Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Kiruv Guidelines for Geirus

R' Daniel,

As always the proverbial devil is in the details.

· - Do Kiruv Orgs have an Achrayus to reach out specifically to intermarried people who show no interest? If they do not do so because they feel that their time is better served addressing other issues are they to be criticized?

· - If an intermarried couple does get involved with a Kiruv org or shul and is turned down by a beis din should compassion lead us to question the beis Din’s approach and should we then shop around for them?

· - Can we allow such people to be included in Kiruv efforts when there is a possibility of intermarriage or even countenancing it?

· - Even assuming all of that what is the posture we take towards these people? How positive and welcoming should we be?

Frankly, that is the issue at hand. There is an effort to “normalize” geirus to the point where we should be treating these people just like rechokim. It may be emes but it is certainly not yet a consensus……

There indeed are some pretty strong feelings out there. Our policy is that we do not sponsor geirus as a Kiruv oriented organization and we will work with a beis din unquestionably or a community rabbi to help in their education efforts. All prospective converts are told that we are happy to get them together with a beis din and that the expectation is shemiras Torah umitzvos right up front.

I hope this sheds some light

Kesivva vachasima tovah



Rabbi N. T.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Kiruv for non-Jews with Jewish Identity II

I am raising an issue of great importance for the future of the Jewish people. There seems to have been a major revolution in the last few years in the approach to dealing with both intermarriage and the non-Jewish children of intermarriage - and yet very few rabbonim seem aware of it. My purpose in writing the following is to provide intelligent discussion of these issues as well as to establish a literature that can be utilized by others. As Rav Sternbuch has noted - halacha depends upon accurate written discussions of issues that can be analyzed and debated. A statement by a rav - no matter how big - which doesn't provide the critical issue of context and sources is very problematic for use by others.

The issue was raised one Shabbos when I received some guests sent by a well known kiruv organization. In the course of discussing how each one of our guests had come to be interested in this particular program - the guest who was most interested in Yiddishkeit stated. "I was raised as a Methodist because my mother is a Methodist - but I am Jewish because my father is Jewish." To put it mildly I was shocked - how could this obvious fact not have been checked prior to admitting this young man into the program. The program is involved in bringing Jews with no Jewish education to Israel where there have a great time - and also learn about Yiddishkeit. The expenses of the participants are heavily subsidized by wealthy benefactors. I said nothing but after Shabbos I called the director to inform him of the problem. His response was, "We know that he is not Jewish but we were told to accept him since he has a Jewish identity."

In the subsequent months I have mentioned this to various rabbonim - who have all expressed shock that this is officially sanctioned. No one knew any teshuvos written on the subject which justify this approach. However I have found that this is not simply a quirk with one kiruv organization - it represents a major conflict between different kiruv organizations. The big money seems to be going in the direction of kiruv for non-Jews (with some kind of Jewish identity) with the hope of converting them. A friend of mine told me that on three separate occasions he was sent guests for Shabbos from a Russian kiruv program here in Jerusalem and found out that they were all non-Jews. When he complained, the program simply stopped sending him guests.

Similarly there has been a major effort to actively pursue intermarried couples and using various techniques - representive of the best American marketing techniques - convince the non-Jewish spouse to convert. This latter approach is spearheaded by R' Leib Tropper of Yeshiva Kol Yaakov in Monsey. See his website [Eternal Jewish Family - Convert to Judaism, Jewish Conversion, Universally Accepted Halachic Conversions for Intermarried Couples ] - especially the videos of testimonials from satisfied customers. It has the official backing of Rav Eliyashiv, Rav Dovid Feinstein, Rav Reuven Feinstein as well as many others important rabbis. I have not been able to locate any written teshuvos dealing with this either - even though it also represents a major change in the traditional approach to this issue.

I mentioned this information to Rav Moshe Sternbuch who found my revelations disturbing and he wrote a letter which he asked me to translate and distribute. He personally read and approved the translation. The original letter and its translation can be found at the following links.

http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/RSternbuch_KiruvNonJew_Aug07_heb.pdf
http://www.aishdas.org/avodah/faxes/RSternbuch_KiruvNonJew_Aug07_eng.pdf

Some of the discussion aroused already can be found at the following link

http://rabbisedley.blogspot.com/2007/08/kiruv-for-non-jews.html
http://haemtza.blogspot.com/2007/08/patrilineal-descent-and-conversion.html

One of the assertions being made is that Rav Moshe Feinstein has approved kiruv for non-Jews who have a Jewish identify. This assertion has been made by one of America's most widely respected poskim who was a very close talmid of Rav Moshe who said it was an oral psak that he received. I have combed the Igros Moshe and there is no support for this in the Igros Moshe. However recently I was challenged by a certain rosh yeshiva who asserted that what the hetar for this type of kiruv is inherent in the clearly stated teshuva of Reb Moshe regarding the Falashas. I rechecked this teshuva and - contrary to my challenger - it seems clear that this teshuva not only does not support this assertion but seems to directly contradict it. My translation of the teshuva is as follows:

Igros Moshe Y.D. IV. #41 page 271

After much investigation it appears that if the Falashas are not
given a Jewish education they will deteriorate even more and will
refuse to convert and this can possibly cause – G‑d forbid!
–intermarriage between Jews and the Falashas. Therefore l’maaseh
they should be given a Jewish education and be influenced through
this education to convert as they need to do - as I have written to
your brother R’ Mordechai Tendler. One should not be concerned by
the fact that we are teaching Torah to people whose status as Jews
is in doubt. Since it is actually possible that they are Jews and
since there is a reason for this education - it would appear there
is no prohibition to teach them Torah. But you should not teach them
false halachos - an act which itself is prohibited. In other words,
don’t tell them that we in fact view them as definitely Jewish.
Instead tell them that while in fact there is a doubt about their
status as Jews nevertheless we are prepared to educate them in G‑d’s
Torah and His mitzvos. Please note that until they are actually
converted they are not to be considered as definitely Jewish even in
regards to counting them as part of a minyan or to receive an aliya
to the Torah. They are not to be shamed or embarrassed but on the
other hand they should not be deceived with false flattery. On the
other hand l’chumra they are required to keep all the mitzvos
because maybe they are in fact genuine Jews.


Reb Moshe is acknowledging the danger of intermarriage from a non-Jew who views himself as Jewish. However he allows the teaching of Torah only because the person is a "questionable Jew". It follows that if the person is definitely not Jewish he would not have given this heter. Otherwise Reb Moshe would have simply said "any non-Jew who has a Jewish identity should be educated in Torah and converted".


Daniel Eidensohn

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Changing entrenched attitudes


Yirmiahu wrote:

Recently, Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn mentioned that he was interesting in exploring “how to actually change entrenched attitudes which have no halachic basis.” As it turns out I had recently been skimming a book from fifty or sixty years ago on Public Relations, called “Public Relations”* which addressed this issue (albeit without direct reference to ideas without halachic basis).

Public Opinion is not a mere collection of individual opinions. It has its own dynamic which should be taken into account if one hopes to be an influence. While we are interested in how these principles are applicable to a specific sociological group, we should bear in mind that they apply generally as well. Indeed as individuals these principles likely factor into our opinion making more than we would like to imagine, and almost certainly factor into how many who share our opinions reached their conclusion. Hopefully such a recognition will help us consider the role of these principles in Public Opinion without developing a spirit of condescension.

