Friday, September 19, 2008

Conversion - Why Minor Mitzvos dissuade conversion

Rav Chaim Shmuelevitz (Sichos Musar #27 5732): It says in Yevamos (47a) that when a non‑Jew comes to convert he is instructed in some of the minor mitzvos and some of the major mitzvos. The Meiri (Yevamos 47a) explains that the reason for explaining the minor mitzvos is because idolaters do not have in their religion many mitzvos and when they hear of the multitude of mitzvos that we have - especially the minor ones - they will say in their heart how much details are involved that are unnecessary and they will change their mind about converting. The explanation of the Meiri’s words appears to be that non‑Jews who serve idols are not slaves to the idol. That is because idolatry does not require subservience to the degree that the worshipper would be called a slave. The fact is that a non‑Jew is free to do whatever he wants except for a few religious commands. His day to day life has no connection to the deity he worships. It is different for Jews who are all considered slaves to G‑d from the moment they arise in the morning until they go to sleep at night. Every single detail and action are directed by the Shulchan Aruch. Even getting dressed in the morning is governed by a number of laws and practices – and surely this is true of the rest of his activities. These types of rules are called “minor mitzvos” through which a Jew expresses his subservience to G‑d. These mitzvos have to be taught to a non‑Jew who comes to convert. Nevertheless these “minor mitzvos” are possibly upsetting to him since they are far removed from his concept of religion. It is in fact easier for him to accept the major mitzvos than the minor mitzvos which control all his daily activities. However when you think about the matter you find that this is a great benefit and treasure that the Torah has done for us by teaching a person what to do in every step and activity of his life and it removes all doubts. Every question of what to do he will find determined by the Torah. Without the Torah a person is overwhelmed by doubts and concerns and we find that doubts are more difficult for a person then certainty even when the certainty is unpleasant…This is the great kindness that G‑d did with the Jews when He gave them the Torah. It shows a person the clear path concerning every single detail of his life and it is explicitly stated in the Shulchan Aruch. Consequently every single Jew - who learns Torah - knows the Will of His Master and what He wants him to do.[...]

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