In the past few months, forces have made my good friend and inspiration, Rav Hyim Shafner, apologize for several things he has said. I do not begrudge him those apologies, if it helps him navigate the political world we live in. But I do want to set the record straight:
1) If a couple – whether they be same sex, other sex, intermarried, etc – are part of the community and they adopt a baby, or celebrate that child’s birthday or bar mitzvah – that child deserves to be celebrated. Celebrating the Bar Mitzva or the adoption of a child just – with a cake at kiddush, or with the entire kiddush – just means that Judaism is happy for kids to have loving and caring parents. It does not mean that the parents are a good match, a halachic match or even bashert. It is just a celebration of a family. Families come in all shapes and sizes – some halachic, some not. Our responsibility is to make sure that the kids see Judaism as beautiful and as compelling as possible.
2) Rav Hyim’s hypothetical case of a non-Jew getting an aliya may happen all the time in today’s world when we don’t examine people’s pedigree before they get an aliya. We do check before we would marry them, but not before an aliya. If we know that we accidentally gave a non-Jew an aliya, – even if there is a doubt – we can just add an acharon and still have 7 aliyot.
3) Are the Batei Dinim that are dragging conversions out over several years, making potential converts miserable actually violating the prohibition of “innue hager”? Rav Sha’ar Yashuv HaCohen paskined that they are considered geirim once they are involved in the conversion process. So it would seem that our Batei Dinim are at list happy to risk violating this Torah prohibition, in order to be extra extra sure that they follow the strictest opinion possible to convert people. Frequently they process conversion candidates inefficiently and painfully by making them have to face a bunch of rabbis who are not trained in the field of conversion, and are not doing it professionally.
No more apologies when it comes to values like welcoming Jews to shul, or making people feel comfortable in a Beit T’fila – a place of prayer and Torah – or when it comes to treating those who want to be Jewish with dignity. The Torah asks us to stand up, and Morethodoxy is about standing up for these Torah values.
Rabbi Asher Lopatin
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