Why Do Rabbis Discourage Conversions?
By Aron Moss
I am a bit confused. I have many Jewish friends, but they are mostly indifferent and
sometimes even hostile towards their own religion. I myself am not Jewish but I have
studied Judaism and love it and am very excited about converting.
My confusion is this: when I went to speak to a rabbi about conversion, he discouraged
me from converting, saying that it is more serious than I think, and that I can live a
fulfilled life without becoming Jewish. I told him how excited I am about Judaism but he
still pushed me away.
What is going on? I am thirsty for Judaism and I am pushed away, while so many Jews are not
even open to learning more about their own religion!
There is a Jewish belief that Judaism is not just good for the Jewish soul, it's
natural for the Jewish soul. The soul feels at home when it says Hebrew prayers,
当它说希伯来人的祈祷时候,看到Shabbat 桌子, 或搭起 mezuzah心灵便感觉自在
experiences a Shabbat table, or puts up a mezuzah. These acts are what makes the Jewish
soul comfortable. A Jew has an innate affinity towards Judaism.
So why do so many Jews not seem interested in their religion? Because there is another
Jewish belief that every
energy has a counter-energy. If the Jewish soul is attracted to Judaism, there must be an
equal and opposite
force that drives the Jew away from Judaism. Materialism, cynicism, laziness, apathy -- all
these and more
conspire to drive the Jew away from connecting to his/her Jewishness. In fact, the more
powerful the Jewish soul, the more intense this resistance will be.
And it must be this way. Otherwise the spiritual life would be too easy -- a Jewish soul
would just naturally fall into Judaism. And G-d wants us to be challenged. When Jews engage
in Judaism, they are taking upon
themselves the life-long challenge to overcome these internal obstacles and find their
When a non-Jew approaches Judaism, it is a whole different story. He or she has no
"baggage," so he's open to
what Judaism has to say. He may be attracted, he may not be -- but he doesn't have the
emotional resistance that
a Jew does. This is why many non-Jews come to respect Judaism when they actually study it.
They are coming with an open heart, unlike the Jew who has an automatic resistance to
This is fine -- until the non-Jew considers conversion. He may feel that Judaism has a
depth and warmth that he seeks, he may feel good going to synagogue and celebrating
festivals, and this may lead him to think that it
would be so easy to just become Jewish and make it his spiritual home. But there is one
factor that he's not aware of.
Now it all seems so nice and comfortable because you're just visiting. It's not yours yet,
so you can look at it 现在的一切看上去很美好和舒适,那只是因为你只是一个来访的观看者.你还不
objectively and just enjoy it for what it is, without any resistance. But the minute you
become Jewish, everything changes. Conversion means not only you receive the Jewish soul,
but you also receive the Jewish
baggage that weighs you down and tries to hold you back from being an active Jew (again, in
order to retain balance and give you a challenge).
This is one reason why we push away converts. We set obstacles in their way so they can
taste what it's really like to be Jewish. So that it should be clear from the outset that a
Jewish life is not an easy one. There will
always be obstacles. The only difference is, before conversion the obstacles are from
without -- stubborn rabbis who tell you "don't bother with Judaism." After converting,
those same rabbis will welcome you with open arms,
and there will still be a voice telling you to not to bother -- but then it will be a voice
from within you.
If you can overcome the resistance set up by the rabbis, then you have a good chance of
being able to overcome the inner resistance that is the struggle of every Jew.