On Shabbat I asked a fairly well known rabbi if he read Rabbi Sherman's ruling. He replied that he read a draft of it. I asked him what does he think about it and he replied curtly, in a tone that bordered on rebuke, that he does not want to talk about it. He added that I can ask him a question about any subject except conversion. Looking back on the incident, I think that the rabbi would have been more willing to talk were it not for the fact that there were many other people listening. The subject is a hot potato!
Later on I was more successful. I had the opportunity to discuss the issue privately to a different rabbi who is a dayan (a religious court judge) that serves in the court of one of Israel's major cities. He told me that he read the ruling. He agreed with me that the "Religious Zionist versus ultra-Orthodox" media spin was misleading. In his opinion, the issues involved are far too complex to be dealt with by the media. He also told me the following:
- Evaluating the intentions of converts with regards to keeping the commandments is not always a simple matter.
- The wording of the documents that Rabbi Druckman signed, "In a council of three we sat and came before us...and we checked...and accepted the commandments in front of us etc.", is problematic for someone who was not there. (Sometimes a judge will add his signature to "certify" a "ma'avad" or "ma'ase beit din" that was already signed by three other judges that were present).
- However, he thinks that Rabbi Sherman and his court went too far in classifying Rabbi Druckman as being invalid to bear witness and to judge.
- There are difficult cases that come before judges where "everybody is right".
And so it goes. Keep tuned for updates.