Monday, June 16, 2008

Conversion Crisis Scorecard of Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein

Rabbi Adlerstein has a summary of the state of the conversion crisis on Crosscurrents

Strip away all the detail, and the conflict boils down to two hostile assessments of what the other side stands for. Haredim believe that the dati-leumi (DL) camp is prepared to subvert “real” Torah to the dictates of non-religious and anti-religious forces in the government. They charge that when Torah matters are left in the hands of members of the DL orbit, issues of State ultimately trump issues of halacha. Gerus is just the latest in a series. The DL camp, on the other hand, believes that haredim have turned a deaf ear to concerns of Israeli society as a whole, content to contribute their mitzvos and learning, but nothing in areas of the enormous political, military and social issue that face Israel. At the same time, haredim have moved to assert greater control over a Rabbinate that their own people do not use, while attempting to impose their piskei halachah (e.g. the attempt to ban all Shemitah produce that relies on the heter mechirah) on a public that needs all the flexibility that halachah can legitimately deliver.

In duking it out in the current imbroglio, both sides have simply reinforced the stereotypes held by the other. In alienating the other, both sides deserve near-perfect scores.

Rabbi Druckman’s supporters have not responded to a single one of Rabbi Sherman’s charges in halachic language. They have thus added fuel to the fire of those who believe that the DL camp is incapable of dealing responsibly with sophisticated Torah thinking. Rabbi Sherman may or may not be right, but he raises important issues. Rav Druckman, to the best of my knowledge, is a fine gentleman, but not one of the halachic luminaries of the DL world. Professional politicians and MK’s – of any religious party – rarely are. The DL world suffers from no shortage of real bnei Torah and a group of authentic poskim who could and should be dealing with Rabbi Sherman’s point in halachic language.
On the haredi side, the silence has been equally disturbing and revealing. There have been no soothing voices allaying the fears of thousands of converts now in limbo. No one has insisted to the general public or to the DL community that the needs of the rest of the country concern haredim as well, but halachic principle rests atop a list of priorities. No one has answered all the pain and indignation expressed by good people within the DL world. Silence is the worst form of contempt.
The only glimmer of hope comes from the realization that both sides, further apart from each other than ever before, are animated by exactly the same concern! Both sides feel that the other is compromising Torah and creating chilul Hashem. Haredim feel that nothing can ever trump halacha, and that DL playing fast and loose with halachah compromises the integrity of Torah. The DL world argues that the inability of haredim to come up with a modus vivendi for so many issues plaguing the State implies that our Torah is antiquated and not a Toras Chaim that can shine Divine illumination upon the issues over which we agonize. Each side sees the sanctity of the Torah violated and desecrated, and abreacts in pain.

1 comment :

  1. "There have been no soothing voices allaying the fears of thousands of converts now in limbo."

    And what could those voices come out and say? "Don't worry, honey, we know that your conversion was not k'halacha, but its okay?" or "gee,don't feel bad?"

    Sometimes a Rav has to issue an unfavorable or unpopular psak.Should the entire world of Torah Judaism start apologizing to everyone else for following halacha?


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