Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jewish attitude towards gerim as manifested towards the Erev Rav

Recipients and Publicity has raised an important point regarding the nature of gerus. What are the lessons to be learned from the Erev Rav? He asserts in the following excerpt [from a longer comment] that we learn a postive attitude because Moshe accepted as converts those who would not meet modern standards - and he never apologized to G-d for this decision. His assertions involve a number of major concerns as to how we learn lessons from our Mesora - both written and oral. He also has expressed irritation about being misunderstood and therefore I want to allow him to clarify the issues here I am also including some of the comments related to this issue. While it is obvious that we are in serious disagreement - I think we have much to gain by focusing on his assertions. [Useful Kabbalistic source material is found on Mishpat Tzedek ]
Recipients and Publicity wrote
While the hysteria against accepting converts to Judaism gains steam bordering on irrational xenophobia, and while a number of very limited and parochial arguments may make some sense, and while no Orthodox rabbi or Jew in his right mind denies that the Halachah, meaning Kabolas ol mitzvas by the ger, must remain the only guidepost and criterian in this arena, YET, nevertheless one must also have in mind what the Torah, Tanach and the various eras of the Jewish history teach us.


Then it was Moshe Rabbeinu who took out the eruv rav (mixed multitude) from Egypt who the Jewish sages say were converted. The mixed multitude caused many problems but even at the worst time of the egel (golden calf) Moshe never apologised to G-d for taking them out of Egypt when G-d called them (the eruv rav) "your" (i.e. Moshe's) nation. Moshe's attitude to the eruv rav is puzzling and fascinating and why he saw fit to accept them is even more of a challenge to comprehend, but the fact remains that he accepted mixed types of non-Israelite people from Egypt who would not meet many of today's conversion standards ab initio if they were to be judged by Rav Shternbuch for example. Perhaps it was because Moshe understood the nature of TRUE geirei tzedek: He was rescued by the daughter of Paroh who came to be called Basya (duaghter of G-d) for her act of saving the infant baby in the Nile who would become the redeemer of the Jews from Egypt, or perhaps it was because Moshe married Tzipora who was a convert and that later Moshe's father-in-law Yitro became the first major convert after the giving of the Torah.

Recipients and Publicity also said...

I had no idea that what is recorded in the Torah and Tanach needs more sources.

I was also not endorsing and supporting the acceptance of any gentile who wishes to become a ger with a blank check.

My main point, in the eye of this storm of disputes and your for request sources of all sorts, is that one must NOT forget what the Torah and Tanach had the honesty and openess to retain and not hide for the record that from the times of Avraham and Sarah until the present time that Judaism is not a religion that is closed off to anyone

So it is strange you ask for sources because your sources are only SECONDARY SOURCES whereas the sources I cite are the core original PRIMARY SOURCES !!!!

I objected to his analysis with the following

I think we finally have reached the basis of our disagreement on many issues.
I have never heard an Orthodox Jew describe Chazal or Rishonim or Achronim as secondary sources. You are presenting a fundamentalist literal reading of Tanach as superior to one that is viewed through the eyes of our Sages as well as Rishonim and Achronim.

While this is the understanding of some academics, maskillim and karaites - it is simply not acceptable to anyone I know who calls himself an Orthodox Jew.

"Keep your children from higayon" Rashi explains that you should not educate your children to understand Tanach independent of the explanation of our Sages.[Berachos 28b]

Recipients and Publicity responded to my criticism

To Daas Torah of May 13, 2008 11:14 PM:

As far as I know, this Blog is not a kindergarten nor is it a place to get lectured about where or how to start an intelliegent discussion(and all that these things on this Blog are is just discussions, for none of us are poskim).

I challenge you: How can anyone claim to be an learned Orthodox Jew if they do not accept the Torah and Tanach as the devar H-shem?

