Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Invalid Conversions II--Chizuk and Truth

[Mostly part of a response to "Spiritual Dan's" incisive comments]
...The truth is that people who converted without kabbalas mitzvos are often offended by being "disqualified" so unilaterally, since
they feel that this devalues all their hard efforts to draw nearer to Judaism. As should be apparent by now, (with all the chizuk we have discussed in the past,) this is completely false.
Quite the contrary. The holy Zohar states that no good desire is ever lost. Rebbe Nachman clearly applies this to non-Jews as well as to Jews. (The sources for this are brought in the notes to the first tefillah of the Sason V'Simcha section of Kochvei Ohr.)
As we have already discussed, Hashem doesn't want us to do more than we can. This definitely includes conversion. Although we often have no way to determine whether another is truly unable to convert according to the halchah, the potential convert must search deep into his or her heart to determine what Hashem wants their next step to be. (If they cannot bring themselves to even consider Orthodox conversion, this signals that there is a problem in the person's Torah education up until that point.)
Yes, we need to do our utmost to grow, but we also must be happy with who we are even as we strive for more. Sometimes a person honestly cannot convert Orthodox for whatever reason. Does this mean that doing what they can is valueless? Heaven forbid! Every effort and even desire to draw closer is very very precious. And sometimes that is the path they need to take to merit to eventually convert with a genuine acceptance of Torah and mitzvos, in accordance with Jewish law and tradition.
So that is the chizuk--but we must nevertheless be clear that our standards for conversion do not, and cannot, change because we are worried about causing offense. Even though every little bit is very precious, a convert without kabbalas mitzvos--even if performed by a misguided Orthodox Rabbi or dayan--is not yet Jewish.

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