Sunday, February 7, 2010

Stop all conversions?


JC.com Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet,

Tradition tells us that when the Israelites stood at Sinai and embraced the Torah, they were as converts. From that day till the present, the process of conversion entails a “Sinai moment”. By definition, just as the Israelites accepted upon themselves the obligation of mitzvot then, so too the modern-day convert must accept upon himself the same.

Over the past half a century the Jewish world has become mired in controversy over the definition of what that obligation entails. As the debate goes to the core of identifying who is a legitimate member of the Jewish faith, and as all Jewish people, without exceptions, are one entity, like one body with one heart and one soul, then the tragedy of this schism affects the totality of the Jewish people.[...]

21 comments :

  1. The problem will not be solved by attempting to stop conversions.

    As sure as the sun will come up, others will come along, 'pater' R Schochet and announce the latest new gold standard of geirus, overseen by Harav Hagaon Ploni ben Ploni, followed by a new platinum standard, overseen by someone from Yerushalayim and then someone from Bnei Brak who will threaten to invalidate the geirus of others.

    As they say, plus ca change, plus ca reste la meme.

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  2. The problem with this is it is an extremist reaction. It is akin to saying stop all shechita, because there are different standards of kashrut - hence some people will be eating treif.

    Stop all Orthodox conversion will mena more intermarriage and say Conservative or reform conversions.

    Plus, not one Bet Din will listen to him - Not the London BD, ERC, RCA, Rabbanut etc etc.

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  3. It's so true. There will be a disagreement about conversion as long as there are such disagreements about everything else. While the yeshivish say you can be observant as a Modern Orthodox person, they stick their nose up at the RCA. I think it's important that whomover sets the standards for conversion be an organization that's been around, though, rather than some organization that comes out of the woodwork (like EJF did).

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  4. Recipients and PublicityFebruary 7, 2010 at 3:36 AM

    "Stop all conversions?": "Why Orthodox rabbis must stop conversions
    Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet suggests a radical solution to the increasing conflict over converts. By Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet, February 4, 2010"

    Or, "the Syrian takkana" option, may be the direction the chaos of conversions is headed.

    While the door cannot be slammed yet to all conversions simply because that would be impossible to impose and implement all over the world without a definitive decision from a universal Halachic body like a Sanhedrin, or perhaps prior to that by an Israeli government that would be pro-Halachic, the process of EASING THE DOOR TO CONVERSIONS TO BEING AJAR just enough to let only geirei tzedek into Klal Yidroel would be an advisable goal for now.

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  5. It is disgusting that a rabbi would make such a drastic recommendation -- unheard of for thousands of years -- with such sloppy and incomplete reasoning. There is politics and controversy about conversions, so we should suspend them all? There are controversies about all sorts of things. By this logic we should also ban the eating of meat, because of the poor practices of certain slaughterhouses and the very legitimate questions raised by critics of industrialized agriculture. Stopping all conversions would cause untold suffering -- and for what? So rabbis could argue more about standards, without reaching any definite conclusion? With the divisions in the Orthodox world, such a result is inevitable. This would be punishing converts and klal Yisrael for the misdeeds of a few rabbis.

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  6. rabbi eidensohn i am surprised that you are up to date. rabbi tropper has appointed himself as nadi of kol yakov with the haskama of reb elya ber. rabbi ribiat has been working all weekend.

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  7. Thisis Rabbi is clealry way off the mark based on the followinf statement made in his clos ing paragrapgh.
    "Conversion is the single biggest issue ripping at the fabric of Jewish society"

    I know he lives in London but i don't know what Jewish world he lives in.

    Certainly not the frum Jewish world I am familiar with.

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  8. "except perhaps in special circumstances such as adoptions"

    conversion for adoption is the prototype of proselitysing (a person who does not want anything from judaism is pushed into embracing judaism).

    Daas torah: please call out against it, since you are the champion of anti-proselytism...

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  9. "There is politics and controversy about conversions, so we should suspend them all? There are controversies about all sorts of things. By this logic we should also ban the eating of meat, because of the poor practices of certain slaughterhouses and the very legitimate questions raised by critics of industrialized agriculture."


