Weekly Digest – News and Essays In and Out of Orthodoxy – Parshas Bamidbar 5776

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35 Responses

  1. Reader says:

    I would like responsible Torah leadership to address this matter, of some fringe individuals going to way out third world countries, and claiming to facilitate/perform legitimate conversions. Although it sounds messianic and romantic, we need to look at it with cold logic, and not be swayed by dreams and enticing headlines. People from such places may be looking to be rescued from dismal lives in backwaters by connecting to what they view as a successful community. But we have enough problems already, and traditionally, the Orthodox have not traveled the world searching for converts like that. Things that seem like great dreams come true can sometimes turn into nightmares (Hashem yeracheim).
    The fact that the wife of a Conservative leader is involved gives cause for concern. Also,I recognize a name of one of the supposed Beth Din members. He is a nice guy, a cantor and optician, but by no means is he considered a Rabbinic authority in NY, where he comes from.
    I think such non-traditional initiatives should require approval from high-level recognized poskim, and not be recognized with when lacking such.
    The matter needs to be addressed urgently, soon, as such groups are not sitting still, and want to do even more such things soon.

    • dr. bill says:

      question their geirut all you want; all i know is that you are in violation of oppressing a convert.

      • lacosta says:

        the halacha of oppressing geirim would only apply if someone is a true Ger.  eg  it wouldnt apply to a non-O ‘convert’…..

        menshlichkeit might apply , but you have to be a Ger before Ger-related halachot apply…

        • dr. bill says:

          the argument against the geirut of a BD of three kosher jews has to be much stronger, particularly after the fact.  of course, some chareidim have violated this halakha, but don’t mistake religious extremism opinion for halakha.

          • R.B. says:

            Which has exactly zero to do with oppressing a ger. Speaking of opinions taking the place of halocho….

          • Chochom b'mah nishtaneh says:

            Usually geirut requires a bet din of mumchin.

             

            Not 3 individuals off the street.

          • Reader says:

            There seems to be a lack of clear and relevant information given in the report. It states that the members have Orthodox ordination, to imply that everything is kosher according to Orthodox standards. However, one of the three clergymen involved, Pinchas Klein, is actually the spiritual leader of a Conservative Temple in Philadelphia. If someone is the leader of a Conservative congregation, Orthodoxy is lacking right there.

            Another member is an optician in Brooklyn NY, who occasionally performs as a cantor.  That doesn’t seem to fit the bill for what is generally considered a practicing Rabbi.

            The third member I don’t know much about.

            But if even just one of the three is lacking in Orthodox practice there seems to be a serious problem.

        • R.B. says:

          Exactly! Wow, we agree on something. 🙂

           

           

        • mycroft says:

          “”Chochom b’mah nishtaneh

          Usually geirut requires a bet din of mumchin.

           

          Not 3 individuals off the street.”

          Any 3 Jews kosher for a BD could be BD for a gerus-it does not require being a mumcha. As a practical matter the matter to my knowledge has been handled by Rabbonim-NO REQUIREMENT to be a MUMCHA. The real requirement is being able to ascertain if the potential ger is being honest about why he wants to become a ger and if you believe they are committed to acceptance of mitzvot etc. That skill is not necessarily found in greater amounts by world class talmeidei chachamim than by the random reader of Cross Currents.

          • Chochom b'mah nishtaneh says:

            The story referenced disproves your suggestion, that this ״Bet Din” objectively reviewed the intentions of the applicants.

            More than 120 applicants converted in 10  days?  Which was 50% more than even originally intended?  C’mon even You has to see something wrong with that.

            Were you to ask a Bet Din that regularly deals with Geirut, what percentage of applicants ultimately make it all the way through, I really doubt you would gone that it is 150%.

            Something is wrong with this process, it does not reflect reality.

        • mycroft says:

           

          lacosta

          the halacha of oppressing geirim would only apply if someone is a true Ger.”

          True

          “eg  it wouldnt apply to a non-O ‘convert’…..”

          Not so obvious -the Rav once paskened in the following case that in the case of a Reform conversion, Reform marriage followed by civil divorce the woman would require at least a get mesafek before she could get married. He was choshed that the Reform conversion could have been good . BTW you see an example of a famous gadol who refused to follow RMFs aggressive heter of not requiring a get for non Orthodox marriages-here the Rav was not willing to be combine the possibility of RMFs heter being correct with the possibility that the Reform conversion was a non event to not require a get.

          BTW certainly there was not a hava mina that the Reform conversion had mumchim.

          • Tal Benschar says:

            What exactly is this story about the Rav supposed to prove?  That he had a chashash that maybe there was a good geirus, and hence a valid marriage, in that case?  Given the severity of eishes ish, this is not surprising, although RMF might have disagreed.  (Even RMF preferred to have a get lechatchilah.)

            The real test would be, suppose this Reform convert came to the Rav and asked to be married to a born Jew.  (Let’s take prior marriage out of it, assume he/she were single.)  I am very dubious that he would perform such a marriage without another conversion.

