Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rav Sternbuch - converting wife with invalid geirus

This is the type of case that Rav Eliashiv was referring to in his published teshuva (3:140) and it is the type of case that most poskim would agree that it is appropriate to convert the non-Jewish spouse. The insistence of having conventions and pursuing people who knowingly sinned by intermarriage is not validated by this approach. The attempt of Roni and R' Tropper to insist that leniencies such as this allow them to hold conventions to persuade intermarried couples to convert requires clearly stated teshuvos to that effect from Gedolim. Even their posek Rav Reuven Feinstein has not issued a heter for this nor has he stated publicly that it is permitted.As far as I can ascertain - Rav Reuven Feinstein does not disagree with Rav Sternbuch on this issue.

סימן ה:שבב

הערה נענין נישואין לבעלת תשובה

באו לפנינו מקרים של בני תורה שהתחתנו עם בעלות תשובה, ואח"כ נתברר שאם הכלה היא גיורת שנתגיירה ולא שמרה מצוות מעולם, ואומדנא דמוכח שלא נתכוונה בשעת גירותה לשמור מצוות, והפוסקים כתבו שלא חלה הגירות והיא עודנה בגויותה, וכן בתה, אף שהיא בעלת תשובה וצדקנית ונשואה לבן תורה, מ"מ מדין תורתה"ק היא גויה ובעלה חייב לפרוש ממנה, והטבלנו אותה בצינעא בפני בית דין לשם גירות, ובעלה קידשה ונשאה עוד פעם בפני עדים כדין. זה הוא אם אמה של הכלה נתגיירה ולא שמרה מצוות מעולם, אבל אם אמה של הכלה גופא החלה אח"כ לשמור מצוות, אין לי הכרעה, ומ"מ צריך לחומרא להטבילה...

Rav Sternbuch (Teshuvos V'Hanhagos 5:322): Concerning a marriage to a baalas teshuva. We have cases coming before us of a ben Torah marrying a baalas teshuva and then afterwards it is discovered that the bride's mother was a giyorus who never observed mitzvos. It is reasonable to assume that the mother had no intention of observing mitzvos at the time she converted. The Poskim says that therefore the mother was never a convert and thus she is still a non-Jew and obviously so is her daughter the bride. This is so even if the bride is a genuine baalas teshuva and truly righteous and she has shown her sincerity by marrying a ben Torah. Nevertheless according to the law of the Torah she is a non-Jew and her husband must separate from her. However she is to be immersed in the mikva secretly before a beis din for the sake of conversion. Her husband needs to marry her a second time in the presence of kosher witnesses. This is if the bride's mother converted and never observed mitzvos. However if her mother eventually did come to observe mitzvos - it is not clear whether the daughter is Jewish but she should l'chumra be converted....


  1. Dt,

    I don't know from where to start!

    1) First off all: How do *you* have any remez that Rav ELyashiv 3/140 talks about this situation? IT is so ludicrous to begin with, the whole sentence shows black on white that this is not what he talking about. He talks about someone who needs shirum to be encouraged to convert I. it is Kircho mizrach mimaarov from your scenario!

    2) You assertion now that this is Rav Sternbuch's only permission to convert vindicates what I'm telling you: that he is REJECTED by Rav MOshe, Rav Henkin, Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky, Rav Aurbach and most gedoyley hador who apply "takanat hashavim for many many more cases. They apply teshuvot Harambam which appleis to cases where there is some ulterior motive (leshem ishut) and still they permit it. Mah shey keyn in your case.

    Actually, youin your blog from it's ionception made one of your criticism about the etsem problem of covnerting intermarired couples. You brought your Rav EFrati's lettter and a (non relating) teshuva of Rav MOshe (which does not cover what ERJf does) and Achiezer (which also supports RT and not your position). It is clear that your initial position and your now vague position runs counter Rav MOshe, Henkin, Ayrbach etc.
    3) Actually Rav Ruven in his letter talks about a case where they are willing to live by torah and mitzvot; however they reuire "kiruv" . Rav Sternbuch, from what he wrote in his letter that he signed with the eidah writes that this is NOT proper! And so Rav ELyashiv in his teshuva.

    4) I would like to add to the discussion : You have many allies who criticize other aspects of Rt's conversion method. They are disagreeing with Rav Sternbuch who wrote in his first letter that "Although they FIX ONE AREA IN GERUT nevertheless...."; he acknowledged that the claim. You alliance with them runs counter the BaDATZ and Rav Sternbuch.

    5)I would like to add:even your main valid argument (that I disagree with your war over it; and i disagree that there are no endorsmenet to Rt for it; becuasse Rav Ruven endorses it by being the President of the Halachik Comitte at the ORganization! and is respnsible for what is known to the public about it's doing and he never ever came out against this and most importantly has not changed this goal, (while some other issues thatI agree with you: the innapropriteness of some of the stupid articles about conversion to Judaism that appeared randomly) so he certainly agrees with Rt andis BEHIND IT! )does not have any WRITTEN LETTER OR PSSAK THAT ADDRESSES IT HEAD ON. IOW: I want you to bring a letter that clearly forbids teaching an intermarried couple the value ofyiddishkeyt, especially teaching the jewish partner.

    to be conitnued

  2. What kind of shell game is being played here? If Rav Feinstein agrees with Rav Shernbach on the issue of pursuing intermarried people with conventions then why does he appear on a Video endorsement of EJF regarding these programs.

  3. Bartley Kulp said...

    What kind of shell game is being played here? If Rav Feinstein agrees with Rav Shernbach on the issue of pursuing intermarried people with conventions then why does he appear on a Video endorsement of EJF regarding these programs.
    that is the real question. The only written teshuva from Rav Reuven does not mention anything about pursuing intermarried couples at conventions.

    In fact no one has come up with a statement endorsing them. R' Tropper however has said that Tom Kaplan was not happy with them. Why does Tom Kaplan have more sensitivy to Jewish law than R' Tropper?

  4. BArtley,

    "on the issue of pursuing intermarried people with conventions then why does he appear on a Video endorsement of EJF regarding these programs".

    Right on! He is part of the Organization! He is the President of the Halachik committee.

    But I would disagree with your characterization that was unfortunately brought by Dt:

    If you will see, he mistranlslates any word into "proselityzing". In one of the early letters (which were in general about a subject that does not seem to be part of the EJf's agenda the way the letter seemed to portray, it talked about accepting non jewsih children of jewish fathers to schools. I fail to see where EJF pursued strongly that agenda in any of the official websites and conventions. But that is another story for another show that there was some miscommunication between some people to BADATZ and what was REALLY on the ground. But that is neither here or there) it said in hebrew "לעודד" and DT translated into "proselytizing". In a similar vein we have it here I am afraid that the word "pursuing intermarried couples" is innacurate. IT has a connotation that they push the people to convert. This is NOT TRUE.

  5. Bartley,

    also make no mistake, there is much more than the "video endrosement" that put's them far apart kirchok mizrach mimaarav!


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