Sunday, September 16, 2012

Jewish Values and IDF Conversions

Sorry, but this will be quick, since I have little time.  I'd like your responses, so please comment and share.

This past Shabbat at the table there was a rare argument between me and a guest, with whom I usually agree.  He didn't think that the converts of the IDF convert courses should be accepted.  He stated that there should be a "trial" time to see if they stick to the life of Torah and Mitzvot after the army.

I consider the gerei tzeddek,  righteous converts of the courses offered during service in the IDF, Israeli army to be on a very high level.  It's not that simple for them to get into the courses, they have to show a real interested in living as Jews, following mitzvot etc.  The soldiers in these courses are generally youth who have grown up or were born in Israel but aren't Jewish.  By serving in the army, they are showing a additional commitment to the Jewish Land and State of Israel that many born Jews never dare to do.  They not only enjoy the benefits of living in Israel, but they are willing to risk their lives for the continued existence of the State and for our security.  That IMHO puts them on the very highest Jewish Level.

For that reason, I feel their conversions should be 100% accepted.

Judaism is a religion of action, commitment, not just theory.  That is the problem with those who claim that it's enough (or even superior) to just sit and learn Torah.  I'm sorry if I've offended anyone, but there is no real justification in that life style.  In the Torah G-d instructs all tribes to defend the Land, even those not living here.
Within the limits of these shared lines I would refer your interested readers to yet another passage in RaMBaM's Hilchot Yesodei haTorah 5:10-11 where he clearly establishes that talmidei chachamim will be held responsible for damaging chilul Hashem that can result from their behavior...
...Then we have to recall the immortal words of the NeTZiV in his commentary to Moshe Rabeinu's question to the members of the tribes of Reuven and Gad when they looked to avoid going to war as the nation stood on the banks of the Jordan River: "Your brothers will go to war but you will remain here?!" he asked. This, explains the NeTZIV, would have constituted an "avlah", an unjust wrongful act that would be perpetrated against all of Israel (Ha'amek Davar, Bamidbar 32:6). Rabbi Chaim Wasserman, my NCSY rabbi.  I'm quoting this which he sent to Torah Tidbits, but I didn't ask his opinion about IDF converts.
There is not supposed to be a specific fighting sect/group in Judaism.  The responsibility is on all of us.  The fact that many Jews refuse to fight to defend the Land, state and People is a great problem. It's even worse that many Jews stay abroad or encourage others to use the yeshiva deferment to stay out of the army.  That's why I consider those who are willing to fight and defend our People, Land and state to be on a very high Jewish level. 

You can't say that their time in the army isolates the students in the conversion course from temptation and also say that being in the army is religiously difficult for Torah-observant Jews.

May we unite into one fighting People.  It's up to us to fight for our Land!

Shannah Tovah!  May G-d give us strength and determination, physical and spiritual!


Hadassa said...

Being willing to die defending the Land of Israel is certainly highly meritorious, and yes many born Jews refuse to do so, but is it equivalent to keeping all 613 commandments? Is is wise to accept converts who aren't going to keep all of the mitzvot - which has frequently happened with IDF conversions - and therefore be guilty of transgressions of which they would not be guilty had they not converted? Rav Melamed recently mentioned in his
B'Sheva column that while the situation in the IDF has improved for religious soldiers, the situation for torani soldiers is not good. I don't know what the particulars of the course are, but it's highly problematic for the potential converts to be in a setting that's not conducive to be careful with observing mitzvot. I say have them learn in a yeshiva after finishing their service, or while serving, in a hesder yeshiva.

MAOZ said...

All I can offer to this discussion at the moment is to mention the Gentile chayelet who asked, "Can I still believe in [oto ha'ish] after I convert?" [Not apocryphal -- I heard her put the question to a friend of mine.]

Alan said...

When so-called Jews stop visiting the graves of "zaddikim", or when barren women make special pleading prayers at Shiloh..... is when anyone in this room will have the right to examine a Chayellet's feelings about the grave of Jesus. Especially anyone who has never defended the State with their own body.

