by Reb Gutman Locks at Mystical Paths
Martin commented on “We Don’t Win Them All” : “What you said about the non-orthodox convert sounds spiteful. Some Orthodox establishments make it impossible for people to discover the way of Torah and so if a convert discovers Torah via a non-orthodox route then how can you imply that their faith has no value? Did you even ask if the pair were observant? Would it not have been better to ask a gentle question instead of choosing to disparage their faith? Afterall the man is not married to an idol worshipper!”
Martin and Anonymous suggest that we should just be more loving in these cases; that this is the solution.
There is not a more loving thing to do than to gently point out the facts to someone who is unknowingly making a grave mistake in his life. This allows him the opportunity to reevaluate his deeds, and, if he chooses, to take the appropriate action. It would be a grave sin to seemingly approve of, or minimize, someone’s tremendous error.
What is this error?
All religions in the world except Judaism are based on belief. A person can choose and change his religion at will, anytime he wants. A Buddhist can become a Muslim in just one minute by simply believing what Muslims believe. But Jews are not like this. We are not a religion. We are a people. We are not Jews because of our beliefs or behavior. We are Jews because our mothers are Jewish.
If a non-Jew wishes to become a Jew and they satisfy the requirements of the Reform tradition, only the Reform Jews will consider that person to be a Jew. If the non-Jew converts according to the Conservative movement’s tradition, both the Conservative and Reform Jews will consider that convert to be a Jew. If that non-Jew converts according to the “Orthodox” requirements, all Jews will say that that person is a Jew. This convert will have successfully joined the Jewish People.
When a convert to Islam decides to follow x-ianity and adopts those teachings instead, he or she is no longer a Muslim. He has become a x-ian. Jews are not like this. When an Orthodox convert to Judaism decides to follow a different religion, he will still be a Jewish person. This is so because he joined the Jewish People, not the Jewish religion. He will be a Jew who has decided to follow a different religion.
The guidelines for conversion are not up to each individual to decide for himself, but have been set and recorded in the Bible and in ancient teachings of the sages. When a new group of Jews come along and decide to change those requirements, the traditional Jews will not accept their converts as Jews. Their converts may be very good people. They may be following the practices of the Jewish religion, but they are not Jews. And since we want our children and grandchildren to be Jews, it is imperative that we and our children are very careful to marry only Jews.
To have indicated otherwise to that nice man I spoke to at the Kotel, who is married to and has children with a Reform convert, would have been a horrible sin on my part. To him it would seem that a religious, old man at the Kotel verified that his family is kosher, when almost certainly, it is not. Now, because I pointed this out to him, if it is important to him that his family be Jewish he can take the appropriate action. For me to have done otherwise would have been cruel.
BS"D - בסיעתא דשמיא