Eretz Yisrael Time

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
A long time ago, during the periods after our Expulsions from the Land the center of Judaism began to move, to refocus to where the action was. It was the battle between the Babylonian and Yerushalmi Talmuds. Who would reign supreme? Where was the center of power? Which Rabbis had the final say?

As we all know, despite the limitations of Judaism in Galus, eventually Bavel won and Eretz Yisroel was relegated to the backwaters of Jewish vitality.

But as to be expected (and desired I must add) that eventually would change.

Eretz Yisroel has returned to being the center of Jewish vitality.

There’s the obvious, with this year more Jews living in Eretz Yisroel than in Galus.

Then there’s the less obvious, such as Rabbis in Israel attempting to reinstate the Sanhedrin, and others running Yeshivot that are learning how to reinstitute and develop the national and Temple-based aspects of Judaism that we had to temporary put on hold.

On the other side of the Yarden we have the RCA announcing what I can only describe as pointless, toothless, and certainly positionless resolutions.

But the most obvious example of Eretz Yisrael reasserting its centrality is the new declaration (which will be enforced) by the Israeli Rabbinate, which will require Israeli Rabbinate testing and certification for any Galus Rabbi who wishes to perform conversions or divorce.

There is no doubt that the Rabbinate will uphold this rule, and despite the soon to be heard complaints, and arguments (and name-calling?) at the affront to their authority we will see Galus Rabbis beginning to abide by the ruling because they will have no choice (though preferably because they will realize that Eretz Yisrael is where the action is at).

The center has returned.

But one thing can be sure, whatever the RCA has to say about this – it will be equivocal.


Anonymous said...

History has chosen that Torah wisdom and authority is NOT limited to Eretz Yisroel. Afterall, the Torah itself was given in Chutz LaAretz. The Chief Rabbis in ths country lack any deep respect, so now they are demanding that Chutz LaAretz rabbis kiss them. Its all about power. If I were them I would stay away from free hotels and not have chidren beat up Jews.

Son Of Deer

JoeSettler said...

(You seem very angry today)

It’s always been about power and who decides, and now that power is returning to Israel.

Certainly with the largest Jewish population, a government bureaucracy, and the most centralized records on Jews it makes sense.

Think about how many horror stories you hear about Misrad Hapnim (and in the Rabbanut) and people wanting to get married but can’t because no one knows who so-and-so Rabbi was and so on and the bureaucracy can't move forward with the paperwork (just as one example).

Imagine if all the paperwork and reporting from overseas was standardized and authorized just like in Israel (which is what this is really about), it would bring to an end to a lot of the problems before they occurred.

In the end, YU and Lakewood will probably even offer one day seminars in filling out the paperwork for certification and processing.

But it’s probably also a first step towards sidestepping the current secular rule recognizing the authority of all Rabbis in Galus (from all denominations – whether they believe in G/d & Torah or not).

And finally, there’s nothing wrong with power or using it.

(Oh and please don't blame the father for the sins of the child)

JoeSettler said...

Here is a much more positive article discussing it:

Only 50 rabbis abroad recognized

Israel's chief rabbi for the Sephardic community has decided to recognize the divorce decrees and conversions to Judaism of just 50 Orthodox rabbis abroad, forcing the remainder to undergo tests in Israel before their documents will be accepted, a rabbinical official said Tuesday.

Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar's ruling has angered some rabbis abroad, but most have accepted it, said Rabbi Yigal Crystal, Amar's chief of staff. Amar made the ruling a year ago, and at least six rabbis from the United States have undergone the tests since then, he added.

Israel's rabbinate only recognizes conversions and divorces conducted by Orthodox rabbis. The more liberal Conservative and Reform branches of Judaism are not accepted at all, long a source of friction between Israel's rabbinate and Jewish communities abroad.

Amar is Israel's chief rabbi for the Sephardic community, Jews of Middle Eastern origin. A second chief rabbi, Yona Metzger, oversees the Ashkenazi community, Jews of European origin.

"We want to approve as many rabbis as possible," Crystal said.

Amar's predecessor gave the rabbi a list of 50 rabbis from abroad, most from the United States, who are authorized to oversee conversions and write divorce decrees, Crystal said. Over the years, younger rabbis entered the ranks and had been recognized by personal acquaintance, but Amar decided to change the practice.

Instead, the newer rabbis have received questionnaires and must take a test in Jerusalem to be recognized, Crystal said.

Because Jewish divorce decrees are deeply complex and written partly in the ancient Aramaic language, Israeli rabbis study for eight years before they are permitted to undertake such an endeavor and there have been flaws in documents written by some orthodox rabbis abroad, Crystal said.

Just six months ago, the Israeli rabbinate had to hunt down a woman's ex-husband because the divorce papers were not properly written and she wanted to remarry, Crystal said. A rabbi in the United States found the ex and persuaded him to sign a new decree.

"I think this decision resolves a lot of problems," Crystal said.

Anonymous said...


Its all nice and well that Israel has become more central in Jewish life today. But whose kashrut do you trust more - Rabbinut or OU? Who is more scandel ridden?

To question Orthodox Galut Rabbis when our own house needs cleaning is not kosher.

Son of Deer

JoeSettler said...

Actually, I trust Rabbanut-Mehadrin as much as I trust the OU.

And we unfortunately know of kosher scandals in the US too, which this is not the forum to discuss them in.

JoeSettler said...

From a comment I posted on Hirhurim:

As Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv, Rav Amar straightened out a significant amount of the Kashrut problems that bedeviled that city (he didn’t finish perhaps, but because of him you can eat in most of the hotels without a problem).

There’s no doubt that Rav Amar’s tenure as Chief Rabbi is going to be remembered as one where a lot of outstanding issues, problems, and complications were resolved in numerous areas.

He is making a special effort when it comes to Agunot and Geirim to standardize a lot of the processes so that a lot of the problems we face today will simply no longer be possible.

While it may look like he is grabbing power for the Rabbinate (certainly in Tel Aviv they weren’t very happy when he cleaned house), he is a problem solver.

He is implementing this idea to remove some serious problems, and once it becomes accepted (which it will) everyone is going to wonder why it wasn’t like that before.

Anonymous said...

One of the most obvious signs of Eretz Yisrael reestablishing its centrality is the fact that just about all of the Gedolim are living in Eretz Yisrael.

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