Friday, March 7, 2008

Response to AmicusEJF's criticisms of my blog and defense of EJF

AmicusEJF wrote:

”… I disagree with your decision to allow the carmella corleone post. I was also very disappointed with your decision to post that negative piece on Dr. Kaplan. I was very turned off from that and you may have noticed that I have barely commented since then. I believe that once you allow such supermarket tabloid style discussion, you have lowered the level of the blog to where many Jewish blogs are: in the gutter.”

I am sorry that the comments on this blog offend you. As I have alluded to before – there are basically two types of posting – one which records facts or opinions which purport to describe reality. As you yourself note this is an accurate description of most of what is posted on this blog. On the other hand there are postings here which convey the emotional reality or visceral substrate. I think that this has to be sampled also – though in only in limited quantities. This point is relevant to your subsequent comments.

You say: Why does EJF rely on anonymous spokesmen? ... In other words are these individuals actual spokesmen who are in fact representing Rabbi Tropper - but he doesn't want their identity revealed?

Speaking for myself, while I am a friend of EJF, and a volunteer who tries to help out with some things, R' Tropper has not sent me as a spokesman. Quite the opposite, he has questioned the usefulness of commenting on blogs and trying to correct errors and misimpressions on a blog. Since I have followed your [R' Eidensohn's] work over some years [Yad Moshe, Yad Yisroel, Daas Torah, many Avodah forum postings], I have a great respect for you. I thought that, even though this is a blog, it is different: It is R' Eidensohn's blog. It may be a house in a slummy neighborhood, but it is a talmid chacham's house. But then I saw that long innuendo-filled post against Dr. Kaplan, and I said to myself: Maybe, R' Tropper was right. And as I type these words in the "Leave your comment" box just to the left of carmella corleone's miasmic jeers, I don't know if I will comment here too much longer. And that is a shame, because I think there is value in answering sincere questions about EJF and in learning from valid criticisms.

While you seem to debate by the Marquis of Queensbury’s rules – Rabbi Tropper does not. While you speak in righteous indignation about the mud being slung at Rabbi Tropper and company – you don’t seem to be bothered by the mud he slings. Your defensive reading of his slur against me regarding my citation of the Abarbanel in my sefer Daas Torah – was a creative reading – but patently missed the point. I also sent you a copy of the correspondence I had with him. It was surely cut of the same cloth as those posts you found offensive when directed at Eternal Jewish Family. Yet you haven’t expressed any concern about them. You might also note in the correspondence that I informed Rabbi Tropper that he had written an inappropriate letter to Rav Sternbuch. He said he would send an apology. Last time I checked Rav Sternbuch had not received it. Perhaps you might remind him. Or are you saying that slinging mud is permitted in emails but not on blogs?

In sum – Rabbi Tropper is a tough political fighter and sometimes the offense he causes can best be dealt with by responses in kind. I personally do not question his motivation and sincerity – but other sincere individuals clearly do.

So let's return, in the meantime, to your post. You write: Or are they self-appointed representatives because Rabbi Tropper doesn't feel the need to explain the true nature of his operations... why doesn't Rabbi Tropper want to clarify and justify what he is doing? Well, clarify and justify to whom? To this blog? As explained above, he questions the utility of that, and with carmella on my screen, I can't say he's wrong. To the Bedatz? There I think you have a good point. If he were seeking the Bedatz's haskomah, then it would be incumbent upon him to clarify and justify his operations to their satisfaction. [I have no idea if that was ever attempted, but judging from what you have written, I would assume not.] On the other hand, if the Bedatz wants to publish an opinion on the EJF, I would suggest that, as part of their derishah and chakira, they or their people would call up talmidei chachamim who are heavily involved with EJF's operations, such as Rav Reuven Feinstein or Rav Shmiel Eliezer Stern of Rav Wosner's Beis Din, to understand what the clarifications and justifications are. This may have happened, I don't know. They may have not been satisfied with these and decided to oppose EJF. That is their prerogative.

