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
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
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
We implore everyone: Do not accept imitations. Demand the
Rav Eisenstein is rav of Maalos Dafna in Yerushalayim and
chairman of the Vaad Horabbonim Haolami Leinyonei Giyur.