Loving the Convert

Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim

Based on Maimonides’ Hilchos Dayos 6:3, the reason one must love a fellow Jew—and not others—as himself, is because that love expresses his values: he values the Torah life and those who follow it. But to love an idolater or someone who leads a hedonistic lifestyle would be misplaced love: love of someone who does not follow the good represents a corrupt value system. 

Love of the convert is also one of the 613 commands, “And you shall love the stranger" (Deut. 10.19) (Hilchos Dayos 6:4).  “Gare” has 2 meanings: convert and stranger. The term gare used here refers only to converts.

Interesting is that Maimonides writes further in this law:

“God commanded the love for the convert as He commanded the love for Himself: ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God’ (Deut. 6.5.). The Holy One, blessed be He loves the convert Himself, even as it is said: ‘And He loves the stranger’ (Ibid. 10.18).”

In Hilchos Dayos 6:4, as Rambam already told us of the law to love the convert, what is he adding by equating the love of converts with love of God? What does Rambam further add by saying, “God Himself loves the stranger?” Does this means that our obligation to love the convert is on par with our obligation to love of God, unlike our love for a fellow Jew? If so, how? And does God’s love of the convert add an amplification of our love of a convert, that man’s love of converts should be based on God’s love of converts, unlike our love of a Jew? If so, God teaches that the convert deserves greater love than a born Jew. And this can be because the convert chose Judaism, while born Jews have not. Thus, the convert has a quality not found in the Jew and deserving of God’s additional love.