by Reb Gutman Locks @ Mystical Paths
Avraham doesn’t know it, but G-d had a lot to do with shaping his life.
Avraham was born in America to non-Jewish parents. When he was a young boy, he saw a film on the Holocaust. He said that it touched something deep inside, in his “sub-consciousness.”
When he grew up, Avraham joined the U.S. military and served for 20 years. While in the military his interest in Judaism grew and in 1982 he began to search in earnest. He wanted to come to the root of religion and spiritual life. He read about Avraham in the Bible, and one day he decided to be like Avraham. He went to a river and took a drop of blood from his organ with a needle, as if he was circumcising himself, because Avraham Aveinu (our father) circumcised himself.
By 1989, although certainly not a Jew, Avraham began putting on tefillin every day, and praying from a prayer book. He went to a reform temple, but he did not find what he was looking for, so he went to a conservative synagogue. After just three months of study, the conservative religious court allowed Avraham to “convert.” Avraham thought that he had become a Jew.
A few years later, Avraham met an Orthodox rabbi who explained to him what it means to be a true convert. Avraham studied with the rabbi for a number of years, and when the rabbi thought that he was ready for his conversion, Avraham came to Israel to have the beis din (religious court) convert him to Judaism.
But, even though he was putting on tefillin every day, saying the prayers, and keeping all of the holidays, the court would not allow his conversion! Year after year he tried… but they kept putting obstacles in his way.
Then finally, a few years ago, the Orthodox Beis Din here in Israel agreed, and Avraham went to the mikvah (emersion in a pool of water) and became a true ger tzedek (a righteous convert).
Becoming a ger (convert) has been Avraham’s greatest drive throughout most of his adult life. Even though he was not Jewish, he put on tefillin every day -- for 20 years! Why did he do this? What drove him to continue on, when almost anyone else would have become discouraged and given up?
It is said that a ger tzedek was a Jew in his last lifetime, but because of his (or her) deeds, he fell away and had to be born as a non-Jew, but with a strong desire to return to his people.
Not only did Avraham have such a strong drive, but when he was born, his parents chose a most proper English name for him. It was so important that he become a ger, that Hashem must have sent an angel to whisper in his parents’ ear that his English name should be “Gary”!