Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

6 Elul 5759 - August 18, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Conversion Tidings

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

In an interview in the national-religious newspaper Hatsofe on 17 Av, Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, head of the Conversion Authority in Israel who had just returned from a trip to the C.I.S., claimed that he brought his new approach to conversion to Judaism to chutz la'aretz. This new approach, according to Rabbi Rosen, calls for taking steps to accommodate and encourage potential converts. Rabbi Rosen also claimed that his concept has also been adopted by chareidi rabbonim, and that his Conversion Authority is even staffed with chareidi dayanim who share his approach to conversion in the form of a new beis din that was established in Tel Aviv that is composed of dayanim who are graduates of chareidi yeshivas.

In response, the following statement was issued by the Beis Din Tzedek Legiyur of Tel Aviv:

1. Rabbi Yisrael Rosen serves as the head of a Conversion Institute and his sole function is to handle the administrative affairs of the country's conversion system. He is not authorized to convert non-Jews. Only botei din, which derive their authority from the Chief Rabbinate, may conduct conversions.

2. Maranan verabonon have always opposed setting up conversion courts outside the confines of the permanent botei din, since usually the purpose of these external botei din is to "accommodate the conversion candidates," as Rabbi Rosen himself states.

3. There is no heter permitting any compromise on the halachic requirement of conversion, and certainly not due to "current sociological problems and hardship." Under all circumstances, the motives of a conversion candidate and the sincerity of his intentions to observe Torah and mitzvos in full, must be thoroughly authenticated before a conversion can be performed.

4. There is no such thing as "dayanim who are in favor of conversions" as Rosen states. Every G-d-fearing dayan is willing to convert non-Jews according to halachic guidelines. A dayan who performs conversions without fulfilling these demands is accountable for allowing non-Jews to penetrate the Jewish nation, since the failure to completely and genuinely accept the yoke of the mitzvos renders a conversion invalid, even bedi'eved, as HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and HaRav Yaakov Yisroel Kanievsky, zt"l, and ylct"a Maran HaRav Eliezer Man Shach and Maran HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv stressed in a statement issued in 5744 (1984).

5. According to the official guidelines of the Chief Rabbinate, one may not convert non-Jews (including minors) if it is not absolutely certain that they will fully observe Torah and mitzvos after the conversion. To our great dismay, various extraordinary rabbinical courts engage in conversions without ensuring the minimal halachic conditions. The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth of Antwerp is currently investigating how it is that scores of conversions performed by unauthorized bodies which ignored minimal halachic standards were nonetheless approved by the Chief Rabbinate.

6. A conversion court was established in Tel Aviv with the encouragement and support of Chief Rabbi Yisroel Meir Lau. This court is staffed by dayanim who are G-d-fearing talmidei chachomim, and it functions according to the guidelines of the greatest halachic authorities of our time. The goal of this beis din is to arrange all conversions lechatchilo, according to all the requirements of halocho. This special beis din is thoroughly equipped to ascertain the intentions of the conversion candidate, with teams of experts from all over the world assisting it in its efforts. It approves conversions only if it is certain beyond all doubt of the sincerity of the candidate for conversion. Since most regular botei din in the country lack the means to ascertain the true intentions of these candidates, they do not engage in conversions.

7. Rabbi Rosen's remarks to the effect that the beis din in Tel Aviv is also "in favor of conversion" and tries to accommodate the conversion candidate is completely untrue, and it is a pity that these statements were not checked before they were published.

8. In conclusion, now that we are currently being inundated by massive waves of non-Jewish immigrants, it is vital to remain on the alert and to convert only those candidates who meet all halachic requirements. There is no need and certainly no obligation to conduct bedi'eved conversions, and it is certainly not good for Klal Yisroel under any circumstances and regardless of what the alternative will be. Invalid conversions must not be conducted at all. There is no substance to Rabbi Yisrael Rosen's "conversion tidings," and we are unaware of any authoritative rav who supports his compromising approach. Rabbi Rosen does not cite even one halachic authority who supports him. Heads of the Conference of European Rabbis with whom we spoke this week expressed reservations over the misinterpretation of their remarks, something which casts aspersions on the credibility of all of the other comments quoted in the article.

9. There is no benefit to an Orthodox rabbi doing an invalid conversion on someone who would otherwise get a Conservative or Reform conversion. On the contrary, such bogus and invalid conversions only mask the true facts and allow non-Jews to penetrate into Klal Yisroel.

10. The beis din in Tel Aviv was established with the encouragement and support of the gedolei haposkim to meet the need of true geirei tzedek who want to undergo conversion with all the lechatchilo requirements and conditions, and who therefore deserve to receive a certificate that is not only recognized by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and by the Israeli government, but also by all chareidi rabbonim throughout the world. The beis din may be contacted via fax at: 972-2-532-2047; or by phone at: 972-(0)53-814-200.

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