There is a deeper issue. So-called "Torah Judaism" in its currently known form, is purely an invention of the loss of our ruling Royal Family.

The IDF is the new Sovereign. No one can point to any other possible candidate. The existing "rebbes" are a bunch of money-grubbing clowns.

We don't know if allowing the Jebusites to live, and to stay in Jerusalem - was right, wrong, clever, or foolish. But the King decided to do that. It's his decision, folks. The IDF has decided to do things this way and that way. They have their reasons; and they are the Sovereign.

The diaspora-necessitated rigamoroles are just a bad dream. Stop living in a --mental-- diaspora.

Please don't send in the clowns !!

Alan said...

With the permission of our esteemed moderator.... allow me to make another point.

If you decide to have a trial period, then **someone** has to examine the person's beliefs at the end of it,and judge if they cross a threshold. Now, since we can't even agree on whether to say "shabbat" or "shabbos".... what are the chances of EVERYONE agreeing if the "candidate Jew" has the right beliefs?

And why do I have a sneaking feeling that ANY rabbi who says "shabbos" will never accept any conversion certificate from a rabbi who says "shabbat"?

There's this (sorry I don't have the URL at hand) frum private eye in Brooklyn who specializes in frum cases. Somewhere in his (its in the Hebrew) archives, you'll find a report of a Rabbinate rabbi in (was it Netanya?) who was sympathetic to presto-chango instant conversions (official ones) of the Filipinit-descended sabra girls, when a local boy wanted to marry them. In return for "sincere contributions". Which he cleverly priced at like 80% of what it would have cost the couple to go do the Cyprus-civil-marriage thing.

Need the Netanya-job done? Ask around in the Old Central Bus Station in Tel Aviv. When you go, I do recommend the dish called "panzeet".... ==if== it's made with the true pure-rice noodles. You can tell because those are translucent. Anything that's opaque white, has been cut with wheat flour. Which is cheaper. PS: rice noodles are gluten-free.

Now, if your REAL complaint is that middle-aged Israeli guys are ditching the wife of their youth and getting a newer model from the Asian Babe display case.... well, everything has a reason, so work on the real problem: why the guys feel like its a good exchange. Older Mercedes-Benz vehicles ARE sometimes worth more than new ones.... if they were a great edition to begin with.

Now go to the Beis Ya'akov near you and explain that to those girls.

Batya said...

maoz, obviously, someone like that isn't a serious candidate for conversion. Not everyone is accepted. It's a very small number of the total non-Jews.

Alan, I don't think you're familiar with the topic. This isn't the old-quickie conversion that the foreign basketball players did. And I'm not interested in those stories right now.

Hadassa, these classes are serious and there is mentoring by frum families. There's a limit to how long people should be strung along.

The army courses are much better than former conversion processes for sure.

MAOZ said...

Allow me just to add that when Alan referenced "anyone who has never defended the State with their own body," he either was consciously not referring to me [despite that he seems to be referring to my remark], or else simply ignorantly shooting off his keyboard over someone of which he knows nothing.

G'mar chatima tova le'khol 'Am Yisrael.

Anonymous said...

Batya said:

"By serving in the army, they are showing a commitment to the Jewish Land and State of Israel that many born Jews never dare to do. They not only enjoy the benefits of living in Israel, but they are willing to risk their lives for the continued existence of the State and for our security. That IMHO puts them on the very highest Jewish Level."

Not a mention of Hashem or Torah. Poorly chosen words.

Batya said...

Shy, fixed it. Thanks, I had meant to but got too busy with work and Rosh Hashannah.

Daniel said...

Its a tough issue. Should Wingate be retroactively converted. Howevever, if they are sincere, i have no problem putting them to the head of the line.

What if find as a bigger problem is people with strong Jewish identities that were raised Jewish but are halachically gentile- ie. adoptions sans conversion or zera israel, but are not religious enough to get a halachic conversion.

having worked with many Flip nurses that are hot, i would imagine these half sabra half flips must be gorgeous- and not so short.