Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Judaism as a missionary religion?

While there is heated debate within Orthodox circles regarding the standards of conversion - there are others who would accept anyone who wants to be Jewish or thinks they are Jewish. In addition they want to actively proselytize. This is an excerpt of an article in Haaretz. The director Dr. Tobin is also associated with Rabbi Vinas


U.S. think-tank aims to infuse Jewish life with dashes of color

By Rebecca Spence, The Forward Correspondent

SAN FRANSISCO - Go to almost any Jewish conference and you'll likely find the ethnic makeup to be largely, and unsurprisingly, white.

But at a recent plenum in San Francisco, a group championing ethnic diversity in Jewish life turned that situation on its head, as scores of black, Latino and Asian Jews from around the world came together to grapple with the challenges they face gaining acceptance in the mainstream Jewish world.

The group of 80 Jewish leaders from 31 different countries - including Uganda, South Africa and Portugal - who gathered the first weekend this month for the Be'Chol Lashon International Think Tank had one clear message for the Jewish community: Open your doors to diversity. The sixth annual event, organized by Be'Chol Lashon - a Bay Area initiative dedicated to fostering diversity in Jewish life - and fittingly held at the Hotel Kabuki in the heart of San Francisco's Japantown, centered this year on questions of conversion and whether Judaism might take a more proactive role in gaining adherents.

As demographic studies in recent years have shown a shrinking American Jewish population, the organized Jewish community has poured millions of dollars into strengthening identity in young Jews. But the mainstream response to the so-called population crisis, which has resulted in a slew of identity-building projects - among them, Birthright Israel, a program that takes tens of thousands of American Jews in their teens and 20s on free trips to the Jewish state - is not the solution, according to Diane and Gary Tobin, co-founders of Be'Chol Lashon. The organization, whose name is Hebrew for "in every tongue," was established eight years ago in the wake of the Tobins' 1997 adoption of an African American boy.

Gary Tobin, a Jewish researcher who is president of San Francisco's Institute for Jewish & Community Research, contends that only through welcoming converts of all ethnicities and breaking down the barriers to conversion will the Jewish people be able to reverse the trend of dwindling population numbers. Tobin is referring not just to welcoming converts who are married to Jews, but also to reaching out to non-Jews generally.

"If we think that going to Jewish day school or trips to Israel are going to save the Jewish people, it's just silly," Tobin said. "The response of the organized Jewish community has been to circle the wagons, and what this room represents is the possibility of expansion, not constriction,? he said, referring to the conference participants.

The driving philosophy behind Be'Chol Lashon, Tobin added, is that Jews should, in fact, "be competing in the marketplace of world religion." If Jews began reaching out across color lines, the number of Jews in America alone could increase, over the next quarter of a century, to 12 million from 6 million, he said.


  1. If you want to reach out to "brown" Jews of the world, you do not have to look very far. There are 2.5 million Mizrachim in Israel and another 750,000 in Jewish communities throughout the rest of the world.

    We will focus on Israel where:

    1. One in six of Mizrachi Jewish children goes to sleep hungry each night because he cannot afford to eat more than one meal a day.

    2. Half of Mizrachi Jews are unemployed.

    3. One in every four adults and one of every three children live below the poverty line -- a rate unparalleled in any advanced Western nation. Nearly a million "brown" Jews in Israel live in poverty.

    Even in the late 1990s, 88 percent of upper-income Israelis were Ashkenazim while 60 percent of lower-income families were Mizrahim.

    Even though the Mizrahim account for almost half of Israel's population, even as late as 2000, there was still only one Mizrahi for every four college-educated Ashkenazim. (The Israel Government builds only vocational and technical high schools in Mizrahi neighborhoods and puts the college preparatory high schools in Ashkenazic neighborhoods).

    Why not spend money on those who ARE Jewish instead of spending millions and millions of dollars proselytizing and filling Israel with Hispanic Christian Anusim, Black Christian Falasha Mura, Christians from Poland and the FSU and Indian Christian "Bnai Menashe"?

    I think that you will find the answer to this question when you look at WHO is giving millions of dollars each year to organizations like Nefesh b'Nefesh, Shalvei Israel and others.

    It is Evangelical Christian Zionists from the West.

  2. 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.

