Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Rav Kook zt"l - Supported Argentina ban on conversion - for welfare of Jews and non-Jews

Rav Kook (Daas Cohen Y.D. #154): [Written to the rabbis of Argentina] Even though the halacha is that those who convert for ulterior motives are valid gerim (Yevamos 24b) and this includes a man who converts for the sake of a woman and a woman who converts for the sake of a man, it appears from Tosfos (Chullin 3b) and Yevamos (24b) that this is only if the conversion involves a full commitment to keeping the mitzvos. But if the conversion is not complete –meaning without full observance of the mitzvos and also the motivation was not proper – then they are worse then regular lion‑converts that are mentioned there in a braissa. There is one opinion that these lion‑converts are genuine gerim but they are like the Kusim because according to the view that they are lion‑converts they are considered according to the halacha as total non‑Jews because there are two problems. 1) the conversion was not for the sake of Heaven 2) they don’t fully observe the mitzvos because as a minimum they worship idols through shituf as is learned from the verse “and yet they still worship their gods.” The language of Tosfos in Chullin is that they didn’t convert completely and thus it was not only idolatry that they violated. Thus in any case where the mitzvos are not observed properly and the motivation wasn’t proper – then there is no conversion at all. We see this in the language of the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 248) that a person who converts for ulterior motivation, we are concerned about him until his righteousness is established. In other words if we see that he is not conducting himself properly according to the halacha and he had ulterior motivation for conversion – this is not considered complete conversion. In fact by accepting a ger who is not going to be observant, we transgress the prohibition of placing a stumbling block before the blind in any case. For if we say that the conversion is not valid even bedieved and yet we accepted them – then that causes problems for society because they are treating non‑Jews as Jews. How many snares and destructions results from that – especially concerning kiddushin, gittin and yibum. The Jewish husband will mistakenly view their son as his son and if he has a Jewish wife afterwards and he dies without other children, his wife will be mistakenly allowed to remarry without chalitza even if he has a brother. There are many other harmful cases that can result. On the other hand if they are truly gerim then bedieved they are fully obligated to keep the entire Torah. Then the beis din causes the gerim problems because they are now obligated in punishment because of all the Torah prohibitions they are violating. Prior to conversion they were not obligated and not punished for transgressing the Torah. We see this in Yevamos (47a) that we are to instruct the candidate for conversion the punishment for not keeping the mitzvos. We tell him , “you should know that before you came to convert, if you ate chelev fat there was no punishment of kares. If you transgressed Shabbos you would not be punished with stoning. However once you convert , eating chelev fat is punishable with kares and profaning Shabbos is punished with stoning. Thus we see that we are commanded about lifnei ivair (placing a stumbling block before the blind – even for non‑Jews. This is stated in Avoda Zara (6b): How do you know that you should not offer a limb from a living animal to a non‑Jew? Because the Torah says “do not place a stumbling block before the blind.” And it is a kal v’chomer concerning our case because he causes him to be have a great obligation as a Jew and he will be punished for his transgressions of the Torah. Therefore it is wonderful what you and the other holy rabbis [of Argentina] have done in making and strengthening the boundaries in Argentina where there is a great breakdown in the walls and there is a great number of gerim who are not sincere – and you have decided not to accept gerim at all. Whoever genuinely wants to attach themselves to the holy Jewish people should come to Israel where they will carefully be evaluated by the Jewish courts. Only those who are genuinely committed to converting for the sake of Heaven and will be fully observant - will be accepted…


  1. Here are some historical references I thought were interesting:


    Aaron Halevy Goldman, rabbi and leader of Moisesville, the first Jewish agricultural settlement in Argentina, which was settled by Russian Jews in 1889.7

    (Rabbi Aaron Halevy Goldman wrote the original Edict Against Conversions for Marriage that was later adopted by Rabbi David Sutton of the Buenos Aires Syrian community and that was also signed in NY by Rabbi Haim Tawil. Yes, it is true that the "Syrian Takana" is of Russian Ashkenazic origin.)