I find it rather strange that EJF feels the burden of proof is on those who question them. When a major innovation is introduced into a mesora based society – the obligation is on the innovator to justify it. Why is it only necessary to respectfully communicate when seeking a haskomah? EJF’s widely trumpeted goal is universally accepted conversion.” The Bedatz represents an important group – whether you agree with them or not – whose acceptance or rejection clearly impacts the degree that the slogan “universal acceptance” is true. EJF can’t claim universal standards and then say to any part of the Jewish world - “I don’t have to justify myself to you because I really don’t care what you think – and I don’t care if you accept my conversions.” Universal standards which are only accepted by a part of the Orthodox world – are not universal standards! Isn’t that obvious?

To clarify and justify to the public at large? Well, that's exactly what I am trying to do here unofficially. Officially, they have printed a two-page spread in Hamodia and reprinted it in the Jewish Press. Also, they are working on redoing their website. My hope is that, one day, you should be able to find the clarifications and justifications you seek over there. But that two page spread was important. I suggest that you make a pdf file of it and make it available here.

Why is a public relations campaign in the Jewish Press considered a desirable part of EJF’s public relations – but satisfying the Bedatz’s legitimate concerns is not? If you have a pdf of the ad I would like to see it and maybe would even put it on this blog – but I would like it even more if there was a delegation sent to the Bedatz to calmly discuss what is going on.

You write about: to pursue or activiely persuade someone to convert and spending millions of dollars to persuade the nonJewish spouse to convert.

This is old ground. I have already written that these are moot points since EJF is not the first contact for gerus candidates. EJF deals only with referrals. Call them up and pretend to be a goy wishing to convert. They will send you to a local Rav. It is the local Rav or kiruv worker who must deal with the issues of rebuffing, admitting or pursuing a candidate for gerus. There is a lot to be said on that, but it's all moot as far as EJF's own programs.

This is indeed old ground and unfortunately your answers have not satisfactorily answered these questions. As has been pointed out there is an significant dissonance between what Rabbi Tropper claims he is doing and what other evidence describes.

On that point, I must add that although you write I was also given the astonishing response of "Why is it prohibited", you wrote above that you agreed that there was no prohibition!

Here it is:

In a recent intensive exchange of e-mails, I asked Rav Tropper the halachic rulings of Rav Moshe Feinstein he claims as the basis for EJF’s activities. His response was, “Why do you think it is prohibited?” This is an astounding justification for a radical break with the past. While in fact it is not explicitly prohibited – this radical innovation of spending millions of dollars to convince non‑Jews to convert presents serious dangers to the Jewish people. It requires acceptance or rejection through scholarly discussion in peer-reviewed responsa - as innovations have been justified in the past.

Daniel Eidensohn Ph.D.

Now, I agree with your point that those who reach out to gentiles in intermarriages spouses [not EJF, not EJF] need to explain what seems to be a radical innovation. But you yourself admit that they are not doing away with an explicit prohibition. That is a valid subject for discussion. Is an intermarried gentile better than a stam goy in this respect, or perhaps worse, as I suspect the Bedatz holds. Please call Rav Reuven Feinstein to discuss this [and other matters] with him. Please don't answer that you demand a written teshuvah and until he sends one out, you will not go to him. Please don't let it be a situation of "Hatziree ein biGilad, im rofei ein sham."

I can’t believe a yeshiva educated Orthodox Jew would be making the above statement. Since when are major changes in conversion so lightly justified? I cited Rav Chaim Ozer and Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Menashe Klein strongly disapproving of this procedure – even though there is no explicit issur. Similarly there are other poskim such as the Tzitz Eliezar who object to it. Again your insistence that EJF is not proselytizing is belied by the material I have collected on my blog as well as the interview Rabbi Tropper gave to Mishpacha magazine. I don’t see that it is appropriate for me to be the intermediate between Rav Reuven Feinstein and the Bedatz. Why can’t Rav Reuven Feinstein – who is the official director of EJF – simply write a response and send it to the Bedatz?

