Monday, February 25, 2008

A Deeper Look at the current EJF Website and Troubling Issues it Raises:

Recipients and Publicity wrote:

Here we have an organization that has taken upon itself one of the most responsible jobs, geirus, and one would think that in inviting prospective clients (primarily gentiles married to Jews) its website would go beyond mere platitudes and generalities.

With all the tens of millions of dollars already pumped into EJF and its events, one would think that they would have not only a state of the art website up and running but that it would also offer complete transparency of who are the ones selling the goods.

Sure, the logo on top of each page proclaims that EJF is a "[Star of David that is almost an Israeli army-look-alike with the sword and olive leaves in the center] Eternal Jewish Family: THE LILLIAN JEAN KAPLAN JEWISH PRIDE THROUGH EDUCATION PROJECT" but has absolutely no listing of staff or who will be taking care of applicants once they apply on the blank automated fill-in "application" page at

The only rabbis mentioned are on the expanded "about" page at Two being deceased (Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l and Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l). Three alive, but two, very, very old and living in Israel: Rav Yosef Sholom Eliyashuv (born 1910) and Rav Shmuel Wosner (born 1913), with only a somewhat younger Rav Reuven Feinstein from America named in its history.

So in effect, the two deceased rabbis cannot be cited as "mashgichim" of any sort and the two much older rabbis from Israel cannot be "mashgichim" of what goes on in EJF either. So that leaves Rabbi Reuven Feinstein, who is very close with EJF's sole rabbi, the energized Rabbi Tropper and probably his main rabbinic ally.

So, just going by EJF's own website, there is no real known halachic supervisor (besides the omniscient Rabbi Tropper) to oversee who EJF is taking under its wings and preparing for conversions!

This is alarming because Rabbi Reuven Feinstein has his hands full running his large yeshiva MTJ on Staten Island, in NYC, and he has so many other duties such as attending Agudath Israel of America meetings, being mesader kiddushin at many people's weddings, and attending all sorts of functions. It is hard to imagine that he is personally intervieing each EJF applicant. Indeed, the same applies to Rabbi Tropper. He is a Rosh Yeshiva and he must be at his Yeshiva Kol Yaakov. He gives many guest lectures all over the USA. He has to raise funds (well maybe less now that the Dr. Tom Kaplan is taking this burdern off his shoulders) and it cannot be that he has the time to thoroghly screen each and every potential convert.

Rabbi Tropper may want and wish and think that he is probably at this time *trying* to keep his finger in every applicant's process because the situation is a bit dicy with the BADATZ having come out openly against him and the EJF and all it would take is for one phoney conversion process that EJF helped to blow up in his face and that would in turn blow his whole EJF dream out of the water. No-one said this would be easy.

Anyhow, coming back to the EJF website. Here are some issues to consider (as of February 25th, '08):

*No mention of staff. Even on the "about us" page.

*No mention of who is on the Board of Directors, if indeed there is one.

*No mention of a rabbinical advisory board. In fact not even Rabbi Leib Tropper, the rabbi most behind this effort is mentioned.

*No mention of what type of organization this is. Is it a USA 501 (c) 3 IRS approved not-for-profit charity? Does it take donations from the public? If Madonna the singer who is in with the Kabbalah Center sent EJF or the Lillian Jean Kpalan Foundation a big donation (to help converts, like her maybe, as she took on the Jewish name of "Esther") would anyone know if it was either accepted or, more hopefully, rejected? In fact who donates to EJF and keeps it going? Is it a different kind of private foundation? Is it an ancillary of the "Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation" or what is its legal status *exactly* in the USA so that its records and files can be examined such as all such entities are according to USA, FOI (Freedom Of Information) rules allow.

*A link to "" which in turn links to a dead link for Yeshiva Kol Yaakov (what does that mean, that there is "nothing" at the center of all this, or that the center does not wish to be linked to its misbegotten step-child?) but on the link there is no real information about that organization either, just platitudes about how great Rabbi Tropper is (self-praise is no recommendation, the saying goes) and links to past Kol Yaakov Yeshiva newsletters with more articles by Rabbi Tropper and notes from grateful students, and oh yes, Kol Yaakov will be opening a branch in Yerushalayim soon and, naturally, Rabbi Tropper will be the Rosh Yeshiva (he wears many hats) and he will be making frequent trans-continental hops back and forth. So again, when does he have time to run EJF and screen the many candidates for conversion? (And note again, that the link to the heart of Rabbi Tropper's world, the Kol Yaakov Yeshiva, does not work and says nothing.)

*On the page "ask the rabbi" page, there is just a seforim shrank picture (typical, does that mean that one will commune with those deceased rabbis inside the seforim to get an answer?) and on the "lectures" page there is a photo of Rabbi Tropper but not his name, it says: "Coming Soon" -- hopefully it will not be "the second coming" either!

*The "Batei Din List" is perhaps the most troubling page of all as looking at the whole page one sees: First the "[Star of David that is almost an Israeli army-look-alike with the sword and olive leaves in the center] Eternal Jewish Family: THE LILLIAN JEAN KAPLAN JEWISH PRIDE THROUGH EDUCATION PROJECT" and then "EJF Approved Batei Din - List of EJF Approved Batei Din" and it states that: "The following batei din are known to EJF to be using universally accepted standards.
We would like to note that EJF does not perform conversions but works with existing batei din that are operating with the standards that have been handed to us by Gedolei Torah"

Fine mumbo-jumbo, and how would a prospective convert who knows very little about Yiddishkeit have any context to make sense of such a statement, like "they do, but they don't"! Very confusing and confused, and no doubt deliberately so. BUT at no point on the website is anyone told WHO exactly did, and does, the ongoing checking of the Batei Din and "approving" their standards. Who in fact is the "Executive Director" in the EJF office that does the work and who helps him get his job done. Is there no staff or is it a mix of EJF/Horizons/Kol Yaakov Yeshiva"/Rabbi Tropper's study&home&cell? Who are his assitants, and hopefully EJF is run by a "he", because a "she" has no ne'emanus in a beis din, sorry it's just a rule of halacha that beis din has to follow.

The list is impressive and as of Feb 25, '08 there are 14 of them one being in Israel and one in Canada. So 12 are in the USA. But who and when and where the "hechsherim" given to these batei din? Does EJF issue a written "seal of approval" that a prospective convert must and should obtain upon request a copy of from these batei din? And indeed, do Batei Din need "hechsherim" from another source especially one like EJF that is NOT a beis din itself, not a Jewishly or Halachically recognized religious body or council of any sort, that does not even state who its rabbis are, besides Rabbi Tropper, and those it deems to approve of its founding, the two late deceased rabbis, two very old ones in Israel and one American Rosh Yeshiva.

This is deception and geneivas da'as of the highest order.

What is this? Leitzonus and an insult to intelligence? An organization has the chutzpah to "evaluate" and "judge" and publicise batei din and does not say which rabbis it has on staff who have done this and who anyone can talk to (besides Rabbi Tropper of course).

Dumbfounding and one wonders why the listed batei din are going along with this, and hopefully it's not because they want donations from Tom Kaplan because that would be shochad...and it is hard to stop thinking when the EJF does not spell out who it uses and who it has on call, not just in Rabbi Tropper's rolodex, but objective outside Rabbonim, and EJF can trumpet is that rivers of money are flowing from the coffers of the "Lillian Jean Kaplan" Foundation to EJF which then sets itself up as the "supreme council" of which batei din are good or not. To repeat, this is chutzpah in motion!

Here is the complete list of batie din on the EJF website:

Name, Rabbi and Telephone number:

*Beis Din of Yerushalayim: Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein 011-972-225-322047

*Beis Din of Monsey: Rabbi Pinchus Rabinowitz 845-425-1315

*Beis Din of Philadelphia: Rabbi Aharon Felder 215-745-2968

*Beis Din Merkaz HaRabbanim: Rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik 312-543-3945

*Beis Din of Cleveland: Rabbi Yisroel Grumer 216-321-5002

*Beis Din of New York: Rabbi Yisroel Dov Webster 718-236-9244

*Beis Din of RCC- Los Angeles: Rabbi Avraham Union 213-389-3382 ext 13

*Beis Din of Milwaukee: Rabbi Mendel Senderovic 414-234-8635

*Beis Din of Montreal, Canada: Rabbi Yonoson Binyomin Weiss 514-739-6363

*Beis Din of Miami: Rabbi Mendel Senderovic 414-234-8635 (Rabbi Senderovic is also listed above for Beis Din of Milwaukee. Is he an itinerant dayan?)