    The question of gerim starts with Avrham and Sarah who were THEMSELVES the first gerim (techila legerim) and who the Torah in Bereishis tells us were megayer gerim from the pasuk "ve'es hanefesh asher asu beCharan" even though their true descendants came from Yitzchak and noone knows what happened to all the "nefesh" from Charan.

    According to some opinions the Twelve Tribes of Jacob married Canaanite women (and NOT like Jacob himself who was told not to marry them but to go to his mother's family where Lavan lived). Marrying the people of Canaan is surely not something that could be done today.

    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.

    Then there are all the various ups and downs in figuring out and accepting or rejecting the different tales about converts in the Tanach, like the geirei arayos, those who converted out of fear of the Israelites during the conquest of the land that bedeviled the Jewish people yet remained connected to them. After all, the Jewish sages say that kasha gerim leYisrael kesapachas ("converts afflict the Jewish people like scabs").

    And when the Jews were in Persia and triumphed over Haman, the megila (Scroll of Esther) states that many of the gentiles became Jews ("mityahadim"). Even the grandchildren of Haman converted and their descendants became the greatest Jewish sages. Unfortunately many Jews married too many gentile women who did not convert and the books of Ezra and Nechemia record how the Jews were urged by them to give up their goyishe wives and children and return to Zion, even mentioning them by name forevermore.

    Then comes the era of Rome and this has been complex because the essence of Rome is really that of Esav and there have traditionally ALWAYS been more converts from Esav/Rome/Christendom, than from any other group or religion in the last 2000 years. Not just Onkelus, but many Romans converted to Judaism, and many Jews took them as spouses, even one of Rabbi Akiva's wives was a Roman convert. So much so that the Romans, and Jews, were in fear of so many people joining Judaism, and some say that were it not for Christianity that ultimately drew away all those potential converts to Judaism, and especially for PAULINE Christianity that did away with keeping mitvas, that Judaism would have triumphed over Rome even in defeat. Well, Judaism didn't and instead Christian ROMAN Catholicism took hold and they made it almost impossible for any Catholic to convert to Judaism (the punishment was torture and death) and the hostilty of this group of Christians, the largest, to Jews and Judaism, is notorious and the historical shame and disgrace of the Crusades, Expulsions, Pogroms, Inquisitions, and even the Holocaust, since Hitler was reared as an Austrian Catholic and the Pope during the Hitler era was his close ally never criticisng him.

    Nevertheless some Christians always took risks to become Jews and the most famous in relatively modern times is the Vilna Ger, endorsed and helped by none other than the the greatest Torah scholar of the modern era: the VILNA GAON (from whom Rav Shternbuch is descended) and the Vilna Ger paid the ultimate price for his mesirus nefesh to convert when he was burned to death al kiddush H-shem at the stake by the Catholic Church.

    Staring with the Reformation of the Middle Ages, the Protestants are the ones who have the odd "pro-Israelite" (and in our times pro-Israeli) views because they went back to emphasising the "Old Testament" and they take its "Bible stories" such as the Exodus very seriously and they even view themselves as being equal to the "OLD Israelites" unlike the Catholics who have created a "NEW Israel". True, that Protestants have mostly a pro-Israel outlook, but they are not all Jew-lovers either, after all Martin Luther, the founder of Protestantism (he was a Catholic monk who rebbeled against the Popes) was one of the worst recorded antisemties in modern history.

    What has happened now is that from a number of directions, more to do with the LESSENING of religion, and NOT because of religious views, more people are seeing Jews and Judaism as something attractive.

    This has to do with the QUEST FOR MEANING in people's lives as many relatively materially comfortable and some wealthy classes SEARCH FOR THE MEANING OF LIFE and just like many turn to Eastern religions and similar things there is a strong interest in Jews and Judaism simply because Jews are so much in the news from Israel and so many Jews are in Hollywood where the entertainment and media elites hang out. That is one reason the "Kabbalah Centre" has won so many followers, and the non-Jews among them see themselves as informal quasi-converts to Judaism, and let's not forget that Chabad and outreach organizations are constantly beaming their message out (perhaps the reason that the Aish.com site has been hacked recently by hackers from CHINA of all places is because the Chinese governement that stricly censors the Internet in China is worried that too many Chinese are reading Aish.com online which could be very plausible since the Communist ideology of China is dead and even people there as they get more into the Information Age start looking for a better outlook on life and they find it in Aish.com's Judaism-light pitch.)