Now, you have an excellent point in that quote in Hebrew Mishpocha. Could you please provide the Hebrew original before I pursue that further? I have covered several points here, directly or indirectly, and I hope that helps you and others understand EJF's stance, at least to the degree that I understand it.

Kol tuv, amicusEJF

I am surprised that you can’t get a copy from Rabbi Tropper. Again I do not find your explanation – and it is just your explanation not that of Rabbi Tropper – satisfactory. If R’ Tropper can’t provide the text I will – bli neder- scan the material.



    Conversion part II.

    AmicusEJF's arguments which have seemed to be a Red Herring, may very well be a Dead Herring.

    This from the RCA:

    While on the topic of herring, it is an excellent source of healthy Omega 3 fats traditionally enjoyed Shabbos afternoon.

    Good Shabbos

  2. Bad news for EJF from Israel.

    The struggle within Israel to regulate the conversions of 350,000 Russian gentiles according to strict Halachah is also bad news for EJF from Israel because it is very clear that the Haredi establishment in Israel is opposed to any type of mass conversion "factories, organizations, systems or solutions" and it is also clear that all Haredi authorities in Israel, including the ones touted by EJF, like Rav Amar and Rav Eliashiv, are are taking a strong stand against unconventional mass efforts to convert and are insisting on a slowed down and methodical conventional Halachic process so that there is no justification to rush to accept gerim in bulk under any circumstances, even if the Israeli government has fits over it, the Halachic process cannot be short-circuited or end-runned...Read on:


    Mon., March 10, 2008 Adar2 4, 5768

    "Majority of judges in new conversion courts to be Haredi

    By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

    At least eight out of 10 new judges to be selected Monday to serve on the rabbinical courts for conversion will come from the strict ultra-Orthodox sector.

    Leading officials involved in the conversion process said the original objective was to choose more liberal judges who would make conversion easier.

    The officials said the selection committee, headed by Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, made a deal to appoint four ultra-Orthodox judges who currently serve in the private rabbinical court of Rabbi Nissim Karelitz in Bnei Brak and four rabbis who are affiliated with Shas or Amar's associates.

    The other two will likely be from the religious Zionist camp.

    "Over the last few weeks, there has been a lot of pressure on committee members from ultra-Orthodox quarters and also from religious Zionist rabbis who are hostile to the conversion issue. Ultimately they'll bring in judges who have no connection with or sympathy for the public that will appear before them," one of the officials said.

    A long-time educator who helps prospective converts learn about Judaism said the problem is that Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel put all the authority in Amar's hands, without realizing that Amar cannot withstand the pressure from the ultra-Orthodox and Shas."

    Related articles:

    Mon., February 18, 2008 Adar1 12, 5768

    "The barrier to conversion

    By Haaretz Editorial

    It is hard not to take an extremely cautious approach to the fact that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is planning to adopt the recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee that examined ways to increase the number of converts among the roughly 300,000 non-Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Similar declarations have already been made by previous governments, committees have come and gone, and reasonable and humane conversion still appears to be a mission impossible.

    The barrier to conversion is no coincidence. Ultra-Orthodox rabbis are pressuring and threatening the government, and are intentionally creating problems for the rabbinical courts that operate on behalf of the state. From a Haredi point of view, the saying that "converts are as difficult for Israel as psoriasis," is not just colorful language. They are really not interested in allowing others to join the Chosen People.

    The Haredi barrier is not the only one. Bitter infighting, saturated with political power plays, deal-making of the lowest form, and strong-arm tactics driven by personal animosity have brought division to the national religious camp.

    In matters of conversion, just like in matters of matrimony, liberals in that camp side with the view that as many immigrants as possible must be helped to attain that desirable entry ticket into Israeli society with relative ease. On the other hand, all roads to conversion are blocked by pedants and purists, who succumb to ultra-Orthodox rabbis on all issues. They transform conversion into an ongoing nightmare, which may repel the new immigrants from the entire process and alienate them from Israeli society and Judaism.

