The Conversion Progress Report

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93 Responses

  1. Dotan says:

    “Rav Druckman, to the best of my knowledge, is a fine gentleman, but not one of the halachic luminaries of the DL world.”

    Rabbi Alderstein, I respect that this is to the best of your knowledge. But it betrays how little you know of the Religious Zionist Torah world.

  2. Miriam Shear says:

    R. Alderstein, You are to be highly commended for what is probably the most even handed, well written article yet on the “conversian fracas.” Thank you for having the courage to point out each side’s contribution to the mess and each side’s valid points that need to be acknowledged.

    Admittedly, I lost a lot of interest in this issue at some point and have not followed every single development other than to glance at some headlines. This response is reflective of how I and many others are a little burnt out with the horrible in-fighting, flying accusations, inflamed rhetoric, name calling, and the endless relentless attempts to delegitimize the other. It is spiritually taxing and demoralizing on an individual as well as communal and nationalist level.

    I could not agree with you more that it is indeed a tragic day when Torah scholars are forced to turn to the secular High Court for intervention to prevent an greater injustice. But let me ask: What alternative is there? Who – What is the address of anybody to talk to to get it resolved – or, at the very least, to respectfully agree to disagree?

    You gave us the answer: “Rabbi Druckman’s supporters have not responded to a single one of Rabbi Sherman’s charges in halachic language.” That’s for the DL side.

    “On the haredi side, the silence has been equally disturbing and revealing. There have been no soothing voices allaying the fears of thousands of converts now in limbo.”

    R. Alderstein, that is EXACTLY the dilemma that has faced BOTH groups on a number of issues that should remain in the arena of dayanim and poseks. But nobody will talk to one another – they only talk down to each other. And they do so in the most vile language.

    Just imagine, if a High Court justice would use the same rhetoric, tone, volume in a ruling against the DL or Haredi camp. How many nights of riots would we all have to endure for that?

    You say that the DL side has not countered with arguments that contain “a whole lot of Torah depth”. Then you say that the haredi camp is guilty of “silence is the worst form of contempt”.

    Let me ask this: Which approach is worse? Is an answer worse than no answer? Or is a quiet festering of the disease, with no intervention, no treatment – not even an examination of “the lump in the arm” – the best way?

    When this whole thing first started, I believed it would burn itself out and fade just as the “Conversion Crisis” did in 1988 during the Shamir government’s attempt to form a coalition on the Who is a Jew Crisis. That was one of the reasons I only half paid attention. I assumed, wrongly, that it would be yesterday’s news in a matter of a couple of weeks.

    In 1988 I was sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to address the Knesset and speak with various groups in Israel and the United States on the Who is a Jew issue. I was zocheh to be in the company of Rav Soloveitchik and Rabbi Immanuel Schochet during many of these speaking engagements. Interestingly, it was the hareidi groups in the U.S. who had very little interest in getting involved in the issue of “k’halacha” being added as an amendment to the Law of Return. Not only were they disinterested, but some of them were actually angry at Lubavitch for “making an issue out of it”. What was really at stake was the concern that funding would be lost for their various organizations should the Reform and Conservative U.S. Jews decide to withhold their donations. Lubavitch was one of the very few groups that had the integrity of principle to put forth a Torah voice at this opportune time when the government needed the religious parties for Shamir’s coaltion.

    The issue was lost when the religious parties bartered halacha for inclusion in the coalition and the assurance that funding for their causes would not be jeopardized. The Who is a Jew issue then faded into a quiet death.

    I am now convinced that this time will be different, very different – it will not go quietly away. And the reasons are for precisely what you state in your last paragraph:

    “If only we could both sides to realize that precisely what separates them is what unites them – a deep commitment to the eternity and centrality of Torah. If only they could use that common enthusiasm for Torah to mend the breaches and work together for the benefit of all of Klal Yisrael!”

    The Reform and Conservative Jews have a limited amount of energy to fight for their Jewish identity and legitimacy. Such committments have to compete with the energies required for their golf games, country clubs, movie nights, manicures, pedicures, and season tickets to their favorite sports teams. After yelling and screaming a lot, they end the argument by eating a ham sandwich with swiss cheese just to spite you and every Torah principle you stand for.

    This will not happen in the DL and Hareidi camps. The reason is that the goal is the same: Both camps sincerely want – no, they crave – a halachic solution to this mess.

    This will take leadership. But both sides do not have an address – or at least they’re not revealing who it is. If either side has an address, they need to reveal it NOW and put those 2 leaders together and let them work it out. And everyone must put their egos aside and hold by that final decision.

    Anything short of that is disastrous for everyone.

  3. joel rich says:

    “and silence on the substantive halachic issues.”
    =============================================

    R’YA – may I ask how you come to this repeated conclusion? You yourself mention at least some of the halachik opinions which have been quoted in this discussion. The facts of this case still seem to be open to debate. Furthermore by this statement you seem (unconsciously I assume since the point of your post seems to be one of someone who holds the middle ground) accept the charedi position that micro halachik issues should be viewed in a vacuum, rather than in the context of the macro halachik issues the DL community seems so concerned with.

    Another point of your contention seems to be that since the only thing everyone will accept is the most stringent position, that should be the standard. I think it is clear that this approach quickly yields obvious results (convergence to whoever can be most machmir-why not in all cases?)

    As to your conclusion, I again ask you, does the charedi leadership view DL/MO as an acceptable approach in serving hkb”H. If not, all the discussion on geirut courts is a side show-how would they ever accept geirim through or to an approach they don’t accept?
    KT

  4. Garnel Ironheart says:

    There is another answer to this conflict.

    Several years ago during a visit to Israel I sat down to have some drinks with some Chiloni friends. They spent most of the evening castigating the Chareidi community, denouncing everything they could about it.

    A couple of nights later, I was having Shabbos dinner with Chareidi friends who spent the entire night castigating the Chiloni community, denouncing everything they could about it.

    And then, when I later reflected on both conversation, I realized: they’re both right. Each community, and with this post one can add in the Dati Leumi as well, has tremendous faults. Forget about the strengths for a minute. After all, that’s been the problem until now. Each community looks only at its strengths and the others’ faults.

    Imagine what would happen if the Chilonim were to look at their faults and weaknesses and then at the Chareidim and Dati Leumi strengths, and vice versa. Imagine if someone like Rav Shach were to stand up and say that that only reason he could give a speech like this in the land of Israel to a flourishing Torah community is because of those godless “rabbit eaters” and baruch haShem for them. Imagine Chilonim being appreciative for the Jewishness that pervades even part of their lives and gives them a distinct identity.

    But until each community is prepared to ignore its strengths, focus on its weakness and look for the good in the others, nothing will change.

  5. Michoel says:

    Great article.

    “If only we could both sides to realize that precisely what separates them is what unites them – a deep commitment to the eternity and centrality of Torah. If only they could use that common enthusiasm for Torah to mend the breaches and work together for the benefit of all of Klal Yisrael!”

    Unfortaunately, Rabbi Adlerstein has already explained why they cannot realize that. The don’t believe the other side shares a deep commitment. Sometimes, there are truly no answers for the difficult questions (I mean the societal strife, not the halachic questions) and by trying too hard to find answers we can accually exacerbate things. Perhaps the best thing to do is for all of us as indivuals, to simply tone down our retoric and refrain from commenting on those things that we have no really abilty to be commenting on intelligently.

  6. mb says:

    “Do they not recall that our last experiment in quickie mass conversions (over two thousand years ago) gave us not loyal Jews, but an Idumean fifth column and the reign of Herod the madman”

    Slightly unfair comparison. The Idumeans were forced converts. The current situation concerns people that want to join their lot with the Jewish people, and are mostly from the seed of Abraham to begin with, having Jewish fathers, and many, many of these converts practice 110% Judaism.
    And when you say the Cheredi position is that nothing trumps halacha, that is also not quite correct. Halacha trumps halacha, or at least a different opinion of it does. Cheredim continuously feel it is neccessary to take a more stringent approach negating anything less.
    My goodness. R.Yossi of Galil dined on chicken cheese burgers.
    Respectfully,( but still greatly disturbed)

  7. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    I agree that here we are witnessing what in Hebrew is called a “du-siach chershim”, a dialogue of the deaf, with no one listening and no one responding to each other’s position. This is more than regrettable, it is tragic in the classic Aristotelian sense of the word. But you, R. Yitzhak, have committed the error of oversimplifying data yourself. Surely you know better than to deny that there are bottom of the barrel conversions in the US Orthodox world. Somewhere to placate a major shul or community donor whose kid has brought home someone not a member of the tribe, three rabbis behind closed doors have done stuff like this. I know that the RCA has tightened up, but there is no centralized rabbinate in the US because of the official separation of church and state. You can most of the time, maybe not always, find some rabbis who will do the job. Perhaps I’m being picky, perhaps things have changed since my wife’s cousin married the Italian boy a few decades ago. You surely know better than I what is going on there. But I just want to know that you aren’t throwing an inadvertent curve ball. If so, I’m sure you didn’t mean it and will clarify.

  8. Ori says:

    Even if they satisfy themselves (and I don’t understand how they could) that minimalist standards are enough to declare conversion candidates Jewish, can they expect that a dayan should now be compelled to officiate at such a convert’s wedding? If not, can he compelled to recognize such a convert’s wedding?

    The problem is that in Israel the dayan is not representing himself or the Torah. He is a government employee, given certain powers by the secular state for use according to the dictates of that state. If those dictates conflict with his conscience he is free to resign that problematic position.

    Let’s take a related issue. I am intermarried. If I understand Halacha correctly, that means the Orthodox position is that I am not married at all. I just happen to be living in sin with a gentile woman, and we just happen to have four children we are raising together.

    Normally I have no problem with that. But imagine you were a judge, I was on trial in front of you, and my wife was called to the witness stand to testify. Being my wife, she would refuse to testify against me. Under US law, she has that right and you as a judge may not compel her. Yet if you don’t recognize us as married that would be contempt of court. Do you jail her for contempt or not?

    Israeli Rabbanut courts are in a similar position. Their power to jail men until they release their Agunot or to decide who can certify Kashrut comes from the secular state. In return they have to obey higher courts, including secular ones. I don’t see why anybody would put himself in that position unless he saw the state as the legitimate government for Jews living in Israel.

  9. Tal Benschar says:

    I am surprised that thus far no one has commented on the hashkafic angle of this latest controversy. It reflects a more basic difference between the Charedi and Dati Leumi camps which pre-dates the state.

    It is well-known that many gedolei yisroel, including especially R. Chaim Brisker, were adamantly against Zionism because they understood that the purpose of Zionism was to replace Torah as the central essence of Jewish identity with a secular, nationalist ethnic identity. (This is separate and apart from the Satmar and other Hungarian objections based upon the 3 Oaths and waiting for Moshiach.)

    This is precisely what has happened in Israel — we have an “Israeli” identity which is ostensibly Jewish, but which is no more than an ethnic/nationalist one. Torah is at best a tolerated hobby or lifestyle of a minority, but, as we are continually reminded by the Jerusalem Post, one can be a “good Israeli” and still be an atheist, and certainly never put on tefillin, keep Shabbos or do any other mitzvah.

    The DL approach (and there are many variations) is that the difference is not so important, or can be fudged, and the main thing is to build up Eretz Yisroel, perhaps hoping that our benighted brethren will soon see the light.

    Unfortunately, while the issue can often be avoid, it sometimes cannot. Gerus is a good example of where it cannot — a person is changing his status from Gentile to Jew. That is where the hashkafic and halakhic rubber meets the road — what is required of this “convert” goes to the essence of what it means to be a Jew.

    What, after all, is a ger? Chazal learn the process of gerus from the entry into the covenant by the Jewish people: Kachem Kager — mah atem be milah, tevillah ve hartazaas korban, af ha ger le doros be milah tevilah veharatzaas korban . The same process the Jewish people used to enter into a convenant with Hashem at Har Sinai is the same process to be used for a convert. In fact, the Rambam calls gerus that very thing — kenisah le bris .

    That is why, with all due respect to the minority view, the notion that one can have a gerus without kabbalos ol mitzvos is an absurdity — that is the very essence of the covenant. Every child in cheder or day school knows what the defining moment was at Har Sinai — when the Jewish people said “naaseh ve nishmah.”

    Anyone who thinks this a Charedi chumrah or recent innovation is fooling themselves. It is the mainstream view of the vast majority of halakhic authorities. It goes to the very essence of what it means to be a Jew. Any beis din that ignores this reality will simply never be accepted by the vast majority of talmidei chachamim, no matter how much abusive rhetoric is heaped upon them.

    (I should also add that the current situation in Israel, from a secular view, is anomolous and untenable. No country in the world requires one to go through a religious conversion to obtain citizenship. All most countries require is accepting allegiance to that country and renouncing allegiance to other countries; some don’t even require that.)

  10. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Kovetz Igros Chazon Ish vol. I #98: (response to Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzenski question about unity between Agudah and Mizrachi)

    “Regarding the agreement (to unify the parties) – also principles like Shabbos! When we want to discuss strengthening (religion) we encounter points of departure (from one another). For example, in the opinion of (the) “Religion and Life” (party -a devastating put-down of the Mizrachi Shita as separating the two), we need to turn a blind eye from milking on Shabbos since the Tzibbur cannot withstand such a thing, and so too working in the port, and so too in the providing of water and electricity, and Bichlal, in a place of necessity one should turn a blind eye even to harvesting produce on Shabbos, and Bichlal, one should not get into arguments for Chillul Shabbos, and Gadol HaShalom, and in a situation where there is no need for strengthening (religious adherence) there is no need for partnership, and so too in Kashrus there is no need to be meticulous that what one places in one’s mouth is really Kosher, as long as there is a Hechsher from Rabbis who derive their sustenance from the Kehilla, and so on and so forth.

