Rav Soloveitchik on Insincere Conversion

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The acceptable parameters for conversion to Judaism have occupied the community’s imagination for the past few years, with scholars arguing whether there is any room to convert someone who has no intention to observe Jewish law. Prominent in the discussion is the view of Maimonides, who according to some validates post facto the conversion of a non-observant individual. Lost in this debate is the view of R. Joseph B. Soloveitchik, to many the leading rabbinic scholar of the mid to late twentieth century.

Here is what he wrote about Maimonides’ view in Kol Dodi Dofek, translated as Fate and Destiny: From the Holocaust to the State of Israel (p. 91 n. 24):

Maimonides, in Laws of Forbidden Intercourse 13:17, states: “A convert who was not examined or who was not informed about the commandments and the punishments [for transgressing them], but was circumcised and immersed in the presence of three laymen, is deemed a [valid] convert.” I once heard from my father and master [R. Moshe Soloveichik] of blessed memory, that Maimonides does not mean to say that a person who converted with the intention of not observing the commandments is deemed a valid convert. Such a notion would subvert the entire concept of conversion and the holiness of Israel, which exhausts itself in our obligation to fulfill God’s commandments. Maimonides’ position is that the acceptance of the commandments, unlike immersion, does not constitute a distinct act in the process of conversion that would require the presence of a court. Rather, acceptance of the commandments is a defining feature of the conversion process that must be undergone for the sake of fulfilling the commandments. Therefore, if we know that the convert, at the time of immersion, is willing to accept the yoke of the commandments, the immersion effects conversion even though there was no special act of informing the convert about the commandments and his consenting to fulfill them, since the convert intends to live the holy life of an observant Jew.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of TorahMusings.com, a leading website on Orthodox Jewish scholarly subjects, and the Book Editor of the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Action magazine. He writes a popular column on issues of Jewish law and thought featured in newspapers and magazines, including The Jewish Link of New Jersey, The Jewish Echo and The Vues. In the past, he has served as the President of the small Jewish publisher Yashar Books and as the Managing Editor of OU Press. Rabbi Student serves on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America and as Director of the Halacha Commission of the Rabbinical Alliance of America. He also serves on the Editorial Board of Jewish Action magazine and the Board of OU Press. He has published five English books, the most recent titled Search Engine volume 2: Finding Meaning in Jewish Texts -- Jewish Leadership, and served as the American editor for Morasha Kehillat Yaakov: Essays in Honour of Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

125 comments

  1. It’s interesting that according to the Rav’s position (assuming he agrees with his father as appears to be the case), the RCA’s stringent rules concerning the education of the prospective convert’s children are not only unnecessary but, I would argue, improper; i.e., rejecting a prospective convert who “intends to live the holy life of an observant Jew.”

  2. I’m not so sure. The Rambam is speaking about bedieved.

  3. “Joseph Kaplan on June 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm
    It’s interesting that according to the Rav’s position (assuming he agrees with his father as appears to be the case), the RCA’s stringent rules concerning the education of the prospective convert’s children are not only unnecessary but, I would argue, improper; i.e., rejecting a prospective convert who “intends to live the holy life of an observant Jew.”

    Hirhurim on June 9, 2011 at 10:38 pm
    I’m not so sure. The Rambam is speaking about bedieved.”

    Tend to agree with Gil-at least to the extent that the family lives near day schools and there is a day school willing to educate the child. A refusal to agree to day schools where practical could be IMHO possibly be considered a refusal to try and bring up the child as religious.

    Re Rav on conversion-my guess is that one could try and determine what the RCA in this matter during the time when the Rav was Chairman of the Halacha Commission-when the Rav was clear Halachik decider of the RCA.
    There were various committees etc that were involved in geirus that the RCA sent representatives to.

  4. william gewirtz

    Listen to the shiur by R. Meir Lichtenstein on the net and read R. Moshe lichtenstein in daf kesheron this topic. the issue is not black and white even according to the rav ztl’s interpretation of rambam (what constitutes sincere commitment to observe mitzvot) and there are other readings of rambam’s position (particularly considering his tshuvah on geirut.)

  5. “at least to the extent that the family lives near day schools and there is a day school willing to educate the child.:

    1. That’s not what the RCA demands; unless they changed the GPS since I read them when they came out, it demands much more — i.e., the convert has to agree to live in a community that has not only a day school but also a yeshiva high school.

    2. And if a parent thinks that a yeshiva education is not appropriate for his/her child because of, say, educational/developmental/academic reasons? Again, as I read the GPS (and i have not read them for a while), there was little if any flexibility in them for such situations.

    Read them, Mycroft — they’re online — and tell me if you read them differently.

    • To the extent that a requirement is absolute that no day school education, no conversion for a child to be brought up agree that apparent requirement is not one of the Rav’s viewpoint. Day school education is not an absolute. It is an absolute that agreement to follow guidance of their Rabbi is crucial and follow Halacha. Usually day school attendance would be required but due to various factors could be reasons why not appropriate. Essential is acceptance of mitzvot and accepting of authority. Day school does not equal Mila where no male gerus possible without it even if male can’t medically have a bris.

  6. But what about Rambam in Issurei Biah that King Shlomo’s wives were converts who did not accept the prohibition of idolatry at the time of their giyur, and so the Tanakh called them gentiles, even though they were really Jews?

  7. “I once heard from my father and master [R. Moshe Soloveichik] of blessed memory, that Maimonides does not mean to say that a person who converted with the intention of not observing the commandments is deemed a valid convert.”

    This is very important in terms of opening a window on what the Rav zt”l thought about the issue. Thank you Rabbi Gil.

    At the same time, when it comes to actual pesak truth is paramount. The very phrasing of the above passage “that Maimonides does not mean to say” shows how deeply aware Rav Moshe zt”l was of the plain implication of the Rambam’s words, and that this bothered him deeply.

    But this is not peshat in the Rambam, especially when you consider Rambam’s comments further on about the wives of Solomon.

    Shabbat Shalom

  8. Rambam is clear that the wives of Shlomo and Shimshon were sincere converts who later returned to the previous, idolatrous ways. In your way of reading that Halakhah (13:17), I don’t understand the phrase “chosheshin lo”.

    Yaakov: You are free to disagree with R. Soloveitchik but I think that anyone familiar with his writing will agree that he meant this as peshat in the Rambam.

  9. Gil — to keep this focused, are you addressing the question of whether a convert’s sincerity is questioned during the conversion process, or after the Beit Din has approved the sc

  10. (cont) or after the Beit Din has approved the conversion and Mila / T’villa has occurred?

    If the latter, please address RHS’s comments as above.

  11. OK, I’m not as learned as the Rav or his father, which is obvious. But can this layman point out something else which, I think, is also obvious: That this is a *real* kvetch into the words of the Rambam? We’ve all heard the accusation that Brisker interpretations of texts basically read their own views and thought processes into them, and it’s pretty clear that this is happening here.

    Also: “the holiness of Israel, which exhausts itself in our obligation to fulfill God’s commandments”

    It does??

  12. Nachum: It’s because elsewhere (13:4) Rambam defines conversion in part as accepting the yoke of Torah
    http://mechon-mamre.org/i/5113.htm

    IH: Neither. Rav Schachter was talking about when there is a valid conversion. Everyone would agree that, for example, if none of the conversion process was witnessed by a beis din that there was no conversion. RHS wrote that in a letter that I think was published in his Ginas Egoz. Similarly, if there was no acceptance of the mitzvos then there was no conversion. But someone who converts ka-halakhah is irreversibly Jewish.