    Conversions are being carried out by the most stringent guardians of the halakha, who are essentially a minority group among world Jewry. They pose halakhic requirements for the converts and their families that are very strict. At the gate to the national home established by Zionists now stand representatives of the anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodoxy.

    Moreover, the rabbinical courts have been transformed of late, with the signed authorization of a secular-liberal justice minister, into increasingly more Haredi. The Neeman Committee proposals, which sought to forge a path of cooperation between the three streams of Judaism on matters of conversion, have been forgotten in some drawer.

    But despite all that has been said here, the prime minister's intentions should be welcomed, and hopefully the barrier blocking a wave of conversions can be lifted. For those among the immigrants who are interested in conversion, this is good news. For all the rest - those who do not wish to convert and those who are unable to do so - the government must find an appropriate solution outside the parameters dictated by religion.

    The State of Israel encouraged and brought to the country hundreds of thousands of immigrants on the basis of their connection to the Jewish people. It thus has a historic and Jewish responsibility to complete the process of fully accepting them into Israeli society."


    Fri., February 15, 2008 Adar1 9, 5768

    "Government says new conversion authority will streamline process

    By Cnaan Liphshiz

    The Prime Minister's Office is considering forming a special panel for reviewing complaints by conversion candidates, Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel said this week.

    Yehezkel spoke Wednesday after the government approved a new state conversion authority aimed at attracting some 350,000 non-Jewish immigrants living in Israel. The complaints review body, he said, would work under the new authority. However, activists cast doubts on the efficacy of the planned conversion authority.

    Yehezkel, who spoke to Anglo File exclusively on this subject, was responding to criticism from people and organizations involved in assisting converts.

    Activists like Rabbi Shaul Farber, founder of the Jerusalem-based Itim Jewish Life Information Center, said they would have little faith in the new conversion authority's ability to streamline the process for converts and help resolve what they see as failings in the current system. The current conversion process has long been criticized as overly stringent regarding aspiring converts, who often complain about arbitrary disqualifications by the rabbinic tribunals responsible for recognizing them. Other grievances pertain to allegedly deliberate foot-dragging by the tribunals, unnecessary double-inspections of non-Jewish spouses seeking to become Jewish, intrusive probing and unreasonable delays.

    Farber said he was concerned these "failings" might go unaddressed because the authority's proposed structure included no explicit reference to a complaints department.

    He said he feared the authority, slated to become operational in four months, would shortchange the review issue. The conversion process typically takes several years if not more.

    The ministerial committee on absorption affairs, which approved the plan, seeks to change the current situation where the various stages of conversion - training, inspection and approval - are the responsibility of a myriad of independent institutions. The Jewish Agency, for example, is responsible for running many preparatory courses which operate independently of the Chief Rabbinate's conversion tribunals that approve conversions. The new authority seeks to bundle together these disparate components into one single body. Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar will supervise all religious aspects of the new body's work. The authority's chair will be Rabbi Haim Druckman, who currently heads the Conversion Authority in the PMO.

    The new entity will receive an initial budget of over NIS 15 million and add 10 salaried rabbinic judges to the 22 currently serving in the conversion courts. According to the Absorption Ministry and the PMO - the two bodies that promoted the new authority's formation - the additional judges will alleviate bureaucratic backlog.

    But activists in the field across Israel said backlog was never the problem, adding they were concerned this was an indication the reform focuses on the wrong issues. "There is no need to add new judges. It will only make the system wasteful and bloated," an official from the Chief Rabbinate who is involved with conversions said on condition of anonymity. "What needs to change is the callous approach by some people in the system." Itim's Farber added, "More rabbinic judges don't mean better rabbinic judges. It seems that under this new authority, converts will continue to be subject to the whims of rabbinic court administrators who are not required to give explanations on why they refuse or delay requests."

    The problem, the activists say, lies in the attitude of the same officials who have been allowed to retain their positions and will continue to act as "a thorn in the system's side by protracting the process, issuing arbitrary refusals and driving aspiring converts away from Judaism," as one conversion coach from the north told Anglo File on condition of anonymity.


