from the book
Conversions – a Blessing or a Curse ?
In his speech at the 115th Jubilee of the Shomrei Torah Verein in Basel on November 7, 2010. Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt examines the controversial issue of conversion and the universal mission of the Jewish people.
Rabbi Elazar said: “Jews were dispersed among the nations mainly in order to attract converts.”(Bab.Talmud.Pesachim 87b)
Rabbi Yitzchak said: “Terrible after terrible events should afflict those who accept converts, as Rabbi Chelbo said, ‘converts are as harmful to the Jewish people as leprosy.'”(Bab. Talmud, Yevamot 109a)
We are confronted with two opinions about conversion that appear to represent two totally irreconcilable, conflicting world views. One is inclusive and universal; the other one is exclusive and even seems to be xenophobic and ultra-nationalistic. In order to understand this apparent contradiction, we begin by analysing a statement by rabbi Elazar that reveals the secret behind the very unique and difficult history of the Jewish people, the reason for the two-thousand year exile that we barely survived. …