Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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18 Adar II 5771 - March 24, 2011 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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A New Meaning for the Phrase Forced Converts

Commentary by A.Y.M.

Recently, shocking reports were published, saying the Chief Rabbinate had capitulated to High Court pressure, bypassed all of the local rabbis and appointed four national marriage registrars, rabbis who are known for their Mizrachi world view. Through this act they opened the way wide for every false convert who elects to enter, to come right in! It is plain to see that all of the clarifications issued by the Chief Rabbinate were empty.

Thus our only option is to give voice to the truth, time after time, to counter the world of deceptiveness. And the clear truth in this painful battle we learned from the teachings of Rabbenu Hagodol, Maran the Avi Ezri ztvk"l. He voiced it in his day publicly, with a bitter heart, saying these exact words: "When it is known that the prime minister is behind the dayan and the rov, and the fact that they are applying pressure to him demonstrates that HaKodosh Boruch Hu is not there, rendering a truthful hearing impossible."

According to his pointed remarks, the concept of "geirei arayos" has taken on a new meaning now. If during the time of the Prophets the "converts" were threatened, in our age the rabbinical figures in charge of conversion are threatened. The rapacious lion has opened its mouth and roared: the High Court, the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister, the Constitutional Committee Chairman — each has a roar of his own and a litany of threats, both known and unknown to us. One roars for recognition of Reform "conversion," another for recognition of rabbis from Tzohar and yet another to legally sever IDF "conversions" from the authority of the Chief Rabbinate, etc., etc. (And those which are not known to us are known to them.)

Finally the "conversion" courts are legally binding and have government backing. The Chief Rabbinate is really hard-pressed. Their only option is to resign. But of course there's always another way, you can also follow a convoluted path and contrive a "dispensation" to endorse 4,500 geirei arayos, i.e. people with a conversion certificate signed under duress.

Regarding the "dispensation," a fundamental point should be noted: our rabbonim are of the opinion that the "ruling" is wholly unfounded in claiming that the IDF "converts" earnestly undertook the yoke of mitzvas. In truth, when the "ruling" was presented to Moetzes Chachmei HaTorah, some of them refused to sign, as reported, and rightfully so, for there is no conversion in this case at all. Eventually they agreed to sign with the addition of a single sentence: "If he accepted the yoke of Torah and mitzvas in earnest, then the conversion is genuine," i.e. they question the Chief Rabbinate's absolute determination that these are genuine converts. Thus, the document undermines itself. Still, the "ruling" was issued loud and clear. IDF "converts" are permitted. (The above sentence was written in tiny letters that were too small to read.) Can this be considered a ruling?

How enduring are the remarks by Rabbenu Hagodol cited above, that when pressure is applied to the dayan and the rov, a legitimate hearing is infeasible.


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