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Need I convert to Judaism if I share its beliefs?

by Rabbi Eyal Ravnoy

  

Library » Jewish Identity » Conversion | Subscribe | What is RSS?


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No.

Belief in G-d, while a Jewish contribution, is by no means a Jewish monopoly. All of mankind ought to believe in G-d, and, as a matter of fact, Judaism encourages it. There is no exclusive "Jewish belief" in G-d--there is the One G-d in whom Jews believe and teach all others to believe.

In addition, G-d gave the Torah, with its 613 Mitzvahs, to the Jewish People. However, He also gave the non-Jewish peoples a parallel moral code: the Seven Noahide Laws. He expects every (non-Jewish) human being and society to live by these.

The seven general categories of the Code are: 1) Not to murder; 2) Not to steal; 3) Not to commit adultery or incest; 4) Not to blaspheme; 5) Not to eat the limb of a live animal; 6) Not to worship idols; and 7) To establish a system of justice.

There is no "Jewish belief" in G-d--there is the One G-d in whom Jews believe and teach all others to believe
The Sages tell us that a non-Jew who fulfills these laws can anticipate much reward in the World-to-Come1. Therefore, there is no need for a non-Jew to convert to Judaism in order for him or her to enjoy a personal relationship with G-d.2

If, however, a non-Jew wishes to convert to Judaism, he or she can do so by going through the same process that the Jewish People went through when they became Jews3 , namely: 1) Circumcision (in the case of males); 2) Immersion in the Mikvah for the sake of conversion; and 3) Accepting to fulfill all 613 Mitzvahs in their entirety.4 All of this must be done under the guidance of an orthodox Rabbinical Court.

But regardless of religion, we are all on "Team G-d," and the "sport" we are "playing" is making this world a better place. In Judaism, there's no human being who has no place, purpose or importance.

Let's do our parts!

[Askmoses also recommends the following books: The Path of the Righteous Gentile by Rabbi Yakov Rugalsky, and The Divine Code by Rabbi Moshe Weiner]

Footnotes

  • 1. Maimonidies Laws of Kings 8:11
  • 2. Judaism actually discourages conversion as stated in the Talmud (Yevamos 47a), and rooted in the Bible: When Naomi's two daughters-in-law wanted to join her, as converts, she attempted to dissuade them three times! (Ruth 1:8-12).
  • 3. Talmud Tractate Yevamot page 9a and Maimonidies Laws of Forbidden Relations chapter 13
  • 4. Bear in mind that many of these 613 Mitzvot cannot be fulfilled today when we lack the Holy Temple. Hundreds of Mitzvot pertain to the laws of sacrifices and certain tithes which are only practiced when there is a Holy Temple in Jerusalem – may it be rebuilt speedily in our days. Additionally, certain Mitzvot are exclusive for men, women, kohanim, monarchs, etc. Thus in actuality the convert (or any Jew for that matter) doesn’t really have the opportunity or responsibility to put every Mitzvah into practice, yet s/he must accept all of them as the word of G-d and the mandate of Judaism.

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Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Mikvah
A ritual bath where one immerses to become spiritually pure. After her menstrual cycle, a woman must immerse in the Mikvah before resuming marital relations.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.