On Megilat Rut and Gerut
I spent Shabbat/Shavuot in East Jerusalem at the Yeshivat Beit Orot. It was an extremely uplifting experience. The yeshiva is located at the outskirts of an Arab neighborhood and the people who run it along with the students who study there place their lives in danger on a daily basis in order to maintain a Jewish presense in this part of Jerusalem.
On Friday, I visited “Choshen” an apartment building owned by Jews located in the midst of the Arab village. The people who live there get stones thrown at them on a daily basis. Their property is vandalized, and they receive threats from their neighbors. It’s clear that the local Arabs want them out, but they’re there to stay. This type of activism is what the State of Israel needs so much and what it clearly lacks when it comes to a large portion of its population: people who’re not willing to put their security on the line for the sake of the future of the Jewish people.
I stayed up during the night on Shavuot as is the custom to do. We read the Tikkun Leil Shavuot, read Megilat Rut, followed by Shacharit at sunrise. The Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Dani, gave a shmooze on gerut. He was open to discussing the issues at hand.
I didn’t mention my personal knowledge of the problem while listening to R’ Dani, but clearly, what he said about the Beit Din having to accept potential converts first and foremost (whether they’re truly intersted in converting or not) appealed to me. I feel we need to be extremely selective when Gentiles claim they want to become Jewish. We need to “sift out” the good from the bad–not the bad from the good, especially with the influx of FSU immigrants to Israel.
The gerut debate is one that needs to be looked into in detail. It requires competent judges and Torah scholars. Most of all, it requires people to be honest regarding their intentions. I’ve personally suffered too much from the fall-out of insincere conversions to support all-out efforts to get as many people as possible to benefit from our open-mindedness and willingness to help.
I believe Rut is a perfect example of someone who wanted to make “(our) people (her) people and (our) G-d (her) G-d” and like R’ Dani pointed out, waning to be a part of the nation comes before wanting to make our G-d their G-d. This, however, is definitely not for anyone. Only the most devoted can truly overcome the difficulties in their paths and take up the “yoke of Heaven.”