  13. Gil – Sorry, but I’m not understanding what the case being discussed is then? Can you clarify?

    RHS, in this interview, appears to be saying that once the conversion has been completed (via Mila / T’villa) the conversion itself cannot be made nullified without nullifying all the conversions of that Beit Din.

  14. RHS: “What do you mean ‘mevattel‘ (cancel)? You can’t be mevattel gerus. They just said that the beis din was pasul – we do that all the time. If a Conservative beis din did the conversion, we are ‘mevattel‘ it. Why were they mevattel her gerus? They just investigated all of R. Druckman’s conversions because of this case and then they were mevattel them.”

  15. “Rambam is clear that the wives of Shlomo and Shimshon were sincere converts who later returned to the previous, idolatrous ways. In your way of reading that Halakhah (13:17), I don’t understand the phrase “chosheshin lo”.”

    Actually, Rambam is perfectly clear that Solomon’s wives never ceased to be idolators. Peshat in “Chosheshim lo” is on a social level, since insincere converts like Solomon’s wives (as opposed to the “gerei zedek” discussed initially by the Rambam) are potentially an evil influence on society. But they are Jews.

    This whole discussion of the Rambam is ancient history. To many reders of the Rambam from the times of the rishonim to this day, peshat in the Rambam is clearly as I stated it above. Others disagree (though sometimes expressing how troubling the implication nevertheless is to them, as in the case of Rav Moshe zt”l). Bottom line is that this is a powerful reading of the Rambam, powerful both in its logic and its practical implications, and the Shulchan Arukh can easily be read in the same way.

    Shabbat Shalom

  16. “Joseph Kaplan on June 9, 2011 at 11:55 pm
    “at least to the extent that the family lives near day schools and there is a day school willing to educate the child.:

    1. That’s not what the RCA demands; unless they changed the GPS since I read them when they came out, it demands much more — i.e., the convert has to agree to live in a community that has not only a day school but also a yeshiva high school.

    2. And if a parent thinks that a yeshiva education is not appropriate for his/her child because of, say, educational/developmental/academic reasons? Again, as I read the GPS (and i have not read them for a while), there was little if any flexibility in them for such situations.

    Read them, Mycroft — they’re online — and tell me if you read them differently”
    I have read them-we are discussing in this thread the Rav and conversion-not the current RCA and conversion. Gil the owner of this blog was discussing the Rav and conversion-my comments have been referring to the Rav and conversion.
    The Rav has not been the effective leader of the RCA for over a quarter of a century-no reason to assume that current RCA policy will agree or disagree with the Rav.
    I am aware of current RCA “guidelines”-I am aware of the difference in my language and their language and was aware of the difference when I wrote the post.

  17. I wonder if the Rambam was specifically stating his halacha on gerim to be in accordance with what has historically occurred. Before the destruction of the second beis hamikdash there were quite a few incidents of insincere conversion and even forced conversions, things nobody would accept today but seem to have been practically accepted in the past by chazal (i.e. forced conversion of the Idumeans and others).

    Part of the reluction of acceptance of converts in the first place stems from when the Romans made Judaism illegal and they would send people to “convert” and then report on where the Jews were hiding (the impetus behind the “19th” bracha in Shmona Esrei against mosrim were specifically these kinds of people, seemingly implying the acceptance that they were Jewish). Before that, Judaism was practically a proselytizing religion.

  18. Yaakov: The Rambam Quotes the wives after the case of a ger who *returned* to idolatry. That seems to me to be a reference to a ger she-chazar le-suro not someone who never left idolatry.

    Synapse: Doesn’t the Talmud debate whether the Idumeans were sincer converts (gerei emes) or insincere (gerei arayos)?

  19. With all due respect, the view that rabbi Soloveitchik was “the leading rabbinic scholar of the mid to late twentieth century” is very parochial. He was an important Rosh Yeshiva and and interesting philosopher. But, he never wrote a single halakhic teshuva nor any written work of halakha. Many great Sephardic rabbis of the 20th century were greater halakhists than rav Soloveitchik, as were several great Ashkenazic rabbis. Furthermore, in this specific case, rabbi Moshe Soloveitchik is making a circular argument: IF you presume a certain specific notion of what conversion is, THEN you are forced to read Rambam in a (certain forced) way. However, a more humble approach would be to say: GIVEN that the pshat of Rambam seems to be that (at least be-di-eved) giyyur is valid without kabbalat mitzvot, THEN perhaps what we thought was a self-evident presumption is not so self-evident at all…

  20. The post qualifies the praise with “to many”, which I believe is entirely accurate. You can disagree. That’s your prerogative.

    He was, however, the posek for the largest organization of Orthodox rabbis in the world and wrote many teshuvos. His son has published a few volumes of his halakhic writings.

  21. As the editor of Kol Dodi Dofek, I have to issue a serious caveat to this entire discussion. First, you can’t extrapolate from a theoretical discussion to actual Psak Halakha. 2) There is absolutely no way that the Rav would ever have overturned a properly constituted Gerus, based on alternative opinions (especially if the opinion was that of RHOG, who he revered.) The story told by R. Mordechai Feuerstein in Memories of a Giant only undercores this point. 3) Amb. Yehudah Avner reports in his book that the Rav was open to creating a mechanism to resolve the Gerus logjam, and was waiting for Lubavitch to quiet down before doing so.

    Zvi’s comment is disingenuous, at best. Every contemporary Gadol acknowledge the Rav’s preeminence (including R. Aaron Kotler and R. Joseph Cahaneman. I have it on good authority that R. Shmuel Rosovsky felt the same.) And since when is writing your Piske Halakha a bad thing. R. Shalom Shachna, Rebbe of the Rema and the Maharshal paskened for all of Poland yet wrote nothing down because he didn’t want to hamstring his followers. Would you say RHS, RVS, and others were’s preeminent because they didn’t publish Teshuvos? Would you say that the Terumas haDeshen was not an authority because he wrote only learned essays. כל זה הבל ורעות רוח.

  22. Lawrence Kaplan

    Gil: Where are the “many” teshuvot the Rav wrote? We have three teshuvot from him in English written over a six month period in the 1950s and published in Community, Covenant, and Commitment. We have reports of many oral pesakim. But where are the written Teshuvot?

    By the way, the translation Kol Dodi Dofek is mine.

  23. PS
    I edited the alternative translation.

  24. Dr. Haym Soloveitchik has been publishing them — Iggeros HaGrid, Chiddushei HaGram VeHaGrid

  25. Dr. Woolf: I’m not sure what you mean by the reference to R. Chaim Ozer but given his explicit rejection of the approach adopted by R. Chaim Druckman (devarim she-ba-lev einam devarim), I think that might give us an idea of where RYBS would stand.

  26. It’s always interesting to me that this discussion devolves into a subjective argument over someone’s sincerity, manner and degree of observance when the basic requirements for conversion are plain and simple (immersion, (male) circumcision and being informed of the some of the major and minor commandments). I’ll even go so far as to say that modern day orthodoxy’s evolution of that last requirement into some murky litmus test of the ger’s observance subverts our own responsibilities to Hashem in so far as we completely subjugate our broader obligation to Klal Yisroel. It’s the wrong battle to be fighting.

