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What is the basis for a blanket allowance of halachik compromises by organizations involved in kiruv, if any?

The purpose of this question is to see if there were responsa that give blanket allowances regarding kiruv (as I've heard there are).

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    Can you give some examples (without mentioning the names of the respective organizations, to avoid potential problems of lashon hara)? – Alex Feb 24 '12 at 15:37
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    @Alex I can only tell you what I've seen: to give one example is in regard to laxity with kol isha wherein an event may have either mixed (co-ed) singing or even a group a women singing in front of men. – none Feb 24 '12 at 15:47
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    The basis for allowing co-ed singing will likely be something in that part of Shulchan Aruch; the basis for other (what you call) "compromises" will likely be something in another part of Shulchan Aruch. I'm closing this as overly broad. If you want to emend it to it's about some specific "compromise" or neatly defined class of "compromises" and ping me back with a comment with @msh210 I'll be glad to reopen. – msh210 Feb 24 '12 at 17:05
  • See the Sefer Umkarev Beyamin by HaRav Avrham Zekutinksy Shalit"a. – Hacham Gabriel Feb 26 '13 at 18:36
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There really is NO heter to compromise on Halacha when doing Kiruv period.

However, when dealing with non-frum people there is a lot of thought that goes in to dealing with them and their Halachic issues.

For example: let's say you have someone who lives far away from your Shul, and you know he is driving to Shul, you do not have to tell him not to drive (if you know he won't listen to you), unless he specifically asks you about it.

It is important to remember that we are trying to bring them closer to Torah, not Torah closer to them.

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    Thanks for your recent answers and welcome to Mi Yodeya. I hope you stick around and enjoy the site. Note that citing sources is very valuable: otherwise we have only your word to take for what you say, and, no offense, but most of us don't know you. – msh210 Aug 20 '12 at 18:07
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It appears that one of two things occurred when you wrote your question: either you are bothered or puzzled by the things kiruv organization do, or hopeful that they have some heter. I will say that the blanket heter that you are conceiving of does not exist. Though there can be found specific examples and certain "loopholes" to certain halakhic issues, the general reason for what kiruv organizations do are not solely based on those heterim. The general consensus among kiruv organizations is that in order to bring them closer certain compromises are made. It is a decision both on the part of the organization and on the part of the rabbis running it. Many a time do rabbis have to face such decisions. A classic one would be allowing a non-shomar shabbat congregant read from the torah or be the shliakh tsibbur. Classically halakha does not allow this (even if there MIGHT be way of reinterpreting halakha), but rabbis had to allow it in order to maintain their congregation, to be kind and fair, and to conform to the reality we exist in. all this said, there is a limit and a balance involved. Sometimes the balance can be lost, but the hope is that it will be achieved. If you want, I can find something that validates what I just said, but I have spoken to several kiruv organizations and heard many rabbis say this.

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    i'm sure you're right, what i was hoping for is somewhere that a talmud chacham puts this sort of thinking down in writing with sources to back its validity. it's very easy to always say 'these are the times we live in, and so we must compromise' but there is a shikul ha'daas that should go on and I would be interested in understanding it more. – none Mar 1 '12 at 4:19
  • So the quick answer is no. No there isn't a written down shikul daat. But there need not be one. Rabbis always had to conform to the realities of the community. A good halakhic concept that encasilates this is שאין גוזרין גזירה על הצבור אלא אם כן רוב צבור יכולין לעמוד בה. This is not to say that whatever the community wants goes, but that the rabbi considers his people in his decisions. The kiruv organizations and the rabbis running it realize this and as such they try to consider all the possibilities. – David Nagar Mar 1 '12 at 13:10
  • In short, a shikul daat is unnecessary in such a communal and emotional issue; compassion for the people is the major factor working. The yoke of halakha can't weigh heavily in this situation or else these people will run away. As said certain considerations must be made. No outright halakha is being broken, but loopholes and kulot are utilized – David Nagar Mar 1 '12 at 13:16
  • I will say that the blanket heter that you are conceiving of does not exist How do you know it doesn't exist? Are you very knowledgeable in the topic, such that if material existed, you would surely know about it (not sarcastic)? Regardless, consider clarifying that, as it is the crux of the answer. – mevaqesh Dec 28 '17 at 15:53
  • @none not really a philosophical discussion, but there is the related story of Hillel Hazaken and the Ger who wanted to be Cohen Gadol. Per the laws, Hillel should never have accepted him, yet he did. – Nic Dec 28 '17 at 16:29
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I am unaware of blanket heteirim but perhaps the discussion regarding inviting a non-orthodox person for shabbos knowing she will drive may shed some light here. Based on this post it would seem that:

An additional consideration is the concept of committing a minor sin in order to save someone from a more severe sin. We do not ordinarily permit such a violation, R. Akiva Eiger (Glosses to Yoreh De’ah 181) argues that lifnei iveir is an exception. You may violate lifnei iveir, you may cause someone else to sin, in order to prevent him from committing a more severe sin. This seems particularly relevant to a Shabbos invitation which may inspire the guest toward greater religious observance.

However, R. Ya’akov Ariel points out that in R. Akiva Eiger’s case, the other person is definitely saved from a greater sin. In our case, the invitee may not be religiously inspired and may have otherwise stayed home and done nothing. On the other hand, the guest will definitely violate Shabbos in the future. Perhaps we can permit lifnei iveir for the chance to prevent these definite violations in the future just like we violate Shabbos to save someone’s life so he can observe Shabbos in the future.

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There is absolutely no blanket heterim for kiruv. Halacha must be upheld. However, the halachic system itself has guidelines which teach us how to manage conflict between halachic principles and how to establish priorities.

It's like saying- how come ambulances and police cars don't have to follow the law? They can just run red lights, and speed, and nothing happens to them!

