Monday, May 12, 2008

Transcript of the Verdict of R' Shirman's Court, Part V

Here is Part V; Part IV was here.

In this segment, R' Shirman presents his conclusions regarding the evidence of forgery. I have to admit to being surprised by his conclusion in Section 9.

Section 7: מעשה זיוף מעשה בית דין לגיור כעילה לפסלותם של הרב דרוקמן והרב אביאור מלהיות דיינים בבית דין מגייר

R’ Shirman first addresses the question of whether false signatures disqualify R’ Druckman and R’ Avior from serving as judges for conversion, such that all of their conversions would be invalid.

R’ Shirman points out that Rambam, Smag and Shulchan Aruch all list "love of truth" among their criteria for a judge, and Kenesset haGedolah says the criteria listed are actual requirements. R’ Shirman concludes that within that view, a judge who tricks, and engages in lies and forgery, would then be invalid.

R’ Shirman notes that Birkei Yosef says the traits are not requirements, and that it’s only that when such judges are available, we must use them rather than other people. However, R’ Shirman contends that all would agree that were a judge to conduct himself in a manner opposing these traits, and the conduct would be in the course of his role as a judge, then the judge would not be acceptable.

R’ Shirman draws analogies to shochtim who dealt in improper meat certification, and who were therefore disqualified from continuing to serve. R’ Shirman acknowledges that in this case there actually is, possibly, a conversion process before three judges - but since R’ Avior is among them, and he is a forger, this cannot be considered a proper conversion process before three judges.
R’ Shirman concludes the section by again noting that since the disqualification is conversion-related, it cannot be compared to other cases in which judges have general sins on their records.

Section 8: מעשה זיוף תעודות הגיור כאסורי דאורייתא של גניבת דעת ליחיד ולציבור ולמדינה, גניבת ממון, לפני עור וחילול ה'

R’ Shirman states that executing documents with forged signatures violates serious biblical violations: fooling the public, fooling the conversion candidates, fooling the national government regarding status and rights and citizenship and thereby violating dina d’malchuta, placing a stumbling block before the blind, and chillul HaShem.

Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 228:6 cites Chullin 94a on the prohibition against fooling people, and Ritva on that gemara says it is a biblical prohibition from לא תגנובו ולא תכחשו. Other authorities consider this a d’rabbanan.

R’ Shirman cites additional authorities on this, and contends that regardless of whether fooling people is biblical or rabbinic, these courts’ actions constitute a biblical violation of לפני עור (per the earlier discussions).

R’ Shirman adds that there is also a financial aspect of causing loss to individuals, communities and the country, and that would be a violation of biblical law against theft. He cites Igrot Moshe regarding students stealing the answers to government exams; Rav Moshe wrote that this is prohibited under dina d’malchuta as well as fooling people and stealing money when one seeks a job on the basis of these test scores.

R’ Shirman cites R’ Menashe Klein in Mishneh Halachot regarding forged diplomas; he ruled that this is fooling people, and that because it enables employment it is also theft of money.

R’ Shirman continues to cite the case of a hotel kitchen employee who is a non-observant convert, and who cannot be employed in that kitchen - so that the false conversion document costs both the hotel (in having to fire him) and the employee.

R’ Rosen further raised the issue of chillul HaShem when he discussed these problems with R’ Eliyahu Shapira z”l and R’ Mordechai Eliyahu. R’ Shirman notes that this chillul HaShem has come to pass, in the wake of the case in Warsaw.

Section 9: פסילת הדיין כתוצאה ממעשה הזיוף והמרמה חלה משעת מעשה העבירה

R’ Shirman again (!) notes that disqualification of judges for forgery of signatures would disqualify all of their acts of conversion, for lack of a kosher beit din during the conversion process. It would be retroactive to the time of their disqualification. Therefore, it would extend back to the revelations of R’ Rosen.

The conversion case before the court is from 1992, years before those revelations, and so R’ Rosen’s revelations would not disqualify that conversion. As R’ Shirman cites from the Rama, disqualification of witnesses and judges is only on the basis of definite knowledge, not doubt, such as in a case in which people testify to the non-observance of witnesses after those witnesses have presented testimony, and it is not known which occurred first. (Choshen Mishpat 34:23)

However, R’ Shirman contends that the revealed forgeries demonstrate powerfully that these courts ignore halachic requirements of conversion courts.

In Part VI, found here, R' Shirman turns to the question of whether one may rescind a conversion ex post facto.

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