Ashkenazi haredi rabbis protest conversion 'breach'

Peres receives Yosef in shiva call and praises Shas party mentor for ruling on IDF conversions that ‘strengthens and unifies the people of Israel’.

By JONAH MANDEL
January 26, 2011 02:57
2 minute read.
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and President Shimon Peres

ovadia yosef peres 311. (photo credit: GPO)

The senior Ashkenazi rabbinic leadership on Tuesday expressed its “great protest” and pain over the “breach of the boundaries of the vineyard of the Jewish people to ‘kosher’ conversions that are not according to Halacha, and [that] bring gentiles into the vineyard of the Jewish people.”

A letter signed by top Lithuanian adjudicator Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv, senior hassidic rabbinic authority Rabbi Shmuel Wosner and over a dozen other haredi rabbis appeared in the major haredi newspapers – Yated Ne’eman, Hamodia and Hamvaser - and without mentioning them by name, was addressing the military conversions, which were recently declared kosher by President of the Shas Council of Torah Sages Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar, after their validity was challenged.

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Also not mentioned by name were Yosef and Amar, unlike the non-establishment industry of street notices (pashkevilim) through which the chief rabbi has been called a heretic and hypocrite since following Yosef’s lead and giving his signature to the IDF conversions nearly two weeks ago.

Tuesday’s letter dwells on the halachic concept cited by the senior rabbis, according to which “these gentiles had no intention to accept any principle from the religious principles, neither Shabbat nor Kashrut nor the sanctity of the family, and everyone knows and can almost vow that these gentiles had no intention to accept Judaism.”

“And we turn to whoever can do anything to prevent this terrible desecration... and God may give the hearts of those erring wisdom,” the letter ends in what appears to be a wish aimed at Yosef.

The 90-year-old Yosef, meanwhile, received praise from President Shimon Peres for the very same ruling, while paying the president a condolence call at his residence on Tuesday morning.

“It was your greatness in Torah that enabled this important ruling that strengthens and unifies the People of Israel,” the president said. Yosef replied that the guiding principle in his ruling was the unity of the Jewish people, within the framework of Halacha. Accompanied by Shas ministers Eli Yishai and Ariel Attias, Yosef consoled Peres and told him that his late wife Sonia was a modest woman who dedicated her life to charity and helping those in need.


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