    Although in those years, most Jewish families rejected marriage to a non-Jewish partner, the intermarriage phenomenon was a fact. Nevertheless, we are not able to estimate the proportion and consequences of this process at that time. An article written by Schmuel Rollansky, which was published with the title: “Di epidemie fun di gemishte Hasenes...” [The epidemic of mixed marriages...], is another source accounting for the existence of this problem in that period8

    Now I would like to make a brief reference to the context of the recipient society. In order to properly understand the process of gradual incorporation of the Jews into the Argentinean society, it is necessary to highlight the fact that Argentina is a Catholic country. This Catholic stamp pervades many aspects of the political culture as well as the way of being of the Argentineans.

    Notwithstanding the influence of the Catholic Church, many of the new immigrants and their children born in the country grew up in an intellectual and cultural environment influenced by secular ideologies. These ideas had a great influence on the intellectual and cultural development of the Jewish community. Most of the Jewish immigrants were of Ashkenazi origin, stemming from Eastern Europe. Secular ideas were actually part of many of their ideological values: Socialists, Bundists, and even Communists (especially after the Russian Revolution of 1917).9

    7 For a detailed analysis of this issue see: Zemer, Moshe: The Rabbinic Ban on Conversion in Argentina, Judaism, 37:1 (145) (Winter 1988) p. 84-96.

    8 Di Yidische Zeitung (February 3, 1933) p.5 In our paper (see p. 23) we will make reference to a survey about young people born in 1980. This survey includes a question about the religious-ethnic origin of their parents. Some of the answers allow us to learn about a number of grandparents and even great grandparents of these youngsters who married non-Jewish women and also decided to give up their Jewishness. Chronologically, the dates these grandparents and great-grandparents got married would correspond to the first decades of the 20th century. Although the number of cases that were found cannot be considered as representative of the whole process of intermarriage, they are important testimonies which suggest that the exogamic process has its roots at an earlier stage.

    9 For a detailed analysis of the evolution of the Jewish community in Buenos Aires up to 1930, see Mirelman, Victor, op. cit. and, specially, chapters 2 and 5.

  2. The "Syrian Takana" is essentially anti-Halachik because it excludes even genuine 100% Geirei Tzedek which all Halachik Jews are obligated to accept and love according to the Torah.

    Rav Kook's words here are actually very Halachically enlightening and enlightened if anyone reads what he is saying carefully, and Rabbi Dr. Eidensohn is to be commended for the willingness and intellectual hinesty to translate and post them, and Jersey Girl does noone a service by distracting readers with prattle about "how great" the "Syrian Takana" is, regardless of its supposed origins.

    There was only one reason, and still is only one reason for why the Syrian rabbis did what they did and that was because as a fairly small community, and without a strong internal Torah-dikke chinuch system to educate and keep their youth in the fold, as exists among Chasidim, Yeshiva-leit and serious Mizrachistim, the young Syrian men were running off with shiksas in droves, even taking them at the same time that they "kept" their Jewish Syrian wives who were shallow-headed material girls. So the Syrian rabbonim went radical by issuing "decrees" but such things are desperation measures and only reveal the panic, insecurity and fear of the ones who resorted to such radical measures that don't really stop anyone really if they are determined to marry their favorite shiksa.

  3. Recipients and Publicity said...

    The "Syrian Takana" is essentially anti-Halachik because it excludes even genuine 100% Geirei Tzedek which all Halachik Jews are obligated to accept and love according to the Torah.


    I don't understand the basis for your assertion. Do you have any source that a community can not make such a decree to protect themselves from destruction?

    What undestanding of loving the ger prevents making a decree that prohibits members of a community from marrying gerim?

  4. The "Syrian" Takana isn't even "Syrian" . Rabbi Aaron Halevy Goldman ztl who authored the Argentinian Ban was a Russian born Ashkenazic Rabbi.

    Rabbi Goldman was reputed to have been a Talmudic and halachic genius of world renown. I do not know of a source to learn more about Rabbi Aaron Goldman and would like to learn more about the Rabbi who was able to extrapolate ahead four generations given the social conditions in the early 1930s.

  5. RaP - as a fairly small community,

    JG- The Brooklyn Syrian community alone is now 170,000 strong. (Many non Syrians have joined the community bolstering population numbers).

    There are also Syrian Communities in Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Los Angles, Miami, Geneva, Manchester, Israel as well as other cities around the world.

    RaP - and without a strong internal Torah-dikke chinuch system to educate and keep their youth in the fold, as exists among Chasidim, Yeshiva-leit and serious Mizrachistim,

    JG - The Brooklyn/Deal Syrian Sephardic community runs 22 yeshivas as it celebrates its 100th anniversary
    in the US this past year.

