Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rav Chaim Ozer Grodinski zt"l - conversion of intermarried couples is very problematic II

Rav Chaim Ozer Grodinski (Achiezer 3:26):

Question: You asked regarding a non‑Jewish woman who was married to a Jew by a civil marriage in America. Now she came to you and wants to be converted. You thought that perhaps there is a basis to be lenient because if he is not accepted by a good beis din with tevila and acceptance of mitzvos she will go to the beis din of the Reform movement. Then she will convert not according to the halacha. However you note that Rav Posen was inclined to be strict in this matter since the conversion is only for the sake of marriage and ever after conversion she will not observe halacha and therefore it is not correct to be involved in this type of conversion.



6) As for the halacha, it would seem obvious that a good beis din should not accept her as a convert since her motivation is clearly for the sake of marriage and therefore even after marriage she is prohibited to him…This that you are concerned that she will go to the Reform, it is in fact a genuine concern since the Reform movement does not do conversion according to the halacha. It is stated in Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 268:3) that the acceptance of mitzvos is necessary…and according to the understanding of the Reform movement the acceptance would be accepting some but not all the mitzvos and would be invalid. Nevertheless we should not be concerned with this possibility. A valid beis din should only deal with circumstances which are presented by the poskim. Furthermore we can not permit even a small prohibition in order to save another from a larger prohibtion…. And if the conversion is done she will definitely not observe the laws of niddah and mikveh and this will lead to kares….

7) I was asked a number of times after the Revolution concerning a non‑Jew who is married to a Jew by civil marriage and now she wants to convert and be married with chupah and kiddushin because they want to raise their children according to Judaism. And they also assert that if the beis din does not convert them the Jewish husband will convert to Christianity. Is it permitted lechatchila to convert her? I saw that Rav Shlomo Kluger permitted conversion in such a case even lechatchila…I found support for this view from the Rambam (Pe’er HaDor #132) concerning a young man who bought a slave and she lives in his house – is the court obligated to take her from his house….The Rambam replied that clearly from the Torah it is necessary to take her from his house… however in actuality she should either be taken out of the house or she should be freed and he should marry her even though this violates the halacha…He says it is better to minimize sin and permit repentance…that in essence this is an emergency situations… However the details of the Rambam’s case are not clear. Nevetheless it is clear that he is saying that in order to allow teshuva sometimes certain laws are ignored. … This seems to support the views of Rav Shlomo Kluger. Nevertheless the Rambam is apparently not dealing with conversion per se but rather with the problem of freeing a slave… In the case of conversion it would require that the beis din sin in order to help someone – which is not permissable. Nevertheless it would appear in this case that if she is not converted she will stay married to him anyway so therefore the conversion is not for the sake of marriage…It would therefore seem based on the evaluation of the beis din that there is a basis to be lenient in this case and to rely on the ruling of Rav Shlomo Kluger.


However 22 years later Rav Chaim Ozer Grodinski seems to have reversed his previous lenient views and now prohibits conversion for the sake of marriage even when the intermarried couple has children.


Rav Chaim Ozer Grodinski (Achiezer 3:28):

Concerning the common practice of converting women who are married to Jews - according to the straight halacha it is not corrrect to convert them. That is because they are converting for the sake of marriage. Therefore even after marriage she is prohibited to him as is clear from the Rashba (#1205). While previously I had written to be lenient in these cases and I based myself on the Rambam (Pe’er HaDor 132) and Rav Shlomo Kluger also paskened leniently in an actual case. Nevertheless the fact is that there is not genuine acceptance of mitzvos in these cases. It is quite obvious that their hearts are not with the Jewish people since they do not observe Shabbos or niddah and they eat unkosher food as I wrote in the previous letter. This problem has already been noted by by the Beis Yitzchok who concluded that a proper beis din would not be involved in this. And regarding the issue of governing the non‑Jewish children…However the writer is correct that a good beis din should not be involved in this type of conversion. Nevertheless I don’t see that it is proper that the rabbis of the generation should make an open protest against conversion. That is because in the eyes of the masses it would be viewed as a chilul HaShem to prevent the women to convert and in particular their children since according to the straight halacha it is possible to convert them.


  1. This is a great post. I was recently exchanging email with a Rabbi who intended to perform conversions for intermarriage based upon Rav Grodinski's earlier writings.

    I wonder how many Rabbis who rely on Rav Grodinski's earlier writings are even aware that he had a change of heart on the matter.

  2. On this subject you might be interested in looking at Haqor Davar by R. Moshe Shmuel Glasner (the Dor Revi'i) which addressed this very question in 5661. I am happy to report that this work along with other writings of the Dor Revi'i has just been published in a volume entitled Ohr Bahir. For further information about obtaining the book, send an email to me ( or if you are in Israel you may call Rabbi Shaya Herzog (04-697-4802 or 052-764-6975).


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