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I've read a post where a person's conversion was deemed inappropriate because one of the Rabbis once said, when asked, 'would you officiate a mixed marriage?' The Rabbi, a distinguished knowledgeable learned man, said, 'I'll think about.' According to the converting man, he was told his conversion was not kosher because 'that' Rabbi sat on his beit din.

I understood the purpose of the rabbis on the beit din were measuring up the converting person. How does a Rabbi's statement change this?

It's important to note that the "I'll think about it," comment could just mean "I will think about it. What are the ramifications, what negatives, are there positives." Someone else interpreted it as, "Yes, sure I'll check my diary and call you."

This is a true story. It's a bit like the thought-police listen. Or, more to the point, the thought-judges, as their actions affect others hurting them at the core of their spirit.

What are your thoughts?

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    I know you are asking in general, I would still urge anyone with even a hint of a question like this to go and find a Rabbi, a big one or one who is able to contact someone much higher up. In more cases than you'd expect, the answer will be a surprising "yes, your conversion is absolutely fine"
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Sep 18, 2023 at 8:23
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    @1Smart we cannot evaluate a random person's ability to sit on a court based on a random quote you are presenting. Please refrain from asking anyone here to do so. This question is just about the general principles about invalid courts and how that affects conversion
    – Double AA
    Sep 18, 2023 at 16:14
  • I found a Rabbi. One I learned with for 10 years. He is the one who told me of this "supposed" comment by the Rabbi. I've searched and inquired of many people in the congregation - then and now - and no one is aware of the Rabbi ever having said that he would think about officiating an intermarriage and certainly never did. It was a rumor started by a over-zealot woman and believed by the Rabbi because she came from an important family (hint: monied). It's a blatant example of arrogance and it has destroyed my life. Sep 19, 2023 at 20:39

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I can't write long because the Chag starts soon, but the question is based on a misunderstanding. The purpose of the court is much more fundamental than assessing the convert; it is Biblically required in order for the conversion to be valid (Yevamos 46b and 47a). So if this "rabbi" is not qualified to be on the court -and if he would officiate an intermarriage, he would be- then the court itself is invalid and unable to effect a conversion. It has nothing to do with the poor convert, who may have been totally sincere. It is the fact that the Biblically required court was invalid.

I'll just add, which courts are qualified to accept converts is a very important issue for potential converts to be aware of. The Israeli Rabbinate only accepts converts from certain courts in America, so someone who converts in other courts might not be recognized as Jewish by the State of Israel. Similarly, Orthodox courts don't recognize conversions performed by non-Orthodox denominations.

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I don't think there is enough information here to speak to a specific case, however there are halakhoth that govern the invalidation of members of a beth-din.

In general the rules for who is invalidated from being a dayan on beth-din follows the same disqualifications for a witness (Niddah 49b): 1) whether he engages in financial improprieties (Sanhedrin 27a) or 2) he is iniquitous as demonstrated by the fact that he violates transgressions that incur lashes (H. Eduth 10:1, SA:HM 34:2).

It can get quite a bit more detailed than that (i.e. distinctions between biblical and rabbinic lashes, whether the offense was public, whether the person was warned, whether they were themselves witnessed in the act by kosher witnesses, etc.), however these are the general contours.

There is also the matter of when the transgression has occurred. Has it occurred before or after their giving of testimony/rendering of judgement? The general consensus seems to be that if one engages in behavior that invalidates their ability to continue to sit on a beth-din, it does not invalidate their prior actions on the beth-din when they were in good standing (SA HM 34:23). Indeed if it is unclear when their transgression began, the presumption is that it was after they gave testimony/judgement - leaving the judgement standing (Rema ad. loc.).

If one is interested in exploring this topic further, there is an informative analysis in ch. 12 of R. Yona Reiss's Kanfei Yonah.

Of course, any real case of concern concerning halakhic identity and status within the larger community ought be presented to appropriately competent rabbinic authorities to adjudicate over the particular case with its own peculiar details. This is just a general summary of how such cases proceed.

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Potent and relevant question that points out how difficult being a convert can be, even long after the conversion process.

Since your question was "What are your thoughts?", I'll point out that a technicality of accepting a conversion is that the converting person must accept the mitzvos according to the understanding of the Beis Din. This is so that there is a record that they have accepted the mitzvos according to the interpretations that religious Jews use. In order to establish this record, we need a Beis Din of people who both know those Mitzvos and interpret them according to accepted modes of interpretation.

Since intermarriage is forbidden by Torah law, and officiating an intermarriage is encouraging/enabling a Jew to transgress a Torah law according to all accepted interpretations, the statement "I'll think about it", suggests that he might be considering alternative interpretations to Jewish law than the accepted ones. That would throw suspicion on whether or not there was a kosher Beis Din to administer the intent of the acceptance of the Mitzvos when the conversion was performed.

(Again, since you asked for our thoughts I'll note that officiating an intermarriage is not a neutral stance at all. It's an extremely clear divide which requires a change in core, fundamental beliefs to be able to cross. Likewise, thousands of older folks who have given up virtually all religious practice hang on to that one precept, imploring their children and grandchildren to marry Jewish. Those Jews, who may not be wildly knowledgeable or faithful, and who often have had to give up so much of their former practice because of war and pain, still recognize this as the one Jewish value they cannot compromise on. For a Rabbi who claims to be religious to even suggest crossing that line, requires a total dissimilarity of outlook.)

That kind of suspicion can be very damaging to a person, because the consequences of its potential confirmation can be quite far reaching, as I'm sure you know. As a result, I can understand why it might be suggested for someone who converted in earnest and had something patently unfair like this happen to them, to perform a second conversion.

I'm no expert in conversion, just sharing some thoughts.

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