Initially we need to consider what we mean by “public”, “A public is comprised of people who are engaged in a common enterprise with similar interests and are conscious of their mutual dependence” (page 26). Public Opinion is the position taken on a controversial issue by the public. In any given public there are members of various education, aptitude, and temperament. At times Public Opinion is driven by the higher, more reasoned opinions of the knowledgeable and educated. But even the knowledgeable and educated can be swayed by emotion or otherwise make poor judgments, and as a result direct Public Opinion, or allow it to be directed by those less equipped to make such decisions, in a less well thought out direction.

Now people display certain patterns of thought and behavior with respect to the “public” they identify with which influences how “Public Opinion” is developed:

Identification: The group becomes an extension of one’s self. One’s willingness to “take one for the team” can extend to subjugating one’s own opinion in favor of the collective opinion.

Conformity: It is easier to go with the flow. On a more charitable note, not everyone is a born leader. Going against the tide can require more confidence in one’s conclusion, and ability, than many people have.

Anonymity: It seems to me that this is a bit of the reverse of the prior example. In some instances individuals who would otherwise be unwilling to voice their opinion are able to make their views heard via the group, sparing themselves personal scrutiny.

Sympathy: Members of a group take what happens to each other personally. While in many different contexts this tendency has been noted and criticized as a limitation on who we care about, it is in fact more of an extension. Especially in the era of mass communication we hear about more misfortune than anyone can handle. To take it all personally could emotionally crush a person. Personally, it is not unheard of for a news story to put me in tears, but such stories typically involve Yidden, or children (appealing to my identity as a “parent”). The tsunami in the South Pacific a few years back was very difficult emotionally even without any personal connection, but to react to each and every case is such a manner would be crippling. I’m inclined to believe that our natural tendency is to close ourselves off to such unpleasant emotions but our group identity allows us make ourselves vulnerable to experience empathy and compassion in some cases.

Emotionalism: Group opinion is seldom the result of detached and calculated logic, but the extent to which emotion drives the discussion varies. An issue which effects the communities lifestyle, health, parnassa, or safety are going to be more emotionally charged than peripheral issues.

Nobility: Public Opinion means that one’s positions are going to be known and shared so one is going to [tend to] put their best foot forward. Opinions will be influenced by the higher values which they share. I would add, however, that consciously or not, less noble intents will likewise be channeled into a more “noble” presentation.

Oppression: The work Public Relations writes “Oppression is a common delusion” (page 36) but I think that many or most of us would recognize that it is not uncommon for a group, a public, to have been treated unfairly. Mainstream society, particularly in the information age, tends to have a short attention span on such mistreatment, even when mainstream society is itself the subject of mistreatment. Other, “minority” communities do not tend to forget so quickly. This has a very real impact on Public Opinion and must be taken into consideration. I should note that while this consciousness of past wrongs may make it difficult for a community to adapt to new realities, the lack of such consciousness tends to make mainstream society complacent and unwilling to safeguard against further assault.

Symbolism: Symbols are employed to represent values and ideals of the group, or to represent the opposition against which the group struggles.

Rationalization: As we noted earlier with respect to nobility, at times reasons are given for taking a particular position which serve as a smoke screen to hide ulterior motives.

The goal of Public Relations, as opposed to mere propaganda, is to inform the public on a given topic so that they have the ability to make a better decision. We can safely assume that not every individual will ultimately be persuaded by proper evidence, but we have to trust that most people will be inclined to make better decisions if given the chance. Additionally, certain people are “opinion leaders” on certain issues. These individuals are not identified by their position or title, but one can expect to find them involved in activities which promote the welfare of others. Reaching such people with the appropriate information is a significant component of influencing public opinion.

While we have always had our ups and downs, it seems to me that the last few years has been a difficult period for the frum world, with what seems to me to be an large increase in members of our community making headlines for things we may not be proud of. Often we hear of calls for “moderation” but this is, effectively, equivalent to calling for less motivation. I do not think that this is the correct, or desirable approach. If, or rather Since, we are correct in asserting that the ways of Torah are “Darchei Noam” then we need work on publicizing relevant Torah material which will make it easier for Yidden to come to appropriate conclusions, and more difficult for people to rationalize positions which are in fact not based in halachah. And we should, at least now and then, go out of our comfort zone and challenge popular misconceptions with halachic sources. And the effort to get our own “Public Opinion” in check is the most significant hishtadlus to influence the “Public Opinion” of the outside world.

*Public Relations: Principles, Cases, and Problems, 3rd Edition, Bertrand R. Canfield, 1952, 1961

Abuse - reporting exempts from responsibility?


R' Pinchos Yehoshua HaKohain wrote:

Dear Rabbi Eidensohn,

I would like to follow up on some Shakla v'Tarya from 13 July. (It is copied below). I would like to present 3 points:
1) Shomer SheMosar L'Shomer is not applicable here.
2) It is a case of Hashovas Aveida
3) What are the parameters of Hashovas Aveida and how they would apply in our context.


1) Shomer SheMosar LeShomer would not seem to be applicable here.

Either according to Abaye, that the reasoning is because "Ain Reztoni SheYehe Pikdoni b'Yad Acher" or whether according to Rovo that it is because of "At M'Hemnis Li b'Shevuoh, v'Haich Lo M'Hemnis Li", b oth reasons see that the underlying principle is a contractual agreement (a shibud) that binds the shomer, because of the contract undertaken, with the owner of the property. In our situation there has occurred no contractual arrangement between the victim and his erstwhile rescuer/interventionist.
Whether there is an Isur aspect of "Osur L'Shomer Limsor l'Shomer" is discussed in the Acharonim - please see Aruch haShulchon 291:45,46 and Pischei Choshen vol 2, 4:1:1). B ut even if there is an Isur aspect, it flows from being "Maavir Al Daas Baalim" - a Gezel/Gneiva parameter which would not be applicable in our scenario in a strictly Halocho legal sense. (Musar/ethical/moral considerations need to be considered separately)

The following sources and analysis, I believe,support this position:

the position of the Rav Shulchon Aruch(Hilchos Aveida uPikadon #32 quoted by Pischei Choshen, Aveida 6:4) and Halacha Berura 5:12 (lost & found II, between footnote #7&8), both hold that Aveida in all circumstances has no restriction of Osur l'Shomer LiMsor l'Shomer; The reasoning of Rav Shulchon Aruch is, "Hashem made him a shomer; NOT the Baalim"
The source for the Rav Shulchon Aruch is most probably the Rashbo (Teshuvos Vol 4 #254 quoted in Bais Yosef CM 235 immediately preceding note #10 of Darchei Moshe). The Rashbo clearly states the principle that obligations of Hashovas Aveida operate independently of Dinei Shomer. Rav Shulchon Aruch based on the 2 principles in Hashovas Aveida of 1) Mishtamer (discussed below) and 2) no necessity of Daas Baalim, extends this to mean that another trustworthy person can take over as Shomer.

The Machne Efraim (Shomrim #14, also quoted by Pischei Choshen) understands and applies this Rashbo even in a case where there is an actual cheftzo and chiyuv tashlumin is in question. He holds that a scenario is possible that 1) I could have your object in my jurisdiction, 2) I am, nevertheless, totally exempt from any Shomer responsibility but 3) nevertheless Hashovas Aveida requires me to keep it "Mishtamer".

One could conjecture that by extension, It would appear that Machne Efraim, a fortiori, concurs with Rav Shulchon Aruch that the Aveida object could be transferred to another Shomer; but after reflection we realize that the 2 opinions are not interwoven. Indeed in the unique scenario of the Machne Efraim he would hold that there is no chiyuvei shomer and consequently it could also be transferred to another shomer but that does not necessarily means that he would agree in all other cases with the Rav Shulchon Aruch's chidush.