*Beis Din of Lakewood: Rabbi Dov Kahan 732-905-59220

*Beis Din of Dallas: Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried 214-987-3282

*Beis Din of Houston: Rabbi Yehoshua Wender 713-729-8870

*Beis Din of Cincinnati: Rabbi Zelig Scharfstein 513-731-4671

A quick look at these batei din will show that some are very new and function under the auspices of Litvishe yeshivishe rabbis mosly from "out-of-town" (i.e. outside of the main centers of Torah life) in communities tied to out-of-town rabbis and kollelim involved or tied in with kiruv rechokim. It even looks like it's a system of "kiruv-related batei din" designed to help the spouses and or partners of people who are getting into Yiddishkeit through kiruv programs to obtain conversions for their non-Jewish spouses/partners.

This is all very worrying, especially since the EJF website has said that in combination with Rabbi Tropper's "Horizons" outreach efforts, EJF will function as a kiruv/conversion effort and it sure looks as if Rabbi Tropper and EJF have lined up a series of Batei Din (except for Rabbi Eisenstein's in Eretz Yisroel -- a more complex effort -- that should not have gotten involved with EJF and will hopefully still break its ties with EJF now that the BADATZ has come out against the EJF) that will work with EJF's and Rabbi Tropper's goals of "kiruv and geirus" now set to march in "lock-step" and being a very radical departure from classical kiruv and from the autinimous of batei din, theta are now sold and depicted as "single-issue" batei din, in effect a "conglomorate geirus factory with local sub-divions" instead of the classical approach of allowing potential geirim to FIND THEIR OWN WAY without outside help from EJF or anyone to deal with each case on its merits and NOT as part of a greater and broader strategic scheme to help non-Jews get converted for their Jewish spouses and partners in kiruv programs. The Halacha has always been to ACTIVELY DISCOURAGE geirim, that is the din, and to allow the DIVINE Hashgocha to take its own route and that if it is bashert for a goy to become a ger tzedek then leave it to H-shen to show the way, so that there is no need for active organizations in this field that are mimicking the Reform policy of welcoming all and sundry non-Jews as a "solution" to assimilation, intermarriage or any other population challenge or self-inflicted human tragedies.

No wonder Rabbi Tropper and the EJF website is not saying who the active rabbinical board (if there even is one) is and who is giving them *their* hechsher now. But one thing we do know now, they do NOT have the hechsher of the BADATZ but to the contrary the BADATZ has pasulled (negated) them and has called upon any rabbis who assiciate with EJF to wihdraw from them.

Hopefully the BADATZ has also sent its letter asking rabbis to withdraw to the 14 honorable batei din and its rabbis listed by EJF on its website list and hopefully too the rabbonim and dayonim on that list will respect the BADATZ as much as, hopefully more than, they respect the secular-funded and mysteriously run EJF with its meaningless endorsements of batei din yet.

To allow a non-Halachic organization, in the sense that it itself says that it does not do coversions and it's just a "project" of the "Lillian Jean Kaplan} Foundation, to not just give mere opinions but to actually "approve" and sit in judgment as a de facto "ubber-beis din" of other batei din, is a perilous and dangerous situation for any Torah-studying, Halacha-observant, beis din-respecting Jew!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Is Eternal Jewish Family the center of the universe?

Recipients and Publicity wrote:

Dear anonymous who states that "Guma Kaplan Aguiar is the son of Ellen Kaplan."

Please do not misunderstand anything, but because the EJF has inserted itself into the heart of the matter of Halachic conversions to Judaism it is vital that the backgrounds of all the people involved with EJF itself on a leadership and policy level be known and beyond reproach.

In that spirit, can you tell us who the "Aguiar" family is and what is the meaning of the highly unusual name "Guma"? And could you clarify who is the person from the Kaplan family that Rabbi Tropper helped to get a conversion for that has been said in a various circles was the catalyst and reason Tom Kaplan got onto the conversion bandwagon together with Rabbi Tropper?

Clarification of these questions will help to resolve any conflict of interest issues that may be hindering the perception in the eyes of some astute observers that the motivation behind the EJF efforts to convert gentile spouses is not entirely altruistic but has some taint of self-vindication.

Your mentioning of the "Nefesh BeNefesh" program whereby some Christian groups contribute to the air tickets to fly people to Israel for Aliyah is presumably meant as a "defense" of EJF to convert gentiles and make them into Jews. But don't you see the absurdity of that comparison because Nefesh BeNefesh is not interfering with any Halachic process nor is it setting itself up to influence the outcome of mass conversions to batei din. The only shaila is if it is permissible to accept money from Christian charities to assist Jews to move to Israel and it is known that Rav Eliashic has clearly ruled that it is ok to take that money from them to help Jews make aliyah.

In a similar way, the American government gives billions of dollars to Israel and almost all Americans, in and out of government are Christinas, so does that mean that the Israeli government or even Jews in America should not take aid from the American government because basically all Americans are Christians and America is a Christian country? Obviously not.

Anyhow, if EJF were to switch it's priorities and either replace the money coming from Christian sources or give to Nefesh BeNefesh instead of it's desire to involve itself in mass-produced and organized conversions to Judaism, then it would be hailed as a truly great organization, just as Sir Moses Montefiore, through his marriage into the wealthy Rothchild family, got himself and the Rothchild's involved in improving the quality of life of the poor Jews in Palestine under the Turks and with the Rothchilds they became known as great investors and helpers of the Jewish people who wished to live and settle in Eretz Yisroel and for which they are held in the highest regard by the Jewish people until this day.

There are so many others to emulate. How about the Reichman family that put tens of millions of dollars at the disposal of Rav Shach zt"l to help Charedi causes so that he would not have to beg the secular Zionist leadership in Israel for funds? Or even not for tzedaka, how about emulating the great non-Jewish investor Warren Buffet who invested a few billion in Israel? These are all admirable avenues for wealthy people and billionares to invest either their capital or philanthropy/tzedaka in Eretz Yisroel and its people. But not to get involved in matters that per force must lead to a head on clash with Halachic bodies, such as batei din as the BADATZ that have ruled that EJF's goals are beyond the Halachic pale and represents a subversion of the status quo of the way Klal Yisroel deals with this crisis.

There are many crises burning in the midest of Klal Yisroel today.

There is a shidduch crisis. There is a dropout crisis. There is a divorce crisis. There are many crises and yes intermarriage and false conversions is one of them. But in no case has or can Klal Yisroel respond with "organizational" efforts in the vain hope that any given organization will solve any of the crises. Ultimately, problems are solved by individuals, families and one congregation or kehillah at a time.

A big Rebbe can talk to his Chasidim and a Rosh Yeshiva can talk to his yeshiva, but Rabbi Tropper and EJF cannot talk to all of Klal Yisroel and the Jewish people as if they ere addressing a local meeting of Rabbi Tropper's Kol Yaakov Yeshiva's board of directors.

Therefore, just as:

No one organization can solve the shiddusch and singles crisis.

No one organization has solved the dropout and teens at risk crisis.

No organization can stop or help the divorce or sholom bayis crisis.


No single organization can stop or change intermarriage and the challenge of creating a universal standard or to encourage conversions of non-Jews married to Jewish spouses.

Sure, some people have set up large kiruv organizations. Some large some small. But they are essentialy involved in educating ignorant people. There primary job is to educate ignorant Jews about Yiddishkeit in the hope of making them frum. Success varies. Setting up a Ba'al teshuva Yeshiva is also commendable. What can be wrong with setting up a makom Torah to teach other Yidden about Yiddishkeit?

But Orthodox Kiruv organizations cannot start functioning like Reform temples who actively seek to accept the gentile spouses and "partners" into the community.

Being Orthodox, by definition, means that there will always be barriers and sometimes those barriers will be almost impossible to overcome.

It is not for nothing that the Chazal teach us that in the future Klal Yisroel will not accept geirim. And thus where there is a great danger in either not pushing for a strict standard, as with some too-lenient Orthodox rabbis or with the too-pushy EJF effort, that it will induce the kind of reaction neither will wish to see, and that is that Charedi Jews, and the actions of the BADATZ are already a good example, will close the door entirly on all geirim well-before the arrival of Mashiach, because no-one wishes to see him greeted by an oilem of safek-Yidden.