    A more intellectually honest and, in my opinion, faithful approach to this matter would be to allow judgement for acceptance of the yoke of the commandments to which the ger (and the entire community) was informed to remain where it belongs, with Hashem. And if we as a community feel compelled to institute conformity to the manner and extent in which our obligations our performed, then we apply it across our entire community. If you want the amud, an alyiah, a board seat, maybe even membership, etc, then you better be shomrei mitzvot in the proscribed manner by that shul. But apply it to all, openly, in a similar manner.

    Until such time as we hold ourselves to the same standards as we do the ger, and embrace the issue in a positive, proactive manner, the orthodox community will remain hamstrung by this issue and in violation of its commitments to Klal Yisroel.

  27. The above cited footnote should IMO be compared with RYBS’s other oral and written statements on Gerus-which can be found in a shiur on the Aseres HaDibros as well as the shiur on Gerus. I think that R Gil’s analyis is correct-the footnote is clearly speaking about a Bdieved case of Gerus.

    How can a convert ” live the holy life of an observant Jew” without undertaking to educate his children as a Torah observant Jew via enrollment in day schools and yeshiva high schools?

  28. “if there was no acceptance of the mitzvos then there was no conversion. But someone who converts ka-halakhah is irreversibly Jewish.”

    I’d like to come back to the specific case Gil quotes:

    “Maimonides, in Laws of Forbidden Intercourse 13:17, states: “A convert who was not examined or who was not informed about the commandments and the punishments [for transgressing them], but was circumcised and immersed in the presence of three laymen, is deemed a [valid] convert.” I once heard from my father and master [R. Moshe Soloveichik] of blessed memory, that Maimonides does not mean to say that a person who converted with the intention of not observing the commandments is deemed a valid convert.”

    My reading of this is that Gil is suggesting that RYBS, in the name of his father RMS, IS suggesting a post-conversion nullification based on the alleged motivation of a specific convert.

    RHS rejects this, per the quotation above; a specific conversion cannot be nullified, only all the conversions of a specific beit din.

    So, Gil, are you just re-opening the larger conversion debate, or is there a more focused point you are trying to make here?

  29. “That’s not what the RCA demands; unless they changed the GPS since I read them when they came out, it demands much more — i.e., the convert has to agree to live in a community that has not only a day school but also a yeshiva high school.”

    I heard Rabbi Frendel say publicly a few years ago that they waive the day school requirement where it seems unreasonable. He specifically mentioned a family in the military.

    “Rambam is clear that the wives of Shlomo and Shimshon were sincere converts who later returned to the previous, idolatrous ways. ”

    Even his Egyptian wife?

    “Doesn’t the Talmud debate whether the Idumeans were sincer converts (gerei emes) or insincere (gerei arayos)?”

    IIRC, it reports that King Agrippa was accepted by Am Yisrael.

    ‘How can a convert ” live the holy life of an observant Jew” without undertaking to educate his children as a Torah observant Jew via enrollment in day schools and yeshiva high schools?’

    Are you saying that a community that doesn’t have a yeshiva high school can never accept a convert?

  30. IH: The point of this post is that according to Rav Soloveitchik, a conversion to Judaism requires acceptance of the commandments even bedieved. Nothing you quoted from RHS implies that he disagrees with that.

    Aaron: How do you understand the Talmudic debate over whether the Nesinim were geirei emes? This is *not* a new concern. The conversion judges are tasked with ensuring that the converts are sincere. That is how it always was.

    Someone asked (and I deleted the question) about a specific convert that RHS recently approved. He did approve her because he was convinced she would be Torah observant. To my knowledge, she certainly was for a short time after and continues to be, albeit not dressing like a Beis Yaakov girl.

  31. “How can a convert ” live the holy life of an observant Jew” without undertaking to educate his children as a Torah observant Jew via enrollment in day schools and yeshiva high schools?”

    Um, the same way that millennia of holy, observant Jewish parents didn’t send their kids to day schools and yeshiva high schools? A little humility, please.

  32. We should distinguish between someone “was not informed about the commandments and the punishments” (the Rambam) and someone who converted “with the intention of not observing the commandments” (the Rav). What about a convert that intends to observe the commandments what was not informed about them? Does this not have a precedent with B’nai Yisrael — “na’aseh v’nishma”?

  33. “acceptance of the commandments even bedieved”

    Nu? Please spell it out, Gil. Are you saying that if someone completed his/her conversion with Mila / T’villa and it is then “discoverd” the convert was not sincere (i.e. the plain meaning of your quotation “a person who converted with the intention of not observing the commandments is deemed a valid convert.”) then the conversion is no longer valid?

    [If so, this does contradict RHS’s quoted words]

  34. Hesh: I think just about everyone agrees that is good.

    IH: Yes and no.

  35. So as not to sow any confusion, I should have extended your quotation: “does not mean to say that a person who converted with the intention of not observing the commandments is deemed a valid convert”

    Vs. RHS ““What do you mean ‘mevattel‘ (cancel)? You can’t be mevattel gerus. They just said that the beis din was pasul – we do that all the time. If a Conservative beis din did the conversion, we are ‘mevattel‘ it. Why were they mevattel her gerus? They just investigated all of R. Druckman’s conversions because of this case and then they were mevattel them.”

  36. The question to which RHS was respond was:

    “What is your opinion about the retroactive cancellation of conversion (bittul gerut)…?”

  37. Lawrence Kaplan

    The volumes published by Dr. Haym Soloveitchik consist of the Rav’s Hidsuhiei Torah, not written teshuvot.

    I agree with Dr. Woolf that one cannot extrapolate from the Rav’s hiddushim to a pesak halakhah.

  38. Nachum wrote:

    “Um, the same way that millennia of holy, observant Jewish parents didn’t send their kids to day schools and yeshiva high schools? A little humility, please.”

    That’s simply because the educational system that inculcates and educates Jewish boys and girls was non existent. I wouldn’t be so prompt to say that the standards for medieval and pre modern Western and Eastern European Jewish education have a whole lot of validity to the issues posed re Gerus in 21st Century America or Israel. None lesss than R Herzog ZL pointed out that the standards for Gerus that existed in prior historial epocs have limited application.

  39. IH: The two issues are unconnected. Ask him whether a conversion is valid if we know with certainty that the candidate never accepted the mitzvos. He will say “No”.

  40. Larry Kaplan-Do we not extrapolate all the time from the Shitos of Rishonim vis a vis their Halachic stances from works which we would call Perushim or Chiddushim, as opposed to works that are solely and wholly ShuT in nature?

  41. william gewirtz

    Steve Brizel, relative to your question to Dr. Kaplan, on exactly your question read the response of of R. Isser zalman meltzer to the CI (and wrt a similar view from R. Moshe Lapidus a generation earlier)zichronam levracha to derive a dateline from either a conceptual (baal hamaor) or a philosophic (the kuzari) work. Chiddush in halakha has to be carefully circumscribed by a mimetic tradition. a retroactive annulment based on a highly likely insincere kabalat hamitzvot, is unprecedented and evoked quite a response when R. Goren (who had other bases as well) freed the langer twins from mamzeirut.

    i do not have the seforim at this moment, but i believe R. Shlomo Kluger (referenced by RCOG) quotes a tshuvah of the rambam relevant to this thread.

