Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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3 Iyar 5768 - May 8, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur Backs Beis Din Annulment of Conversion

By Yechiel Sever

Following a precedent-setting decision at the Ashdod District Beis Din, headed by Dayan HaRav Avraham Attia, which was certified by the High Rabbinical Court (Beis Din Godol) in Jerusalem, the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l clarified several points related to the matter, to dispel misleading information intended to undermine halachic boundaries set by leading poskim from the previous and present generations. The beis din in Ashdod ruled that conversions performed 15 years ago by Rabbi Chaim Druckman were not done according to halacha since the conversion candidates were not observant in any way.

According to Vaad HaRabbonim, the following points need to be made in order to gain a proper understanding of the issue.

A. Not agreeing — at the time of the conversion — to observe all the mitzvas renders the conversion invalid under all circumstances.

B. The Beis Din determined that presumably the conversion candidate never accepted ol mitzvos, which means the conversion was not annulled — but rather the original conversion was never valid.

C. The Vaad is deeply shocked by various individuals, officials and rabbis associated with the National-Religious camp who claim to cite various sources indicating that prominent dayanim supposedly ruled against the Rambam and the Shulchan Oruch. These individuals muddle the halachic tradition passed down since Har Sinai without demonstrating a minimal understanding of the Rambam and the Shulchan Oruch. Their status is stated explicitly in the Mishneh Torah (Hilchos Talmud Torah, Chap. 6).

D. According to directives from gedolei Yisroel in 5744 (1984), every conversion, whether performed in Eretz Yisroel or abroad, must be checked to ascertain whether the applicant did in fact accept Torah and mitzvas at the time of the conversion. This directive is aimed primarily at city rabbis and marriage registrars, since it is strictly forbidden to list the word "convert" on marriage applications before verifying the validity of the conversion.

E. According to both halacha and the law, every rabbi has the right to reject a conversion that appears dubious and to return the case to the district beis din.

F. Unfortunately, despite the severe prohibition against accepting such "converts" and although this fact has been publicized often, various rabbis still allow these doubtful converts to marry Jews, thereby bringing non-Jews into the fold of the Jewish people. The Chief Rabbinate has repeatedly made clear that in the case of individuals who were not converted in accordance with halacha, no rabbi is required to list him or her as a convert.

G. Following widespread reports on the recent high-profile case Vaad HaRabbonim received dozens of requests from rabbonim, heads of educational institutions and converts themselves to clarify their status. Rabbonim of the Vaad are prepared to inquire into the validity of individual conversions to the best of their ability. Requests should be faxed to 02-532-2047, including full details and a return phone number.

H. Vaad HaRabbonim is disappointed and surprised to hear of various bizarre reports claiming that Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said the ruling was handed down hastily and that he is working to overturn it. The Sephardic Chief Rabbi should publicly announce that conversion without a genuine acceptance of the mitzvas is invalid and if it is demonstrated that the convert had no intention of keeping mitzvas at the time of the conversion, the conversion is considered invalid even ex post facto, and the applicant has the status of a goy or sofek goy (which is worse, since the uncertainty means that he or she may marry neither a Jew nor a non-Jew). In general, the ruling applies to every conversion done without genuine acceptance of mitzvas. Conversions performed by the special conversion courts during the past 20 years should be carefully reviewed, since they were set up to maximize the number of so-called conversions performed in Eretz Yisroel using an "assembly- line" approach.

I. The conversion issue is a public matter, as the High Rabbinical Court determined in 5730 (1970) based on a request by Rav Tzvi Weinman and founded on a responsa by the Rashbash. Therefore the various individuals involved in the matter are not free to act as they see fit. Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur and beis din advocate Rav Tzvi Weinman have submitted a request to the beis din to take part in the discussion on the authority of the 5730 ruling.

J. According to ranking chareidi jurists the ruling issued by the High Rabbinical Court has both halachic and legal validity and is not subject to annulment or alteration, just like every other ruling issued by the beis din, and certainly no court in the world has the authority to interfere in halachic matters.

The Vaad hopes these clarifications will stir the public to stand guard to prevent non-Jews from entering Kerem Beis Yisroel.


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