Thus not only the BADATZ's recent declarations and intereest in this matter, but also the Beis Din LeInyonei Giur backed by Rav Eliashiv in Eretz Yisroel are already cracking down.

There is a huge debate about all of this in Eretz Yisroel with some left-wing Mizrachi rabbis supporting the Israeli government's push for mass non-Halachic "conversions" so where EJF stands in relation to all of this is ambiguous.

On the one hand they wish to appear as having the backing of Charedi gedolim, but on the other hand they do NOT work like a Charedi organization by the way they push and shove and posture and yes, even bully and intimidate, in their ambition to function as some kind of central attraction center, screening and production base for large-scale mass-conversions of gentiles married to Jews, when perhaps they would be better advised to back off. The world does not need Rabbi Tropper as "director of conversions" when his speciality has always been to make yeshiva bochurim out of young secular Jews. It is misguided of him to now try to make Halachic Jews out of non-Jews.

It is time for Rabbi Tropper to stop and take stock why he is so obsessed with changing one species of people into another. He would be better advised to leave well enough alone and let nature take its course and hand over the reins to the Eibishter.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Why didn't Ezra convert intermarried couples?

HaRav Menashe Klein, shilta

Mishna Halachos[1](7:250): Concerning Ezra (chapter 9 and 10) where we see that he insisted on the sending away of all the non‑Jewish wives and their non‑Jewish children. It seem surprising that we don’t find that they converted them – either the wives or the children… It is unreasonable to say this absence of conversion was because not a single one of the wives or children wanted to convert. I saw that the Ibn Ezra addressed this question. Ibn Ezra (Ezra 10:3) writes, “We don’t find that any of them were brought close. Perhaps they were sent away because they weren’t converts like Ruth the Moabite. Our Sages say “The offspring from a prohibited sexual relationship is considered his son in every respect except if the child was born by a maidservant or non‑Jew” - and consequently the mothers and children were sent away. It would appear from this that it wasn’t that none of the wives or children wanted to convert but rather that Ezra and his beis din did not want to accept them as converts because they would not have been genuine converts like Ruth the Moabite who converted only for the sake of G‑d. Even though the population of Jews in Israel was very small – 40, 000 men and so they obviously wanted to increase the population as it says that half of them worked and the other half did guard duty – nevertheless they did not want to mix non‑Jews amongst them that had not converted properly. That is because such type of gerim would not only not help their security but would make things worse. It is important to note that there is a dispute in Yevamos (24b) concerning conversion for ulterior motivation. R’ Nechmiah says that a man who converts for the sake of a woman or a woman for the sake of a man or someone who converts for the sake of power… all of these are not considered gerim… However it was said in the name of Rav that the halacha is in agreement with the one who says all of these with ulterior motivation are in fact legitimate gerim. This is also the view of the Rambam (Hilchos Issurei Bi’ah 13:14) and the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 268:12). The reconciliation of this apparent conflict between the views of Ezra and the halacha in Shulchan Aruch is that since lechatchila we are not to accept these type of gerim – Ezra and his beis din did not want to accept them - even though if he had accepted them bedieved the conversion would have been good. An alternative explanation is that we don’t say that a person who converts for the sake of marriage is a ger bedieved unless he converts prior to marriage. Only if the conversion is before marriage can we say that the person is motivated to accept all the mitzvos and the conversion itself because he has no choice if he wants to get married. However if the conversion takes place after marriage and he is well aware that his or her spouse will not desert them and therefore does not truly accept the mitzvos and converts only as an expression of love for the Jewish spouse. Thus the conversion is just for the sake of appearances but is not genuine. In such a case Ezra and his beis din did not want to accept these converts at all and in such a case it is not valid conversion at all. With either explanation it is clear from these verses that Ezra did not want to accept them as gerim. This understanding is consistent with the rulings of gedolim who have dealt with the case of a Jew who is living with a non‑Jewish woman with whom he has had a civil marriage and they have children. Now she wants to convert with the children – and the question is should they be accepted or not? The Beis Shearim (Y.D. 361) writes…. It is difficult to believe the sincerity of the conversion concerning the non‑Jewish wife of a Jewish man who has halachically lived in sin all these years and has ties with his non‑Jewish wife according to the secular marriage laws of the country and is still persisting in his error and transgression – because even if the beis din doesn’t accept her for conversion he will continue to live with her as man and wife. It is simply difficult to believe that he would really allow his non‑Jewish wife to truly accept all the mitzvos even if she did in fact want to sincerely accept them. That is simply because he would obviously prefer that she be freely available to him and not as a wife who has fully accept all the mitzvos – even the finer points of rabbinic laws. If there is not full acceptance then there is no conversion at all…. In truth we find in Beis Yitzchok (Y.D. #100), Achiezer (3:28), Maharshag (Y.D. #32), Imrei Yosher (#176), Even Yekara Telisah (#98), Be’er Chaim Mordechai (#40), Arugas HaBosem (Y.D. #224), Ruach Chaim of Rav Palaggi (#16), Igros Moshe (E.H. 27) – that all of them pasken that conversion in such a case is assur. Reflect on this. Even where they want to accept conversion but there are problem they are not to be accepted and surely and kal v’chomer 1000 times in our case.

[1] משנה הלכות (ז:רנ): והנה כתיב בעזרא קפיטל ט' י' כשהתפלל עזרא ויען שכני' בן יחיאל מבני עילם ויאמר לעזרא אנחנו מעלנו באלקינו ונשב נשים נכריות מעמי הארץ ועתה נכרת ברית לאלקינו להוציא כל נשים והנולד מהם בעצת ה' והחרדים במצות אלקינו וכתורה יעשה ויעשו כן בני הגולה וגו' ויכלו בכל אנשים ההשיבו נשים נכריות עד יום אחד לחדש הראשון ע"ש כל הענין. והנראה דחשב שם המשפחות שנשאו נשים נכריות והוציאו אותם ואת בניהם ותימה שלא מצינו שגיירו אותם לא הנשים ולא הבנים והושיבום תחתיהם או החזירום אח"כ וקשה לומר שלא רצו אף אחת מהם להתגייר, וראיתי לרבינו אברהם אבן עזרא [עזרא י:ג] שעמד בקושיא זו וכתב ז"ל וז"ל, ולא מצאנו שהקריבו אחד מהם ואולי הוציאום שלא היו גיורות כרות המואביה וחז"ל אמרו בנו הוא לכל דבר חוץ מן הנלד מן השפחה ומן הכותית והוציאו האמות והבנים עכל"ק ע"ש. נראה מזה דלא שהם לא רצו להתגייר אלא שעזרא ובית דינו לא רצו לקבלם להתגייר בכל שהם לא יתגיירו גירות אמיתית כרות המואביה שנתגיירה לה' לבדו ואף שהיו בני ישראל מועטים בזמן הזה בארץ ישראל ארבעים אלף איש וודאי רצו להרבות אוכלוסיהם שהרי היו חצים עושים במלאכה וחצים מחזיקים הרמחים והמגינים והקשתות והשריונים מ"מ לא רצו להתערב עמהם גוים אשר לא יתגיירו כהוגן כי אדרבה אלו יזיקו להם בבטחון. ובגמרא יבמות (כד:) אחד איש שנתגייר לשם אשה ואחד אשה שנתגיירה לשם איש וכן מי שנתגייר לשום שלחן מלכים וכו' אינן גרים דברי ר' נחמיה שהיה ר' נחמיה אומר אחד גירי אריות ואחד גירי חלומות ואחד גירי מרדכי ואסתר אינם גירים עד שיתגיירו כבזה"ז ואף שמסיק עלה הא אמר ר' יצחק בר שמואל בר מרתא משמיה דרב הלכה כדברי האומר כולם גרים הם וכן פסק הרמב"ם (הלכות איסורי ביאה יג:יד) ובש"ע יו"ד סי' רס"ח סי"ב צ"ל דכיון דלכתחילה אין מקבלין אותן לא רצו לקבלם עזרא ובית דינו אף דאם נתגיירו בדיעבד גרותם גירות. או יאמר דלא אמרו המתגייר לשום אישות בדיעבד הוה גר אלא כשמתגייר קודם שנשאו דאגב אונסי' שרצה לנשאה או להנשא גמר ומקבל על עצמו כל דיני התורה והגירות אבל לאחר שנשאו כבר הרי יודע שלא יעזוב אותה או אותו ואינו מקבל על עצמו באמת המצות אלא להראות להצד השני איזה חביבות מראה בעצמו כמתגייר ולכן לא רצו לקבלם כלל דכה"ג ל"ה גרות כלל בין כך ובין כך מבואר בקרא דלא קבלו אותם להתגייר. ומכאן נראה להביא ראיה מה שראיתי מלאכי אלקים עולים ויורדים בנדון מי שדר עם גוי' שהתחתן עמה בערכאות וילדה ממנו בנים ואח"כ רצתה להתגייר עם הבנים אי יש לקבלם או לא. ומרן כק"ז בבית שערים יו"ד סי' שס"א שס"ב כתב מהא דאמרינן בבכורות (ל:) עכו"ם שבא לקבל ד"ת חוץ מדבר אחד אין מקבלין אותו ר' יוסי בר' יהודה אומר אפילו דקדוק אחד מדברי סופרים ופסק כן הרמב"ם פי"ד מא"ב ה"ח ועי' מ"מ שם. וקשה להאמין שאיש אשר יחד לו גויה בזנות כמה שנים ונתקשר עמה ע"פ חוקי המדינה בנשואין ועדיין לא שב מטעותו ועולתו כי אפילו לא יקבלו אותה להתגייר ידור עמה כאיש ואשתו קשה להאמין שיניח אותה לקבל כל המצות אפילו אם תרצה היא לקבל על עצמה שהרי הוא בפרוצה ניחא ליה ולא באשה שתקבל על עצמה כל המצות ואפילו דקדוקי סופרים וכיון שלא תתקבל כן א"כ אין כאן גירות כלל ע"ש. ... ובאמת כי בשו"ת בית יצחק יו"ד סימן ק' ובשו"ת אחיעזר ח"ג סימן כ"ח ושו"ת מהרש"ג יו"ד סימן ל"ב ואמרי יושר סימן קע"ו ושו"ת אבן יקרה תליתאה סימן צ"ח ושו"ת באר חיים מרדכי סימן מ' ושו"ת ערוגת הבושם סימן רכ"ד יו"ד וספר רוח חיים להגר"ח פאלאגי סימן ט"ז ובשו"ת אגרות משה להגר"ם פיינשטיין א"ע סימן כ"ז כולם פסקו לאיסור כה"ג. וא"כ הגע עצמך אפילו היכא דרצו לקבל גירות אלא שיש בה פגמים אין לקבלם וכ"ש וק"ו אלף פעמים לדידן.

