Thursday, May 22, 2008

FLASH! Olmert Fires Rav Druckman [UPDATED]

Rav Haim Druckman שליט"א

I have to say that I'm stunned (and not much stuns me anymore). PM Olmert's office decided to exploit the absence of Rav Amar to summarily fire Rav Druckman, on the pretense that he was 75 years old. This, to put it mildly, is a very lame excuse. Exceptions to the various age limitations are made all the time. One classic example, the founding conductor of the IDF orchestra was kept on the job for over thirty years after he was supposed to retire. We are a country that specializes in making exceptions.

Without sounding extreme, I can't help but think that Olmert sacrificed Rav Druckman in order to secure the support of Agudat Yisrael and Degel ha-Torah and Shas to support his survival in office. (If Olmert has already given away the Golan in order to avoid problems, what a conversion authority?) His statements against Rav Druckman, and his swipe at the National Religious community that they will soon become Reform, are not only disgusting per se, they are disingenuous. None other than Rav Ovadiah Yosef has ruled, הלכהלמעשה, that if a non-Jew converts and agrees to some sort of traditional lifestyle, the conversion is valid. I have it on the best authority that he has expressed support for Rav Druckman's efforts. So what is this? Political grandstanding on the backs of the converts.
Whatever the reason, the question is what now? Personally, I see no other option but the establishment of an independent rabbinical court system, manned by the hundreds of qualified Dayyanim whom the Haredi Politicos and their Secular allies keep out of the Rabbinate. Let the Badatzim stew in their own juices. If they don't want to accept us, so we need not support them (monetarily, politically or any other way). Our own yeshivot and institutions are crying for support. Our efforts need to go there and towards teaching Torah in the broader community.

As for Yishai's demagogic remark about the Religious Zionist/Modern Orthodox community becoming Reform, let me say this. Accusing anyone who isn't Haredi of being Reform is an old, cheap form of anti-Modern Polemic. Unfortunately, our community has often taken such screed too seriously, and we've been hurt as a result. For example, because the Conservatives addressed the problem of recalcitrant husbands first, we did nothing- lest we look Reform. Does that make sense?

In the end it's a matter of our own self-discipline and confidence. If we continually work on strengthening our יראת שמים, our diffidence in Psaq, our readiness to be heroic and our readiness to stop where the Torah won't let us go, even if there is a human price to pay- we have nothing to fear from political hacks and Haredi polemicists.

If, however, we subordinate the Torah to modern trends, to religious subjectivism and relativism, and do violence to its texts and inner logic- as advocated by some self-styled 'Orthodox' humanists- then we will go down the path of religious, spiritual and national perdition that Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Renewal 'Judaism's have blazed.


The latest information on the story is:
http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3546328,00.html
http://www.nrg.co.il/online/1/ART1/737/180.html
http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1211434077386&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

22 comments:

Dov said...

First - thank you so much for you updates and informed analysis

Second - both the links in the second paragraph point to the same article quoting Eli Ishi, not Olmert. You make it sound like Olmert made those comments. Perhaps there is a different article quoting Olmert?

Itamar Ross said...

Olmert needs the support of the Ashkenazic charedim, Rav Elyashiv's people in particular, in order to give away the Golan to the Syrian tyrant. The payment: axing Rav Druckman. For such a small payment, he probably didn't even think twice.

Unfortunately, nobody living in Israel is the least bit surprised by this kind of stuff.

But in the end it will all backfire. Either Rav Druckman will be reinstated and his conversions recognized by the rabbinate. Or Tzohar will step in to do its own conversions, and to marry those who have already converted.

If the latter, it is not much longer before we have civil marriage in Israel. Which might be for the best thing from a Torah perspective, so that each person can freely choose whichever rav he wants to marry him and whichever beit din he wants to convert him.

Who are the true voices of Torah in Israel? Let Am Yisrael decide freely, without the government/rabbanut interfering in their choice.

