Thursday, July 30, 2009

A thought for Tisha B'Av re welcoming converts

Yes, I've been done this road before, but it seems particularly relevant to discuss this on Tisha B'Av, given the haftarah (prophetic reading) for Mincha (Afternoon Service), Yishaya/Isaiah, chapters 55-56.

Rabbi Druckman (see link above) goes for Yishaya/Isaiah 56, verse 3:

ג וְאַל-יֹאמַר בֶּן-הַנֵּכָר, הַנִּלְוָה אֶל-יְהוָה לֵאמֹר, הַבְדֵּל יַבְדִּילַנִי יְהוָה, מֵעַל עַמּוֹ; וְאַל-יֹאמַר הַסָּרִיס, הֵן אֲנִי עֵץ יָבֵשׁ. {פ} 3 Neither let the alien, that hath joined himself to the LORD, speak, saying: 'The LORD will surely separate me from His people'; neither let the eunuch say: 'Behold, I am a dry tree.' {P}

Rabbi Sherman (see link above) goes for verses 6 and 7:

ו וּבְנֵי הַנֵּכָר, הַנִּלְוִים עַל-יְהוָה לְשָׁרְתוֹ, וּלְאַהֲבָה אֶת-שֵׁם יְהוָה, לִהְיוֹת לוֹ לַעֲבָדִים--כָּל-שֹׁמֵר שַׁבָּת מֵחַלְּלוֹ, וּמַחֲזִיקִים בִּבְרִיתִי. 6 Also the aliens, that join themselves to the LORD, to minister unto Him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from profaning it, and holdeth fast by My covenant:
ז וַהֲבִיאוֹתִים אֶל-הַר קָדְשִׁי, וְשִׂמַּחְתִּים בְּבֵית תְּפִלָּתִי--עוֹלֹתֵיהֶם וְזִבְחֵיהֶם לְרָצוֹן, עַל-מִזְבְּחִי: כִּי בֵיתִי, בֵּית-תְּפִלָּה יִקָּרֵא לְכָל-הָעַמִּים. 7 Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer; their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.

Rabbi Druckman replies:

ח נְאֻם אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה, מְקַבֵּץ נִדְחֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל: עוֹד אֲקַבֵּץ עָלָיו, לְנִקְבָּצָיו. 8 Saith the Lord GOD who gathereth the dispersed of Israel: Yet I will gather others to him, beside those of him that are gathered.

How are we ever going to avoid "separating 'foreigners' who have joined themselves to HaShem" if we can't even decide whether complete observance--by Chareidi standards, presumably, since I've read of a woman's conversion being nullified because she was seen in public bareheaded and in pants, which is common dress among senior Modern Orthodox women in my neighborhood--is the only acceptable standard for a convert, or whether a commitment to observe Shabbat and kashrut will do? When did standards for conversion become so strict? (Actually, see here.)

This is yet another disagreement creating (unnecessary, in my opinion) divisions in the House of Israel. It's no wonder that the third temple hasn't been built yet.


Blogger Tevel said...

For the life of me, I don't understand why those of us who aren't Haredim feel like we should measure ourselves by their standard. The rioting in Israel led by the ultra-Orthodox is beyond shameful; contrast that to the Conservative and Reform Gerim I see who want nothing more than to live meaningful Jewish lives.

Micah has it right: Love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with God. Hillel has it right: That which is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. When we forget that the rest is commentary on that mitzvah, we're in serious trouble.

Fri Jul 31, 11:13:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

This might help explain that "looking-over-your-shoulders" attitude, but it doesn't justify it, in my opinion.

Fri Jul 31, 11:26:00 AM 2009  

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