Batei Din Call For Stricter Background Checks, Will Open Special Office

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The directors of three Batei Din in the US sent a letter on Monday to Chabad shluchim across the country regarding the alarming story of a Lebanese man who masqueraded as a frum Jew and married a Jewish woman.

The Rabbanim, Rabbi Chaim Sperlin of L.A., Rabbi Sholom Shuchat of Brooklyn, and Rabbi Moshe Liberow of Boston, wrote that they held a conference call to discuss the situation and formulate guidelines to prevent such a situation from occurring again in the future.

Read the letter below:

To the Rebbe’s Shluchim Sheyichyu,

Greetings and Blessings,

In light of today’s news, whereby a certain Rabbi officiated a wedding without properly researching the genealogy (“Birur Yahadus”), and afterwards a suspicion arose that the Groom might not be Jewish, and pictures of the wedding have been published which caused some to condemn a Chabad Shliach who relied on the officiating Rabbi thinking he did proper research – A conference call took place today to discuss the situation and decide how to prevent such occurrences from happening, and thus strengthen the holiness of the Jewish nation, in line with the Rebbe’s Sichos about the importance of correcting the terrible damage done with allowing Non-Jews to enter the fold of Am Yisroel.

Participating in this conference call were the undersigned Rabbis, who serve as directors of veteran and renowned Batei Din across the American continent (which are also recognized by the Israeli Rabbinate), who deal on a daily basis with matters of Birur Yahadus, Birur Yuchsin, Geirus and Gittin, and who are in constant contact with Rabonim across the world.

After discussing the matter at length we have decided as follows:

1. In the upcoming weeks, after consulting with Rabonei Anash, we will (with G-d’s help) publish a clear set of guidelines regarding Birur Yahadus, Birur Yuchsin, Sidur Kidushin, Gittin, accepting Geirim, and other topics related to preserving the purity of Am Yisroel.

2. Any person who officiates a wedding must be well-versed in the Halachos of Birur Yahadus, Birur Yuchsin, Sidur Kidushin, etc., and should receive approval from a renowned Rabbi to officiate at weddings. Without this prerequisite, one shall not officiate at a wedding nor certify someone’s Jewish status, so he should not be causing the masses to stumble, Կ”ח .

3. One may not rely blindly on Geirus certificates, even from Orthodox Rabbis, without first researching properly the integrity of the Rabbis who performed the conversion, about the integrity and sincerity of the converts, and about their acceptance of Mitzvos.

To assist the Shluchim, we will (with G-d’s help) set up an office to help and assist the Shluchim in the above matters, to connect the Shluchim with Batei Din, etc. And to facilitate a registry of Birur Yahadus, Birur Yuchsin, Kidushin, Gittin, etc. which are performed by Shluchim.

May it be G-d’s will, that in the merit of preserving the sanctity of Am Yisroel, and specifically in an area which is crucial to the existence of Am Yisroel, we will merit the true and complete Redemption speedily in our days.

Rabbi Chaim Sperlin
Los Angeles, California
Menahel Beis Din
Agudas Yisroel of the West Coast

Rabbi Sholom Shuchat
Brooklyn, New York
Menahel Beis Din
Union of Orthodox Rabbis-Agudas Harabonim

Rabbi Moshe M. Liberow
Boston, Massachusetts Menahel Beis Din
Rabbinical Council of New England

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)

8 COMMENTS

  1. Even in the time of חז”ל when a woman was told her husband died and she remarried. And then the husband came….. so what do we do? The הלכות of בירורין did not determine the reality of life and death. Did an approved Rabbi give her חופה and קידושין? Yet, the husband reappeared.

  2. Please note that these respected Rabbanim decry a non-Jew marrying a Jewish woman because it says in the rebbes Sichos that such a thing is bad for the Jewish nation.

    The Issur Midiyoraysa isn’t enough?!?

    Would they say to keep Shabbos because the rebbe gave many sichos about the importance of shabbos?

  3. The problem this comes up against is that under halacha, there is no requirement for a “clergy” to officiate at a wedding in order for the wedding to be valid. This unlike the requirements of the Christians, whose legal system is the basis of secular domestic relations law, under which a recognized officiating cleric was traditionally a required element for a marriage to be valid. If a Jew gives a Jewess a kedushin (something of value, the Talmud gives the infamous example of a vegetable tossed to the balcony), a kesubah (you can buy them at a bookstore and fill it in), and/or be’ah (execution of the marriage agreement), and you have Yidden as witnesses, it is a valid marriage, and halacha will require a “get” (and the government will recognize it, at least in many states, even if there was no license).

    The only workable solution is that when a frum Jew gets married, and the person in question is not from a frum family (meaning can not trace their ancestry back to someone who they know to have been frum), to routinely have gi’ur to eliminate any doubts. As it is very hard to trace one’s ancestry back more than a few generations, this will increasingly mean that any new “Baalei Tseuvah” will be considered as safek Jew, safek goy (and note, that in America, they will increasingly also be safek mamzerim).

  4. Masikdoresh, I don’t think you read the above letter.
    “…in line with the Rebbe’s Sichos about the importance of correcting the terrible damage done with allowing Non-Jews to enter the fold of Am Yisroel.”
    It doesn’t say that the reason to do it is because the Rebbe said that intermarriage is bad. He was telling them that it’s a problem which they should work on fixing.
    Every single Gadol does this with areas which need chizuk, yes, including when there is a lax in shemiras Shabbos.

  5. It is agreat idea to have such an office, but please do not put any blame on the Chabad Shliach, He specifically said to the Rav that all he he has is his word.

    I think its a tosfos in Gittin that says if a person comes and says I am Jewish , we may accept them, so yes there are situations, but the Chabad shliach is at no fault whatsoever.

  6. Why is anyone focusing on the Chabad shliach here? He had nothing to do with the story. When he was asked about the chatan he said that he knew nothing about his yichus, but that his behavior was not frum. More than that he did not know.

    He was not mesader kidushin, and it was NOT HIS JOB AT ALL to inquire into the chatan’s yichus. To do so would have been gross interference and an insult to the parents and the rav. He and his wife were simply invited to escort the chatan to the chupah. Who on earth would undertake to conduct a private investigation before accepting such an invitation? He had the right to assume that the parents and the rav had done their due diligence, and if not it was none of his business anyway.

    I will tell you that I was once asked to be a witness on a ketuba that was not the standard nusach, and I had serious questions about its halachic validity, so I asked an extremely prominent rav, one whose name every reader here will know, and he told me that there was nothing wrong with being a witness to an invalid ketuba, and the fact that the couple would then be living together without a ketuba was none of my business. (Baruch Hashem, with the rav’s help I was able to write a new nusach that satisfied both the couple’s mishugaasen and the halacha, so all was well.)