          • dr. bill says:

            Tal, I don’t disagree.  but a halakhic jew would be chosaish for a de’oraysah of oppressing a ger even if he has a chesash on the validity of the geirut.  sadly, many, in their preference for stringency, forget that stringency in one area, can create leniency in another, this being a good example.

            FWIW, Rabbi Pinchas Cohen seems to belong to a splinter group, formed in response to the conservative movement’s egalitarian swing.  The group included at least one individual who stood head and shoulders above the vast majority of orthodox talmidei chachamim.  that should not be grounds for questioning a geirut.

          • lacosta says:

            one can treat someone nicely and not consider them a ger  , and therefore those issurim don’t apply. i know of no hetter to treat a non-jewhating gentile not nicely. but you are trying to be moseef—to add an issur where one probably doesnt exist.   and i am not sure there is any issur to tell someone whose giur is not kehalacha that they are not jewish

          • mycroft says:

             

             

            “What exactly is this story about the Rav supposed to prove?  That he had a chashash that maybe there was a good geirus, and hence a valid marriage, in that case?  Given the severity of eishes ish, this is not surprising, although RMF might have disagreed.”

            RMF certainly disagreed-in a case of Jewish born couple married by non Orthodox clergy he ruled a get is not required-the Rav certainly disagreed requiring a get even in the compound case of Reform conversion and then Reform marriage.

            I have some understanding of what I heard was the Ravs  svara for being choshed for the conversion being OK-but since no written source I will not state the reasons.

            ” (Even RMF preferred to have a get lechatchilah.)”

            Until  recently that was a given until politics has become even stronger over prudent halacha

            “The real test would be, suppose this Reform convert came to the Rav and asked to be married to a born Jew.  (Let’s take prior marriage out of it, assume he/she were single.)  I am very dubious that he would perform such a marriage without another conversion”

            AGREED

      • Reader says:

        Huh? Who is oppressing a convert here?

        Legitimate questions are being raised about Kulanu and similar operations, their aims and modus operandi.

      • Chochom b'mah nishtaneh says:

        And precisely how has he oppressed any geirim?

         

      • Chochom b'mah nishtaneh says:

        I am sure this is what your response to חז״ל would be when they said קשים גרים לישרא-ל כספחת

  2. Reader says:

    A few years ago an issue arose with regard to questionable individual conversions. The chief Rabbinate of Israel, in the face of reports of questionable conversions, insisted on upgrading standards for conversions to be recognized. The RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) went along with the chief Rabbinate and instituted measures to upgrade standards.

    The question is, should standards for mass conversions (as in the linked story) be any less than those for individuals? Strong standards need to be in place. Messianic groups like Kulanu need to be reigned in before they create too much confusion and questionable facts on the ground.

    • mycroft says:

      I googled “mycroft and gerut” and would like to copy two of my old cc posts on the gerus issue first from http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2007/07/06/conversion-confusion/
      mycroft
       
      July 9, 2007 at 9:53 pm
       

      My biggest problem is the Rabbanut in Israel changing the rules in midstream. For decades they have accepted geirut by members of the RCA-who would forward a certificate to the RCA office that they performed the geirut. The Israeli Rabbinate relied on that certificate. There is no indication that the American Orthodox Rabbinate has been engaged in admitting converts en masse. Most Rabbonim tell me that the vast majority of their converts have been either giyurei katan-where they’ve always insisted on a day school education etc and the not rare case of people who believed they were brought up Jewish-but become baalei tshuvah and find out that their mother wasn’t Jewish because their grandmother was a non Jew married to a Jew.
      These people have been converted for decades and may have lived a frum life for decades but now the chief Rabbinate is saying we don’t recognize their geirut. Smells of politics-Israel and the IDF geirut is far more problemetical. By playing their theoretical games it creates much emotional problems of acceptance by geirim.
      Going forward I might see a disadvantage to the new system-but no big deal-one at least knows what one must do to be accepted. To change the rules decades later is inexcuseable

      and from http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2008/06/05/on-halacha-no-compromises/

       
      MYCROFT
       
      June 5, 2008 at 7:04 am
      Undoubteedly there may have been gerim who were improperly converted-but the net affect has been a challenge to thousands of gerim who have been gerim for decades. The former procedure was that local Rabbonim would do the geirus, write a document and get ratification from RCA beis din if they needed it for Israel. Chazakah was crucial here-I remember asking decades ago a Rabbi and said what will happen decades later when proof and people are gone-even Rabbonim go to the olam haemes. The response was chazakah. Someone who had been acting like a Jew for decades -went to day schools sent to day schools etc no one would question. Sadly, in this case I was right rather than the Rabbis involved. Try and prove what happened decades ago. The oppression of gerim is unbelievable-frankly I know of current Rabbis who know won’t recommend that gerim go to Israel for Post HS learning etc because of the situation. It is very sad-everyone is concerned about the honor of this Rav and that Rav but not concerned about people who followed the procedures decades ago. Kavod hatorah is important-but challenging gerim en masse is scandalous. If there is a specific reason to doubt an individual gers gerut ok-but to challenge en masse what has happened scandalous

       

      • Reader says:

        The issue being discussed here is different. What is being discussed here is an organization promoting conversion on a large scale, as opposed to individual conversions done in the past.

