Friday, November 21, 2008

R' Tropper - Kiruv vs Geirus/ RaP's analysis


Guest Post by Recipients and Publicity: See previous posting on Rabbi Tropper

Kiruv process versus Geirus process: Source of Rabbi Tropper's dissonance.


Plony Almony 18 [makes some excellent and valid points that deserve more attention because they point to a huge dichotomy that lies beneath two huge and inter-related subjects: KIRUV and GEIRUS.

Kiruv and Geirus are as different as chalk and cheese. Making a yid become frum is not the same thing as being megayer a goy. Many (even kiruv rabbis) make a huge error in logic and metzius ("reality" and "fact") by thinking that there is a similarity between kiruv and geirus and they assume the same methods and tools of kiruv should and can be used for geirus. Only up to a point.

But what to do when confronted with interfaith couples where the Jewish one needs kiruv and the non-Jew needs conversion? This is not an easy quandary for all concerned but at rock bottom, regardless of what the interfaith couples are told or imagine, the gentile is NOT a "tinok shenishba" and has NO neshama while the Jew has a 100% holy neshama, which the converting gentile presumably desires. While male Jew can count for a minyan as would the greatest gadol on Earth, as would a 100% Halachically Jewish mother (even if she was anti-religious) give birth to a 100% Jew, on the other hand a goy MUST be excluded from a minyan. These are facts life and Jewish Law.

I have touched on some pertinent deeper issues in the posts that Dr. Eidensohn/da'as torah had kindly posted at http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2008/07/kiruv-end-of-kiruv-as-we-know-it.html

That:

"...the real wars are among the Orthodox themselves, manifested more than anywhere else in each faction's attititude to geirus/conversion and its sister-ship kiruv/outreach, because as we see in today's world of the 21st century, there is turmoil in both how to mekarev (to do outreach) and how to megayer (to do conversions) and they are inter-related in many ways and on may levels, most of all in the real world of real lives as we see from all the problems and issues facing Orthodox outreach rabbis and outreach workers..."

And at http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2008/07/kiruv-ii-paradigm-change-for-outreach.html

"...Rabbi Tropper is a venturer because with his EJF program to welcome in by doing outreach the non-Jewish spouses of interfaith couples under "strict" Beth Din auspices (actually fueling the flames of the process, as it were) he is doing a classical juggling act, that on the one hand he is trying to preempt and ward off attacks from the Haredi world he admires and respects and needs but at the the same time he is caving in to the interfaith flood at the gate and in this he is no different to ALL other Kiruv workers out there today trying to cope with the flood tide of interfaith students (meaning students from mixed marriages or intermarrieds themseleves, or those with non-Halachic conversions), and instead of calling a spade a spade and seeing the writing on the wall, that THE AGE OF KIRUV AS WE KNOW IT IS OVER and maybe even walking away from it, he tries to to finesse it (Dr. Tom Kaplan has lots of money and what else is there to do for a living if not helping millionares find solutions to their intermarried problems?), and that is why he was slapped by the BADATS who then sent out letters of warning to all those Recipients and asking for Publicity that Rabbi Tropper's agenda and methods were not part of the solution but were more part of the problem...."

While the two fields of KIRUV and GEIRUS over-lap and are inter-connected in our times, yet they are two separate and often contradicatory entities. What scholars call DISSONANT:

While KIRUV is all about "drawing closer" (literally "lekarev" or "to be mekarev") in contradistinction, GEIRUS is about "qualifying for Jewish citizenship" (lagur = to become a "dweller/sojourner/to live among" = "to become a 'national' of the Jewish people according to its laws, as defined by the Torah and the Halachah.)

GEIRUS requires a modicum or even a lot of RICHUK (pushing away/rejection), the opposite of "kiruv" and potential converts MUST first be STRONGLY encouraged NOT to become geirim. As an historical example, Rav Yitzchok Hutner used to like to tell over the famous story from Rav A.Y. Kook about "der ger fun Paris" about a Parisian gentile who sought to become a ger but whom Rav Kook succeeeded in convincing to become Ben Noach instead and who when he ever came to meet Rav Kook on a Shabbat would come with a lit cigar to prove that he had not converted and had preferred to remain a goy. Rav Kook and Rav Hutner took great pride in the fact that a gentile was persuaded NOT to convert! Too bad not too many modern rabbis think and act like this in the world's egalitarian melting pot poly-glot culture.

That is why dispassionate legalistic cool sceptical suspicious and scholarly dayanim on a reliable Bais Din are the ideal choice for deciding matters of conversion, and certainly NOT charismatic rabbis with magnetic hypnotic charming personalities and winning ways who have toiled all their lives in Kiruv.

The dayanim on a Bais Din convened to hear and decide upon cases on conversion do not (or should not) care about hurting a prospective convert's "feelings" by rejecting the application/s to convert. This modus operandi is very UNLIKE kiruv workers who are trained to recruit, lure, beguile, make happy with lots of smiles and free hospitality and "courting", and (for lack of a better word) "missionize" leshem shomayim (hopefully!) secular and non-Orthodox Jews to become frum.

Kiruv workers have a whole range of methods relating to "how to win friends and influence people" ranging from soft-sell to hard-sell, from those who practice a gentle moderate gradualist approach to those who believe in conjuring up ex-nihilo "overnight wonders" that are obligated in immediate compliance to a rebbe/rav/yeshiva.

Rabbi Tropper is from those kiruv workers (his main stock in trade) who works using the hard-sell method and he is very good at what he does in kiruv and is famous for his heady, strong-willed, blusterry speeches meant to bowl over his listeners, and yes he can be very intimidating and insulting to his listeners who may not share his moods. (Guess what: This is actually good kiruv believe it or not, because it is prone to induce a mind-shift as a form of "shock therapy" in his listeners opening them up to new Torah ideas they had never heard before), although he can also take it slow and gentle when he works with very diverse audiences who he knows will not go for his shock tactics. And yes, he generally holds that those who become his disci[les must adhere to quick adherence to his utterances and rules.

