Sunday, June 7, 2009

Thou shalt not oppress the ger, or should you?

This letter from an anonymous gyoress is going around some conversion blogs and online discussion groups.

A certain rabbi commented on this very harshly. However, I'm seeing he seems to be a little more reasonable about it now. One of the highlights from the article and his response is:

She writes: "The basic problem a convert faces in the Orthodox world stems from
the following mind-set: If you observe one mitzvah more than I do you are a
fanatic, and if you observe one mitzvah less you are an apikores, or heretic."

rabbi: This is most unfortunate. Does this mean that where she lives the
"Orthodox" Jews specifically do not keep all Mitzvoth? I've actually written a
warning about marginally Orthodox in Gerus Steps. We've occasionally run into
people like this. If this is her idea of "Orthodox" then her synagogue does not
have an Orthodox minyan. I would like to make it clear (I know that I'm being a
bit redundant) that merely living in a place without a community may not
invalidate a conversion but it certainly is far from the ideal and can lead to
many problems. What sort of education is her son receiving? Is he exposed to
true Orthodoxy (and I include Modern Orthodoxy as true Orthodoxy) or something

Michal: If the author is using the term mitzvos as the rabbi does, as in mitzvos, then yes, his rebuttal is perfectly fine. However, it seems to me that when the original author said mitzvos, she didn't mean the precise 613 mitzvos, but the chumros (stringencies) that people glue upon themselves as a loud and proud statement of, "I'm frummer than you are." One kollel wife told something like real Jews wear the black velvet kippah and if you wear suede, you were never on the derech.

I would hear Heshy Fried make fun of this stuff on his Frum Satire site and I thought I was removed from this narishkeit. "Surely, my friends wouldn't think like this." I was wrong. So, perhaps the author is pointing out the people that think someone who drinks cholav stam milk is an apikores or those who think that you have to wear a certain kind of kippah to be frum.

As I understand it from the bubbies and zaidies that in their day there was no requirement to wear black and white. However, I had man tell me he is frum because he wears black and white.

I also know of another story. An FFB man was in the parshah and a prospective shidduch turned him down because he was wearing a dark brown suit on the (first) shidduch date. He did marry a wonderful girl. However, why is it that no one sees this as riduculous. Also, people like this see "dressing Jewish" like this as a mitzvah. I like to joke that things are the 614th mitzvah. I started doing this before I really knew the extent to which these kinds of mitzvos are added.

Finally, will somebody please tell me, where in the Torah it states that men must wear a black velvet kippah. Why is a black kippah of another material assur? How about velvet of another material? Why can't a man wear a dark brown suit or a dark blue hat and still be accepted?


  1. Michal,

    No need to speak at me with disrespect by means of an ad hominem attack. Ones disposition should be pleasant with another yid, talking to them NOT at them. Now I would sincerely like to have a lengthy and friendly discussion with you concerning your experiences but I am a very busy traveling on the road for business at the moment. I (the query jew) will do my best to respond in depth when I have more time. (if interested because I don’t want to waste your time or mine)

    When you are interested or not I am sincerely sorry for how you’ve been treated. And I never said I would justify how you or anyone else was treated but I can explain WHY! And the WHY is halachicly based and practiced by the majority of Orthodox!

    Before I go, for the record gerim aren’t singled out for not having a family or having a good job, believe me many FFB Jews are included in this criticism. One of the things we as Jews are supposed to do is criticize and judge one another for our betterment and the communities. Yes the very opposite of what xtianity teaches. Should we do this with disdain and Gd forbid shed another Jews blood? NO!!!

    I don’t know if you are one for halachic discourse but I will leave you with a question to ponder. When the Jewish people are suffering and in great tribulations are we supposed to treat the ger tzedak the same as when we are in times of posterity and peace?
    Gut nacht,
    The Query Yid

  2. For those who don't read Aliza's blog: let me bring you up to speed.

    Query said:
    I read the exchange between Doniel and yourself and I dont think either of you have a good understanding of the inner workings/reasonings behind the way the orthodox community treat gerim. I will defend my community if your interested but if not then no need to waste my time or yours... If interested just respond... I have another question too. I dont understand this... If a Jew is defined by Torah as a person who believes in ALL the Torah 613 then why do you call any reform convert (or anyone who doesnt believe in 613) a Jew?


    I offered to explain WHY my community treats gerim the way they do because I dont like seeing my community trashed. I didnt and dont mean any disrespect to Aliza but I dont think she does know why. It seems from her posting she doesnt understand and it bothers her that gerim are treated this way. I dont agree with everyway gerim are treated but I understand WHY its done by the community and how its warranted according to Torah.

    I am one of those people who like to know the other persons perspective, even if I may disagree with them. And so I assume (maybe incorrectly) that someone might be interested in WHY my community does what it does. At any rate thats all I have to say about this subject unless Aliza takes me up on my offer.

  3. I said:
    You better check your halacha and learn some semantics (That means wording, generally wording with precision). While rabbis are to dissuade individuals from converting, it is assur to harass someone who has gone to the mikvah for their conversion.

    I have been treated so horribly since I converted. The nasty comments never end. I get comments because I don't have a good job. People keep bringing up the fact that my mother is deceased and scream at me why don't I have any family.

    So explain to me why people have the right to tell me I'm worthless because I don't make as much money as them or because I'm a gyoress.

    You can't halachically do so.

    The problem is that Jews hear that someone in the process is supposed to be dissuaded and so they make it their duty to "dissuade" you. Even after you've converted, they want to make sure to dissuade you.

    You need to understand that there is a difference between someone IN the process and a Jewish person. Once someone becomes a gyoress, they are SUPPOSED to be treated like everyone else. It is the true and sad fact that we are not.

  4. Nu, I'm waiting to hear about why Jew on Jew hate is acceptable if one of the Jews wasn't always....

    Still waiting....

    still waiting....

  5. Query's disturbing statement:
    but I understand WHY its done by the community and how its warranted according to Torah.

    Another thing, it's interesting that you tell me to be nice. If you think I disrespected you, that just goes to show that you have no clue what is disrespect. Incidentally, hating another Jew is not warranted in the Torah.

  6. Michal: Do people really say that sort of stuff to you? It is so hard to believe!! (I don't doubt you of course, but am just flabbergasted!)

    Re the clothing: I often see guys mowing their lawns on Sunday while wearing a starched white shirt and have to keep from laughing. On a more serious note, it sickens me to see how many of my neighbors in myy NJ town used to dress normally but changed when they saw the tide going the other way.

  7. You must live in Passaic...

    Yes, people really say things to me. Recently, I received a nasty comment about who do I think I am wanting Shabbos hospitality. I should just stay home and eat by myself.