    There were excellent Talmud Torahs in Brooklyn in the 1920s and 30s under the direction of Rabbi Selim Ashkenazi ztl, Rabbi Matloub Abadi ztl and Rabbi Jacob Kassin ztl. (I hope I did not forget any others).

    RaP- the young Syrian men were running off with shiksas in droves,

    JG- No, the Takana prevented this. In the Ottoman Empire, it was a death penalty offense for a Muslim woman to have relations with a Jewish man. So intermarriage was not a consideration; as a result the Ottoman community had no experience with the open social climate as exists in the West.

    Thanks to Rabbi Aaron Goldman ztl of Argentina, who went to the newly arrived Rabbi David Sutton ztl in 1935, the Syrian Community has been spared the ravages of intermarriage that have affected ALL other American Jewish communities. It is thanks to Rabbi Goldman's ztl TREMENDOUS ahavat Yisrael, Talmudic scholarship, foresight and vision that the Syrian Sephardic communities around the world have survived to become successful as they are today.

    RaP - even taking them at the same time that they "kept" their Jewish Syrian wives who were shallow-headed material girls.

    JG- Do you have a source to quote to support this statement? (ie that adultery is statistically more prevalent among Syrian Jewish men than among others, and that Syrian Jewish woman are more "shallow headed and material" than other Jews or than the general population?).

    Is there a halachic basis which would permit disparaging the Syrian Sephardic Jewish community, Sephardic or Syrian Jews or any Jewish community in order to better educate those who read this blog?

    The Syrian community is 100% Orthodox affiliated, there is no Reform or Conservative. Additionally the Brooklyn Syrian community provides a substantial percentage of the financial support to Ashkenazic, Chassidic and other non Sephardic Jewish institutions and tzedakahs worldwide.

    I am not a Syrian Jew. As I mentioned before, my family is Moroccan but my grandfather joined the Syrian community upon arriving in America because it was easy to predict given the social forces in America, the catastrophic consequences on other American Jewish communities.

    The majority of intermarried Jews have at least one set of Observant, yesvhia educated great grandparents. Unfortunately, while a good Jewish education helps, it is not a guarantee against assimilation and intermarriage even in the first generation.

    Last night in fact, my husband was up trying to talk a young man, raised strictly Orthodox in a strong Orthodox community, yeshiva educated all the way and a graduate of YU out of marrying his Gentile girlfriend who he insists he "will just convert". (He even knows which Orthodox Rabbi to go to).

  6. Jersey Girl: You say above that: "The 'Syrian' Takana isn't even 'Syrian' . Rabbi Aaron Halevy Goldman ztl who authored the Argentinian Ban was a Russian born Ashkenazic Rabbi."

    But it is a totally disengenious answer because you are not facing reality. All you are saying is that the Syrian rabbis were "smart" people who either got handed a Takana or had one ready made for their needs by an essentially anonymous Ashkenazi rabbi. So what does that prove? Nothing, because no Russian or Ashkenazi community has ever issued or accepted such a blanket ban on any and all geirim, even geirei tzedek, as have the Syrians.

    Why didn't the Syrian Jewish leadership just resort to Mafia-like oaths with blood-dipping ceremonies to make all their men "made men" who would then know that they must never betray their own SY-wives for other molls or else get rubbed out by some other "hired gun"??? Or institure the kind of group fear that the IRA managed to do in Northern Ireland by shooting bullets through people's knee-caps when they deemed them to be "traitors"?

    So please try to stay on track here and take a hard long look at the Ashkenazim, and I mean all frum Halachic Ashkenazim, no matter how splintered and small a community, and you won't find even one that did what the Syrian's rabbis did. Why? Because we are not running the world, H-shem in his wisdom has created the current situation where most Jews have become secular and Orthodox Jews are in galus among their own people mostly, yet still and all, the door remains open to true Geirim. We can make it tough for them, sure, no EJF Rabbi Tropper monkey-business, but at the end of the day, the Halachic door remains open to accept geirei tzedek, and that is why essentially almost any Ashkenazi Bais Din will perform such geirus, even though the system may even be ripped off by some rabbis for personal gain or motives, yet essentially the door is open to geirim if they genuinely want to convert al pi Halachah. That is simple and it is surprising that I need to say it evem. As for the Israeli Chief rabbinate, they are strong, but they do not control the Jewish universe either. While they are correct to challenge fake geirus, they too cannot go against Halachah to accept true geirei tzedek. In any case from my recent sources and discussion with one of the top rabbis in the RCA leadership, the RCA and the Rabbanut are in total harmony, regardless of what some people may read in papers.