Rabbi Tropper's kiruv methods as such are not an issue in this dialogue, nor do I think that his role in getting Rabbi Slifkin's books off the frum radar screen has anything to do with the current set of "Kiruv vs Geirus" issues that are riling Rabbi Tropper and confusing those who come face to face with him today because right now the man is a walking dichotomy. A sort of split personality, not fully conscious of the depth of his inner turmoil and extent of the self-contradiction he is spilling wherever he goes nowadays, as his kiruv side battles and tries to reconcile itself with the issues of geirus he has now immersed himself in for better or worse, and he is in over his head this time. While Rabbi tropper is agadol in the kiruv world, he is a zero in the world of dayanim and batei din. And yes, he is a big talmid chochme, but most rosh yeshivas (which he also claims to be of Kol Yaakov Yeshiva) are not involved in shimush lema'aseh and they are not dayanim. You do not go to a rosh yeshiva if you want to get divorced or are looking for a geirus. Rosh yeshivas are generally never poskim except for what goes on inside their yeshivas, and unlike a kiruv worker who can and MUST walk all over the range looking for people to mekarev, a dayan on the other hand, MUST contain himself and restrict himself to a very narrow venue, the Bais Din and its confines where he sits in judgment of cases and of others.

In short, how to reconcile Kiruv ("drawing people close") and Richuk ("distancing" people)? How to reconcile the need to be a sweet Kiruv Worker (who must always be winning JEWISH friends and influencing people to eventually become/morph into being Haredi/Yeshivish) and on the other hand with a conflicting task, the enforcing the rules and dictates of Batei Din in regard to conversions that requires, per force, the distancing and pushing away of people, certianly gentiles and if need be even the Jews attached to those gentiles.

Quite a Faustian predicament that Rabbi Tropper does not seem to have resolved for himself. While the Reform and Conservatives "have sold their soul to the devil" and are accepting gentiles to easily into the Jewish people ch"sh r"l and many in the Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist movements are teetering on the edge of a slippery slope and look like they have thrown in the towel as they water down the halacha and make appearing before a Bais Din a mere formailty and an exercise in rubber-stamping by the Bais Din that has no standards, there are those poskim, dayanim and batei din alive TODAY like in the BADATZ/Rabbi Shternbuch/Rabbi Sherman/Rav Eliashiv/Rav Nochum Eisenstein & Beit Din Le'Inyanei Giur who INSIST on strict/er Halachic standards and are willing to oppose and fight against the tide of de facto and de jure assimilationism and intermarriage and not join it in any way shape size or form (while seemingly Rabbi Tropper THINKS and alleges he is speaking for them, but his actions at EJF over the years say otherwise).

So what Rabbi Tropper did or not do at the time that led to Rabbi Slifkin's books being banned in the frum world are essentially immaterial. For sometimes to catch a ganef one must act like a ganef, and ultimately the Torah world is better off without giving legitimacy to the pseudo-scientific makeover of midrashim, agadettes and Chazals by neophytes.

Indeed Rebbetzin Bruria Hutner David, principal of BJJ and the holder of a doctorate from Colombia University, see the full thesis at http://www1.cs.columbia.edu/~spotter/david-chajes.pdf "THE DUAL ROLE OF RABBI ZVI HIRSCH CHAJES: TRADITIONALIST AND MASKIL." (Columbia University, Ph.D., 1971) shredded no less than the Maharitz Chiyas in her lengthy PhD thesis debunking as "Haskala" his non-traditional and anti-chazal views and interpretetions of agadattes. So if she could do that, what Rabbi Tropper did to Slifkin (minus a PhD) is peanuts, although his mthods were very devious and deceitful, but often that is how people are made frum, with all sorts of "tricks" -- sad to say but very true, and one hopes that the "victims" stay frum or all else all hell can break loose...

So Rabbi Tropper's past involvements with Slifkin and Gidon Busch and the Age of the Earth questions are really not so much the REAL issues as are his PRESENT state of conflict and lack of clarity about whether he wishes to be perceived as the biggest kiruv worker of the times or as the biggest enforcer of Halacha of Geirus in modern times and unfortunately HE CANNOT BE BOTH simultaneously and he cannot have it both ways. He cannot have his cake and eat it this time! And he and Dr. Tom Kaplan are having a hard time realizing this reality! Especially Dr. Kaplan who as a tycoon businessman is not used to seeing his EJF "business plan" go awry and shouted down from the left and right of the Orthodox and Haredi world. It is too much of an ego-deflator and both Rabbi Tropper and Dr. Kaplan take their egos VERY seriously.

Anyhow, there is not "one single way" to do kiruv and Rabbi Tropper has had many successes in this regard that he does not need to apologize to anyone for his kiruv work and successes, and with success there will come some failures which he is allowed to have as well. But his role as the Inquistor in chief of dayanim and batei din in the field of geirus brings out his darker side and now he is being told where to get off, and he even shows himself the door, knowing that it's bed time and curtains for bonzo the self-proclaimed EJF ubber geirus dayan who is lema'aleh mikol hadayanim since we already have one rashkebehag in the form of Rav Eliashiv shlit'a who does not need Rabbi Tropper and Dr. Tom Kaplan and their acorn-aspiring EJF a la Obama style politicking and steam-rollering and saying different things to different audiences and hoping noone either notices or dares to speak up.

The real issue is the dichotomy in Rabbi Tropper's inner psyche that he has not and cannot bridge: How to be a famous and successful kiruv worker and at the same time be an enforcer of strict bais din standards for geirus functioning as some sort of ubber dayan deciding which batei din and dayanim are strict enough, when he himself as a 100% kiruv worker does not in essence think and function in those terms. For heaven's sakes, he is married to a baalas teshuva, and he belongs in the Baal teshuva movement and must learn to leave issues of geirus to the batei din and dayanim to muddle through and sort out and not be so condescending and paternalistic towards them. "Let go, and let G-d"!
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Plony Almony 18: I think the comment about Gideon Busch Z’L is more appropriate to be on your post regarding various keiruv approaches but I can understand why the commenter chose to put it here.