    And I sign with blessings and peace… ISH.”

    ואין כל חדש תחת השמש

  11. Noam says:

    I echo Rav Adlerstein’s sadness. However, I think he misses the point completely. This is actually not a halachic debate. In the old days in Europe, when a dispute broke out among religous parties, one of the first thing that happened was that each side possulled the other side’s schechitah and other signs of rabbinic authority. This still happens today in different forms.

    Rav Druckman and the DL have plenty of halachic backing, from the Rambam to present day poskim. There is no need to respond on a halachic level, primarily because the challenge is not a halachic challenge. Rav Sherman et al, if they have the learning that they are reputed to possess, know these sources. They have chosen either to ignore them, or weigh the sources in a different fashion. No amount or pile of gemara, rishonim or acharonim is going to change their minds. It is naiive to think that Rav Sherman is going to look at some response and say, “oh, I didn’t know that Rambam”, or “it really never occured to me to look at Mishpetei Uzziel like that, you know, I think you are right.” There is no point in trying. In fact, responding on a halachic level gives legitimacy to the false claim that there is a problem with the DL approach.

    This can be framed either as a power grab, which is a political problem, or a problem with values, which is a cultural/moral issue. No amount of source quoting is going to change it. The sad reality is that in this case, and many others, Chareidim are trying to impose a viewpoint that gives very little to no weight to the human side of the equation, and maximal weight to meticulous observance of supra halachic(and yes, one can read halachically unnecessary) details. The DL side sees this as a perversion of halacha, and, rightfully in my opinion, not only refuses to have this viewpoint imposed, but feels that it is not halachically accurate or even valid. Therefore, it is not the DL who should bring halachic justification to their actions, but the Chareidim, who are ignoring strictures such as ‘lo tonu et ha’ger'(do not oppress the convert) and many other halachic imperatives.

    Unless there is a sea change in how halachic values are weighted, there will be no rapproachment. The Chareidim will continue to see the DL in the same way that Rav Keller here in Chicago sees the Modern Orthodox(as the New Reform), and the DL will see the Chareidim as trying to impose a value system that is not in consonance with Torah values, or at least Torah values as the DL see it. A very very sad situation indeed. But at the very least, please don’t follow the Chareidi party line and blame the DL for halachic incompetence. Let us view this situation for what it is.

  12. Yehoshua Rabinowitz says:

    This article is very typical of R. Adlerstein. He makes some good points, calls for unity, claims to understand the other side (he has after all, read Tchumin!) but at the end of the day he seems not to be able to look outside the yeshivish mindset.
    Some facts R. Adlerstein had forgotten:
    – R. Druckman has been a Rosh Yeshiva (not MK) for almost 40 years.
    – R. Druckman has been a Dayan in several batei din for over 2 decades. He had Yadin Yadin
    – Several articles have been written by DL poskim arguing on R. Sherman’s p’sak.
    – The claim about the Idumeans is a red herring. They were forced to convert. The opposite is true in our case. Either way the whole issue of the so- called Idumeans is a big machlokes among major league historians whether is happened or not and on what scale.

    Lastly, what does it mean achdus besides the DL giving in (again) to the Charedi poskim?

    Kol Tuv.

  13. Bruce says:

    The Reform and Conservative Jews have a limited amount of energy to fight for their Jewish identity and legitimacy. Such committments have to compete with the energies required for their golf games, country clubs, movie nights, manicures, pedicures, and season tickets to their favorite sports teams. After yelling and screaming a lot, they end the argument by eating a ham sandwich with swiss cheese just to spite you and every Torah principle you stand for.

    I am a Conservative Jew. I don’t expect my Orthodox friends to agree with me or accept my understanding of Judaism. After all, I don’t accept the Orthodox understanding of Judaism.

    But I do not insult Orthodoxy, and I expect that Orthodox Jews not insult me or my integrity. I don’t do any of the things sarcastically noted above (ham sandwiches!), and — most importantly — I do not act in any way to spite traditional Jewish beliefs. It is ironic that this paragraph appears in a comment noting that “nobody will talk to one another – they only talk down to each other. And they do so in the most vile language.”

  14. Bitzy says:

    Rabbi,
    While I greatly appreciate the points you have made, the DL side has no reason to answer R’ Shermans attack. IT IS CLEAR THAT RABBI SHERMAN NEVER EVEN SPOKE TO R’ DRUCKMAN BEFORE GIVING A PSAK, thus making his psak invalid. How can he rule against anothers halacich ruling without even understanding their position? What Rabbi Sherman did was only further his goal of the total political destrction of the State of Israel from within. Only due to such tzddikiot as Judge Tova Strassberg-Cohen do the Jews of the world have any hope in the State of Israel. Rabbi, I would appreciate if you would address this point.

  15. upset and hurt says:

    The fact remains that not all of the converts in Druckman’s bet din were these controversial cases. Many fine frum dati leumi yeshiva types went to Druckman and Avi-Or because the local Rosh Yeshiva sent them, whether its to adopt a child from overseas or to marry a giyoret who had settled in Israel. I’m one of these, sent to his bet din by my rosh yeshiva in Israel. The rash undoing of all R. Druckman’s conversions, including those of fully frum families, with kids in yeshivas, is a horrible violent act that can’t be justified even by all the usual apologetics. Will Rabbi Adlerstein come and tell my kids, who spent their whole lives in yeshivot, raised frum their whole lives, and explain why suddenly they are no longer Jewish? Does anyone have any idea how horrible this is for many of us?

  16. Urijah Kaplan says:

    “He had dismissed kibbutz-members, cultural icons in general Israeli society, as “rabbit eaters,” devoid of all spiritual content. The nation was enraged. For weeks, people castigated R. Shach and the haredim, while touting the accomplishments of kibbutzniks on the battlefield.”

    So mitzvos ben adam lechaveiroh are not “spiritual”? Please find me a jewish definition of spirituality that revolves solely about kashrus, tefilin and the like.

  17. Moishe Potemkin says:

    Rav Lichtenstein provided a response to Rav Shirman’s accusations in halachic language. He did not dignify the name-calling with a lengthy, footnoted teshuva, of course, but his response fully addressed the “halachic concerns” that we are pretending lay at the base of Rav Shirman’s accusations.

  18. Shalem says:

    Rav YItzchok,

    A very important post. You raise many questions to both sides. but in the midst of the post one of the main points of the issue may become obfuscated as we see in the comments here on your post.

    Rav Sherman’s motivation and so his position is a purely Halachik issue that cannot be portrayed as a political issue. THe fact of the matter will remain that *most posskim* (as Rav Aharon Lichtenstein wrote) hold that kabbalat hamitzvot in the sense that there IS A *COMMITMENT TO OBSERVE* is the main ingredient of the gerut in the absence of which the gerut is NULL AND VOID (not that latter they invalidate it “retroactively”).

    Now let try to address (to my ho) some of your reservations on the haredi side from the angle of halacha:

    “Rabbi Sherman cites important poskim that flouting accepted halachic norms invalidates a person’s reliability as a witness, and therefore as a dayan as well. He concedes that these same poskim allow for the possibility that if a person thought he was doing a mitzvah by ruling leniently, he does not lose his reliability”.

    “these same posskim” (who allowed for that possibility). I misplaced the long pssak, but from what I remember (and i could be wrong) this svoro was mentioned by a *contemporary* Dayan. (The Talmud speaks about pssuley witnesses; I do not recall the sourfes discussing this about a pssul dayan).

    ” Rabbi Sherman then goes on to differentiate between the reliability of witnesses and judges, but offers no evidence for the distinction other than his own opinion. Regardless of whether he is correct or incorrect, should not a decision that affects the lives of tens of thousands of people rest on something stronger than his own opinion?”

    I too felt that he should have cited more sources that indicate that they hold like his position. (But it shoud be noted that he builds his theory by analyzing the rishonim on the the meaning of the mitzvah of judges to convert, ayen sham hetev).

    NOw to the core questions:
    “At the real core of the matter is the status after the fact of hundreds, if not thousands, of converts whose acceptance of mitzvos is suspect”

    RAv YItzchok, I believe that Rav sherman at his ruling wrote that he is talking about people that was clear that there was no acceptance whatsoever! That they never observed any shabbat!

    .He is not talking about: ” Take a hypothetical person who converted ten years ago. He watches television on Shabbos, but doesn’t drive”.

    He talks about someone who always drove on shabbat and could not care not to drive!

    “He eats kosher – most of the time”.
    No, he is talking about someone who never cared to eat kosher davka. Right after conversion he/she eats out in trefe restaurants or bassar bechalav.

    “If he comes to Rabbi Sherman and asks him to be able to walk out of his marriage, marry a non-Jewish woman, and allow his present wife to remarry without a get, will Rabbi Sherman give him the green light?”

    I believe RAv Sherman would not give a green light in these cases that *you* raise to remarry without a get. He was talking about someone who never cared to keep shabbat in issurim deoyrayta and to keep kashrut in dinim deorayta (or worse clearly intended to reject the acceptance of these practices in principle)!

    But here is the crux of the issue and again this is a *halachik* mattter!

    ” But in both cases, the convert did show some changes in behavior – changes that Rabbi Sherman rejects as cultural, rather than religious”.

    Pardon my questioning you: Where is there any source that Kabbalat hamitavot means “cultural changes” (and therefore that it would matter even on a bedieved basis); it is clear that that they must be of a religious nature. And it means that they commit to keep the laws of torah and the religious dictates nd as it was accepted by Rav Chayim Oyzer achiezer 3/26 that they entail at least shabbat, kashrut and taharat hamishpacha. This is the essence of gerut after all.
    And if the Rabbi tells her that this is what gerut entails (observing religious commandments) and she/he violates them right away (especially when done for marriage) then there is a rejection and non acceptance of these mitzvot (especially if it was followed or comibined by a statement that she will not observe these mitzvot when they become like “chutz medavar echad” where it may be invalidate the gerut even bedieved).

    Rav YItzchak wrote:
    “Is this distinction sufficient to invalidate the candidate with absolute certainty, or only misafek? I ask (and I am asking, not stating) particularly in the light of Rav Moshe Feinstein’s zt”l position (Igros Mosher, YD3, #108) that to invalidate a conversion after the fact (which he does, in fact hold is possible, like so many others), the evidence of insincere kabbalas mitzvos has to go beyond a clear umdena(legal presumption), and rise to the bar of an anan sahadi (presumptive certainty)!”

    Funny that you mention that Teshuva! IF you see that Rav Moshe wrote a whole teshuva to dispel the thought that a thought at the immersion to go to the office where she usually works on the second day of yom tov would invalidate her conversion! you see that the issues on the other side of the coin are not that clear cut at all . In any event that teshuva reveals us some other VERY IMPORTANT things:

    1) In one pragraph Rav Moshe writes: that he heard from his father that those who convert so that the parents of their spouse will agree to marry their child to this girl etc. that when either spouses are not “makpid” to keep torah and mitzvot that it is like “ANAN SAHADI” that they are doing it deceive the parents and it is not a “kabbalah”

    2) He also writes in the next paragraph that the reason why the convets of Shlomo and Shimshon worked even though they later reverted etc. was because A LONG TIME HAS TRANSPIRED by which they kept torah and did not worship idols. He explains that the idea of a “zamn gadol” works in a way that it cancels the “anan sahadi”: Even though in these cases there is a “hashara” and assumption that they really did not intend to keep torah never the less it does not constitue “anan sahadi”. IT follows (and he states clealry) that if they did not keep “Zman gadol” that we have reached “anan sahadi” that they did not intend to have kabbalt mitzvot!

    3) Rav Moshe also mentions in the begining of the responsa that you mention that if the convert did not accept one of the mitzvot immediately at the time of conversion and immersion he would have to reimmerse, so that the immersion is done after he accepts all mitzvot.

    If I may also add a most important question (that was said over and over and I beleive you raised it in the very beggining) to those who of the DL camp:

    How can many of you who know that the majority of posskim and Klal Yisroel does NOT ACCEPT THESE KIND OF CONVERSIONS not protest at those who propose these practices knowing that the majority cannot accept and FOR halachik reasons, HOW CAN YOU BE SILENT FOR ALL THESE YEARS and listen to how others criticize the haredi camp for being political and adding the divisive petroleum to the fire? HOw can you sanction a practice that touches the core of the defintion of our people as people with a practice that you know WILL SPLIT EVEN MORE THE PEOPLE? How can you allow these practices when you know tha tthe majority of rabbinic authorities do not consider them Jewish?

    Rav yitzchok Thank you again for trying to analyze this issue and work hard that this should not split even more our people, Yasher Koach,

    REspectfully, Shalem

  19. Raymond says:

    Even after reading Rabbi Adlerstein’s latest comments, I do not understand why the Religious Zionist side of things simply abide by the decision of the Chareidim. With an issue of such critical importance as Who Is A Jew, it is simple common sense to side with the stricter approach of the Chareidim rather than the more lenient approach of the Religious Zionists. In other words, better to err on the side of caution.

    My attitude in general about all things Jewish is that as long as the particular religious movement is Orthodox, it is acceptable to me, whether it be Modern Orthodox, Sephardi, Chareidi, or Chassidic. These and those are the words of the living G-d, as they famous expression goes. But again, because this particular issue of conversion involves such a critical issue as Who Is a Jew and Who Is Not a Jew, it is time to put aside emotions, and do what makes the most rational sense, which is to side with the more cautious group, which in this and most cases, are the Chareidim.