The answer is that they may not "break the law." The law contains clauses for emergency situations. But they can't just do anything. The law defines for them what exemptions apply and which don't.

We understand this when it comes to pikuach nefesh. We don't say that you violate halacha by breaking Shabbos to save a life. Halacha itself teaches us that the laws of Shabbos are put aside to save a life. And there are guidelines explaining the parameters. (See O.C. 328-330)

The same applies with kiruv. We have numerous halachic principles which apply in kiruv situations. These topics include issues like חטא כדי שיזכה חברך under certain circumstances you can do a minor sin to prevent someone from doing a major sin. There are lots of issues involved, and it needs to be studied properly; but the halacha addresses the topics.

The big rav publicizing these Halachos is Rav Yitzchok Berkovits. In fact this is a big reason he set up the Jerusalem Kollel, and has been pushing getting avreichim to enter the world of kiruv. It takes talmidei chachomim, who study these halachos well, to know when and how to apply them.

Unfortunately, there are some organizations that don't know the halachos and thus do what they think is proper, rather than what is halachically valid. These organizations unfortunately contribute to the misconception that there is no limitations in kiruv, which is regrettable. (Not naming names, since that would be lashon hara without a purpose in this forum. Different organizations change their reputability over time, so it's not appropriate to publicize anything over the internet.)

But most kiruv organizations do have rabbinic advisors advising them and giving them halachic guidelines to make sure that the outreach is done properly.

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    "there are organizations that don't know the halachos and thus do what they think is proper, rather than what is halachically valid." You didn't give details. But in any such situation it will often be the case that they are actually following a different posek rather than the way you described them,"doing what they think". Assuming they are listening to a qualified posek, well, we have no Sanhedrin yet. – MichoelR May 22 at 18:16
  • You wrote a beautiful answer, so please delete the last paragraph to keep it that way. – פרי זהב May 22 at 18:38
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    @פריזהב I edited my comment to clarify my intention. There are some organizations which do act as if anything goes. I have first hand knowledge of blatant violations of yichud, negiah, chillul Shabbos, and worse- done by the mekarev! there is absolutely no halachic heter for a male "mekarev" to actively give a hug to a college girl who starts attending his class. His justification "anything goes in kiruv" is false. That's why I want to make clear my distinction- there's a difference between halachic leniencies and the incorrect attitude. – Binyomin May 23 at 20:20
  • @Binyomin - Thank You. – פרי זהב May 24 at 3:13
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Like most any area of halacha, this has many issues, and disagreements among the authorities; answers will depend on the posek and on the situation.
One story about one detail and one authority: I was once present when a well-known talmid chacham was discussing inviting people to a Shabbos meal (as part of kiruv) if you know that they will drive to get there. He brought various opinions that were lenient, and also said that he had heard from someone who had asked R' Moshe Feinstein z"l and was told that it was forbidden.
I told him afterwards: I was once by R' Chaim Mintz shlit"a, the mashgiach from Staten Island, and the subject came up. He said that he had been at a Torah Umesorah convention (I think it was) and someone said that R' Moshe had told him that it was allowed. R' Chaim added, Some people there gave that person a hard time, R' Moshe could never have said that, etc.... But the fact is [said R' Chaim] that I also asked R' Moshe and he told me: For kiruv? - then (pretty much) everything is allowed! ("alles mutar!")
That's my story, for what it's worth; as I expected, the talmid chacham speaker I told it to didn't really accept it; I don't know if he went back to R' Chaim for clarification.

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  • This is a surprising statement to be said in Rav Moshe's name. Rav Moshe famously wrote a teshuva about a shul wanting to run a kiruv minyan for kids on Shabbos, which would result in parents most likely driving the kids to the shul. Rav Moshe write not only is it assur, but the minyan organizers have the status of "meisis u'madiach"! May talmidim (including Rav Tropp) have publicized that Rav Moshe held it's only permissible to invite someone if they could keep Shabbos (i.e. you offer for them to stay by you.) But if the only way they could come is by driving it's forbidden. – Binyomin May 24 at 5:56
  • Indeed, R' Chaim Mintz was implying that it was surprising, comparing it to things that others heard him say. My only knowledge was a throwaway comment; I guess Rabbi Mintz shlit"a is the right address if someone wants to get it straight. Maybe R' Moshe's comments were more nuanced than I remember Rabbi Mintz saying, or maybe his comments to the others were more nuanced (for example - making this up - that he didn't feel that the others were as likely to be successful as Rabbi Mintz!) – MichoelR May 24 at 10:11
  • I'll add another second-hand story: R' Moshe Eisemann shlit"a once told us that he was in Russia back in the days, the last Shabbos of his visit. He was talking to some boys there, and was struck by an idea: maybe he could bring them here to learn! They wanted to come. R' Eisemann said, I asked them to bring their parents right now and give permission - I was leaving right after Shabbos. I knew the parents would travel on Shabbos. I didn't have anyone to ask. That began a program of Russian Jewish boys whose families weren't planning on leaving, learning Torah in America and in Israel. – MichoelR May 24 at 10:24
  • that's a great "maaseh rav" story. it fits well with O.C. 306 at the end- we posken that you can mechallel Shabbos to save a child who was captured and would be forcibly raised non-religious. R' Eisemann's case fits those principles very well. But the variables are very different than the case of inviting someone for a Shabbos seudah when it will definitely involve chilul Shabbos. (Not saying it's assur- just very different.) – Binyomin May 24 at 10:45
  • Yup. But it's a good story. I don't know that he was saying he did the right thing. What he was saying was that he was aware at the time of the seriousness of the question: these kids had their lives and the lives of their children's children at stake. – MichoelR May 24 at 11:19

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