Volume 65 Number 78 
      Produced: Sun, 28 Aug 22 16:26:26 -0400

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

Balfour equals Ba'al Pe'or Origin 
    [Martin Stern]
Is Geirus deOraisa? (4)
    [Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz  Yisrael Medad   David Tzohar  Chana Luntz]
Is Geirus deOraisa? - The Source 
    [Yisrael Medad]


From: Martin Stern <md.stern@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 28,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Balfour equals Ba'al Pe'or Origin

Yisrael Medad  wrote (MJ 65#77):

> I devoted some time to researching the use of the word play of Ba'al Peor and
> Balfour that was mentioned several weeks ago when we discussed the matter of
> Yishuv Eretz Yisrael (MJ 65#60-66).
> What I found was that it is attributed to the Minchat Elazar, the Munkatch
> Rebbe, and is found in his Responsa, Vol. 5, Letter 37 which may be found at:
> ... 
> His frame of reference is very interesting. The issue is whether to
> participate in a general fast against Nazi Germany (the exact date is
> missing). Towards the end, he notes that in 1929 he was asked to sign a
> protest directed to England following the riots in Mandate Palestine and in
> Hebron and Jerusalem in particular and to broadcast it over the radio. He
> refused as it would mean cooperating with the Zionists, Agudists and
> Mizrahists, parties, he writes, that benefit from their "Ba'al Pe'or" and in
> any case, England just angers the Arabs and stirs them up. These parties, he
> adds, are but "ro'ei elil mesitai kol yisrael [shepherds of an idol who incite
> all of Israel]".

This is fairly typical of the Munkatch Rebbe, R. Chaim Elazar Spira. I believe
he once said that Kamtza, the name of the person who was partially responsible
for the destruction of the second Temple, is a notaricon [acronym] of
"Kommunists, Mizrachists, Tzionists, Agudists".

There is an apocryphal story based on his disputes with the Satmar Rebbe, R.
Yoel Teitelbaum, whom he accused of being a covert Zionist and cursed him that
he should not be survived by any children. R. Yoel countered with what he
considered was an even worse curse, that the Munkatcher would have children who
would become Zionists. Both curses were fulfilled - the Munkatcher's successor,
R. Baruch Yehoshua Yerachmiel Rabinovich, the husband of his only child, Chaya
Frima Rivka, was sympathetic to Zionism and became Chief Rabbi of Holon in 1963.
The Minchat Elazar died in 1937 so he did not witness this "tragedy".

Martin Stern


From: Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz <sabbahillel@...>
Date: Fri, Aug 26,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

Martin Stern wrote (MJ 65#77):

> If one vows to have no benefit from areilim [uncircumcised individuals], he is
> permitted to have benefit from uncircumcised Jews (for example those whose
> brothers died as a result of milah) but may have no benefit from uncircumcised
> non-Jews (for example Arabs who, even in Mishnaic times, practised circumcision)
> ... for the term orlah is used only as a general term for non-Jews as it says
> 'For all the nations are areilim'. (Yir. 9:25)

There is a typo here which changes the meaning. It should read

but may have no benefit from **circumcised** non-Jews

[Hillel is absolutely correct. We apologise for not correcting this obvious typo
- MOD]

Hillel (Sabba) Markowitz

From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 27,2022 at 02:17 PM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

Martin Stern writes (MJ 65#77):

> Yisrael is once again taking an over-literal view of the text while ignoring
> the Torah shebe'al peh.

May I remind him and the list members that if the topic we are discussing i.e.
whether something is "d'Oraitha" (from the Torah), a very special and
well-defined term of Jewish Halachic practice, it really doesn't help your
argument to point to the Torah She'Baal Peh while ignoring that there actually
is no Torah She'bichtav source for the mitzva.

Does anyone know of a mitzva that is O'raitha that is not sourced in the Torah text?

He adds that

> the Yerushalmi (Yev 8:3) explains that she had converted prior to her marriage
> to Machlon

Where exactly is that stated/written there? Please quote the words. I am having
difficulty finding that there. But in any case, how did the Bet Din work? On
what Torah verse that mentions the concept conversion does it draw its power and

Yisrael Medad

From: David Tzohar <davidtzohar@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 28,2022 at 08:17 AM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

There is no source in the Torah for a CHoVa (halachic obligation) to forcibly
convert non-Jews and according to accepted halacha we should not even try to
convince them; gerei tzedek are only accepted if they come because they believe
in Hashem and his Torah and want to be part of His chosen people. According to
the MaLBiM there is only one ger tzedek in the Torah: Yitro his family and their
descendants. Even Rut, usually considered the quintessential giyoret is really a
classic giyoret toshav who abandoned idolatry, observed the seven noahide laws
and lived among the Israelites accepting their sovereignty. Her "conversion"
entailed no rituals, no bet din and was actually for the specific purpose of
marrying Boaz. Till the end of the megillah she is called "Rut HaMoAViYa. She
would never be accepted today as a giyoret tzedek by Orthodox standards. 

While there was no chova to convert her, there are many authorities who follow
the opinion of the Vilna Gaon who said that there is a mitzva d'oreita not only
to accept gerei toshav but kal vachomer to LOVE them. This mitzva is found in
12(!) separate passages in the Torah. As the GR'A said "mitzvah l'ahavem
lekarvam ulekablam maei ba'yeh? (If it is a mitzva to love them is there any
question that we must actively accept them?" And I would add that if this is
true de'oreita for geirei toshav then kal vachomer it is true for geirei tzedek
at least d'rabbanan.

100 years ago Rav Kook used this idea to characterise Arab Moslems and Druze as
Geirei toshav for the purpose of HeTTeR MeCHiRa (selling Eretz Yisrael during
shmitta) thus getting around the problem of Lo TeCHauNeM (giving non-Jews a hold
on the land of Israel.