    Rabbi Eidensohn also askes the wrong kind of question when he states that: "Do you have any source that a community can not make such a decree to protect themselves from destruction?" When he knows full well that the Torah and Yiddishkeit is not about the "atomatic" protection of this or that group or individual. H-shem never gave any single Jewish communty a users warrnty that they would last forever! Just look at the Holocaust and how many communities and great people H-shem wiped out. So that is not the point and it's not part of an argument, because all communities are under H-shem rule which is expressed through the Halachah as far as frum Jews are concerned. H-shem protects the KLAL and KLAL YISROEL is promised nitzchiyus in the Torah many times, so that while it's true that oisin s'yag LaTorah, however it's also true that ein oisin s'yag les'yag.

    So that if the Syrian rabbis were and are so worried let them make other kinds of Takanos, like let it be mandated that every Syrian boy and girl MUST attend a Yeshiva and that they will use their money to hire the best Rebbeim, Morahs, and teachers. This only happened in Brooklyn when Chacham Harari Raful, with the almost exclusive help of the Ashkenazi Reichmans from Toronto and the Fruchandlers from Chaim Berlin Yeshiva, who then persuaded some other SY bigs to give money too, built Ateret Torah in Flatbush and hired Ashkenazi Rebbeim and when Rabbi Dwek brought a Lakewood style Ashkenazi Kollel to Deal NJ, and THAT is when they got real and things started to change in their communities for real. (Oh, and very funny, it was the SY-material girl wives who objected the most because they didn't want their kids becoming Charedi, seems they could live with the threat that hubby would run off with his shiksa secretary but heaven forfend that the kids should become frum, such is life..)

    Chinuch, kiruv, yeshivas, bais yaakovs, youth movements like Pirchei or NCSY, is the Torah-dikke way, and not to make Takanos to stop rich dudes from marrying shiksas, and if they can't, hey guess what they do, it's no secret and it can be said, they just have nice shiksa mistresses while they keep up their wives.

    Thus, if a system is rotten, no amount of "takanos" no matter who wrote them or who is enforcing them will work if the society is rotten and tottering and about to collapse from its own internal failure -- and don't make the issue of "converts" into the sacrificial lambs or smokescreens for your own communty's utter failure to thrive as a true Torah community. Many small and big communties have come and gone since the start of Klal Yisroel we even lost TEN whole Tribes, but Am Yisroel continued. So let's not imagine that H-shem is thinking like us, because the Nevi'im tell us H-shem's thoughts and ways are not like our thoughts and ways.

    I would like to say tho, to both of you, that the Chazal clearly say that the ONLY purpose of Jews going into the Golus is to gather up geirim, and the Maharal of Prague has a very deep explanation in his sefer on Pirkei Avos about why Pirkei Avos ends with statements by Ben Bag Bag and Ben Hei Hei who came from converts, and the Maharal's basic point is that when does one know that a point of view is true and strong? It is only when it can vanquish and subsume its opposite, and he sees the process of true geirus as being the ulitimate destination of the Torah, that it can even penetrate a goy and make him into a Yid and thereby prove the power of the Torah to penetrate and change a goy (=an opposite of a Yid) into being Yid. These are strong Hashkafic and Halachik points that no amount of jumping up and own can change, that until the coming of Mashiach, when the doors will be shut finally, Klal Yisroel still welcomes and accepts Gerei Tzedek.

  7. to RAPS --

    You're pretty tough!

    You state:
    "The "Syrian Takana" is essentially anti-Halachik because it excludes even genuine 100% Geirei Tzedek which all Halachik Jews are obligated to accept and love according to the Torah" then I suppose that the Ashkenazic ban on polygamy enacted just over 1,000 years ago is essentially anti-Halachik because it excludes even 100% genuinely kosher Jewish marriages by people who lives according to the Torah.

    Continuing on this logic, would you attack this famous Takana on the basis that Ashkenazi men couldn't control themselves sexually and that the need for this illegal Takana would have been eliminated if they only learned more Torah?