    The Reform and Conservative and alternative Judaism movements also are active and with so many gentiles being let into their movements, and with Reform patrilineal descent being officially accpetable to Reform Jews/gentiles (it is impossible to tell which it is in Reform anymore), it is no wonder that gentiles are seeing Judaism as "cool" and want to join the once "club of the despised" since they see that pure Judaism is so positive and good. Funny, secular Jews are mostly staying away from "scary old-fashioned" Judaism, while many gentiles see Judaism is "the soltion" to the ills, emptiness and loneliness of modern life. Ironic, "two way traffic" that is not so funny.

    Bottom line, there have been many articles written in the mainline media about how Judaism is now an "in" religion and while not many gentiles are ready for full conversions to any type of formal Judaism, a grwoing stream of gentiles in the West and even the East like what they see and are drawn to it enough. (For Africans and poor people from Latin America just the thought of living in well-off Israel materially is enough of a tug to actuiavet their long-dormat "Judeao or converso" or whatnot genes.) Also Jews are accepted into all Western societies so the taboos against marrying Jews have gone, and now "out of love of a Jew", people come to wonder about converting for the sake of the next generation or whatever it is that makes them think about this subject seriously. And finally, with the Aliyah from the former USSR bringing a new wave of a modern "eruv rav" a new mass of people has been brought to Israel that has tied the rabbis in knots as they grapple with the issues and go with Halachic loggerheads at each other in trying to solve the impossible questions before them, by either accepting or rejecting or just staying away from all the people who may or may not be converted or may or may not be Halachic Jews.

  3. Recipients and Publicity said...

    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.

    I am not sure what your point is. Are you saying that we should have a more positive attitude to conversion because of history? If so your survey of the history of conversion does not support a positve conclusion - at least not as understood the classic sources.

    Where are your sources which say because Avraham was the beginning of gerim therefore it is desirable to proselytize? Even if it were desirable for the Avos to bring belief in G-d to the nations it is not clear that this is true after Sinai.
    Would appreciate sources to support your approach.

    Then you hold up the fact that Moshe accepted the eiruv rav as a positive indicator when there is an overwhelming number of sources which describe this a detrimental to the Jewish people.
    Rashi(Shemos 32:7): Your people has become corrupt – The verse doesn’t say that the people have become corrupt but “your people.” G d said, “The eiruv rav that you had accepted on your own initiative and converted without first having consulted with Me which you had said that it was good that gerim should attach themselves to the Shechina. In fact the eiruv rav have become corrupt and they corrupt others.”

    Finally the fact that Judaism is becoming more attractive is a reason for not accepting gerim which is why they were not accepted in the times of Shlomo and will not be accepted in the time of Moshiach.

    Yevamos(24b): Our Rabbis taught: Gerim will not be accepted in the Messianic days. This is similar to the fact that gerim were not accepted in the days of Dovid and Shlomo. R’ Eleazar asked which Biblical verse supports this assertion. Yeshaya (54:15) says, He shall be a ger only if he is converted for My sake and only he who lives with you [in your suffering] shall be settled among you.”

    The conversions in the time of Purim were also not viewed by our Sages as a positive event. In fact Gerim (1:3) says they were not valid gerim since they converted out of fear.

    Please clarify your point and bring sources to justify it.

  4. To Daas Torah of May 13, 2008 6:46 PM:

    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 because if you look back all the way to the days of Avraham and Sarah almost 3,800 years ago that at essentially during most of the 3,500 year old Jewish national history ANY genuine gentiles may seek to join and be accepted by the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish people and become a Jew all within the Halacha as understood and practiced by present-day Orthodox Judaism.

    I know full well that there are plenty of meforshim and sources that view the acceptance of converts as something to be scorned and reviled, but at no point can any sage go against what the Torah and Tanach depict and allow, about the greatest of men and women yet, that conversion to Judaism is an inherent right that any human has.

    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 !!!!