RaP: This tragic chapter should not be dragged into the discussions here because no one knows the true facts of the true state of Busch's mind and personality. Seems he was not an emotionally healthy person and every kiruv organization, indeed every college and high school has its share of horror stories and suicides, and Busch basically frazzled the cops to fire on him. NY cops are sometimes over-cautious and ready to fire and do not take chances and they cannot be blamed so quickly for what happened and neither should Rabbi Tropper be dragged into this tragic matter. It's like asking that Busch's relatives, pediatrician and pyschiatrist also be liable for not taking good enough care of him.

Plony Almony 18: She probably wanted to call attention to Tropper all-or-nothing approach to keiruv, an approach which requires total transformation, cutting off any non-orthodox connections (which includes family), shunning secular studies and arguing that you cannot be a talmid chochom and having a college degree in the some time...

RaP: So again, no need to drag the Busch saga into this. Rabbi Tropper is not unique in this regard because there are many rabbis and some institutions all over the world who do what he does. Rabbi Tropper's success stories in kiruv are far, far greater than the few failures and EVERY kiruv rabbi has many, many people who he did not make frum and went off... It is an occupational hazard.

Plony Almony 18: An approach which in cases of married couples when the couple is not on the same page, the more observant spouse is encouraged to divorce the less observant spouse instead of finding some middle ground and waiting for him or her to catch up.

RaP: This is a very touchy area and again there is no consensus and each case has to be evaluated and judged on its merits. Not just among BTs but among the frum and in the world at large every day rabbis and therapsist bring couples apart and also split them up. That is the reality. And it's no different in kiruv situations which usually involve a whole range of issues that have nothing to do with religion. This is a very complex area of life that requires great expertise and can be easily abused even by the greatest professionals, so don't blame Rabbi Tropper for another occupational hzard of being a susccessful kiruv rabbi who is forced into couples counseling.

Plony Almony 18: Many keiruv organizations (which the noted exception of Chabad) do not realize that for some people adopting stringent lifestyle, dropping out of college, adopting penguin dress would not be beneficial. Making them swallow more than they can chew would end up with disastrous results.

RaP: Why do you exempt Chabad? That shows you do not know what is happening. Chabad is a huge enterprise. The policies and methods they use in Crown Heights are not the same as in Beverly Hills. Chabad in Kefar Chabad and in Tzefas is more extreme in all areas is anything you will see in many other places. So yes, while over-all Chabad is more patient, once they feel they have won over someone they do exactly what people like Rabbi Tropper does, don't fool yourself and do not create false impressions. There is no "one way' to make people frum nor is there "one way" for how BTs should be frum. There never has been nor will there ever be. It is as varied as the human condition. And as the saying goes there will always be a need and a market for: "Different strokes for different folks"!

18 comments :

  1. "[T]he gentile is NOT a "tinok shenishba" and has NO neshama"...

    Didn't HQBH make a point of having us all come from Adam so that things like this would not be said?

    One may argue whether the difference is qualitative or quantitative. Or whether it's inherent, or a product of our being part of a mission (whether a willing part or not). But to deny that every human being has a tzelem E-lokim... The Tanya says such things, but I can't think of anyone else who does.

    -micha

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  2. In baseball, one keeps track not only of the home-runs, triples, and doubles, but of batting average and strikeouts as well.

    Those who always "swing for the hills" (in other words, not interested in singles or in just getting on base in the hope they'll eventually advance to home-plate), generally have so many strike-outs that they provide no value to their team.

    Kiruv works the same way.

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  3. I was trying to understand the relevance of Columbia's having awarded a PHd to Rebbetzin David for her dissertation on Rav Chayes.

    You mean to say that because she received it, that proves that her conclusions are authoritative?

    And, that this means that now that she has paved the way, then all attacks (whether or not they are evidence-based or scholarship-based) are legitimate (as long as the goal is to expose those with deviant hashkafos?)

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  4. This is a brilliant, well thought out and highly researched analysis, in my opinion.

    I am sure that you worked hours on this!

    Thank you RaP and Good Shabbos!!

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  5. I'm starting a nonprofit organization with the sole intention of getting RaP his own blog. :p

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  6. btw, I hate to do this, but...

    this is the only blog I know LazerA reads. So LazerA, if you could email me, or if somebody knows LazerA's email address, if you could ask him to email me, that would be geshmack.

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  7. In the Jewish world today we have families that have been Conservative or reform for four generations or more. The Orthodox viewpoint is to increasingly recommend conversion, "just in case you aren't Jewish." By which they mean, that they assume some ancestor must have converted, and in a non-Orthodox bet din. Telling people whose family tradition is that they have descended directly from the Abrahamic families, that they need to convert, is a sure path to alienation.

    The"kiruv" phenomenon that you describe sounds like double-talk and con-artistry. You even call it "hard sell." A hard sell insults the intelligence of customer. I like to think of my fellow congregants as choosing to participate because they find value and knowledge in tradition, not because they have been fooled and defrauded and coraled by someone smarter. This plan sounds like the way to a nation of dunderheads.

    A life packed with observance and catering to rabbis every waking minute is not for everyone. I would rather see someone minimally observant but firmly identified as Jewish, who has Jewish children and grandchildren, than see the same person raising their children in some other faith.

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  8. Dear Rabbi Eidesdohn,

    I really thought that your intentions are completely leshem shomayim. You have some reservations reagrding R. tropper and some of them are legitimate. But when I see that you censor comments that may make R. Tropper look good and his intentions noble being censured I have second thoughts as to how much of "sheloy leshem shomayim" is mixed in your bag. If your intentions were really to fix and to improve the gerut situations you would attack those who do mass gerut for money or for other reasons and do not make an effort to see the sincerity of the convert. But, now that I see that not only you do not attack those Rabbis (and instead attack R. tropper who comes to fix some of these problems) I see that you have a personal agenda against R. Tropper and using some of the valid issues to personally attack. The Mishneh alerady speaks about these kind of quarrels: "kol machlokes sheeynoy leshem shomyim eyn sofam lehiskayem".

