So, you want to convert to Judaism?

So, you want to convert to Judaism?

If you tell a rabbi that you want to convert to Judaism, the first thing he’ll do is cross his arms and ask you why. It’s not that we’re not happy with the idea of having a new brother in our great family, it’s just that many people are not aware of the reality of the Jewish world. The Jews never bothered to convert the Gentiles for centuries. On the contrary, they’ve always created obstacles so that you don’t meet with them every Saturday in the synagogue. Keep in mind, for example, that many people will hate you for the simple fact of wearing a kippah.

However, if your conviction is sincere and you’re willing to belong to the chosen people of G-D, this post will be of your interest.

In the Talmud (Shabbat 31,) it’s said that a pagan came to Rabbi Shamay asking him to be admitted as a convert. Of course, the Rabbi didn’t make things easy for him. The condition that Shamay put was to hear him speak about the content of the whole Torah while the heathen stood on one foot for the entire length of the exposition. The Gentile agreed, but after a while, the Rabbi drove him out of his house with the tip of a rod he held in his hand. The pagan wasn’t discouraged, such was his love for HaShem, so he went to Rabbi Hillel and asked him the same thing. Hilel, on the other hand, received him with much affection. “What you don’t want them to do to you, don’t do to others,” Hillel warned. “This is the whole Jewish Law … The rest are comments. Go and study them.” Then the pagan converted to Judaism and adopted the Torah and all its 613 mitzvot wholeheartedly.

In the Talmud, there are two contrary opinions on the conversion to Judaism. According to the opinion of those who are in favor, the Torah was destined for the whole humankind: it’s the light of the world. That’s why they’re waiting for the happy day when all nations will adopt it for themselves as their only law; the belief in a single G-D, immaterial (and not a “god made man …”) omnipresent, omnipotent and creator of everything in the universe. The day when human creatures recognize that we’re all children of this eternal G-D who gave us the Torah, and therefore we must worship Him only and keep the precepts of His law, which can never be changed or abolished (as some Religions have done with the circumscription, the Sabbath holiness and the mandatory holidays,) then we can then live as a single family, the human family, without distinction, and pray all in one Temple, as it was predicted by the prophet Isaiah (56,7): “Even They will bring my holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer, their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar, for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Related: Know the most important Jewish writings: The Torah, by Yosef Meystel

The contrary opinion to accept proselytes is due to the bad behavior of these towards the Jews during a long period of our history. Actually, some of the staunch enemies of the Hebrew people came from converts to Judaism, and the Rabbis recall it. This was the reason why such decision was made (to this day,) and to carefully examine the applicants and to delve into the motives that led them to adopt our religion and lifestyle.

Some Rabbis still resist the conversions of Gentiles, and even foment the conversion of sympathizers to Judaism to another spiritual path, which has some harmony with ours: The Seven Laws of Noah. While it’s not Judaism in the strict sense of the term (it’s not about fulfilling the whole Law revealed to Moses at Sinai,) followers embrace seven basic principles that existed in Noah’s times:

  1. Do not deny God.
  2. Do not blaspheme God.

III. Do not murder.

  1. Do not engage in illicit sexual relations.
  2. Do not steal.
  3. Do not eat from a live animal.

VII. Establish courts / legal system to ensure obedience to the law.

However, other Rabbis will directly recommend the conversion to Judaism.

Image courtesy of israeltourism at Flickr.com

In many passages of the Bible, it’s written that we should love the proselytes and welcome them if they truly want to convert to our Faith. Although history hasn’t been in favor of the Gentiles from our perspective, we know that G-D’s willing to step up to His people in these dark times. Any observant Jew knows that in every Hebrew blessing, G-D’s qualified as the King of the Universe and not of Israel alone.

Anyway, I hope I have been of help. I recommend this article about conversion and all its implications, in case you’ve an iron will, like the pagan of the history of the Talmud.