Monday, May 21, 2007

Shavuot Lip Service

There are two times in the year when the convert goes into hiding: Parashat Yitro and Shavu'ot time. At these times, people begin all these nice dvrei Torah about how one should be nice to the convert, how many times its thus written in the Torah, a particular story about a convert, etc etc etc.

Its all very nice but don't ever let anyone know who's the convert! Otherwise the whole rest of the year they'd have to fiend off intrusive questions such as "why are you here?" "didn't you use to eat......" "shall I show you how to daven......" blah blah blah.

Don't get me wrong. I think any convert would give their eye tooth to be part of klal Yisrael its just that the lip service can be skipped. Either you treat the gerim respectfully, like any other Jew, or you think them strange and act thusly. But don't change because its shavu'ot or because you just finished reading Parashat Yitro and want to make yourself feel good.

For those who do treat the gerim respectfully, it is VERY appreciated. Everyone loves to feel welcomed and have a sense of belonging. Its a great and kind thing to do.


Biby Cletus said...

Cool blog, i just randomly surfed in, but it sure was worth my time, will be back

Deep Regards from the other side of the Moon

Biby Cletus

frumhouse said...

Nice blog! I was taught that every Jew, including those convert to Judaism, were present at har sinai. So, in a sense, converts are also spiritual baalei teshuvah and "coming home" also.

Rafi G said...

very interesting perspective... I never understood why geirim are treated differently than others. I had a chavrusa for about 3 years who was a ger. he wa sone of the best chavrusas I ever had. I am hard pressed to find someone else who was as serious about learning Torah as he was. And he had perfect integrity. He was honest and moral and a good person. There is no reason to treat a ger any differently than anyone else.

Miriam said...

i never understood it either. I suspect that (1) some make too much hype about it or (2) some feel threatened or (3) because they bear a different title, some think there must be something differently done.

In actuality I wish someone spoke about such things because I think -just as frumhouse mentioned- even a ger becomes a baalei teshuva.

Jacob Da Jew said...

My grandfather actively helps Geirim learn Hebrew and stuff so I am exposed to many different kind of people.

Miriam said...

That is so kind of your grandfather! it says in Pirkei Avot- that the world stands on three things, one of them being acts of loving-kindness.

Dofan Akuma said...

i don't want to hijack your sentiment but to me the problem is anytime there's a mitzva to be nice to someone. the 'object' of the mitzva ends up feeling like someone's lulav. i've seen this in kiruv situations, directed towards handicapped people, sometimes towards ba'alei tshuva, sometimes just towards 'regular' jews.
it's really hard to be genuine, but that's what you've got to accomplish if you're going to be nice to someone. the only way it can be done is if you have genuine warm feelings toward that person, NOT if the underlying motive is to do a mitzva.

rebelwithacause said...

Here is some guerilla tactics for you next time someone gets nosy:

Answer every question with a question. If they ask you why you are there/here, ask them why they are asking? What's the reason?
They will get tired and you'll sound more jewish. (You know that stereotype that Jews answer questions with questions) lol.

Ayelet said...

Are you a ger? Do we ever get to hear what inspired you?

I agree with dofan akuma. If you're focusing on doing the mitzva of treating a (insert object of mitzva) nicely, you are by definition singling them out as different. Your view of their differentness will inevitably color you actions and manner with them. The trick is to work on yourself to see the sameness that we all have as humans, Jews, inhabitants of the earth that are striving to serve our G-d in the best way we know how. We all have strengths, weaknesses, ups, downs, joys, challenges, and plenty of struggles and dreams. With all our differences, we really are so much alike. Connect with that and you won't have to try so hard to be nice.