The only thing we can definitely extract from the Machne Efraim's position is that he is in agreement with the Rashbo's principle that obligations of Hashovas Aveida operate independently of Dinei Shomer.

Likewise the Rav Shulchon Aruch does not agree with the Machne Efraim. Even though he holds that another Shomer can be appointed in the finder's stead, he does not agree to exemptions from other chiyuvei Shomer. This I believe is apparent from his formulation of Halocho in Hilchos Aveida uPikadon # 29

The Nesivos CM 291:3 strongly disagrees with the whole premise of the Machne Efraim. He maintains that it is absurd to posit that your object is in my jurisdiction and concomitantly there are no Chiyuvei Shmira -ie every object Aveida situation ipso facto also incurs shomrim obligations. It would appear that the Nesivos not only disagrees with the Machne Efraim but even with the Rav Shulchon Aruch as well for the same reason. (Hoewever, The Raayos that the Nesivos adduces from the Yerushalmi and Maharit are neutralized by the refutations proffered by the Machne Efraim and ShuT Ein Yitzchok (EE #78 anaf 2)

Nevertheless, I believe that in a scenario of Hashovas Aveida that does not pertain to a cheftzo but is only a Chiyuv m'Gavra l'Chaveiro that the Nesivos will agree to the premise of the Rashbo that obligations of Hashovas Aveida can be operative even though there are no Dinei Shomer. I assert this based on the discussion of the Nesivos himself, in regards to how the Mitzvo obligation interplays with the Chiyuvei Shmira insofar as to whether the Pruta d'Rav Yosef applies to modify the status re: Shomer Chinum or Shomer Sochor. I believe this indicates that even according to the Nesivos the Mitzvo is operating independently, just superimposed upon the Shomer Cheftzo platform.

In summary:

Rashbo -obligations of Hashovas Aveida operate independently of Dinei Shomer.
Rav Shulchon Aruch - by all Aveidos there is no restriction of Shomer SheMosar l'Shomer.
Machne Efraim - Rashbo's principle exempts, in certain scenarios, even Chiyuvei Tashlumin of an erstwhile Shomer.
Nesivos: - Disagrees with Machne Efraim in scenario where there is an actual Cheftzo.
- States no opinion re: Rav Shulchon Aruch's Chidush
- No opinion stated in regards to Hashovas Aveida sans Cheftzo

Conclusion:
in a scenario of Hashovas Aveida that does not pertain to a cheftzo but is only a Chiyuv m'Gavra l'Chaveiro;that obligations of Hashovas Aveida operate even though there is no Shomer and no Dinei Shomer

2) It is a case of Hashovas Aveida
while indeed the Gemoro Sanhedrin 73a, on its own, would seem to be inconclusive as to whether according toits Maskono rescuing from danger still falls under Hashovas Aveida or not, we could entertain

3 approaches:
A - that the whole Mitzvo and obligation derives from Lo Saamod alone
B - that the basic Mitzvo derives from Hashovas Aveida. just certain aspects and details that intensify and magnify the obligation are derived from Lo Saamod
C - both pesukim are necessary; neither one has a greater intrinsic revelation over the other, but m'Yitura d'Kro. (This 3rd approach is nevertheless still consistent with the premise that Hashovas Aveida is still operable)

It appears to me that the overwhelming majority of Rishonim and Poskim accept the second approach:
1) Ramban in Toras ho'Odom (quoted anonymously almost verbatim by Tur YD 336)
2) Tur YD 336
3) Ritvo (in Chidushim) Yevomos 106a
4) Nemukei Yosef ibid quotes Ritvo and doesn't dispute
5) Meiri (Sanhedrin) hashovas aveida is the minimum obligation and Hashovas Gufo is Kal voChomer from Momono.
6) Sm''a CM 426:1
7) Chochmas Shlomo 426
8) Shulchon Aruch YD 336 seif 2&3 - the underlying principle is V'Hasheivoso not Lo Saamod. see Shach, Taz & Gro #7&12
9) Ran in Chidushei Sanhedrin ibid -(both pesukim are necessary; neither one has intrinsic revelation over other and m'Yitura d'Kro. (This is the 3rd approach mentioned above. as mentioned above, it is nevertheless consistent with the premise that Hashovas Aveida is still operable)

the raaya that I had tersely alluded to in my email of 5 weeks ago, is the fact that concerning Nedorim, the Mishna (halacho) permits, in a madir/mudar situation, to nevertheless administer Refuah as long as there is no external benefit other than that of providing the refuah itself. The Rambam and Bartenura, both adduce v'Hashevosa as the source - not Lo Saamod. The Tosfos Yomtov's reticence would also indicate that he is in agreement. ( granted that other Rishonim give a different reason for the Heter for refuah to be administered, but that's because a more basic more global Sevoro is available - not that they dispute the principle of the Rambam & Bartenura)

The Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvas Lo Saamod) draws attention to the astounding oddity, that in spite of the above quoted Rambam in Pirush HaMishnayos, nowhere in Yad HaChazoko does he bring Aveidas Gufo to be subsumed under Hashovas Aveida!!
We, on our own, might even add that Rambam's complete reticence in this regard in Rotzeach 1:7-end ;(especially #15) would seem, Stama k'Pirusho, that he retracted from his position in Pirush HaMishnayos and concludes with approach #1 above
Be that as it may, e ven if we take into account the ambiguity of the Rambam's position, we cannot determine more than a Sofeik as to what his final opinion is.

Therefore,whereas the overwhelming majority of Rishonim quoted above quite definitively state that Hashovas Gufo is subsumed under Hashovas Aveida; In the final analysis, it would appear to me that the normative Halocho is that indeed we are dealing with Hashovas Aveida.


3) What are the parameters of Hashovas Aveida and how they would apply in our context.

now to return to your original question: "When I discover a case of abuse and report this information to a rabbi or the police - am I free from future obligation? Or should I view that I have merely delegated the task to another but that the primarily responsibility remains with me."

as discussed above, the obligation of Hashovas Aveida differs in many details to those of Hashovas Gzeila/Gneiva and Shomrim. The pertinent detail that most pertains to our discussion is that the finder needs to restore it to a location where it is ''Mishtamer'' (CM 267:1,2). the concept of ''Mishtamer'' is probably best translated/interpreted by the word ''secured'' as in ''the house has been secured'' or "security services''which means protected and safe.this means that unless the Aveida is secured, ie that it is protected and safeguarded, the finder/discoverer has not fulfilled his obligation of v'Hasheivoso. Stating this in the reverse, if the finder should ''return' the Aveida to a place that is NOT ''mishtamer'' he has not discharged his obligation properly and is fully responsible as a Posheah for any mishap (lost, damage or stolen) that may occur.

a second detail of Hashovas Aveida that also would be germane to our discussion is the following: even if he returns the Aveida to a location that is indeed Mishtamer and thereby fulfilled his obligation, if, however, it should escape again from that mokom mishtamer, and the jeopardy of losing it recurs, the finder is once again obligated to retrieve and return it; and this is true even if reoccurs many times (''even a hundred times'')

Translating these details of obligation into our scenario of abuse, I believe that reporting the abuse to the police or Rabbi, would exempt the reporter from further obligation only if the reporting would reestablish full security (eg safety) for the victim(s). If the involvement and oversight of these or any other authority or person would restore safety, then indeed the responsibility and obligation would pass to the new "Shomer" completely and the first party would be totally exempt from further involvement.

Unfortunately, however, in our present milieu, in most cases, this hardly occurs. In most instances a report even to the police at most only initiates an investigation, (and I dare say that to a Rav the results are even more disheartening) but the abuse goes on unabated or even intensifies.