Can you point out where I am being too "literalist" for you? Were Avraham and Sarah not geirim and called by the sages (not by the Torah) techila legerim? Does not Rashi (not the Torah) say, quoting Chazal that Batya was coming down to the Nile to convert when she spotted Moshe? Were not Tzipora and her father gerim and does not Rashi and the Ramban discuss at what point did Yisro come to Moshe and convert? The conversion of Ruth and the principle that allowed it of "moavi velo mo'aviya" is not in the Tanach, it is the chazal who teach about it. The sages and kabbalists themselves struggle to understand why the soul of mashiach has to come from "sparks" hidden in alien people like Ruth who is the one to be the mother of royalty and not a "meyucheses from a Chasidic dynasty" and it is not in the Tanach. Why Shlomo did what he did is just as good a question as asking why Rav Druckma did what he did, if not better. I had no idea that Yiddishkeit prohibted questions of this kind, unless you have an aganda of course to destroy other Jews who hold by Religious Zionism that was not founded by me (and I do not support Mizrachi for the record) but by gedolim like Rav Reines and Rav Kook and Rav JB Soloveichik, even though they were a minorty they matter because Yiddishkeit does not crush genuine opposing views. It is not the Tanach that says that Nevuzaradan converted but it is in the Gemora, and it is also the Gemora that says that Nero went off to become a ger as did many others who were like the famous Rebbe Meir in the mishna as far as I heard it explained. Is all this too much for you that you must resort to lines like "While this is the understanding of some academics, maskillim and karaites - it is simply not acceptable to anyone I know who calls himself an Orthodox Jew."? What a great pity!

I had no idea that "Chazal or Rishonim or Achronim" rejected the Torah and the Tanach, and nowhere is what I stated solely based on either the Torah or the Tanach alone -- I have striven mightily to combine the words of the Torah SheBichtav with the Torah SheBeal Peh -- and you can go ahead and read for yourself again very carefully that I have included Chazal (from multiple Midrashim) or Rishonim (many Rashis and at least one Rambam) or Achronim (Kabbalists) and even relying on modern day gedolim, such as Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Rav Hutner, and others who URGE and ENCOURAGE the learning of Tanach, as well quoting Tannoim and Amoroim from the Gemora and the Talmud.

While for the sake of keeping the flow of my presentation moving I may not have specifically mentioned the names of Rashi's and other Gemoras, they are very present and evident to the knowledgeable reader and they are plentiful in my above comments and you can see that for yourself, so that you are being too DISMISSIVE (a bad habit, even for one claiming to talk for Daas Torah) and much too rough and abrupt in your rejection of my words (similar to your description of my words as "paranoid" when you disliked some earlier comments) rather than showing me word for word that what I have said is not true which is not the case.

Recipients and Publicity wrote to Bright Eyes

Your points about the eruv rav are off the mark. I was not saying and the chumash does not say that they asked to be part of the Israelites or that they should or shouldn't be counted as Israelites. That was not my point in this regard.

What I was saying was that nowhere in the Chumash did Moshe apologise to H-shem for his decision to take the eruv rav out of Egypt with the Bani Yisrael (and it was a jailbreak for EVERYONE by the way because Paroh fought against the Jews' leaving Egypt and even pursued them... do you even understand basic Chumash?) and at no point is there a command to kill them. They remain as the eruv rav, and there are midrashim that say that the eruv rav converted, regardles of how you wish to understand or misunderstand that.

No one says that they were tsadikim either, that is also not the point, just that they were not as bad as Amelek that needed to be killed out as the Torah commanded.


  1. RaP:
    When you say:
    "As far as I know, this Blog is not a kindergarten"

    My 5 year old did not know this either.

    This is from Being Jewish

    We have the Oral Law, which is the Traditional accompaniment to the Written Tradition many refer to as the Bible. Anyone who has ever tried to learn the Scriptures alone knows that they are a closed book, full of confusing and difficult-to-understand statements. The Torah is generally briefly worded, and lacks detailed directions. Obviously, commentary is necessary. This commentary is the Oral Tradition, also known as the Oral Law, or the Oral Torah. The Written Bible is completely incomprehensible without the Oral Tradition.

    To demonstrate, I will cite some examples of Laws from the Written Torah that are completely incomprehensible without knowledge of the Oral Tradition.

    When the Bible tells us (Lev. 20:14) to take together four species on the first day of Succos, which four species are meant, and what are we supposed to do with them?

    The prohibition of Chelev (fat) (Lev. 7:24) leaves us uninformed as to which fat is included in the category of Chelev, and which are Shumin (fat) and therefore permitted.