    Your post reveals that your bigotry drives your words more than your logic or religiosity.

  8. Rabbi David Sutton regarded Rabbi Aaron Goldman as a tremendous talmudic scholar, a much greater scholar than he felt himself to be. Rabbi Goldman wrote the ban for the Ashkenazic community first in 1927 and advised Rabbi Sutton to adopt it. Rabbi Sutton had the great wisdom to recognize Rabbi Goldman's scholarship and also the fact that Rabbi Goldman had been in Argentina for more than 20 years by that time and knew the lay of the land. Rabbi Aaron Halevy Goldman might be obscure in your opinion but you did not grow up in Argentina where Rabbi Goldman was the Chief Rabbi as well as being regarded as a great Talmid Chacham worldwide.

    I will remind you of Ashkenazic communities that have enacted similar bans against conversions:

    Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, Rabbi Nathan Adler sent out letters in the 1870s to the Jewish communities in Australia forbidding the acceptance of converts to Judaism.

    Rabbi Manassah Ben Israel of Amsterdam negotiated a return of Jews to England with Cromwell with the agreement that the Jewish community would enact an edict against accepting converts.

    In 1834 Rabbi Akiba Eger of Posen issued a ban on accepting converts in order to preserve the Jewish communities of Prussia

    When you say "let it be mandated that every Syrian boy and girl MUST attend a Yeshiva and that they will use their money to hire the best Rebbeim, Morahs, and teachers."

    The Syrian community is the first to begin the 5% mandate (, that is that 5% of every estate should be set aside for Jewish education. At the present time, it is not possible to provide a free Jewish education for every child, but the 22 yeshivas run by the Brooklyn Syrian Sephardic community are doing their best to provide as many Jewish children a yeshiva education as possible.

    Contrary to your stereotypes of wealthy Syrians, 1/3 of the community lives below twice the poverty level. Additionally a priority is put upon helping the 1 in 6 children in the Israeli Sephardic community who go to bed hungry each night and the 50% of Sephardic families in Israel who live below the poverty level.

    It should also be mentioned that the Brooklyn Syrian community absorbed the remnants of the community in Damascus when President Assad allowed emigration in the early 90s. One of the conditions of emigration was that the emigres not go to Israel. Visas were secured for the thousands of Jews remaining in Damascus who came to NY, but the emigres could not legally work in the US for years and were supported by the community. Rescuing those who had been trapped in Syria for decades set back plans (correctly) to provide a free yeshiva education for every child.

    When you say that the Edict is against halacha, I ask you to consider: If the rabbis of the Talmud saw fit to nullify commandments M'Dorayta such as Shofar and Lulav in case one Jew may carry on Shabbat, how much more so is it fitting to institute a safeguard that has saved an untold number of Jewish souls?

    The Rabbis that signed the original Edict were not ordinary men. They were Torah giants in every sense of the word. The Rabbis that reaffirmed this edict are also Torah giants. NONE of us are worthy to criticize the rulings of Gedolim.

    Rabbis have been making Takkanot to fit the needs of specific communities for thousands of years. A Takkana that is beneficial to one community may be detrimental to another. Then again, there may be no need for such a Takkana in the other community. With all due respect, when one reaches the level of understanding of these Rabbis, then one can question and debate the validity of their Takkana. I am sure that the Rabbis that signed the Edict fully understand what Vehavatem Et Hager means.

    It seems many Ashkenazeem have no comprehension of the Sephardic community. The Sephardic community is made up of people of all different levels of observance, while it seems that most Ashkenazic Orthodox communities have few or no non-observant members.

    When I go out in the business world it is rare that I meet an Ashkenazic Jew who is observant.

    What if Syrian Jews become intolerant of all those who are not fully observant and make them feel unwelcome. They can go to the Conservative or Reform or become totally secular. They will marry with non Jews, but we won't see it. The shuls won't be as crowded as they are but there will be 100% observance without that "nasty Takana" on the wall. Chas v'shalom!!

    Fortunately our Rabbis and lay leaders have for generations taught us the importance of being tolerant of those who are less observant. Every Jew is precious and we must stay together.

    All the non-observant Jews in the Syrian community want their kids to get an Orthodox education, to come out more observant than they are. And its not uncommon for the children of non observant Jews to become very observant, some have even become Rabbis.

