Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Conversion cancellation II by a Religious Zionist beis din

I am following up a previous post with the following article which appeared in the Religious Zionist publication Techumin. I translated the first part of the article. The remainder of the article consisted of a very erudite analysis of the nature of acceptance of mitzvos by a ger - and the basis for annulling a conversion when the acceptance of mitzvos was not valid. I also included one of the 9 points in their conclusion which is relevant to the present debate.

This is to demonstrate 1) that the concept of canceling conversion after the candidate has been officially converted by a recognized court - is an accepted halachic reality 2) that canceling conversions is not limited to chareidi poskim.


Nullification of conversion when the acceptance of mitzva obligation is defective

HaRav Tzvi Lipshitz

Techumin #19 5759/1999

Our beis din recently dealt with two important cases which concern the question of whether the conversion should be nullified.

1) The first case involves an immigrant from the former Soviet Union who was already married to her husband in a civil marriage. Our investigation determined that she appeared to be an appropriate candidate for conversion and she accepted the mitzvos in our presence and then she immersed in a mikveh before 3 for the sake of conversion. Because she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy and had serious medical issues we set an early date for them to marry. Thus it happened that she converted on Friday and the next week on Friday afternoon she was married to her husband - according to the halacha - by a recognized rav. However afterwards the beis din was informed that the wedding meal occurred in an establishment that had no hechsher and continued into Shabbos causing chilul Shabbos. The question is whether these are grounds for annulment of her conversion?

2) The second case concerns a 25 year old man from Western Europe who appeared before beis din after study in a conversion study program. He made an excellent impression and the beis din was convinced that he was in fact a ger tzedek. However two years later an article appeared in one of the major newspapers concerning this young man. He presented himself in the article as someone who had had sexual relations with men for years. He mentioned that he was an active homosexual even while he was in the conversion study program on a kibbutz. He continued this activity after conversion and was still an active homosexual at the time he was interviewed for the article. When the reporter asked him whether he viewed that he obtained his conversion fraudulently he replied, “I obtained their Judaism fraudulently but my Judaism – which is the honest and true Judaism - I obtained appropriately.” In addition, it appeared –according to what the reporter wrote – that he also was not observing mitzvos. Additional support for this is that a week after he was converted he met one of the judges in the street and he was not wearing a head covering. He gave a very bizarre explanation to the judge which was not credible.

The question we were faced with is whether there are grounds to nullify the conversion based on the facts we were presented – because of the lack of a valid acceptance of mitzvos? It is reasonable to assume that these converts had not truly accepted the obligation to keep mitzvos at the time of their conversion – or at least a number of major Torah prohibitions. This in spite of the fact that they clearly knew the seriousness of the matter. We will not go into the laws concerning evidence and the believability of the testimony which were used to establish the facts in these cases – but it was done properly and the facts are as stated.


Conclusions [...]
8. .. we wish to add that society is not always benefited by looking for leniencies in these type of cases. In our experience - when those who come to convert are not always the ideal candidates - there is also benefit from being strict in these matters. Therefore in blatant problematic cases such as these there is justification to follow the stricter halachic views in order that these candidates for conversion should be fully aware that joining the Jewish people is not something they should take lightly and is not automatic. Further by being strict in these cases it makes them aware that they need to fully accept the mitzvos with honesty and integrity.

1 comment :

  1. wow-
    so now, not wearing a head covering has the same level of severity as homsexuality in Torah prohibitions? Perhaps it is even worse, since Mishkav Zachar is only a Torah prohibition, but a head covering is not even d'rabanan, it's only a minhag fossilised into a halacha!


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