Converts are in for much greater difficulties following Rabbi Yosef's modification of his legal ruling. Ashkenazi haredi marriage registrars are expected to give converts a hard time, trying to prove in any way possible that at the time of their conversion – which could have been many years previous – converts did not really intend to follow Jewish law, therefore voiding their conversions.
Rabbis reach deal on IDF conversions
In order to prevent haredi protests, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef says convert who did not intend on observing mitzvot while undergoing conversion process will not be recognized as a Jew
Kobi Nahshoni • Ynet
Shas’ spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, authorized a number of senior rabbis on Sunday to add clarifications on his behalf to his controversial ruling which legitimized conversions performed in the Israel Defense Forces.
The addition is said to be accepted by leaders of the Eda Haredit movement, including head of the Lithuanian Orthodox faction Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, who are expected to call off the mass protest against Rabbi Yosef planned for Wednesday.
According to the compromise – brokered by former Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri – Rabbi Yosef added a restriction to his ruling, stating that a convert who did not really intend on adopting a religious lifestyle while undergoing the conversion process would not be recognized as a Jew.
The compromise offers the Ashkenazi rabbis a way out from their aggressive and uncompromising statements in the past few days, while sparing an embarrassing mass protest against Rabbi Yosef and Chief Sephardic Rabbi Shlomo Amar, without any of the parties reneging on their original stances.
The converts, however, are in for greater difficulties following the agreement. The Ashkenazi haredi marriage registrars are expected to give them a hard time, trying to prove in any way possible that they did not really intend to observe mitzvot.
The Sephardic rabbis, Yosef's students, will argue that this can be proved only in very rare cases and that adopting a secular lifestyle – even shortly after the conversion process is completed – does not necessarily prove that the convert acted in a deceitful manner.
Sources close to Rabbi Yosef stressed that he was not reneging on his original ruling, just emphasizing it, and that his halachic stand is well known and has been published on various occasions in the past.
Deri to the rescue?
Former Minister Deri delved deeply into the matter on Thursday night. He formed a team of three senior haredi Sephardic rabbis – Rabbi Shalom Cohen, Rabbi Reuven Elbaz and Rabbi Moshe Tzedaka – who conducted the negotiations between the parties.
At first some of them appeared before the Eda Haredit court and Rabbi Elyashiv, and then presented the bones of contention to Rabbi Yosef, as raised in their meetings with the Ashkenazi rabbis.
On Sunday, after a meeting at his home with the mediating rabbis, Yosef authorized them to deliver the clarification of his ruling to leaders of the Eda Haredit movement, which represents a large section of the Ashkenazi Orthodox community.
Eda Haredit leader Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss, who met with Rabbi Yosef's representatives along with Interior Minister Eli Yishai, said he accepted the solution to the crisis and that the protest would be officially canceled.
So there you have it.
Ashkenazi haredim acting like Beit Shammai.
The Jerusalem Talmud, Shabbat 1:4 tells a story. The sages were meeting at the home of a prominent supporter, on the roof of his house. Beit Shammai appeared armed, murdered several members of Beit Hillel, and blocked the exit from the roof. No member of Beit Hillel was allowed to leave until he agreed to uphold the halakha of Beit Shammai, the minority. Beit Hillel – fearing for their lives – gave in. The sages then passed 18 gezerot (decrees) proposed by Beit Shammai. Most were aimed at separating Jews from Gentiles, and included kashrut gezerot that exist to this day. The Jerusalem Talmud calls this day the blackest day ever to befall the Jewish people since the day the Golden Calf was made and worshipped.
Beit Shammai was traditionalist. Its halakhot (laws) were restrictive. Its worldview was anti-modern and anti-rational. We carry the effects of Beit Shammai's intransigence to this day.
If Beit Shammai had been met with arms, if Beit Shammai had been expelled from normative Judaism, our halakhot would be less strict and our reaction to the Gentile world would be more open.
But on a Jerusalem day 2000 years ago, fanaticism won, crushing the democracy the sages had used to guide the Jewish people.
Those 18 gezerot were left in place because Beit Hillel was to frightened and too weak to repeal them.
Within a generation, many of the descendants of those Beit Shammai murderers became nationalist zealots and siccariim, assassins, who slaughtered anyone who dared advocate compromise with Rome.
What will descend from today’s Bet Shammai?
One can only shudder to think out it.
[Hat Tip: Corn Popper.]