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From: rhendel@mcs.drexel.edu (Russell Hendel) Date: Wed, 7 May 1997 21:18:07 -0400 Subject: Gerim as Rabbis This has been discussed in recent issues. There are actually 3 questions: 1) The *source* for the prohibition--this has been identified as Deut 15:15 which requires a "brother" for community appointments; 2) A detailed discussion on *current practices* occurs in Vol 26n40 with many sources; 3) I would like in this posting to give a *philosophical* reason justifying this law First I cite a parallel in American law: Only a natural born citizen can be an American president; a naturalized citizen from another country (an American 'Ger') cannot become a President. Obviously American believes in equality--so why the law? Second I quote a famous incident from the Nixon administration in which a foreign crisis required him to take bold actions. The comments in the papers were interesting: Was he doing it because it was needed or because he wanted to show that despite the Watergate accusations he was still a "good and needed" President. Thus the papers explained that despite the fact that he had not been convicted of Watergate nevertheless, the 'possiblility' that he had done wrong had weakened the needed "trust and respect in him to take bold actions." Finally I quote a distinction made by the Rav, Rabbi Soloveitchick: To declare say a food as leavened (and prohibited on Passover) can be done by ONE expert Rabbi while to tell Bob that he owes Abe say $5 canNOT be done by one Rabbi and requires a court of 3. The Rav explains that the leaven declaration is not a reflection on the person asking the question but rather an attribute of the food. On the other hand I can't tell Bob he owes Abe money without in effect taking sides and saying "you are right and he is wrong". If only one person decided this he might have been prejudiced to one of the parties. By using three we recreate an atmosphere of trust since "many people" agree with the verdict. We cannow explain the 'no ger in court' law using the above concept of 'trust'. The last example shows that creation of an atmosphere of trust is a court requirement. In fact a knoweldgeable expert should not rule if it (only) APPEARS that he may be prejudiced. The Nixon incident shows that community officials need an atmosphere of 'trust' to take bold actions and this required atmosphere can be marred by the possiblity (without conviction) of wrongdoing. Finally the American President law shows that to insure 'trust' when making communal decisions we do not allow former aliens as Presidents since they 'may' have other ties and interests. Using the above we can say that the reason for the prohibition of Gerim as Kings,Judges and Rabbis is to create the necessary atmosphere of trust and respect needed in making bold decisions(since the Gerim 'may' have other interests). I hope this helps. Russell Jay Hendel; Ph.d,; ASA; RHendel @ mcs drexel edu