Why I’m converting (take two)

24 01 2007

(Take one is here)

Last Shabbos, on the walk home from Chabad, someone asked me why I was converting.  We’d had a disscussion about it before, but it was in a larger group, and I always give a pat answer in those situations.  Big groups always make me feel like I’m being interrogated, and it’s just impossible to have a real disscussion in situations like that.  Generally I say something to the effect of “ask me later, and I’ll be happy to explain it to you”, but she’s the first one who’s ever taken me up on that, so I had never had to come up with a real answer. 

After telling her all the things I loved about Judaism, she agreed with me, and then  asked some good questions for which I had no real answer.  Why not just be a good person, since judaism doesn’t require you to be jewish?  Why go through all the bother of being Jewish (arguably difficult and frusterating)  when there’s no real need? 

I felt bad, since I couldn’t give her a good answer.  She started apologising and saying that she shouldn’t be prying like that, but it wasn’t really prying.  It’s something everyone asks, and everyone wants to know, and I should be able to answer that.  

After spending the rest of the evening thinking about it, I realized what the answer was.  Yes, I could be a good person without converting, and no one could fault me for doing that.  It would certainly be simpler, but in the end that’s not the sort of relationship I want to have with G-d.  I know that this is what He wants me to do, so taking the easy route isn’t a good option.  A Jewish relationship with G-d is catagorically different from a non-Jewish one.  In Judaism, that relationship touches on every aspect of your life. Everything I do, every moment of the day, my relationship  with G-d is a part of that.  Outside of Judaism, that’s not the case.  G-d is there, for sure, but He can be a side note.  That’s not how I want my faith to be,  and so I am choosing to convert. 

So now I have a better answer to that question, if not a perfect one.  And, of course, I figured this out on Shabbat, so I couldn’t just write it down, but I think I’ve mostly worked it out again. 

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