  42. Gil, what RHS wrote is plain to see. Perhaps like his teacher, he tells different people different things. But, at the end of the day his dated written stateements will remain beyond any “I heard”.

    If he has changed his mind in regard to the statements he made public in Kol Hamevaser less than a year ago, he should put them in writing.

  43. Larry Lennhoff

    The most recent release of the IRF’s journal Conversations includes an article by Zvi Zohar about the current state of conversions in Israel. According to him, a significant group of marriage registrars in Israel believe that if a convert (who converted years ago) applies for marriage and does not observe all the mitzvot they should be considered to be not Jewish, irrespective of their behavior and beliefs at the time of conversion.

  44. IH: You are conflating two issues and manufacturing a contradiction that doesn’t exist.

    Larry L: I agree. This is mainly a social and political problem, and its solution has to be social and political rather than halakhic.

  45. Gil: RHS contradicts the point you are trying to make. This is plainly evident in the words (as above).

    Once the beit din approves the giyur and mila/t’villa occurs, the only way to cancel a suspected insincere conversion is to nullify all the conversions of that beit din.

  46. William Gewirtz-Re R Goren ZL’s Psak re the Langer twins, IIRC, RYBS was very critical of that psak as negating any requirement of Kabalas Ol Mitzvos.

  47. Obviously I have tremendous respect for the Rav Z”L but his interpretation is not the only, nor even the most compelling, reading of the Rambam’s position. Rav Uziel’s view is a much more convincing peshat in the Rambam, even if you are not willing to rely upon it lehalacha. The Rav’s interpretation asks us to posit an essential premise that the Rambam himself never suggests – העיקר חסר מן הספר.

  48. MiMedinat HaYam

    over yom tov, i saw a copy of rav goren’s choveret on the langer case.

    would make interesting reading today. (just dont look at the name of the first rav of the bet din.)

    the charedim (essentially) refused to void the gerut, and the dati leumi’im voided the gerut.

    of course, the details (as discussed above) are different, as is the protexia of the siblings, but imagine if the case wwere played out today? the charedim would allow the siblings to marry, unlike in those days. or many posting here.

    2. living in a community with appropriate schooling for children is de riguer for jewish living today (as is mikva, kosher food stores, ?kosher pizza?, etc.)

    of course, if there’s an eruv in town, a ger cannot live there. (satire on this para. but the first para is true.)

  49. This is just an excerpt from a longer discussion. It might be worthwhile to see the whole thing before rendering judgment.

    The Rambam says explicitly in 13:4 that acceptance of the commandments is essential to conversion.

  50. What Rambam says on this topic is contested territory. Please stop trying to make arguments on the basis of ~”of course, anyone who knows understands that…”~. It ain’t that simple and the answer is not a slam dunk.

  51. Lawrence Kaplan

    Steve: You got it EXCACTLY BACKWARDS. Rabbi Goren retroactively invalidated the geirus performed by the Beit Din because he argued on the basis of witnesses that there was NO kabbalat mitzvot on the part of the first husband. The irony, which has often been noted, is that the Haredi rabbinic leadership, after excoriating Rabbi Goren, adopted, some decades later, his position in spades.

  52. “The Rav’s interpretation asks us to posit an essential premise that the Rambam himself never suggests – העיקר חסר מן הספר.”

    Please. Read Issurei Biah 13:1-2. Rambam is quite clear that geirus means entering the same covenant the Jewish people entered into at Har Sinai, which includes ” ויקבל עליו עול תורה” The Soloveichik’s did not make it up.

    As for Shimshon and Shlomo, most of the comments here are confusing intention with motivation. The Rambam is discussing people who had a bad motivation, not an improper intention. THe halakha is naturally suspicious of that situation, because the person may not be sincere in his intent. But nowhere does the Rambam say that one who lacks the proper intent is a kosher ger.

  53. william gewirtz

    Dr Kaplan and Steve Brizel, R. Goren ztl, operating in a case of mamzerut, not simply a geirut, created doubt if a conversion before a qualified BD even occurred. IIRC he claimed the rabbi of the town where the geirut was claimed to have occurred was opposed to performing such conversions and the bride’s father may have convened a BD of Hedyotot. In any case, R. Goren was attacked by the same logic that is today becoming charedi halakha.

    wrt to the Rav’s ztl position on that case, listen to R. Rakeffet’s shiurim on geirut where if i recall correctly, r. rakeffet claims the rav was unhappy with the style r. goren exhibited running roughshod over the various batei dinim. my own recollection based on conversation with rabbi wurzberger ztl at the time is not sufficiently clear, though i believe his view was that the rav had a more nuanced position than is being depicted, something i cannot be certain i heard or remember correctly.

  54. william gewirtz

    to be clear, r. goren created a whole set of sefaikot as is traditional in such cases of mamzeirut, and relied on more than the lack of sincerity as a basis.

  55. In my last post, the reference to Issurei Biah 13:1-2 should read 13:1-4, at least for some printings of the Rambam. (The online version I was using for some reason numbers the halakhos differently, in this case 1-2 instead of 1-4 as in the printed version.)

  56. Larry Kaplan and Dr Gewirtz-was there not another Gerus approved of by R Goren ZL , as opposed to the Langer case, where RYBS was quite critical of R Goren ZL publicly for dispensing with Kabalas Ol Mitzvos?

  57. Steve – 3 years before was the infamous Helen Seidman conversion.

  58. Background in RJDB’s “Contemporary Halakhic Problems”
    http://tinyurl.com/3py9zw6

    As one can see from this one page, Judaism has historically had a bipolar reaction to conversion. And so it goes…

  59. william gewirtz

    steve brizel, i have not read any of the details on the helen seidman case. i believe that r. goren claimed a different standard in a jewish / israeli society than in galut. i am unaware of the rav’s position though i can well imagine that he might oppose. i believe R. ovadia yosef approved the seidman conversion, though i may be mistaken.

  60. R’ Gil said: “Aaron: How do you understand the Talmudic debate over whether the Nesinim were geirei emes? This is *not* a new concern. The conversion judges are tasked with ensuring that the converts are sincere. That is how it always was.”

    I agree that judging the sincerity of a prospective convert is a meaningful factor in the process. But you’re mixing a judgement needed to be made *prior* to conversion with proper procedure. If in the judgement of the Beis Din the prospective convert is sincere at that time, all that is left is to make sure that proper the procedure is carried out.

    Assuming we are referring to the same debate, I think the example of Nesinim fits nicely with my previous statements and follow-up.

    1) Nowhere in Yehoshua’s experience does performance of mitzvot become a proxy for sincerity. They were judged sincere at the time of conversion. Implicitly, the Givonim were taken through the proper procedures (mila, tevila, being informed…) and the process was complete. The subsequent discovery of an ulterior motive did not form a basis for either removing them from the Jewish people or (I’m sure more importantly to them) going back on his word not to attack and destroy them (in direct violation of his obligation to Hashem!).

    2) Even if you were to read the Yehoshua’s experience as implying that there was a basis for rescinding their inclusion within the Jewish nation, it was trumped by his broader obligations to Klal Yisroel. We can find countless examples in our mesorah of deference to this obligation in justifying a leniency (if you view it as such).