    Even the way you handle the differentiation between "before and after Matan Torah" (the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai 3,300 years ago) here is somewhat out of the line of good argumentation in the context of the the Torah and Tanach because the Torah ITSELF was teaching the eternity of its beliefs, practices and laws, even the principles and lessons that come before the giving of the Torah. After all, Ma'aseh Breshis and Ma'seh Merkava, the most important and sublime teachings of the Torah, are stated in the Torah before the giving of the Torah, so waatch out how you use that concept. And it is a clear principle that the Avos (Forefathers) all observed the Torah voluntarily. 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.

    Thus the fact that Avraham and Sarah are considered "techila legerim" is a universal principle in Judaism. It is certainly NOT a negative thing by any measure (well, maybe in Boro Park and Bnai Brak they would not get a shiduch if they applied alone.) That Avraham and Sarah are the techila legerim (that can also mean literal and spiritual "trailblazers for all subsequent gerim") does not need latter-day rabbinic sources or comments because it's a fundemental principle held for thousands of years about the origins and make-up of the founding Patriarch and Matriarch of all Jews and it is still the case why all converts take on the names of "___ ben Avrhama Avinu" and ___ bat Sarah Imeinu" at all times.

    The eruv rav exists both prior to and after the giving of the Torah. They do not cease to exist. In fact according to Jewish teaching they will exist until the coming of Mashich as part of the Jewish people and some latter-day commentators actually claim that the loss of Jews to assimilation and intermarriage is nothing to cry about because it's just G-d's way of finally detaching the eruv rav from the "true Jews" and allowing the "holy remnant" to remain and replenish itself free of the "impurity" of the heretofore historical deadweight and burden of the eruv rav.

    But Moshe never aplogised for accepting them and for taking them out of Egypt (can you find a posuk or place in the Torah that Moshe regrets taking the eruv rav out of Egypt or that he aplogised to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for doing so, if you do, let me know, I have been searching for it for a few decades now and have still not come across it) and Moshe never saw fit to issue Syrian-like "takanos" against them nor to create Batei Din to keep them out of Bnai Yisrael which just means that he MUST have found a way of keeping them together with the Children Israel. Why? I don't have the final answer. But I have a hunch that there must be a connection with the fact that the Torah tells that he was saved and helped by two giyores, Batya (his step-mother) and Tzipora (his wife).

    First it was Batay, first called Bas Paroh, who the sages state was actually coming down to immerse herself in the waters of the Nile in order to convert when she then (as a reward?) spotted the infant Tuvia and was given the merit to save Moshe (she named him Moshe! She must have taken one of Rabbi Buchwald's NJOP Hebrew crash courses in Hebrew reading before she decided to finish her conversion at the Nile!), surely a very strange scenario because who had taught her about Judaism and Hebrew in the court of Paroh as she only met Tuvia/Moshe when he was a tiny infant in the little reed boat? She also saw that he was special, the Midrashim say she saw Malachim or even the Shechina hovering above him, so no wonder she was fit to be called not "Bat Paro" ("daughter of Pharaoh") but "BatYah" ("daughter of H-shem") instead in the Chumash. My question is, do all these people who are running around with the halachic hatchets against conversions and the ones who make Takanos, do they not know this stuff and aren't they aware of how many times the Torah and Tanach and the Oral Law provide so many positive depictions of true gerim and the process that brings them to convert.

    After all, even Nevuzaraden the Babylonian destroyer of the First Temple and the Roman Emperor Nero who began destroying the Second Temple, ran to become converts to Judaism the Talmud reports. Do you need more sources for that? Even for outright evil and wicked people, the door is open for them if they repent to go so far as becoming gerim, all acording to the Talmud. So again, my question is, do all those who wish to stop the conversion process of people in mid-track, or after other rabbis have ruled in established Batei Din to destroy people's lives en masse, without taking the time to examine the cases of all individuals on a case by case basis? (I know it's more fun going to rallies against Zionism or to rallies for doing "kiruv" [to who?] than to actually sit down and be responsible and say we are not going to issue blanket statements but we will do the correct halachic thing and ask that each case be reviewed on an individualcase by case basis. That is what is called MENTCSHLICHKEIT and what the true sages meant when they asked that Derech Eretz KADMAH LeTorah!!! There can be no mass justice, only [figuratively] "mass executions" unfortunately.)

