Monday, June 16, 2008

Rabbi Druckman, Rabbi Sherman and the Conversion Crisis (Part 6)

Here's my transaltion of an interesting letter to Rabbi Yisrael Rosen and his even more interesting answer as posted on the Tzomet web site (hat tip: Rav Tzair). Rabbi Rosen's response sheds much light on how Rabbi Sherman's ruling is affecting him as well as many converts. The response also raises quite a few questions and things that I would like to comment on. In the meantime I am posting it as it is without my interjections. I do not claim that this is an exact translation, although I did my best. Words in square brackets were added by me for the sake of clarity:

Dear Rabbi Yisrael Rosen.

Do you confirm what was said in your name in Rabbi Sherman's ruling concerning Rabbi Druckman and Rabbi Avior (concerning the forgeries)? If so - why did you take part in the rally in support of Rabbi Druckman? These are not vexing questions [i.e. in order to vex you] - I want to know since I learn in Rabbi Druckman's yeshiva, and it is important for me to clarify the subject from its source. Excuse [me], and thanks in advance.

The question is not clear to me.
I unqualifiedly support all of the conversions of The Conversion System, including those that were performed by the most lenient [rabbis] (and there are those that say that I am among them...).
The Conversion System is one of my life works, and ever since the ruling I walk bent over and am worried about what will be. Quite a few converts telephoned me in tears, and I had to use all of my power of persuasion in order to calm them.
I took part in the assembly of the Tzohar rabbis in order to express my support in all the conversions, including Rabbi Druckman's conversions, including the years 99-2005 that with regards to them the Great Rabbinic Court, as if it were possible, invalidated. At the end of the assembly they requested signatures - and I signed unqualifiedly.

In the [Hebrew] year of 5760, it seems to me, when I was the head of The Conversion Administration, it suddenly became clear that Rabbi Druckman occasionally signs rabbinic court rulings [i.e. conversion certificates] which he did not take part in. In the wording of the ruling it is said that the signatories confirm that the convert came before them, and that they checked him and found him suitable and he took upon himself [to fulfill] the commandments in front of them [i.e. in their presence] and the like - this wording is truly impossible for one that did not sit in judgment at all.
I did not know what to with myself because of the responsibility that was upon me, and what I must do halachically, publicly and ...legally.

I reported this to [then Ashkenazic Chief] Rabbi Lau , who was my supervisor, and at his suggestion, and perhaps it was my suggestion and with his agreement (I do not remember), I turned to [former Chief] Rabbis Shapira (of blessed memory) and Eliyahu (may he live a long life) to ask them what I should do, and similarly if I should inform these converts and give them a new rabbinic court ruling[i.e. a new conversion certificate signed by the rabbis that were really present]. In order to fulfill my administrative obligation (and perhaps [my] legal and ethical [one]), I put my questions and concerns in writing, in a letter to Rabbis Shapira and Eliyahu that was quoted in the present ruling. By the way, in my letter I accused Rabbi Avior of causing Rabbi Druckman to stumble in this [matter], and I explained the reason why he did this.

To the best of my memory both of them (in separate) called Rabbi Druckman and woke up his ear [i.e.discussed the matter with him] (I did not take part in the meetings. This is what I heard from their confidants) and he on his part promised that such events would not be repeated.
With regards to the conversions that were already performed - since in the end there were three rabbis that sat in judgment, the conversion is valid because the certificate as a document is not necessary according to Jewish law, and even if there is 'a forgery in it' this does not harm the conversion. As is understood that such a decision intrinsically implies that he who signed [Rabbi Druckman] this kind of 'forgery', and also Rabbi Avior that caused [Rabbi Druckman] to sign because of a certain interest, and is himself [Rabbi Avior] a signatory as well, there is nothing in all this to cast a personal blemish or illegitimacy to judge [on Rabbi Druckman or Rabbi Avior].
After this "move" - I was calmed and did not investigate the subject further. From my perspective the affair was over.

At the end of that year I finished my job. The file with the correspondence and its addendum remained in the offices of the rabbinic court management. Years later I heard that the file 'became thicker' with additional events that I have no knowledge of.

It is superfluous to mention, that I never raised a waggling of an argumentation that, as if it were possible, because of this deed Rabbi Druckman should be personally invalid to judge ( and perhaps to testify etc.) as the judges in the Great Rabbinic court impudently argue. It is superfluous to mention that I did not transfer anything to the media, and until I read Rabbi Sherman's ruling I did not at all know that this old material was included in it, and use was made of it that is totally out of proportion.

It is not clear to me what - and perhaps who - brought you to turn to me. In any case I saw fit to clarify [this matter] and you can make fair use of my words by distributing them, or bringing them to whoever thinks that perhaps I have a hand in this trespass.

And be a blessing,

Rabbi Yisrael Rosen


Dotan Damti, Ashdod said...

(Whoops, sorry, I meant to post this comment here, not at your older post.)

Hi, are you Israeli? Yes, this is a relevant question. Because if you are Israeli and in touch with Israeli reality (not in some American ghetto), then you would know that the Israeli rabbinic court system is so corrupt that administrative shortcuts like signing a paper that you were there while actually sending someone else to represent you is commonplace.

It is so commonplace that huge numbers of dayyanim do it. It is so commonplace that those who oversee the court system have called it to task for such violations, including blaming illustrious dayyanim such as none other than Rav Sherman himself (!):

Does that make it right? No. Should such a corrupt rabbinic court system be overhauled (or maybe abolished)? Yes. Was Rav Druckman wrong? Yes.

But is this really relevant to the current conversion controversy, other than as an an extremely cynical ploy by Rav Sherman? No. Does this have any halakhic relevance to gerus or to the gerim themselves? No.

I add that the Israeli rabbinic court system is hell for those who have to use it. When bent or corrupted, that is usually for the people in power (the dayyanim), not for the good of Israeli citizens. Rav Druckman, on the other hand, bent the rules precisely to make it easier for people on a bureacratic level. He was wrong to do so, but not in the same way others like Rav Sherman are wrong for exactly the same offense.

To conclude, your repeated assertions on your blog that this is issue is of crucial relevance, or even of halakhic relevance, is utter nonsense.

That is why "nobody else" is treating it as such.

Cosmic X said...

I answered you on the older post.

Dotan said...

No, you didn't.

Most striking was that you utterly ignored Rav Sherman's identical misdemeanor.

Midvar sheker tirchak applies to everyone, and to the entire beit din system. Including to Rav Sherman.

But it has nothing to do with disqualifying converts. If it does, then I suppose you'll also raise it towards disqualifying Rav Sherman's gittin...

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