Let My People Know

"The convert to Judaism deserves special consideration and a special relationship"

“In the Midrash, there is a parable:

A shepherd has a large flock of sheep.

A deer enters the fold.

The shepherd tells his herdsmen to treat the deer with special care.

The herds­men ask why, with such a large flock, the shepherd should concern himself with this one deer.

The shepherd tells them, ‘My sheep have only this fold, while this deer has the whole world to choose from. Yet he chose my flock, and it is there­fore fitting that I should give him special care.’

This attitude sums up the many mitzvot that require us to welcome the proselyte into our midst, someone who has the choice of belonging elsewhere and who, neverthe­less, chooses to enter the Jewish framework.

The convert deserves special consideration and a special relationship.

The Book of Ruth is a beautiful portrayal of a true pros­elyte, unique in the Scriptures in that she is described as being wholly pure.

The description of Ruth’s homecoming to her real, inner being is a spiritual odyssey:

We see her shed the trappings of her former existence, the connection with her family and origins.

We see her undeterred by the difficulties of her new life.

We see her fidelity to her commitment even when she is faced with the indifference of the local people.

Finally, we see all these pale into insignificance in relation to Ruth’s inner soul.

We see that same ancient kernel of sanctity, that same spark that had burned unseen for generations, finds its rightful place within the people of Israel.”

–Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz

On Being Free by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz