B’ha’a’lot’cha 5780-2020

The Torah’s Attitude toward Converts
(Revised and Updated from Parashat B’ha’a’lot’cha 5761-2001)

In parashat B’ha’alot’cha we learn that converts are required to participate in the Pascal offering even though they never experienced the exodus from Egypt. The Passover rituals teach that converts participate equally in the performance of all the commandments. Converts have played an illustrious role in Judaism. These “strangers” must be treated with great respect and sensitivity. In fact, perhaps, we are all descendants of converts, which is why the Torah bids us to conscientiously fulfill the very special mitzvah of loving the stranger.

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Vayakhel-Pekudei 5773-2013

"The Jewish Connection"

The minutely detailed architectural plans of the Tabernacle and the precise designs of the priestly vestments underscore the interconnectedness of all the vessels and vestments. Interconnectedness is a vital feature of human life, and a most profound element of the Jewish religion.

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Eikev 5772-2012

“Loving the Stranger”

If attitudes of antipathy and xenophobia are often directed at mere strangers, how much more so to strangers who wish to convert to Judaism, who are neither members of our families, nor of our people. Consequently, the Torah laws regarding the proper treatment of converts are rather extensive and quite detailed.

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Tzav 5768-2008

"Never Give Up Hope!"

The Torah teaches that in addition to lifting up a scoop of ashes and placing them near the altar, the priest must remove the accumulated ashes from the altar and bring them outside the camp to a pure place. The Beit Yaakov interprets this as a metaphor never to give up hope on any Jew. Even though the embers seem to be dying, we must enable them to glow again by placing them in a pure place.

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Yitro 5768-2008

"Welcoming Jethro, the Idolatrous Priest"

Why was Jethro, a former pagan idolater, welcomed so enthusiastically by Moses, Aaron and the people of Israel? It may very well have been in return for Jethro's courageous renunciation of idolatry. Perhaps it was in return for Jethro's exceptional acts of kindness that he performed for Moses, when Moses, claiming to be an Egyptian prince, arrived in Midian as a rather pathetic penniless refugee.

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Lech Lecha 5767-2006

"The Souls That Were Made in Haran"

In this week's parasha we read of Abram's journey from Haran to Canaan. Abram not only takes his family and his belongings to Canaan, but also the "souls that he had made in Haran." The rabbis offer a number of interpretations of who or what these "souls" are. However, the big question remains: What ever happened to those "souls"?

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Noah 5766-2005

"The Seven Commandments Given to the Descendants of Noah"

Parashat Noah is the source for what is known as the Seven Noahide Principles, seven basic laws that are the fundamentals of civilization and humanity. All non-Jews are required to abide by these seven principles, which are regarded as the minimal standards of human behavior in society. These laws also play a significant role in Judaism's reluctance to accepts converts.

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Naso 5764-2004

"Our Brother, Our Sister--the Proselyte"

Parashat Naso contains a special law regarding making restitution to the proselyte--the righteous convert to Judaism. Converts have played, and continue to play, a key role in Jewish life. It is, therefore, not at all surprising that the mitzvah of loving and caring for the convert is mentioned 36 times in the Torah, more than any other mitzvah.

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Behar 5763-2003

"Understanding Hebrew and Canaanite Servitude"

Parashat Behar presents us with two most perplexing and challenging statutes: Hebrew and Canaanite servitude. What seems on the surface to be two very difficult and primitive concepts, are, in reality, rather enlightened, and there is much that we may learn from them.

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B’ha’alot’cha 5761-2001

"The Torah's Attitude Toward Converts"

In parashat B'ha'alot'cha we learn that converts are required to participate in the Pascal offering even though they never experienced the exodus from Egypt. The Passover rituals teach that converts participate equally in the performance of all the commandments. Converts have played an illustrious role in Judaism. These "strangers" must be treated with great sensitivity. In fact, perhaps, we are all converts and that is why the Torah bids us to fulfill the very special mitzvah of loving the stranger.

Read More


0 Comments7 Minutes