Haaretz offers an interesting response by Asher Maoz to the ridiculous attempt by the High Rabbinical Court to invalidate, retroactively, all of the conversions performed by (Orthodox) Rabbi Chaim Druckman, posted here by Josh Frankel a few days ago.
Will this finally be the straw that breaks the camel’s back?
Well, I doubt it. Although as Maoz -correctly- points out, such retroactive annulments are contrary to halakha, this is by no means the first ruling contrary to (or at the very least, irrelevant to) halakha made by those leading the charge to make (Ultra-) Orthodox Judaism more stringent, more separate, and more isolated. As a matter of fact, aside from a number of “halakhic” rulings which are simply stringent for their own sake, or the retroactive post-mortem re-ruling of those gedolei hador who ruled more leniently to make their actual rulings seem like they weren’t practices that the gedolim themselves actually followed or to at least try to hide the fact that they made such rulings at all, or out and out questionable practices (many of these have been covered in the Jewschool archives, but I won’t list them here) in general this tendency is in itself problematic as a matter of “al tifrosh” -do not separate yourselves – which is, in fact, the entire point, not simply a side effect, of many of the rulings of these types.
Just for one example of many, several of the halakhic solutions established by the Conservative/ Masorti movement in order to free agunot had actually been under consideration -or being used- by the Orthodox mainstream – until the Conservativim started using them, which them made them treif by association, with the current preferred mode to be to say that all weddings not performed by an Ultra-Orthodox rabbi are not valid, completely in contradiction to Jewish law, and running a real and actual risk of make mamzerut more common, because people are then “free” to remarry when in fact their first marriages are halakhically legitimate (all it takes are a Jewish man, an unmarried Jewish woman and two Jewish witnesses, rabbi not required), making their remarriages halakhically invalid. Oy, what a mess. The only humor to be had being that if it became common for women to get unchained by going to the Ultra-Orthodox and having their first marriage declared void, Masorti rabbis would almost certainly have to start insisting that anyone who had been remarried by the ultra-orthodox get a get retroactively… the entanglements could be legion…okay, not really that funny.
So what’s going to change now? Well, almost certainly nothing. At least not until the Orthodox who aren’t complete loons (most of them, but unfortunately, not speaking up) start saying that it’s not okay to trash moderation, that halakhah isn’t a means to make yourself politically powerful or to control your community’s every move, to oppress certain segments of your population, or to drive your neighbors nuts; when the normal majority start telling their leaders that they won’t follow them when they make stringencies for stringency’s sake, well, then, maybe then something will change.