Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Alice in Wonderland and Eternal Jewish Family

Anonymous said...


According to the Yated's full description of the November 2007 EJF conference. Rav Eisenstein stated, "If there is a dayan who seems eminently qualified but he has false beliefs concerning the belief in the age of the universe - the great gaon Rav Kanievsky shlita has ruled to us that a dayan such as this can not convert people and those who he has converted are in fact not gerim....One can not be a judge if he is wearing perfume..."

Regarding the issue of the age of the universe, Rav Sternbuch has told me that he holds that a belief in the age being greater than 6000 years is kefirah because the majority of gedolim today hold that it is less than 6000 years old. However the person who holds this belief is not himself a heretic because there are sources in chazal and rishonim who support such a belief. He acknowledged to me that he holds like the Ravad.

If Rav Eliashiv holds that a person who holds such a belief is a heretic - then they apparently disagree. However the Yated says Rav Kanievsky was the authority cited for this psak - not Rav Eliashiv.

I find your second question strange. "What is this blog's policy towards Rav Eliashiv" I don't know what you are asking.

Rav Tropper has not produced any letters written by Rav Eliashiv regarding his attitude towards the activities of Eternal Jewish Family. I have previously translated - and posted on this blog - part of a letter written by Rav Efrati regarding Rav Eliashiv's attitude towards intermarried couples. "Maran's characteristic response to intermarried couples is that they should be shunned" The only exception is where the couple mistakenly view themselves as Jewish and not as intermarried.

The Yated's article quotes Rav Eisenstein saying that Rav Eliashiv has ruled that one should not push away intermarried couples when it is clear to us that there will be complete repentance and observance of mitzvos." Note he didn't say pursue. Nor did he say to invite them to free resort vacations and try to persuade them to convert. There is no mention to support EJF's policy of kiruv as described by Rav Tropper himself in his interview with Mishpacha magazine that I have translated earlier on this blog.

Thus I have seen no written evidence that Rav Eliashiv has been fully informed of the activities of EJF or has approved them. I have heard rumors that he was unhappy about the November 2007 convention - but I don't know why.

Thus until EJF conducts itself with greater transparency and until Rav Eliashiv or Rav Reuven Feinstein write clearly reasoned teshuvos regarding the nature of dealing with intermarried couples - there is not much more that can be said.

It is a bit strange being accused of ignoring the unknown and possibly non-existent rulings of a posek concerning procedures which EJF denies doing. When I asked Rav Sternbuch if he knew what Rav Eliashiv held on these issues he said he could not get a clear answer.

All that is clear is that there are people who claim they are following the directives of Rav Eliashiv. I have no idea what these directives are. When I asked Rabbi Tropper if EJF had a manual with halachic guidelines and could I see it, he replied that EJF once had a manual but that they had discontinued it about 2 years ago because there were things in it that were not clear.

If your question is whether I highly respect Rav Eliashiv - the answer is an unequivocal yes. If your question is whether the Bedatz needs to accept everything that Rav Eliashiv says - the answer is an unequivocal no. If your question is when people claim to be strictly following the directives of Rav Eliashiv which they refuse to reveal - must their actions be uncritically accepted - the answer is unequivocally no!


  1. Basically, I feel that any discrimination against Gerim is horrible, disgusting and totally against what we are supposed to be supporting.

    If we believe that gerim are Jews who were "misplaced", and so on, then we aren't being intellectually honest with ourselves if we then hold their conversion against them.

    How important is the treatment of Gerim to Judaism? I would argue that it is intrinsic, as it goes beyond compassion, ethics and a sense of welcoming. It encompasses Ahavas Yisrael, of course, but I feel it is very important, because of the language of our instructions. Let's go to Parashas Mishpatim. Shemos 22:20 (From the Artscroll Chumash) "You shall not taunt or opress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." In the commentary below it says "Although it is forbidden to abuse anyone, the Torah frames this prohibition specifically with reference to converts, widows and orphans, because they are the most vulnerable to such mistreatment." and then "Jews might be tempted to look down on converts, because they lack the sanctity of lineage from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. But in response to this, the Torah cautions us that we had once been mired in the spiritual muck of Egyptian contamination, and were no better than the convert had been before his conversion."

    Then 23:9 "Do not opress a stranger; you know the feelings of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." ( a SECOND time, nearly identical to the first. )

    So here we have two pretty clear lines of what not to do. There's even a third. Parashas Kedoshim, Vayikra 19:33 says "When a proselyte dwells among you in your land, do not taunt him." The commentary states below that " It is forbidden to taunt a proselyte by reminding him of his non-Jewish past and suggesting that makes him unfit to study God's Torah (Rashi; Sifra)." Is there a counter-balancing positive commandment of what TO do? Why, yes, there is. Parashas Kedoshim, Vayikra 19:34 says "The proselyte who dwells with you shall be like a native among you, and you shall love him like yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt - I am Hashem, your God." The commentary below states "Aside from the commandment to love all Jews, proselytes included, there is a special commandment to love proselytes (Rambam, Hil. De'os 6:4).

    In summation, we basically have three negative and one positive commandment concerning treatment of gerim. I personally feel that like most "haters" really hate themselves, I think people that act like this in some way or other are facing an uncofortableness within their own skins, but at any rate

    B E N I C E T O T H E C O N V E R T S

    and do not let ANYONE fail to do so. Rashi, providing commentary on Shemos 22:22-3 (If you [dare to] cause him pain...! - for if he shall cry out to Me, I shall surely hear his outcry. My wrath shall blaze and I shall kill you by the sword, and your wives will be widows and your children orphans." Rashi's commentary in the second paragraph "The previous verse was in the plural while this one is in the singular. This implies that if the community allows even a single one of its members to misteat the helpless, God will punish them all (ibn Ezra). The very fact that a community permits individual members to persecute teh helpless is in itself a crowning insult. It shows the downtrodden that even those who do not actively taunt them do not care about them."