  20. Miriam Shear says:

    Comment by Bruce:
    “But I do not insult Orthodoxy, and I expect that Orthodox Jews not insult me or my integrity. I don’t do any of the things sarcastically noted above (ham sandwiches!), and — most importantly — I do not act in any way to spite traditional Jewish beliefs. It is ironic that this paragraph appears in a comment noting that “nobody will talk to one another – they only talk down to each other. And they do so in the most vile language.”

    Bruce, Please accept my most sincere apology for offending you. What i wrote was based on actual personal experience when I addressed a mixed Reform/Conservative group who came armed with visibly traif food items BEFORE THEY EVEN HEARD ME MAKE MY POINTS.

    It would have been more appropriate – and accurate – for me to have included the word “some”. This was purely oversight and negligence on my part. Just as I have had the above negative experience, I have also had very warm, positive feedback from Reform and Conservative Jews.

    Thank you for pointing out this serious ommission to me.

  21. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >“Regarding the agreement (to unify the parties) – also principles like Shabbos! When we want to discuss strengthening (religion) we encounter points of departure (from one another). For example, in the opinion of (the) “Religion and Life” (party -a devastating put-down of the Mizrachi Shita as separating the two),

    >we need to turn a blind eye from milking on Shabbos since the Tzibbur cannot withstand such a thing,

    No, we find heterim as has always been done. See mishpatei Uziel and Amud haYemini.

    >and so too working in the port,

    When did the mizrahi give a heter for this?

    >and so too in the providing of water and electricity,

    Does the CI REALLY want no water and electricity on shabbat??? Does anyone else think that this could lead to many instances of pikuach nefesh?

    >and Bichlal, in a place of necessity one should turn a blind eye even to harvesting produce on Shabbos,

    have the chareidi protests ever worked to minimize hillul shabbes, or do they just make the chareidim feel better about themselves?

    >and Bichlal, one should not get into arguments for Chillul Shabbos, and Gadol HaShalom,

    I don’t understand this attack. Is the CI saying that the mizrachi were mattir chillul shabbos or that Gadol HaShalom is not a torah concept?

    >and in a situation where there is no need for strengthening (religious adherence) there is no need for partnership,

    I don’t get this either, maybe the sarcasm here is over my head.

    >and so too in Kashrus there is no need to be meticulous that what one places in one’s mouth is really Kosher, as long as there is a Hechsher from Rabbis who derive their sustenance from the Kehilla, and so on and so forth.

    Isn’t being somech on the community rav for kashrus pretty explicit in the poskim? Should I not rely of Rav Orbach shchita because he gets paid for being a mashgiach? Or is the CI suggesting we reform the halacha so that we are no longer somech on community rabbis for our hashgacha?

  22. Friar Yid says:

    The Reform and Conservative Jews have a limited amount of energy to fight for their Jewish identity and legitimacy. Such committments have to compete with the energies required for their golf games, country clubs, movie nights, manicures, pedicures, and season tickets to their favorite sports teams. After yelling and screaming a lot, they end the argument by eating a ham sandwich with swiss cheese just to spite you and every Torah principle you stand for.

    While you’re listing various activities that spite Torah principles, you might look up sinas hinam, Miriam.

    I am theologically to the left of Reform with an affinity for Hebrew that places me closer to Conservative practice. I find it highly amusing that none of your criticisms of non-Orthodox Judaism have anything to do with either their theology or practices- rather, you shouts about how awful it is that they do superficial things like play golf, watch movies, attend sports events, and get their nails done- all things that NO Orthodox Jews do at all, right? And don’t forget arguing- we all know no one with a kippah ever raises their voice.

    For the record Miriam, the only things on your list I have ever indulged in are movie nights and the odd ham sandwich. But don’t let things like facts interrupt your stereotype parade.

  23. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Surely you know better than to deny that there are bottom of the barrel conversions in the US Orthodox world. Somewhere to placate a major shul or community donor whose kid has brought home someone not a member of the tribe, three rabbis behind closed doors have done stuff like this.

    Why would I deny it? It was actually one of the points that I originally planned to include in my questions on the haredi position. After my web-debate with Rabbis Freundel and Farber, I spoke at length with each (which was much more relaxed and collegial than what we did on camera). Rabbi Freundel made your point, quite emphatically, and I could not deny it. What may have been different in the heyday of such conversions is a factor very much at the center of the current controversy. R. Uziel’s teshuva includes the prediction that those converted will eventually respond to strong community pressure, and become mitzvah observant. In the decades that have gone by, it has become clear as day that this is not true. To rely on that reasoning today is risible. At the time, it was at least debatable. There were many rabbis who fudged conversions for profit, just as there are today. However, there were also rabbis of great integrity here in the US who converted people because they had every expectation that the convert would hew to the level of (poor) mitzvah observance then practiced in their communities. The rather poor level of observance would not have been seen by them to be an incomplete acceptance of mitzvos. The convert accepted what people around who claimed to believe in G-d and His Torah observed. Only the fanatic rabbi kept “stringencies” beyond that. Two things have changed since then. One is that so many Jews have unfortunately so completely abandoned observance that there is no expectation of the “express” or “casual” convert living at any level of observance. Additionally, there is much more consciousness, even among the ignorant, of the halachically “legitimate” way to practice. Keeping Shabbos can no longer be seen as a chumra. People who reject it are aware that they are rejecting mainstream traditional Jewish practice. (This last point is made by R. Moshe Feinstein in a different context – defining who is invalidated as a witness by dint of transgression.)

    In other words, many (not all) of the rabbis who performed such conversions in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s would not do them today. If they would, we would today have every right to question their efficacy.

    R’YA – may I ask how you come to this repeated conclusion? You yourself mention at least some of the halachik opinions which have been quoted in this discussion.

    Because I haven’t seen anything in print from someone of the caliber of R A Lichtenstein of R Dov Lior! I am not a posek. While I have questions about R Sherman’s conclusions, they remain questions, not answers, until I can see the halachic give-and-take from both sides.

    Another point of your contention seems to be that since the only thing everyone will accept is the most stringent position, that should be the standard. I think it is clear that this approach quickly yields obvious results (convergence to whoever can be most machmir-why not in all cases?)

    I did not state that in this piece, although I may have in my original posting. I made it very clear there that only in matters that affect the nation as a whole do I see the need for convergence around a common (yes, machmir) position. This is not the case in almost all other areas of halacha that I can think of, including some pretty thorny issues like eruvin and brain death.

    As to your conclusion, I again ask you, does the charedi leadership view DL/MO as an acceptable approach in serving hkb”H. If not, all the discussion on geirut courts is a side show-how would they ever accept geirim through or to an approach they don’t accept?
    I can’t speak for them. I find it a more than acceptable approach, as do my closest friends. Any approach born of a sincere desire to learn the Will of Hashem while submitting to the yoke of the mitzvos has to be acceptable. But I disagree with your premise anyway. Those who would find the DL approach completely unacceptable should still be able to address purely halachic considerations. Following a hashkafa you might reject is not a halachic reason to invalidate a person’s testimony, gittin, etc. If you scratch the surface I believe you will learn that some people who froth at the mouth over the mention of YU will nonetheless (behind closed doors) have no problem accepting a get from the Beit Din of America, or relying on OU hashgacho (before putting on their own organization’s symbol.

  24. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >RAv YItzchok, I believe that Rav sherman at his ruling wrote that he is talking about people that was clear that there was no acceptance whatsoever! That they never observed any shabbat!

    Can someone please explain to me how the case in the gemara of a Ger who does not know ikkar shabbat ever came to occur?

    According to R’ Sherman’s psak, wouldn’t the hypothetical person be considered a gentile?

  25. Shalem says:

    “While I greatly appreciate the points you have made, the DL side has no reason to answer R’ Shermans attack. IT IS CLEAR THAT RABBI SHERMAN NEVER EVEN SPOKE TO R’ DRUCKMAN BEFORE GIVING A PSAK, thus making his psak invalid. How can he rule against anothers halacich ruling without even understanding their position?”

    With all due respect, it still does a reason and obligation. For we see that which many of the defenders of RD claim. You can find many of the Rabbis who support and are in sync with RD’s position writing in periodicals like TEchumim; many of them offer some of the reasonings mentioned here. And these reasonings fail hardly to making their defense in Halachik terms. For instance, hey claim and base their position on claiming that Rambam did not require acceptance of mitzvot. Nothing can be further than the truth on this. Rambam is very stringent regarding accepting ALL mitzvot of Torah. He rules that only after such an acceptance can a convert marry a Jew!

    “Rav Lichtenstein provided a response to Rav Shirman’s accusations in halachic language”:

    With all due respect, Rav Lichtenstein did not offer a Halachik defense for RD’s conversions; if anything to the contrary, he acknowledged that RD”s conversions were done by a minority opinion where majority of posskim reject his approach!

    ” 23… What may have been different in the heyday of such conversions is a factor very much at the center of the current controversy. R. Uziel’s teshuva includes the prediction that those converted will eventually respond to strong community pressure, and become mitzvah observant. In the decades that have gone by, it has become clear as day that this is not true. To rely on that reasoning today is risible. At the time, it was at least debatable….”:

    THANK YOU FOR MAKING THIS SUCH IMPORTANT POINT! Let everyone see for themselves in Rav Uzziel’s teshuvot how this was one of the important reasoning in his lenient rationale and reality has unfortunately disproven his predictions.

    “…However, there were also rabbis of great integrity here in the US who converted people because they had every expectation that the convert would hew to the level of (poor) mitzvah observance then practiced in their communities. The rather poor level of observance would not have been seen by them to be an incomplete acceptance of mitzvos. The convert accepted what people around who claimed to believe in G-d and His Torah observed. Only the fanatic rabbi kept “stringencies” beyond that. Two things have changed since then. One is that so many Jews have unfortunately so completely abandoned observance that there is no expectation of the “express” or “casual” convert living at any level of observance. Additionally, there is much more consciousness, even among the ignorant, of the halachically “legitimate” way to practice. Keeping Shabbos can no longer be seen as a chumra. People who reject it are aware that they are rejecting mainstream traditional Jewish practice. (This last point is made by R. Moshe Feinstein in a different context – defining who is invalidated as a witness by dint of transgression.)

    In other words, many (not all) of the rabbis who performed such conversions in the ‘20’s and ‘30’s would not do them today. If they would, we would today have every right to question their efficacy”.

    Thanks for making this point! AS you mention Rav Moshe’s acceptance that someone else may be lenienet and those gerim (IM YD 160) is contingent upon these facts: that the convert does not take seriously that judaism and halacha require a jew not to drive on shabbat ((for instance) and obviously the rabbi tried his best to convey otherwise but the fact that most jews were at that time not shabbat observant (in the 20’s and 30’s) made it legitimate for theprosective convert to think that that wasn’t necessary for one to observe in order to live jewishly. But today this is not the case: The convert may know that when the rabbi tells him that jews do not drive on shabbat, that this is what halacha requires and this is jewish way of life and yet he chooses to disregard this acceptance and the rabbi who yet converts him (if he notifies him that he is not allowed to drive n shabbat) knows tht the whole thing is a sham, that the fellow is not interested in living jewish period (cultural changes are not halachik fulfillment of kabbalat hamitvot). It seems that the leninecy of Rav MOshe would not necessarily apply today. (an additionalpoint has to be made: Rav Moshe was only writing that lenient reasoning to explain how those rabbis would perform those conversions; he clearly implies that he himself would NOT perform those conversions lechatchila and his personal opinion seem to be implied by the ruling that they lack validity even bedieved (those who are on the level of “ana sahadi” and as he writes in many teshuvot: those who do for marriage PLUS the fact that the spouse does not live a relgious life are “anan sahadi” that there is no acceptance of mitzvot).

  26. Binyomin Eckstein says:

    Charedi Leumi,

    I am afraid the entire letter went over your head.

    As an aside, I’m not sure if I ahould be saddened or amused at an attempted “fisking” of a letter of the Chazon Ish on the blogosphere as if it were a half-baked blog post shot off by a twentysomething in between exams, not a very carefully weighed letter in response to a request by the Gadol Hador to make a decision on behalf of the leadership of the Agudah on a matter with exceedingly far reaching consequences.

    I tend more toward the former.

  27. L Oberstein says:

    This article summarizes a wide ideological gulf within the believing community. The world view and scale of priorities is so different that sitting down for a cup of coffee together won’t solve the problem. My question to all the dati leumi propoents is to tell me why Religious Zionism has taken such a back seat to the chareidim in Israel. Whose fault is it that the chareidim have more political clout, more control of the rabbinate that they don’t use and greater zeal for outreach to the non religious. How did it come about that the Mizrachi fell apart and ceased to be a player when it used to rule the roost? How did we get from a godol hador like Rav Herzog to the current Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi who isn’t even mentioned as a player in the argument.
    In short, why are those who are non zionists and who don’t see holiness in the current ingathering of the exiles the ones who have the power? How did they grow from insignificant to dominant in 60 years? And..what does this tell us about the future of Mediant Yisrael.

  28. Miriam Shear says:

    “I find it highly amusing that none of your criticisms of non-Orthodox Judaism have anything to do with either their theology or practices- rather, you shouts about how awful it is that they do superficial things like play golf, watch movies, attend sports events, and get their nails done- all things that NO Orthodox Jews do at all, right? And don’t forget arguing- we all know no one with a kippah ever raises their voice.

    For the record Miriam, the only things on your list I have ever indulged in are movie nights and the odd ham sandwich. But don’t let things like facts interrupt your stereotype parade.”