There are some poskim in Israel today led by Rav Mazuz SHLITa who see olim who
are zera yisrael (a paternal Jewish connection), mostly immigrants from the
former USSR, as potential gerei toshav who should be accepted as gerei tzedek
under lenient conditions. The Rabbinate and, IIAC the RCA, reject this idea
since according to the RaMBaM there can be no gerei toshav today without the
emancipation of non-Jewish slaves who are automatically gerei toshav who are
obligated to observe all non-time-bound mitzvot.

In conclusion - There is no giyur(tzedek) d'oreita, and to paraphrase the GR'A 
those gerei tzedek - Ya gotta luv'em!!

Chodesh Tov
R'David Yitzchak Tzohar

From: Chana Luntz <Chana@...>
Date: Sun, Aug 28,2022 at 08:17 AM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa?

Yisrael Medad (MJ 65#77) asks:

> If the Torah details all sorts of actions to accomplish a mitzva, why not
> conversion?

It is important to understand that this is a much wider question than
conversion.  It could be asked about Jewishness passing through the mother; it
could be asked about cooking, eating and having benefit from milk and meat
together; it could be asked about an eye for an eye meaning money; about all the
details of shechting animals, in short, it can be asked about absolutely
everything that we consider Torah sheba'al peh [oral Torah]. 

And it can be asked in two ways:

a. Way one: - why did the G-d choose to include this aspect in detail in the
written Torah and other aspects "hang by a hair" or virtually not at all, while
being much more detailed in the oral Torah? (this is an Orthodox question); or 

b. Way two: - is the oral Torah legitimate/valid given the absence of these
details in the written Torah? (this is not an Orthodox question). 

And not only can these questions be asked in these ways, but they have been,
frequently throughout history.  And in particular Way two has been frequently
asked  - the Tseddokim asked these questions; the Karaites asked these
questions; the Reform movement asked these questions in precisely this way. And
now within academia they ask these questions - in particular, is the oral Torah
view of conversion that it dates back to Sinai legitimate/valid?

> Prof. Shiffman's academic works are not on midrash per se but on conversion.

I have not read Professor Shiffman's academic works specifically, but I have
read various academic articles within the same sphere.  The premises on which
such academic works are based are not Orthodox ones.  There are Orthodox Jews
who operate within that sphere, but my sense is that they have a level of
cognitive dissonance - because the belief systems are not compatible.  The
academic sphere takes it as given that the written Torah meant one thing
initially at the point it was written (which most would regard as being at
various points in history, and much later than the Orthodox belief), and it was
only much later that the Rabbis created the understandings in the midrash
halacha (not midrash agada which from an Orthodox perspective is completely
different), mishna and gemara.  

> b) as an Orthodox Jew (I know him), his approach takes into consideration all
> aspects of traditional Judaism on the subject, some which have eluded Martin.

While Professor Shiffman may himself be a practicing Jew, in order to get papers
accepted within this sphere, it is necessary to write within the academic
framework of understanding, and there is no way that Professor Shiffman can do
otherwise.  A lot of these academic papers are very interesting, but you do need
to understand the premises on which they are based, and that these underlying
premises fundamentally contradict Orthodox premises of belief.

This is a classic case in point. There is absolutely no question that Chazal and
the later commentators (Rishonim and Achronim) to whom those of us who are
Orthodox look, understood conversion as being a d'oraisa (from the Torah).  This
is clear from dozens of different sources in the Mishna and Gemora which are
then brought down in the various commentaries and codes, including the Shulchan

But more crucially  the system only functions in practice as it does because of
this understanding.  Because the halachic system, as practiced, allows a convert
to represent born Jews as a shaliach [agent] even when performing mitzvot that
are understood by the Orthodox (Chazal, Rishonim, Achronim) as being from the
Torah.  If conversion were merely considered to be rabbinic, then halachically
this agency would not work - one of the reasons we generally do not allow a bar
mitzvah boy to read parshat Zachor for a congregation, but we do allow a convert
- is because while a boy who is 13 years and a day is rabbinically considered an
adult, he is not necessarily considered by the Orthodox system (Chazal,
rishonim, achronim] to be an adult d'oraisa [from the Torah] until he has two
pubic hairs (which we do not check) - this being another example of Chazal's
learning which you cannot find explicated in the written Torah. One who is only
rabbinically obligated cannot fulfil the obligation of one who has an obligation
from the Torah. 

> d) I think an open attitude to knowledge is better than narrowmindedness. 

That might be true, but it is also really important to understand what is at
stake.  Were it true that conversion was merely rabbinic, rather than from the
Torah, converts would be second class Jewish citizens, unable to participate
fully within many, many aspects of halachic life to which the Orthodox position
entitles them.

That is why this view cannot be an Orthodox view, no matter how fancy the
analytic footwork, because it ends up contradicting Orthodox halacha as it is
practiced. I imagine that many Orthodox converts would find even the suggestion
very hurtful - as it delegitimises them on a grand scale.  The good news for
them is that Orthodoxy as has been practiced over the centuries totally rejects
this view and will continue to do so regardless of academic articles.  Read the
articles for interest and language analysis if you wish, but do not confuse
anything that is said that contradicts the halacha as it is practiced to be in
any way Orthodox, as it is not.




From: Yisrael Medad  <yisrael.medad@...>
Date: Sat, Aug 27,2022 at 04:17 PM
Subject: Is Geirus deOraisa? - The Source

The source for the custom of conversion is the concept that B'nai Yisrael were
not Jews when they left Egypt. They needed to undergo three acts to become Jewish:



sacrificial offering.

Yisrael Medad


End of Volume 65 Issue 78