagreeing with the unsubstantial portions of R’ Rosenblum’s piece.

  22. Melanie says:

    #18 Yisrael Moshe – I’m not out to disprove what you wrote, but I will disapprove of it. I may not be able to quote a single shu”t alongside all these other posters, but I can recognize irrelevant Lashon Hara.

  23. Avi says:

    i. why do you you allow such loshen about Rav Druckman shilta whould you you allow me to print such things about a charedi Rabbi?

    2. If he is so bad. Why is Rabbi Amar supporting him? and why is Rabbi Yosef supporting the courts? Could be just another Charedi power play.

  24. LAWRENCE KAPLAN says:

    I would suggest that readers’ of Cross Currents carefully compare Yitzhak Adlerstein’ position on this subject in his column of May 16th with the views of the present column of Jonathan Rosenblum. I did (and do not) not agree with many (perhaps most) of Rabbi Adlerstein’s points and stated so in a posted comment on the column, but overall Rabbi Adlerstein’s column strikes me a fair and judicious attempt to work out a balanced amd independent position on this issue, naturally from Rabbi Adlerstein’s moderate Haredi perspective. I am sorry I cannot say the same for Jonathan Rosenblum’s column. But readers should NOT take my word. Read both columns and decide for yourselves.

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