    Comment by Friar Yid — June 17, 2008 @ 1:46 am

    Dear Friar Yid – Of course there are Orthodox Jews who spend their time on some – and even all – of the activities mentioned. The point I was trying to make is that, as a general rule, Torah observant Jews will spend a significant part of their free time to learning and other Torah pursuits. And while I do not wholeheartedly condemn any of the activities mentioned per se, my argument is with the priority and importance they take in one’s life which, in all intellectual honesty, is different between MOST Orthodox Jews and non-Orthodox Jews.

    I did err in not using the word “some”. Please see my apology in post #20. My apology stands – and so do my beliefs that there is a difference for MOST Jews in these camps as I’ve pointed out in the previous experience. This is not based on any scientific polls but rather first hand experience and exposure from the perspective of a middle aged woman who has spent a lot of time in both camps.

  29. joel rich says:

    original Joel-Another point of your contention seems to be that since the only thing everyone will accept is the most stringent position, that should be the standard. I think it is clear that this approach quickly yields obvious results (convergence to whoever can be most machmir-why not in all cases?)

    R’YA response-I did not state that in this piece, although I may have in my original posting. I made it very clear there that only in matters that affect the nation as a whole do I see the need for convergence around a common (yes, machmir) position. This is not the case in almost all other areas of halacha that I can think of, including some pretty thorny issues like eruvin and brain death.

    Joel response – OK, we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one – and by nature i think pragmatically it would be very difficult to agree as to what issues qualify (e.g. physical defending the Jewish people)
    =================================

    original Joel-As to your conclusion, I again ask you, does the charedi leadership view DL/MO as an acceptable approach in serving hkb”H. If not, all the discussion on geirut courts is a side show-how would they ever accept geirim through or to an approach they don’t accept?
    R’YA response-
    I can’t speak for them.
    I find it a more than acceptable approach, as do my closest friends. Any approach born of a sincere desire to learn the Will of Hashem while submitting to the yoke of the mitzvos has to be acceptable. But I disagree with your premise anyway. Those who would find the DL approach completely unacceptable should still be able to address purely halachic considerations. Following a hashkafa you might reject is not a halachic reason to invalidate a person’s testimony, gittin, etc. If you scratch the surface I believe you will learn that some people who froth at the mouth over the mention of YU will nonetheless (behind closed doors) have no problem accepting a get from the Beit Din of America, or relying on OU hashgacho (before putting on their own organization’s symbol.

    Joel Response – On such a basic issue with such far reaching consequences I would suggest it would be woth your time, as one who iiuc seeks a middle ground, to ask your contacts in the charedi world for insight from their leadership on this question.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree on tthe halachik considerations issue since iiuc your non-response implies you don’t see the macro/micro halacha issue (see the chofetz chaim letter backing beit yaakov schools as an example of macro/micro issue split)

    I will have to accept your assertion that there are frothers who would make that distinction but I imagine that the subtlety is lost on many.

    KT,

  30. mb says:

    ” I made it very clear there that only in matters that affect the nation as a whole do I see the need for convergence around a common (yes, machmir) position.”

    Why?
    I know I need not remind you that R.Akiva was the ignorant son of convert. What sort of conversion did they have.
    Millions of Jews come in all different shapes, sizes and colours. Clearly from intermarriage with the locals. Do you seriously believe they all had halachically strict conversions? Most probably didn’t convert at all.
    Every one of R,Druckman’s court’s converts sure should be given the benefit of the doubt about there sincereity at the time of conversion.
    We do the same for other”acceptable” courts.
    Anything less is simply not Jewish

  31. Moishe Potemkin says:

    I made it very clear there that only in matters that affect the nation as a whole do I see the need for convergence around a common (yes, machmir) position.

    Of course, when Hillel converted people that Shammai deemed ineligible, he explicitly disagreed with your formulation. Is there a legitimate source for this innovation?

    I’m frankly a little troubled by Rabbi Adlerstein’s entire line of thought here, especially his search for “halachic language.” It is beyond obvious that Rav Druckman’s position is a minority opinion, and it is beyond obvious that he contends that current circumstances allow (or mandate) reliance on this minority opinion. Rav Shirman disputes this leniency.

    What is particularly fascinating to me is that Rabbi Adlerstein’s preference brings us to the somewhat counter-intuitive position of creating new halachic practices (contra Hillel) that take current complexities into account, specifically so that we can avoid creating new halachic practices that take current complexities into account.

  32. Bruce says:

    Miriam Shear wrote:

    Bruce, Please accept my most sincere apology for offending you. What i wrote was based on actual personal experience […] It would have been more appropriate – and accurate – for me to have included the word “some”.

    Apology accepted. : ) I understand now that you were referring to particular people who were ill-behaved and insensitive, not making a broader point.

    Just a quick suggestion (and one that, now that I think about it) I intend to employ. When saying something negative about some unspecified set of people (consistent with rule of l’shon hara, obviously) it might make sense to refer to them as narrowly as possible. Your suggestion (saying “some” Conservative and Reform Jews do X) leaves open the possibility that this is a a large group. Perhaps it would be better to make the narrowest possible statement, such as “A group of Conservative and Reform Jews that I met with did X”.)

    I certainly don’t mean to lecture here, but I for one will try to employ this tactic when, on the rare occasions, I must make a negative comment about a set of people. One of the many great lessons I learned from Orthodox rabbis is the importance of choosing words carefully and with chesed.

  33. Eytan says:

    Dati Leumi,

    I feel compelled to second Binyomin’s comments in protest at your treatment of the Chazon Ish’s letter.
    Unfortunately, it is another example of an attitude that underlies much of the commenting on this issue, that is, the failure to recognise the limitations of our own reason and the objectivity of our own intellect when it comes to issues of such grave importance. I appreciate that such sentiments do not sit kindly with the general approach to commenting on blogs, but I feel it is worth consideration nevertheless.

  34. Steve Brizel says:

    I refrained from even commenting on R Shirman’s opinion at least until I read it in the entirety. Like it or not, one can seriously question R Druckman’s POV re Kabalas Ol Mitzvos which is perilously close to watering down this halachic element so as to solve Israel’s demographic problems was against the Rov Binyan Rishonim and Poskim, but the use of rhetorical overkill was also unnecessary.

  35. Friar Yid says:

    Miriam,

    Thanks for the apology. For the record, I share your frustration that many of the priorities of R & C Jews are not on Judaism- in whatever form. However, things are changing and I believe that more non-Orthodox Jews, especially among the youth, are becoming interested in having their Judaism mean something more substantial than somewhere to go a few times a year for holidays and yizkor. I recently attended a Jewish learning festival in which classes on Judaism, Jewish culture and Jewish history were offered focusing on all sorts of different topics and flavors (including some local Orthodox rabbis, Chabad and otherwise). Specifically targeted at people in their 20s-30s, the turnout was dramatic. A lot of non-Orthodox Jews are still hungry to learn, they just don’t want to be lectured, dictated to or spoken down to. Rather, they want to engage with and learn more about the tradition in an environment of mutual respect (and, point taken, flaunting a ham and cheese at someone who is shomer kashrut isn’t good either).

    The more that all different groups of Jews can respond to this great challenge and set aside some of the partisanship (anti-Orthodox bias included), the better for all of us- and those who will follow.

  36. Shalem says:

    Shalem writes: #

    >RAv YItzchok, I believe that Rav sherman at his ruling wrote that he is talking about people that was clear that there was no acceptance whatsoever! That they never observed any shabbat!”

    Charedi Leumi writes:
    “Can someone please explain to me how the case in the gemara of a Ger who does not know ikkar shabbat ever came to occur?

    According to R’ Sherman’s psak, wouldn’t the hypothetical person be considered a gentile?”

    Not at all! Actually Rav MOshe Feinstein speaks about this in different places and he too holds EXACTLY like Rav Sherman in the bulk of Rav Sherman’s ruling (lack of kabbalat hamtizvot and in another place alludes to the second problem mentioned by him: the need for kosher judges on these matters that should rise to the level of “hedyotoss”):

    Apossible scenario (and probably the most likely scenario!) for the case in gemara: the person was in a place where there were no jews at all, the person heard about the jewish people and the jewish spiritual driving force: the G-d of ISrael and he wants to abide and live by the laws of those people. Thrree Jewish people happen to be passing by that town where that non JEw resides and they tell him that they are ready to convert him! But they are in a rush…they tell him that there is a G-d of Israel and HIs laws and that there is a way of life, but they are in a rush; they perform the circumcision the immerssion and they tell him that he must commit himself to live jewishly and he must later travel to a town where there jews and he will present the certificate of convesion to the rabbis of that town and they will teach him all the laws of the Torah. They say goodbye…they had no chance to speak to him about shabat…(they were obviously wrong for lechatchila you must tell some of the chamurot and shabbos is one of them) …but they are “hedyotot” no less….in the meantime he does not know about shabbat and he cooks his food ont hat shabat. Immediately after shabbat he goes to the big town where there is a bEyt Din and thy inform him about the laws…lo and behold he realizes that he violated shabbat and he cooked and he wants to perform a proper procedure of atonemnt..they instruc him to bring a korbon!

    Ironically that all mention this halacha (you are not the first and probably not the last) do not pay attention to another interesting point of this Halacha: The Ger wishes to bring a korbon from his own volition to correct the wrong that he did! WE are talking about a sincere and genuine ger who want sto perform what G_d of ISrael has instructed and pays money to bring his sacrifice to Jerusalem and wastes no effort to travel etc towards this end!

    In contradistinction: qwe have numerous of “converts” who are told by their rabbis that Judaism requires them to keep shabbat, but: a) the “convert” is totally uninterested in it! He knows that the Rabbi told him that cooking is a no no on shbbat and yet he could not care less about it, b) Plus: the rabbi who told him that knows clearly that he will not be interteested in the least bit not to drive and to cook on shabbat: here there is total non acceptance of shabbat and and many a time a clear rejection (“chutz meshabat”)where it is clear that the conversion is null and void!

    One more interesting point: The Rambam interprets that gemara to talk about a conversion on a *child* who grew up after the conversion not knowing about shabbat. (I wonder what would the rambam ctually hold in a conversion about an adult! in theprevious scenario and why he avoided talking about an adult!).

  37. Shalem says:

    Rav YItzchok wrote:

    ” Rabbi Sherman cites important poskim that flouting accepted halachic norms invalidates a person’s reliability as a witness, and therefore as a dayan as well. He concedes that these same poskim allow for the possibility that if a person thought he was doing a mitzvah by ruling leniently, he does not lose his reliability. Rabbi Sherman then goes on to differentiate between the reliability of witnesses and judges, but offers no evidence for the distinction other than his own opinion. Regardless of whether he is correct or incorrect, should not a decision that affects the lives of tens of thousands of people rest on something stronger than his own opinion?”

    There was another point I wanted to make on this : *Rav Moshe* himself raised the question that on such conversions the Dayan may be a passul dayan “garua mehedyotos!” (YD 160). He struggles hard and finds a reasoning (one that was mentioned by you and that perhaps may not be relevant in our day and age). But (Surprise) he does *not* offer that rationale “that if a person thought he was doing a mitzvah by ruling leniently, he does not lose his reliability”, even though he mentions a reasoning regarding the convert himself (who thought that the mitzvah is not that important “only a hiddur”). Why hasn’t Rav MOshe stated this reasoning regarding the dayanim? IT would (at the surface) appear because he does NOT agree with that aforementioned contemporary Dayan that equates a Dayan to an Eyd! (although he was talking about a limud zchus for thousands and thousands of convets as REb Moshe was worried about their status and was not comfortable with thier stance for the some of the very same reasons as Rav Sherman was1).

  38. mycroft says:

    “In 1988 I was sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to address the Knesset and speak with various groups in Israel and the United States on the Who is a Jew issue. I was zocheh to be in the company of Rav Soloveitchik and Rabbi Immanuel Schochet during many of these speaking engagements.”

    Really-by 1988 Rav JB Soloveitchik had withdrawn due to illness from active participation and sadly was in no condition to be where the writer states he was. Rav A Soloveichik spelt his name without a t.

  39. mycroft says:

    The following taken from Tradition just after RYBS’s ptirah shows that Rav Soloveitchik at least had a different attitude to some of the issues discussedthan Rav Moshe Feinstein-just quoting to show that a universal attitude in these matters has not existed,

    “The Rav’s opposition to moves which threatened the unity of the Jewish community also manifested itself in his attitudes towards non-Orthodox groups. He counseled against denying Conservative or Reform Rabbis the right to use communal mikva’ot for conversions. Moreover, he once instructed … that Reform conversions that were accompanied by circumcision and immersion in a mikvah had to be treated as a safek goy. (Accordingly, a get would be required to dissolve a marriage in which one of the partners previously underwent a Conservative or Reform conversion which conformed to the requirement of milah and tevilah.)”

  40. Gary Shulman says:

    Eureka, a solution: In additon to the State of Israel accepting 2 rabbis to head the Rabanut, Ashkenaki and Sfardi let them accept a Dati Leumi rabbi, or 2 DL rabbis one Sfardi and one Ashkanazi. When gerus is done it should be noted on a Teudat Zehut by which rabbi. Let each group have access to the computer of maraige and yechus , or better yet get 4 differnt computers. The computer databases will document yichus. All conversions from the Rabbanut will be accepted by the state. If an individual Charedi rabbi does not want to accept the DL convert, fine its his personal choice. Let that person go to a DL rabbi to get married. It may happen the other way too. After all “East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet.” The Army and all government instituions representing the Zionist state can have DL kashrus supervision while Nahal Chareidei and the local councils where there is a Charedi rabbi can have Badatz. Shalom al Yisrael

  41. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >the person was in a place where there were no jews at all, the person heard about the jewish people and the jewish spiritual driving force: the G-d of ISrael and he wants to abide and live by the laws of those people. Thrree Jewish people happen to be passing by that town where that non JEw resides and they tell him that they are ready to convert him!<

    Then my next question is:

    what is the difference between a person who legitimatly wants to Join the Jewish people but does not know their laws due to lack of Jews in his location.

