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Batya Medad made aliya from New York to Israel in 1970 and has been living in Shiloh since 1981. Recently she began organizing women's visits to Tel Shiloh for Psalms and prayers. (For more information, please email her.) Batya is a newspaper and magazine columnist, a veteran jblogger and recently stopped EFL teaching. She's also a wife, mother, grandmother, photographer and HolyLand hitchhiker, always seeing things from her own very unique perspective. For more of Batya's writings and photos, check out:
Sivan 5, 5768, 6/8/2008
This also appears on Shiloh Musings, where there are comments. You can comment on both sites. This post isn't "chareidi bashing."
In a few hours we'll be celebrating/observing the Shavuot Holiday. The Story of Ruth, the most important of our many converts, is read on Shavuot. What's the connection? Most people translate "Shavuot" into "weeks," but it's also the Hebrew for "oaths." Ruth is most famous for her oath to commit/connect herself to her Jewish mother-in-law, Naomi.
Ruth Chapter 1 טז וַתֹּאמֶר רוּת אַל-תִּפְגְּעִי-בִי, לְעָזְבֵךְ לָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרָיִךְ: כִּי אֶל-אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכִי אֵלֵךְ, וּבַאֲשֶׁר תָּלִינִי אָלִין--עַמֵּךְ עַמִּי, וֵאלֹהַיִךְ אֱלֹהָי. 16 And Ruth said: 'Entreat me not to leave thee, and to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; יז בַּאֲשֶׁר תָּמוּתִי אָמוּת, וְשָׁם אֶקָּבֵר; כֹּה יַעֲשֶׂה יְהוָה לִי, וְכֹה יוֹסִיף--כִּי הַמָּוֶת, יַפְרִיד בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵךְ. 17 where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried; the LORD do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me.'Even though I was born and raised a Jew, I have always felt connected to that oath and even gave a shiur about it. Judaism isn't a proselytizing religion. Prospective converts are turned back, like Naomi did to Ruth:
יא וַתֹּאמֶר נָעֳמִי שֹׁבְנָה בְנֹתַי, לָמָּה תֵלַכְנָה עִמִּי: הַעוֹד-לִי בָנִים בְּמֵעַי, וְהָיוּ לָכֶם לַאֲנָשִׁים. 11 And Naomi said: 'Turn back, my daughters; why will ye go with me? have I yet sons in my womb, that they may be your husbands? יב שֹׁבְנָה בְנֹתַי לֵכְןָ, כִּי זָקַנְתִּי מִהְיוֹת לְאִישׁ: כִּי אָמַרְתִּי, יֶשׁ-לִי תִקְוָה--גַּם הָיִיתִי הַלַּיְלָה לְאִישׁ, וְגַם יָלַדְתִּי בָנִים. 12 Turn back, my daughters, go your way; for I am too old to have a husband. If I should say: I have hope, should I even have an husband to-night, and also bear sons; יג הֲלָהֵן תְּשַׂבֵּרְנָה, עַד אֲשֶׁר יִגְדָּלוּ, הֲלָהֵן תֵּעָגֵנָה, לְבִלְתִּי הֱיוֹת לְאִישׁ; אַל בְּנֹתַי, כִּי-מַר-לִי מְאֹד מִכֶּם--כִּי-יָצְאָה בִי, יַד-יְהוָה. 13 would ye tarry for them till they were grown? would ye shut yourselves off for them and have no husbands? nay, my daughters; for it grieveth me much for your sakes, for the hand of the LORD is gone forth against me.' יד וַתִּשֶּׂנָה קוֹלָן, וַתִּבְכֶּינָה עוֹד; וַתִּשַּׁק עָרְפָּה לַחֲמוֹתָהּ, וְרוּת דָּבְקָה בָּהּ. 14 And they lifted up their voice, and wept again; and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth cleaved unto her. טו וַתֹּאמֶר, הִנֵּה שָׁבָה יְבִמְתֵּךְ, אֶל-עַמָּהּ, וְאֶל-אֱלֹהֶיהָ; שׁוּבִי, אַחֲרֵי יְבִמְתֵּךְ. 15 And she said: 'Behold, thy sister-in-law is gone back unto her people, and unto her god; return thou after thy sister-in-law.'
But once someone does convert, his/her background isn't supposed to be mentioned. That's one of the anti-Halachik (Jewish Law) "ironies," or inconsistencies, with the blanket/mass cancelling of conversions by a chareidi court. But that's no surprise to me. I find a lot of inconsistencies with Chareidi Judaism. Now, some of you may really blow up when you read this, but please read through to the end. IMHO, it has copied foreign religions in one of its basic premises, that men should learn Torah full time and not work in a full variety of professions.
I also disagree with its refusal to recognize the validity of the State of Israel and the official Rabbinate. One of the great beauties and uniqueness of Judaism is its integration of the Holy and Profane, Kodesh v'Chol. We don't send our holy people, our learned rabbis to isolated monasteries, nor ban them from the physicality of married life. I have no doubt that the plague that killed 24,000 of Rabbi Akiva's students was caused by the idealizing of his marriage, that he lived for years without his wife Rachel.
Our wars, the fighting soldiers are doing great Mitzvot (Holy Commandments) and should be G-d fearing, Torah-knowledgeable people. Therefore the Chareidi custom of shirking this duty/mitzvah is also against the basic tenant of Judaism.
The State of Israel has a Rabbinate which has a department which give Kosher Certification to foods. The Chareidim don't recognize it and they have their own kashrut certification. So, I wasn't surprised that they insulted the Official Rabbinate's certification of converts. These poor Jews, yes, Jews, have been caught pressed between a rock and a hard place. Rabbi Sherman's "Beit Din," religious court, is trying to score anti-state points by destroying the lives of countless Jews.
According to Jewish Law, we're not supposed to eat insects, but when checking food, we're not supposed to use anything stronger than our simple, everyday if you need them reading glasses. If you use a high-powered microscope, nothing will be clean enough to eat, and you'll starve or die of malnutrition.
Let us all have a Chag Sameach, a Joyful Holiday.