No political position should dictate the voice of Torah. No official rabbanut should exist to be used as a sledgehammer first against the RCA, and now again against Rav Druckman. Let the People of Israel decide themselves between Rav Elyashiv and Tzohar.

Jeffrey said...

R. Druckman was fired by the Prime Minister's office. NOTHING, moves there without him. Just connect the dots.

Anonymous said...

eli yishais comments were addressing only mafdal leadership, which sharply curtails the offensiveness of the comments [though still offensive enough].

the rz community in israel is as insular as the hareidi community in israel. they do not generally support hareidim. indeed, some of the most anti-hareidi comments i have heard have come out of the mouths of rz.

your last paragraph needs a great deal of definition: for example, how do we decide what is a trend and what is minhag, and what is binding halakha?

Ben Bayit said...

how would setting up independent rabbinical courts make the Badatzim stew in their own juices? Doing so would vindicate 100 years of charedi insistence on maintaining separate kehillot within the Land of Israel despite the presence of an organized Yishuv Body/State. They would laugh in our faces - not stew in their juices.

Nope, Modern Orthodoxy has to learn how to lay in the bed it helped make.

ilanadavita said...

Thank you for the update.
However this is just so depressing I am left speechless. I also think of all the people converted by Rav Druckman. They must feel even more helpless than before.

Moshe said...

I agree with Ben Bayit on this one.

By allowing the politicians to have a hand in Judaism (choosing Rabbis and Dayanim), the RZ have gotten into bed with the dirty politics of the country, and now they are being forced to sow what they have reaped. The politicians are only being politicians - trying to milk anything that happens for all that they can. Sure, they are dirtbags, but the RZ should have realized this before. Did anyone think that Olmert was moral? Eli Yishai? Come on....wake up and smell the coffee.

The time is becoming more ripe for a new political party - it can be called דב"מ - דת בלי מדינה. It's time to save the Judaism from the State of Israel. Get rid of all aspects of forced Judaism in the state, as well as the current system of choosing Rabbis and Dayanim. We need to save the Torah from the clutches of an immoral government. This will also allow us to teach the beauty of Judaism to the non-religious public without them being pre-poisoned to religion due to "כפייה דתית",

The only problem that I can think of is the problem of potential mamzerim. If divorces are not given solely by the Rabbinate, many couples who married through the Rabbinate will only get a civil divorce, and their future offspring would be halakhic mamzerim. Does anyone have a halakhic solution to this problem?

Shira Salamone said...

I'm with IlanaDavita on this--I'm so dumbstruck, all I could do was link. I fear for the Jewish status of my nieces and nephew, whose mother underwent an Orthodox conversion over 30 years ago.

As for Moshe's question about mamzerim, that problem exists already with the present rabbinate.

What it comes down to, in plain English--or Hebrew--is that no one who's ever been converted or divorced, or who has an ancestor who's been converted or divorced, will ever be able to rest assured that she or he is halachically Jewish and/or eligible to be married halachically. At this rate, there will be questions for generations.

Anonymous said...

someone on a different blog wrote:
let's put things in context:

The National Religious community in Israel has a tendency to close ranks around rabbis who went over to the dark side. [deleted]'s case was the first; only when overwhelming evidence was brought against him did yeshivas begin barring him. Now we have a far more tragic case.

This may be the first time readers of this blog heard of the scandal in which Haim Drukman forged conversion papers, but it's common knowledge in Israel. Drukman never denied doing it; all he could do was try to play down the severity of the crime.

The National Religious leaders, instead of throwing Drukman into traffic when the scandal broke, closed ranks around him and used their political clout to make sure the Attorney General didn't press charges. If they had acted appropriately years ago it would have helped minimize the damage.

