Sunday, November 11, 2007

New Jews
by: Schvach Yid

Not to be a bombastic, ego-inflated, boorish know-it-all who presumes dominant superiority – I frequently am/do – but I want to say kudos and a yasha koach to a blog spot I’ve just learned about from this week’s Haveil Havalim posting, #140, by the Life in Israel blogspot, called Jews By Choice (actually, from the comments section of the HH blog).

How thoroughly cool-odox! Yes jadies and jents, I accept the rabbinical interpretation of HaShem’s commandment that a Jew is one born to a Jewish mother, but c’mon, even in Tanach we are presented with ‘Jews by choice’. ‘Oh yeah’, you might say, ‘just name one other than Ruth’. Well, Ruth would be enough, but okay, let’s see, there was Moses’ first wife, Zipporah. She was Midianite, but outdid her most beloved prophet hubby by taking the initiative of circumcising their son, thus staying off a plague. Any doubt that her kids were Jews?

Let’s see, there must have been others, but I’m not that cool-odox (but I am the child of a Jewish mother, and of a Jewish father for that matter). Oh yeah, there’s Rahav in the Book of Judges - maybe she became Jewish. I’m sure there must be others. That’s right, Onkelos, the non-Jew turned rabbi who gave us the now-standard translation of the Chumash from Hebrew into Aramaic. He isn’t Biblical, but he’ll do.

Anyway, I think it’s both flattering and correct that non-Jews who feel a gravitation-like pull toward Judaism accept us to the extent that they decide to become us. There’s nothing like sincerity in choosing a shared life. In a way, this mimics a successful marriage, just as long as the conversion to Judaism is sincere and not a cover for an attempt at some covert infiltration for the purpose of proselytizing Jews away from Judaism.

Chassidus/Kabbalah have a bit to say about conversion to Judaism, in relation to the transmigration – ibbur – of souls. Just consider for a moment what happens to all the souls of slaughtered Jews; surely, they must be available for reincarnation, even if the number of Jews in existence at any one moment is too small to accommodate all the available Jewish souls. Make sense? Besides, it improves the gene pool. Geneticists call it heterosis – genetic vigor resulting from out breeding (not a pc term when applied to human populations).

If you’re interested check out the Jews By Choice blog site at http://jewsbychoice.org/.

And the answer is no – I don’t think we Jews should proselytize. Chabad Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, on the other hand,
does.

12 comments:

Tamara said...

Thanks for linking to us. As you know, because you read my profile :), I'm a Jew by Birth married to a Jew by Choice.

I must say, I'm suprised you linked us being that our beliefs are most assuredly far different than your's. Perhaps I should be speaking in first person.

tamaraeden.wordpress.com

Schvach said...

Tamara:
I don't get on a person's case because he/she is a convert; as you probably know, halacha forbids referring to a convert as a convert.

Differences in belief don't disturb me. Ahavas Yisroel counts for everything in the Jewish community. It's those who draw lines and usurp the authority of picking and choosing
who is and who isn't that miffs me.

Tamara said...

Hi there,

Yes I know halacha forbids referring to a convert as such. However, it DOES happen all the time.

Imagine this scenario. A Chabad rabbi knows there is a male who regularly attends his shul. This man happens to be a convert, but not of the Orthodox flavor. When it comes time to daven, there are few men and so other members begin to count heads for a minyan. What does the Chabad rabbi do? He knows that one of the ones being counted is not a Jew by Orthodox standards. He kind of has to handle the situation as by his view that individual can't be counted as a minyan. So what to do? And yes, I've been in this situation.

I would like to ask you very forwardly, because you seem quite honest but up front too. Do you count non-orthodox converts as part of Klal Yisroel? Because, my assumption, and it is only an assumption, is that you wouldn't and in that case, aren't there lines being drawn?

By the way, I will link to you on my blog, I like your honesty.

Schvach said...

Tamara:
Yes, I accept as Jewish all coverts to Judaism, regardless of movement or rabbinate. I'm not Orthodox; I'm not a chassid of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, but I do attend a Chabad House and no other synagogue. I like Chabad's no nonsense approach to Yiddishkeit that is absolutely free of politics and social activism. They're all about Torah, bli schmonses. By the way, a non-Jew recently attended my local Chabad House, and was given the aliyah of gelelah - his conversion isn't yet complete, yet he passes muster with Chabad. He hesitated to accept the aliyah, but was assured
he rated the honor.

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