Help, Don't Harm Those Who Seek
By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman © January 29, 2017 (updated February 23, 2018)

A reader comments: I thought only converts show these almost psychotic signs of doing everything 300% and folding themselves in dogmas, but some Ger/Noahides do that too. They build up an arrogance.
Shlomo responds: This is true, but of course most Noahides come out of other religions as well. In this sense they also "convert" into the Noahide Way. They too run the risk of holding these same common over-zealous attitudes.

There are also some born Jews, I know some of these, who leave Derech HaShem for a while to become so-called Messianics, to embrace Buddhism, etc. and who later return as Baal Teshuva with the same tendencies. A Baal Teshuva is any non-observant Jew (whether raised religious or not), who takes up Torah observance later in life. These too sometimes find it difficult to control their fanaticism regarding other paths. Its as though they feel that by condemning others they strengthen their own observance of Judaism. "I will appear higher by making you appear lower" they seem to think. The opposite is the case.

Here is how I think conversations with non-Jews should go:

Gentile: "I am a Christian (a Buddhist etc)."
Jew: "Wonderful."
Gentile: "I am a Christian (a Buddhist etc)."
Jew: "Why are you following a false religion?" or worse, "You are an idol worshiper!"
This is not good. Rather:
Gentile: "I am a Christian (a Buddhist etc)."
Jew: "Wonderful."
Gentile: "May I ask you a question?"
Jew: "Of course."
Gentile: "Why don't you believe as I do?"
Jew: "I follow Torah, you follow a different path."
Gentile: "But why don't you accept Jesus (follow the Buddha Dharma, etc.)?"

Now the Jew is obligated to explain, assuming the question is sincere, why he/she believes as he does. Why are we obligated? Because we are ordained by HaShem to be "the Kingdom of priests and holy nation" (Exodus 19:6) to the world. Torah requires all Jews to be lights to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:6). Not just the rabbis, all of us are under this obligation to bless to the world with truth. We are not required in Torah, and we are forbidden by the rabbis, to seek converts, however we are not permitted to turn our faces away from those who sincerely seek our help, especially in religious matters.


Gentile: "I want to convert to Judaism."
Jew: "That's not really a good idea. I don't think you understand what you are asking for. Just be a good Christian (Buddhist etc.).
Gentile: "But I believe Torah is true and that the Jews are the Covenant People."
Jew: If you have really come to (are coming to) this realization, then be a Noahide and stand with us to make this world a better place. This is the Path for non-Jews. Converting to Judaism is not required and not advisable for most people. Indeed many converts are harmed by the experience."
We need to be truthful and assist sincere seekers! If we ridicule people's beliefs, which are normally genuinely held, what good do we offer them? We only promote more antisemitism. Most observant people, regardless of their religion, sincerely believe they are serving G-d (as they understand Him based on their upbringing and sometimes their studies). This is admirable! Most people today have no sincere interest in knowing G-d. Yasher Koach to those who do, and who exercise that interest in peace and love! We should help such people learn and embrace Torah, if they want to, even though their current views contradict Torah. Those who are not interested in learning Torah from us are free to do as they see fit. By showing them respect we create mutual respect and minimize antisemitism.

A few years ago I was working closely with a man online who sincerely wanted to convert to Judaism. He had left his former religion and embraced the Noahide Path. He was studying and growing nicely. At his request I gave him the addresses and websites of two Orthodox shuls in his area. He went to one during the week, seeking advise from the rabbi. The rabbi refused to see him or to give him an appointment. He was told appointments were only for shul members and that no one there was interested in speaking with a non-Jew. He left disappointed and went to the second shul Shabbat morning as I advised, without making contact first. "Attend services, let them come to you and introduce themselves," I suggested. He did. The first time no one approached him. The second time he visited a greeter approached told him "politely" that Gentiles were not welcome there either, that he needed to leave. He asked him what he should do if he wanted to convert, and was curtly told again that he should leave and not return. In the second case I confirmed that this is indeed what happened at the shul. As a result of how he was treated, today this man is a committed anti-Semitic follower of the "Hebrew Roots movement."

We Jews, and our Noahide friends, are commanded by HaShem to be a blessing to the other nations. Let the Gentiles rage against us if they wish (Psalm 2:1-4), but not because of anything we have done to deserve it, G-d forbid; not because of our refusal to answer their questions and help them when they come to us. For many converts the situation in our shuls and other communities are not much better. We are commanded by HaShem to help, not harm, those who seek.

Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Peoples and the inhabitants of many cities shall yet come—
the inhabitants of one shall go to the other and say, “Let us go and entreat the favor of the LORD, let us seek the LORD of Hosts; I will go, too.”
The many peoples and the multitude of nations shall come to seek the LORD of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the LORD.
Thus said the LORD of Hosts: In those days, ten men from nations of every tongue will take hold—they will take hold of every Jew by a corner of his cloak and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
A pronouncement: The word of the LORD. He will reside in the land of Hadrach and Damascus; For all men’s eyes will turn to the LORD— Like all the tribes of Israel—
         -- From Zechariah chapter eight.

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