    Thu., January 10, 2008 Shvat 3, 5768

    Source: Conversion judges making extreme demands

    By Anshel Pfeffer

    About a month ago, during a training session for activists in the religious conversion system, Rabbi Mordechai Bar-Eli, a judge in a conversion court, was asked why the courts aren't making an effort to be lenient on potential converts. "Religious Judaism has always fought against bringing [to Israel] people who are not halakhically Jewish," Bar-Eli responded. "The secular [Israelis] brought them and now they want the rabbis to convert them."

    With this unusually honest statement, Rabbi Bar-Eli explained the conceptual foundation of the religious courts, which do everything possible to hinder attempts at making the conversion process easier. Despite repeated declarations by successive prime ministers, these courts have over the years only toughened their stance on converts.

    Contrary to popular belief, most of the rabbis taking the hard-line stance on conversions are from the national-religious camp, not the ultra-Orthodox community. "These judges want to gain legitimacy in the eyes of the Haredim, in part because they know it's the only way they have of advancing as judges in the system," a senior official in the Chief Rabbinate said, "and they also belong to the Haredi-nationalist wing of the national-religious camp, which feels increasing alienation toward the state."

    Bar-Eli lives in the West Bank settlement of Psagot and is married to the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Tzvi Neria, one of the founders of the national-religious movement. "[David] Ben-Gurion and [Ariel] Sharon and the secular establishment brought [the olim] and now that establishment wants the rabbinate to repair the injustice that it created. There are many problems in the country that have no solution − education, security, and this is another that cannot be completely solved," Bar-Eli said.

    The conversion court judges often go beyond demanding that converts maintain a religious lifestyle, and put up additional obstacles. One conversion candidate appeared before the Jerusalem rabbinical court about a month ago. In her file was the following note: "We agreed to convert her, she accepted the mitzvot [Jewish law] and was sent to the mikveh." Without her knowledge, an additional note was added to the ruling: "In four months a new recommendation will be sent from the foster family."

    The note, known as "delay of immersion," violates clear religious laws and precepts against "partial" conversion.

    "In recent months, we have seen more and more cases in which the judges impose certain periods of time between accepting the mitzvot and the mikveh immersion," a senior official in the conversion system said. In addition, there have been reports of unofficial spying on conversion applicants by the courts.

    "In one case, a prospective convert was rejected by the court because it received a phone call from someone who had seen her wearing pants."

    Nearly five months ago a committee headed by Immigration Ministry Director General Erez submitted to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recommendations for expediting the conversion process. Until two weeks ago, the report languished on the desk of Prime Minister's Office Director General Ra'anan Dinur, before being passed to Cabinet Secretary Oved Yehezkel. "It appears Olmert was simply afraid to confront the Haredi parties, which object to mass conversions," the source said.

    This week deliberations on the issue were postponed. A senior PMO official said, "This time there is a genuine intention to deal with the issue and implement the Halfon Committee recommendations." An associate of the administrative head of the Conversion Authority, Rabbi Eliahu Maimon, rejected claims that the rabbinical courts change their rulings, ascribing the claims to "the emotionality of converts who don't understand what is said to them in court."


    Tue., December 25, 2007 Tevet 16, 5768

    "Knesset conversion proposals slammed by Orthodox, Reform

    By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent

    The report submitted to the prime minister on Monday on the state of conversion in Israel managed for once to unite nearly all religious authorities from the Reform movement to ultra-Orthodox rabbis in opposition to its recommendations.

    The committee recommended setting up a new conversion administration that would include courses to prepare converts, and the special rabbinical courts that perform the conversion in practice.

    Israel's chief Sephardic rabbi, Shlomo Amar, would oversee the entire process.

    A long series of bureaucratic and halakhic (Jewish law) obstacles has brought conversion almost to a standstill, with fewer than 3,000 immigrants per year converting, out of an estimated 300,000 who are unrecognized as Jews by the rabbinate.

    "Converting the non-Jews is a national and strategic mission of vital importance to the future of the State of Israel," Immigrant Absorption Minister Jacob Edery said Monday.