Even if the abuse would cease for a period of time after the report; if it should begin again, the initial report would not exempt the discovery of its reoccurrence from further reporting.

therefore in summary, the original responsibility remains in place on the original discoverer until the safety of the victim is assured.

Please note that Rashi's language, quoted on your blog, that seems to derive from Lo Saamod that you are still obligated even after "passing the baton" and others are acting on your behalf, I believe is inconclusive. Even though it would dovetail nicely with my presentation above, I believe that the thrust of Rashi is different. I believe that Rashi (like Meiri and Ran cited above) is bothered by the following question,"where do you see from this posuk more dimensions of obligation than from v'Hasheivosa Lo" Rashi proceeds to demonstrate this from the language of the posuk itself. But Rashi does not mean to offer any comment on whether your obligation continues even after the appointment of qualified others.


Sincerely,

R' Pinchos Yehoshua HaKohain

Friday, August 10, 2007

Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Authorized Translation

A number of months ago, I had been asked to host a young man for Shabbos by a kiruv organization. During the Shabbos meal he expressed great interest in everything Jewish. When I asked him about his background, he mentioned that even though he had been raised as a non‑Jew by his non‑Jewish mother - but since his father was Jewish he knew he was Jewish. I was shocked by the revelation but said nothing to the young man. After Shabbos I asked the director of the program why he had sent me a non‑Jew for Shabbos? He replied that he had received a halachic ruling from an American rav who allowed participation of a non‑Jew – who viewed himself as Jewish. This was so even though the program had a mixture of boys and girls and there was a danger of intermarriage of the participants. I have since found out that this is not an isolated incident but in fact reflects the decision by certain individuals in kiruv to proselytize those who have a Jewish father. I mentioned this information to Rav Moshe Sternbuch. After gathering information from other sources, he wrote the following psak which he requested me to translate and disseminate. Daniel Eidensohn

HaRav Moshe Sternbuch shlita

Kiruv for someone with a Jewish father and a non‑Jewish mother

You ask what are the guidelines for kiruv programs - that encourage Jews to fully observe the Torah - which take place in religious schools or organized events. In particular should a person who is not halachically Jewish - because his mother is not Jewish but his father is - be encouraged or even allowed to participate? I have heard that there are rabbis who not only permit it but even encourage it, They assert that especially those people who already view themselves as Jewish – even though they are mistaken - should be encouraged to participate because they might eventually convert.

My view is that it is absolutely forbidden to try to proselytize a non‑Jew even if he mistakenly views himself as Jewish. One obvious reason is that such an approach actually encourages intermarriage. If people with only a Jewish father are encouraged to participate in Jewish educational events it will convey the message that in some sense they are actually Jewish. That is because it is commonly accepted that only Jews are allowed to participate in these events. Thus this innovation crosses the red lines that have always been accepted by Torah true Jews. Typically the intermarried couple does not realize that they are constantly transgressing prohibitions which carry the punishment of kares [Rambam Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah 12:6]. But at least they need to be aware that intermarriage cuts them off completely from the Jewish people. If we allow and even encourage their non‑Jewish offspring to participate in Jewish educational events, they will feel that they still have an intimate connection to the Jewish people – G‑d forbid!

Another basis of concern is that I see this as a violation of following non‑Jewish practices (chukas akum). These rabbis are showing mercy to the Jewish father by a de-facto acknowledgment of the non‑Jewish concept of patrilineal descent. According to the unanimously held Torah view - any person with a non‑Jewish mother is completely non‑Jewish. Also the gratuitous granting of Jewish status and benefits to this non‑Jewish child violates the Torah prohibition of Lo Techanem.

These rabbis also try to justify their innovation by claiming that it is a solution to the massive problem resulting from the intermarriage of Russian Jews. They assert that one should encourage the conversion of the child of a non‑Jewish mother because the Russian Jews intermarried because of the unfortunate circumstances under the Communists. Therefore they are to be regarded as innocent children who grew up in captivity (tinok shenishba). They feel it is appropriate to show special mercy on these unfortunate people. I agree that they should be shown special sensitivity and leniencies. However this is only when they have at least distanced themselves from their intermarried parents or have already indicated an interest in genuine conversion. However if the parents insist on continuing their intermarriage, there is no halachic basis to be sorry for them. The child in that case is a non‑Jew and will remain as such.

Concerning the specific case that you mentioned of a student whose father is Jewish but the mother is a non‑Jew. One of the kiruv programs wants to include him – even though he still lives with his parents. You mentioned that a number of American rabbis have given halachic rulings that his participation in the program should be encouraged because he might convert. Do not associate yourself with their programs. You will receive much greater reward by disassociating from them than the possible benefit that might result.

I am being deliberately brief in my comments here - even though there is clearly much more to mention. That is because the plague of intermarriage has already spread here to the Holy Land – the palace of the King. The Holy One Blessed be He should help us and quickly bring into actuality our Redemption. Eliyahu should come and purify our camp so that we are fit to receive the countenance of our righteous Moshiach.

Rav Moshe Sternbuch - Kiruv for non-Jews

Monday, July 9, 2007

Rivash - Kabbala is not for everyone

Rivash(#157): You should know that my teacher and master R’ Peretz HaCohen never talked about Sefiros or concerned himself with them. I also heard from his mouth that R’ Shimshon of Keinon - who was the greatest scholar of his time and I also recall him even though I never saw him in person –said that “I pray with the thoughts of a child.” In other words he rejected the approach of the kabbalists who pray sometimes to one Sefira and on other occassions pray to a different Sefira – depending on what they want to accomplish with their prayers. The kabbalists in their own defense say that they are simply following the path of our Sages (Bava Basra 25b) who said, “One who wishes to become wise should turn to the south while wealth is obtained by turning to the north.” In other words the kabbalists say that one should direct one’s attention to the attribute of the right or the attribute of the left. Also when saying the Amida prayer they have particular concentration on a particular Sefira for each one of the berachos. However I - as a non-kabbalist - find all of this very strange and it seems like the heretical belief of secondary deities. I once heard a philosophically oriented person speaking in disparagement of the kabbalists, He said,” the Christians have their belief in the trinity and the kabbalists have their belief in the ten Sefiros.”… [However I also heard the kabbalistic view about Sefiros from] the elderly scholar Don Yosef Ibn Shushan… He was a great talmudic scholar and was familiar with philosophy and he was also a kabbalist. In addition he was very pious and careful in performing the mitzvos. Between us there was great love and affection. Once I asked him how he and the other kabbalists concentrated on one Sefira for a particular beracha and a different Sefira for another beracha? In addition I asked him whether the Sefiros were divinities that a person should pray to them? He replied, “G‑d forbid! Prayer should only be directed to G‑d.” He explained that it is comparable to a person who has a legal dispute and he asks the king to provide justice by asking the judge to hear his case. The person would not ask that the head of the treasury should be involved since that would obviously be a mistake. Similarly if the person was pleading that the king give him a present he would not request the involvement of the judge but one of the king’s attendants. If he was requesting wine from the king he would ask the involvement of the chief of the wine cellar. If he wanted bread he would ask for the involvement of the chief baker. Obviously he would only ask for the involvement of the minister or servant directly involved in what he needed. Prayer is exactly the same. It is obviously always directed to G‑d but there is also a direction of thought to obtain the required bounty from the Sefira which is connected with his needs. For the beracha of “Ahl hatzadikim” there is a direction of thought toward the Sefira which is called chesed (kindness) which is the attribute of mercy. On the other hand for the beracha of “Minim” (heretics) there is a concentration on the Sefira which is called gevura (strength) which is the attribute of strict justice. All of this was explained to me by this pious person concerning the intent of the kabbalists and it is a very good explanation. Nevertheless who should be involved in this approach? Isn’t it better to prayer with full concentration just to G‑d and He knows how to fulfill the requests? This is stated in Tehilim(37:5), “Commit your way to G‑d and trust in Him and He will do.” This is the view of the great master R’ Shimshon of Keinon whom I mentioned before. I also want to tell you in particular what said to me by my teacher and master Rabbeinu Nissim, “The Ramban was too much involved in the kabbalistic beliefs while I was not involved in that wisdom since I had not received knowledge of it from a kabbalistic teacher. Even if I see explanations based on the kabbalistic secrets of the Ramban but they don’t reveal the foundation principles of this wisdom. Thus they reveal a little but conceal even more. It is therefore highly likely that one would err in understanding these matters. Therefore I chose not to be involved in hidden matters”…