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  9. roni said...

    Dear Rabbi Eidesdohn,

    I really thought that your intentions are completely leshem shomayim. You have some reservations reagrding R. tropper and some of them are legitimate. But when I see that you censor comments that may make R. Tropper look good and his intentions noble being censured I have second thoughts as to how much of "sheloy leshem shomayim" is mixed in your bag.
    =====================
    Glad to see we have merited to have a reader with true ruach hakodesh who truly knows my motivation. What have I censored which would have prevented showing how good and noble R' Tropper truly is? What resources do I have to track down and verify all the rabbis who do mass geirus?

    In the future I will censor this nonsense. I am hoping you are just naive. If you want to make a meaningful contribution - please say something which makes sense, is backed up with reliable sources and serves some benefit to mankind.

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  10. You have no "resources" to track down all rabbis that do mass gerus? If you were eager to do eager to the right thing you would listen to the critiques the Rabbis who attend the conferences have against some other Rabbis who do many gerus that have no kabbalat mitzvot whatsoever. If you would give the benefit of doubt to R. Tropper and come speak to Rabbis who come to the conferences and ask the: What they think of some Rabbis who do large number of conversions without any kabbalat hamitzvot you would at least write a balanced view of the positive of R. Tropper's organzation.

    For starters: have you spoken to Rav Dovid and Rav REuven Feinstein what they think about R. Tropper's organization? What they think about some other Rabbis who do Gerut?

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  11. Roni said...

    You have no "resources" to track down all rabbis that do mass gerus? If you were eager to do eager to the right thing you would listen to the critiques the Rabbis who attend the conferences have against some other Rabbis who do many gerus that have no kabbalat mitzvot whatsoever. If you would give the benefit of doubt to R. Tropper and come speak to Rabbis who come to the conferences and ask the: What they think of some Rabbis who do large number of conversions without any kabbalat hamitzvot you would at least write a balanced view of the positive of R. Tropper's organzation.

    For starters: have you spoken to Rav Dovid and Rav REuven Feinstein what they think about R. Tropper's organization? What they think about some other Rabbis who do Gerut?
    ======================
    Are the rabbis you speak of such nebuchs that they can't speak out themselves? They have no access to the major media that they are dependent on my blog?! Without my initiative they are clueless as to protesting?!
    I would suggest you read through the postings in this blog to learn such things as that I did contact Rabbi Tropper & was unable to get a straight answer from him. That the Bedatz condemned Rabbi Tropper and his organization after they were unable to get straight answers from him.
    What planet do you live on that you don't have the foggiest idea what is going on?

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  12. Recipients and PublicityNovember 25, 2008 at 11:51 AM

    What micha said is really very surprising:

    Didn't HQBH make a point of having us all come from Adam so that things like this would not be said?

    RaP: Yes indeed that is the classical answer and it is true, but why do you ignore the fact that Judaism holds that a non-Jew does not have THAT neshama that a Jew does have and indeed it is exactly THAT neshama that the sincere potential convert wants to have and should/does get upon immersion in the Bais Din's mikva when THAT neshama that he did NOT have enters into him/her upon immersion in the mikva of geirus. That is all I was saying and there was no need of you to move the issue into illogical non-relevant humanistic and globalistic egalitarian drive, when you could have just let the obvious Halachic reality stand without unnecessary questioning by you.

    One may argue whether the difference is qualitative or quantitative. Or whether it's inherent, or a product of our being part of a mission (whether a willing part or not).

    RaP: These are just nice words that have nothing to do with anything, I am afraid. Why are you panicking and why do have so much trouble when THE key difference between a Yid a Goy is pointed out? I.E.: That a Yid has a Holy Neshama and Goy does not. That is why a Yid is a Yid and Goy is Goy. What don't I get here?

    But to deny that every human being has a tzelem E-lokim... The Tanya says such things, but I can't think of anyone else who does.

    RaP: The "tzelem E-lokim" was not mentioned here nor was it discussed. And as you know, the use of the phrase and notion of "tzelem E-lokim" requires definition and context depending how it is to be used, but one this is for sure, the idea that somehow gentiles may have a degree of the the sublime "tzelem E-lokim" does NOT mean that they automatically can be assumed to have a neshama as well upon their desire to convert to Judaism. Far from it. Regardless of the sublime and noble Godly originand roots of all mankind, to use the analogy of the Jewish sages, a gentile is in essence like "water" and only upon proper Halachic conversion does that gentile become "wine" when he/she finally immerses in the mikva as if it was a literal miracle of birth. Call it the ultimate BORN AGAIN phenomenon (of course the Christians stole this idea like almost all their best ideas from Judaism.)

    So, sure, according to the Pantheistic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pantheism and Panentheistic http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism (Panentheism posits that God exists and interpenetrates every part of nature, and timelessly extends beyond as well. Panentheism is distinguished from pantheism, which holds that God is synonymous with the material universe) views of Tanya, which posits sparks of G-d in everything, but even Tanya teaches that while while animals have the nefesh habahamis and humans have nefesh, it is ONLY Jews who have a higher complete neshama, the "neshama Elokis sichlis" as the MAHARAL of Prague labels it most definitively, and it is precisely THAT "neshama Elokis sichlis" that a true ger tzedek receives upon the completion of a successful geirus and more specifically upon immersion in the mikva which for the ger is considered THE literal moment of BIRTH as a Jew when the "neshama Elokis sichlis" enters into hi/her just as it does when a Jewish baby is born to a 100% Halachicaly Jewish mother. And hence the expression of the Chazal: "Ger shenisgayer ketinok/kekatan shenolad dami" ("[a] convert who converts [is exactly similar to] like [a] newborn [JEWISH] infant/child") (Yevamot 48b)

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  13. Recipients and PublicityNovember 25, 2008 at 1:08 PM

    Some responses to the following:

    SD said... I was trying to understand the relevance of Columbia's having awarded a PHd to Rebbetzin David for her dissertation on Rav Chayes.