    The Torah does not say that the eruv rav were to be expelled or killed out like Amalek. They are not Amelek, they are the eruv rav and while G-d may not have liked Moshe's solution and handling of this, he did not call Moshe a terrible or bad rabbi either for having his own shita (view), and that in itself is signifant. Does this need a "source" when it is all recorded in the Chumash for anyone to read and learn?

    You talk about the state of affairs "after Sinai" but the Tanach itself, the best source there is, is replete with strong examples of the importance and power of gerim and gerus AFTER Sinai.

    We are now approaching Shavuot, the festival celebrating the giving of the Torah, and how have the true ancient Jewish sages seen fit to drive the message home about the essence of that day? By making it a fixed custom to read the entire Book of Ruth (Megilas Rus) on Shavuos, for many reasons (yeah I know, in Meah Shearim some people are looking forward to the cheese blintzes much more.) And noone is a better example of a righteous convert than Ruth the Moabite (where the Torah itself is "turned on its head" since it prohibted Moabites from being accepted as converts and Boaz in the time of the Shoftim (Ibtzan hu Boaz) comes up with a Chidush (innovation) that while the Torah prohibited a Mobaite MALE to convert to the Jewish people it did not prohibit a Moabite Female (Moavi, velo Mo'aviya) and for her efforts Ruth gets the honor of being the "mother of royalty" for from her was descended King David (ironic don't you think that one of the latter sages should say that it is during the days of "King David" that no converts should be accepted? If someone from King David's family were to say that, how would they then justify their descent from Ruth?)

    In any case, looks like Shlomo Hamelech, the WISEST of all men as the Rambam says only Mashiach will be wiser than him, was not concerned with statements from latter-day sages because he went right ahead and not only accepted at least 1000 royal female converts but he also married them, and not just for "diplomatic reasons", but because he was trying to perform a much higher spiritual missioby winning them over to the Torah through conversion (even if he did not succeed in the end, but it is out there in the open and it means something not all negative either), something that most people don't grasp.

    If King Solomon did not marry many wives, reported as being 1000, and if that requires more sources from latter day rabbis in Bnai Brak, it would be very odd. (Maybe that's why Charedim don't like learning Tanach, but would prefer delving into the Vayoel Moshe and Min Hametzar and other mussar books that give them guilt complexes since many of these latter day 20th century books are filled with doom and gloom against Zionism and all material evils, even the basics, rather than learn some pretty shocking old-time confounding and perplexing and not easy to digest truths embodied by H-shen Himself in the Torah and Tanach.)

    Yes, sure, noone can argue that conversion of gentiles to Judaism is fraught with problems and causes huge national harm to the Jews if not done in accordance with Halacha because it is a complex process on all levels, and sure it does "not support a positive conclusion" but that does not mean that all conclusions that don't support the "negative conclusions" are to be tossed out the figurative, if not literal, window.

    Just make sure, like that old saying goes, that you don't throw out the baby with the dirty bathwater.

  5. Recipients and Publicity 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 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]

  6. "According to some opinions the Twelve Tribes of Jacob married Canaanite women".

    Bereshit 38-2 - Judah married Alit the daughter of the noble merchant Shua.

    Most commentators translate "canani" in this passuk as "merchant" rather than Canaanite based upon Talmud Pesachim 50a.

    "Is it possible that Abraham extorted Isaac and Isaac Jacob not to marry Canaani women and yet Judah went and married one? Our Sages say that the Torah uses the unusual term "canani" for merchant because Shua's years among the Canaani affected him them adversely". (Rav Moshe Alshich 1508-93 Safed).

    If as you say the phenomenon of recent conversions:

    "has to do with the QUEST FOR MEANING in people's lives"

    Christians represent 1/3 of world population. Therefore 2/3's of the above mentioned "questers" should theoretically come from religions OTHER than Christianity. Yet this has not been the case.

  7. RaP:

    "According to some opinions the Twelve Tribes of Jacob married Canaanite women"

    I just tested my kids on this.

    One of them showed me Meam Loez another Art Scroll and another the Midrash Says series which attributes this commentary to Onkelot.

    Bereshit 38:2 - "Bat Ish Canani" -
    Based upon Pesachim 50a most commentators translate "Canani" as "merchant" rather than Canaanite.
    "Is it possible that Avraham exhorted Isaac, and Isaac Jacob (not to marry Canaani women) and yet Judah went out and married one?"