        • mycroft says:

          Reader
           
          June 8, 2016 at 12:05 am
          The issue being discussed here is different. What is being discussed here is an organization promoting conversion on a large scale, as opposed to individual conversions done in the past”

          You previously wrote:
          Reader
           
          June 7, 2016 at 12:14 pm
          A few years ago an issue arose with regard to questionable individual conversions. The chief Rabbinate of Israel, in the face of reports of questionable conversions, insisted on upgrading standards for conversions to be recognized. The RCA (Rabbinical Council of America) went along with the chief Rabbinate and instituted measures to upgrade standards”

          Certainly IMO the conversions were in general done by Rabbis less questionable than done by one serving jail time for spying on naked women in mikveh. The RCA and CR stand behind his gerus because people relied on him-of course for decades people relied on standard RCA members conversions following procedures than in effect. Or is what makes the conversions of the jailed RCA member OK is that he was the Chairman of the RCA gerus commission. Besides showing that central authority does not necessarily equal higher quality gerus-it shows politics-ones gerus are good no matter what aveiros one was doing as long as you were of the point men attacking OO-but a standard Ravs gerus done half a century ago will not be sustained.

  3. lacosta says:

    haredi ladies enter marriage knowing that if things don’t work out , and there is any money involved , will be looking forward to a great time as an aguna—especially in the Israeli court system….

    • Chochom b'mah nishtaneh says:

      But according to you there are no “Haredies” capable of earning any meaningful living, certainly not in Israel.

       

      • dr. bill says:

        the proof that haredim are not subject to crass discrimination, is the ability of trained haredi women to earn a meaningful living, despite consistent pregnancy limiting the areas in which these women can realistically work.  beyond israeli women, foreign born and baale teshuvah women, allow yet more men to maintain careers of full-time learning.

        of course, this creates the very real possibility that haredi women will be exposed to the very ideas that haredim are trying to wall out.  in the old order it was the man who had greater exposure to general culture; in the olam hafuch that chareidi mythology creates, this too may change.  it is not surprising that ROY ztl’s daughter is light years ahead of her brothers.

      • lacosta says:

        first off , if she got married , it means her folks were able to assemble money for a dirah .    no  nadden, no shidduch….

        besides [see the new channel 10 documentary ‘harediot’,  the primary income source , as well as household upkeep , is on the wife’s shoulders.

        maybe she has to give HIM alimony…..

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    Public statements opposing PNAs should be considered only after considering who wrote and supports the PNA_R MWillig, RHS, R ZN Goldberg, R Asher Weiss, as well as the fact that ROY ZL endorsed the PNA, which R Willig drafted with painstaking care and consultation with ROY ZL and which has the approval of both RN Goldberg and R Asher Weiss. The RCA PNA has achieved almost complete acceptance within the YU/MO world, and there is a huge list of RIETS RY who have stated that they support the RCA PNA and will not serve as a Msader Kiddushin without it . RHS has stated that if a chasan refuses to consider the possibility of signing a PNA, that is a good reason to turn down a shidduch and break an engagement.

    • DF says:

      “RHS has stated that if a chasan refuses to consider the possibility of signing a PNA, that is a good reason to turn down a shidduch and break an engagement.”

      In Yeshivah circles if a girl (usually her father) asks the boy to sign on, THAT is a good reason to turn down a shidduch and break an engagement. A friend of mine broke his engagement for precisely that reason.

  5. J. Socher says:

    Can I make cheesecake in my fleishig oven? Find out how steam, aroma and other factors change your oven’s status…

     

    Great article but doesn’t actually answer the “$64,000 Question” of what constitutes dry food.

    • dr. bill says:

      i was told, but never verified, that the Rav ztl said if you eat it with a fork it is dry; if you eat it with a spoon, it is liquid.  this is a very good example of the need for a mimetic tradition.  potentially modern food science can advance terms/concepts that halakhists can use to render precise rules.

    • mb says:

      No such thing as fleishig (modern)oven.Dairy after meat is fine, and vice versa, even whilst still hot.Aruk Ha Shulkan.Pretty much standard in Europe for a long time.Good yom tov

  6. Dr. E says:

    I heard of one recent case where a chosson had two options for the Mesader Kiddushin.  One was a RY who would not perform the ceremony if there was a PNA.  The other option was a Rav who would not perform the ceremony if there wasn’t a PNA.  Mi k’amcha Yisrael!

    From what I gather, the real reasoning of the opponents of the PNA has is more reactionary against those who drafted it than based on a priori Halachic grounds.

  7. Reader says:

    To get an idea of some of what is involved here, see this story about an African leader who wants millions of his people recognized as part of am Yisrael – http://matzav.com/african-king-of-kings-yearns-to-flood-israel-with-millions-of-jewish-subjects/

    Madagascar now, millions of West Africans next?

    Kulanu is not authorized to open Pandora’s boxes on behalf of am Yisrael.

  8. As the JTA intern in charge of proofreading the archives before they went up online, you’re welcome. Email me if you want my personal compilation of the greatest hits in there.

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