Bnei Akiva Limmud 5771

Rabbi J Solomon

The Halachic ruling that fractured the Modern State of Israel
Perhaps the most famous and controversial domestic halachic dispute the State of Israel has yet known is what is commonly called “the case of the brother and sister,” or “the Langer case.” Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General p. 187 1. BACKGROUND

'‫ֹלא-יבֹא מַ מזֵ ר, בקהַ ל ה': גַם דוֹר עֲשירי, ֹלא-יבֹא לו בִּ קהַ ל ה‬ ְ ֹ ָ ִּ ִּ ְ ִּ ְ ָ
A Mamzer must not enter God's marriage group. Even after the tenth generation, he may not enter God's marriage group.

Devarim 23:2-4 2. THE CASE ...The case centered on the matter of mamzerut and of the prohibition of a Jew marrying someone with this legal status. The Langers were two young soldiers, a brother and a sister serving in the Israeli Army. They were both engaged to be married. …[Their mother] had met a non-Jew named Bolek Borokovski, in Poland. Her parents had insisted that this man convert to Judaism before their marriage. He had agreed to do so, but there was a real doubt as to the validity of his conversion. Whether the brother and sister would be able to marry depended on the validity of the conversion. After separating (not divorcing) from Borokovski, the woman, who would later be the mother of the two Langer children, married again in Israel. Yehoshua Langer was the father of the two young soldiers in question. If her first marriage was a valid Jewish one, this meant that her second one was invalid and the Langer children were mamzerim. Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General p. 187

D. Rabbi Shlomo Goren sought to have the case reheard by a panel of the Supreme Rabbinical Court consisting of the two Chief Rabbis and a third member to be selected jointly by both Chief Rabbis. A decree to that effect. This tribunal upon deliberation again returned the case to the Bet Din of Petach Tikvah with instructions to conduct further investigations into Borokovski's status as a convert. Rabbi Yosef refused to accede to this proposal noting that he had already sat as a member of a Bet Din which had issued a negative ruling and that Rabbi Goren. 1967. THE SUPREME RABBINICAL COURT’S RULING Rabbi J Solomon On November 11. 167 . The decision was then appealed to the Supreme Rabbinical Court. whose names he declined to reveal. He instead proposed that an impartial Bet Din be appointed to be composed of dayanim who had not previously ruled on the matter. On June 4. Bleich Contemporary Halakhic Problems I p. Rabbi J. had authored and circulated among selected individuals a pamphlet in which he had argued that the Langers were not to be regarded as mamzerim. 1966 when Chanoch Langer became engaged and applied for permission to marry. 1969 the Bet Din of Petach Tikvah reaffirmed the original ruling. while yet Chief Chaplain of the Israeli Armed Forces. The Bet Din before whom the matter was presented refused to issue the necessary license because of the earlier decree of 1955.Bnei Akiva Limmud 5771 3. There the matter rested until May. and the documents supporting this decision were published by Rabbi Goren in a 200-page book bearing the imprimatur of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel. This suggestion was not acceptable to Rabbi Goren who subsequently on November 19. The reason for. In view of their prior involvement Rabbi Yosef felt that both Chief Rabbis should disqualify themselves. Shaul Israeli and Ovadiah Yosef was issued on January 20. 1970. 1972 issued a ruling in his own name and in the name of eight other rabbis. signed by Rabbis Yosef Eliashiv. Upon his election as Chief Rabbi. … Testimony was heard by that Bet Din and a decision affirming the original ban on the marriage of the Langer children was handed down on October 7. This decision was subsequently reviewed and confirmed by the Supreme Rabbinical Court. permitting the Langers to marry. 1955 the regional Bet Din in Tel Aviv issued a decree declaring the Langer children to be mamzerim.

Mr. the Langer children were halakhically legitimate. Rabbi Goren argued that this would invalidate the conversation… Thirdly. if indeed Borokovski had undergone some form of conversion. as his conversion was invalid. There were no witnesses to any of the elements of conversion. Accordingly. Rabbi Goren’s ruling that Borokovski was not Jewish was based on three factors. Borokovski invalidated any conversion if indeed a conversion had taken place. this was not of his own free will. or even to the decision of the rabbinic court to convert Borokovski! The only evidence brought before the Israeli rabbinical courts was heresay testimony given by people who were halakhically unfit to testify… Secondly. First. but at the insistence of Hava’s parents. RAV GOREN’S PSAK Rabbi Goren ruled that Borokovski was not Jewish.Bnei Akiva Limmud 5771 Rabbi J Solomon 4. Rabbi Aviad Hollander. And since this was a nonadulterous union. Jewish Law Ass. the only real marriage Hava had contracted was the marriage to Langer. and most important. neither to the circumcision nor to immersion in the Mikveh. hence his marriage to Hava was null and void ab initio. 101-2 . studies XX pgs. Borokovski continued to go to church even after he allegedly converted. Rabbi Goren maintained that there was no valid evidence that Borokovski had undergone conversion at all. Rabbi Goren maintained that by so doing.

It was only when R. then serving as a member of the rabbinate's Supreme Beit Din. resigned. THE FALL-OUT: RAV ELYASHIV R. Elyashiv.. Shelomo Goren was elected chief rabbi in 1972 that R. In retrospect. Marc Shapiro.. for only with his ties to the official rabbinate removed would he be able to emerge. this was a very significant step.Bnei Akiva Limmud 5771 5a. as the supreme leader of the haredim. Goren's approach as a threat to the integrity of the halakhic system and refused to serve under him. Of Books and Bans (Edah 3:2) . He regarded R. Elyashiv himself served for many years as a dayyan in the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. twenty years later. THE FALL-OUT Rabbi J Solomon HaPardes 47:4 (January 1973) 5b.


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