    Prime Minister Ehud Olmert asked officials from Edery's ministry to come back with an operative plan for implementing the recommendations, including an estimate of how many converts would be added.

    The committee was headed by Immigrant Absorption Ministry director general Erez Halfon, and represented all departments and agencies in Israel that deal with conversion, including the Chief Rabbinate, Israel Defense Forces, Jewish Agency and Education Ministry. It focused mainly on streamlining the entire conversion process, which currently takes more than two years and has a high dropout rate. Recommendations include adding 10 posts for rabbinical court judges (dayanim), and creating a volunteer-dayan post to boost the number of converts substantially.

    But ministry officials concede that while they can perhaps solve bureaucratic problems, halakhic issues are within the rabbinate's province. Here they point with hope to Amar's consent to form a committee of dayanim to discuss the halakhic obstacles facing would-be converts, particularly various requirements to maintain a religious lifestyle.

    The committee asked Amar to consider permitting conversion activity at non-religious schools with a large number of immigrants "in need of conversion"; not to require converts to transfer their children to religious schools; and to permit converts to appear before the court independently, without reference to a spouse's religious status.

    A source close to Amar said Tuesday that "the rabbi believes it is possible to rule on conversion matters leniently and remain within the realm of halakha," but declined to say how the rabbi would respond to the committee's requests.

    Amar is expected to use the new posts to introduce like-minded dayanim, as a counter-weight to those who believe mass conversion should be discouraged.

    The ultra-Orthodox daily Yated Neeman devoted two pages Tuesday to attacking the committee's report. The paper, which is the mouthpiece for Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv to whom many of the dayanim answer blasted the report for enabling mass "fake" conversions.

    For opposite reasons, Rabbi Gilad Kariv of the Reform movement's Israel Religious Action Center said that the committee's recommendations "do not herald any significant change. At best they are useless, and at worst they might deepen the ongoing crisis in the field of conversion, as a result of bolstering the involvement of the Chief Rabbinate and rabbinical courts in the conversion process."

  3. "even if the Israeli government has fits over it'

    I am not sure that the secular government is opposed to limiting the influence of non Jews upon Israeli society and politics.

    One person who has had a great deal of influence upon Prime Ministers Sharon and Olmert has been Jack Avital who is described as the leader of the Syrian Jewish community.

    Mr. Avital has been working very hard to broker a peace deal between Israel and Syria in order that both countries might benefit from Syria's newly emerging economy.

    One of the obstacles that Israel has had to at least achieving a tolerant peaceful co-existence with her neighbors has been extremism from groups funded provided by Christian Evangelicals in the US (ie John Hagee) whose goal it is to ignite the War of Armageddan between Israel and the Arab world.

    According to the vision of Christian Zionists, who financially support groups such as Shalvei Israel, Nefesh b'Nefesh and who also support and arm militant settlers organizations, the majority of Israeli Jews must perish in a war so that the remnant will accept Jesus as Messiah and usher in the Messianic era according to Christian doctrine.

    After the Gaza disengagement was played out on TVs throughout the the world it became clear to some in the Jewish community that many of the most militant segments of the Messianic/Apocalyptic "Jewish" movements were people who had been "converted" to Judaism and supported by Christian Fundamentalists (ie Mayan Yadai, spokeswoman for Gush Katif).

    It is my opinion that at least in the case of conversions, the goals of the secular Gov't AND the upholding of Halacha might not be in conflict with each other.

  4. There is a website that I use in business called the Wayback Machine.

    It allows users to browse through 85 billion web pages archived from 1996 to a few months ago. You type in the web address of a site and press enter. Then you select from the archived dates available.

    When I tried this on 3/10/2008 for EJF, this is the error message I got:

    We're sorry, access to has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt.

    Now, why do you think they would do that??

  5. Dear R' Eidensohn, shlita,
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I apologize that I cannot reply in a timely fashion since there are several other matters demanding my attention right now. I hope to do so later today.