Who is behind Eternal Jewish Family?

Recipients and Publicity wrote:

Dear anonymous and "badatz needs to relax":

The EJF would agree 100% that "Non Halachic conversions to permit intermarriage is the one issue that threatens world Jewry more than anything in our generation" - but it is just that they have a very radical NON-HALACHIC (and perhaps even anti-halachic) plan of how to solve the problem.

Here are some central problems with EJF:

It is the brainchild of and supported by Dr. Thomas (Tom) Kaplan one of Rabbi Leib Tropper's talmidim. Described by the New York Times as a "rare-minerals magnate" he is the one who controls Rabbi Tropper and the EJF (altho Rabbi Tropper probably thinks otherwise) as they say in Yiddish: "der vos hot dem matbe'ah hot di de'ah" which in English would be "who who pays the piper calls the tune"!

See this short bio to understand who is the power that controls EJF and Rabbi Tropper, from


Tom Kaplan Chairman of the Board

Thomas S. Kaplan, Co-Founder, has served as Leor’s Chairman of the Board since the company’s inception. After obtaining a doctorate in History, Mr. Kaplan began his career as an advisor to hedge funds in the field of strategic forecasting, applying long-term historical analysis to financial markets. In 1993, he and his wife Daphne founded Apex Silver Mines as a venture capital start-up with a view to capitalizing on the improving supply/demand fundamentals of the metal. In 1996, the company’s geologists discovered San Cristobal, the world’s largest open-pit silver deposit. As Chief Executive Officer and then Chairman, Mr. Kaplan and his colleagues at Apex guided the company through its public offering in 1997 and the subsequent financings required to finance and develop San Cristobal, enabling Apex to emerge as one of the industry’s premier silver/zinc/lead development companies. He retired from Apex Silver at the end of 2004, leaving the company with an enterprise value in excess of $1 billion. Having founded and financed a number of companies focused on natural resources, including Leor, Mr. Kaplan’s family has extensive interests in public and private companies involved with silver and base metals in Latin America, platinum and gold throughout the United States, Africa and Asia, water rights in Europe, as well as energy production in the United States. Mr. Kaplan is actively involved in numerous philanthropic activities in the United States and the developing world.

Educated in Switzerland and England, Mr. Kaplan holds a B.A., M.A. and Ph.D degrees in History from Oxford University."

See also the Wikipedia article at

That describes more of Kaplan's business and very importantly that:

"Thomas S. Kaplan and Guma L. Aguiar co-founded the company jointly in 2003. Kaplan, Aguiar's uncle, took the role of Chairman, a position he had previously held at Apex Silver Mines Inc. before resigning in 2003. Aguiar serves as the CEO and Vice Chairman of Leor and manages most of the day-to day activities of the business."

Who is this "Guma L. Aguiar" nephew of Mr. Kaplan? and since he is so involved with Mr Kaplan and runs his business how do we know that he is also not running the show at EJF? while Dr. Kaplan runs around looking for more business, giving awards and trying to change the world of Orthodox Judaism to make it more receptive and streamlined to accepting converts in the name of "kiruv" and "stricter halachic guidelines" for batei din.

Indeed, is "Guma L. Aguiar" even Jewish? because it is well known that one of the main reasons that Kaplan is behind the EJF push is because Rabbi Tropper helped him get a geirus for one of his close relatives. All this needs explanation, because now EJF, funded by the Lillian Jean Kpalan Foundation, which is basically the money that is set aside from the businesses of Dr. Tom Kaplan and his "CEO and Vice Chairman" nephew Guma L. Aguiar to act as if they are "Bais Hillel" taking on the tough "Bais Shammai" of the BADATZ.

Since when is a corporation and a philanthropy in any way a halachic body like a beis din?

Now Dr. Thomas (Tom) Kaplan (Ph.D)is obviously a vey brilliant and innovative man who has demonstrated his ability to think way "out of the box" and he does not just make billions of dollars he also gives much away to various causes that have nothing to do with Torah mostly through the "Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation" which basically the only source of funding for the EJF.

It must be VERY CLEARLY understood that the Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation is NOT a religious institution. It is devoted to supporting all sorts of causes, as a simple search on the web for "Thomas S. Kaplan" and "Lillian Jean Kaplan Foundation" will show, such as huge prizes and endowments for important medical research and achievements, discoveries, wild life preservation.

Dr. Kaplan naturally spends on art, see this quote from the New York Times (October 19, 2006)

" 'It’s Miami — what can I tell you?' said Cristina Grajales, a dealer and consultant who exhibited there last year. 'People are writing million-dollar checks in their flipflops.' She was thrilled with the crowd — contemporary art collectors picking up fashionable collectible modern furniture — and she will be back this year. Ms. Grajales is also the person who bought the Carlo Mollino table at Christie’s last year for a client for $3.824 million — a record many times over for a piece of modern furniture. She advises Thomas S. Kaplan, a 43-year-old rare-minerals magnate for whom she bought the table, on design purchases. Mr. Kaplan also picked up a pair of Jean Prouvé doors at Sotheby’s in 2004, for $680,000, which held the record at auction for postwar 20th century design until he broke it in 2005."

So if Tom Kaplan can drop $3.824 MILLION to buy a table and $680,000 for doors (yes, yes, they are works of art, but a table is a table, and a door is a door) therefore it's bubkes mit mandlen for him to drop a couple of million dollars every year for impoverished yungeleit in kiruv and rabbonim looking for nedovas to come hear the EJF ideas about how to solve Klal Yisroel's woes.

That is why it must be clearly understood by all and known to all that the EJF is not an independently created organization but it part of something larger and its funding and direction is guided by a very talented young billionare, who also happens to be a talmid of Rav Tropper shlita (not bad kiruv!)