    Which blood is forbidden, (Lev. 7:26) and how do we purge the meat of it?

    What are Totaphot? (Ex. 13:16) If that means Tefillin, what exactly are Tefillin? How are they made, and how are they "bound as a sign upon your hand?"

    Which work is forbidden on the Sabbath, and which is permitted?

    "You shall not cook a young animal in its mother's milk" is stated three times in the Bible. Why? The Oral Law explains why. It also explains the seemingly odd wording of the commandment.

    Most Hebrew words change their meaning when pronounced differently. Without the Oral Tradition, how can we determine the true meaning of the words of the Hebrew Scriptures, written as they were without vowels?

    These are just a few examples of why the Oral Torah is necessary. And if you consider all that the Torah includes, you will realize that the entire body of Torah, the instructions on how to live our lives, is too vast to be confined to a few small books.

    The existence of the oral tradition is alluded to in the Written Law in numerous places.

    For example:

    The Torah says: (Deut. 12:20) "When G-d expands your borders as He promised you, and your natural desire to eat meat asserts itself, so that you say; 'I wish to eat meat', you may eat as much meat as you wish... you need only slaughter your cattle and small animals... in the manner I have commanded you." Nowhere in the Written Torah is such a manner described. So what is the manner in which we are supposed to slaughter cattle?

    Though the laws of slaughtering cattle are not explained in the Written Torah, they are described in detail in the Oral Law.

    The Talmud tells the story of a Gentile who went to Hillel the Elder and said to him, "I want to convert, but I want to accept only the Written Torah, and not the Oral Torah. I don't wish to accept the words of the Rabbis. So teach me only the Written Torah, and not the Oral Torah."

    But Hillel knew that the man wanted to do the right thing. He simply didn't understand the purpose of the Oral Torah. So he began to teach him the Aleph Bais (Hebrew alphabet). The first day, Hillel the Elder taught him the first two letters, aleph, and bais (aleph and bet, for those who speak the Sefardic dialect).

    The next day, Hillel the Elder taught him the same two letters in reverse. He showed him the letter aleph, and called it "bais." The man objected, "but yesterday you taught it the other way!"

    "Well, then, you need me, a Rabbi, to teach you the Aleph Bais? So you have to trust my knowledge of the tradition of the letters. What I tell you is the Oral Tradition. You can't read the alphabet if no one tells you what it means. And you think you don't need the Rabbis' knowledge of Jewish Tradition in order to understand the words of the Torah? Those are much more difficult! Without an Oral Tradition you will never be able to learn the Torah."

    So it is clear that an Oral Tradition is needed, and that one exists.

  2. RaP:
    "What I was saying was that nowhere in the Chumash did Moshe apologise to H-shem for his decision to take the eruv rav"

    It would not be found in the literal reading of the Chumash but in the teachings of our Sages.

    Moses and the Leap Year
    Parshat Va'etchanan

    Selected with permission and adapted from the three-volume English edition of Shney Luchot HaBrit -- the Sh'lah, as translated and annotated by Eliyahu Munk.

    I have found the following comment among the writings of a great Kabbalistic scholar, Rabbi Chaim (Vital), the leading disciple of the Ari Zal.

    [The comment has been paraphrased by the editor:] As a consequence of Moses' accepting the mixed multitudes as converts, he became involved in the "Sod Ha'Ibur," the calculations pertaining to leap months, leap years, etc. One of these calculations involves determining when a Jubilee year occurs (the fiftieth year after the conclusion of seven cycles of seven years).

    G-d had not wanted to accept this mixed multitude as converts. Had they not been accepted, Israel would have experienced neither death nor exile, since acceptance of the Tablets would have signified everlasting life, as our sages said: "al tikra charut, ela cheyrut, do not read 'engraved,' i.e. charut but 'free' (from death), i.e. cheyrut."