ריב"ש (סימן קנז): ...וגם הודעתיך, כי מורי הרב רבי פרץ הכהן ז"ל, לא היה כלל מדבר ולא מחשיב באותן הספירות. גם שמעתי מפיו, שהרב רבי שמשון מקינון ז"ל, שהיה רב גדול מכל בני דורו, וגם אני זכור ממנו ואם לא ראיתיו בעיני, והוא היה אומר: אני מתפלל לדעת זה התינוק; כלומר, להוציא מלב המקובלים, שהם מתפללים פעם לספירה אחת ופעם לספירה אחת, כפי ענין התפלה. והם אומרים, כי זה פי' מה שאז"ל (בבא בתרא כה:): הרוצה להתחכם, ידרים, להתעשר, יצפין; ר"ל, יכוין למדת ימין או למדת שמאל. גם בתפלת שמנה עשרה יש להם בכל אחת ואחת כונה לספירה ידועה. וכל זה הוא דבר זר מאד בעיני מי שאינו מקובל כמו הם; וחושבים, שזה אמונת שניות. וכבר שמעתי אחד מן המתפלספים מספר בגנות המקובלים, והיה אומר: הע"ג מאמיני השלוש, והמקובלים מאמיני העשיריות. וכבר קרה לי בהיותי בסרקסט"ה, שבא לשם החכם הישיש דון יוסף ן' שושאן ז"ל, אשר כבר ראיתי אותו בבלנסיא"ה, והוא היה חכם בתלמוד, וראה בפילוסופיא, והיה מקובל וחסיד גדול ומדקדק במצות, וביני ובינו היתה אהבה וחשק גדול. ופעם אחת שאלתי לו: איך אתם המקובלים, בברכה אחת מכוונים לספירה ידועה, ובברכה אחרת לספירה אחרת? ועוד, הכי יש אלהות לספירות, שיתפלל אדם להן? וענה לי: חלילה שתהיה התפלה כי אם לשם יתברך עלת העלות. אבל הדבר הזה כמו מי שיש לו ריב, ושואל מן המלך שיעשה לו דין, יבקש ממנו שיצוה אל היושב על המשפט שידין לו, לא שיצוה זה אל הסוכן הממונה על האוצרות, כי תהיה שאלתו בטעות. וכן אם ישאל מן המלך שיתן לו מתן, לא יאמר לו שיצוה אל השופט, אבל שיצוה אל הסוכן. וכן אם ישאל ממנו יין, יבקש שיצוה זה לשר המשקים; ואם ישאל לחם, יאמר לשר האופים; לא בהפך זה. כך הוא בענין התפלה, שהיא לעולם לעלת העלות, אלא שמכוין המחשבה להמשיך השפע לאותה ספירה המתיחסת לאותו דבר שהוא מבקש עליו. כמו שתאמר, שבברכת על הצדיקים יכוין לספירה הנקראת חסד, שהיא מדת רחמים, ובברכת המינין יכוין לספירה הנקראת גבורה, שהיא מדת הדין; והקש על זה. זה באר לי החסיד הנז' מכונת המקובלים, והנה טוב מאד. אמנם, מי מכניס אותנו בכל זה? הלא טוב להתפלל סתם לשם יתברך בכונה, והוא ידע באיזה דרך ישלים המבוקש; כמאמר הכתוב (תהילים לז:ה): גול על ה' דרכך, ובטח עליו והוא יעשה. וזה מה שאמר הרב הגדול רבי שמשון דקינון ז"ל, שהזכרתי למעלה. וכן הודעתיך מה שאמר אלי ביחוד מורי הרב רבינו נסים ז"ל, כי הרבה יותר מדאי תקע עצמו הרמב"ן ז"ל להאמין בענין הקבלה ההיא; ולזה איני תוקע עצמי באותה חכמה, אחר שלא קבלתיה מפי מקובל חכם. ואם ראיתי באורים על סודות הרמב"ן ז"ל, וגם הם אינם מגלי' שרשי החכמה ההיא, ומגלים טפח ומכסים כמה טפחים, וקרוב לטעות בדבר מהם; ולכן בחרתי לבל יהיה לי עסק בנסתרות...

Yaakov was called G-d

Megila (18a): R’ Eleazar said, “How do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He called Yaakov G‑d? Because it says in Bereishis(33:20), “And the G‑d of Israel called him [Yaakov] G‑d…



מגילה (יח.): ואמר רבי אחא אמר רבי אלעזר: מנין שקראו הקדוש ברוך הוא ליעקב אל? שנאמר (בראשית לג:כ) ויקרא לו אל אלהי ישראל. דאי סלקא דעתך למזבח קרא ליה יעקב אל ויקרא לו יעקב מיבעי ליה, אלא ויקרא לו ליעקב אל, ומי קראו אל אלהי ישראל.

Monday, July 2, 2007

RaP: Proselytization in Latin America


MISHPACHA Jewish Family
Weekly 2 Tammuz 5769
Pages 38 – 45"

RaP: Mishpacha magazine for hire continues in its path of publishing stories that promote proselytization, such as in the path with highlighting reaching out to the doubtful Subbotniks and the questionable Jews of Poland by Shavei Israel, and many such articles that seem to always land up mentioning the Anusim/Marranos in a good light, when their status is highly doubtful after 500 years of being lost.

Puerto Rico to Pupa: Rabbi Avraham Goldstein’s Journey from Delivery Boy to Ger Tzedek

By Barbara Bensoussan

With his Monsey residence; Chassidic ensemble of shtreimel, beard, and peyos; and juicy Yiddish, it’s hard to believe that Rabbi Avraham Goldstein’s roots lie in Puerto Rico. But that’s precisely where his unusual journey to Judaism began. Goldstein proceeded through a Williamsburg delivery route to an Orthodox conversion, to yeshivos in Baltimore and Brooklyn and the Pupa Chassidus. Now a violin dealer who’s made it his mission to advocate for South American geirim, he approaches all his diverse roles with an unbounded sense of joy in Judaism.

RaP: If this is all there was to his story it would be fine, but he has taken on more roles for himself than merely being a regular Jew.

"…fourteen-year-old Eduardo Torres…wanted nothing more in December of 1981 than to leave Puerto Rico and go to cold, inhospitable New York…some twenty-eight years have passed since then, but today Torres, better known in the community as Rabbi Avraham Goldstein, lives with his wife and children in Monsey, runs his own business and is ceaselessly busy helping geirim, baalei teshuvah, and anyone else who might benefit from his support."

RaP: Nowhere in this article is it made very clear who exactly gave him semicha to be ordained to undertake the rabbinical counseling and pastoral work, even though he spent time in a few yeshivas and some Chasidishe kehilas.

