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Monday, June 23, 2008

Rabbi Druckman, Rabbi Sherman and the Conversion Crisis (Part 10)

I saw an article in HaTzofe that gave an answer to a question that I asked in one of my previous posts on this subject. Among other things, I wanted to know what Rabbi Rosen's halachic basis was for certifying the conversions .

Here is Rabbi Rosen quoted in HaTzofe:

שניהם, בנפרד, גערו ברב דרוקמן שהבטיח לא לשנות באיוולת זו, ושניהם הורו שלא לערוך גיור מחודש ואפילו לא להחליף תעודות מחשש לחילול השם. כמובן שקבלתי בשמחה ואישרתי את כל גיורי הרב דרוקמן

My translation:
Both of them [Rabbis Shapira zt"l and Eliyahu shli"ta] , in separate, castigated Rabbi Druckman who promised not to repeat this foolishness [of signing conversion certificates for conversions where he was not present] , and both of them instructed me not to perform a renewed conversion [i.e. the converts do not have to repeat the conversion ceremony] and even not to replace the certificates for the fear of desecrating God's holy name. As is understood I received [this instruction] happily and I certified all of Rabbi Druckman's conversions.

So here it is, black on white, that the former Chief Rabbis ruled that the conversions are just fine in spite of the "forgeries", and as Rabbi Rosen wrote:
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].

Now I need to try to understand Rabbi Sherman shli"ta and his esteemed colleagues in the Great Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem. In their ruling they quote Rabbi Rosen at length, obviously accepted what he wrote as reliable. The head of the court, Rabbi Sherman wrote:
Among all of the voluminous material that exists in the file on the conduct of the Merkaz Shapira Conversion Court, and the conduct of the Court President Rabbi Druckman and his deputy Rabbi Y. Avior, I did not find any reaction, responsum or opinion by any expert rabbinic authority to the piercing halachic questions of Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, former head of the Conversion Administration.

Nu, because they found nothing in the file they decided to answer Rabbi Rosen's questions by themselves, arriving at conclusions that have serious implications for the converts. They mention that Rabbi Rosen sent questions concerning the matter to Rabbis Shapira zt"l and Eliyahu shli"ta. However, did they bother asking Rabbi Rosen if he received an answer from the Chief Rabbis? Although the answer received from the former Chief Rabbis was apparently oral, Rabbi Sherman obviously considers Rabbi Rosen's testimony reliable since he quoted him at length, as I have already mentioned!

At his point, as far as I am concerned, the instructions of two former Chief Rabbis outweigh the deliberations of Rabbi Sherman and his court. To be continued.

7 comments:

shlomo said...

"Rabbi Sherman obviously considers Rabbi Rosen's testimony reliable since he quoted him at length"

I don't think R' Rozen's personal reliability or lack thereof was a concern. I think R' Sherman came to his conclusion, and then went searching for evidence that supported his conclusion and ignored evidence that contradicted it.

(Kind of like we accuse Conservative and Reform rabbis of doing...)

yitz said...

Cosmic, I wonder if you've been reading the wonderful post by Rabbi Yitzchak Adlerstein at Cross-Currents on this topic.
Very open-minded & the over 70 comments are from a wide spectrum of opinions.
You write that Rabbis Shapira [zt"l] and Eliyahu [Shlita] "ruled that the conversions are just fine in spite of the 'forgeries'..."
Don't you thnk that it would be appropriate to know THEIR Halachic reasoning?
This comment at CC seems to indicate that we indeed need to know:

"and ignored the explicit instructions of the Chief Rabbi who is his superior!"
I’m sorry, but this argument is totally beyond me! How can an honest dayan NOT rule according to his honest-to-goodness opinion? His superior is the ALMIGHTY G-D and he responds to Him only! He must rule according to his understanding as to what is the Will of Hashem. Actually Hashem writes in His Torah "lo taguru MIPNEY ISH" that one of the requirements of a judge is not fear ANY MAN (including the chief rabbi) [ad kan]

What's your take on this?

Cosmic X said...

Shlomo,

You wrote,"I don't think R' Rozen's personal reliability or lack thereof was a concern. I think R' Sherman came to his conclusion, and then went searching for evidence that supported his conclusion and ignored evidence that contradicted it."

Maybe, but I haven't seen any evidence to support this. I judge him lechaf zechut.

Yitz,

It's a long post with a lot of comments...I read it but I can't really say that I read it in depth.

For sure, it would be nice to know their reasoning, but I do not think that this is critical. Two zekeinim kvar horu badavar. Perhaps they thought like the dayan that I talked to: Rabbi Druckman's signing those documents was problematic, but classifying him as pasul ladun uleha'id is going too far.

I think that Rabbi Sherman did at least two things that are quite questionable:

1) Publicizing a draft of the ruling at a convention of dayanim before hearing Rabbi Druckman's side of the story.

2) Publishing the ruling against the wishes of Rabbi Amar. This has nothing to do with "lo taguru". Because the ruling is so controversial and its implications so far reaching Rabbi Amar probably wanted to review it before it being issued. Rabbi Sherman didn't give him the chance.

I'm sure that Rabbi Sherman has his reasons why he did what he did. In the meantime I will continue to try to judge all favorably.

yitz said...

Cosmic, There's loads more to read, have you seen this?
http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/SHL68ardrukmn.htm

and mre articles here:
http://chareidi.shemayisrael.com/topics_giyur.htm

Cosmic X said...

Yitz,

I got a "404 File Not Found" on most of those links.

Anonymous said...

Rabbi Sherman's position is that if a convert ever is lax in their observance then the conversion is retroactivly invalid.

The good Rabbi's great great grandmother stood at Mt. Sinai and accepted the prohibition of not worshiping idols. Then fourty days latter she worshoped the Golden Calf.

So, according to Rabbi Sherman's own logic, her conversion was invalid. If so Rabbi Sherman should continue, all of her children and children's children to the end of all generations are not Jewish.

So Rabbi Sherman is not Jewish, so my question to Rabbi Sherman is how can he allow himself to sit on a Beis Din if he is a Goy

Cosmic X said...

Anon,

It's been a long time since I read Rabbi Sherman's ruling. However, if I remember correctly, what counts is the convert's intention at the time of conversion.

If the convert never sincerely intended to keep the mitzvot, this rends the conversion invalid.

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