    No, of course they would never ban shchita, because this would have a palpable effect on all religious jews.

    Whereas banning conversion only has an effect on a minority that does not even belong yet to the jewish people.

    You see, by the same logic, the Swiss banned Sh'chita: the animal-lovers really would like to ban all meat-eating. But they can't, because the majority of the population eats meat and won't agree with it. But you can prohibit muslim and jewish slaughtering practices, because it will hurt only a minorty, many of which are not even swiss nationals.

    This Rabbi's follows exactely the same logic: if you can't solve the problem for the majority, hit on the minority.

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  10. PS: What does Rav Shochet make of Yevamot 47b cited in a previous post of this blog "If the non-jew accepts all the mitzwoth, he is immediately circumcised, because the mitzwoth should not be delayed".

    From this I understand that a single Beith Din might not have the Mitzwah of converting. But it is an aveirah NOT to convert a sincere candidate, since the mitzwoth he would do cannot take place.

    Interstingly enough, this sugya does not even allow for delays that might occur due to administrative problems.

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  11. Gioret said...

    PS: What does Rav Shochet make of Yevamot 47b cited in a previous post of this blog "If the non-jew accepts all the mitzwoth, he is immediately circumcised, because the mitzwoth should not be delayed".

    From this I understand that a single Beith Din might not have the Mitzwah of converting. But it is an aveirah NOT to convert a sincere candidate, since the mitzwoth he would do cannot take place
    ==============
    Interesting deduction. But in fact that is not the halacha. There apparently is only a single source Tashbatz - who says there is an obligation for beis din to convert non-Jews. That is not the accepted halacha.

    There is a major difference between saying something is a mitzva (meaning it is desirable) to saying it is obligatory and that not doing it is a sin.

    However there are sources which understand the gemora to mean that it is a sin for the non-Jew to delay conversion - but it is not a sin for beis din to refuse.

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  12. One's things for sure: big money slick Xtian evangelical knockoff supersalesmen for conversion like EJF are treif, treif, treif.

    A convert who has to be sold on the process has no business in Clal Yisrael.

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  13. the conversion crisis is just a symptom of a deeper rift - stopping conversions won't heal that rift, there will be other manifestations of it.
    eg in rav Kook's day, it was about Rav Kook's embracing the zionist movement. After the establishemnt of the state of Israel, ther ewere other issues, eg serving in the army, agunot, etc. Today, this is just another phase of the same rift. And already a new war is breaking out , and if one reads the Haredi papers, it is clear what the motives are behind the atatcks on Sephardim - and it has nothing to do with the stated reasons.

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  14. PS: What does Rav Shochet make of Yevamot 47b cited in a previous post of this blog "If the non-jew accepts all the mitzwoth, he is immediately circumcised, because the mitzwoth should not be delayed".


    He probably feelst hat since there is another Talmud citation like Yebmoth 109תלמוד בבלי מסכת יבמות דף קט עמוד ב
    דא"ר יצחק, מאי דכתיב: +משלי י"א+ רע ירוע כי ערב זר? רעה אחר רעה תבא למקבלי גרים, ולערבי שלציון, ולתוקע עצמו לדבר הלכה. מקבלי גרים - כר' חלבו, דאמר ר' חלבו: קשים גרים לישראל כספחת

    תוספות And Tossafot and other rishonim explain
    רעה אחר רעה תבא למקבלי גרים - אמר ר"י דהיינו היכא שמשיאין אותן להתגייר או שמקבלין אותן מיד
    That those who are not eager to convert from their own volition are detriment to klal yisroel, znd although the others who do try strongly on their own should be converted as tossefot continues there, אבל אם הן מתאמצין להתגייר יש לנו לקבלם שהרי מצינו שנענשו אברהם יצחק ויעקב שלא קבלו לתמנע שבאתה להתגייר והלכה והיתה פלגש לאליפז בן עשו ונפק מינה עמלק דצערינהו לישראל
    nevertheless the rabbi feels that the Batei Din should not be culpable in their refusal to accept those who deserve to be accepted if the existence of batei din accept (many) who should not be accepted in klal yisroel, so the batei din have a responsibility not to be a partner with those who perform fake gerut and accept people who should not be accepted into klal yisroel.

