Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

15 Adar II 5760 - March 22, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Sponsored by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Produced and housed by

Opinion & Comment
Real Halacha and Purim Halacha

by Rav Nochum Eisenstein

It seems that we live in a generation known as achshero doro -- a fit generation that fulfills mitzvos. The last decade saw a tremendous worldwide increase in the use of the term glatt kosher. Signs of glatt kosher started appearing on all kinds of eating establishments, many of them in such places that it is questionable whether one may even enter the premises because of their undesirable atmosphere. However, eating became no problem. A "G-d- fearing Jew" was able to travel throughout the world with easy access to glatt kosher -- no questions asked. All of a sudden everything became glatt, eating became a favorite entertainment and the "highest standards of kashrus" were observed by simply putting a sign in the window -- even without proper worldwide rabbinical supervision.

One might think that now things are getting even "better" and the improvements have expanded to a wider circle of Jews. This latest unfounded boast is that everything is being done according to the halacha.

Not so long ago halacha was "out." Anything that had to do with halacha was old-fashioned and not worth talking about. Those on the side of "progress" had definitely left halacha behind.

Today halacha is "in." There is no doubt about it. The biggest indicator of its success is the fact that imitations have sprung up. Everyone wants to get in on the success and claim that his product or service is halachic. But the halachic "brand" must be guarded from phonies.

Here are a few examples which attracted my attention in the past few weeks:

1] The Vaad Horabbonim Haolami Leinyonei Giyur headed by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth had previously questioned the validity of conversions performed under the auspices of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The Vaad has documented evidence of conversions performed by the Israeli army, even though the candidate never had any intention to really observe Torah and mitzvos as halacha requires.

In an official reply sent by the IDF on 2/27/00, an army spokesman assured us that there is nothing to worry about. "It is superfluous to mention that conversions are all done according to Jewish halacha."

2] Recently Nochum Langenthal of the National Religious Party (NRP) proposed to redefine the status quo on religious matters and allow certain serious violations of Torah law "in exchange" for secular agreement to respect other areas. The NRP made the following statement in the NRP newspaper Hatsofe on 2/25/00. "As far as conversions, the proposed law calls for establishing conversion institutes where the principles of the Orthodox, Reform, and Conservative will be studied." This approach is based on the conclusions of the Ne'eman Committee for Conversion which were banned by all rabbonim including the Israeli Chief Rabbis. However, the NRP statement says we needn't worry -- the actual conversion will be done according to halacha.

3] A recent item in the press reported the completion of a Conservative movement mikva in Cleveland. Their need for this mikva arose from the fact that the local Orthodox-sponsored mikvaot did not allow them to use the existing mikvaot for their conversions. In 1997, when the plan was announced, the Vaad criticized some Orthodox Rabbis who tried to make the Conservative mikveh unnecessary by compromising and allowing them use of an existing mikva. Now that the Conservative mikva is functional they announced that their Park Synagogue Mikva is "a perfectly kosher mikva and meets every halachic standard."

Yet another example of the Conservative claim to abide by halacha this week is a policy change that was announced by the Conservative Camp Ramah to allow only halachic Jews to attend. The statement said that from now on only full-fledged halachic Jews will be accepted. The policy change is interesting in and of itself, but also of note is how it will be implemented: the Conservatives will make sure that strict halachic guidelines are used. Would you buy a slightly used Shulchan Oruch from these people?

4] The final example is a major advertising campaign in Israel's electronic media, promoting Reform marriage as an alternative "without the Rabbanut and without any mikva." For those who may have doubts about the validity of such a marriage, the advertisement is reassuring: the Reform will marry you kedas Moshe veYisrael.

Since it is the Purim season, one may think that these examples were said in that spirit. However, the sad facts are that this is not so. Since imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, these are sure-fire signs of success. Call something halachic and you're "in."

We who live al pi Shulchan Oruch as given over by Hashem to Moshe and then to Yehoshua and then to the Zekeinim who transmitted it faithfully through the generations unto the poskei doreinu, register a strong protest about the fraudulent representations of the true meaning of halacha.

We implore everyone: Do not accept imitations. Demand the real thing!

Rav Eisenstein is rav of Maalos Dafna in Yerushalayim and chairman of the Vaad Horabbonim Haolami Leinyonei Giyur.

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