The EJF has many rabbis who have come to its conventions and meetings and they obviously have seen that it has a potential to help spouses of Jews who wish to become geirei tzedek, but it is because EJF wishes to function more like a corporate entity bullying and gobbling up the powers of smaller entities (meaning ALL batei din) that it has met so much resistance.

The Modern Orthodox rabbinate was at first intrigued by EJF, but after it became clear that EJF was setting up a "my or the highway" standard based on only one kind of rules coming from Charedi rabbis and batei din handpicked and approved by Rabbi Tropper alone that they balked, and especially after Rav Nochum Eisenstein of the Beis Din LeInyanei Giur in Israel told them that they would be posul to be dayanim in any case.

It is hard to see how any rov can come to America, insult all the RCA rabbis and then expect them to be mekabel his da'as. So forget about the Modern Orthodox joining in anyhting the EJF does, as if there was even a chance!

So rather than help matters, the EJF has actually made matters worse by pushing the Modern Orthodox rabbinate against the wall by questioning their emunah, which will now only encourgae them to continue with the conversions thorough their own RCA systems. To their credit they are trying to clean up their act as well, but only internally, they will have nothing to do with EJF, Rabbi Tropper or Rav Eisenstein.

And now, the BADATZ has taken a good strong look at the situation, and come down like a ton of bricks on the EJF for good reasons, that no entity can suddenly sit down out of the blue and say "ich bin du" and wave flags, make conventions, print colorful ads and pay millions to promote itself, and now claiming to do "kiruv" as well when it is just a hare-brained scheme to start with.

Dr. Tom needs to learn that you cannot manipulate halachic policy and direction like one manipulates financial markets or corporations and that in essenec is what the BADATZ is saying, please leave these inyonim to the relevant batei din, and while the system may be in need of improvement, the solution of sheperding and ENCOURAGING potential geirim is very dangerous and essentially anti-halachic because Judaism does not seek nor encourage geirim no matter what the situation.

If there are Jews in the world who have these problems they must take it up with their "local Orthodox rabbis" who will then decide what to do and if it is worthy of being "referred to a local reliable beis din".

Now one may ask how does anyone know if a beis din is reliable or if their conversions will be accepted? The answer is very simple: It is no different to any situation in Yiddishkeit. How does one know if the meat we eat on Shabbos is not treif? How do we know if the marriages and kiddushin rabbis perform are valid? How does anyone know if a get from any beis din is kosher and acceptable to another beis din? How does one check the yichus of a Jew? etc etc and the answers are that it's not done by setting up one organization.

In American Kashrus there is the OU, but Chasidim do not accept it and have their own multiple shechitas and hechsherim. There is no one single beis din in America that automatically accepts the authority of other batei din. This is also based on ideology. Chabad has its own derech and thus has its own batei din and hechshrim that would not be accepted by some Chasidim and Litvaks. Satmar will not accept a get done by even the most reliable RCA beis din.

So does that mean that if some well-meaning philanthropist wishes to "solve" these seeming "contradictions" and problems and is willing to throw millions into the pot to do so, that the whole world of different batei din have to stop, salute him, and do just as his rabbi says simply because he has gotten some rosh yeshivas (who by the way never sit on batei din) and many rabbonim more noted as darshonim and some local poskim who are not full time dayanim on batei din, to come for a free weekend of speeches and food?

As Eretz Yisroel now holds almost half the world's Jews and is probably now the center of frum life, its power increases inside Eretz Yisroel and that is why the Beis Din LeInyonei Giur is good if any problems with giur come up inside Israel, but they still cannot control what batei din do in chutz la'aretz, just as the Israeli chief rabbinate cannot control any of the RCA or Mizrachi rabbis. We have still have not reached the Acharis HaYomim for that to happen!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bedatz is out of touch with reality! Really?

Anonymous wrote:

I am told by a family friend who is in kiruv that kiruv on American college campuses is difficult these days because 75% of those who show up for programs are not Jewish k'halacha. I have heard the same from people involved with Birthright trips.The ideas expressed above (Herschel Tzig and "Bedatz needs to relax") that "things are different today", "different in the Diaspora", "Judaism has to change with the times" are not new. It all began with the French Revolution and the birth of Reform Judaism. Even with all of the innovations of the Reform which led to Reform synagogues having seemingly more in common with Protestant Churches than with traditional Judaism, the Reform Movement still issued several edicts against intermarriage (in 1909, 1947 and 1973) throughout its history, stating that sanctifying intermarriage is: ”contrary to the traditions of the Jewish religion”. The CCAR ... declared its opposition to participation by its members “in any ceremony which solemnizes a mixed marriage.” Both the Reform and Conservative movements issued strong statements in 1986 that the sole criteria for determination of Jewish lineage was matrilineal descent. It is an interesting sociological study in that statements issued by the Reform and Conservative movements twenty years ago, which are now being issued by Bedatz, are considered "Taliban" and "extremist" by much of the American Chareidi public. Even the Reform did not suggest "conversion" for the sake of sanctifying an intermarriage thirty years ago.

I know this firsthand!! I taught in a Reform Hebrew school 27 years ago (my Orthodox Rabbi "permitted" it for kiruv). A Jewish man had made an appointment with the Reform Rabbi to discuss the marriage of him and his girlfriend. The Rabbi asked questions and a few minutes later was SCREAMING at them. How DARE you bring a shiksa to a RABBI to do a wedding!!! I will NEVER perform an intermarriage!! What Hitler could not accomplish you are doing to yourself!!! The whole building shook and I honestly thought that the Rabbi was going to beat the young man (who did marry the girl with a Judge, they got divorced a year later and then he married a Jewish girl, it was a small town and I was curious so I kept up with him).There was no mention of "conversion" by this Reform Rabbi 27 years ago AND this young man could not find ANY Reform Rabbi in the area who would agree to marry them. Fast forward to 2001 and I am dropping a donation off in the office of the Orthodox shul where we belong. A man I know from the neighborhood who had very recently left his Jewish wife and young children is there asking the Rabbi to marry him and his VERY pregnant Hispanic girlfriend. She is wearing a cross which is tucked into her blouse but is still visible in the sunlight.

I can hear the Rabbi tell them that he will convene a Beis Din next week and marry them after her "conversion". The wedding happened just like that. I know his family in NY and Israel; they all sat shiva for him. I ran into both the couple and the Rabbi a few weeks later. The Rabbi wished them "mazal tov" and asked how their married life was going. Times sure have changed but our Torah has not. Perhaps it is time to take a step back and think about that.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bedatz Letter regarding EJF signed by Gaavad

amicusEJF wrote:

b) This letter [of the Bedatz] was not signed by the Gaavad.

There was a second letter sent out with the additional signature of the Gaavad. A copy of most of the letter follows. (part was cropped out of the original)

Distinguished Rabbi shlita, I am requesting from you - with every expression of entreaty - to stop and break off association with this organization (Eternal Jewish Family) which is a danger to the future of the Jewish people. Even isolated cases of this type of conversion (of intermarried couples) are extremely problematic. This is explicitly stated by the Achiezer (3:28) that “no kosher beis din should deal with this (the conversion of intermarried couples).” Also look in the Igros Moshe (E.H. 1:27) where he states “this whole issue of conversion of intermarried couples is personally totally distasteful even in isolated cases.” It is simply not acceptable to deal with the issue of intermarried couples in this manner and to openly reinforce their activities with public announcements and notices in newspapers and internet and other such means. They are in effect inviting non‑Jews to participate in a program of conversion through this publicity. It is a really damaging approach which unfortunately will bring about even more intermarriages and invalid conversions. Distinguished Rabbi shlita, please act according to your understanding and wisdom and desist from participating in this program (of the Eternal Jewish Family). It is a public danger. G‑d should assist you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

HaRav Sternbuch,shlita - Proposed conversion process threatens our existence!

Proposed conversion process threatens our existence!