    3) I view the changing of their status within the Jewish nation to Nesinim as a punishment for their collective political behavior unrelated to gerus (it’s an artifact of the situation). Hence our sages subsequent motivation to ultimately remove this gezeriah from individuals, to which I understand is the case.

  61. “I agree with Dr. Woolf that one cannot extrapolate from the Rav’s hiddushim to a pesak halakhah.”

    Not that Drs Woolf and Kaplan need my haskama but I agree with them.
    BTW-precisely thew danger is extrapolating from a chakira in a shiur or discussion of Torah to halacha lemaaseh.

  62. >i believe R. ovadia yosef approved the seidman conversion, though i may be mistaken.

    You are correct, and he had the same reason as R’ Goren which is that the mapai leaders were threatening legislation which would have taken the government recognized power of geirut away from the rabbinate if a solution was not found. The cheshbon was simple – allow this one loud-mouthed ger through in order to maintain control of the conversion apparatus. Think of it as a tikkun for the anvatanut of ר’ זכריה בן אבקולס.

  63. Am I horribly mistaken to suggest that the Rav was cautioning us not to extrapolate too much from the Halacha cited in his essay, and that the Rambam was talking about a faulty Beit Din which did not prepare that aspect of the conversion properly?

  64. who would come to rabbis to convert and not say yes to what they told him was required? this post makes no sense from start to finish.

  65. The following fragment from my comment on news & links is probably relevant to this post

    mycroft on June 12, 2011 at 12:31 am
    “Rabbi Broyde’s claim about RYBS is ludicrous. It is well known that RYBS forbade geirim from serving as pulpit rabbis al pi the Rambam.”
    I don’t know the answer-but have gerim served as pulpit Rabbis?
    Taking comment as opportunity for some comments about the footnote that IH is referring to.

    “Firstly, it should be emphasized that the Rav made his statements regarding inui kahal in iyyun shiurim, based solely on Rambam, and never gave a specific psak regarding women as rabbis”
    If true, important one can’t extrapolate from the Ravs shiurim to halacha lemaaseh-it is possible it could be a chakirah for shiur etc-did the Rav ever make a psak as head of the RCA Halacha commission-does the RCA allow gerim-did it allow gerim back during the Ravs time-did it prohibit gerim from acting as schul Rabbis during the Ravs time?

  66. “The irony, which has often been noted, is that the Haredi rabbinic leadership, after excoriating Rabbi Goren, adopted, some decades later, his position in spades.”

    Because sadly way too often halachik analysis does not depend on the merits of the POV but on who said it.

  67. “ploni on June 12, 2011 at 10:05 am
    who would come to rabbis to convert and not say yes to what they told him was required? this post makes no sense from start to finish.”

    This fragment is part of a shiur-a shiur need not necessarily be equal to halachah lemaaseh.

  68. Ploni: who would come to rabbis to convert and not say yes to what they told him was required? this post makes no sense from start to finish.

    Someone honest, when he learns what an Orthodox lifestyle requires.

  69. Mycroft: It’s part of an essay that Rav Soloveitchik published.

  70. Gil — does this essay then, in your view, qualify as a psak din complying with “the halachic process”?

  71. Certainly not. But it shows Rav Soloveitchik’s view of the subject.

  72. IH: RHS explains his comment that you quoted in Divrei Ha-Rav p. 200. Rav Soloveitchik held that even if a conversion beis din is passul, the conversion is post facto good because there is an opinion among Rishonim that a beis din is not necessary. Interestingly, in Iggeros Ha-Grid to Hilkhos Issurei Biah 14:1, Rav Soloveitchik explains at length why he invalidated someone’s conversion (real case in Boston). The previously circumcised man never had hatafas dam bris and Rav Soloveitchik invalidated the conversion after a marriage and told the father-in-law that his daughter married a gentile!

  73. Gil – forgive me, but I have little patience for tea-leaf reading. The plain meaning of the texts are:

    1. RYBS was influenced in his reading of Rambam by something he remembered his father teaching him. Noted. I see nothing in this quoted text that allows for your conclusion that an individual conversion can be rescinded after the beit din has accepted the conversion and mila/t’villa has occurred.

    2. RHS in Kol ha’Mevassar articulates that the controversial conversion cannot which he was asked could not be invalidated as such, rather it triggered all the conversions of the beit din to be invalidated. This outright contradicts your conclusion that an individual conversion can be rescinded after the beit din has accepted the conversion and mila/t’villa has occurred.

    I do not understand your latest comment of RHS’s view. It seems to add an additional stira. RYBS: “even if a conversion beis din is passul, the conversion is post facto good” vs. RHS: “You can’t be mevattel gerus. They just said that the beis din was pasul – we do that all the time.”

  74. For completion: the Iggeros Ha-Grid to Hilkhos Issurei Biah 14:1 (as described) uses a technicality and not some accusation of insincerity. How does this help your case?

  75. At long last, I think I understand what you mean. I never intended to imply that Rav Soloveitchik agreed with R. Sherman’s invalidation of the conversions conducted by R. Druckman. Frankly, I am horrified by it. Converts who are shomer mitzvos or were for even a short time or even intended to be but never were are Jewish. R. Sherman concluded that R. Druckman is an apikorus and therefore his conversion beis din is passul. Rav Soloveitchik held that you cannot annul a conversion just because the beis din is passul, even if a Conservative rabbi served on it.

    But there are other times when both Rav Schachter and Rav Soloveitchik would agree that a conversion is invalid, such as when a basic component is missing (e.g. hatafas dam bris, acceptance of commandments).

  76. The most in-depth and serious halakhic study of the halachot concerning giyyur was published one year ago. It was written by rabbi Haim Amsallem and titled ZERA YISRAEL. It is very systematic and includes over 400 hundred pages. Over 180 of those pages ( from 3 through 186) are devoted the issue of Kabbalat Mitzvot in Giyyur. Hundreds of Rishonim and Acharonim are quoted and analyzed in depth. I suggest that no one should deem himself a serious scholar on the issue of giyyur, without studying this magesterial work. Qal va-Homer not to devote pages of debate to this or that remark by persons who were probably not aware of many of the sources Amsallem cites and discusses. Specifically, neither rabbi Feistein nor rabbi Soloveitchik seem to have been aware of most of the responsa on the topic.

  77. I agree that non-halakhic discussions cannot be translated into psak in a facile fashion, let alone be applied to specific, complex instances. Nonetheless, I point to a discussion by the Rov in Al ha-Teshuvah, pp. 136-137. It is very difficult to imagine that the author of that passage would not maintain a stringent position on the need for kabbalat mitzvot.

  78. For those interested, see Noroas HaRav, Volume 5, Pages 56-58, which refer to a case of Gerus circa 1972, in which RYBS clearly viewed with displeasure and open disapproval a Gerus performed in Israell involving a Giyores who was married to a Kohen, without a Kosher house, who was not Shomer Shabbos, and RYBS questionned how such a person could “ever be deemed to have accepted the Mitzvos?” RYBS stated that he “could not comprehend it”, as well as viewed as a “fraudulent ditortion” that a Giyores could remain married to her husband , who was wa Kohen.

  79. Gil — thanks, but it seems to me you’re still trying to have it both ways with your last clause “when a basic component is missing (e.g. […] acceptance of commandments)”.

  80. “Hirhurim on June 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm
    Mycroft: It’s part of an essay that Rav Soloveitchik published”

    Like many of the Ravs essays it was first given as a public shiur-I believe in mid 50s.