"Goldstein’s efforts to aid converted Jews and baalei teshuvah in South America ultimately culminated in the creation of an organization entitled Toiras Jesed [Chesed], which has the help and haskamah of Rav Chaim Eliezer Brown and Rav Yitzhak Mandel of Monroe"

RaP: What kind of "haskamah" is this? It should at least be in writing and should have been published with the article that is after all promoting this evidently proselytizing missionary cause, to give it proper Halachic legitimacy.

"Toiras Jesed even mounted a brand-new community designed specifically for geirim in the countryside of Puerto Rico

RaP: Throughout this article, the word "geirim" is used VERY loosely and ambiguously and it's very obvious that it often means people who WISH TO BECOME geirim, but who are not yet at the point where they can be Halachically and officially referred to as "geirim". In any case, why would people who have converted 100% need a separate community in far-off Puerto Rico? when almost all dayanim performing legitimate conversions insist that a gentile who has become a ger tzedek must live in a Torah community or be very near to one where geirim can lots of guidance, and not be detached from the world in a far-off Potemkin village of people who are being kept in seclusion it seems until they can become true gerim, but then, why the need to provide such a service at all isn't it according to Halacha to DISCOURAGE geirim and not to help them by building sponsored villages for them?

"In the Beginning. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Rabbi Goldstein’s original name was Torres. “The first Jew to come to America was named Luis de Torres…and Torres was a typical Marrano name.” Many of the early settlers of the New World were practicing Jews or Anusim who came fleeing the Inquisition, and lately it has become something of a fad among Hispanic groups to trace their Jewish origins…"

RaP: Mishpacha magazine for hire has a fatal weakness for somehow or other always bringing around the remotest subjects about dispersed "Jews" to the subject of the Anusim/Marranos. One wonders why that is so and why they are so invested in this very suspicious line of publishing? Hopefully it is not because of some kind of hidden ecumenical agenda that will eventually seek to make most of the Christian world into "Anusim" or whatnot.

"…Finally, almost two years after his arrival in New York, Rabbi Tress and Rabbi Weberman brought the sixteen-year-old young man to the mikveh, where he emerged as Avraham ben Avraham. He later changed his name to Goldstein after the first rabbi who taught him…Rav Yidel Leib Frank, a Breslover Dayan…asked Goldstein to attend his Shemini Atzeres seudah…at the seudah sat the woman who would later become his wife, a young lady from Mexico whose conversion had been overseen by Rav Frank himself. ”My wife is originally from Guadelajara…she was advised to complete her conversion in Israel."

RaP: Seems the whole world wants to become more Jewish except for the millions of born secular Jews who are running the other way as they assimilate, intermarry and apostasize by the millions. It is truly an olam hafuch!

"Reaching Out to Other Newcomers. Rabbi Goldstein’s “family” has expanded yet more as he reaches to other geirim… he formed an organization entitled “Toiras Chesed” (or “Toiras Jesed in Spanish spelling) to help other geirim, particularly those from Spanish-speaking countries. “It’s very hard for geirim in South America",

RaP: This is where the red line is crossed and he leaps into proselytizations as an organization. Note again, that the word "geirim" is used incorrectly here yet again because it's wannabe geirim that are the subject and not people who have undergone a full halachic geirus in front of an established bais din. Also, why is he busy with this? Who asked him to do this? Besides it being a good story-line and a money-magnet this is skating on thin ice whereby any rabbi who is also a ger is NOT allowed Halachically to perform geirus, and here he is obviously pushing to breaking point the boundaries to that..

"he explains, “because many of the Ashkenazim are not so religious, but most of the Sephardic communities hold by an old gezeirah that forbids their congregants to admit geirim"

RaP: No need to knock the Halachically Jewish Ashkenazim they are still 100% Jews and must be approached with total and pure ahavas Yisroel -(even if they be less religious, ga'ava is never nice, especially from a ger) --there is no "mitzva" to love a goy, even if he /she has ambitions to become a ger one day, they can always be encouraged to keep the sheva mitzvos of Bnai Noach which is good enough, they DO NOT require geirus at every twist and turn! -- and the Sefardim (they have their reasons and rabbonim who guided them on this) all in order to make bunch of Hispanic gentiles who are not even Jews to begin with look good. Mishpacha magazine for hire is showing a lack of sechel here for publishing this.

…”It’s hard to find anyone to convert you...”

RaP: And so it should be! This is good Halachically and good for the Jews! Who needs conversion spas and sponsorship of geirim? Is Uncle Tom Kaplan or his nephew of Shavei Israel sponsoring this? Perhaps some Chasidim with cash to burn who want to show that not just Israel can attract and settle geirim (like they recently did with the Yemenites they brought to Monsey)? The article should make clear who is REALLY sponsoring this financially and who is behind paying for the story to be published in Mishpacha magazine for hire yet again on such a theme, is it maybe an Evangelical Christian group? Anything is possible in this day and age.

"Goldstein points out that if there was a large choice of shuls and mikvaos it wouldn’t be a problem"

RaP: Again, as far as geirus, there is NO "problem" because it is good Halachicaly and good for the Jews that these barriers exist. Judaism does not need a flood of Hispanic or any geirim from this.

"but in South America the options are more limited."

RaP: This is GOOD Halachically, and good for the Jews, and NOT "bad" as his statement and Mishpacha make it seem

"In Mexico City, he claims Rabbi Jabra’s shul is the only one that allows geirim to belong. “Rav Pinchas Rabinowitz and Rav Tropper, who do conversions in Monsey, are really trying to stir things up in Mexico to make life easier for geirim,” Goldstein says…"

RaP: Aha, so Tropper and one of his enablers is now part of this story. It figures. Seems Tropper can't resist going down the path of stirring up trouble anywhere and everywhere there is a crack and they let him in. Doesn't Tropper have anything better to do than to facilitate yet another wrong-headed and misguided proselytization effort now in Latin America, when there are millions of born Halachic Jews who are secular closer to home in the USA and Israel who need kiruv.

"Because the options for geirim in South America are so limited,"

RaP: Again, this is good Halachically and good for the Jews, because it has never been the goal or desire of any rov or true manhig in Yisroel to help potentially limitless numbers of goyim become geirim. "Goldstein set about creating his own special community for geirim and baalei teshuvah of all backgrounds in Puerto Rico

RaP: Who asked him to do this? Is it Halachically permissible?

"With the help of other geirim and some sympathizers in New York, he raised funds for his Toiras Jesed organization and bought a small tract of land in Myaguec, Puerto Rico…He has already begun helping establish similar communities in Venezuela and Colombia "

RaP: Who are the mysterious enablers and financiers who are pushing this and obviously using him as the front man, so that they can avoid getting copped for the Halachic avla they are doing by setting up proselytizing communities?

"In other locations in South America, he helps geirim hook up with sympathetic rabbis and community members. “There us such a hunger for Torah,” he maintains, “I went to Colombia for Shabbos Chanukah, invited by 150 people who want to become geirim…"

RaP: Finally, some accuracy. These people are wannabe geirim not the real thing yet. Funny how it's gentiles nowadays who thirst for Torah yet secular Jews couldn't be bothered with it. Olam hafuch.

"In Venezuela, there’s a group of about fifteen families living in the middle of nowhere, who learned about Torah on the Internet and all want to become Jewish. You should see them! They’re all dressed like Jews, and they look like a bunch of Sephardim".”

RaP: Most Hispanics look like "Sefardim", so what? it's no reason to roll out a long-distance red carpet to welcome them as honorary Jews. And yes, the Internet is making a huge impact in the way people learn and live, just take this blog for example...