    RaP: Rabbi Eidensohn is always asking for "sources" and every now and again I like to inveigh with a jolly good one at that. The relevance in this case was to point out Rabbi Tropper's role in the ban of Rabbi Slifkin's books that ultimately it was a joint rabbinic effort by many Haredi rabbis, not just Rabbi Tropper, to have Rabbi Slifkin's revisionistic (in the sense that he introduced a "non-ArtScroll" gedolim-approved genre) writings about Judaism and science, essentially part of a larger historical struggle between how to reconcile IMPLICATIONS from Science/Biology with classical Judaism. This is most definitely part of a longer term struggle that goes back to the days of Hellenism vs Judaism, then into the days of the Early Renaisance and the struggle between the Chachmei Sefarad and the Chachmei Tzarfas/Ashkenaz with the latter fighting the RAMBAM's views on Greek Philosophy, then the struggle of the major Renaissance where secular science began to flourish and spawned the Enlightnement and the Haskala. The fight against Rabbi Slifkin is in many ways a continuuum and flare-up of the ongoing struggle between those willing to accept scientific theories and views from non-Jewish sources and those who do not. Rabbi Chiyes in his day inter-acted with maskilim and incorporated their views into his hashkofa and for that Rebbetzin David took him to task (read her work, it is thorough and makes lots of good arguments), just as Rabbi Slifkin was taken to task for incorporating non-traditional views, albeit with rationalizations and proofs from various sources that he garnered, just as Rabbi Chiyes did, and just as Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik ztk"l did in creating "Torah Umada", but this is getting to be too broad a discussion.

    You mean to say that because she received it, that proves that her conclusions are authoritative?

    RaP: Who says what you say? Not me not anyone. It was the contents and the notions that were being cited, not the fact that she got a doctorate. Come-on you can do better than argue like that. We are not simplistic people around here.

    And, that this means that now that she has paved the way, then all attacks (whether or not they are evidence-based or scholarship-based) are legitimate (as long as the goal is to expose those with deviant hashkafos?)

    RaP: You are saying this, please stop it. She did NOT "pave" any way. She paved the way of the talmidos at BJJ over four decades that have become an elite and unique cadre of Torah educated Haredi females. In fact few people know of this thesis but it has been online for a while now. And please assume good faith, as they say on Wikipedia, this is not about "exposing" this or that. It is much more than that, a large historical debate between different schools of thought and with many intellectual and human battles and skirmishes along the way. Rabbi Slifkin knew the risks he was taking by being an iconoclast and writing in a way about nature and animals that had not been done before in the English speaking Torah world and he was challenged and the Haredim decided to ban his books. This is not unusual. It has been happening with more frequency as many worlds converge and collide in our days. Rabbi Tropper knows about the school of hard knocks too, he helped to get Rabbi Slifkin banned and in turn he was banned by the BADATZ for his own more "enlightened" view about conversions that there should be mass proselytisation to non-Jewish spouses of intermarried Jews all in the name of "higher conversion standards" and by jumping down the throats of Batei Din he liked or didn't like.
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    Jersey Girl said... This is a brilliant, well thought out and highly researched analysis, in my opinion. I am sure that you worked hours on this! Thank you RaP and Good Shabbos!!

    raP; Thank you Jersey girl. It did take time. Have a Gut Yohr!
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    Baruch said... I'm starting a nonprofit organization with the sole intention of getting RaP his own blog. :p

    RaP: In the meantime the only one here who is getting any profit from my writings is Dr. Eidensohn/da'as torah who has his Paypal "donate" button on every page for anyone to use and help his cause. I don't get any commission.
    ____

    Prisstopolis said... In the Jewish world today we have families that have been Conservative or reform for four generations or more. The Orthodox viewpoint is to increasingly recommend conversion, "just in case you aren't Jewish."

    RaP: Where are you getting your facts and news from? You make conversion sound like some sort of "safety catch" trivial activity that is a nuisance. The ONLY case that this has come up in on a lrage scale is in Israel and is known is in regards to the Falashas/Falash muras from Ethiopia about whom there is a split of views among the Haredi sages. Fact: The Falashas have been cut off from the Jewish people for about 3,000 years (yes three thousand years going back to either the times of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba and or the Ten Lost Tribes) and they do not have the Oral Law nor the Code of Jewish Law of course. Thus some, like the late Lubavitcher Rebbe ruled that they were to be regarded as total gentiles and need full conversions, or like Rabbi Ovadia Yosef who holds that they are presumably of Jewish descent but must undergo a conversion to remove all doubts. There are some who hold they do not need conversions but I do not recall who they are and their views are generally not followed among the Haredim.

    By which they mean, that they assume some ancestor must have converted, and in a non-Orthodox bet din.

    RaP: There are no "assumptions" because they either did or did not get Orthodox conversions and if not they must convert properly. By the way, a "non-Orthodox bet din" is a contradiction in terms because so-called rabbis who are in full rebellion against Jewish Law and the Mitzvot of the Torah CANNOT create a fake "bet din" to enforce their mistaken and misbegoten views. This is very controversial, painful and complex stuff that you are over-simplifying, not to mention getting into very hot water.

    Telling people whose family tradition is that they have descended directly from the Abrahamic families, that they need to convert, is a sure path to alienation.

    RaP: The phrase "Abrahamic families" means nothing and if you use this phrase one must assume that you are not even Halachically Jewish yourself because the phrase "Abrahamic" is a "politically correct" term that has come into recent usage. Jews never use this term. They don't need to and they don't believe they have to because they believe that as the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob they do not need a broader "Abrahamic" category to validate them or make them happy. It is mostly used by Christians and Muslims and noone would say that if a Muslim or Christian would come to convert to Judaism they should not need a formal and full Halachic conversion just because they are "Abrahamics", so please be logical and stick to facts and try to veer away from nonsensical statements.