    Concerning the spouses of the rest of Yaakov's sons, Bereshit Rabba 84:19 presents two views 1). R.Yehuda's that twin sisters were born together with the tribes and they later married them

    2). R. Nechemya's "They married Cananites". The Ramban explained that R. Nechemya used the word Canaanites in a general sense meaning women who lived in the land. He did not mean that Yaakov's sons married women from the native tribes of Canaan against the wishes of their forefathers. Rather the women whom Yaakov's sons married came from the other tribes who settled in Canaan such as the Ammonites or Moabites.

    Ramban concludes that according to all opinions the sons of Yaakov did not marry from the tribes of Canaan which is a cursed nation which the Torah commands to exterminate.

  8. RaP says

    "can you find a posuk or place in the Torah that Moshe regrets taking the eruv rav out of Egypt or that he aplogised to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for doing so, if you do, let me know, I have been searching for it for a few decades now and have still not come across it"

    The answer to your question appears several times in the Chumash directly. Each time Hashem asked for a census, ONLY those of the 12 tribes were counted. Clearly Hashem did not consider the Erev Rav as Jews. Whereas Moshe protested to Hashem to defend the Jews many times, he never once stood up to protest that the Erev Rav were not being counted as members of the nation.

    The Torah did not need to expand on the point because it is obvious.

    It's also plainly stated that the mixed multitude came along for the ride. (please note that they are called "Erev Rav" and not "gerim Tzadekim") It was the biggest jailbreak in history and they were throwing in their lot with the winners (who wouldn't?)

    Nowhere does it say they were converted. To the contrary...there was no mechanism for conversion prior to or during the Exodus. Circumcision wasn't even happening! When would they have converted? How?

    However, just like today's conversion candidates, they were given the same choice as everyone else at Mount Sinia.

    The census shows that exactly ZERO of them were willing to accept the Mitzvos.

  9. to RaP

    If you consider the written Torah to be the only Primary source, then you leave out all aspects of the Oral tradition.

    This would nullify King David's Jewish status, eliminate shechita, allow chicken w/cheese sandwiches, and have eyes poked out in court!

    But, it would also eliminate all Halachos connected to conversions, which some would find very convenient.

  10. 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.


    To anonymous of May 13, 2008 11:14 PM:

    I am not disputing the chazals. But it is a machlokes in answering the question who did the Shevatim (Twelve Tribes) marry, and one opinion says it was each other's sisters and another says it was from the Canaanite women. See Jersey Girl's citation and my response below, altho the commentators differ.

    They also married more than one wife, so that Yehuda had more than one wife (remember Tamar...?)


    To Jersey Girl of May 13, 2008 11:37 PM who quotes that the 12 Tribes married women "from the other tribes who settled in Canaan such as the Ammonites or Moabites" ok that still does not make them like Jacob who was told he could marry only from his mother's family. You also miss my point, yet again, I was not interested in seeing who is a worse or better goy, just the fact that the 12 Tribes married non-Jewish women who had to have converted since even according to your quote they were Ammonites or Moabites and not Hebrews or Israelites or Jews, and by the way "Ammonites or Moabites" are not such big "tsadikim" either because of what they later did and the Torah cursed them accordingly from NOT being allowed to become converts, so it is ironic you cite as a "proof" from people who were in some ways worse than Canaanites against whom there is no such restriction against conversion, as evil as they may be in and of themselves, as there is against Ammonites or Moabites who lacked MENTSCHLICHKEIT and DERECH ERETZ because they denied the Bnai Yisrael a way through their lands and attacked them instead of just letting them be (they also gave the Israelites bad food to harm them as reported by the chazal). As I have cautioned you many times, please read and write CAREFULLY. Thank you.

  11. To Bright Eyes of May 14, 2008 1:58 AM and May 14, 2008 2:05 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.

  12. 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.

    Noone 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.