    Its very easy for those in insular frum communities to keep the intermarriage rate low, but don't forget all those Jews who fell through the cracks. The American Jews who comprise the 50% intermarriage rate came from somewhere.

    Back to the conversion ban. It is specifically for conversions that are for the purpose of marriage.Conversion for adoption is very common and cases of a true ger tzedek who wants to marry in the community are extremely rare. When it has come up our Rabbis listen to all the particulars of the specific case and make a ruling.

    Sadly, the more common occurrence is that a guy meets a non-Jewish girl he wants to marry and figures he'll just find a way for her to get an Orthodox conversion.

  9. "when Rabbi Dwek brought a Lakewood style Ashkenazi Kollel to Deal NJ"
    "THAT is when they got real and things started to change in their communities for real"

    The community only got "real" when it started to become "Ashkenazi style"???

    What kind of a racist statement is THAT???

    You should also Google Solomon, Isaac, Raizel and Pearl Dwek.

    (I forgot the Syrian communities of Brazil approx 7000, Chile, approx 2500 and South Carolina.)

  10. Bright eyes says: You're pretty tough!

    Question: You are turning the debate here on its head! It is Jersey Gil and Rabbi Eidensohn who are "showing off" the Syrian Takana that EXCLUDES accepting geirim and in essence lobbying for the adoption of such measures by the entire Orthodox/Charedi/Halachik world. Now they are the ones with the TOUGH attitude of rigidity, elitism and exclusivity by proposing that the entire institution or Halachik mechanism to accept, allow and megayer genuine geirei tzedek through legitimate Batei Din be shut down! If that is not a tough position, then I don't know what is! "Geirim verboten" is simply racist and anti-Halachik! And when I merely point out that what the Syrian rabbis did is only the exception that proves the rule, that indeed the entire Ashkenazic, as well as most of the Sephardic Halachic world accepts true and genuine geirei tzedek supervised by reliable Batei Din, as well they should because that is the way of Yiddishkeit and has always been so since the days of Avraham Avinu who was the first Ger and the ergo the first Jew. Now how is that "tough" when it seems it's only an abc of Yiddishkeit and the best that Rabbi Eidensohn can do is to say where are there seforim or teshuvas about this? Well, what seforim does he want when it is Yiddishkeit when no extra seform are required than those that exist. As far as I know any kosher Basi Din has the power to accept and confirm vlaid geirim and geirus. I am not a posek, go check if what I said is right with your local Orthodox rabbi. Any Dayan who sits on a valid kosher Bais Din accepting geirim is doing what dayanim on bateii din have been doing for millenia in being mekabel geirim. Sure, make the standards tough, make them very very tough, even extremely tough, to become a Jew, but never ever slam the door in face of someone who has proven to a kosher Bais Din that they wish to come under under the kanfei HaShechina. This is not "my" or "your" or anyone's invention, it is part of Yiddishkeit. Anyhow, if the Syrians in Argentina felt that they were going to save themslves by slaming the door to geirim, that is their choice, and if it helps, sure you will always find some rabbonim who will give a seeming-chumra a pat of the cheek for what it is worth, but if a kehilla is strong enough it does not need to resort to such measures because those Jews in it or those who come near it will know that they must abide by higher standards without having takanos hanging over their heads and shoved down their throats.

    Bright eyes says: then I suppose that the Ashkenazic ban on polygamy enacted just over 1,000 years ago is essentially anti-Halachik because it excludes even 100% genuinely kosher Jewish marriages by people who lives according to the Torah.

    Response: Now ridiculous is this comparison?! Are you comparing what Rabbi Gershon Me'Or HaGola, who is the father of the Rishonim, enacted in his age -- when almost all Jews were holy observers of the Torah beyond what we can even imgaine today, to what the Syrians rabbis did in a panic in Argentina of all places -- where the Jews were nebech falling like flies into the arms of all the sinoritas? The CHEREM Rabbeinu Gershom, as it is called, forbidding a Jewish man to take more than one wife had NOTHING to do with making goyim into Jews or a fear of Jews becoming goyim. He was concerned that since the Catholic Church had made monogomy compulsory and that would in turn endanger Jews living under the rule of Christendom who would violate dina demalchusa by taking more than one wife as the Torah allows. Therefore, as well as for a few more deeper spiritual reasons such as showing absolute loyalty to only one bashert, he enacted his famous Cherem forbidding any Ashkenazi man from taking more than one wife. And as you know, this Takana was not applicable to, nor accepted by, Jews in Islamic lands because Islam, unlike Christianity, allows a man to take more than one wife and does not consider it special nor a sin to have a few wives so that therefore Jews living even as dhimmis could still follow their own Torah to take more than one wife. And that became the Halacha until this day. Only when the Sefardim came to Israel and Western lands in the twentieth century were they obligate per force to stop taking more than one wife so that they too now abide by Cherem Rabbeinu Gershom de facto and are zocheh to this great mitzvah of being married to only one true zivug.

