Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Shevat 5771 - January 20, 2011 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Dayonim Decry Chilul Hashem Following Chief Rabbinate Decision on IDF Conversion

By Yechiel Sever

Gedolei Yisroel are voicing trenchant opposition to the uprooting of the Torah and halacha and the terrible desecration of the Name of Heaven through the decision to accept thousands of so-called conversions performed over the years through the IDF's "assembly-line" process, ignoring the basic halachic requirements and strident warnings by leading halachic authorities past and present. Veteran dayonim and rabbonim note that the committee appointed by the Chief Rabbinate to investigate army conversion determined that these "conversions" are rife with serious deficiencies and most of the conversion candidates do not keep Torah and mitzvas.

On Friday, HaRav Ovadia Yosef published a highly unexpected letter reading, "I have come to the conclusion that according to halacha, IDF conversions are valid according to our Holy Torah." Rabbonim reacted with shock and dismay over the acceptance of thousands of IDF conversions of soldiers who did not undertaken the yoke of mitzvas in the least, and have never even kept a single Shabbos.

Despite the tangled situation the IDF conversion apparatus has found itself in by defying clear warnings issued for years by maranan verabbonon shlita that army conversions are inadequate, immediately following the Chief Rabbinate's untenable ruling the Sephardic Chief Rabbi rushed to retroactively authorize his representative, Rafael Dayan, to engage in IDF conversions, thereby backing the validity of some 4,500 conversion certificates. These certificates were granted and signed without the certification of the Chief Rabbi's representative to recognize the certificate.

Prominent dayonim told Yated Ne'eman that even the investigating committee appointed to look into the matter of army conversion over the years reported serious faults, adding that this move cannot be tolerated.

They affirmed that one of the heads of the IDF conversion apparatus declared in a recent published article that bedi'eved, even if the conversion candidate did not accept mitzvas, the conversion is kosher.

"This is a drastic change," they said. The IDF Rabbinate "relies on conversions whose preparation and common denominator is in stark contrast to established halacha. Instead of teaching mitzvas, they are taught heresy. The committee itself includes members — in leading positions on the committee — who permit conversion without an acceptance of mitzvas. This is incomprehensible."

Leading dayonim Yated Ne'eman spoke with added another important detail: "According to a government decision reached a few years ago in accordance with the compromise proposal by Minister Yaakov Ne'eman in order to induce Reform activists to rescind their High Court petition to recognize Reform conversion, preparation of conversion candidates is divided into three streams, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox, and the conversion is performed by the Chief Rabbinate. The compromise was implemented primarily in the framework of IDF conversion, through the Joint Institutes known as Nativ.

"We have written material indicating they teach that the Exodus did not involve miracles, rather everything took place in accordance with the laws of nature, Rachmono litzlan. They also teach that conversion does not have to lead to Orthodoxy, rather that after the conversion they can practice Conservative or Reform Judaism. They are explicitly told that although the conversion itself, according to the government decision, must be Orthodox, this places no obligation on them following the technical conversion procedure. This is the very opposite of the halachic requirement in conversion."

The Joint Institutes began operating in the year 2000, following the government decision. Since then, nearly 5,000 conversions have been conducted in the IDF.

The Torah and halacha world is deeply disturbed over the uprooting of explicit halachos set down in the Shulchan Oruch, a move that also threatens to increase the danger of assimilation in Israel.

As noted repeatedly, gedolei Yisroel shlita vylct"a have unambiguously determined that conversions should only be performed by fixed, reputable botei din presided over by dayonim who are exemplary talmidei chachomim and yirei Shomayim.


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