  13. Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur reveals ITS agenda (while most of what it says is valid and true, it is sad that the Vaad feels that it must go to war against the Religious Zionist and Modern Orthodox rabbis in these "Geirus Wars" because that will only inspire the other side to fight back even harder, as is the nature of these kinds of struggles:

    See Dei'ah Vedibur of 3 Iyar 5768 - May 8, 2008 at

    Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur Backs Beis Din Annulment of Conversion

    By Yechiel Sever

    Following a precedent-setting decision at the Ashdod District Beis Din, headed by Dayan HaRav Avraham Attia, which was certified by the High Rabbinical Court (Beis Din Godol) in Jerusalem, the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l clarified several points related to the matter, to dispel misleading information intended to undermine halachic boundaries set by leading poskim from the previous and present generations. The beis din in Ashdod ruled that conversions performed 15 years ago by Rabbi Chaim Druckman were not done according to halacha since the conversion candidates were not observant in any way.

    According to Vaad HaRabbonim, the following points need to be made in order to gain a proper understanding of the issue.

    A. Not agreeing — at the time of the conversion — to observe all the mitzvas renders the conversion invalid under all circumstances.

    B. The Beis Din determined that presumably the conversion candidate never accepted ol mitzvos, which means the conversion was not annulled — but rather the original conversion was never valid.

    C. The Vaad is deeply shocked by various individuals, officials and rabbis associated with the National-Religious camp who claim to cite various sources indicating that prominent dayanim supposedly ruled against the Rambam and the Shulchan Oruch. These individuals muddle the halachic tradition passed down since Har Sinai without demonstrating a minimal understanding of the Rambam and the Shulchan Oruch. Their status is stated explicitly in the Mishneh Torah (Hilchos Talmud Torah, Chap. 6).

    D. According to directives from gedolei Yisroel in 5744 (1984), every conversion, whether performed in Eretz Yisroel or abroad, must be checked to ascertain whether the applicant did in fact accept Torah and mitzvas at the time of the conversion. This directive is aimed primarily at city rabbis and marriage registrars, since it is strictly forbidden to list the word "convert" on marriage applications before verifying the validity of the conversion.

    E. According to both halacha and the law, every rabbi has the right to reject a conversion that appears dubious and to return the case to the district beis din.

    F. Unfortunately, despite the severe prohibition against accepting such "converts" and although this fact has been publicized often, various rabbis still allow these doubtful converts to marry Jews, thereby bringing non-Jews into the fold of the Jewish people. The Chief Rabbinate has repeatedly made clear that in the case of individuals who were not converted in accordance with halacha, no rabbi is required to list him or her as a convert.

    G. Following widespread reports on the recent high-profile case Vaad HaRabbonim received dozens of requests from rabbonim, heads of educational institutions and converts themselves to clarify their status. Rabbonim of the Vaad are prepared to inquire into the validity of individual conversions to the best of their ability. Requests should be faxed to 02-532-2047, including full details and a return phone number.

    H. Vaad HaRabbonim is disappointed and surprised to hear of various bizarre reports claiming that Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said the ruling was handed down hastily and that he is working to overturn it. The Sephardic Chief Rabbi should publicly announce that conversion without a genuine acceptance of the mitzvas is invalid and if it is demonstrated that the convert had no intention of keeping mitzvas at the time of the conversion, the conversion is considered invalid even ex post facto, and the applicant has the status of a goy or sofek goy (which is worse, since the uncertainty means that he or she may marry neither a Jew nor a non-Jew). In general, the ruling applies to every conversion done without genuine acceptance of mitzvas. Conversions performed by the special conversion courts during the past 20 years should be carefully reviewed, since they were set up to maximize the number of so-called conversions performed in Eretz Yisroel using an "assembly- line" approach.

    I. The conversion issue is a public matter, as the High Rabbinical Court determined in 5730 (1970) based on a request by Rav Tzvi Weinman and founded on a responsa by the Rashbash. Therefore the various individuals involved in the matter are not free to act as they see fit. Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur and beis din advocate Rav Tzvi Weinman have submitted a request to the beis din to take part in the discussion on the authority of the 5730 ruling.

    J. According to ranking chareidi jurists the ruling issued by the High Rabbinical Court has both halachic and legal validity and is not subject to annulment or alteration, just like every other ruling issued by the beis din, and certainly no court in the world has the authority to interfere in halachic matters.

    The Vaad hopes these clarifications will stir the public to stand guard to prevent non-Jews from entering Kerem Beis Yisroel.


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