"Goldstein qualifies that he mostly works with people who have been referred to him by rabbis. “But lots of people approach me, because they see me as a ger who is stable and successful, who has a good track record. The rabbis trust my judgment when I send people to them, and they in turn often send people to me".”

RaP: All this activity, from Goldstein's perspective, is basically for one purpose to promote proselytization which is highly controversial and problematic Halachically and will be bad for the Jews down the line as these nebulous cases are lined up for factory-like conversion in conversion-mills that he is trying to help and grease and kick-start into action.

"Kiruv in Colombia. Reb Avraham sharing his passion for Judaism with local geirim."

RaP: "Kiruv" has NOTHING to do with geirim as such. Kiruv in its strict and classical definition means reaching out to secular and less religious BORN JEWS and bringing them closer to Torah-true Yiddishkeit. On the other hand missionizing and proselytizing to gentiles goes against thousands of years of normative Jewish life, practice and history. "Moving beyond the superficial…

”Judaism is like an air conditioner. You have the mechanical part and the part that brings in fresh air. As I see it, many of us often get too caught up in the mechanics of the system…as a ger…my job is to bring in lots and lots of fresh air.”

RaP: This is one of funniest and yet most revealing comments. Does he honestly think that bringing infinite numbers of Hispanic geirim into Klal Yisroel is like an "air conditioner" bringing in "fresh air" ??? -- has this man never heard of kashim geirim leYisroel kesapachas and all the problems it has and is creating for the world-wide Jewish and Torah communities ??? as they grapple existentially with the onslaughts of all sorts of schemes for gentiles to gain entry into Klal Yisroel, even with the help of ultra-haredi well-meaning rabbis who act more like Christian missionaries, lehavdil than like humble Jews focused on minding their own affairs who should be busy with their own business and not running around the world looking under every rock and in every village if there are any misnamed "lost Jews" or wannabe geirim to bring home like trophies from the hunt.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

EJF - proselytizing intermarried couples/ RaP



RaP: For quite a long time now, the Agudist politically correct American YATED NEEMAN has avoided any mention of EJF and Tropper and has not published any infomercials obviously designed by paid EJF publicists.

"Eternal Jewish Family Addresses Conversion Crisis" "The Jewish Press Friday, June 5, 2009 Page 61

RaP: Only EJF is addressing this crisis? Every last Orthodox rabbi in Israel, Europe and America is grappling with it! The articles reads as a paternalistic and infantilizing event for those who were paid to show up. Who they were and the numbers are not given in the article.

"By Rochel Weinstein

Understanding the crisis in Jewish conversions, Israel's Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar convened an emergency meeting last week to halt what many see as the continued erosion of the nation's policies regarding conversion that are threatening the spiritual existence of the Jewish people."

RaP: What is the purpose of juxtaposing Rav Amar's meetings with this EJF event? It makes no sense that Amar who is an Israeli Zionist rabbi and should and does work with the RCA Zionist rabbis in America should be used a prop for the goings on at a very Agudist non-Zionist gathering.

"On the same day, in Morristown, New Jersey, Eternal Jewish Family began a two-day interactive seminar for educators and professionals from leading kiruv organizations as part of its ongoing effort to address the fallout from improper conversions."

RaP: May as well have quoted a Chabad rabbi at nearby Morristown itself where they have a huge rabbinical college and they will and do realistically be dealing with conversions.

"At the seminar Rabbi Dovid Jacobs, executive director of EJF, clarified that a basic tenet of EJF's work is to ensure that potential sincere converts wishing to build true Torah homes are directed towards proper halachic conversions."

RaP: Of which EJF seeks to have the controlling monopoly with rabbis answering to Tropper.

"Rabbi Leib Tropper, chairman of EJF's rabbinic committee, stressed that, while inyonei geirus can be controversial, Klal Yisroel has an obligation to meet the challenges presented."

RaP: Much of everything in Judaism is controversial. Kashrus, gittin, chinuch, sexual abuse, machlokes abounds etc, but in this case Tropper is deflecting preemptively the well-known criticism that has been leveled at him by the BADATS for example and made him a controversial lightning rod as this Blog has recorded for over two years.

"Rabbi Tropper dispelled the belief that our mainstream yeshiva and Bais Yaakov systems have been spared any fallout from improper conversions."

RaP: Nothing is perfect, this is his typical sensationalism and looking for that moment to play with a captive audience's heads. Tropper's Kol Yaakov yeshiva is also less than perfect as many know.

"Through his "straight talk" session, Rabbi Tropper conveyed the importance in the conversion process of determining if a prospective convert "is willing to not just change what he does, but also change the very essence of who he is."

RaP: To admit that Tropper gave a "straight talk" session" is startling and worrisome. Did anyone challenge his bullying and intimidating ways? Or were they too afraid since they were all paid off to come there by Tropper's banker Tom Kaplan to eat drink and pontificate?

"Harav Reuven Feinstein, shlita, expressed that "All Jews count. Klal Yisroel is obligated to utilize all its resources to be mekarev ba'alei teshuva and ensure the proper lineage of every Jew."

RaP: One does not "mekarev ba'alei teshuva" since if they are ba'alei teshuva they have already been mekareved. Pure condescension. Highly unlikely if any baalei teshuva or geirim could be inspired from all the talk here. This conference is probably one of the best weapons to keep rabbis from being effective in conversions and kiruv with all the condescension, infantalization and paternalism flying around in the grandiose statements from "Mount Olympus" style pep-talks.

"He noted that EJF has filled a need in the world of kiruv which regularly confronts issues regarding the yichus of baalei teshuva.

RaP: How so? EJF worries about conversions and in fact makes the problems of confused yichus even worse by advertising to recruit limitless amounts of gentiles, whether hitched to Jews or not, and make them into super-duper Halachic Jews. This is something Klal Yisroel surely does not need.

"Harav Feinstein and others mentioned the psak that permits one to be mekarev the non-Jew in intermarriage for the sake of simultaneously being mekarev the Jewish spouse."

RaP: Have any of them ever written a formal thorough universally agreed upon and recognized teshuva validating or explaining this so-called "psak"? Seems the phrase "universal standards" does not apply to this cockamamie "psak".

"Harav Shmuel Kaminetsky, shlita mentioned the "vast problem we are dealing with here in America because of intermarriage and conversion."

RaP: Platitudes. This is obvious. The question is why he now comes to EJF events? [...]

"Rabbi Nota Schiller compared geirus to any other field in medicine that requires expertise. "We must protect the Jewish people - we are all bonded with a shared destiny. We have the obligation to know, like a specialized surgeon knows, how to handle these situations."

RaP: He forgets he is not lecturing at Ohr Somyach and is preaching to the convert, as it were. So now all kiruv workers must become like "surgeons"? When will they have time to do actual kiruv after 20 years in rabbinical/surgery/conversion school?

"Rabbi Peretz Eichler presented a captivating video with case histories of intermarried couple who, through the assistance of EJF, went on to build true Torah homes. It demonstrated how EJF has helped raise conversion standards across the globe."

RaP: Soon Spielberg will be invited to explain his marriage to a "converted"shiksa with his great videos.

"The conference also addressed the emotional havoc and fallout of an invalid geirus."

RaP: The greatest havoc in the last year concerning conversions was when Rav Sherman took the plunge and annulled thousands of conversions of Rav Druckman summarily without Druckman being given a chance to put his side of the case. So now this has dragged in the Israeli Supreme Court who want to know what was going on. Next time, Rav Sherman, look before you leap, even
if you are 99.99% right and doing it leshem shomayim.

"We have to do what we can so that there can be an end to the emotional pain
caused by improper conversion,"

RaP: Sure.

