Culture, Israel, Politics, Religion

The case of the crying Torah

More, still, from the conversion files.
Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is crying. No, sorry, his Torah is crying. While I found his Jerusalem Post opinion piece a bit much, he did make some great points.

WHAT HAS happened to our Torah of late? An entirely different narrative is being written, the very antithesis of the love and compassion of the Scroll of Ruth. My Torah has been stolen away, hijacked, by false and misguided interpreters. My Torah is crying because of rabbinical court judges who have forgotten that the major message of the Exodus from Egypt is for us to love the stranger and the proselyte.
They have forgotten the 11 prohibitions against insensitive words and actions toward converts – and the talmudic stricture that we are not to be too overbearing or exacting toward a would-be proselyte (Yebamot 47). They have forgotten Maimonides’s ruling that even regarding a convert who merely went to the mikve (and became circumcised if male) – even if the conversion was for a personal romantic or venal reason, and even if the convert has returned to former idolatrous ways – he or she remains Jewish (albeit a Jewish renegade); her or his religious marriage remains intact, and lost objects must be restored to him or her. (Maimonides, Laws of Forbidden Relationships 13,14).
MY TORAH is crying because these judges have, in the name of Torah, disrupted and possibly destroyed hundreds if not thousands of families of converts, whose children and even children’s children were brought up and accepted as Jews – only now to learn that their forbears’ conversions have been retroactively nullified.

With a tip o’the hat to several blogs, including DovBear.

3 thoughts on “The case of the crying Torah

  1. Amen.
    At the risk of setting a small fire – I have to say that the whole conversion mess in Israel is one of the reasons why I can’t get excited about the whole Hescher Tzedek thing. When we give Rabbis more authority, good things don’t always happen.
    G-d willing we will merit leaders that lead us closer to redemption – but in the mean time giving expanded scope of power to religious authority -well it isn’t always a good thing. I know the two (labor conditions in slaughtering plants in the US and laws of personal status in Israel) aren’t totally comparable, but it does give me pause.

  2. Amen.
    The conversion mess makes me queasy about the whole Hecksher Tzedek thing. Expanding the scope of rabbinic supervision and authority isn’t always a good thing.
    I know the two issues (personal status in Israel and labor conditions etc in US kosher food) have a ton of differences – but giving religous authorities a wide scope of authority is problematic, and may remain so until Moshiach comes.
    An alternate method for concerned Jews would be to lobby for increased enforcement of secular laws on labor and environmental conditions.

  3. Rabbi Riskin has no reason to sit and cry. Has his Judaism been hijacked, or was he (religious Zionist rabbis) asleep at the wheel while the fervently Orthodox took over most religious institutions and the Chief Rabbinate?
    If these More modern Orthodox rabbis immediately form a Beit Din, begin to convert and marry, it will force the hand of the Haredi Batei Din and the Knesset.
    This is not a time to cry. It is an Eit Laasot (a time to act).

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