    Moses had not consulted G-d (regarding the acceptance of the mixed multitudes, which had been Abraham's lifework). In addition he had developed a personal interest in the conduct of these people as he had hinted when he referred to them (Num. 11:21) as "the people amongst whom I find myself." He had also foretold that these people would convert when he told Pharaoh (in Ex. 11:8) that "all these people who sit at our feet will bow down to me." This meant that Moses was anxious to convert these people. Alas, not only did Moses fail to truly convert them but they also infected the Israelites proper with their lack of faith during the episode of the golden calf, so that G-d told Moses: "Go and descend, for your people have become corrupt" (Ex. 32:7).

    These people and their offspring by now made up the majority of the Jews in the desert. This is why Moses was forced to insert an extra year (the jubilee year) after every 49 years. This extra year serves as a warning that Israel must not again err by accepting converts wholesale and being misled by them.

  3. To Jersey Girl of May 14, 2008 4:04 PM: I see that you are not following all the discussions and posts here and you are just blabbering away on points that I am not even disputing with you here.

    I hate to be too repetative, but since it is Google that owns Blogspot and they give us lots of digital place to post, I will take the liberty of reposting below my reply to "Bright Eyes" who raised some of the same "objections" you do, but which is way off the mark because I am fully 100% in agreement that the Oral Law (Torah Shebichtav) is just as important as the Written Law (Torah Shebelapeh), and when I objected to Rav Eidensohn relying on SECONDARY SOURCES whereas I was citing PRIMARY SOURCES, I did not at any time imply or mean that I cite the PRIMARY SOURCES without the Oral Law, G-d forbid, because on the contrary, each time I cited the Torah and Tanach it has been WITH and USING the explanations the Oral Law and its sages. Unlike Rabbi Eidensohn/Daas Torah who has so far cited mostly from modern day shailos and teshuvos and rabbinic responsa, "rulings and declrations", which while it is good must also be taken TOGETHER with ALL of the rest that PRECEDES IT in the Torah and Tanach as well as the Talmud and Medrashim. Thus to sum up, my view is that Torah&Tanach+Talmud&Midrashim=PRIMARY SOURCES, whereas Rabbi Eidensohn comes out like this Modern Responsa&Rabbinic pronouncements=SECONDARY SOURCES, and now finally after my latest post he has finally, Baruch H-shem gotten into discussion about the "erve rav" and a deepre discussion that is ALSO Torah and Tanach based and that does not just rely on decrees from the BADATZ and personal letter from one rabbi like Rav Shternbuch, shlit'a, as great as he may be, he is not "Moshe Rabbeinu" to everyone.

    Anyhow, for the record, here is what I told "Bright Eyes" when he said some things like you are now saying:


    Recipients and Publicity of May 14, 2008 3:30 AM:

    Seems to me you do not read what I say but just wait for "Daas Torah" to make a comment or for Jersey Girl to misread something and off you galloping down the wrong trail like a horse without a rider.

    Nowhere have I said "not" to consult Chazal. In fact I said very clearly and explicitly in my post of May 13, 2008 8:27 PM that:

    "It is like Shabbat, belief in G-d and the mitzvot, they all start in the Written Torah and the sages then are the repositories of the Oral Torah, also given to Moshe at Sinai and the two work together."

    So that you are clearly just doing your thing again of relying on other's critiques and putting words in my mouth which I never said nor even intended and you do what you do best and that is to twist the arguments of others that you dodn't like in ways to suit your own pre-conceived ideas and ends.

    And As I have told you a number of times, it is tiring and silly of you to go down this path.
    Rather than making sweeping statements and phony "summations" of what I wrote, go over EVERYTHING I said again CAREFULLY and then IN CONTEXT quote to me the passage that I wrote that troubles you and NOT what you think or misunderstood that I wrote and please also read my recent response to Daas Torah and Jesrey Girl and you will see that in almost each and every case I cited I was backed up if not directly using a Chazal or Gemora or a Rishon or an Acharon.

    So I really do not have time for your nonsensical arguments unless you can be more reasonable and not just a slash-and-burn instigator who does not wish to debate but wants to just have his own way even if it means lieing about what the other side was saying or not saying.

  4. To Rabbi Eidensohn/Daas Torah:

    I was very impressed with your response, although based on the link to it is clear that the view you would subscribe to would be one dimensional.