  81. Mycroft: He personally edited this for publication.

  82. “Rav Soloveitchik held that you cannot annul a conversion just because the beis din is passul, even if a Conservative rabbi served on it.”
    Partially agree-to the Rav it is not clear that a Conservative/Reform Rabbi would passul a Beis Din. The Rav paskened that a Rabbi could not marry -mesader Kiddushin-a woman who was “converted” by a Reform Rabbi-married by the Reform Rabbi,and had a civik divorce UNLESS the woman received a get. It is a question of fact what the Reform/Rabbi believed ie was an am haaretz in which case the beis din could be OK or was he an apikorus in which case no good.

    “Rav Soloveitchik would agree that a conversion is invalid, such as when a basic component is missing (e.g. hatafas dam bris, acceptance of commandments).”

    Agreed-with caveat the question is what does acceptance of commandments mean-going back to Reform conversion-the Rav was worried that the parties thought that they were accepting commandments-even though it is clear not acceptance in a manner that we would demand lechatchila. Rejection of mitzvot befroe conversion would make the whole ceremony a nothing.

  83. “Hirhurim on June 12, 2011 at 4:18 pm
    Mycroft: He personally edited this for publication”

    Like all his essays bechayav-he would edit down to the last colon/semicolon.
    The issue is similar to Confrontation vs the Ravs statement to RCA of prohibited/non prohibited dialogue activities. I take for halacha his straight halachik answers as more halachik relevance than halacha that seeps through hashkafik masterpieces.

  84. ” It is very difficult to imagine that the author of that passage would not maintain a stringent position on the need for kabbalat mitzvot.”

    Agreed-but it is the nature of the kabbalat hamitzvot which is at issue-see eg the Ravs demanding of a get when one was converted by Reform clergy.

  85. ” RHS: “You can’t be mevattel gerus. They just said that the beis din was pasul – we do that all the time.””
    Certainly the Rav wouldn’t do it all the time -he was choshed a Reform beis din could have been kosher.

  86. ” If a Conservative beis din did the conversion, we are ‘mevattel‘ it.”

    In one specific case decades ago, RHS approved one conversion of a Conservative beit din when after investigation it was determined that the three members of the beit din were shomer mitzvot males who believed in Torah Mi Sinai, and paskened that the person did not have to reconvert (even l’chumra).

  87. I suggest that no one should deem himself a serious scholar on the issue of giyyur, without studying this magesterial work. Qal va-Homer not to devote pages of debate to this or that remark by persons who were probably not aware of many of the sources Amsallem cites and discusses. Specifically, neither rabbi Feistein nor rabbi Soloveitchik seem to have been aware of most of the responsa on the topic.

    What YOU seem to not be aware of is that halacha is not decided solely based on a on a count of achronim, but equally so based on the cogency of each side’s argument. Furthermore, R’ Feinstein and R’ Soloveitchik themselves had the stature to take positions on this issue, and had no need to defer to the opinion of (other) achronim on the issue.

  88. Mycroft wrote in part:

    “It is a question of fact what the Reform/Rabbi believed ie was an am haaretz in which case the beis din could be OK or was he an apikorus in which case no good.”

    How about considering the present status of the average R rabbi, as opposed to what was prevalent in the 1950s-1970s-I think that there is no shortage of articles, symposia, etc, on the current theological underpinnings and views toward Halacha of RJ and its rabbinical leadership.

  89. Mycroft wrote:

    ” I take for halacha his straight halachik answers as more halachik relevance than halacha that seeps through hashkafik masterpieces”

    Why? RYBS’s hashkafa began with halachic underpinnings.

  90. Shlomo —
    I am fully aware of what you state. Indeed, precisely because of what you write, the cogency of an argument by an aharon is what matters. And it is thus possible that other aharonim have offered more cogent arguments than either R’ Solovetchik or R’ Feinstein. How will you know about this? The more cogent arguments you know of. How will you know? By studying the responsa of Aharonim! The less aharonim a person is aware of, the more one’s limited horizons seem to oneself identical with the horizons of Torah. For a critique of the idea that halakha is a power game, in which a posek needs to have no interest in the views of those to whom he need not defer, see the introduction of rabbi Yosef Hayyim of Baghdad to Vol. 1 of his responsa RAV PE’ALIM. That is another reason why rabbi Amsallem’s ZERA YISRAEL is so valuable: it shows how limited is the view of certain Lithuanian rabbis, who barely read anything outside of their extremely circumscibed library.

  91. “Steve Brizel on June 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm
    Mycroft wrote in part:

    “It is a question of fact what the Reform/Rabbi believed ie was an am haaretz in which case the beis din could be OK or was he an apikorus in which case no good.”

    How about considering the present status of the average R rabbi, as opposed to what was prevalent in the 1950s-1970s-I think that there is no shortage of articles, symposia, etc, on the current theological underpinnings and views toward Halacha of RJ and its rabbinical leadership”

    To the extent that the current R leadership is less knowledgeable it is more likely than the 50s -80s that one would have to be choshed for their conversion. The Ravs concern was that the REform Rabbi did not specifically reject Godand Torah-he was afraid that in their mind they would believe their acceptance of God and certainly the convert might believe he is accepting Judaism kehalacha. In plain English he was afraid that they might be am haaretzim rather than apikorsim. An am haaretz can ,make a proper gerus-not advocating it-but clearly according to the Rav that was possible.

  92. “Steve Brizel on June 12, 2011 at 5:52 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    ” I take for halacha his straight halachik answers as more halachik relevance than halacha that seeps through hashkafik masterpieces”

    Why? RYBS’s hashkafa began with halachic underpinnings”

    It is not that I do not believe that the Ravs hashkafik works can not shed light on the Ravs halachik thinking-it is I beleive clearer when the Rav ruled Halacha lemaaseh where one does not get involved of potential issues that the Rav like a good Brisker might just be raising chakiras not what the bottom line psak-certainly Steve yopu are correct that his hashkafa has halachik underpinnings-but of course the Ravs Torah was not limited to Halacha-everything was fair game, besides shas and halacha, agaddata, trop, even Tanya.

  93. “” I take for halacha his straight halachik answers as more halachik relevance than halacha that seeps through hashkafik masterpieces”

    Why? RYBS’s hashkafa began with halachic underpinnings””

    tHERE IS A HIERARCHY OF WHAT ONE WOULD USE TO GUESS WHAT THE RAV WOULD HAVE PASKENED-OBVIOUSLY NUMBER 1 IS A PSAK THAT IS ON POINT-if one is lackingthat certainly other info is relevant just not quite as probative as a striaght halacha lemaaseh psak.

  94. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft on June 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    … The Rav paskened that a Rabbi could not marry -mesader Kiddushin-a woman who was “converted” by a Reform Rabbi-married by the Reform Rabbi,and had a civik divorce UNLESS the woman received a get.
    ——————
    if so, did the rav require a regular R or C chuppa ve’kudusin to require a get to remarry (per rav henkin and many others) or not (per RMF and few others, but accepted as psak today in US and israel, for practical reasons)?

    (nothing to do with giur issues; giyur just complicates matters, except to RMF))

    2. to charlie — UTJ rabbis present problems of the sort you mention. (or not problems)

  95. “That is another reason why rabbi Amsallem’s ZERA YISRAEL is so valuable: it shows how limited is the view of certain Lithuanian rabbis, who barely read anything outside of their extremely circumscibed library.”