"said Rabbi Senderovic, Rosh Kollel and Rosh Bais Din of Milwaukee. He stressed however, that "Of course we must have sympathy for those tragedies - but it must be based in Torah."

RaP: What "sympathy".. who here has true sympathy or empathy? This was a meeting where the knives were out. Tropper was yelling his straight talk and Rav Eisenstein was issuing yet more ultimatums. No sympathy here.

"Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein, yoshev rosh Vaad L'Inyonei Giyur in Jerusalem, referred to the historical controversies involving geirus that have led to a vast decay in 's standards in conversion and insisted that, by definition, there can be "no compromises whatsoever in the conversion process."

RaP: He's back with Tropper again. It's in the open now that in Brooklyn they have guy going around the shulls and yeshivas trying to paste up the English fraudulent anti-Bomzer letter. It is known that all Rav Eisenstein cares about is creating Armageddon with the RCA and knocking them out of Orthodoxy once and for all. Bomzer is just another chapter in his war on the RCA. It is surprising that they take it all so quietly. It might be too late for them if they stay quiet for much longer.

"Rabbi Yonasan Rosenblum, columnist and noted speaker, said that proper geirus is not a detail; rather, "It's the very definition of who we are." He quoted Rabbi Mendel Weinbach that, "Defining how a person becomes Jewish also defines the very essence of being a Jew," stressing that "If we don't have standards for geirus, it will disappear."

RaP: Platitudes, somewhere between the amiable banter of Nota Schiller and Rav Kaminetsky.
"Rabbi Dovid Schochet, senior member of Toronto's beis din, took on the crucial task of delineating the extent to which batei din can rely on the input of rabbanim who sponsor prospective converts."

RaP: If rabbanim won't sponsor converts then who will? This is a delicate balance because many rabbanim are able talmidei chachamim too.

"Rabbi Mordechai Fishberg, a recognized expert in the field, shared curriculum designed to educate intermarried couple who are committed to halachic proper conversion and described the high standards of learning that must be in place in order for them to build true Torah homes."

RaP: A Ger is not required to know the Shulchan Oruch nor to go to daf yomi. It's the kabbolas ol mitzvas in PRINCIPLE and the commitment to actualize it as required, but full knowledge of every last bit of Torah never was and is not required for a valid conversion. How much was Ruth the Moabite required to know to be accepted as a convert? She is the prototype for converts basically. A valid bais din can go lechumra or lekula in accepting converts, there is leeway, and that is just what Rav Eisenstein and Tropper want to destroy.

"Rabbi Dovid Gottlieb, senior faculty member of Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem, underscored the importance for geirim to be trained to understand the importance of consulting gedolei Yisroel regarding every aspect of their lives."

RaP: Where does it say there is such a "requirement"? Another person who thinks he is talking in the Ohr Somayach auditorium. Next he will say that male converts must agree to wear hats and jackets during the week and kappotes on Shabbos and the females should wear their hair in pony tails or shave their heads, not go to college, and not drive cars like the ladies in Bnai Brak or Williamsburg. None of these things are required foir a valid conversion.

"Rabbi Doron Kornbluth, noted lecturer and author of Why Marry Jewish, used statistics and facts to describe the reality of the devastation of intermarriage as "a huge problem that has been ignored."

RaP: All this is known already for decades.

"He appealed to the rabbanim as the only hope for college students to ultimately marry Jewish, explaining that"

RaP:Are these the same rabbanim who are being asked to save the kids but who will be given the boot if they sponsor a convert in front of a bais din? Can't have it both ways. Either the rabbanim are needed and can be trusted and enabled or they cannot.

"we are dealing with a massive population of kids coming through intermarried homes. In another generation, the Jewish population will only consist of Orthodox and intermarried - that's literally where we're headed."

RaP: This too is all very well know for a long time now.

"Rabbi Mordechai Neugroschel, who lectures around the world regarding kiruv and regularly serves as a tour guide through concentration camps in Europe,"

RaP: As all kiruv workers know lumping kiruv with the Holocaust is not always the best mix. Is this man an entrepeneur or does he want to help deal with conversions? Not quite clear from this last confusing bit.

"pointed out that tempering standards in conversion not only sets up others for emotional havoc,"

RaP: The people he was talking to are NOT the ones creating the havoc so why is he giving a guilt trip speech?

"but also negates the struggles of those in the past who suffered tremendous mesiras nefesh to remain Jewish."

RaP: Again, as any kiruv worker knows appealing to past Jewish suffering is not a good selling point. NCSY, Chabad and Aish HaTorah know that and that is why they succeed terrifically at kiruv, and they have no need for EJF events and stayed away from this one for good reasons.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

R' Tzadok Prophecy was displaced by Chochma

רב צדוק (מחשבות חרוץ - אות יז): ומשנסתלקה הנבואה דנראה לי דהיה זה על ידי התגברות כח החכמה דתורה שבעל פה אחר דהדר קיבלוה בימי אחשורוש מאהבת הנס בתוקף וחשק הלב, דתחילה היה עיקר הכפיה דהר כגיגית על תורה שבעל פה שצריך יגיעה רבה להוציא דברי תורה מחכמת הלב ולעמוד על אמיתות דברי תורה, וכמו שאמרו בתנחומא פרשת נח (ג') יעוין שם בפנים בזה, ואז קיבלו זה ברצון ליגע ולעמול בתורה שבעל פה, ועל ידי זה זכו לנבואת החכמים להשיג הכל ברוח הקודש שבלבם:

ואף על פי שהוא מדריגה יותר קטנה מכל מקום ההשגה יותר גדולה, וברוח הקודש יכולים להשיג הרבה יותר במדריגות יותר גבוהות, כי השגת כל נביא הוא רק כפי מדריגתו, וכל נבואת הנביאים הוא רק בנצח והוד שמשם יניקת הנביאים כנודע, מה שאין כן רוח הקודש הוא המשכה מקודש העליון חכמה עליונה שלמעלה מעלה הרבה מהשגת כל הנביאים אף נבואת משה רבינו ע"ה כנודע, וכידוע בכתבי האריז"ל שגילה הרבה דברים שלמעלה ממדריגת השגת הנביאים, כפי מה שכתב בעצמו בשער הנבואה, ולא שהנביאים לא השיגו זה, רק שמצד הנבואה שהיא ההשפעה הגלויה מן השמים לא השיגו זה, אבל השיגו מצד החכמה ברוח הקודש שהיה בקרבם גם כן דעל ידי זה יכולין להשיג כל הנעלמות, אלא שבדור הנביאים היה עיקר החשק וההשתוקקות של ראשי ישראל וצדיקי הדורות לנבואה שהוא השגה ברורה שהוא מן השמים, מה שאין כן השגת חכמה שהוא נעלמת שאפשר שאינן אלא דמיונות כוזבות של עצמו ולא תורת אמת ברוח הקודש, והם חשקו לדבר ברור וידיעה ברורה, ולכך לא היה אז התפשטות החכמה דתורה שבעל פה כל כך בישראל:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Prophecy versus Ruach Hakodesh

My current issue is the relationship between prophecy and ruach hakdoesh. While it seems to be obvious to most people that prophecy is the higher level, in recent sources the reverse seems to be true. This is based on the gemora in Bava Basra (12a) that a sage is superior to a prophet. The distinction between them is that ruach hakodesh is the ultimate form of wisdom while prophecy is a revelation based upon metaphor. Wisdom can penetrate deeper but is open to error. Prophecy is not as clear but contains no doubts. Ruach Hakodesh is represented by R' Akiva while prophecy is represented by Moshe. To be continued