By HaRav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita

(authorized translation by Daniel Eidensohn)

We strongly protest against the Israeli governments decision (unfortunately supported by the religious Sefardim) to establish a committee to make conversions easier. This government effort is being made despite the fact that up until now thousands have been converted in disregard of the halacha. Now the government wants tens of thousands converted and at greater speed. To accomplish this greater quantity and speed of conversion they have established a committee together with the Sefardic Chief Rabbi and HaRav Druckman (who is well known for converting hundred’s and thousand’s not in accordance with the requirements of halacha). Anybody with basic intelligence knows that the Russian Christians who are converted are not interested in fully observing the mitzvos. In fact their motivation for conversion is simply to acquire the status of Jew because of social pressures or to obtain additional benefits. Not even one in a thousand of these gerim meet the requirements of the halacha. Therefore if until now there were thousands who converted against the halachic requirements, now we can anticipate tens of thousands of problematic gerim. In addition they will all now have the stamp of approval of the rabbonim mentioned above – certifying that all was done according to the “spirit” of halacha. This is truly a great disaster. In fact from the destruction of the Second Temple until now there has been nothing comparable to this.

The Israeli government has offered a “solution” for this problem. They have offered to create a registry of those goyim who want to be “Jews” without conversion and the acceptance of mitzvos. They want to record on their Israeli identity cards and marriage certificates that these people are “Jews according to the standards of the government.” In this way these “gerim” will be distinct and separate from us. In other words they propose that the major limbs of the body will be amputated but they assure us that the body will remain alive and very strong! Their proposal needs additional thought and clarification. However even though it is problematic it is still better than what the rabbis are trying to do.

In fact these Zionist rabbis and the religious parties - that still believe that the Israeli government is an integral part of the beginning of the Messianic Era and adheres to the spirit of the halacha – don’t agree to deal with this reality. However little by little, day by day these “Jews” will assimilate into our midst. The holy Shechina will depart from us. That is because it doesn’t rest amongst us except when we preserve our pedigree as our Sages (Kiddushin 70b) have told us. Consequently we are in great and horrible danger because of these developments.

“I call out but there is no one who responds” (Yeshaya 66:4). “O that they would be wise so that they understand” (Devarim 32:29) that in the near future the land of Israel and its inhabitants will be in great danger. Anyone who is intelligent needs to simply open his eyes and he will understand the danger these proposal entail – and will distance himself from these compromisers.

G‑d should give understanding to these mistaken people and they should merit to do His Will and save us from these perilous times that are coming soon. We should merit the complete Redemption – it should come speedily in the near future.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Being friendly with gerim

Translated by Rav Chavel

Rabbeinu Bachye[1](Kad HaKemach – Ger): An Israelite who is exiled from his home town is called geir, which stems from the expression gargir, (a single berry) which has been’ separated from its root. We are commanded to provide him with food and-drink and to be kind to him. The latter is the most important of all to him. These are Solomon’s words, (Mishlei 27:3) Ointment and incense rejoice the heart, so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend from advice of the soul. The verse informs us that a person is obligated to gladden the heart; of the wanderer by supplying him with food and drink and showing him a friendly countenance, for besides oil and incense he is still in need of the sweetness of a man’s friendship. The verse states from the advice of the soul, meaning that this sweetness and friendly countenance should issue from one’s rational soul. [It should come forth] through love and esteem, not through flattery, for sweetness of [genuine] friendship will be more beneficial to the stranger than all [ material things] one can give him.

[1] רבינו בחיי (כד הקמח - ערך גר): ישראל הגולה מעירו לעיר אחרת יקרא גר מלשון גרגיר הנפרד מעיקרו, ונצטוינו בו להאכילו ולהשקותו ולהסביר לו פנים והסברת פנים חשובה לו מן הכל, והוא דברי שלמה ע"ה שאמר (משלי כז) שמן וקטרת ישמח לב ומתק רעהו מעצת נפש, הזהיר בכתוב הזה שיתחייב אדם על הגר שיספיק לו מזונות ויסביר לו פנים, והוא נקשר עם הכתוב שהזכיר למעלה ממנו שאמר (שם) כצפור נודדת מקנה וסמך לו מיד שמן וקטרת ישמח לב, כלל כל המזונות כולן וכל מה שנתבשל על האש כשמן וקטרת שהוא העשן העולה מן המזון המתבשל, והודיענו בזה כי יתחייב אדם לשמח לב האיש הנודד ממקומו בסיפוק מזונו והסברת פניו כי מלבד שיצטרך שמן וקטרת עוד יצטרך מתק רעהו, ואמר מעצת נפש כלומר שיהיה אותו מתק והסברת הפנים מעצת נפשו השכלית דרך אהבה וחיבה לא דרך חנופה כי ייטב לו מתק שפתים יותר מכל מה שהוא נותן לו, וכן דרשו ז"ל בסוף פרק אחרון של כתובות (דף קיא ב) גדול המלבין שנים לחבירו יותר ממשקהו חלב שנא' (בראשית מט) ולבן שנים מחלב אל תיקרי לבן שנים אלא ליבון שנים, ועל זה הזכיר ישעיה הנביא ע"ה (ישעיה נח) ותפק לרעב לחמך הם המזונות וחזר ואמר ותפק לרעב נפשך הוא מתק שפתים,

Friday, February 8, 2008

Why Moshiach is descended from the convert Ruth

Maharal[1](Netzach Yisroel #32): From this you can understand why Moshiach will be born from another people. Dovid was a descendant of Moab while Shlomo was a descendant of Amon. When G‑d wants to bring out a new spiritual reality it is necessary to graft a branch of another tree that is different than the original Jewish stock. Obviously if He utilized the original Jewish stock than there is nothing new. Therefore when G‑d wants to bring the seed of Moshiach into the world it is necessary to graft something new onto the Jewish stock. That is the significance of Yevamos (63a)” “And through you will be blessed all the family of the earth” (Bereishis 12:3)? G‑d was saying to Avraham, “I have two good shoots to graft on to you – Ruth the Moabitess and Naamah the Ammonitess.” … The explanation of this gemora is what we have just said. These were the two new shoots needed to graft onto Jewish stock – even though there were obviously many good gerim that have converted to Judaism. Nevertheless Ruth and Naama were singled out. It was only through these two graftings that it was possible to bring a new fruit to the Jewish people which was different than anything that came before. It is important to fully understand how these two graftings were the cause of producing the new fruit. That is because it is not possible for something entirely new for the Jewish people except by means of the nations of the world. Therefore to the degree that something is farther from being Jewish - to that degree it has the potential to produce something new. That is why the totally new existence came from the nations of Amon and Moab because there are no people who are farther from the Jewish people than Amon and Moab [whose men] were specifically prohibited from marrying into the Jewish people forever (Devarim 23:4). This eternal prohibition of the members of a nation is not found concerning any other nation. Consequently it was specifically from these two nations that it was fit that Moshiach should be born since Moshiach is a totally new dimension… Don’t object that this logic would also apply to all converts because it isn’t so. Yevamos (47b) states that gerim are as difficult of Israel as a skin disease…The explanation of this is that a skin affliction is some sort of growth on a person’s skin and thus is an addition to a person who was already complete physically. Thus to the degree that it is an addition it is superfluous (Chullin 58b). Since it is superfluous it is viewed as a deficit for the person who has the growth. In this sense a ger is an addition to the Jewish people who are in essence a single complete entity being the descendants of Avraham, Yitzchok and Yaakov and are thus comparable to a single person. Thus when a convert joins he is a superfluous addition because he serves only to destroy the completeness and unity in the same way that the skin afflicition which is a superflous addition ruins the complete of a man. That is why the skin affliction is troublesome to man. Similarly that is why gerim are difficult because they serve as a superfluous addition to the Jewish people. In contrast Ruth and Naama were not mere additions to the Jewish people but their joining was needed to create a new essence which had not existed previously which is not relevant for other converts.