    This a dillema where either stance is problemtic, then sometimes halacha states "shev veal taasse adif". ( where blood of kadashim mixed and there would either "bal tossif" or "bal tigra" chazal say "shev veal taasse adif").

    See also the words of Rav Kook Zt"l :שו"ת דעת כהן (ענייני יורה דעה) סימן קנד

    בדבר מקבלי גרים שלא כדת וכשורה, אשר עליהם בודאי נאמרו דברי חז"ל הקדושים רעה אחר רעה תבא למקבלי גרים כיבמות ק"ט ב'. וכדהתו"ס שם ד"ה רעה, דהיינו דוקא כשמשיאין אותם להתגייר או שמקבלים אותם מיד, אבל אם הם מתאמצים להתגייר מקבלין אותם, פשוט הוא דהיינו דוקא כשמכירים בהם שהם מתגיירים בלב שלם לש"ש, אבל אלה שמקבלין גרים גרורים, שבשביל דברים של חמריות ותאות לבם הם מתגיירים, בודאי עליהם נאמר רע ירוע, ותבא עליהם רעה אחר רעה, כי גרים כאלה ודאי קשים לישראל כספחת, והם מביאים קוצים בכרם בית ישראל

    I'm not advocating the position has taken; just explaining his viewpoint.

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  15. "However there are sources which understand the gemora to mean that it is a sin for the non-Jew to delay conversion - but it is not a sin for beis din to refuse."

    That means that the beis din is effectively compelling someone into sinning. That is in itself an aveirah, is it not (perhaps lifnei iver)?

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  16. "That means that the beis din is effectively compelling someone into sinning. That is in itself an aveirah, is it not (perhaps lifnei iver)?"
    ___________________
    Not exactly. That "someone" is still a goy, so the beis din has no obligation to worry about his sins.

    In any event, we have sources indicating that at various periods in our history we have been on the record as having refused converts across the board.

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  17. And what would the wise rabbis do about the evaluation of geirus that has already been performed? And how will they deal with geirus done by batei din that do not accept their new regulation? And what will we do with very frum baalei teshiva whose mother was converted by conservative rabbis etc. and those who need a geirus because they cannot prove their lineage?

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  18. It's odd that the rabbi quotes this Talmudic passage -- "The Jewish people have been dispersed among the nations only so that converts might be added to them” (Pesachim 87b) -- and still manages to make this recommendation. Logically, if the Jews were only exiled to gather converts, then stopping all conversions would prolong the exile.

    Gioret, I see what you're saying. But although you would think that conversions only affect a minority, and then only non-Jews, I'm not sure that's really correct, because converts contribute a lot to the Jewish people, and the whole Jewish people would lose out on that. There would also be those Jews whose bashert is a person who has not yet converted -- they would be prevented from meeting or marrying their soulmate until the ban is lifted.

    Regardless, fortunately this ban will never happen because as RaP points out there is no Sanhedrin. Even if R' Elyashiv somehow pronounced a ban, it would probably be limited to the Litvish world.

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  19. That's what's so funny about this article.

    It says: we cannot agree on giur standarts, so let's agree not to do giurim.

    But if they cannot agree, they will not be able to agree on "not doing giurim".
    (he himself propose the exception of children for adoption, so if his model became reality, persons who want to do a giur would look for jewish parents willing to adopt them...)

    If they can agree, they also can agree on standarts....

    So: the article tries to solve an problem by a measure that is as uninforcable as the problem itself...

    Why do people not feel ridiculous when they write such articles?

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  20. Since you made this into a post, it would be only fair to publish the response of UK Rabbanim in a similar manner.


    http://www.thejc.com/news/uk-news/27112/beth-din-rejects-rabbis-call-end-conversion

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  21. In a similar manner, i.e. make it into a separate post, for everyone to see...

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