Equality of Converts
Moshe Ben-Chaim
Question: How would you describe the acceptance of converted person? Is the person accepted as equal or are there still some prejudice, besides the fact that by law if you are converted properly you are considered as Jewish.
Mesora: Judaism accepts the convert fully with no discrimination. God didn't discriminate, as our kings (David and Solomon) are descendants from Ruth the Moabite who converted. The prayers we say each day are taken from David.
The Torah is sensitive to our feelings, and therefore protects the converts feeling of "second rate Jew" by commanding our distinct love for the convert. Moses married a Midianite. Joshua married Rachav.
We must follow the Torah's sound principles, not man's corrupt idiosyncrasies.
**Editors Comments**
Not only does Judaism accept the convert fully, but we are commanded as it says in Deuteronomy 10:19 "and you shall love the converts." Just as we are commanded to love God (Deuteronomy 11:1) "and you shall love God, your Lord." The Holy One, blessed be He, Himself, loves converts as stated in Deuteronomy 10:18: "and He loves converts." A convert is included in the commandment: "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Leviticus 19:18)
In the Book of Ruth, chapter 2:12: Boaz says to Ruth: "May Hashem reward your actions, and may your payment be full from Hashem, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge."
The Rambam says in Chapter 6 of Hilchot De'ot: "Loving a convert who has come to nestle under the wings of the Shechinah fulfills two positive commandments: one for he is also included among the "neighbors" (whom we are commanded to love-see above) and one because he is a convert and Torah states this." Deuteronomy 10:19) "One's love for the convert should be as unlimited as one's love of God..."
A number of the Rambam's responses are dedicated to strengthening the spirits of the converts. He wrote to a convert Ovadiah that although the Jews trace their lineage to Abraham, the converts' connection to Judaism is dependent on God, Himself and is therefore, more praiseworthy. In another letter to a convert the Rambam praises by saying: "leaving his father and homeland...pursuing God...and reaching such heights..."

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