In this week’s parasha, it talks about the halachot of a convert. It says:
“וְגֵר לֹא תוֹנֶה וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ כִּי גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם”
“You shall not wrong a convert to Judaism or oppress him, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt”
The Chasam Sofer states that a person might think that a convert hasn’t completely took upon himself a wholehearted relations hip with Hashem. This might cause that person to put down a convert. However, we have to realize that a person that takes upon himself to change can change within a short period of time.
In Bava Metzia 84a, it talks about Rish Lokish who was the head of a gang of robbers and decided to turn his life around to the Torah way. He took upon himself this change immediately. This story is why the Torah reminds us here that we were strangers in Egypt. During they’re time in Egypt there were many Israelites who were at very low spiritual levels. But once they were freed from Egypt, they entered a covenant with Hashem and their lives were completely changed.
We learn from this that when someone I sincere in accepting Torah values, we have to be careful not to put him down. I can apply this now to my life in Seminary. Before I came to seminary, I would see the change of others that went to Israel for the year as a radical change. Unfortunately many of these teens would lose most of their Yiddushkite quite quickly and I would look at the radical change in a negative and fake way.
But now that I am one of those teens in Seminary, in Israel, I have come to realize this “radical change” isn’t so radical, instead it is a trust in Hashem and the Torah. When a Jew is determined to return to Judaism, the change is quick but sincere, and we should not mock it.
Girl Studying in Baer Miriam