In this post, we’ll keep questioning the threatening letter sent to (until then) Shavei Israel's emissary in Brazil, Rabbi Yeshayahu Bennun from the Rabbinical Council of Sao Paulo (Vaad Ha'Rabanin of Sao Paulo), signed by Rabbis Jacob Begun, Henrique Begun, Eliahu B. Vait, Efraim Laniado, Meir A. Illiovits, Isaac Dichi, David Weitman, Itzchak D. Horowitz e d'Ratzfert that mentions Sephardic Chief Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef in a suspectful way. Sao Paulo Jewish community has a lot to explain about that.
If you didn’t read the questions referent to the first part of this letter, you can read them by clicking here.
As I said before, English is my second language but despite the typos and bad grammar, the information is quite interesting and worth reading.
First, the letter:
And its translation to English:
"To the Ben Nun Couple,
It got to our knowledge your activities of searching for the population that call themselves descendents of Anussim in order to propose them conversion.
This topic requires only the attention of the competent authorities, recognized poskim and due to the opposition of Rishon Letzion Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef Shlita, chief rabbi of Israel, referring to these activities,
We come here through this letter gently demand that you stop immediately these proselytism activities.
In case you keep in this route we will be obliged by the honor of Torah, to take actions foreseen in the Halacha.
I must say that the poor Portuguese grammar in which this letter was written made me question it it was real... so far nobody said it wasn't...
Ok, back to the questions that the letter raises:
1. “in case you keep this route”
a) Which route (or path) they mean, exactly?
Teaching descendants of Bnei Anussim WHO FILLED SHAVEI ISRAEL’S FORMS and signed up out of free will to take such classes??????
Or the path to visit Anussim communities THAT FILLED SHAVEI ISRAEL’S FORM that Shavei itself posted in its Facebok page (I should have printed that…) requesting the visit of its emissary?
If that's so, actually it was the Bnei Anussim who SEARCHED for Shavei and Rabbi Bennun and not the opposed, which proves that the case was never investigated by the Vaad of Sao Paulo and the probabily of all its accusations being false is HIGH.
Or the threat refers simply to the "route” of (as mentioned in the letter) of “proposing them conversion” (which is likely a false claim done by someone who envys or fears the charisma of the Bennun couple)?
2. "we’ll be obliged by the honor of Torah”
a) Obliged? Does not the honor of Torah obliges a beit din to question, investigate and clarify all doubts in order to get TRUE information with witnesses about matters before interviewing PERSONALLY the accused to only then send a threatening accusation letter?
Not to say that the result of this letter sent to R. Bennun was devastating. It anihilated the hopes and learning process of hundreds of people, besides cut down his own parnassah. Wouldn’t a beit din feel obliged to consider that fake accusations or misunderstandings could (and in this case, indeed has) cut down the source of parnassa of father of small children?
Rabbis have the obligation to make Torah great and glorify it. The only way Rabbis can do that is by following ALL instructions Torah gives to investigate matters in order to avoid fake accusations. Otherwise, instead of glorifying the Torah and making it great, the end result is quite the opposite…
Personally, I’d love to be wrong. It’s not easy for my heart and for my mind to question the Vaad of my city, Sao Paulo. It’s quite painful and I’d love to be wrong. I’d do love to receive a letter or read a public announcement from them saying that the matter was indeed investigated, that they have several proofs that the accusations are true, that they interviewed the accused couple more than once, that the accused couple did not want to listen to the Vaad’s advice and chose to be rebelious and that there are true witnesses to the ‘sin’.
That would bring a great relief for my soul. I have absolutely no problems with vanity, meaning, I would love to admit that I was wrong the whole way through and that all what I wrote so far is purely nonsense. I would love to make a post saying “Hey guys, I was wrong the whole time because the Beis Din of Sao Paulo actually did all it could to prove themselves right” but… so far nobody confronted me… so far all I wrote is not nonsense but unfortunately, the truth.
The accused couple were not called for any meeting, there was no investigation and the accusations done against them are false.
The accusations were not investigated.
Who could be the source of such cruel and unfair accusation against an innocent, cutting down his source of parnassah and affecting negatively the life of hundreds of people whose only sin was the interest of learning Judaism?
- The Bennun couple live in Brasilia.
- Mrs. Bennun did not accompany her husband on his visits around the country.
- It means: the source knows her… because the source is close to her. That's where I’ll concentrate my attention now: who is the Jewish community of Brasilia?
3. “take actions foreseen in halacha”
Which actions foreseen in halacha?
Cherem? Not applicable.
Niddui? Hmmm… I am just an ignoramus, I confess… but even being an ignoramus in halachic issues, I’d guess this is not applicable either because the couple was never interviewed by the beit din.
Taking out his smicha? Not applicable since the matter was never investigated and is problably result of false accusations.
I can not think (maybe you can, and I’d love to hear from you) in any penalty that Rabbi Bennun could receive that is foreseen in halacha since halacha requires a LOT of investigation to allow any action to be taken.
Of course there are the penalties that ARE NOT in halacha which unfortunately are done, such as expelling frum kids from jewish schools, but… since this is not foreseen in halacha…I’m sure the Vaad of Sao Paulo didn’t mean that, RIGHT?
Ostracism is another “informal” punishment not foreseen in halacha... but Brasilia has a tiny frum community… I honestly do not see how the ostracism penalty could apply to the Bennun couple there… it’s clear that if the accuser lives close to the Bennuns, they’re not in good terms either with the accuser or his supporters but… as I said before, Brasilia has a very small Jewish community, so… don’t think that the ostracism idea would work very well there.
Still waiting for answers from Shavei Israel who seems to have believed in the fake accusations without consulting with its own emissary and forgetting that it was THEM and not Rabbi Bennun who asked descendants of Bnei Anussim to fill a form requesting a visit to their communities,