    The"kiruv" phenomenon that you describe sounds like double-talk and con-artistry.

    RaP: No it's not. There is a Baal teshuva movement http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baal_teshuva_movement that is also called the Baal Teshuva revolution that is a natural JEWISH WORLDWIDE grassroots spontaneous movement/revolution by previously secular and less religious JEWS who wish to retuen to a more authentic form of Judaism, it is a people powered phenomenon. The "kiruv" movement is the SUBSEQUENT "outreach" work http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_outreach that is done to provide education, guidance and services to those Jews who are seeking to return to Judaism. Do not make it sound sinister when it is not.

    You even call it "hard sell." A hard sell insults the intelligence of customer.

    RaP: In education, like in marketing, there are those teachers and marketers who educate and teach and sell and market gradually and others who come on stronger and are more the cheerleading and pushy types. This is not insulting to poiint out so please do not create straw man arguments.

    I like to think of my fellow congregants as choosing to participate because they find value and knowledge in tradition, not because they have been fooled and defrauded and coraled by someone smarter.

    RaP: Who are these "Abrahamic" fellow congregants of yours please? Noone is forcing anyone to follow anyone else (maybe the Obama people...). As the saying goes, it's a free world and people are free to choose the types of lecturers and teachers and classes and methods they prefer. If someone likes slow boring teachers that is their right and if others like more dynamic speakers who may even be manipulative in the way they teach, something that happens in all spheres of education and teachinhg, so be it, people can pick and choose and noone is forced to be a prisoner.

    This plan sounds like the way to a nation of dunderheads.

    RaP: What "plan"? So far you are missing the poiint of the discussions big time. And believe me, there are no "dunderheads" here, Rabbi Tropper's real troops (his students from over the years) are all highly motivated and inspired Torah Jews, that is not even in dispute.

    A life packed with observance and catering to rabbis every waking minute is not for everyone.

    RaP: Agreed! But why knock ALL rabbis. It's like knocking all authority figures. Could there be a school without teachers or a college without lecturers and professors or a country without jufdges and spiritial guides? If you like the jungles then that is for you. So leave all rabbis alone will you. That is why there are various outreach programs that cater to all tastes.

    I would rather see someone minimally observant but firmly identified as Jewish, who has Jewish children and grandchildren, than see the same person raising their children in some other faith.

    RaP: Ok, We can all agree with this, but the question was not about people in other faiths, unless it's those Jews who are intermarried to gentiles that present today's Jewish world with its greatest spiritual and physical challenge of survival as one united Jewish people.

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  14. The discussion between RaP & R' Micha Berger regarding
    ==================
    Rap:"[T]he gentile is NOT a "tinok shenishba" and has NO neshama"...

    R' Micha Berger: "Didn't HQBH make a point of having us all come from Adam so that things like this would not be said?"
    ===================
    has been elevated to a separate post.
    http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2008/11/all-men-are-equal-rap-vs-r-micha-berger.html

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  15. RaP: In the meantime the only one here who is getting any profit from my writings is Dr. Eidensohn/da'as torah who has his Paypal "donate" button on every page for anyone to use and help his cause. I don't get any commission.
    ==============
    To set the record straight - as of today the amount donated to this blog in its year of operation is - $0.00.

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  16. RaP: I was not talking about mass conversions of immigrant populations in Israel. Nor do I find anything nonJewish in talking about descending from Abraham. Perhaps you prefer B'nai Yisrael or some other historical reference. My concern is that when someone has a family tradition that their parents and grandparents, or at least the matrilineal side have always been Jewish, that we should believe them. If that person attends a Conservative or a Reform synagogue, we should still believe them.

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  17. Rap,
    Thank you for the fascinated post. Did not have time to reply earlier (a new baby..)


    Kiruv and Geirus are as different as chalk and cheese.
    Yes, It used to be that way, the convergence of Keiruv and guerus pioneered by Kaplan and Tropper is a new thing. One can speculate the the soil for BT (which the majority came from Conservative homes) dried out and now Tropper and his minions are looking for a new line of supply. In the first conference Tropper has this chidush: "The intermarried are on higher medrega than BT because having sex with a shiksa is malkus and having sex with a nidah is kares". oh well.

    While Rabbi tropper is agadol in the kiruv world
    Without Kaplan’s money we would not be having this conversation.

    So what Rabbi Tropper did or not do at the time that led to Rabbi Slifkin's books being banned in the frum world are essentially immaterial.
    It is material because the world has to know that this "gadol" will lie to his teeth in order to destroy another person because he does not like his books.

    Rabbi Tropper and Dr. Kaplan take their egos VERY seriously.
    Truer words were never spoken

    EVERY kiruv rabbi has many, many people who he did not make frum and went off...
    It is one thing having a BT going of the derech and another thing a BT being killed violently or another case where a couple where one is non Jewish who were mekarved by another rabbi got so turned off from yiddishkeit by tropper left and ended up marrying in a church.

    Rabbi Tropper's success stories in kiruv are far, far greater than the few failures
    So why so many of the horror keiruv stories involve Tropper and his yeshiva ( at least the cases which are posted online)

    don't blame Rabbi Tropper for another occupational hzard of being a susccessful kiruv rabbi who is forced into couples counseling.
    The problem is that he DOES NOT send them to counseling he tell them to get divorces without going to counseling. Maybe Tropper thinks that if he got divorced and his second marriage is a bit more stable than his first one, his BTs should do the same. However when Tropper eventually gave a get to his first wife he did not have any children from her but the couples he controls sometimes do have children and Tropper still tries to break them up.

