Updated: Sep 8
Conversion to Judaism is a very heated topic because many
complexities and sensitivities are involved. Unfortunately, even
nowadays there is much prejudice against those that bravely choose
to take refuge under the wings of the Shechina. Yet, converts possess
tremendous gifts that some do not appreciate.
Not only the Torah, but also the Zohar gives a stern warning for
people not to harm converts. One basic reason we can find is that
converts are usually downthrodden having very few people (if any)
to rely upon. And Hashem’s presence is truly strong with those that
are suffering, lost and broken.
On the Kabbalistic side, converts often host the souls of
Tzaddikim as a perfect Merkavah (chariot). Indeed, in Sha’ar
HaGilgulim (Gates of Reincarnations, 4:5), the Arizal teaches that if a
Tzaddik merits to rectify his Nefesh, Ruach and Neshama and then
blemishes them, they cannot come back together, but in different
times. The Nefesh can come back in a body, but the Ruach cannot
come to vest itself in an already rectified Nefesh (it needs to pass
away again). Therefore, one solution is for the Ruach and Neshama of
the Tzaddik to reincarnate with the Nefesh of a convert. Through this
arrangement, both sides are rectified.
Some converts have sadly had a very tough time becoming a part of a
community. Many have been rejected on grounds that their emunah
is less than perfect, or that they have not really converted. It pays to
remember that there’s a special Mitzvah not to oppress the convert
and one to also love him. If someone undergoes the conversion
process and is pronounced a Jew by 2 valid witnesses, then he’s
100% a Jew in all regards. The sages admonishes heavily someone
who reminds the convert of “his old ways”, and in Bava Metzia 59b
they write that there are no less than 36 Mitzvot obligating us have
have sterling behavior towards converts (another opinion says it’s
The truth is that all converts in fact have a Jewish spark. It’s
just that, with the sin of Adam HaRishon, many souls fell in the
domain of the Sitra Achra and were reincarnated outside the Jewish
People. Nevertheless, Chassidic philosophy teaches us this was in fact
done because only these strong souls could elevate these sparks
outside the camp of Israel.
But, what is the real benefit of having the soul of a Tzaddik
coming to a convert? As it turns out there’s a fantastic consequence
to becoming a Merkava to a Tzaddik and that is, when the Nefesh of
the convert leaves the body it can actually be drawn to the Ruach of
the Tzaddik into the Olam HaBa and receive the same portion as him!
This shows a little bit of how much Hashem, who created such a
fantastic system, values the efforts of a convert.
A story is told of a certain holy and righteous convert, Avraham
ben Avraham, from the generation of the holy Vilna Gaon. The story
has a few versions but they all agree on the main points. Originally
known as Count Valentine Potoky, Avraham abandoned Catholicism
and became a true Torah scholar. It seems like his family had some
respect for Jews, which was uncommon for nobles at that time. For
his former noble family, Valentine was a traitor and they tried to
persuade him to abandon his Jewish ways and go back to his faith.
After they failed, Avraham was sentenced to death by burning at a
stake in Vilna.
His emunah was so strong the Vilna Gaon himself offered to
save him using Practical Kabbalah, but the offer was recused.
Avraham wanted to die Al Kiddush Hashem. Even while his mother
begged him to go back to his roots, Avraham replied “I love you, but I
love the truth even more”. While in prison, a certain dialogue is
related between him and the Vilna Gaon. Avraham lamented he had
no ancestral merits to save him in the after life. Yet, the Vilna Gaon
conforted him by saying that it was not true. While other people have
their family genealogy, the convert can count on Hashem to secure
him merits. Just as Hashem has no parents, so too the converts have
no parents and trace their lineage directly to the Creator.
Other notable converts who rose to greatness include: Batya,
the daughter of Par’oh (one of the few in history who rose to heaven
alive, like Eliyahu HaNavi), Moshe Rabbenu’s father-in-law Yitro who
had the Neshama of Cain, Rahav the Cana’anite innkeeper who
married Yehoshua Bin Nun and was the ancestor of 8 prophets, Ruth
who is the ancestor of King David and Mashiach, the prophet
Ovadiyah who saved 100 prophets by hiding them in a cave, Shemaya
and Avtalyon, two great Tannaic sages and many others.
May we only have admiration for these noble souls that join the
Jewish People despite all challenges.
This article was written and published in the zechut of all Emuna Builder Partners. May they have complete emuna and continue spreading emuna!