Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Mysterious Convert (converts revisited)

Inspired by Rebel with a cause and the various comments made on Emes Ve-Emuna, here is an essay on geirim.

Why do I call converts mysterious? Because even to the convert, they seem mysterious! As much as i've tried purposefully to avoid it, I have heard many divrei Torah on the convert, why they come, who they are, what they are here for. It ranges so much. Here's a few that i've heard...

(1) they're not sure where salvation will come from, so they're taking
a gamble and betting on Judaism.

(2)they are coming to judaism for the money, marriage, great comedians,

(3) they usually come from bnei Esav because when Esav sold his birthright, so then his purpose, or he himself, became chaos. Chaos because now he has no purpose, he sold it. Thus, converts usually come from chaos. (this makes me think of a bolt of lightening. zap!!! and behold a naked ger transported onto the earth.)

Honestly, I can't say I know what motivates a ger. That may sound hilarious, but it's true. What makes someone like ice cream? What makes someone like beer? i dunno. they just do.

But i do know from many of the geirim that i've seen and known, they have a thirst for Hashem. A want to learn Torah and do mitzvot. Sometimes rabbaim try to shock the ger out of wanting to convert by saying, "but there are SIX HUUUUUNDRED AND THIRTEEEEEEN MIZVOT!" And then wait for the effect, without noticing the ger practically drooling at the thought of being so busy with mitzvot.

(honestly, i truly believe that Torah has all the answers, but i think sometimes that secular learning such as math, science maybe maybe psychology can help alot of rabbaim only because its like a piece of Torah put into micro-measurements. Like very slo-motion, but anyway.)

Let's examine all those reasons listed above.

(1) I have yet to meet a ger who thinks they're 'taking a chance' and casting their lot with the Jewish people. Its alot to ask someone just 'taking a chance'.

(2) I know many wonderful families of geirim.

All broke.

With barely a dime between them. And they're happy! Its a struggle, and it's no joke. Once the ger gets into the crunch of things, they sweat like anybody else. I think when it comes to money, maybe the reform or conservative Jews may have something to worry about, but Orthodox? Nothing doing.

Also, people, don't worry about testing the ger, Hashem does it perfectly well all by Himself. I don't know why, and correct me if I'm wrong, but almost every ger who comes in, seems to go through some kind of test of fire. They loose their job, or can not stand the same things that they used to be able to tolerate, or the family is against them, or something. Now I know its not a gremlin rabbi causing this, but
somehow it seems to happen. Then, after months or whatever, things get better. Please, if anyone knows a ger that this hasn't happened to, please tell me. (Nevertheless, one must test the ger to make sure their sincere before giving him entry, of course.)

As for marriage, now that's a tricky one. The Rabbanut here in Israel seems pretty slick at finding out if this is the reason. Other than that, it is a pretty dangerous person. If the relationship doesn't work out, then the person is stuck being Jewish without any desire for mitzvot, Hashem, or anythng Jewish. They may even grow to hate it!

Now the last explanation of geirim that i've heard is about Esav and chaos. I am not sure the scope of Bnei Esav -I thought it was only the christian world? I am not sure. But as far as coming from chaos, LOL that sounds about right LOLOLOL

One last note, its a pity for those who treat the ger with disdain or who look down on them. At least don't let the ger see your lack of derekh eretz. For no other reason than to spare them and not remove the glimmer in their eyes and the hope in their heart.

*I know one gioret, who came to a rav for conversion, but the rabbi said,"why don't you go to this 7th day Adventist church, they also rest on Saturday." With that she went to the 7th day Adventist church and worked her way all to way to the top. She became the pastor there. Then 20 years later,she had an accident with her eye and had to take time off to recuperate.

While resting she reflected and realize, this was not where she wanted to be. When she got better she went back to that shul, but the rabbi was no longer there. The new rabbi, after much questioning took her in. Sadly, she cries buckets about how she wished her children were born Jewish. Now, only one of her children also converted. Happy ending, she has since married a chossid and is celebrating her first Jewish grandson!

*I know another gioret who went to a seminary. There, so many people approached her and confided in her that they are also giores, so many she couldn't believe the amount. But no one dare share this fact with anyone else. Most will take this secret (this wonderful victory and beautiful turning point in their lives)to their grave, in order to protect themselves and their family from scorn.

*And don't even get me started on being black and Jewish and how some can't/won't believe that there are born black Jewish -yes, Orthodox. Even in that little circle there's issues....


Tr8erGirl said...

All points very well put! (as usual!) :-)

rebelwithacause said...

What?!? You mean the rabbi at the beit din didn't give you a check worth 100,000 dollars when you converted?
lol. ;-) :P

Sara with NO H said...

I've had this conversation with SO many people. We used to sit at the shabbos table and wonder what could possibly compel someone to actually WANT to join our community. I think if I hadn't been born, Jewish, I probably wouldn't be...ever...lol.

Not to say I don't love being Jewish but the pressure is intense. No others like Jews in the world.

Sara with NO H said...

oh and I'm sorry it took me so long to get to the tag. I've been so busy preparing for the baby.

Miriam said...

Tr8erGirl -thanks!

Rebel - LOL. as a matter of fact, rabbi take money for it!

Sara w/o H - Wow! should I say mazal tov?! b'sha'a tova?

Where do you get those incredible icons?

haKiruv said...

Interesting post!