[1] מהר"ל (נצח ישראל - פרק לב): ומזה תבין הטעם שהמלך המשיח יהיה נולד מאומה אחרת, שהרי דוד ממואבית ושלמה מעמונית. שכאשר השם יתברך רוצה להוציא הויה חדשה, אל זה צריך הרכבה מן נטיעה אחרת שאינו מן הראשונה. שאם היה זה הנטיעה הראשונה, אין כאן דבר חדש. ולפיכך כאשר השם יתברך רצה להביא זרע המשיח לעולם, היה צריך לעשות הרכבה ונטיעה חדשה. והיינו דאמרינן בפרק הבא על יבמתו (יבמות סג.) "ונברכו בך כל משפחות האדמה" (בראשית יב:ג), אמר הקב"ה לאברהם, שתי בריכות טובות יש לי להבריך ממך, רות המואביה ונעמה העמונית, עד כאן. וביאור ענין זה כמו שאמרנו למעלה, כי אלו דוקא נקראו 'שתי בריכות טובות', אף על גב דכמה וכמה גרים טובים נתגיירו בישראל, לא חשיב רק אלו 'שתי בריכות טובות'. שאלו ב' בריכות נברכו להוציא פרי חדש בישראל, אשר לא היה קודם. ותבין מאוד איך היו אלו ב' בריכות סבה להוציא פרי חדש, וזה כי לא היה ראוי שיבוא ענין חדש והויה חדשה לעולם כי אם על ידי האומות. וכל אשר יותר רחוק מישראל, ראוי שיהיה ממנו הויה חדשה. ולכך ההויה החדשה באה מן עמון ומואב. שלא תמצא שום אומה יותר רחוקה מישראל מן עמון ומואב, שנצטוו עליהם (ר' דברים כג:ד) "לא יבואו בקהל לעולם", שלא תמצא דבר זה בשום אומה כלל. ומהם ראוי שיהיה נולד המשיח, שהיא הויה חדשה, וכל זה מפני התחדשות הויה החדשה:

ואל יקשה לך, שאם כן בכל גרים יהיה שייך דבר זה, וזה אינו, דאמרינן בפרק החולץ (יבמות מז:) אמר רבי חלבו, קשים גרים לישראל כספחת, שנאמר (ישעיה יד:א) "ונלוה הגר עליהם ונספחו על בית יעקב", עד כאן. וביאור ענין זה, כי הספחת שהוא גדל באדם, הוא הוספה לאדם השלם, וכל יתור כנטול (חולין נח:), והוא חסרון אל מי שיש בו תוספות. וכן הגר הוא תוספות על ישראל, כי ישראל הם בעצמם עם אחד, בני אברהם יצחק ויעקב, כמו אדם אחד. כאשר נתחבר הגר עליהם, הרי יש כאן תוספות. וכל תוספות מבטל השלימות, כמו שמבטל הספחת - שהוא נוסף - שלימות האדם, שמבטל שלימות צורתו, והוא חסרון באדם. ומפני כך הספחת הוא קשה לאדם. וכן הגרים, שאינם רק תוספת בלבד, הם קשים לישראל. אבל אלו שנים אינם תוספות, אבל הם משלימים את ישראל, ואינם נחשבים תוספות, רק הם מתחברים להם, כמו בריכה שאינה תוספות. וכך אלו שנים אינם תוספות, רק לקנות הויה חדשה אשר לא היה מקודם, ודבר זה אינו שייך בגרים אחרים:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Clearing the air

Are You People For Real? wrote:

Who on earth is for proselytizing? I'm surely not.

Rabbi, you really should put a check on the rabid anti-ger undercurrent flowing through your blog by well-meaning yet idiotic Orthodox Jews who live in a shell.

I have read here that there is no such thing as a sincere convert, that all female converts are a sham and how it shows in their households for generations.

Is this your viewpoint as well?


Aside from making provocative and abusive statements about those who disagree with you - you don't seem to have read the majority of material that I have posted. In addition you have not responded to challenges to your apparently knee jerk responses to the rather complex issue of intermarriage and conversion. I am puzzled that someone as intelligent and concerned as you are [I am not being sarcastic] - can be asking the above question. The point of my posting is to present the dialectics involved. You seem to feel that your understanding is the only one and therefore you have absolutely nothing to learn from those who disagree. You view them simply as "well-meaning yet idiotic Orthodox Jews who live in a shell." You seem to doubt the sincere concern that others have for their fellow Jews as well as fellow man - if they point out problems and failings.

The mere fact that you are still posting indicates to me that either you can not get over your astonishment at the stupidity of others and that you feel it is your obligation to set everyone straight - or that you really are bothered by the problems and you are patiently wading through a lot of junk in the hope of discoverying something of value.

You have to understand that many others who read this blog find your comments as offensive and insensitive as you find theirs. I tolerate a certain amount of abusive lanuagage as long as it seems to help clarify issues. Thus there are comments that are critical of converts - but you find these also in the Talmud and well as the contemporary rabbinical writings. However there are also comments that praise converts.

Regarding your opposition to proselytization you should scroll back to my translation of Rabbi Tropper's interview in Mishpacha magazine - as well as a number of my postings regarding the activities of Eternal Jewish Family.

If you want to elevate the level of discussion on this blog it would be helpful if you first attended to the way you express yourself. You don't have to first call someone stupid or idiotic before raising a question or making a criticism.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Be gentle with Jews who intermarry?

Are You People For Real? wrote:

"Dear Anonymous,

You would make a horrible preacher.

Please try delivering that message to the millions of intermarried Yidden.

One doesn't have to imagine what their response will be to you.

Please write more when you come back to reality. "


Since you are so certain you have "the" way to deal with this situation I would like to hear your views about some Jewish leaders of the past who commented on this problem. [translation is Soncino]

Ezra[1](9:1-10): 1. And when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not set themselves apart from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites. 2. For they have taken of their daughters for themselves, and for their sons; so that the holy seed have mixed themselves with the people of those lands; and the hand of the princes and rulers has been foremost in this trespass. 3. And when I heard this matter, I tore my garment and my mantle, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down appalled. 4. Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the transgression of those who had been carried to exile, gathered around me, while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. 5. And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my mantle, I fell upon my knees, and spread out my hands to the Lord my God, 6. And said, O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our trespasses have mounted up to the heavens. 7. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been exceedingly guilty; and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests, have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to plunder, and to utter shame, as it is this day. 8. And now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the Lord our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a secure nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our slavery. 9. For we were slaves; yet our God has not forsaken us in our slavery, but has extended to us his loving kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem. 10. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments,

Ezra (9: 10-14): 10. And now, O our God, what shall we say after this? For we have forsaken your commandments,11. Which you commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, The land which you are entering to take possession of it, is a land unclean because of the uncleanness of the people of the lands, who, with their abominations, have filled it from one end to another with their uncleanness.12. And now do not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons, nor seek their peace or their welfare for ever; that you may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children for ever. 13. And after all that has come upon us for our evil deeds, and for our great guilt, seeing that you our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such deliverance as this; 14. Should we again break your commandments, and intermarry with the people of these abominations? Would you not be angry with us till you would consume us, so that there should be no remnant nor any to escape?

Ezra[1](10:1-14) 1. And while Ezra prayed, and confessed, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, a very great assembly of men and women and children gathered to him out of Israel; for the people wept bitterly. 2. (K) And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered and said to Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken alien wives from the peoples of the land; yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this matter. 3. And now let us make a covenant with our God to put away all such women, and those born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the Torah. 4. Arise; for it is your task, and we are with you. Be of good courage and do it! 5. Then Ezra arose, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, swear that they should do according to this word. And they swore. 6. Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Johanan the son of Eliashib; and when he came there, he did not eat bread, nor drink water; for he mourned because of the transgression of the exiles. 7. And they made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the returned exiles, that they should gather themselves together at Jerusalem; 8. And that whoever would not come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his goods should be forfeited, and he himself set apart from the congregation of the exiles. 9. Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together at Jerusalem within three days. It was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month; and all the people sat in the street of the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and because of the heavy rain. 10. And Ezra the priest stood up, and said to them, You have transgressed, and have taken foreign wives, to increase the guilt of Israel. 11. And now make confession to the Lord God of your fathers, and do his will; and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the foreign wives. 12. (K) Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As you have said, so must we do. 13. But the people are many, and it is the time of heavy rain, and we are not able to stand outside, nor is this a work for one day or two; for we are many who have transgressed in this matter. 14. Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all those who have taken foreign wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and its judges, until the fierce wrath of our God over this matter is turned away from us. 15. Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahaziah the son of Tikvah stood out against this; and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite supported them. 16. And the returned exiles did so. And Ezra the priest selected certain chiefs of the fathers’ houses, after the house of their fathers, each of them designated by name, and they sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter. 17. And by the first day of the first month, they made an end of the matter of the men who had taken foreign wives.

Nechemiah[1](13:23-27): 23. (K) Also in those days I saw Jews who had married women of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab; 24. And half their children spoke in the language of Ashdod, and could not speak the language of Judah, but according to the language of each people. 25. And I quarrelled with them, and cursed them, and struck some of them, and pulled off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, You shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor take their daughters for your sons, or for yourselves. 26. Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? Among the many nations there was no king like him, who was beloved by his God, and God made him king over all Israel; nevertheless foreign women made even him sin. 27. Shall we then listen to you and do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying foreign wives?

