Rabbi Dovid Schwartz
Over the past several years a number of special “dedicated” Shabosos have emerged on the frum Jewish scene. We have AJOP and Torah U’Mesorah conventions, various Kiruv Outfits running Seminar weekends, a Hatzolah appeal Shabbos, a consciousness-raising Shabbos Machsom L’fee for Shmiras Halashon awareness and, on the west coast, a Shabbos Chizuk.
There have been many great inspiring-role-model Geirim in Jewish History; Yisro, Tzipporah, Rus, Onkelos, the Khazar King, Count Valentine Potocki of Vilna and Warder Cresson just to name a few. Yet the “Granddaddies” of all Gerim and Giyorot are Avraham Ovinu and Sarah Imainu. So I’d like to propose that the week preceding Parshas Lech Lecha become Geirus Awareness Week. After all, this is the parsha of their own geirus as well as that of the many mysteriously disappearing nefesh asher osu b’charan. = the souls that they “made” in Haran.
Personal, social, cultural, Hashkafic and Halachic aspects of geirus are, arguably, more pressing and pertinent today than at any other time in Jewish History. To suggest how to celebrate and what to emphasize during Geirus Awareness Week on a broad communal level is beyond the scope of a blog post and would be overreaching on my part. But what I’d like the Beyond BT™ community to consider and comment on are some of the larger areas of congruence, confluence and conflict where the worlds of BTs and geirim interconnect.
How does the Psycho-spiritual dynamic of becoming a ger and being chozer B’Tshuva compare and contrast? What attracts geirim and BTs more; an abstract compelling belief system or a facts-on-the-ground attractive, wholesome society/culture? What can BTs learn from geirim and vice versa? In particular what special lessons can we all learn from the unique journeys of those who began their embrace of Torah Judaism presuming that they were Jews, only to discover at a later date that they would have to undergo Halachic giyur? What inspiration and insights in growth, Shalom Bayis and navigating our marital ships through the stormy reefs of immediate and extended families can we draw from couples in which one spouse was a Chozer(et) B’Tshuva while the other was a Ger/Giyores? What kind of grades does Jewish Society receive in the V’Ahavtem es HaGer (And thou shall love the righteous convert) department as something unique and distinct from the generic mitzvah of Ahavas Yisrael? Does the very term righteous convert capture the meaning of the Lashon Kodseh term Ger Tzedek?
Please share your thoughts and have a great Parshas Lech Lecha.