    No, different means of paskening. The Sefardic way is traditionally relient on producing a “laundry list” of various viewpoints and come to a conclusion. The Lithuanian method, as you call, relies more on reasoning and logic, including fining support directly from Shas.

  96. MiMedinat HaYam

    rafael — actually, thats the style of ROY, not (necessarily) other sfardim.
    the litvish method is to be machmir (and inconsistently so). though they’ll occassionaly quote a sfardi who is machmir, if he’s on the approved list.

  97. Rafael: what are you talking about?

  98. “MiMedinat HaYam on June 13, 2011 at 4:13 pm
    mycroft on June 12, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    … The Rav paskened that a Rabbi could not marry -mesader Kiddushin-a woman who was “converted” by a Reform Rabbi-married by the Reform Rabbi,and had a civik divorce UNLESS the woman received a get.
    ——————
    if so, did the rav require a regular R or C chuppa ve’kudusin to require a get to remarry (per rav henkin and many others) or not (per RMF and few others, but accepted as psak today in US and israel, for practical reasons)?”

    Certainly the Rav would have required a regular R and C marriage to get a get to remarry-the conversion issue shows even when one added the conversion complication the Rav required a get.
    It is my impression that R Moshe was a daas yachuid in the matter of not requiring a get for those married by R or C clergy.

  99. “The Lithuanian method, as you call, relies more on reasoning and logic, including fining support directly from Shas”

    Certainly
    Briskers felt that practice was crucial to deciding psak-one can’t mix up-shiur in BM with halachik psak.

  100. While there is a great deal that can be said about this post, one thing which seems to have eluded many is the difference between (1) whether one is free to marry a “convert” of dubious sincerity and (2) whether, post-facto, if someone did “marry” such a “convert” whether we would require a get, or whether, if the wife remarried without a get, the children would be considered mamzerim. The stringency cuts in opposite directions depending on the scenario presented.

    It is entirely possible that R. Soloveichik or any other poseik might treat a given situation as a a “safeik,” meaning one would not be permitted to marry such a person (absent another conversion), but post-facto a get would be required before permitting his wife to remarry. To put it differently, the fact that R. Soloveichik requires a get before permitting the wife of a Reform “convert” to remarry does not necessarily mean that he would have permitted someone to marry such a convert (or even officiated at such a marriage) based solely on a Reform conversion.

    Same thing applies to the controversy with R. Goren. Without getting into the merits of that controversy, one should realize that the question presented scenario (2), while the current dispute about conversions relates to scenario (1). (Not to mention that the circumstances of that conversion were likely quite different than that typically presented in EY today.)

  101. Gil, Sorry on the delay. I didn’t find anything on the Idumeans being problematic in the Gemara. The Gemara/Rashi/Tosfos in Kesuvos 29 questions the validity of the conversions of the Gibeonites (Nesinim) and the Samaritans (Kusim), but noticeably not the Idumeans who married into the Jewish people (even Herod’s Jewish status had a different question on it stemming from his mother being taken captive).

  102. MiMedinat HaYam

    mycroft — “It is my impression that R Moshe was a daas yachuid in the matter of not requiring a get for those married by R or C clergy.”

    might be a daat yachid. but its the norm. no one really likes the psaq (like you imply), but

    being practical — since we dont recognize their gitten anyway (if they do a get; R dont even do that.) otherwise, you are excluding 80% (?) of american (world) jews who marry through C and R rabbis. (granted, 50% of them dont even use a rabbi. same issue.)

    2. synapse — yannai’s status was in question caused he was (or made himself) a cohen (gadol). herod was (defintely) an eved ancestry, but not a cohen issue. so his mother was not the issue.

  103. “(if they do a get; R dont even do that)”

    Are you sure about that? I know of a recent such divorce where there was a get (and it was old-style reform at that so I don’t think it was unusual).

  104. Mi MedinatHaYam,

    My mistake, I always get that mixed up. Herod’s mother was Cypros who was of Nabatean descent, but I don’t know if they understand that as not Jewish.

  105. MiMedinat HaYam

    IH — many C and R rabbis will tell ppl to get an O get, so as not to have pblms in the future and / or pblms in israel. or they know it on their own. or they might have an O relative who will advise them.

    (on the other hand, r rackman z”l used to tell the story of a congregant whom he was mesdar kiddushin (proper BT), when at the last minute, the groom told him he was married by R ceremony previously (no one asked him about it.) they found the ex wife (whom he had NO contact with with for twenty yrs, and she refused to do the get. and she lived in the middle of nowhere in canada.) so they did a heter 100 practically overnite. (despite the rca position absolutely forbidding heter 100.)

  106. MMhY — the recent case of which I wrote was a Reform get. I was surprised myself, hence I asked a few questions at the time.

  107. To see: http://urj.org/life/family/marriage/

    “…and the necessity of a get.”

  108. “mycroft — “It is my impression that R Moshe was a daas yachuid in the matter of not requiring a get for those married by R or C clergy.”

    might be a daat yachid. but its the norm. no one really likes the psaq (like you imply), but

    being practical — since we dont recognize their gitten anyway (if they do a get; R dont even do that.) otherwise, you are excluding 80% (?) of american (world) jews who marry through C and R rabbis. (granted, 50% of them dont even use a rabbi. same issue.)”

    The problem is that if R Moshe is not correct-one is causing more mamzerim. Whether there is ishut is a matter of fact-thus even if a Gadol Hador had ruled the women can remarry without a get but she was actually still married one still has mamzerut. As an MO Rabbi once told me ishut is not like Kashrut where if one follows R Moshe and he were wrong no big deal when one gets to shamayim they’d ask why did I permit/eat treifus-the Rabbi would answer in complete confidence I relied on R Moshe and be confident that would have no problems on high-but on Ishut R Moshe can’t change state if he is wrong there is still mamzerut.

  109. “It is entirely possible that R. Soloveichik or any other poseik might treat a given situation as a a “safeik,” meaning one would not be permitted to marry such a person (absent another conversion), but post-facto a get would be required before permitting his wife to remarry. To put it differently, the fact that R. Soloveichik requires a get before permitting the wife of a Reform “convert” to remarry does not necessarily mean that he would have permitted someone to marry such a convert (or even officiated at such a marriage) based solely on a Reform conversion”

    Agreed

    “Without getting into the merits of that controversy, one should realize that the question presented scenario (2), while the current dispute about conversions relates to scenario (1).”

    Not necessarily-questioning conversions decades later would cause questions on more than 1 generation-a giyores can’t marry a Cohen but a giyores child can-pasul the first giyores conversion her kids can’t marry a cohen.

    “(Not to mention that the circumstances of that conversion were likely quite different than that typically presented in EY today”

    Other than the case that Rav was involved involved North Americans what is so different-if anything Israel is rejecting much stronger conversions every day.