    Off the cuff, though, I noticed that RaP wrote:

    "it is very clear that the Haredi establishment in Israel is opposed to any type of mass conversion "factories, organizations, systems or solutions" and it is also clear that all Haredi authorities in Israel, including the ones touted by EJF, like Rav Amar and Rav Eliashiv, are are taking a strong stand against unconventional mass efforts to convert and are insisting on a slowed down and methodical conventional Halachic process so that there is no justification to rush to accept gerim in bulk under any circumstances, even if the Israeli government has fits over it, the Halachic process cannot be short-circuited or end-runned"

    That is exactly EJF's position. EJF couldn't agree more. EJF is opposed to mass conversions, gerus factories, and the like.

  6. AmicusEJF said: "That is exactly EJF's position. EJF couldn't agree more. EJF is opposed to mass conversions, gerus factories, and the like."


    RaP: Sure! So why is the BADATZ and Rav Shternbuch up in arms at the EJF, sending out official letters to rabbis to get un-involved with the EJF and openly castigating Rabbi Tropper and even awaiting an official apology from him? Doesnt't seem like any meeting of the minds there. And how about the fact that the RCA has made its own pact with the Israeli Chief Rabbinate shoving EJF and its cluster of rubber-stamp beth dins out of the picture, nothing good for EJF from that direction either. So why AmicusEJF wihes to paint a picture of harmonious agreement between EJF and everyone else is a great mystery and most probably yet another stroke of distortion to pull the wool over the eyes of people who may not know better while it solicits and shepards those on the prowl for a way to get "super-kosher" conversions for their non-Jewish spouses care of the EJF's help with an anti-Halachic mass effort of its own.

    Sorry Amicus, nice try but no cigar!

  7. Dear R' Eidensohn, shlita,

    It's late and I am accompanying a close relative to surgery tomorrow morning, but let me try to hit a couple points now.

    1) You wrote about the importance of sampling the visceral substrate in limited quantities.

    I think you are right, as long as it is clearly labeled as such, which is indeed what you did with the original carmella corleone post. I think, however, that there was a week in which you presented RaP posts that stretched or violated this standard. We must remember that this blog does not exist in a vacuum; it exists in the blogosphere, which is a pretty foul place. Too much of that visceral substrate and this becomes a blog like any other blog. I can't imagine that Rav Moshe Shternbuch would sanction that under any circumstances.

    2) Speaking of Rav Shternbuch, shlita: There are two parts of your list that I studiously avoided mentioning. One was the quote from Rav Shternbuch and the other was R' Tropper's criticism of you on the Abarbanel. I didn't feel and I don't feel that a public forum such as this blog is the place for these kind of things. Bemechilas kevodcha haram, I don't feel that publishing the quote from RMS is ultimately bekovodig towards him. As far as R' Tropper and RMS, I have to do some further checking. As far as his criticism of you on the Abarbanel, I have already taken that up with him directly.

    I will say, though, that I disagree with the way you presented the Abarbanel's view. It's been a while since I went through it, but I do remember seeing a significant inaccuracy in that post. But that will have to wait for another time.

    3) Burden of proof. I stand by what I wrote. It seems to make a lot of sense to me.

    But you added something interesting: "The Bedatz represents an important group – whether you agree with them or not – whose acceptance or rejection clearly impacts the degree that the slogan “universal acceptance” is true. EJF can’t claim universal standards and then say to any part of the Jewish world - “I don’t have to justify myself to you because I really don’t care what you think – and I don’t care if you accept my conversions.” Universal standards which are only accepted by a part of the Orthodox world – are not universal standards! Isn’t that obvious?"

    Are you suggesting that - ex post facto - the Bedatz would not accept the gerus of an intermarried spouse that had been performed under the auspices of R' Smuel Eliezer Stern, for example, of R' Wosner's Beis Din? Has this actually ever happened?

  8. Sorry, I pushed the Publish button before I was done [and before I could proofread what I wrote]. Perhaps, though, I should stop here and carry on tomorrow.


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