    AND

    A person who legitimately want to Join the Jewish people but does not know their laws due to the fact that the vast majority of Jews in his geographical area don’t keep the laws.

    It other words, I think we need a clearer definition of what kabbalat ol mitzvot entails. It is obvious from the rishonim that it does NOT mean lack of knowledge of fundumental mitzvot such as shabbos (even though that is the example often given on blogs – ‘the woman never even kept one shabbos’).

    If its the subjective opinion of the dayanim that the person in front of them is sincerely accepting the Torah (like the people Hillel haZaken converted who obviously did not know most mitzvot before they were converted), then how can another court make passul the subjective judgement of another?

  42. Naftali Zvi says:

    Concerning a Ger that does not know Ikar Shabbos –

    Pardon my lack of bekius, but I am very curious as to where this Gemara is. Are there no meforshim that discuss the scenario?

    In any case, it is certainly very possible to occur with a Ger katan she’matbilim oso al daas beis din (that is discussed in the beginning of Kesubos) who, for whatever reason, never received a proper Torah education.

  43. Calev says:

    Thank you R. Adlerstein for seeking a middle way through this complicated business.
    I agree with some commentors here that there appears to be more here than simply an halachic issue. It is very, very hard to disassociate the current machlochet from the on-going tension between Zionist and non-/anti-Zionist camps.
    However, R. Adlerstein’s concluding comments should be the guide: both sides, by focusing on the halachic issues – even the minutiae – can and should use this as an avenue for dialogue. In engaging in halachic argument shem shemayim there is the real possibility that – even if they don’t agree – they will learn to respect each other’s learning and viewpoints more. One would hope that such behaviour by the leaders of both camps would set the example for their respective followers. I am not optimistic on this last point: read Simcha Raz’s biography of Rav Kook and you will see the tremendous personal respect, even fondness, that he shared with some of his biggest chareidi critics; alas, the aggressive and disrespectful behaviour shown by some of their followers did no-one any favours, least of all, I suspect, in the sight of Hashem.
    The current machlochet is an opportunity for true, positive leadership on both sides.

  44. Shalem says:

    “The Rav’s opposition to moves which threatened the unity of the Jewish community also manifested itself in his attitudes towards non-Orthodox groups. He counseled against denying Conservative or Reform Rabbis the right to use communal mikva’ot for conversions. Moreover, he once instructed … that Reform conversions t”
    the right to use communal mikva’ot for conversions. Moreover, he once instructed … that Reform conversions that were accompanied by circumcision and immersion in a mikvah had to be treated as a safek goy. (Accordingly, a get would be required to dissolve a marriage in which one of the partners previously underwent a Conservative or Reform conversion which conformed to the requirement of milah and tevilah.)”

    That is contrary to what I was told by HaRav Hershel Shechter how Rav Soleitchik was very strict about Kabbalat Hamitzvot at the gerut and held that that is the main ingredient of gerut . He was actually stricter than HaRav Moshe Feinstein with regards to the conversion of a minor; where Rav Moshe was lenient and Rav Soloveitchik was extremely stringent regarding the observance of child and parents and held that without the observance there is no gerut period!

    (His stance about refusal to deny the right to them use the mikvaot has no bearing whatsoever in the present discussion as that does NOT mean that he accepted that there any shred of validity to that gerut (As RAv Moshe who we have in writing did not give any validity to a reform conversion not needing any get whatsoever etc. and yet advised not to engage in a fight over refusal to allow them to use mikvaot for those purposes (as the fight would useless etc.). Incidentally haRav Aaron Soloveichik fought vociferously not to allow the usage of mikvaot for their sham conversions).

  45. cvmay says:

    The DL world argues that the inability of haredim to come up with a modus vivendi for so many issues plaguing the State implies that our Torah is antiquated and not a Toras Chaim that can shine Divine illumination upon the issues over which we agonize.

    This plays itself out in the Charedei world in the USA also, (it is not only an Israeli plague)where issues of higher education, employment, Jewish voting block, participation in the secular world, etc. is totally ignored and ‘building higher & stronger walls’ is the solo modus vivendi. The divine mission of a ‘holy NATION’ has been rewritten to equal ‘my sect, my yeshiva, my chassidiss, my mesorah, my hashgafa, my roshyeshiva, my rebbe’ rather than the concept of a JEWISH PEOPLE.

  46. norm says:

    “Haredim believe that the dati-leumi (DL) camp is prepared to subvert “real” Torah to the dictates of non-religious and anti-religious forces in the government. They charge that when Torah matters are left in the hands of members of the DL orbit, issues of State ultimately trump issues of halacha. Gerus is just the latest in a series. The DL camp, on the other hand, believes that haredim have turned a deaf ear to concerns of Israeli society as a whole, content to contribute their mitzvos and learning, but nothing in areas of the enormous political, military and social issue that face Israel.”
    So the solution to the problem from the haredi side is to be more active in playing a role in Israeli society as a whole. The problem is as soon as they do they are accused of hijacking the system for their own cause. We need no better example than the Rabbanut. No doubt the same thing will happen as haredim become more involved in the army. Beside the willingness of one party to change there has to also be a wilingness on the other side to accept that change. On the other hand, if the DL were willing to separate ideology from Halacha and accept a somewhat more stringent approach in high-impact areas such as geirus they would be lauded by haredim.

  47. Michoel says:

    cvmay,
    You paint with a rather broad brush. It is exactly the concept of a JEWISH PEOPLE, to quote your upper-case, that is driving the Charedim in the geirus issue. If it were only about MY SECT, than I couldn’t care less about the geirus issue.

  48. Michoel says:

    Comment number 12 by R’ Yehoshua Rabinowitz makes a very unfair statement about Rabbi Adlerstein, that he is unable to step out of the yeshiva mindset. Rabbi Adlerstein has consistently shown himself to be a very independent intellect. Just the opposite, he is too far to the left on some issues, but he is at least an honest and substantial commentator.

  49. very frightened says:

    Again, there is an issue in that the court abolished ALL of the giyur done by R. Druckman and R. Avi-Or. The apologeticists and attackers keep framing this debate in terms of extremes, in which a case here or there may not have meant to have a real giyur. A case by case review when there is some kind of safek, may be worthwhile.

    However, the fact remains that not all of the converts in Druckman’s bet din were these controversial cases. Many fine frum dati leumi yeshiva types went to Druckman and Avi-Or because the local Rosh Yeshiva sent them, whether its to adopt a child from overseas or to marry a giyoret who had settled in Israel. I know for a fact, since I’m one of these, a yeshiva student who married a giyoret, sent to this bet din, with the best intentions, by a well known rosh yeshiva in Israel.

    My kids have been in yeshiva their whole lives. Will Rabbi Adlerstein come and tell my kids, innocent bright children who spent their whole lives in yeshivot, raised frum their whole lives, and explain to them that suddenly they are not Jewish?

    While its fun to debate frumkeit and knock this party or that one, does anyone have any idea how real world horrible this is for many of us?

  50. sima ir kodesh says:

    In engaging in halachic argument shem shemayim there is the real possibility that – even if they don’t agree – they will learn to respect each other’s learning and viewpoints more.———This is an Utopian Fantasy, the charedim engage the RZ as those who are in need of kiruv rechokim. “Every shevet with its own degel” is a lost art, and the sibling rivalry (various children of one father)is at a highpoint.
    Dialogue is imperative, as in sibling rivalry it dawns on the children at a time of deep sorrow and loss.

  51. Zev says:

    Why does Rabbi Adlerstein keep talking about “the charedi side?” R’ Sherman is not charedi, nor are the rabbis who complained about R’ Druckman’s practices. The charedim surely agree with R’ Sherman, but they have no dog in this fight.

  52. Miriam Shear says:

    “In 1988 I was sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to address the Knesset and speak with various groups in Israel and the United States on the Who is a Jew issue. I was zocheh to be in the company of Rav Soloveitchik and Rabbi Immanuel Schochet during many of these speaking engagements.”

    Really-by 1988 Rav JB Soloveitchik had withdrawn due to illness from active participation and sadly was in no condition to be where the writer states he was. Rav A Soloveichik spelt his name without a t.”

    Comment by mycroft — June 18, 2008 @ 12:45 am

    I may have spelled the name wrong. However, I object to you questioning my integrity. I have pictures with Rav Soloveichik – in his wheelchair – and I am standing right next to him in the Jerusalem Sheraton Plaza Hotel. Yes, he was quite ill and his energy clearly ebbing. But he felt this issue was so important to Klal Yisrael that he made the difficult trip to Eretz Yisrael to speak on this issue. I would be glad to send the pictures except for the fact that they are packed as I am moving to Eretz Yisrael within the next 2 weeks. You owe me an apology for your false accusations.

    To Friar Yid and Bruce: Thank you for your graciousness in accepting my apology. I believe we are all on the same page and I welcome your suggestions on how careful we must be with our speech. I am taking your lead and will sincerely attempt to incorporate that very good advice into my own spoken and written words.

  53. YGB says:

    I reserve comment on the conversion issue in question. But it should be noted that an organization subject to significant question and controversy has taken one of the sides of the argument, and this link has not been sufficiently analyzed. See:

    http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=17855

  54. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    My kids have been in yeshiva their whole lives. Will Rabbi Adlerstein come and tell my kids, innocent bright children who spent their whole lives in yeshivot, raised frum their whole lives, and explain to them that suddenly they are not Jewish?

    I won’t, because I don’t believe that this will be the bottom line. If you read my piece again, perhaps you will see where I was heading. I don’t believe that when the halachic dust settles, very many conversions (if any) will be seen as completely invalid after the fact. Those will only be conversions (if they exist at all) in which there was no change in behavior from before the conversion to after. Some cases will be treated as safek, with people who care about what other communities think quietly undergoing a second immersion, without fanfare. (No I don’t know what will happen in the case of a female offspring who has by now wedded a Kohen. My guess is that on a case by case basis, such questions will be dealt with with the same gravity as agunah questions, and top-notch poskim will be meikal in appropriate instances.) I have no idea what will happen in cases in which R Druckman himself was one of the three dayanim in actual attendance, since no one I know of has stepped forth to offer a halachic argument as to why that would not invalidate him. Again, there may never have been such cases. I know that it is easy for me to say, but I would not lose any sleep over this. I will be happy to explain all of this to your children – in person, or by phone.

  55. very frightened says:

    R. Adlerstein-

    Thanks. If there are issues, I’ll call you. The kids are still in yeshivo ketano, actually, we are in your area; I would prefer to raise them as the normal yeshiva kids they are, and hopefully this will blow over. But when they use the language of “all” in talking of invalidation, I think its clear that alot of well meaning individuals are being hurt here, and its not just a series of fake giyur. I will be happy to provide you any details you wish.

  56. Bob Miller says:

    Regarding the comment by cvmay — June 18, 2008 @ 8:26 am

    A modus vivendi attempted by DL-affiliated rabbonim is not above reasoned criticism on halachic grounds simply because their aim is noble.

    A halachically defective modus vivendi, if such exists, is at least as problematic as none at all.

  57. Shalem says:

    , but I am very curious as to where this Gemara is. Are there no meforshim that discuss the scenario?

    In any case, it is certainly very possible to occur with a Ger katan she’matbilim oso al daas beis din (that is discussed in the beginning of Kesubos) who, for whatever reason, never received a proper Torah educa”

    The Talmud is around Shabbat 68a-b. There are some rishonim on it. The Rambam actually explains that the gemara refers to a case of a child who was converted (ben hanochrim).

  58. Moishe Potemkin says:

    “…and top-notch poskim will be meikil in appropriate instances.”

    This is pretty consistent with the thought that this is far more about which team gets the final say than whether the geiruyos were valid.

  59. mb says:

    To Miriam Shear,
    Regarding Rav Soloveitchik being in Israel in 1988. I am rather surprised hear this. In R.Rakeffet’s book he qotes the Rav saying he would not go again( he went in 1935 to interview for the CR of Tel Aviv) and be in public because it would cause the Briskers to come out and protest his visit because of his Zionist stance. He did not want to create Machlokes. I’m also surprised others do not know of this visit.
    Perhaps you could post the pictures at some point? It will clarify the confusion.
    Thanks

  60. Shalem says:

    #

    Again, there is an issue in that the court abolished ALL of the giyur done by R. Druckman and R. Avi-Or. The apologeticists and attackers keep framing this debate in terms of extremes, in which a case here or there may not have meant to have a real giyur. A case by case review when there is some kind of safek, may be worthwhile.

    However, the fact remains that not all of the converts in Druckman’s bet din were these controversial cases. Many fine frum dati leumi yeshiva types went to Druckman and Avi-Or because the local Rosh Yeshiva sent them, whether its to adopt a child from overseas or to marry a giyoret who had settled in Israel. I know for a fact, since I’m one of these, a yeshiva student who married a giyoret, sent to this bet din, with the best intentions, by a well known rosh yeshiva in Israel.

