Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Sadducees Among Us

On the night of Yom Kippur, representatives of the Sanhedrin would pay a call to the High Priest and abjure him to follow the dictates of the Oral Law when he entered the Holy of Holies, the following day. 'You are our emissary, and the emissary of the court' before the Holy One, blessed be He (M. Yoma I, 5).

They were forced to do so because, toward the end of the Second Temple era, the High Priesthood had become corrupted. The office was a political commodity, and those who occupied it were all too often unworthy. Their corruption was not only venal, it was spiritual. The High Priests were often adherents of the Sadducean form of Judaism, which denied the validity of the Oral Law and, as a result, was extremely strict (even criminally strict) in its interpretation of the Torah's commands. With the destruction of the Holy Temple (שייבנה במהרה בימינו אמן), the Sadducees lost their basis of power and authority and disappeared. (Although, there are good reasons to think that their influence continued to be felt, and that the Karaites were their reincarnation, of sorts.)

Today, in the Land of Israel, the Sadducees have reappeared in a different guise. Instead of the Priesthood, we have the Rabbinate and its component parts, the Bet Din system and the Marriage and divorce registry. As in Temple times, the highest and most sensitive offices are political footballs. Appointments are far too frequently based upon power politics, and not upon piety and learning. Overwhelmingly, the Hareidim have a lock on these appointments. Those who 'serve' as Dayyanim and City Rabbis are frequently not the best that the Yeshivot have to offer. These are interested only in becoming Rashei Yeshiva. The second and third raters, who need the ample salaries of a judge or a city rabbi are those who are shoe-horned into the positions.

In addition, while there are some fine judges and rabbis in the system, far too many hold the rabbinate, the State of Israel and anyone who is not Hareidi in absolute, total contempt. Thus, they impose upon the Jews of Israel rulings that evince insensitivity and an attitude of aggressive violence that is worthy of condemnation. For them it's no big deal. They don't care about anyone but their own community. They are not our emissaries!!!!

They are not the emissaries of the courts, that is of Orthodox Rabbinic Tradition!!!!


1) The refusal of the Rabbinate to recognize conversions undertaken by the Army rabbinate is merely the latest example of the high handed, sectarian manner in which the Rabbinate tramples the rulings of Hazal, Rishonim and Aharonim. The wholesale ex post facto invalidation of conversions and divorces, which is unprecedented in the History of Judaism, is a gross violation of the fundamental principle of collegiality among rabbinic courts that allowed Halakhah to keep the Jews alive as Jews for millennia. The arrogance and temerity of these people, who could not shine the shoes of the true גדולי תורה whose rulings they belittle (e.g. ר' חיים עוזר גרודזנסקי זצ"ל) boggles the imagination.

They are not our emissaries, or the emissaries of Bet Din!!!

2) Hazal, Rishonim and the great among the Aharonim were concerned with the plight of the Agunah. The present Rabbinate does precisely the opposite. They keep women in chains. They refuse to countenance even the remedies that Halakhah has recognized for centuries, to free women from recalcitrant husbands. They blithely overturn divorces and don't give a damn if they create mamzerim.

They are not our emissaries, or the emissaries of Bet Din!!!

3) The Torah, as R. Israel Isserlein asserted לעשות נחת רוח לנשים, insofar as that was possible (and I am more conservative- small c - in this issue than most). The Rabbinate (in the person of the aparatchik who bears the exalted title רב המקומות הקדושים), drives women away from the holy places of Israel, in the name of modesty. He immorally siezed 30% of the women's section at the Kotel, leaving the daughters of Hannah little or no access to the remnant of our Temple. He drove women from קבר שמעון הצדיק. The same happens all over Israel.

At a time when more and more Jews seek God and Qedushah, the Rabbinate desecrates God's Holy and Ineffable Name in public, drives His people away from the Torah's Life giving waters.

They are not our emissaries, or the emissaries of Bet Din!!!

On the Eve of 5771, the Torah demands that we rectify our situation. Our continued life in the Holy Land requires that we come closer to God and the observance of all of the mitzvot. Ironically, I have come to the conclusion that in the present constellation of factors it is impossible to man the rabbinate with rabbis and judges who care about the whole Jewish People, and really care about the Torah. I wish that were possible. The alternative is to abolish the rabbinate, or to set up a parallel system that will create facts on the ground that the Sadducees will be unable to ignore.

יהי רצון שתשרה שכינה במעשה ידינו!


Anonymous said...

a push for tzohar?

you realize that at best this will leave israel with competing rabbinates/shtei torot.

Jeffrey R. Woolf said...

Tzohar also needs to develop a backbone. As for 2 torot, I'm interested that there should be one Torah. The Rabbanut is interested in no Torah for anyone but them.

BrooklynWolf said...

The wholesale ex post facto invalidation of conversions and divorces

While we've heard a lot about the ex post facto invalidation of conversions, I don't believe I've heard of any cases regarding divorces. Can you elaborate on this?


The Wolf

GaryBG said...

Jeffrey, while we come from different part of the Jewish spectrum, and we have not always voiced similar opinions, on this topic, I must respond, "Amen"
Shana tova u'mituka
Gary B-G

Mordechai Y. Scher said...

Sadly well put, Rav Woolf.

Anonymous said...

We allowed it to happen. Modern Orthodox leaders have been reluctant to criticize haredi leaders.

Anonymous said...

i can already the earthquake of laughter at beis zupnik

Shira Salamone said...

Brooklyn Wolf said, "While we've heard a lot about the ex post facto invalidation of conversions, I don't believe I've heard of any cases regarding divorces."

You can thank *yourself* for this link.

Anonymous said...

this article is chilling. powerful. sad.

Chana said...

You said it all much better than I could have, Rav Woolf.