Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Ellul 5767 - August 23, 2007 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Rabbinical Committee Warns Against Viewing Mass Conversion as Solution

By Betzalel Kahn

Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur, founded by the late Antwerp av beis din HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l, once again says that the large-scale "conversion" of the hundreds of thousands of non-Jews who moved to Israel in recent years should not be seen as a solution to their problem, as various figures associated with the government suggest.

The Vaad's remarks followed the release of the conclusions of an inter-ministerial committee, given to the Prime Minister on Monday, that included the setup of a new National Conversion Administration that would operate as a support unit under the auspices of the Prime Minister's Office. The administration would centralize all of the various steps and stages in the conversion process under one authority and include an expansion of the existing special conversion courts with more dayanim and greater funding for various conversion preparation programs.

According to an earlier report in Ha'aretz the Chief Rabbinate under Chief Rabbi Amar is slated to set up "a committee of dayanim" to "assess the various halachic matters which continue to delay the conversion of tens of thousands of new immigrants to this day." According to the article the decision was reached "following an agreement between Chief Rabbi Amar and the director-general of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, Erez Halfon, on the acceptance of the recommendations issued by the inter-ministerial committee that Halfon chairs, which discussed reorganizing the whole field of conversion."

However an official spokesman for the office of Chief Rabbi Amar wrote the Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l, in response to an inquiry, that "the report about a committee of dayanim to discuss the halachot and leniencies in the conversion process, or in the acceptance of mitzvos, have no foundation. There was never any thought of discussing such matters at all. The opinion of the Chief Rabbi of Israel HaGaon HaRav Shlomo Moshe Amar shlita, as expressed in a responsa, is well known: that without acceptance of mitzvos there is no possibility of conversion according to all halachic opinions. There is nothing whatsoever to discuss about this. All that was slated to be discussed was administrative and work flow matters, and nothing that has to do with the laws of conversion."

According to the recommendations, the new administration would be headed by a candidate who would be formally appointed by the Prime Minister, but in practice would be hand-picked by the Chief Rabbi and he would set the halachic guidelines for the new administration. According to some unconfirmed reports, the director will be former Knesset member Rabbi Haim Druckman, who is currently head of the conversion courts.

The Absorption Ministry is "complaining" that the central problem with the conversion process was the demand by some dayanim that converts keep Torah and mitzvas in full, and when it was learned that the children of conversion candidates had not transferred to religious schools, the conversions were canceled. "It was important for me to bring the matter before Rabbi Amar," said Halfon, "and I'm glad that he has agreed to discuss the issue."

According to Halfon, Rabbi Amar agreed to set up and head a committee that would include three dayanim who would assess the issue of mitzvah observance and would try to formulate clear guidelines. Absorption Ministry officials said that they hoped that after the committee is set up and the conversion process is run by a unified authority "it will be possible to ease the way for converts and even double their numbers, which are currently below 3,000 per year out of the 300,000 non-Jewish immigrants living in Israel."

The Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur is firmly resisting efforts to find "solutions" to the problems of hundreds of thousands of non-Jews who came to Israel in recent years. "It's impossible to expect people who have no ties to the Jewish religion to make a commitment to keep Torah and mitzvos in full, without which the conversion is invalid, even bedi'eved. Therefore there is no point in conducting negotiations with Absorption Ministry officials in the hopes that the setup of the committee would make it easier for would-be converts."

The Vaad spokesman added that in 5744 (1984) HaRav Shach, the Steipler, HaRav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach and ylct"a HaRav Eliashiv clearly stated that full acceptance of mitzvos is a precondition for conversion and otherwise the conversion is wholly invalid.

The Vaad says conversion must be under the full charge of talmidei chachomim yirei Shomayim from start to finish and the beis din system should only deal with earnest converts.


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.