When you are in the process of conversion to Orthodox Judaism, you are asked this question from many different people. Going through the process, one will ask oneself this same question often. During the many years of the conversion process this question may reach different answers as the process continues.
As a person who strives to be a God fearer and keeper of the Seven Commandments, I too started studying for Orthodox Jewish conversion. I studied for 6+ years even learned to read biblical Hebrew via the Jewish Siddur; and mastered a lot of Shabbat law.
One day I was sitting on my front porch, and asked myself this question again. I probably asked myself this question once a month. But there was something different this time. A particular Psalm came to mind. I was saying to myself and as a prayer, “For You alone does my soul wait.”.
I got up and pulled my Jewish Psalms off the shelf and found the verses I was thinking and praying about.
Psalm 62: 6-8
Only for God, wait silently, my soul; from Him is my hope. Only He is my rock and my salvation; my stronghold, I will not falter. Upon God is my salvation and my honor; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.
From these verses I began to ask my self more questions.
One of the questions I asked was, “If God was already this for me, then why am I converting?”
The second question I had was, “If God was already my salvation and strength, then what is the purpose of conversion?”
As I meditated on these verses, it also came clear to me that nowhere I could think of God asks a person to forsake children or family to walk or follow Him. Mater of fact the Hebrew Scriptures points to the apposite, that the Creator hates child or human sacrifice.
What we converts learn is that any children we have before conversion will remain only by blood but they are no longer your children spiritually because they are not Jewish. Becoming Jewish changes ones life with all other non-Jews. I came to the conclusion for myself that I was willing give it all up to be closer to God.
What I had learned is I did not have to give up my children, family or life to walk with God my Creator.
What I learned was that there was already a life planned for me, I had kind of been kidnaped by the world I was born into. I also had learned that not only had I been lied to but I was carrying a portion of those lies with me and thinking conversion would bring me closer to the Creator. A lie I kept telling my self for many years.
Conversion will bring a person into a different covenant than that of the nations have. The covenant that the Jews have from Mount Sinai has rules of its own.
With conversion to Judaism from those born under the Seven Commandments, one will take on more commands. What this means is, what may of not been a possible sin for you, now has become a possible sin for you; you will add commandments to yourself by changing covenants.
For me, in my learning, I had come to a place that I was very frustrated; I was learning more than I could do. Let me explain.
There are many Jewish commands that require a person to live in a community. The commands revolve around others of Jewish faith, so they can be kept properly. Even for some of the commands demand a person to live in the land of Israel to be kept, (which should be every Jews goal.)
At this point I began to look for a community to move to so not to only continue my learning but to continue my practicing that I could not do where I was at.
After studying for 6+ years for conversion into Orthodox Judaism I gave the Seven Commandments a chance.
One of the first things I remember saying after examining the Seven Universal Commandments is, “I can do these right here where I am, I do not have to give up my family or place of residence to walk with God.”
The Seven Universal Commandments are for all mankind and designed through the Creator to fit any and all cultures and nations. When followed they will create a just and moral society.
To be truthful, in my own opinion, I have come to the conclusion that every person entering the conversion process for Judaism should spend at least One year of studies in Noahide studies of the Seven universal Commandments.
Many people are naturally spiritual and are attracted to the religions of this world. The hard and uncommon part is that for the majority of mankind, the Creator does not require us to take on a religion to walk with him. In the seven Universal Commandments there is no religious rites to observe. This can freeing and hard for those raised in one of the worlds religions.
We begin our studies in the book of Genesis to find out what the Creator wants of us.
We are given a hard truth in Leviticus 10 that we of the nations need to learn from. There are things we do and belief that the Creator has not commanded of us.
Beginning in Genesis we can begin our learning what is and is not commanded of us. We must be prepared in our society to relearn what we have been taught, we are in the need as a people to not be afraid of asking questions.
Just because something feels good does not make it right. Only what the Creator commands of us can be right.
Below is a list of the Seven Commandment and there locations.
Terry W. Hayes
The Seven Universal Commandments:
1. Set up courts of justice – Genesis 9:6
2. Prohibition of idolatry – Genesis 2:16
3. Prohibition of blasphemy – Leviticus 2:15
4. Prohibition of murder – Genesis 9:5-6
5. Prohibition of theft – Genesis 2:16-17 Genesis 21:25
6. Prohibition of forbidden sexual relations – Genesis 2:24 Genesis 20:13
7. Prohibition of eating meat taken from a live animal – Genesis 9:4
3 thoughts on “Why Are You Converting?”
I really like your take on this and agree that more time should be spent with prospective Orthodox conversion candidates instead teaching them about the 7 Noahide laws and seeing if they might be better off as righteous Noahides.
For me, it’s family ties that bring me to conversion. My husband was born Jewish, raised Orthodox, but now finds himself having issues with his halakhic status. I was not religious before meeting him. Our children have been raised Jewish. For us, we had to choose…one world or another. We tried both, but only find peace as Orthodox Jews. Still, even for us, I think it was important to see if we could feel happy and fulfilled as Noahides.
For years, my life has revolved around the mitzvos and an Orthodox Jewish community and my family can’t imagine any other life. Our reason for conversion is that we want those mitzvos and to serve Hashem in that way. I find so many conversion candidates who really do not want to move to an Orthodox community or who don’t find joy or fulfillment in the mitzvos and for them…the question always comes to my mind, “Then why are you trying to convert?” If you’re complaining about wearing a skirt or not being able to eat at trief restaurants now, why do this since this will be your life from now on?
Hashem made so many nations for a reason. He could have just as easily only made Jews, but each nation has a purpose and a place in creation, just as each tribe in Israel had its own unique mission. We need each other and I’m happy to hear that more and more gentiles are choosing to be Noahides, to follow the 7 laws and to make this world a better place for it.
Wow! You just lifted the guilt I had been carrying about not converting to Orthodox Judaism.
You are welcome, it was a ton off my shoulders and a spiritual freedom I had never had before.