    Get this please, I am not in favor of the eruv rav nor am I promoting the view that they are something positive because on the contrary, they are not, as the Torah makes it very clear, but all I was stating was that Moshe Rabbeinu took it upon himself to bring them out of Egypt and as the sources in the Mishpat Tsedek link make it very clear it was because the eruv rav had some sort of mystical link that was unique to Moshe and noone else.

    The source also confirms what I asserted that chazal teach that the eruv rav were converted by Moshe and that they are still very much with us. And that was my only poiint really, that during the times following Yetzias Mitzrayim (the Exodus) there was also a big chapter of confusion surrounding controversial conversions that centered around the eruv rav, it was part of the process of the build up to the building of the First Temple, so that we should not be surprised that a similar national challenge faces the Jewish people today as it gears up for the arrival of Mashiach and the building of the Third Temple.

    I was also happy that the Mishpat Tsedek source also mentions briefly that Shlomo Hamelech also did controversial conversions during his time (mainly for his thousand non-Jewish wives and many concubines) and that that process was part of the build-up to the building of the First Temple too.

    At any rate, I thank you for bringing the Mishpat Tsedek link and article to may attention because it is a very important article, albeit very one-sided, and that in the course of reading over many of its points it validates a numnber of points I raise. But again I must repeat that this in no way means that I am a "fan' of the eruv rav or of any non-Halchic conversions, because I am not.

    My ONLY real point thus far has been that there cannot be such a thing in Judaism that the door is slammed shut in the face of a gentile who wishes to genuinely convert to Judaism. That is all. That is why what the Syrian rabbis did with their Takana is Halachically wrong in the over-all scheme of things to ban anyone from trying to convert through them, because they cannot be "holier-than-thou" than Moshe Rabbeinu and Shlomo Hamelech who, in spite of the risks, still accepted converts in their times even under the most controversial of circumstances and with the toughest of people.

    The problems with Rav Sherman's ruling is that he negates an entire group of rabbis and Batei Din which is a radical move, and while it is his right to do so, it must not be expected that other Orthodox rabbis and Batei Din will jump to attention and salute him just because he said so. There is a principle that applies here of Eilu ve'eilu divrei elokim chayim.

    It is interesting to note that in the course of the Bais Din Legiur's support for Rav Sherman, they also backtrack by offering to review cases now on an individual case by case basis. But this is somewhat sad as the pigeons have flown the coop already and why should people be expected to come back 5 or 10 or 15 years later to be checked out by yet a third Bais Din and get a run around of their lives?

    Rabbi Sherman should himself thought of this solution or option and ruled that all the people in question who were converted should please apply to come for a case by case review of their staus, like a kind of bad-product recall by a corporation maybe, but to just flat out quash another Bais Din and to summarily dismiss other Orthodox rabbis in Israel and then let the Bais Din for Giur chime in and get its support as they offer to clean up from the fall-out of Rav Sherman's ruling has no credibility and they should have thought of all this before and worked out what they would or would not offer rather than this case of "good cop and back cop" that Rabbi Amar and Rav Sherman and the Bais Din Legiur run by Rav Nochum Eisenstein (who just hates Modern Orthodoxy and its rabbis, period, and is looking for any way to destroy them) so that this entire mess is looking more and more like a three stooges three ring circus than a serious effort to help Klal Yisroel based on Torah, Avoda and Gemilus Chasadim and Derech Eretz Kadmah LeTorah and Olam Chesed Yibaneh as these rabbis play around with human life without regard to what it could cause or its long term implications that as we see unfolding are bound to be unpleasant for all concerned.

    Thank you again.

  5. RaP states:

    "Unlike Rabbi Eidensohn/Daas Torah who has so far cited mostly from modern day shailos and teshuvos and rabbinic responsa,"

    Rabbi Eidensohn's last penned post (5/1/08) (not articles written by others) cited:

    Avoda Zara(3b): R’ Yossi,
    Rabbeinu Bachye (Devarim 21:14),
    Rambam(Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah 13:15)

    Everyone has a different definition of "modern" I guess.

  6. Anyone who does not believe in one sentence of what Hashem has written in our Torah is a Kofer. The Torah says specifically many times to love, respect, and accept the Gerim. If you are not following this Halacha you are breaking a Mitzvah from not only Rabbanan but the Torah. Hashem Yazhor


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