    Chabad in Kefar Chabad and in Tzefas is more extreme in all areas is anything you will see in many other places.
    We are talking about Chabad who do keiruv not those who study.

    while over-all Chabad is more patient, once they feel they have won over someone they do exactly what people like Rabbi Tropper does

    Of course, Chabbad want their BT to behave and dress like them, but they are smart enough to know that not everyone would do so and they unlike Tropper do not believe in all-or-nothing Judaism. An Example, they will rather people drive to shul than going to the mall. Tropper would say if you drive on shabbas to not come to shul.

    However, Money makes strange bed fellows and there are few chabbad rabbis who worlk closely with Tropper. One of the most prominent is rabbi Zarchi of San Francisco who has a lot intermarried couple in his town and he sends them to Tropper with sometimes disastrous results.


    There is no "one way' to make people frum nor is there "one way" for how BTs should be frum. There never has been nor will there ever be. It is as varied as the human condition

    Of course there is, it has however, many implementations. You say it few times a day. It is the derech which maraba shalom ba’olam

    ReplyDelete
  18. Recipients and PublicityDecember 19, 2008 at 8:43 AM

    Plony Almony added good comments. Thank you for an excellent response. I am only now getting around to a reply, see below.

    "Plony Almony 18 said... Rap,
    Thank you for the fascinated post. Did not have time to reply earlier (a new baby..)"

    RaP: Thank you and Mazel Tov!

    "Kiruv and Geirus are as different as chalk and cheese." Yes, It used to be that way, the convergence of Keiruv and guerus pioneered by Kaplan and Tropper is a new thing."

    RaP: It sure is and they are not unique in trying to deal with the present situation, but they do stand out in their zeal to implement their plan, even though it's blowing up in their faces like the poor perforated space shuttle that disintegrated when it tried to reenter the atmosphere at tens of thousands of miles per hour.

    "One can speculate the the soil for BT (which the majority came from Conservative homes) dried out and now Tropper and his minions are looking for a new line of supply."

    RaP: They, and kiruv workers, don't have to look far because the intermarrieds and the interfaith couples have been attending kiruv programs and enrolling their kids in Jewish day schools for years already.

    So the choices that Orthodox and Charedi leaders will be forced to make will become clearer and clearer: Either reject these people outright, or limit their intake to only those who are sincere, or then do like Tropper and EJF to create mass programs to welcome them, and there are other solutions like creating a sefer yuchsin registry, like Dor Yesharim, that will start creating a data base of all known Halachic Jews.

    The other terrible situation is that in America, Russia and even in Israel, after years of assimilation and secularization and intermarriage, tragically hundreds of thousands of people who are technically Halachic Jews (not religious though) have gone over completely to the side of Christianity as either full Christians or as part of Hebrew Christian/Jews for Jesus mssionary congregations. It's actually quite a grim picture from the point of view of Jewish history.

    "In the first conference Tropper has this chidush: "The intermarried are on higher medrega than BT because having sex with a shiksa is malkus and having sex with a nidah is kares". oh well."

    RaP: This is meshuga and only a total impractical fanatic would say such things. What about the Halacha that "habo'el aramis kano'im pog'im bo" that a Jew who has sex with a gentile woman in the times of the Tanach was subject to summary execution by "kano'im" and mercifully there are few such kano'im today who qualify or else there would be millions of summary executions of Jews who are busy having sex with gentiles.

    Tropper overlooks the known ruling by the Chazon Ish that the last generations are all "tinokos shenishbu" and that people are essentially guiltless because they are like children who have been taken captive by the gentiles and did not know better. The purpose of effective kiruv should NOT be to scream at people in Tropper fashion, but to wean them away from their wrong ways and make them see the beauty of Yiddishkeit, Torah marriage and Jewish family life built on Torah and mitzvos. It's easier said than done, but that is the correct goal of kiruv and not to read people the riot act like Tropper loves to do.

    "While Rabbi tropper is a gadol in the kiruv world." Without Kaplan’s money we would not be having this conversation."

    RaP: True, but Tropper is a good kiruv worker nevertheless, give him credit for being able to reel in someone of Dr. Tom Kaplan's stature and convincing him to cough up and effectively waste tens of millions of dollars to fund any scheme that Tropper may come up with.

    "So what Rabbi Tropper did or not do at the time that led to Rabbi Slifkin's books being banned in the frum world are essentially immaterial." It is material because the world has to know that this "gadol" will lie to his teeth in order to destroy another person because he does not like his books.

    RaP: With Rabbi Slifkin there are genuine Hashkofic issues that he fatefully and unavoidably put in print, and when such matters are in the mix, it becomes volatile.

    Maybe Rabbi Tropper learned something diabolical from Slifkin's situation that the minute a controversial rabbi puts something in writing about controversial ideas it takes it to the the next level where he automatically opens himself up to censure and even censoring and banning, and maybe that is why Tropper has refused point blank to come up with either anything in writing from his supporting rabbis or with a detailed Halachic exposition of his work with EJF and its aims because the minute he does that, the level of the debate switches to his own written statements that can then be used against him by his rivals (of which he has many) and as long as he has put nothing down in writing he can forever play the role of the "innocent" pragmatist and say different things at different times to different people and switch and bait at will without ever being able to be pinned down or held accountable or liable since he has never put his own or EJF's position down definitively in writing.

    He had started an Email dialogue with Rabbi Dr. Eidensohn/da'as torah the owner of this blog and then quickly stopped, because he must have realized his mistake that once you say things in writing, Email is considered a legal ducument even by the USA government, they can be used as written evidence to pin you down once and for all, and that is why Tropper uses other names probably when he sneaks onto this blog and maybe answers himself or has people very close to him do it, like poster Roni say things but they are never under his name or in his name explicitly of "Rabbi Leib Tropper" because he is shrewd.

