Warning: Do not convert to Judaism.
Let us talk about conversion to Judaism. No one should do it. If you converted to Judaism, you were led astray by a well-meaning, but unlearned Jew, probably a rabbi.
The truth is that when someone converts, he or she becomes grafted onto Kehillat Yisrael, the Congregation of Israel, which has one body and one soul, and a covenant with G-d. The conversion is to the people, not to the religion. And even though the Jewish people have a religion called Judaism, and even though acceptance of Judaism is a prerequisite for kosher conversion, nevertheless, love of Judaism, which includes love of Torah and mitzvoth, is not a reason to convert. This must be clearly understood and taken to heart. You may wonder why.
Take the scenario of a Noahide who has found his way out of the Church, past the Messianics, and all the way up to the Torah of Moses, and has taken on the Seven Laws of Noah, the mitzvoth incumbent upon a Righteous Gentile.
Now, perhaps this Noahide feels unfulfilled by the Seven Laws, which are seven prohibitions, and contain no rituals or traditions. The Seven Laws are really meant for governing societies more than guiding the souls of individuals or families.
And so, this unfulfilled Noahide begins to yearn for the warmth and light of the Torah – Chanukah, Pesach and, most of all, he wants to observe Shabbat and learn Talmud or Kabbalah.
So he goes to his local Orthodox rabbi or a frum Jewish friend for information and advice. Nine out of ten times, the Noahide will be told that he is forbidden to keep Shabbat and cannot learn Torah other than Torah pertaining to the Seven Laws.
Nine out of ten times, Jews will tell Noahides that if they want more mitzvoth than the seven, their only option is to convert, which gives them all 613 mitzvoth, including Shabbat and Talmud Torah.
Now, let us say that this Noahide does not really want to become a Jew, but for the sake of enhancing his Torah lifestyle, he converts. We now have a problem convert.
This person converted because of Judaism, not because he wanted to be a Jew. The truth is that it is very, very difficult to stop being a Jew, but it is a piece of cake to leave the Torah.
Let’s say that three or four years after his conversion, this new Jew, loses some of his excitement about the Torah and gets pulled back in or around the church, or simply stops being observant and becomes an American-style weirdo and marries a trout. Once a Jewish convert turns away from the Torah, for any reason, it can turn into resentment of himself as a Jew, and this will lead to a resentment of the Jewish people, and even G-d. And it often leads to anti-Jewish behavior, which includes poisoning the minds of their children against anything Jewish.
And the rabbi who steered him to conversion is responsible for the damage caused because he went against the halacha (Jewish Law) by telling the non-Jew that if he wants more mitzvoth, conversion is his only option. This rabbi unknowingly (and sometimes even knowingly) lied to the Noahide and destroyed worlds.
The fact is that according to halacha a Gentile can remain a Gentile and take on any or all mitzvoth of the Torah including Shabbat and Talmud Torah. He does not have to convert. He can become a Noahide Ger, a non-Jew who accepts the Seven Laws of Noah and accepts Hashem, the G-d of Israel as his G-d and rejects shituf (sub-deities or multiple godheads).
The Noahide who takes on the Seven Laws and says to Hashem Yisborach, “You are my G-d,” he can do any and all mitzvoth in the Torah without the Jubilee Year, without going to a rabbinic court for acceptance, without living in Israel, and he can do it even according to the Rambam. That is the halacha.
Most Jews, even frum ones, even rabbis, learn the Rambam superficially and get it wrong. If they would have looked at the rabbinic responsa on the subject, they would see that when the Rambam said there is no Ger Toshav without the Jubilee Year, he was referring to the complete Ger Toshav (Ger Toshav Gamur), one who is entitled to the same communal support as a Jew.
But with respect to the performance of mitzvoth, the halacha is that there is always a Ger Toshav, with or without the Jubilee Year, with or without a rabbinic court, and with or without living in the Holy Land. But to be permitted to keep Shabbat or learn Torah, he has to do one thing that the Ger Toshav does not have to do; he has to believe in the unity of G-d and that Ado-nai Hu HaElo-him, the Lord He is G-d. He must accept upon himself faith in the G-d of Israel, not merely reject idolatry. And that is what makes the Noahide into a Noahide Ger – he says Shema Yisrael and that is his faith in G-d.
Every Gentile can accept upon himself or herself belief in G-d and lead any holy Torah lifestyle he or she chooses – without converting. The Rambam calls them Hasidei Umot HaOlam, which technically means a non-Jewish Hasid, a pious person in the eyes of G-d and the Torah of Moses. Mazal tov!
And this Hasidic Ger Toshav is included in the Torah's commandment not to taunt the Ger (Exodus 22:20).”
Therefore, I repeat the warning and explain it from a slightly different perspective: Do not convert to Judaism. if you are considering conversion, do it only to become a a Jew.
The only one who converts to Judaism is the Noahide who converts to Noahide Ger, which the sages call chetzi giur – half a conversion. He is the Ger of I Get Ger. And he is the Biblical Ger in the Gate, not the rabbinic Ger Toshav. He believes in Hashem.
The Ger in the Gate is established by G-d in the Torah. The Ger in the Gate is mentioned in three verses; one is in the Ten Commandments, where he is told to rest on Shabbat. The Ger Toshav, on the other hand, is a Talmudic construct, a legal fiction established by the rabbis of the Second Temple period.
The Biblical Ger in the Gate is a G-d fearing Gentile, as it says (Deut. 31:12), “the Ger in the Gate shall hear and learn and fear the Lord your G-d.”
Conversely, the Talmudic Ger Toshav does not believe in G-d. That is to say, the rabbinic obligations of a Ger Toshav extend only so far as rejection of idolatry. The obligations of a Ger Toshav do not require belief in G-d. And since he is not required to believe in G-d, therefore, we say that he does not believe in G-d. But a Ger, who is the Ger in the Gate, is expected by G-d to keep Shabbat, for of the Ger in the Gate the Torah says (Ibid.), “and observe to do all the words of this Torah.”
The difference between a Gentile's right to keep Shabbat is belief in G-d. If he believes in G-d (and rejects shituf), he can keep Shabbat, and if he does not believe in G-d (and reject shituf), he cannot keep Shabbat.
It is not confusing.
Lovingly dedicated to the memory of
Ze’ev ben Ephraim HaLevi Kamen, ztz’l.
May his soul be bound up in the bond of life
with the souls of the righteous in Gan Eden.