Israeli Chief Rabbi Seeks to Put the Brakes on Invalidating State Giyur

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Preliminary report: The following is a preliminary report based on limited information received as this article goes to print.

Rishon L’Tzion HaRav HaGaon Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar Shlita has issued a p’sak halacha that prohibits rabbinical courts to invalidate the geirus of any former convert.

This appears to be a step taken amid the ongoing conflict surrounding the decision of Av Beis Din Rav Avraham Sherman Shlita, in which he invalidated the conversion of thousands of gerim (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=17569). Since that 2008 ruling, much has transpired including a statement from Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Dahan, the director-general of the rabbinical courts, insisting the p’sak did not invalidate the conversions, but called for a reevaluation in some cases (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=36820).

Rav Amar Shlita acted expeditiously in the onset, instructing Rav Sherman not to issue his p’sak, but the Supreme Rabbinical Court did so and a storm erupted. There have since been calls to dismiss Rav Sherman (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=19638) and efforts that succeeded in preventing his dismissal, primarily by Shas leader Minister R’ Eli Yishai (http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/article.php?p=29591).

It now appears, once again based on a preliminary report, that Rav Amar is seeking to regain control, announcing if the giyur of an individual is to be reconsidered, challenged or addressed, it may only be done in a special convening of dayanim that will be part of the Chief Rabbinate High Court. The Rav’s ruling comes in his capacity as the av beis din of the nation’s highest rabbinical court.

Responding to the report was Rav Chaim Druckman Shlita, who is not aware of details, but did hear the same preliminary report. He stated that “finally, action is being taken against decisions that contradict the Rambam and Shulchan Aruch, for in essence, there is no invalidating a giyur. The process cannot be undone according to halacha”.

“I do not know what the case is here since one cannot invalidate a geirus”. When asked to detail Rav Amar’s decision, Rav Druckman explained he was not consulted in advance and this question should be addressed to Rav Amar.

When asked repeatedly why Rav Amar did not consult with him, Rav Druckman stated “what for – after all, Rav Amar has the authority to make such a ruling and the halacha stands with him, so why would he have to consult with anyone”.

He explained to Kol Chai Radio that if there is a unique situation, then it appears Rav Amar is aware a unique court must address it, and this is not for every beis din to decide on its own but a beis din that he personally approves in special cases only.

Rav Druckman stated that apparently, the Chief Rabbi realized the need for special measures since “until today, there was never a problem with geirus in Eretz Yisrael”.

Rav Amar Shlita was unavailable for comment. He is presently out of the country. Rav Druckman clarified that today; he still stands at the head of the state’s geirus program despite news reports indicating this is not the case.

(Yechiel Spira – YWN Israel)