1984. Sorry, 5784.

so last night was fun. i always enjoy meeting with fellow jocs, especially when they’re ppl ive been speaking to online for a while and i get a chance to meet them in person. im even more overjoyed when they translate well from the interweb into real life and we share common interests beyond skin and/or religion. the “aftermeeting” went well too and eventually turned into an “after-aftermeeting” [lol @ “aftermeeting” & “after-aftermeeting“. can anyone tell we’re ethnic yet? anyone? anyone? ] during which the topic turned to the atmosphere of fear that has been inculcated into converts in light of the slew of recent revocation of conversions by israeli rabbis. this angers me and upsets me that converts feel that they are being forced into a box, to act a certain way or not act a certain way out of fear that at any given second *poof* they’re not jewish anymore. im not even sure how such a thing is even possible or can ever be rabbinically sanctioned.

the decision and process to convert is essentially an oath the convert takes upon his/her soul and is between them and G-d. how is it possible for a third, unrelated in any way party, to nullify that oath? parsha matot elaborates on how taking a shavua/oath is likewise binding upon someone’s soul and that only in certain cases can he be relieved of said oath by a bet din. now if someone who willingly wants to annul his oaths can only be freed from certain ones by a bet din that he specifically asked to free him, how can someone’s oath be annulled against his own wishes by in most cases a rabbi he has never had any interaction with?

in a glowing example of how the parsha always relates to events of the week, ki tavo begins with a description of bringing bikkurim/first fruits to the bet hamikdash:

“1 and it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the L-rd thy G-d giveth thee for an inheritance, and dost possess it, and dwell therein; 2 that thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which thou shalt bring in from thy land that the L-rd thy G-d giveth thee; and thou shalt put it in a basket and shalt go unto the place which the L-rd thy G-d shall choose to cause his name to dwell there. 3 and thou shalt come unto the priest (kohen) that SHALL BE IN THOSE DAYS, and say unto him: ‘i profess this day unto the L-rd thy G-d, that i am come unto the land which the L-rd swore unto our fathers to give us.’”

commenting upon these verses, rabbi zalman sorotzkin pays close attention to the wording of the last verse and elaborates [emphasis mine]:

 “all you have is the kohen (priest) who lives in your own days (sifre). during the process of bringing first fruits, a great deal of honor is lavished on the kohen. the bearer of the first fruits tells him, “i declare today to Hashem your G-d,” and asks him permission before thanking G-d for the holy land and its fruits. in light of this, one might think that this could only refer to elazar or pinchas, who were famous for their piety and truly deserved such an honor.

yet this is not the case, and so the torah added the words “whomever will be the kohen in those days” and chazal explain that one only has the kohen who lives in his own time. if we feel that the kohanim are not what they used to be, we should remember that neither we nor the rest of the nation are what previous generations were! the level of the kohen suits the level of the people as a whole.”

now if this applies to those who are supposedly the highest/holiest clan born and bred by our ppl, how much more so is it for those who are attracted to join our ppl? david’s generation had the bloodthirsty gibeonites to whom seven men of shaul’s line had to be assassinated to slake their thirst for revenge. moshe’s generation had the perpertually malcontent erev rav, architects behind the sin jews are still atoning for to this very day—the golden calf. are we suggesting that today’s converts reach anywhere near the same levels of depravity or dissonance? that they are more dangerous than converts who still retained their jewish status despite their horrendous deeds? is our generation of such a high level—higher than both moshe and david, no less—that we cannot tolerate the behavior of converts to the point that we feel compelled to revoke their judaic status? really? in a world where a thriving porn industry exists in the state of israel? really??

just like asking the kohen’s permission does not only apply to someone like elazar or pinchas, the commandments of “not harassing a convert” and to “treat a convert like any other jew” do not apply only to converts who meet our “approval” like rut or, yknow, avraham and sarah. it applies to all converts.

and no one has the right to revoke it.

–MaNishtana

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9 thoughts on “1984. Sorry, 5784.

  1. The Torah observant world has let down sincere converts with the confusion over the conversion process. We need to provide one standard, and have rabbis around the world pre-approved to uphold the unified standard.

    That being said – conversion is NOT an oath that a person takes between him/herself and G-d. Conversion is an act of a rabbinical court (a maaseh beis din).

    The convert must sincerely accept the obligation to follow all of the mitzvos. This acceptance before the dunk in the mikvah. By the time of the dunk, he/she must know and understand practically how to life a Torah observant life, and be committed to do so.

    I’m not taking sides in the current conversion conflict in Israel (okay I am – Rav Druckman is a saint and the bullies who tried to annul his conversions did so for purely political reasons)

    However, it is a problem generally, because not every rabbi on earth knows every other rabbi. So, it is hard to establish that the convert was educated and ajudicated according to halacha.

    This is why we need one uniform standard for frum (a.k.a dati) conversions. Rav Amar, in consultation with Rabbis Willig and Shachter, the leaders of mainstream Orthodoxy in America, have come up with such a system.

    In the future, any convert who goes through a regional RCA approved beis din will have no problem with his/her Jewish status anywhere in the U.S. or Israel.

    It’s a good first step – now we need to take it worldwide, We owe it to the future converts who come in sincerity to join our people.

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    1. i’d have to disagree. whenever someone knowingly accepts something upon themselves it is like an oath. why else would we have to say b’li neder? part of the process NOWADAYS is the act of a rabbinical court, but it has not always been so. [ie, if after a slave is immersed in a mikva, if he declares he is a jew, he must be set free b/c now he is. there’s no rabbinical act there.] and if the convert must sincerely accept the obligation to follow all the mitzvot, isnt that a vow?

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      1. hmm…while it may be true that one size doesnt fit all, i think there still needs to be some sort of baseline. i may wear straight leg jeans, and you may like a baggy fit, but we all need to agree that a pair of pants has two legs, know what i mean? i think thats what really is adding fuel to this fire.

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      2. For example: I may not hold with RJ practice but respect that they exist. OJs may or may not respect CJ, etc. but what with all the variants RCO & Seph & Ashk, even the pants analogy breaks down

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      3. well at the very least, once someone has decided what brand they want, we should at least respect THEIR opinion and not override them.

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  2. Nice post. Even nicer coming from a born Jew rather than a Ger. Basically the shenanigans going on in this area are the biggest thing that makes my heart NOT want to move to Israel.

    BTW, the multi color text gives me a special kind of headache I have not had since the days of BBSs.

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