  110. “mycroft — “It is my impression that R Moshe was a daas yachuid in the matter of not requiring a get for those married by R or C clergy.”

    might be a daat yachid. but its the norm. no one really likes the psaq (like you imply),”

    It is possible that R Moshes “big heter”-which I have pointed out is actually potentially disastorous for the Jewish Community-because no one can change facts-as perhaps Joel Gross might put it-which error are you more concerned about a Type 1 or Type 11 error.
    Et chatai ani mazkir hayom-around a quarter of a century ago I learnt daf yomi for more than a cycle-I used to often go to hteAgudah and hear R E. Bluth an MTJ RY give the shiur. Assuming R Bluth was accurate in quoting R Moshe I was struck by the venomous comments that Rav Moshe had about R and C Rabbis-they were on the order of them being Reshayim as opposed to the general RYBS attitude of them being mistaken. see Helgots book for examples of the Ravs polite disagreements with Conservative Rabbis.

  111. Anyone ever hear of an organization known as Kayama? IIRC, its sole purpose is to faciliate the granting and accepting of Gittin so as to prevent Mamzerim, etc.

  112. Mycroft wrote:

    “Assuming R Bluth was accurate in quoting R Moshe I was struck by the venomous comments that Rav Moshe had about R and C Rabbis-they were on the order of them being Reshayim as opposed to the general RYBS attitude of them being mistaken. see Helgots book for examples of the Ravs polite disagreements with Conservative Rabbis”

    Have you seen the Drashos of RYBS from the Chagei HaSemicha from the 1940s and 1950s that RHS reprinted in Divrei HaRav? I would not characterize the tone of the same as indicative of “polite disagreements”.

  113. “Steve Brizel on June 15, 2011 at 4:30 pm
    Mycroft wrote:

    “Assuming R Bluth was accurate in quoting R Moshe I was struck by the venomous comments that Rav Moshe had about R and C Rabbis-they were on the order of them being Reshayim as opposed to the general RYBS attitude of them being mistaken. see Helgots book for examples of the Ravs polite disagreements with Conservative Rabbis”

    Have you seen the Drashos of RYBS from the Chagei HaSemicha from the 1940s and 1950s that RHS reprinted in Divrei HaRav? I would not characterize the tone of the same as indicative of “polite disagreements”.”

    See polite tone in letter to President of Rabbi Shubow’s synagogue and polite tone to C Rabbi from Inwood? who used to go to the Ravs shiurim.

  114. Mycroft-I would compare the language of the drashos for the Chaggei Smicha with the letter that you quote from time to time. The messages about CJ in the drashos was quite hostile to CJ-the letter was polite-but despite the tone, RYBS indicated that he could and would not attend the dinner that celebrated a heterodox house of worship. Therefore, the bottom line was identical-despite the different tone.

  115. “so they did a heter 100 practically overnite.”
    Interesting

  116. “RYBS indicated that he could and would not attend the dinner that celebrated a heterodox house of worship. Therefore, the bottom line was identical-despite the different tone”

    The letter also thanked the synagogue for helping to bring Judaism to a new section of Boston-language one could not dream RMF stating.

  117. “used to tell the story of a congregant whom he was mesdar kiddushin (proper BT), when at the last minute, the groom told him he was married by R ceremony previously (no one asked him about it.)”
    Strange story-basic requirement is to ask people you intend to be mesader kiddushin about any prior marriages etc-if had asked and groom had lied can’t see how could be mesader kiddushin.

  118. Mycroft wrote in response:

    “RYBS indicated that he could and would not attend the dinner that celebrated a heterodox house of worship. Therefore, the bottom line was identical-despite the different tone”

    The letter also thanked the synagogue for helping to bring Judaism to a new section of Boston-language one could not dream RMF stating”

    Ain Haci Nami-However, despite the cordial nature of the letter, and the portion that you quoted, the bottom line remained the same. I agree with your comments re RMF ( and certainly RAK-who could not believe that RYS would allow heterodox clergy and theologians to attend his shiurim), but RMF’s relationships with nonobservant doctors, especially specialists , are well known.

  119. “The letter also thanked the synagogue for helping to bring Judaism to a new section of Boston-language one could not dream RMF stating”

    Ain Haci Nami-However, despite the cordial nature of the letter, and the portion that you quoted, the bottom line remained the same.”
    If the bottom line is that the Rav could not attend a function that might give his haskama to a mixed pew congreagation-that is obvious to any second grader-the issue is the sad hypothetical-which would a Jewish community-assuming one nowhere near an Orthodox schul_ be better off-with no congregation at all or a Conservative congregation which would at least be a mechanism for Jewish identity- my educated gut feeling is that the Rav would say better to have a Conservative Congregation -RMF and RAK would probably say the reverse.
    I do not mean to imply for a second that the Rav would have liked that situation I am merely discussing a hypothetical.

  120. The Rav’s opposition to moves which threatened the unity of the Jewish community also manifested itself in his attitudes towards non-Orthodox groups. He counselled against denying Conservative or Reform Rabbis the right to use communal mikva’ot for conversions. Moreover, he once instructed me that Reform conversions that were accompanied by circumcision and immersion in a mikve had to be treated as a safek giyur, (Accordingly, a get would be required to dissolve a marriage in which one of the partners previously underwent a Conservative or Reform conversion which conformed to the requirement of mila and tevila).
    from-
    RAV JOSEPH B. SOLOVEITCHIK AS POSEK OF POST-MODERN ORTHODOXY
    By Walter S. Wurzburger
    This article originally appeared in Tradition Volume 29, 1994

    What is the status of a convert who converts for marriage or
    financial reasons and later keeps all the Mitzvos correctly and for the proper reasons, what is his status? Is he a Ger Tzedek or a plain Ger with an incomplete Kabbalas Hamitzvos? The Rav said that when he starts to keep the Mitzvos for the appropriate reasons he creates the full Kdushas Yisrael at that time, even though at the time of his conversion he was lacking in Kdushas Yisrael, Kdushas Yisrael that can only come together with the appropriate keeping of Mitzvos. The moment he starts to keep the Mitzvos correctly he consummates the Kdushas Yisrael and becomes a Ger Tzedek.

    It makes no difference when he starts to keep Mitzvos correctly, even though at the time of the conversion he was lacking. The conversion applies even to someone who is lacking Kabbalas Hamitzvos and remains as such until he acts appropriately and graduates to the status of Ger Tzedek. Even though Shlomo’s wives later revealed themselves as idolatrous they retained the status of Geirim. Even if the convert returned to his idolatrous ways he has the same status as a Jewish Mumar who is still considered a Jew.
    from-
    SHIUR HARAV SOLOVEICHIK ZTL ON RUS V’INYANEI GAYRUS gayrus.00 Shiur HaRav Soloveichik ZT”L on Rus V’Inyanei Gayrus
    (Shiur date: 5/24/68. Tape #5285)
    Copyright 2000, Josh Rapps and Israel Rivkin, Edison, NJ. Permission to reprint this Shiur, with this notice, is granted. To subscribe to this service, send email to [email protected] with the following message: subscribe mj ravtorah firstname lastname.

    Once a person converts they remain Jewish no matter what. As far as I know, never in Jewish history during the time of the Tanach and Talmud were any conversions annulled.

    In my humble opinion one reason for this is they must make a commitment to keeping the Mitzvot, and do them, for in the World to Come they are now subject to a greater punishment.

    And they deserve the greater punishment caused by their actions and intentions in this world.

    Better that than to annul the conversion. Why let them off easy?

  121. Gil
    You were absolutely correct, it is clear that without milah or hatafas dam bris, and tvila. No gerus is possible according to the Rav. All other issues of what exactly is the nature of Kabbalas of mitzvot are not reached without milah and tvila

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