Are You People for Real?'s attempt to rationalize proselytizing intermarried couples

Are You People For Real? said:

"Can't you see how our non-frum brethren have been duped? Are you so blind as to blame them instead of the non-frum movements that perpetuated this spiritual crime against our loved ones."

Let me try to summarize your position so that we can at least know that we are in agreement as to what you are saying. Once we stop talking past each other perhaps I can explain the view of "ghetto" Jews and why they reject your approach - even though they understand your position.

You are making a number of assertions

1)Intermarriage is caused by non-Orthodox religious beliefs

2) Intermarried couples are not rebelling against G-d

3) Because they are victims of their religious education and are not rebeling they should be helped by the Orthodox community reaching out to them.

4) The outreach must be done to prevent the loss of so many Jews who are in their predicament through no fault of their own.

In short you seem to be claiming that the rationale of kiruv organization - including EJF - is that intermarriage is a fact that can only be dealt with by attempting to make the Jewish spouse Orthodox and to make the non-Jewish spouse Jewish and frum. That in fact it imperative that the Orthodox community make every effort to make every intermarried couple frum and part of the Orthodox community.

On the other hand the traditional approach to intermarriage has been to banish the intermarried couple. You assert that the kiruv organization have realized the error of this approach while the "ghetto" Jews still "don't get it"
In other words there is no justification for the traditional approach and that the "ghetto" Jews are insanely interfering with the spiritual life saving effort which must be done to save the Jewish people.

Put another way, you are asserting that the intermarried Jews are "tinok sh'nishba (captured innocents) and thus bear no responsibility for their dangerous spiritual condition. We have the obligation to save them - even if it means violating traditional halachic norms and possibly lowering the barriers that keep Orthodox Jews from intermarrying - since the stigma will be removed. Non-Jewish spouses must be converted even if it means encouraging the acceptance of many non-Jewish children into our school systems and communities as well as accepting many non-Jewish spouses who will convert primarily for convenience and not out of conviction?

You want to deal with the alien element in the same way as the Catholic Church did by mass conversions that were so successful - they had to have an Inquisition to determine the "sincerity" of the fifth column which they produced.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Intermarriage results from the couple's ignorance that it is wrong?

We have two contradictory assertions: Which is closer to reality? This is a very important question!

1) Anonymous Are You People For Real? said...

Anonymous 11:39 Writes:

"The Jew who marries outside of his faith has made a deliberate decision to cut HIM/HERSELF off from the Jewish people FOREVER. Such a Jew has very intentionally spit in the face of G-d.

What is the point of chasing after such a person?"

The proof of your ignorance lies in the body of your post.

90% of intermarried Jews do so out of IGNORANCE.
They were raised in assimilated families, in assimilated neighborhoods, with the Reform & Conservative instilling within them that Hashem, Torah & Mitzvot belong to a bygone age when people were backwards and unenlightened.

Unfortunately and extremely sad, you, my friend, are what the non-halachic movements refer to when speaking of the "backwards & unenlightened", as you go through life with blinders on, wishing to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Jews who have married out did not do so with the idea of spitting in the face of Hashem, nor to rebel against their Jewishness.

They were taught in public school that being Jewish is the same as being Irish, French, Romanian or Mexican, and that it's racist to in-marry.

Please wake up before you and those who are as clueless chase even more Yidden in tot the arms of alternative religious movements.

February 4, 2008 4:52 PM

2) Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who had the misfortune of being raised Ultra-Reform, I can state with absolute authority that "are you people for real?"'s statement of the ignorance of the Reform is absolutely false.

ALL Jews, including those who affiliate as Reform or Conservative, know that intermarriage is forbidden.

The Reform Rabbi of our community absolutely refused to perform or recognize an intermarriage, and the same went for all of the others in our State at the time (New Jersey mid 1980s).

When my sister decided to marry a gentile, she understood that Judaism forbade it, knew her parents might reject her as well as a lot of her friends, and made the conscious choice that her selfish desires and American constitutional value system was of greater importance to her than the preservation of her Jewish identity.

Part of being raised Reform meant that 7 of my 8 cousins intermarried and so did 1 of my 2 sisters. They all knew exactly what they were doing and understood the choice they were making.

They just don't think it matters in the scheme of things and that if there is a G-d, they will surely be forgiven of their sins.

Your case is that anyone who would intermarry does so out of ignorance and that therefore it is incumbent upon the religious hierarchy to facilitate a virtual "pardon" by enabling the kashering of the intermarriage via conversion.

My case is that if the Jew and gentile who are involved in the intermarriage can be made to understand the gravity of what they have done, that the gentile will divorce the Jew because she loves him and cares more about his immortal soul than being "happy" during these few fleeting years we have in the physical world, or that the Jew will initiate the divorce for the same reason.

A [gentile] friend of mine said it very well: when he heard two Jews talking about accepting an intermarriage because "Bob"s 'happiness' was what was really important, he answered by saying that a shot of Heroin would also make him happy. It doesn't mean it's good for him.

You seem to believe that the Creator of the Universe can be "forced" or duped into accepting a Torah level violation because of some Rabbinic sleight of hand. If that's the case, why stop at intermarriage? We can advance to Idolatry, Incest, and Homosexuality until we finally find an "Orthodox" Rabbi who lets a man marry his own brother with Chuppah and Kiddishin and you'll tell us that the Rabbi is preventing them both from sinning.

February 4, 2008 10:04 PM

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The Divide: Jewish missionary activity targeting non-Jews

Are You People For Real? wrote:

Is this blog for real?

You have just given a wonderful present to Chosen People Ministries & Jews for Jesus.

They will gladly go after the mixed married Jews and their spouses.

Do you ghetto Jews ever come out of your shells? Do you have any clue to what is transpiring in the real world?
85% of Jews are assimilated.
60% are intermarried.

Are those so-called frum Jews whom are against reaching out to the intermarried on the payroll of Jews for Jesus, cause they're certainly acting on their behalf?

I can see David Brickner, Moishe Rosen, Mitch Glaser, David Chernoff, Jay Sekulow and their ilk having a field day with this nonsense.

The issue of quality versus quantity has come up before. Perhaps it is time to confront it head on since those who go for quantity seem to have no clue of halacha or the meaning of a community committed to observing halacha. Nor do they seem to have any understanding - or concern - of the social consequences of an open door policy on the Jewish community. Furthermore they assume that the ultimate value is to save or produce as many Jews as possible no matter what the cost. Is there in fact any such imperative?

What are the consequences - both positive and negative - of focusing on maximizing the number of Jews through conversion. Why has it apparently never been done in Jewish history?

Before anyone jumps up and down saying "you ignoramus don't you know anything!" - let me just cite two major academic experts on the matter. It is universally agreed that there is simply no explicit evidence that missionary activity was ever an accepted practice by the Jewish community. All "evidence" for missionary activity is simply conjecture which I don't find very convincing. I will go into detail in the next post. Anyone who has halachic or sociological data relevant to this issue is invited to post it.

Prof. Martin Goodman(Journal of Jewish Studies 40:2 1989 page 181): "In sum, despite the hints outlined above that some rabbis assumed the desirability of a proselytizing mission, such a notion does not appear to have been explicitly formulated in any rabbinic text and did not ever become a general rabbinic doctrine. It remained the common assumption that the normal impulse to conversion would be and should be that of the prospective proselyte. Thus, for example, it is reported at Sifre Deut. 354 that the sight of Israel worshiping at the Temple will eventually lead the nations to wish to convert en masse. It is on the gentiles that the onus rests, for in the last days they risk punishment for failing to become proselytes as they could have done (Lev. R. 2:9); but it is worth noting that in the parallel version at Pes. R. 35.161a, in the name of R. Hanina b. Papa, the reproach to the gentiles is only their failure to forsake idolatry…"

[See also excerpts from his book Mission and Conversion 1995],M1

Prof. Louis Feldman(Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World 1996 - page 293): "However, although there is, in truth, no single item of conclusive evidence [for Jewish missionary activity] as we shall see, the cumulative evidence - both demographic and literary - for such an activity is considerable."

[In my view the many diverse types of evidence which Prof. Feldman cites which when taken one by one is not convincing - when combined together doesn't prove the point either. They are at most suggestive of a hypothesis which still needs more convincing evidence to be accepted as valid.]