    My kids have been in yeshiva their whole lives. Will Rabbi Adlerstein come and tell my kids, innocent bright children who spent their whole lives in yeshivot, raised frum their whole lives, and explain to them that suddenly they are not Jewish?

    While its fun to debate frumkeit and knock this party or that one, does anyone have any idea how real world horrible this is for many of us?

    Comment by very frightened — June 18, 2008 @ 3:29 pm”

    Let me begin my remarks that I understand and feel your pain and regret that the situation is such that it causes somuch main and sorrow to you and many other people.

    Let me also state: that NO ONE is having “FUN” in this issue where so many may feel a terrible pain.

    But that notwithstanding: We are dealing with serious Halachik issues thatmut be addressed and cannot shoved under the rug or carpet.

    Let me also state: that for instance if if a Ger was negayer and went to a mikveh and someone knowns that the mikveh was passul at the timeof gerut and the person who went through that gerut was serious amd raised his family frum and yiddish and sent them to yeshivot and learnt torah and did mitzvot, does that absolve the person who has information that the mikveh was passul at the time of conversion to share his information with others? Or is he obligated to share what he knows to try to fix the problem that needs to be fixed? It would appear that the later becomes mandatory!

    Now: Please understand that Rav sherman and those who share his views explained the Halachik problem in great detail and to summarize we have *two* problems!:

    1) THose conversions where the convert converted without ever wanting to have any kabbalat hamitzvot!,

    2) Even those where there was a serious kabbalalt hamitzvot but the *dayan* was unfit to be a Dayan can also invalidat the gerut even to those cases where the converts were genuine and sincere to enter the covenant between them and G-d!

    IF a Dayan was known to disregard the need for the Halachik requirement for KAbbalat Hamitzvot (ie. that he consistently and systematically disregarded and dismissed out of hand the need to comply with those requirements as opposed to an occasinal mistake) he may become disqualified to be a kosher dayan for these matters.

    No one (and mean no one not even Rav Sherman despite all his attackers and scoffers here and abroad) takes pleasure in sharing this opinion. But they feel that this is the honest to goodness truth of Halacha.

    Let me also add: That Rav Sherman in very end of the ruling stated he is not categorically dismissing the status of that particular convert as Jewish and lcaimed that if there would a call to clarify her status as such there should a new hearing. I’m not clear myself whaT thismeans in light that he dismissed the need for having a divorce. But this is what he stated noetheless.

    How much more so: regarding the other numerous people who were converted by Rav Druckman that he did not categorically state that they are certainly not JEwish. I know that this is not the greatest of comfort but it is important to state what was said and ruled in that particular ruling.

    I assume and hold that great sages would deal and find a Halachik solution to this mess. I do sincerely hope that there can be a way to validate all the sincere conversions (as your wives and many others) in Halachik terms. I thought to myself that maybe there can be found a way in this extrenuating circumstance to utulize the reasoning of one of the rishonim that there is a “Collective” “we” of dayanim that are judging that your wife and many others accepted torah and mitzvot (similar to a thought raised by tosafot in *one* of their suggestions in talmud yebamoth 45b) But obviously for this or any other novel decision we need real bona fide RAbbonim and Possek decisors who know the Halacha well and have Siyata Dishmaya to to tule according to the will of Hashem (As it is known that only Rabbis who practice Rabanut have the help and special assistance of G-d to be “mechaven” to the Will of Hashem as the famous story with the great Sage the NOda Biyhuda) SO maybe some solution can be found to these very painful situations.

    But certainly no one (but no one) is having “Fun” with this mess. They feel the obligation to apply the Shlucan Oruch to the unfortunate cituations and most importantly to change the situation from now on so that Geyrey Tzedek as your wife and many others would be the gerim that appear in klal yisrael and are those whom Hashem commanded us to love them more than He commanded to love other JEws and the Jewish people will be able to benefit immensely from the greatness of the Gerey Tzedek that contribute to klal yisroel and as we pray especially in the tfilat amidah 3 times a day that gerey hatzedek get should be pured over the special mercy given by the ALmighty G-d!

    SHalom Vehaltzcha,

    Shalem
    #

  61. Dotan says:

    Rabbi Alderstein: “I don’t believe that when the halachic dust settles, very many conversions (if any) will be seen as completely invalid after the fact. Those will only be conversions (if they exist at all) in which there was no change in behavior from before the conversion to after. Some cases will be treated as safek…”

    Rabbi Alderstein, I think this is entirely divorced from the actual forces at play in Israeli reality.

    I think that when the dust settles (I disagree that it is truly “halachic” dust), there will be a Religious Zionist alternative to the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel (perhaps in the form of Tzohar). All of Rav Druckman’s conversions will be accepted by this body, which will also marry the converts. The CR may even be disbanded entirely.

    The minority of charedim in Rav Elyashiv’s camp (unlike the majority in Shas) will insist on giyur lechumra in the rare cases when they “intermarry” with the wider Israeli society or with the descendants of such chozrim bitshuvah.

  62. AK says:

    Hi,
    As an Israeli living in a mixed community but predominatly DL , but a Chareidi rabbi, I have been witnessing a coming together around a common purpose of becoming Bnei Torah and Ahavas Yisroel. The Mk Rav Gafni made a similar comment , saying today there is a big community of DL who are very serious about their Yiddishkeit and when looking at the big picture the differences between them and the chareidi community are small and not so critical. He was critical of the DL political leadership. The way the latest conversion issue has been handled has done a lot of damage to the unity of purpose in serving Hashem. As the rabbi has said , that the practical ramifications for geirim may be few , but a lot of damage has been done. If people would have the big picture in front of them , the WAY issues are handled would be different.

  63. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >1) THose conversions where the convert converted without ever wanting to have any kabbalat hamitzvot!,

    2) Even those where there was a serious kabbalalt hamitzvot but the *dayan* was unfit to be a Dayan can also invalidat the gerut even to those cases where the converts were genuine and sincere to enter the covenant between them and G-d!

    Don’t these position contradict each other? In order to explain the Gemara on Shabbos 68 above, you had to posit a position where even 3 hedyots could be kosher dayanim for a conversion. Now you seem to be saying that mumchim are needed. Further, it is questionable at best, as Rav Lichtenstein put it, if you can consider a dayan who relies on a minority opinion to be unfit. Its things like this that make the RZ side doubt that all this is comming from a pure halachic contension – there is a political side to this whole parsha that you simply can not miss – and it gets uglier the closer you look!

  64. elana says:

    Miriam and others – the R. Soloveichik in the story was probably the rav ztl’s brother R. Aaron ztl. (the wheelchair and year seem to match) as you probably do not know, he wrote a very long tshuvah on conservative rabbis desire to use an orthodox mikveh for conversion that was in strong opposition to RMF ztl’s very liberal ruling. Perhaps out of respect for RMF’s advanced age he did not identify who he was opposing. it is well known that both he and his brother were stricter than RMF on some geirut related issues. (I was told not so much on halakhic grounds but on meta-halakhic grounds, that would not necessarily apply to the russian olim) Almost role reversal relative to their positions on Synagogue council and how to relate to other factions within judaism.

    For those who want a pretty complete introduction to this topic of geirut(and some snippets on the Neeman commission and R. Druckman from shiurim given years ago)well before this crisis, listen to R. rakeffets shiurim given at gruss on geirut on the yu website. (despite his rebbe’s beliefs we always felt the boys at gruss got more!!) you will hear multiple opinions that would likely support R. Druckman from many great poskim. (r. rakeffet has a great line that R. Lamm’s liberal stance was more reflective of RMF than the RAV.) sadly, the world has gotten so politicized that even reading tshuvot has been impacted.

  65. mycroft says:

    Really-by 1988 Rav JB Soloveitchik had withdrawn due to illness from active participation and sadly was in no condition to be where the writer states he was. Rav A Soloveichik spelt his name without a t.”

    Comment by mycroft — June 18, 2008 @ 12:45 am

    “I may have spelled the name wrong. However, I object to you questioning my integrity. I have pictures with Rav Soloveichik – in his wheelchair – and I am standing right next to him in the Jerusalem Sheraton Plaza Hotel. Yes, he was quite ill and his energy clearly ebbing. But he felt this issue was so important to Klal Yisrael that he made the difficult trip to Eretz Yisrael to speak on this issue. I would be glad to send the pictures except for the fact that they are packed as I am moving to Eretz Yisrael within the next 2 weeks. You owe me an apology for your false accusations.”

    When one refers to Rav Soloveitchik-without a first name-one assumes one is referring to RYBS rather than RAS.
    I’ll assume it was an unintentional mistake to spell the name wo a first name and spelt the way RYBS spelt it- people could assume you were referring to RYBS. One can’t assume that the views of obne are the views of the other-they were personally close but had many hashkafic differences-while they both were fighting independently for Torah and its values.
    As far as RYBS and geirus I refer to the quote in comment 38 of this blog.

  66. Shalem says:

    “>1) THose conversions where the convert converted without ever wanting to have any kabbalat hamitzvot!,

    2) Even those where there was a serious kabbalalt hamitzvot but the *dayan* was unfit to be a Dayan can also invalidat the gerut even to those cases where the converts were genuine and sincere to enter the covenant between them and G-d!”

    Charedi Leumi writes
    “Don’t these position contradict each other? In order to explain the Gemara on Shabbos 68 above, you had to posit a position where even 3 hedyots could be kosher dayanim for a conversion. Now you seem to be saying that mumchim are needed”.

    Shalem responds: No, they do not contradict each other at all: YOu need “Hedyotos” and do not need “mumchim” (and therefore some “hedyot” who occasinally served an “Ad hoc” bet din” and did not do the finest of jobs has his gerut and servcices valid bedievad). But someone who creates a new system contrary to the system prescribed by Halacha (he disregard the need of commitment to observe mitzvot ie. “kabbalat hamitzvot”) has a geder of “less than hedyoto” for this matter!

    Charedi Leumi wrote:
    ” Further, it is questionable at best, as Rav Lichtenstein put it, if you can consider a dayan who relies on a minority opinion to be unfit”.

    Why is it questionable? Someone who follows and adopts a system that is negated by the majority, is legitimately regarded by the majority that he is unfir to perform and judge these issues. A person who follows a medical practice rejected by the majrity of the medical establishment can be stripped by his title for these matters.

    and please re-read Rav Lichtenstein: He did not say that you cannot invalidate his conversions that were followed by minority opinion per se; he rejected calling him a “heretic” for this reason!

    But how can you reject the majority for ruling to adopt the positions of the majority and therefore invalidating the practices of the minority and his title as a person fit to perform practices in this field is actually legitimate and honest fromt he standpoint of the majority.

    Beis Hillel and Beit Shammay lived peacefully with each other but it did not stop them from considering some of their offsprings to be “mamzerim” to the other camp, since according to their opinion the practices of the camp in certain instance brought about mamzerut (tzaras ervah)etc.

  67. mb says:

    Isn’t the fact that the woman involved in this debacle wanting a get substantiates that she has “changed” from her pre conversion status, and therefore a valid convert?

  68. Shalem says:

    “Isn’t the fact that the woman involved in this debacle wanting a get substantiates that she has “changed” from her pre conversion status, and therefore a valid convert?”

    1) She didn;t substantiate that she has “Changed”‘ 2) She actually stated that she had NEVER CHAnged with regards to shmirat shabbat etc.

  69. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Shalem,

    I am not aware of any written source where anyone associated with R’ Druckman’s beis din has argued that kabbalat haMitzvot should not be a requirement for conversion. The most I think anyone can say is that they are too naive in their appraisal of the intent of the prospective ger. If it could be shown that the majority of converts comming out of the court show no change in their lifestyle than maybe someone can make an argument for the court being unreliable.

    However, everyone must admit that EVERY court would have some percentage of its converts who do not sincerely accept the mitzvot. The issue seems to be how tamim should a court be when appraising prospective gerim.

    Has anyone claimed that the beis din in question does not inform the gerim of the mitzvot kalot and chamurot, their schar and onesh? What evidence is there that this court has changed any of the traditional components of giur? Will finding a ger who never accepted mitzvot now serve as ground for paseling dayanim? It seems to me that this is something that is very much up to the subjective judgement of the dayanim and that it stands to reason that sometimes they would get it wrong. Now, if it can be shown that there is a pattern where most procpective gerim comming out of a beis din show NO change in behavior (and I mean no change, I think that most would agree that even a slight change like lighting shabbat candles or saying kiddush or saying shma yisroel would signify kabbalat haMitzvot of SOME kind), then I think that it is valid to discuss the competance of the beis din.

    However, in this particular case, it seems to me that an entire beis din was all their conversions were delegitimized based on ONE case. Further, the dayan who did this did not invite the members of the beis din in question for questioning – did not have all the information regarding this particular woman, and ignored the explicit instructions of the chief rabbi who is his superior!

    I just don’t see this as a valid reason to pasel a beis din – nor does someone in R’ Sherman’s position have the authority to do so. The discipline of dayanim correctly rests in the hands of the chief rabbi – R’ Ammar.

  70. Naftali Zvi says:

    To poster 66 –

    No, she didn’t want a get. She wanted to get divorced. Her “desire” for a get was only because, as long as one is “civilly” (i.e., legally) Jewish, one NEEDS a get to get divorced, even in the secular environment. There is no indication from what we have heard that if she didn’t need one, she would want one. I can’t see how this constitutes a change in behavior which, by all accounts, is what is being required of her.

