Saturday, September 22, 2012

What does the Torah say about converts?

 R’ Eleazar said that G‑d only exiled Israel amongst the nations so that converts would join the Jewish people.

It is a particularly striking notion that so traumatic event as national exile should be seen as having a divine use. The use had to have been considered so valuable that it justified such an exile from the promised land.
"This was Moses' life work, even after his passing. He strived to draw the masses (the Erev Rav) to God, and after his passing he was buried opposite the idol of Beit Peor, so that the nations would convert (Deut. 34:6). For this reason he passed away on shabbat afternoon, which is a time of favor, in order to sweeten all the twenty-four courts of Law, in order to cause converts."
-The Outpouring and revival of the spirit-
"He will Redeem Israel from all its sins, which is a aspect of making converts through the supernal pidyon."
-The Outpouring and revival of the spirit-

"Jews also saw missionary impulses in the actions of their founders. Abraham's journey from Haran to Canaan with "souls" whom he had gotten was understood by the Rabbis to mean Abraham had made converts. In Sifre Deuteronomy, 313, on Deuteronomy 32:10), Abraham is described as so successful a missionary that God became known as King of the earth as well as King of heaven. In Genesis Rabbah 39:21 Abraham is considered a missionary. In Avot de-Rabbi Nathan, 23a, Jews are urged to bring people "beneath the wings of the Divine Presence" exactly as Abraham had done. The word "convert" is used loosely when referring to Abraham's efforts. Abraham invited non-Israelites to join the Israelites; the formal notion of religious conversion did not emerge for some time. Many other examples of missionary efforts by the founders of Judaism can be found in aggadic literature, such as in Midrash Hagadol, 397. For example, Rabbi Hoshaya believed that Isaac sought converts. Jacob is considered to have done the same (see Genesis Rabbah 84:4). Rabbi Samuel ben Nahman believed that Joseph would not distribute food to the Egyptians unless they became circumcised (see Genesis Rabbah 90:6 and 91:5). Moses expounded the Torah in seventy languages, according to one midrash, because the Torah was meant to be heard and embraced by all humans. Several sources, such as Exodus Rabbah 1:29, note that prior to slaying the Egyptian taskmaster, Moses foresaw that there would not be a single convert from the among the taskmaster's posterity; it was this perception that justified the death."

Rabbi Akiva was a very well known son of converts. Indeed the Talmud lists many of the Jewish nation's greatest leaders, who had either descended from or were themselves converts. In fact, King David is descended from Ruth, a convert to Judaism. (Ruth 4:13-22). And the descendent of King David is even to be the Messiah! So the Messiah will be descended from King david, which means the messiah will be descended from a convert!

Halakha forbids the mistreatment of the convert, including reminding a convert that he or she was once not a Jew.

 I am sure there is much more, much, much, more and as I come across them I will put them up. Please be patient and keep checking!



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