Yated metes out cautious criticism at Yosef, Amar

Criticism comes after leading rabbis authorize 4,500 IDF conversions; Shas minister Margi calls Lithuanian-mouthpiece "5 grams of filth."

IDF soldiers on Gaza border 311 (photo credit: AP)
IDF soldiers on Gaza border 311
(photo credit: AP)
Haredi-Lithuanian newspaper Yated Ne’eman on Sunday expressed “shock, as well as pained and utter protest over the desecration of approving thousands of military ‘conversions,’” in its inevitable reaction to the Friday decision of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to declare disputed past IDF conversions kosher.
Following Yosef’s ruling, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar on the same day issued the necessary document to authorize some 4,500 such conversions, which were lacking his signature.
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Referring to “our rabbis and sages,” and quoting unnamed veteran rabbinic judges, the Yated piece cautiously focused on disapproval and disbelief at Yosef’s “strange” decision, rather than directly attacking the senior Sephardi adjudicator or questioning the motives to his move.
Critics from the Lithuanian camp are claiming that what motivated Yosef in his ruling was not purely Halacha, rather a political deal at the end of which the government would torpedo Israel Beiteinu’s military conversion bill.
MK David Rotem remains firm in his declared intention to pass the law that would take IDF conversions out of the Chief Rabbinate’s hands, even after Amar fully accepted them.
The Knesset Law Committee, headed by Rotem, will be debating the bill on Tuesday ahead of a possible vote, much to Shas’s fury.
After lengthily discussing the shortcomings of the military conversions through quotes from the rabbinic judges, Sunday’s Yated piece notes that “the world of Torah and Halacha is shocked and pained by the uprooting of explicit halachic rulings from the Shulhan Aruch, which could also bring a great threat of assimilation to the Jewish people.”
Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas) responded to the allegations by calling the newspaper “five grams of filth.”
The same newspaper attacked Amar in September, after he had issued a letter endorsing in principle the military conversions, following the revelation that his name, and that of his predecessor, was lacking from the IDF conversion certificates. Yated had then blamed the chief rabbi with “the severe breach in maintaining the pedigree and sanctity of the people of Israel.”
Sunday’s piece in Yated appeared in the form of a news item, not a declaration signed by rabbis. Pashkevilim pasted in Jerusalem on Friday that slammed “those who promote fraudulent conversions without accepting the yoke of Torah and mitzvot,” and signed by most of the senior haredi Ashkenazi rabbis were the same as those used months ago to address Shas MK Haim Amsalem, who had spoken out in favor of more lenient conversions for people with Jewish roots.