  71. LOberstein says:

    It is obvious that Miriam Shear is telling the truth, that she was referring to Rav Aharon, not Rav Yoshe Ber. Why is her veracity being repeatedly challenged? It is unbecoming on Cross-Currents to attack someone as a bald faced liar not once but twice.
    I find it very disconceerting that the blog world allows people to hide behind fake names abd thus be free to write whatever they wangt without taking any responsibillity. If you have something worthwhile saying, why do you use nicknames and initials, take responsibility for your words,especially since Mrs Shear is a real person and deserves respect.

  72. Miriam Shear says:

    “To Miriam Shear,
    Regarding Rav Soloveitchik being in Israel in 1988. I am rather surprised hear this. In R.Rakeffet’s book he qotes the Rav saying he would not go again( he went in 1935 to interview for the CR of Tel Aviv) and be in public because it would cause the Briskers to come out and protest his visit because of his Zionist stance. He did not want to create Machlokes. I’m also surprised others do not know of this visit.
    Perhaps you could post the pictures at some point? It will clarify the confusion.
    Thanks”

    Comment by mb — June 18, 2008 @ 10:11 pm

    As I mentioned previously, the pictures and mementos of this visit are packed away as I am moving to Israel in 2 weeks. I truly do not have time for this. Either accept what I said or don’t. For those who know me, my integrity and honesty in my dealings is not something that comes into question. For those who do not know me, I am sorry I cannot accomodate you at this time. Moving my family and myself to Eretz Yisrael is pretty big stuff. Everything else right now has to take a back seat.

  73. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    #31 Of course, when Hillel converted people that Shammai deemed ineligible, he explicitly disagreed with your formulation. Is there a legitimate source for this innovation?
    To the contrary. When Bais Hillel and Bais Shammai disagreed, they were deferrential to each other. Bais Shammai informed Bais Hillel which people would be forbidden to them in marriage. In the present situation, the DL rabbis are calling for those who disagree with their psak to be forced to abide by it. They insist (and now have an MK who will back this with legislation) that a family court charged with determining who is single and who is married, who is elligible to marry and who is not, must abide by the determination of a gerus court whose halachic leniencies are unacceptable to a large percentage of serious halachic contributors (to put it mildly).

  74. Ori says:

    Yitzchok Adlerstein: They insist (and now have an MK who will back this with legislation) that a family court charged with determining who is single and who is married, who is elligible to marry and who is not, must abide by the determination of a gerus court whose halachic leniencies are unacceptable to a large percentage of serious halachic contributors (to put it mildly).

    Ori: Do they insist that a Charedi court tell Charedim that these gerim are Jews? Or do they insist that a government court allow these gerim to marry spouses who are not Charedi, and who either accept them as gerim or don’t care?

    In the time of Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai marriage did not have government involvement. That made it easy to live with disagreements. This is not the situation today.

    Imagine you were Beit Hillel, and you loved and wished to marry a woman who was permitted to you according to Beit Hillel’s opinion. You went to your town’s Rabbanut, who happened to be Beit Shammai, and they told you to forget it. Halacha forbids the marriage, so you’d better find somebody else. How charitable would you feel towards Beit Shammai afterwards?

  75. Shalem says:

    Charedi Leumi writes:

    “Shalem,

    I am not aware of any written source where anyone associated with R’ Druckman’s beis din has argued that kabbalat haMitzvot should not be a requirement for conversion”.

    Shalom! Unfortunately there are many people (and here too we had commenters that repeat this mantra) who write in part of their defense to Rav Druckman’s position that Kabblat Hamtizvit is not necessary, that the Rambam did not write it (something we have shown that it is utterly FALSE!) and so on. I beleive that there is a Proffessor (I forgot their names (Zohar ) forgive me if i’m wrong) who wrote a whole dissertation on this point exactly. I do not recall at this moment that Rav Druckman’s bais din themselves wrote it (And I apologized if I wrote that the themselves have written it); but certainly people associated with their positions keep defending them (and I saw it in numerous places) partially based on this false misconception.

    Charedi Leumi continues:
    “The most I think anyone can say is that they are too naive in their appraisal of the intent of the prospective ger. If it could be shown that the majority of converts comming out of the court show no change in their lifestyle than maybe someone can make an argument for the court being unreliable”‘.

    Dear Charedi Leumi, please if you can, take your time to read what has been said by Rav Sherman in his ruling (even if you disagree with what he ruled, you should at least know what he claims so that you can attack him appropriately. IT is very disconcerting that after such long attacks on him people repeat things that are not actually what he said or that he actually has claimed what some would liked what he should have said), to see that this is actually what he claims and even worse! That Rav Druckman’s Bais Din systemically disregards the requirement to ensure that the convert commits himself to live JEwishly. I don’t know if they claim that these are majority of his conversions; but he claims that there are huge numbers where RD totally disregards the requirement that the convert should commit to do mitzvot. This is a serious breach as far as the literal halachik meaning of kbbalat hamtizvot is concerned.

    Charedi Leumi writes:
    “However, everyone must admit that EVERY court would have some percentage of its converts who do not sincerely accept the mitzvot. The issue seems to be how tamim should a court be when appraising prospective gerim”.

    TRue every Bais Din fails here and there. But they at least try hard to ascertain that a certain serious commitment has taken place.Actually you write about “Tamim”; In our case it is actually worse than that: RD converts whom it’s obvious that they will not observe shabbat kashrut and taharat hamishpacha and he did that systematically convert them in this state and with a shitta about it!

    Charedi leumi writes:
    “Has anyone claimed that the beis din in question does not inform the gerim of the mitzvot kalot and chamurot, their schar and onesh? What evidence is there that this court has changed any of the traditional components of giur?”

    It is not enough to “inform”; the heart and blood of conversion is the commitment to live jewishly. The “informing” comes after the person accepts to live jewishly according to the lifestyle of Torat Hashem to Am yisrael. After this has been established we can move on to “inform” them about kalot vechamurot and schar veonesh; if there is no serious acceptance on the essence of commitment to Jewish tradition and lfiestyle and of beleif in certain basic principles (as fate of the Jewish people and G-d of Israel etc.) then “informing” is merely robotic and conversion is a matter OF LIFE NOT OF INFORMATION!

    Charedi Leumi writes:
    “Will finding a ger who never accepted mitzvot now serve as ground for paseling dayanim?”

    Not the finding of one or few isolated cases; but if one finds that the daayan systematically converts people without them committing to observe especially when it is done with a “shitta” to “davka” do so it is grounds to passel them. ACtually none other than Rav MOshe Feinstein OBM in IM YD 160 raises the problem that such dayanim may not be eligible to fit for dayanim and maybe they are “garua mihedyotot” for this concern exactly!

    Charedi leumi writes:
    “It seems to me that this is something that is very much up to the subjective judgement of the dayanim and that it stands to reason that sometimes they would get it wrong”.

    Actually Rav Moshe writes in his name and his name of his father: that in situations where the convert is converting to marry a jewish spouses and the jewish spouse is not observant it becomes “anan sahadi” grounds for objective assessment that the fellow is not commiting to live jewishly. IN one place RMF writes that there should a “zman gadol” of observance to verify that there was genuine commitment to observe! And unfortunately in these cases (where they convert for marriage and the spouse is non observant) they would “get it right” in most of the cases! -while some would surprise the rabbi as the convert remains observant even if the spouse does not and at times the covnert brings the spouse back to judaism but those are from the “Few” and the “most” are unfortunately the reverse-.

    Charedi Leumi writes:
    “Now, if it can be shown that there is a pattern where most procpective gerim comming out of a beis din show NO change in behavior (and I mean no change, I think that most would agree that even a slight change like lighting shabbat candles or saying kiddush or saying shma yisroel would signify kabbalat haMitzvot of SOME kind),”:

    This too is probably not the accepted opinion of the majority of posskim (actually I would challenge anyone to show me a “minority” who concurs with you in a written pssak din!): Most would not agree that “slight change” like lighting candles or even saying shma yisrael is enough. FOr instance Rav Chayim OYzer who was lenient in some of the issues under discussion, wrote clearly that we would need serious commitment to observe shmirat shabbat, kashrut and taharat hamishpacha meaning restricting oneself from practices that violate issurim deorayta. It would appear that just lighting shabbat candles would certainly not suffice and it does not show any commitment to refrain oneself from practices that are contrary to issurim deorayto. I would even ask you to find a written responsa by Possek that he states that refraining from biblical prohibtions and still violating biblical prohibitions (n shmirat shabbat or kashrus or mikvah) would suffice. IT would appear literally that the fellow must commit to all biblical restricitions. (In fact, even if he rejects outright some of the rabbinical prohibtions may cause a huge problem but certainly if he clearly rejects the acceptance of some biblical command or that he does not accept to refrain in practice from biblical prohibtions to keep shabbat wuld create a rpoblem at least in the realm of “vaday” and put him or her in the realmof “Safek”).

    Charedi Leumi writes:
    “However, in this particular case, it seems to me that an entire beis din was all their conversions were delegitimized based on ONE case”.
    This is really unfair! The Rabbi deligitimized the conversions based on his knowledge about his numerous other conversions as he WRITES IN HIS RULING! (please read it inside).

    “Further, the dayan who did this did not invite the members of the beis din in question for questioning -“:

    The claim of RS is that they once did request to come and he refused.

    ” did not have all the information regarding this particular woman,”
    Why did he not have the information regarding this woman? Is that BD the only source of information about the woman?? There obviously can be other avenues for information about this woman.

    ” and ignored the explicit instructions of the chief rabbi who is his superior!”
    I’m sorry, but this argument is totally beyond me! How can an honest dayan NOT rule according to his honest to goodness opinion??? His superior is THE ALMIGHTY G-D! and he responds to him only! He must rule according to his understanding as to what is the Will of Hashem. Actually Hashem writes in His Torah “loy taguru MIPNEY ISH” that one of the requirements of a judge is not fear ANY MAN (including the chief rabbi!).

    Shalom, Shalem

  76. Baruch says:

    Miriam Shear,
    You are correct what you wrote if Irecall the vote was close back in 1988 and all those paties or people who were against changing the law to read l’halacha thaey have crated this big problem of 300,000 walking around thinking they are Jewish if the law qould have been changed we would not have the issues we have now.

  77. John Watson, M.D. says:

    “It is obvious that Miriam Shear is telling the truth, that she was referring to Rav Aharon, not Rav Yoshe Ber.”

    I agree that it’s silly to question Mrs. Shear’s integrity based on an innocent misspelling of a name (there are different ways of spelling “Soloveitchik” in Hebrew, too), and on the fact that she didn’t include the first name of the Rav Soloveitchik in question. After all, I imagine those commenters probably don’t refer to RYBS by his first name either; they just call him the “Rav”!

    But Rabbi Oberstein, why do you think Mycroft is hiding behind an assumed name? I assure you, he’s a real person; I knew his brother well.

  78. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Shalem,

    It is posts like yours which leave me a bit confused. I am far from an experct in these matters. But I have been trying to educate myself more in this area. Frankly, most treatements on the matter from both the left and right leave me more confused than before. There seem to be several components at play here and I am not sure where each begins and the other ends. In the rishonim and achronim that I have looked at, there seem to be several inter-related issues as I understand them:

    1. intent of the convert (leShem ishut, etc)
    2. kabbalat haMitzvot
    3. things beis din are required to inform the ger
    4. potential hazara leSuro

    This is where confusion sets in. There seems to be a lot of room for kula regarding number 1 in cases where two people have already been living together or if avoiding conversion will lead to more problems than it will solve.

    It seems that the Rambam identifies number 2 with number 3 (not like you say that 3 comes after 2. However, this is not as clear to me in other rishonim.

    What is NOT clear to me is what kabbalat mitzvot means. On the one hand, in order to understand the various gamaras, we have to assume it is a kabbala in a very abstract sense without any connection to a specific din (as you explained above regarding a goy that did not know ikkar shabbat). On the other hand, the beis yitzchok and R’ chaim ozer seem to say that there needs to be SOME particular change of behavior to validate the kabbalat haMitzvot. Nobody seems to be explicit to what extent this is the case – you bring opinions that he must commit to deOraitas but you must concede that the gemara seems to imply that this is not a requirement – that kabbalat mitzvot can exist without this – you did this above (although not leKatchila). Somehow, the beis din needs to decide the sincerity of the prospect before the conversion but nobody seems to be explicit how to decide this sincerity. Many rishonim even seem to suggest that you should not tell him too much, lest we scare him off. Someone like my self is left in utter confusion.

    Add to all this the fact that there does not seem to be many sources suggesting that a beis din has any responsibility to check after a ger after the conversion and the confusion gets even worse.

    Further, some of the responsa I have seen regarding number 1 above seem to me to obviously also lack the kind of number 3 which would satisfy you. For example, in R’ Dovid Zvi Hoffman’s psak permitting marriage leShem Ishut, it is hard to believe that the ger in question would keep the law knowing everything we know about german Jewish society during that period.

    B’Vracha,

    A confused Chareidi Leumi 🙂

  79. Chareidi Leumi says:

    >Further, some of the responsa I have seen regarding number 1 above seem to me to obviously also lack the kind of number 3 which would satisfy you

    This should read:

    Further, some of the responsa I have seen regarding number 1 above seem to me to obviously also lack the kind of kabalat haMitzvot which would satisfy you.

  80. Chareidi Leumi says:

    BTW, here is Rav Dov Lior’s answer regarding the conversions from R’ Durckman’s beis din:

    שאלה:
    רציתי לדעת מה דעתו ההלכתית של הרב, כיצד ראויי לגייר לאור מצב הגויים בארץ, ומה הרב אומר על פסילת הגיורים של הרב דרוקמן?

