Giyur Issue Will Regain Prominence Tuesday

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ams.jpgThe controversy surrounding the state’s (Israel) giyur process will most likely regain media prominence on Tuesday when MK (Shas) Chaim Amsellem releases his comprehensive sefer on giyur, which will address the halachos and in reality, state conversions, IDF conversions and the controversy surrounding the entire matter.

R’ Amsellem will be releasing his new sefer “Zera Yisrael” which addresses the halachos of giyur and the views of gedolei yisrael. The sefer reportedly addresses the conversions of over 300,000 immigrants from the Former Soviet Union, who are not viewed as Jews according to halacha. He feels they can undergo giyur as his sefer will show. The rav explains that much of his sefer addresses the rulings of the rabbonim regarding the need of giyurim to adhere to mitzvos, what mitzvos and to what extent, and if and when a giyur decision is reversed. Rabbi Amsellem stresses a giyur must accept mitzvos, but many rabbonim do not understand how far this is taken and when exception should or must be made.

The rav explains that the approach to bring potential giyurim closer is the proper approach for those who can trace Jewish roots, “Zera Yisrael”, explaining that halachically, regarding giyur; they are in a different category then regular non-Jews seeking to convert. Therefore he explains; the approach to such potential converts is drastically different from goyim who wish to become Jews.

He states one who openly announces he has no intentions of keeping mitzvos, he is not accepted. On the other hand, he explains halacha states explicitly that a convert who accepted mitzvos and changes his mind, remains a Jews and that cannot be reversed. (Rashbatz – 3:47)

Rav Amsellem quotes Maran Rav Elyashiv Shlita, who in the past addressed those wishing to undergo giyur and openly state they do not plan to be chareidi, but traditional, and there is room for this too as this is part of today’s life. “This is an area where the beis din must look into the eyes of a candidate” he explains, “and make a decision”.

The rav says his sefer makes reference to the giyurim who were converted via the IDF, providing a warm attitude and open arms towards them, explaining they are giving of themselves towards the defense of the nation and the Jewish people and the poskim of the past took this reality into account when dealing with their giyur as well.

“The State of Israel cannot permit itself to stagnate regarding the giyur matter, and the process cannot be frozen, warning a continuation of the current controversy will chas v’sholom lead to civil laws that will split the nation apart and/or lead to civil marriage. The retroactive cancellation of one’s Jewishness after he has lived as a Jew for years in not humane, and even worse, such decisions may lead to severe complications including mamzeirus.

The rav brings many pertinent matters to light, that Rishonim state one who lights shabbos candles and does not keep shabbos is not a ‘kofer’. He adds that statistically, over 80% of Israelis fast on Yom Kippur and light shabbos candles and in accordance with halacha, the beis din has a great deal of leeway as to bringing one into the fold, to become a convert, and these issues must come into play for “Zera Yisrael”, Jews who have traceable roots to yiddishkeit.

People close to the rav report that during the past months while he was completing the sefer he was under tremendous pressure, including threatening anonymous letters and telephone calls as well as pressure on rabbonim whose approbations appear in the sefer. The rav has been involved in the halachos of giyur for many years, and is known to have given many many shiurim on the subject.

Those supporting the rav explain that with great effort and siyata d’shmaiya he has endured, along with those rabbonim who support him and agree with his approach towards the halacha and giyur, with reports indicating some rabbonim who have reviewed the sefer state it is truly a rare find, probing halachos that have not been reviewed in a very long time, appearing in one bound volume, providing a comprehensive compilation addressing the entire giyur process and its complexities.

The word is that the sefer will without a doubt spark controversy among rabbonim, the Chief Rabbinate perhaps, and the entire matter regarding the different views pertaining to the giyur conducted by the state under the direction of HaRav Chaim Druckman Shlita, who as a result of the controversy was compelled to step down under the guise of his advanced age.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)


23 COMMENTS

  1. BS”D

    Whatever this sefer says or does not say, and whatever it says or does not say about Shas, we need to keep our own sifrei yochsin and not rely on the medine which is secular to in any way determine who is a Jew.

  2. From Yated (Israel):

    By Yechiel Sever

    September 24, 2009

    The rabbinical and halochoh establishment is up in arms following nonsensical, heretical remarks by MK Rabbi Chaim Amsellem of Shas, who insists that conversion terms should be eased for FSU immigrants who serve in the IDF. Despite a firm outcry by prominent halacha figures, he continues to voice his opinion widely, especially to the secular media, which is fawning over his “brave and daring halachic ruling.”

