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Are quickie conversions kosher?

BS"D  The Shulchan Arukh HaRav rules that we are not allowed to proselytize. This means that, according to halacha (Jewish Law), it is forbidden for a Jew to persuade or entice or even request a non-Jew to convert and become Jewish.

In fact, if a non-Jew comes to a rabbi or any religious Jew and tells him that he or she wants to convert, the halacha is that the Jew must reject him three times.

The Jew is supposed to tell him that Jews are a despised people. Therefore, if he became a Jew, he might find himself the target of anti-semitism, even from his own family or friends or members of the Church he just escaped from.

We are also supposed to tell him that it is difficult to be a Jew because of eleven hundred million rules and regulations, 35,000 halachot of Shabbat alone, and if you break one, we throw you off a cliff. (That is a joke. You are supposed to laugh.)

But when pushing the person away, you are not supposed to go so far as to mention that he runs the risk of becoming a self-hating Jewish pseudo-liberal socialist, like the ones in Hollyweird and the rest of Southern Kelipafornia. (This is not a joke. Do not laugh.)

And after pushing him away three times, if the non-Jew is still eager to convert, we welcome him in with open arms and begin the conversion process, which according to halacha takes 17½ years and costs $11,500. (That is joke #2. You are supposed to laugh.)

The exception to the rule forbidding proselytizing is with a would-be convert whose father was Jewish, but whose mother was not Jewish. We do not push this person away, but encourage him or her to convert from the very beginning.  

Whoever proselytizes Christians or Gentiles of any faith, and encourages them to become Jewish, goes against Jewish law.

The issue of kosher or not kosher is not a matter of how quick the conversion was performed. The issue is whether or not the conversion was done according to halacha, and whether the would-be convert is considered Jewish by the Heavenly Court (G-d Himself).

Now, I admit that I do not do hold by every halacha. I think there are halachot that go against the Torah and to follow them is an aveira (transgression).   

That being said, I believe that the halacha against proselytizing is a halacha l’Mosheh m’Sinai and, therefore, it is straight from G-d. Why do I feel that way? Because proselytizing cheapens the Torah. It is treating the faith of our fathers like a two-bit cult. It is a desecration of G-d’s Name. And a Jew who proselytizes will have to answer for his actions.

Therefore, I was shocked to learn that there is a network of Jewish anti-missionary groups and individuals in the U.S. and Canada, and even Israel, who openly proselytize Christians and try to convince them to convert to Judaism. They go against halacha, and they freely admit it.

Any ex-Christian (or Hindu or whatever), who was converted as a result of being proselytized has reason to question whether or not his conversion was kosher.

That does not mean that he wasted 17½ years and $11,500. No, the time and money were well-spent because they taught him the first lesson about being Jewish – don’t get ripped off. (That was joke #3. You are supposed to laugh.)

But seriously, anyone who was hustled by an Orthodox rabbi to become Jewish might consider consulting a different Orthodox rabbi, one more knowledgeable and more righteous, and ask him if he thinks you are Jewish.

As far as quickie conversions are concerned. If they are done according to halacha, they are kosher. The convert, known as a Ger in the Torah, is an Israelite in every way, body and soul. He can marry the daughter of a Cohen. And she (the female convert) can marry any Jew, except a Cohen, and her daughter (born after the conversion) can marry a Cohen. Mazel tov.

So the question is: what is called a quickie conversion? A day, a month, a year? If the elements of a conversion al pi halacha are there, the entire progress from pagan to Jew does not have to take longer than a month, with no more than four meetings with the Bet Din.

So, you might wonder: what are the elements of a kosher conversion? First of all, the three-man rabbinic court, who are the witnesses to the conversion, must be kosher aydim (witnesses). In a perfect world, without politics, each of the three men court must have reasonably normal mental faculties and must be shomer mitzvoth, living their lives according to the Torah. They do not have to be rabbis, just G-d fearing Jews.

The process of conversion is learned out from Mount Sinai.

1. The men have to be circumcised. If they are already circumcised strictly for health reasons, the mohel (who is often also a schochet, so be nice to him) takes a drop of blood from a certain place behind the left shoulder (modesty joke. chuckle to yourself).

2. Both men and women must immerse in a kosher mikvah, ritual pool.

3. Both men and women must accept the Torah as they did on Mount Sinai, which basically means they have to be like Ruth, saying, “Where you go, I will go. Your G-d is my G-d. Naaseh V’Nishmah – we accept the yoke of the Torah even before we know what is in it because it comes from HaKodesh Baruch Hu, the G-d of Israel.

If the three-man Jewish Bet Din witnesses these elements and verifies them as having been done according to halacha, the Ger (Stranger) is a full-fledged member of the Congregation of Israel. And he should not be called a Ger anymore, but a Jew. He is called a Ger only when it is necessary to reveal his or her background, such as when marriage is involved.

Okay, that is in a perfect world. But in the current reality, where politics lurks in the heart of most everyone, the system can be corrupted. There is not much one can do to corrupt the circumcision and the dip in the mickie. But when it comes to “naaseh v’nishmah,” they give it a spin, and it comes out two sides:

1. How much do you know?

2. Are you going to do everything the way I think it should be done?

3. Are you going to fit into my standard of communal norms? We wear only white socks. Do you agree to wear only white socks?

Naaseh v’Nishmah is the opposite of, “How much do you know?” Determining “How much do you know?” can take a long time. Determining “Naaseh v’Nishmah” is not based on the amount of Torah knowledge the person has acquired, but whether his or her heart is completely with Hashem and the Torah and the Jewish people and wants to build a new house in Israel.

For the Bet Din to be kosher, the three Jews must have sound minds and be able to discern the sincerity of and truth of the candidate for conversion. It does not take 17½ years or $11,500. It could be done in four meetings over a period of month and should compensate the three-man court of judges for their time, at a reasonable rate of around $50. an hour in the U.S., with no more than a collective investment of 20 hours of their time. And there are rabbis who are willing to supervise the conversion process for little or no financial compensation at all.   

There is one catch here. And like Catch-22, it is a beauty. Catch-22 is the right to make aliyah and live in Israel as a Jew. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel is the gatekeeper here, and the Chief Rabbinate of the State of Israel is a political entity and it is corrupt. Sorry folks, but that is the way it is. You have to play by the rules of the Rabbinate if you want to get into Israel as a Jew , and its rules have very little to do with the Torah, and G-d and the Jewish people. It has to do with establishing themselves as the Jewish Church. May Hashem open their eyes to the truth.  

Armed with this knowledge, may you all be written and sealed for a good year in the Book of Life. And may we meet in the Bet HaMikdash HaShlishi, the Third Temple, according to the prophecy of Ezekiel, this coming year in Jerusalem. And may the G-d of Israel dismiss the ruach hatumah and there be no more death in the world. And let us say, amen and welcome the Geulah and the Final Redeemer, Melech HaMashiach from the House of David. And may He remember the loyalty of the Levites and invite them to eat at His table and may the fragrance of His incense permeate every courtyard in Jerusalem and as far away as Jericho.

Off the record: Any dissatisfied Christian who believes that he or she has been lied to by the Church, might consider looking into Ger, the Sabbath-observant companion of Israel, who believes in Hashem and says Shema Yisrael, but remains a Gentile. The halacha is that it is permissible to proselytize for Ger. In fact, it is a great mitzvah.

Chaim Clorfene