    תשובה:
    אני לא בדקתי את הנושא, ואני לא יכול להביע דעה ולהתייחס לדבר שאני לא יודע. רק עיתונאים פועלים כך לפעמים, אך אני לא יכול לעשות דבר כזה. אני יודע שמטפלים בבירור הסוגיה הזו, ונחייה ונראה מה יגידו.
    גירות צריכה להיות בבית דין שמשתכנע שהמועתד לגיור, בין איש ובין אישה, יודעים את החומר וחושבים שהם יקיימו אורח חיים של שמירת תורה ומצוות. אם זה בספק, אסור לגייר. אם בתי הדין האלו פעלו כך או לא, אני לא יכול להביע דעה, אני לא בדקתי את הנושא.

    אם אחר כך התברר שלא שומרים תורה ומצוות,השאלה מתי זה קרה. אם תקופה מסויימת הם הקפידו על תורה ומצוות, ולאחר מכן נחלשו, כתוב מפורשות שגר שחזר לסורו, זה שמו ישראל עבריין, ש”אף על פי שחטא, ישראל הוא”. אם לפחות נשאר בדברים בסיסיים כשבת, כשרות, תפילין, ולא הקפיד על גילוח בחול המועד זה פחות בעיה. אך אם התברר למפרע שתיכף למחרת הגיור, נסעו בשבת,אכלו אוכל לא כשר זה מגלה שאף פעם לא הוחזקו במנהגי ישראל ונמצא כל הגירת היתה בהערמת בית הדין, זו הייתה הצגה. גם אחרי עשרים שנה מתברר למפרע שכל הקבלה הייתה מן השפה ולחוץ. וצריך לבדוק כל מקרה לגופו, האם שמר דברים בסיסיים המקובלים לשמור בחברה דתית ורק בדברים אחרים הייתה לו חולשה, ואי אפשר להתייחס בצורה גורפת.

  81. Bob Miller says:

    Time to take stock. Have the discussion threads here on this topic chnged anyone’s mind whatsoever? Have they clarified anything or have they caused all partisans to dig in?

  82. lacosta says:

    Rav Druckman, to the best of my knowledge, is a fine gentleman, but not one of the halachic luminaries of the DL world.”

    — out of curiosity, and as a point of clarification, when rav adlerstein visits Israel, and obviously goes to see the mosdos hatorah and the gdolim,
    i wonder what is included in that spectrum. to some that spectrum is from black to black; too many people can only lend legitimacy to another camp for Shiva calls…..

  83. elana says:

    Shalem, others, it is not helpful to quote RMF without careful care to the date of his tshuvot. He clearly adopted a more “liberal” stance after coming to the US, not in his personal behavior/POV, but in his ability to find support for those with whom he disagreed. Read the 3 tshuvot in YD 1, in order and do not assume he did not change his mind. the tshuvah where he quotes his father, was written in europe. It is clearly different from the tshuvah after he said he had not yet read Achiezer; it is more liberal even than RCOG. much can be learned from how RMF wrote; he was unique, even in his generation, willing to go against the (overwhelming) majority in cases where he judged great need. But his literary/personal style needs to be appreciated IN CONTEXT. In any case, quoting undated snippets is not acceptable scholarship, particulary because many great tshuvot often consider both sides of an issue and can argue with great passion for a position not finally adopted.

  84. Noam says:

    ” In the present situation, the DL rabbis are calling for those who disagree with their psak to be forced to abide by it”

    On the contrary. No one is forcing the Chareidim to abide by anything they dont want to abide by. They can examine the yichus of someone they want to marry and decide if further “conversion” is desired. They can decide that the food they thought was ok should be be classified as bishul akum and establish their own kashrut seperate from the rabbanut. Oh, they already do that, sorry. They can even establish their own group of “mehadrin Jews” if they want, and exclude everyone they have even the slightest suspicion of. No one is forcing them to accept anything. Unlike the situation earlier this year when they tried to force the rest of the country to eliminate reliance on the Heter Mechira.

    I reccomend this article by rav Shlomo Riskin, who reads the Rambam according to pshat. 🙂

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1212659738513&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter

  85. Shalem says:

    Charedi Leumi,

    Thank you for posting this. It is good to hear Rabbis from the RZ expressing their opinions on this matter. Most importantly where we agreement on the essential parts of the contentions that the conversions must carry sincerity and most importantly that they can even invalidate it ex post facto if for instance there was laxity in shabbat kashrus and tfillin. Let us hope that we can find more and more such announcements and a lot of problems will be highly minimized. Todah Rabbah vekol tuv,

    Shalem

  86. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Noam –
    One man’s pshat is another’s krumkeit 🙂
    (I think we are going to have to have that phone session to go through the Rambam according to the different shitos.)

    Charedi Leumi –
    Sure looks to me like R Lior holds a position identical to, close to, or perhaps even more demanding than R Sherman! He certainly dismisses R Daichovski’s position! (He then elegantly sidesteps having to comment directly on R Druckman’s conversions.) It is a response completely consistent with the manner of talmidei chachamim, in directly relating to the halachic issues, instead of simply whipping the crowd into a frenzy, as certain other articles did.

  87. Chareidi Leumi says:

    I am also curious to see Rav Eliezer’s melamed article on the issue (it is the third in a series of articles on giur apearing in beSheva and the third installment – for parashat Korach – is supposed to directly discuss this particular issue – the first two just dealt with general approach to giur.

    I am also looking into Rav Yisraeli’s position on giur. I have just purchaced a book with all of his piskei din when he was on the beis din haGadol. I am guessing there is something to be found there.

    I would still like some clarification regardin the questions I posted above (they have not been removed from moderation yet).

    My biggest question is the difference between motive for giur and kabbalat haMitzvot and the interplay between them. It seems to me that allowing someone to be megayer for ishut carries with it an implicit assumption that there is severe danger for a lack of kabbalat haMitzvot.

    I am not surprized by Rav Lior’s teshuva. Most rabbanim that I know in the RZ world are pretty strict on kabbalat haMitzvot as a component of giur. Frankly, for a public policy perspective, I am not convinced that being leniant in this regard is the best policy – I fear that such a course holds more dangers than it actually solves.

    In any case, I think the public reaction from the RZ side is more due to the fact that the psak is seen as blatently political in its nature and it attacks R’ Druckman in terms which are too strong.

    The other question is (and the one which is often ignored): What ARE we supposed to do about the current situation? Even if we say that the solution of the left of orthodoxy is no good. That does not give us the right to ignore the problem. an alternative MUST be found! I actually find the silence from halachic luminaries on the center and the right to be just as disturbing as the reliance on daat yachid on the left!

  88. Chareidi Leumi says:

    I actually think that the single most important opinion on this matter will probably end up having to come from Rav Ovadia Yosef shlit”a. When you think about it, he is sufficiently removed from the ashkenazi chareidim to be shielded from accusations of unnecessary stringincy (in fact, it is silly for anyone to ever accuse rav Ovadia of such a thing)

    Further, he is widely respected in the RZ world as well. He has the kind of stature that the ashkenazi chareidim will not be able to ignore. And Rav Ammer, is a close talmid/haver of rav Ovadia. I think that a peshara would be to let R’ ovadia decide what to do about past conversions as well as what to do about giurim for the future.

  89. Shalem says:

    Regarding Rav Ovadya: His position reagarding past conversions in general seems to be in between, it depends to the “chozek hooomdenah” (strength of the assessment ahead of time ) that the convert is not accepting the yoke of torah and mitzvot only that he makes a verbal declaration but his heart is remote from it (“bepiv ubissfatav kibduni veliboy rachak mimenee”) and “anan sahadi” that they never intended to keep mitzvot in practice then it appears that even bediavad there is no conversion; if however there is no “umdenah demuchach” at the time of conversion then even if at the end it was known to us his intentions their law is like a yirael mumar… And he writes that this is the opinion of Rav Kook that “bistam” one should not rule lekulah that they are not jews; implying that if we have a clear knowledge about his intentions at the time of conversion then Rav Kook would hold that the conversion is null and void even bediavad (contrary to what was said here in his name). The content of this one can find in periodical Torah She Baal Peh in the year 5731 where there is an article by Rav OVadyah on this matter.

    One more important opinion on the matter is Rav ISrael Rozen’s opinion on similar issues in the past (a person in the centre of this debacle) : IN TEchumim VOl. 23 page 198-202 (one can see page 201 for the conclusions of his opinions) where he is extrmely stringent on these matters:

    1) a constant situation of contravening laws of torah cannot be equated to a situation of “onness”.In addition there are many who hold that if a ger cannotwithstand to an onness (where he is mandated to withstand) there is a problem in the kabbalat hamitzvot.

    2) Where the prospective convert knows the strignency of the prohibition and willfully deceives the beit din that is certainly “anan sahadi” that there is no kabbalat hamitzvot. He does not accept even bedieved conversion done with umdenah demuchach that there will be no kabbalat hamitzvot.

    3) He does not accept even bedieved “deah dechyuyah yechidait” (a sinlge REJECTED opinion) that the concept of Kabbalat Hamitzvot refers to accepting the punishment for violating the mitzvot when there is no intent to keep and perform the mitzvot.

    This is an opinio of Rav ROzen REligious Zionist RAbbi as recorded in the aforementioned periodical.

  90. G says:

    I made it very clear there that only in matters that affect the nation as a whole do I see the need for convergence around a common (yes, machmir) position.

    I know this is off topic but might you go into more depth on this?

    One man’s pshat is another’s krumkeit

    Correct, so why not leave each group to their own devices and if/when their paths cross it is up to each individual to look out for themselves?

  91. Chareidi Leumi says:

    Here are Rav Eliezer Melamed’s articles on the issue. He takes what seems to be a mainline stance on kabbalat haMitzvot but strongly critisizes R’ Sherman and his beis din.

    http://www.inn.co.il/Besheva/Article.aspx/7488
    http://www.inn.co.il/Besheva/Article.aspx/7505
    http://www.inn.co.il/Besheva/Article.aspx/7521

    I also read through R’ Elyashiv’s opinion on the Langer case again as well as R’ Yisraeli’s counter-opinion. It seems that R’ Elyashiv’s position contradicts that which is attributed to him by R’ Sherman. What is most amazing is that R’ Elyashiv gives a high level of importance to the society in which the ger lived in after the conversion. To the point that he does not mind if the ger ignores major portions of Torah law as long as he displayed some level of change. Rav Yisraeli takes issue regarding this point – how can the red line be so subjective?

    I have also spoken to several rabbis who have worked with R’ Drukman’s beis din and they all claimed that the assertion that the beis din does not take seriously the issue of kabbalat haMitzvot is slanderous. They had all sponsered potential gerrim and were asked about the gerim’s progress in the community and their dedication to mitzvot.

    What they DO advocate, however, is a sort of “don’t ask don’t tell” attitude beDiavad. The sort of equivalent to how we treat a get after its complete – we rip it up so that no mistakes can be found later on. This is of course a matter of public policy and needs to be decided by bodies such as the chief rabbinate. Of course, if it can be shown that a beis din converts gerim who consistantly make no change in their lives, then such a beis din should be “taken off duty.”

  92. Dotan says:

    Rabbi Alderstein, here is an article more or less along the lines of what you are looking for, full of serious mekoros, by Rav Yehuda Herzl Henkin.

    http://hazofe.co.il/web%5Cnewsnew%5Ckatava6.asp?Modul=24&id=59336&Word=&gilayon=3190&mador=136

    Bottom line from the article:

    Is it really pshat in the Rambam? Yes.

    Is it really a serious halachic viewpoint, even if a minority one? Yes. (And it is certainly not just “one or two” lonely voices.)

    Is there any validity to what Rav Sherman did? No.

    Rav Sherman, by the way, is being accused of very serious moral breaches in his conduct as a dayan:

    http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/756/267.html

    For a lecture about who Rav Druckman shlit”a is and also his approach to giyur, see here (Rav Rakeffet on “Nationalistic Geirus”):

    http://www.yutorah.org/showShiur.cfm/716812/Rabbi_Aaron_Rakeffet-Rothkoff/2003-02-23_Nationalistic_Gairus

    This lecture is from long before the current controversy, and reflects the essentially positive approach that one would expect regarding something like this, had power-politics not gotten involved.

    Rabbi Alderstein, I really think you should apologize for what you wrote: “Rav Druckman, to the best of my knowledge, is a fine gentleman, but not one of the halachic luminaries of the DL world.” He is a posek easily of the stature of some of the best in North America.

  93. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    Dotan, I looked carefully at Rabbi Henkin’s article. It comes closer than anything else I have seen to addressing some – but hardly all – of the issues that need attention. I think (as I said from the beginning) that it was wrong of Rabbi Sherman to employ the phrase “kol haposkim” because it would be a lightning rod for criticism. Pointing to a Bach that is roundly rejected does not change the essenial argument. Close to “kol” is functionally the same as “kol.” No, I don’t beieve that R. Henkin is correct at all about the Rambam – and I am not a “supporter” of R. Sherman.

    R. Henkin’s position that signing a falsehood on an official document should be seen as an “error in administrative judgment” is not one that particularly resonates. Without chas v’shalom implying any comparion between the people, should we perhaps call Yeravam ben Navat’s placing of two golden calves a momentary error in political administration? Signing a sheker on an official document is NOT like tying knots on Shabbos, where widespread ignorance may allow us to attribute the action to ignorance of the law. The difference between truth and untruth is well known. Taking liberties with truth is at the core of disqualifying people from testimony and sitting in judgment.

    We are still in need of a better treatment.

    I wish I could say that an apology was in order, but that is not the case. To spell out more would only add more fuel to the fire. My assessment was not my own, and came entirely from sources within the DL world.

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