    Rabbonim and dayonim have expressed surprise over the silence on the part of fellow Shas MKs, though the Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Giyur, founded by the late HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth, has stated: “Amsellem’s remarks are worse than what we would expect to hear from a Conservative rabbi. According to all leading poskim, accepting mitzvah observance is a necessary precondition for accepting a convert.”

    In a recent interview, the program host lavishly praised Rabbi Amsellem for his lenient, “valiant” approach. “Are you proposing to ease their conversion, or to accept as converted soldiers whose mothers are not Jewish and whose [maternal] grandmothers are not Jewish, but who have a Jewish grandfather or father and according to halacha they are not Jewish? Does the fact they serve in the army justify their conversion, giving them conversion `points?'” the host asked.

    “Definitely!” Amsellem replied. “I follow my own truth,” he continued, “I’m writing a comprehensive study on this issue. I wrote a psak halacha and I’m going to take my truth and see it through to the finish.”

    In response, the program host himself said, “How could you have written such a psak halacha when halacha states otherwise?” But Amsellem claimed there is room to show soldiers open and lenient consideration.

    He attempted to anchor his remarks in writings by Sephardic gedolei hadoros, but when asked about rulings by contemporary Sephardic rabbonim who hold otherwise, he said, “I certainly hope many rabbis join me.”

    During the interview Amsellem went on to place himself in the same category as halachic giants: “I certainly would not compare myself to the Rambam, cholila — who am I? — but when the Rambam made his remarks everybody disputed him, whereas nowadays nobody has heard of his disputants and everybody follows his teachings.”

    According to a dayan, “Looking for a replacement for conversion without accepting the yoke of mitzvas does great harm to the foundations of the religion and established halacha. We regret to see a low-ranking official have the presumption to present himself as a posek; apparently he is seeking to advance himself in the rabbinate. `Shu’alim ketanim mechablim kromim’ [Shir Hashirim 2:5]. This relates to the verse in Devorim [29:17-19] about one whose `heart turns away’ from Hashem and who says to himself, `I shall have peace, though I follow the stubbornness of my heart.’ He acts as if he wants to make peace among different segments of Am Yisroel, whereas his real goal is to achieve personal ends. But the verse then goes on to say, `Hashem will not want to forgive him…’ chas vesholom.”

    A statement by Vaad HaRabbonim reads: “His declaration that military service is in lieu of accepting the mitzvas cannot serve as a media stunt to advance his personal interests. As a public figure and a `rabbi,’ publishing his remarks could cause significant damage, because there are government officials who have no understanding of halachic conversion and who will make use of his remarks to battle against the rabbinical establishment in order to perform conversions that are invalid according to halacha and it will then lead to breaches in Kerem Beis Yisroel. Yet Amsellem continues with his false remarks, which mislead the general public and undermine the foundations of halacha.”

  3. Please stick to politics and keep your nose out of Halacha. The Gemara explicitly writes that we may not accept a Ger who does not accept every single Halacha including every chumra miD’Rabannan.

  4. “The rav explains that the approach to bring potential giyurim closer is the proper approach for those who can trace Jewish roots, “Zera Yisrael”, explaining that halachically, regarding giyur; they are in a different category then regular non-Jews seeking to convert.”

    This is different than what the Yated was stating…

  5. We may not make any compromises when it comes to “who is a real Jew”!!! If someone is not a ben Yisraelis even if he has a frum father he cannot be a Jew unless he accepts 100% the Torah with the sheb’al Peh included. He MUST show allegiance to Hashem and Torah and not just ‘love Jews and Israel” You can love Israel without being a Jew and loving Israel or Jews or Jewish food,does not ever make anyone 1% Jewish. It is spiritual cancer to accept someone who is not 100% accepting of ‘ Ol Torah Umitzvos’!Sure,if his mother is a Jew,even if he keeps 0,he is still a 100% Jew,even if his father was a goy. We also must know if he was born to parents who were permitted to have a child together;we do not need mamzerim nor issurei Kehuna.We do not care about numbers,we do care about purity and quality of our people. Any pure non-Jew who really wants to become a Ben-Torah is welcome if after 3 rejections he is determined because he is convinced that loving Hashem can only be done according to the whole Torah.

  6. 6, no it’s not different.

    This guy believes that if there’s any Jewish root plus a commitment to “be a good Israeli” then that’s enough… What a joke!

  7. His view will win out in the end. Their high birthrate notwithstanding, the Chareidim are generally marginalizing themselves and becoming ever irrelvant to non-Charieidim, the majority of Jews. As economic pressures increase, the Chareidi world will colapse under its own weight.