Rabbinical organizations like Tzohar, instead of covering up for Drukman and assuring the people who converted through his beit din that they're kosher, should publicly distance themselves from Drukman. Then they should contact his converts, explain that the problem is procedural - lack of an appropriate beit din - and not lack of sincerity on their part, and convert them again. Instead of putting on their blinkers they should face the challenge, do some damage control and move on with life....
However, after Drukman's forgery scandal, his case is open and shut. There is no way anyone can say he is a kosher dayan.
end of quote.
i don't remember anyone screaming when ba'al habatim fired the late Rav Goldwicht from Yavneh, and if you ask me, might have caused him so much misery that might have effected his death and hastened his relatively early demise. there have been problems with rabbi druckman's giyurim thru the years, and instead of improving the situation, people just go on doing the same, like in this blog.
hoping for better times.
one further point, knowing rav sherman and his family, he was appointed on the nrp ticket as they say, and he is the rav of hesdernikim in bnei brak. so perhaps one should zero in on the issues and stop throwing all that mud in both directions.

Anonymous said...

"However, after Drukman's forgery scandal, his case is open and shut. There is no way anyone can say he is a kosher dayan."

Funny that you say that. R' Ovadya Yosef and R' Avraham Shapira disagreed with you when the forgery issue first arose. They said not only that R' Druckman was a kosher dayan, but that the particular conversions which involved forgery were nonetheless valid bedieved.

Anonymous said...

For the record, R' Druckman is now 75 and the official retirement age is 67. However, R' Druckman was HIRED for this particular job in 2004. Do the math, he was already well past retirement age when he was first hired. So the assertion that this is a normal bureaucracy move is, well, beyond ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Setting up and independent court system is a bad idea for the following reason (I quote from garnelironheart.blogspot.com):

The Chareidi response to a split would be disasterous for the Modern Orthodox community. Perhaps not immediately but over time the fallout would become obvious. Consider that no Orthodox authorities would recognize a non-Orthodox get. The only reason Reformers and Conservatives don't have a huge mamzerus problem is because the Orthodox leadership also doesn't recognize their weddings, hence there's no problem with children being born to the wrong father. Imagine what happens the day after the RCA announces they're going it alone. They'll have their own beis dins, their own standard for conversion, etc. And slowly, slowly people will start to discover that the Chareidi world will ascribe as much legitimacy to their conversions, marriages and divorces as they do to the non-religious movements. Imagine a person raised in a Modern Orthodox home, who has gone to shul and yeshiva, who has always kept kosher and now goes to Israel for a year of study. The only wrinkle is that his mother converted through the RCA after the split. In Israel he meets a girl but when he goes to get married he suddenly discovers that he's not Jewish according to the Rabbanut! This is not fear mongering or idle theorizing. This is what will happen if the RCA unilaterally splits and goes its own way as a response to this challenge.

There is only one solution to the situation (I quote from my comment to that post):

...get together with secular Israelis to end funding for charedi schools and yeshivas, and force charedim to serve in the army.

The charedi world would never have grown so fast, nor would it have become so arrogant or irresponsible, if it didn't receive a constant, giant influx of money and services from the non-charedim surrounding it. Cutting off those resources would slow their growth and necessitate a much-needed reappraisal of ideology.

These measures are harsh and many people would suffer from them in the short term. But in the long term, there is no other way to preserve what we consider the more authentic form of Torah Judaism.

As nauseating as it is to sit at a table with the Shinui crowd, I think we need to do it. Or at least, to go to the charedim with a credible threat of doing it, if we don't get what we want.

Moshe said...

Shira-

I fail to see where there is a problem of Mamzerut in the current Rabbinate.

The children of all those whose conversion was "found to be invalid" are not mamzerim - they are simply non Jews (according to the opinion that the conversions are invalid).

Mamzerut only applies in specific instances, the most common of them being a married woman who has a child with a man other than her husband.