    Bright eyes says: Continuing on this logic, would you attack this famous Takana on the basis that Ashkenazi men couldn't control themselves sexually and that the need for this illegal Takana would have been eliminated if they only learned more Torah?

    My respone: You are being ridiculous. The Cherem Rabbeinu Gershom has nothing to do with the yetzer hara and sexual impulses. It was first and foremost a response to Jews living under Christian rule and has nothing to do with learning more or less Torah. You also reveal that you do not understand what I am saying and you are twisting my words. When I stated that the Syrian community like all Jewish communities need/ed a strengthening of Chinuch, Kiruv, Yeshivas, Bais Yaakovs, I am not talking about robotic and meaningless "learning more Torah" as if it's a prescription given to children to write a thousand lines of "I must be a good Syrian Jew by learning more Torah" -- this is not what is meant and it will never work and you know full well that is not what I meant or what I was saying so quit twisting my words please. The discussion was about the value of a takana not to accept converts, even genuine converts, adopted by the Syrian Jewish communities, and my simple observation was that they were definitely barking up the wrong tree when they did that because such things cannot and will not stop people from chasing after pretty secretaries if they are not endowed with a CERTAIN TYPE of strong Torah chinuch and values, not just "commands" of dos and donts that sound like an out-of-touch grandparent issuing imperious obnoxious commands to the younger generation who will not listen and will do what they want in any case. The only known cure to assimilation and intermarriage is to start by giving your children a Torah true and genuine chinuch at a yeshiva like Ateret Torah and not at places like Magen David and Yeshiva of Flatbush and such like that will only prove that trying to stuff even Torah down kids throats the wrong way only makes the kids more resentful and not interested in Yiddishkeit. It's complicated I know, but there has to be not just merachek besmol but also mekarev beyemin, and notice that "kiruv" must be done in a stronger way with the yemin and richuk is done in a lesser way with the weaker semol so that reversing the order is not just unsound it will also backfire badly, as you happening all around you.

    Bright eyes says: Your post reveals that your bigotry drives your words more than your logic or religiosity.

    All I can say is that personal attacks on me is not going to resolve this debate and it's the easy way out rather than to try to think it through and stick to arguing the facts as best we can and know them rather than personally attacking or speculating about the mind and religious motives of our discussion partners.

  11. {1} Tanna DeBei Eliyahu Raba, Chapter 29:

    A person who converts to marry a Jew is comparable to a mule (chamore).

    {2} Minor Tractates of the Talmud, tractate Gerim, Chapter 1, Law 7:

    Anyone who converts to Judaism for the sake of [marrying] a Jewish woman,
    or fear, or love [of money] is NOT a convert...
    Anyone who is NOT converted from purely religious motives is NOT a convert.

    {3} Yalkut Shimoni, Shemot, chapter 12, Remez 213:

    When a man converts to Judaism because he wants to marry a Jewish woman,
    G_d says to him:
    You converted because of a nebelah [non-kosher carcass].

    {4} Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah, Siman 268, Sif 12:

    Potential converts must be investigated to find if they are converting to marry Jews.

    {5} Syrian Rabbis 1935 Decree:

    Conversions done for marriage are “absolutely invalid and worthless."

    {6} Rabbi Emanuel Feldman:

    Most conversions being done today are of the quickie, convenient variety, usually motivated by the desire to paper over an

    SOURCE: Page 273 of On Judaism by Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, 1994, Shaar Press, Brooklyn, NY ISBN 0-89906-034-X.

    MICROBIOGRAPHY: Rabbi Emanuel Feldman was leader of an Orthodox synagogue for over 35 years in Atlanta and is a former editor of Tradition, a scholarly Jewish publication.


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