    Seriously, how can anyone see a stranger CHOOSE to accept all the bs that goes with being a Jew and then pile more on that person. This issue makes me sick, sick, sick.

  2. To the first anonymous poster:

    You have inadvertently merged issues that should be separate.

    The statement as translated in Shemos 22:20 refers to "strangers" but does not use the terminology that we normally associate with "convert." The word "ger" does not refer to convert in all circumstances.

    I have a feeling you probably have not read many of the previous threads posted on this site, and encourage you to do so.

    You will see that nobody is advocating the disrespect or mistreatment of converts. Rather, the question at hand is "who IS a convert?"

    In Judaism, any agreement which is entered into without proper consent and information can become disqualified, whether it is a marriage, divorce, conversion or civil agreement.

    In the United States, there has been a widespread practice of performing conversions under circumstances which Halacha forbids. In cases such as those, these "conversions" are in fact NOT conversions and are invalidated.

    This is not an act of hatred toward a convert because the person in such a situation is not a convert.

    They should be treated with kindness and respect however, as strangers and as human beings, because usually they are the victims of an ill intentioned spouse or Rabbi.

    Their non-Jewish children are certainly victims. Unfair as this might seem, you can probably point to another quote from the Artscroll Chumash translation which states that "The sins of the father will be visited on the children to the 3rd and 4th generation...."

  3. To anonymous who says:


    no-one disputes that! Where have you seen anyone say the opposite?

    Sure it is the Torah that makes this a MITZVAH !

    However, that is not the discussion about EJF because EJF is an organization that was set up to help gentiles becomes converts and in that case the Halachah is also VERY clear, that potential converts MUST be discouraged and NOT welcomed with open arms, until they can prove beyond a doubt that they are sincere in their wish to come under the Wings of the Shechinah!

    Therefore, it is not discrimination or insuting to converts that a Rabbi or beis din approached by a convert MUST discouarge them from wanting or trying to convert, even if at the start the potential convert is doing it for the most noble of reasons.

    So it's a different subject and please do not mix up the issues that apply BEFORE conversions with how a convert must be treated by Jews AFTER conversion, two entirely different subjects according to the Halachah.

    And certainly it has never been the case or policy in Klal Yisroel that there was an organized mass effort to help gentiles do large-scale conversions via organizaing a system to do so as EJF wants to do. No matter how many of them there are, they must all join the line at a local beis din and wait as long as it takes until they get approval and not get into a fast lane via EJF or any other gimmicks.

    Another importnat point in Jewish Law, as has been pointed out many times on this blog, is that if a Jew has married a gentile and then later that gentile wishes to convert, then it becomes a very complicated and controversial Halachic situation because according to the majority of views the Halachah forbids accepting converts to Judaism for marriage reasons since the gentile is converting not because they love Judaism but because they love a Jew, or as is also very common the Jewish man has fallen in love with a non-Jewish lady and she in turn has quite often fallen in love not just with the Jew but also with his bank account and with the fact that he will support her and their children in style.

    As everyone seems to know, except for too many Jewish girls who land up single, that Jewish men make good husbands.

    So quit saying that anyone is advocating not being nice to converts when it is a mitzvah from the Torah to do so, and stick to the subject of the discussion here that EJF is trying to work with gentiles before they are converts and has organized and positioned itself in a short time to help gentiles with their conversions like a passport agency or lawyers that advertize their services to help people get their "green cards" and eventually become citizens and get passports, when no-one has every done such a thing, no-one really needs such a thing since every city has its own set of rabbis and batei din, and now many rabbis have rejected such a thing from both left and right.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Basically, I feel that any discrimination against Gerim is horrible, disgusting and totally against what we are supposed to be supporting.

    Before addressing your comments I would like to request that you pick one identity and stick to it. That way people can understand that you have posted a number of times before and the same issue is still eating you up. I am assuming you are the poster from Oyster Bay who has made similar baseless angry statements before.

    Your assertions have two answers. One is I don't know who you are fighting against - nobody has said or implied that gerim should be oppressed or may be oppressed by anyone who is committed to keeping the Torah.

    Secondly the halacha of not upsetting someone because they are a ger - only applies once a person is a genuine ger. The fact that major figures such as the Achiezer and Rav Moshe Feinstein have stated that there is a real problem of the validity of conversion of intermarried couples and thus there is a question as to how many are actually Jews - means that it is permitted to raise the question concerning the questionable validity of some conversions. The fact that the gemora states in a number of places that converts are like scabs means that it is possible to acknowledge that there are problems associated with conversion without being labled a hater of gerim.

    Furthermore, you should be criticizing EJF because they are raising the standard or barrier for "Universally accepted conversion". Their main selling point is that if you don't convert through one of their certified courts there is a permanent uncertainty about the validity and acceptability of your conversion. Rav Eisenstein got up at the last EJF conference and said that any conversions done by any rabbi who thinks the world is more than 6000 years are not good. Thus he was claiming that many if not most conversions done by the modern orthodox are no good - no matter how many years ago they were done and no matter how exemplary their observance has been.

    Bottom line. Please think more carefully before you vomit up your bile and feel sick about something that doesn't exist. There are legitimate issues and you obviously are a sensitive and concerned individual. But your misplaced anger is simply not productive.

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