If the women were not married by Rabbis with Kosher witnesses, they are not considered halakhically married (acc. to some poskim), and as such, their divorce need not be done in a Jewish court. However, if the women were married by a Rabbi with kosher witnesses (as is currently done by force in Israel), the divorces will need to be done in a religious court as well. If the divorce is only secular, the woman is still considered married to her first husband, and children of her "second marriage" are mamzerim.

Anonymous said...

"I fail to see where there is a problem of Mamzerut in the current Rabbinate."

Because the same arguments being used to nullify conversions are equally applicable to divorces and agunah cases.

"If the women were not married by Rabbis with Kosher witnesses, they are not considered halakhically married (acc. to some poskim), and as such, their divorce need not be done in a Jewish court."

That's true if you accept the ruling of R' Moshe Feinstein. In Israel they are concerned about opinions that just living together like husband and wife makes a couple halachically married, while a valid "get" is needed to separate them. According to these opinions (which are implicitly accepted even by dati leumi rabbis; even the Gavison-Medan constitution allows you to marry once but not twice without the approval of the rabbinate), we are now confronted with a serious question of mamzerut.

Moshe said...

>>Because the same arguments being used to nullify conversions are equally applicable to divorces and agunah cases.

Theoretically, you are correct, however, l'maaseh this is not being done.


>>That's true if you accept the ruling of R' Moshe Feinstein. In Israel they are concerned about opinions that just living together like husband and wife makes a couple halachically married, while a valid "get" is needed to separate them.

I had not thought about it in those terms. In the USA the P'sak of R' Moshe is universally accepted. Do Baalei T'shuva who lived with a boy/girlfriend before becoming religious give them gittin after becoming religious? I think not.

Anonymous said...

one of the posters suggested forcing all haredim to go to the army. could you imagine armed haredi activists. we would begin to look like Lebanon.

Ben Bayit said...

I'm not sure what the connection to Rav Goldvicht's firing is (it was indeed not a pleasant experience and demonstrated a distinct lack of kavod hatorah on the part of some Mizrachi functionaries).

I will agree that Rav Sherman has been a regular contributer to Tehumin over the years as well as a presence at the Mossad Harav Kook Torah Shebaal Peh conference. He is certainly not "hard-core" Ponovich Litvak.
I will also add that his ruling on giyur has been consistent. a decade ago he was in the minority opinion. Now he is in the majority. If the RZ and MO can learn how to sleep in the bed they helped make then they will be able to affect the appointments so that this can once again be overturned.

Anonymous said...

If the women were not married by Rabbis with Kosher witnesses, they are not considered halakhically married (acc. to some poskim), and as such, their divorce need not be done in a Jewish court."

That's true if you accept the ruling of R' Moshe Feinstein. In Israel they are concerned about opinions that just living

In US RMF psak was far from universally accepted-eg RYBS paskened that a Rabbi could not marry a women who converted to Judaism by a Reform Rabbi-together with her husband-got a civil divorce-without the women receiving a get-at least a get msafek. Certainly not acceptance of RMF viewpoint. I have heard that RAK, and RYK for starters disagreed with RMF's psak also.

mycroft

Anonymous said...

>>Because the same arguments being used to nullify conversions are equally applicable to divorces and agunah cases.

Theoretically, you are correct, however, l'maaseh this is not being done.


Wait another couple years, and l'maaseh, this will be done.

I had not thought about it in those terms. In the USA the P'sak of R' Moshe is universally accepted. Do Baalei T'shuva who lived with a boy/girlfriend before becoming religious give them gittin after becoming religious? I think not.

Despite the theoretical idea that "ein adam oseh beilato beilat zenut", I think that in practice, premarital sex is generally viewed as not quite constituting a marital relationship, while a formal civil or Reform marriage is seen differently.

Anonymous said...

Dr Woolf, your links don't work.

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else seen this http://benchorin.blogspot.com/2008/05/one-of-main-arguments-put-forward-by-r.html

Jeffrey said...

I'll fix the links.
Thanks to everyone for keeping the discussion respectful.