Thursday, August 18, 2011

// // 5 comments

Why Don’t Jews Proselytize?

by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths

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Someone asked:

     Why aren’t Jews supposed to reach out to non-Jews and try to convert them?

Gutman’s response:

     We are supposed to reach out to non-Jews, and we are supposed to “convert” them. In fact, this is one of our main obligations. We are told that we must be a “Light onto the Nations.”[i] However, the light that we are to show them is not the light of becoming a Jew, but rather, the light that comes from rejecting idolatry.

      We have always been obligated to reach out to non-Jews, and to explain to them what it means that G-d is Infinite. This was the main, worldly work of our father Avraham, and it is still supposed to be a main function of his descendants, today. For the past 2,000 years we have experienced an extremely difficult exile. Our wellbeing was always subject to the whims of the many host rulers. This is why we have not been able to fulfill this task. But now that we have our land again, and are secure in many places around the world, we are expected to complete this task that Avraham began.

     The concept of “Infinite” - without limits, is not such a simple subject for the average mind to understand. We have to explain it to them many different ways so they will begin to fathom what “Infinite” really means. At least, they are to truly understand what a limited being is. Then, we are to show them how worshiping anything less than the Infinite One is worshipping an idol.

     Done properly, this can be a very interesting and enjoyable task, and we get better at it each time we try.

     As to why we do not try to convert them to Judaism: Since we know that there are no accidents in creation, we know that they were created gentiles and not Jews, for a good reason.

     We have to assume that it is to their advantage to fulfill their created nature and purpose in having been born as they are. Or else, why were they created as they are? This is why a rabbi is to push potential converts away over and over again… to make sure that conversion is really in that person’s best interest.

     When non-Jews reject idolatry they elevate themselves to a vastly higher spiritual level. When they reject all of the forbidden actions,[ii] they become righteous people. They earn a wonderful portion in this world, and a share in the World to Come. This is a magnificent gift that you can give them.


[i] Isaiah 42:6

[ii] Idolatry, blasphemy, murder, adultery (forbidden relations), theft, eating meat that was taken from a still living animal (extreme animal cruelty), and unjust courts

5 comments:

Shmuel Ben Avraham Avinu said...

Gutman,

You always take such an underlying negative tone toward converts. Judaism when it proselytized sought converts, and it should still be doing so. Conversions will stop when Moshiach comes, but until then we should be always welcoming people to convert, as long as they have time to consider what a huge undertaking this is. This is the job of the conversion Rabbi to explain and test. If they choose not to convert, then there are ways for them to honor Hashem without becoming Jewish, like the Noachide laws.

I believe that there has never been a non-Jew that converted to Judaism. All of us were just finally coming home. It is a tragedy for unqualified people to push away our brothers and sisters because some people think they should push away potential converts, as your tone often is. It is NOT your job to push people away Gutman. You should kindly refer people to find a local conversion Rabbi, where it IS their job to test that person's sincerity.

We spoke one time and you told me to not pursue conversion and live my life happily as a Noachide. Baruch Hashem that I did not listen to you! You need to take your authority seriously and refer people on to proper authorities that are trained in areas you are not. How many poor souls have you successfully pushed away that, G-d forbid, didn't convert when it was their ultimate tikkun to do so!

Anonymous said...

Although all of my paternal family is Jewish, I am not Jewish under halacha. I have no problem with keeping the Noachide laws, but there is absolutely no way I would ever want to convert and be obligated in all the Jewish commandments. I think Gutman is absolutely right with not encouraging converts. I was wondering if someone could answer this: If I have absolutely no desire to become a Jew, is there still a possibility that I have a Jewish soul?

Anonymous said...

Genesis 32:29.
And he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, because you have commanding power with [an angel of] God and with men, and you have prevailed." (JPS)

Genesis 17:5.
And your name shall no longer be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. (JPS)

The question for both name changes is WHEN does it take effect ?

For Abram it seems immediate -Hashem never called him Abram again all through the tanack.

For Jacob it seems NOT YET, for up to the last of the prophets Hashem still refer to the man and his bloodline as Jacob.

Bottom line: Only Hashem truly knows who is Gentile and who is truly Jewish for sure !

Anonymous said...

Love the last comment.
Spirituality its written in our hearts born Jewish or not. The Jewish people do have a greater responsibility to follow the law, they were born into it, therefore they have no excuse and their true path to their spiritually is very challenging and strict.
Gentiles reach the grace of G_d through lots of inner search, education and challenges as well, for we were not born with the strict laws and that its our challenge, to listen to the law written in our hearts and find the path. It maybe be easier if our Jewish brothers reached out.
But like it was said, only Hashem knows who's heart is truly Jewish.

BarryMiami said...

Probably not. If you did you would have been motivated to adopt the yoke of Judaism without question
or encouragement. As you may be aware, the concept of a Jewish Soul is very complex; not even all people
who qualify halachacly have a Jewish Soul. How often do we see in one Jewish family, same parents, where some children become committed Jews, the others not. There may even be a finite number of
Jewish Souls. Jews do not proselytize among non-Jews partly because there is little likelyhood
that we would encounter a non-Jew with a Jewish Soul. Willing converts can become fine, dedicated
practicing Jews without actually having a Jewish Soul. There is evidence that many Jews today can
trace their lineage back to Sinai when the Torah was given. 70% of Jewish men share two genetic
haplog chains; many descendants of Aaron are known today through DNA analysis, they are Cohens,
recognized today as a priestly class in Jewish religious services, the designation being
passed from father to son for over 3300 years. So having a Jewish Soul would seem to require
a choice by HaShem and some genetic components. And would you really want to deal with all of the
Meshugas being an observant Jew requires?

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