    Rabbi Tropper wants to keep all his options open by trying to be all things to all men and women (Jews and gentiles alike), which in the end will prove to be a self-defeating strategy that will implode as it has already with the YU/RCA/Modern Orthodox crowd led by Rabbi Herschel Schechter who had tagged along with EJF at its launch, after they were attacked they walked out on Tropper and EJF after they were publicly humiliated at an EJF convention by Rabbi Nochum Eisenstein of the Vaad Harabanim Leinyanei Giur, who themselves are now also distancing themselves from Tropper and EJF.

    And of course Tropper and EJF got it in the neck directly from Rav Shternbuch and the BADATZ of the Eidah HaChareidis who warned rabbonim and dayanim and batei din not to get involved with Tropper's and EJF's schemes, and who issued them with CEASE and DESIST orders that they ignore at their own peril making them possible lo tzayis dino as well.

    "Rabbi Tropper and Dr. Kaplan take their egos VERY seriously."
    Truer words were never spoken"

    RaP: And sadly, too many top Kiruv rabbis and their chief sponsors have become egomaniacs, not just Tropper and Kaplan. It's a sad day when something as idealistic and spiritual as the Baal teshuva movement becomes a game of capitalism, strategic marketing, megalomania, and all sorts of ills that would befit Donald Trump, who himself is at least not involved with Jewish outreach and is a pure businessman, but when kiruv workers who are basically nothings in the Torah world try to act like big machers it makes a mockery and parody of true kiruv rechokim and in turn it is putting off many Jews who might be drawn to Yiddishkeit but are disgusted by all the shallow shtik.

    "EVERY kiruv rabbi has many, many people who he did not make frum and went off..." It is one thing having a BT going of the derech and another thing a BT being killed violently or another case where a couple where one is non Jewish who were mekarved by another rabbi got so turned off from yiddishkeit by tropper left and ended up marrying in a church."

    RaP: This is serious and I defer to your seeming greater awareness of these cases. A big klal for any Kiruv worker is that this should never result from disillusionment by a student.

    "Rabbi Tropper's success stories in kiruv are far, far greater than the few failures" So why so many of the horror keiruv stories involve Tropper and his yeshiva (at least the cases which are posted online)"

    RaP: Well, to be fair, Rabbi Tropper has successfuly mekareved many people who are happily frum today. I happen to know of a few of such happy people and they are not exceptions because in the majority of cases Rabbi Tropper does provide something that these type of people are looking for. The reason stuff gets posted online that is not flattering is because that is the nature of so-called "news" that only bad news and horror stories make for "interesting" reading and usually the good news is not reported at all. So let's give Rabbi Tropper top marks for being a successful kiruv rabbi as long as its confined to guys who voluntarily enrolled in his program at Kol Yaakov Yeshiva in Monsey NY and they became true Benei Torah and are a credit to Klal Yisroel. However, as we know with succes comes the danger of failure and mistakes and in all probability Rabbi Tropper does not have a higher perecentage of failures than other active kiruv rabbis and yeshivas.

    "don't blame Rabbi Tropper for another occupational hzard of being a susccessful kiruv rabbi who is forced into couples counseling." The problem is that he DOES NOT send them to counseling he tell them to get divorces without going to counseling."

    RaP: I was not talking of literal professional couples counseling but of the informal kind that all kiruv rabbis get dragged into. Unfortunately Rabbi Tropper is not unique among yeshivish and Chasidishe people that many of them are afraid of and will not submit to professional psycholigical or psychiatric counseling when it could actually benefit them if done right. So Tropper is not unique in this prejudice because it is a strong feature of the Charedi world. What is unusual is that most kiruv rabbis are positive about professional clinical counseling and Rabbi Tropper stands out in his disdain for such things.

    "Maybe Tropper thinks that if he got divorced and his second marriage is a bit more stable than his first one, his BTs should do the same."

    RaP: Maybe. By now it's clear that it's hard to know what Tropper "thinks" about anything!

    "However when Tropper eventually gave a get to his first wife he did not have any children from her but the couples he controls sometimes do have children and Tropper still tries to break them up."

    RaP: Very tragic. This is truly horrific. It sounds like the way the Kabala Center people work, and indeed it's the way all cults and their leaders work. My-way-or-the-highway. There are other rabbis and even rebbetzins who do this kind of thing by breaking up marriages and they are a social cancer causing untold harm in the name of their own ego-trips and feelings of lording it over others that gives them a sense of their own delusional omnipotence, that called megalomania. They themselves are victims of their own low self-esteem, self-loathing and inferioity complexes that they try to wash away with fake superiority complexes and messiah complexes.

    "Chabad in Kefar Chabad and in Tzefas is more extreme in all areas is anything you will see in many other places." We are talking about Chabad who do keiruv not those who study."

    RaP: True, by now it's hard to generilze about all Chabad rabbis and places and extrapolate from one to the other. Just pointing out that fanaticism and extremism exists all over.

    "while over-all Chabad is more patient, once they feel they have won over someone they do exactly what people like Rabbi Tropper does" Of course, Chabbad want their BT to behave and dress like them, but they are smart enough to know that not everyone would do so and they unlike Tropper do not believe in all-or-nothing Judaism. An Example, they will rather people drive to shul than going to the mall. Tropper would say if you drive on shabbas to not come to shul."

    RaP: Ok. There will wlays be diverging views on this and one way does not always have to negate the other. Different poskim will therefore issue different pesakim, it's not always clear cut.

    "However, Money makes strange bed fellows and there are few chabbad rabbis who worlk closely with Tropper. One of the most prominent is rabbi Zarchi of San Francisco who has a lot intermarried couple in his town and he sends them to Tropper with sometimes disastrous results."

    RaP: Chabad rabbis may sometimes be too pragmatic for their own good. Maybe theier is a behind the scenes money relationship involved here, it needs checking into.

    "There is no "one way' to make people frum nor is there "one way" for how BTs should be frum. There never has been nor will there ever be. It is as varied as the human condition" Of course there is, it has however, many implementations. You say it few times a day. It is the derech which maraba shalom ba’olam"

    RaP: Spoken like a true idealist! The reality is a lot tougher.

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