In yet another move that could be meant to provoke the non-Chareidi Torah observant community, Rav Avraham Sherman has annuled another Rabbinate-controlled conversion as well as announced that any non-Chareidi conversions he doesn't like aren't sincere and hence, aren't valid.
Naturally the noises of outrage from the non-Chareidim are loud and boisterous. Once again a leading Chareidi rav has stuck a finger in the collective eye of all those Torah observant Jews who disagree with him and once again, those Jews are responding completely illogically.
Note the pattern that has been used. Rav Sherman states that he has invalidated these conversions and made his sweeping generalizations based on halachic grounds. Ask him and he'll quote you his sources. To back him up, the usual Agudah bagmen like Rav Avi Shafran and Rav Yonasan Rosenblum write quite effectively about the benefit of universal standards to ensure conversions are all done al pi halacha. That universal standard? Rav Sherman's of course, and no one else's.
But as Rav Shlomo Riskin's famous column reminds us, the response from the Modern Orthodox community has been completely non-productive. They scream about unfairness and cruelty to converts. The Chareidi response is to repeatedly point out that since the folks affected were never really Jewish, the law against being cruel to converts doesn't apply.
Listen, life isn't fair. There are many times that religion tells us "no" in answer to heartfelt requests we think we're entitled to. That's what makes it a religion and not an indulgence. If Rav Sherman is right, then all the caterwauling in the world matters not a bit. These conversions are invalid. Too bad.
But what if he's not? All of these controversial conversions are being presented in an uniform fashion: they're all insincere, just going through the motions and the rabbonim converting them are doing so knowing this. Is this true? I find it hard to believe that a talmid chacham like Rav Chayim Druckman would circumvent halacha like this. If he is converting people, he must hold that they have completed the necessary requirements. If that's the case, then he would have a reply to all of Rav Sherman's objections, with the exception of the "I'm Chareidi and you're not so I'm right and you're not" one. Yet I don't recall reading about these objections anywhere.
Even Rav Marc Angel's essay on the subject was incredibly incomplete. Although he was quick to dismiss the current strictness as the result of one Chareidi opinion that has come to dominate all others, he failed to mention any competing opinions except one and the example he did give, that of Rav Benzion Uzziel, is not relevant to the current issue: wholesale conversion of non-Jewish immigrants to Israel who may or may not be sincere in their desire to accept kabbalas ol shamayim which, according to everyone, is the minimum requirement for geirus.
Judaism is not a feel-good exercise. The halachic process is not meant to always give you just the answer you want without inconveniencing you through the creative act of heter-picking. Until someone can show why Rav Sherman's approach is wrong on halachic grounds, he is right.
As a post-script, even if a Modern Orthodox or Dati Leumi posek stood up and showed, point by point, why Rav Sherman is wrong, I doubt the Chareidi community would listen. The principle of "I'm Chareidi and you're not so I'm right and you're not" overrides the most definitive proofs from anywhere. But that's not the point. If Modern Orthodoxy wants to take itself seriously as a movement it needs to do this for itself, to show its members that just like the Chareidim it is a philosophy based in Torah and halacha.