  8. #10/cantoresq – Based on that faulty logic the non-religious should have “won out” hundreds of years ago, due to their majority.

    Yet they didn’t.

  9. cantoresq [10],
    Are you trying to imply that the Chareidi world is making a mistake? Don’t you realize we don’t have a choice, it’s not our law but G-d’s law!

    And if they want to make G-d’s Torah ‘irrelevant’ to them, it will be our sorrow and their loss…

  10. If a man who becomes a”Ger”under this rabbi’s ruling blows shofar for you on Rosh Hashono,you would not be yotzay the mitzvoh.Think of thses kind of problems. A goy who puts on a shtreimel and beckishe and grows a long beard and payos,but doesn’t accept 613 mitzvos as true and binding forever, is still a goy!If he marries a bas Yisroel the children will be Jewish,but what kind of hashkofos will they learn from their mixed-up father?

  11. Cantoresq, you’re comment is a strain at best.
    The Chareidi community is growing organically. While the society may change slightly as Kehilos have always changed to say it collapse is to ignore history. From Mamad Har Sinai till todayit is only the chareidi community that has survived intact from generation to generation.

  12. Cantoresq, you’re comment is a strain at best.
    The Chareidi community is growing organically. While the society may change slightly as Kehilos have always changed to say it collapse is to ignore history. From Mamad Har Sinai till todayit is only the chareidi community that has survived intact from generation to generation.

  13. BS”D

    Sorry, Cantor. The arrows are pointing our way. MO is moving toward the right and would never accept this. Charedim are indeed accepting the fact that the kollel model can’t work forever but this will lead to increased prosperity and the increased political and social power that will put an end to divisive tzeduki, oops, I meant tzioini, kefira like that which Mr Amselem proposes.

    Still, we who do not accept the authority of the misyovnim in EY must keep our own records. The secular medine only has the right to determine who is eligible for its citizenship, not who is a Jew.

  14. People, please read more carefully. I said two things: 1. That Chareidim are becoming irrelevant to rest of the Jewish world and 2. That given certain economics, the chareidi communities cannot be sustained long term. 2 is not needed for 1 to occur. 1 is already happening, and the divide will grow ever wider. As for 2, time will tell. But consider this: Is a chareidi world in which the critical mass of men do not learn, but rather work, identical to the current chareidi structure?

  15. #19/cantoresq –

    Re: Your Point 1, so what? You could of equally said 100 years ago “that the religious are becoming irrelevant to rest of the Jewish world”. Their loss, not ours.

    Re: Your Point 2, we’ve been hearing that exact point for hundreds of years. We are still prospering, and we will continue to prosper despite all hardships, as we have for the past 2,000 years.

  16. #20, Joseph,

    You need not care about point 1, unless you care about Jews of other stripes. There are many of us who are eager to “hold our noses” and tolerate many things we find objectionable for the sake of unity. Your quip of “Their loss, not ours” is no different than what is said by extremist Conservative and Reform Jews in response to Orthodox protests of their agenda. You and they deserve eachother and the destruction you leave in your wake. But I certainly don’t and it pains me greatly to see it.

    As to point 2, if you call the current state of chareidi affairs, prosperity, I shudder to think what adversity would look like.

  17. cantoresq,

    I care and am pained about it more than yourself. Nowhere previously in the conversation did you discuss anything about “caring” or “pain”. The so what, their loss, not ours comment is directed towards the rabid religious haters who use the arguments you made (i.e. Point 1) to attack Bnei Torah.

    Unity at the cost of violating the law, is neither unifying nor just.

    You cause destruction when you unify with heretics like the Reform and Conservative.

    Prosperity is hardly defined in monetary terms.

  18. Joseph, I’m not advocating a violation of the law. Rather, it’s the unwillingness to ever apply legitimate kulot vis-a-vis communal issues that infuriates me. Moreover, chareidim compromise Halacha all the time when it suits their needs. For example Chareidi leadership, both rabbinic and lay leaders, determined it was better for them to ignore the abuse issue, even though there is a clear Halachik mandate to protect the children. Batei Din virtually refuse to issue a p’sak of kofin lgareish, fearing to “rock the boat,” even though there is a clear Halachik mandate to help free a woman from a recalcitrant husband. Such compromises of Halacha happen all the time. And please spare me the obvious retort of Gedolim make those decisions and we can’t question them. Gedolim too put their pants one leg at a time.