Bnai Avraham

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Let’s imagine a Jewish boy who grows up in the White House, In Washington, soaked in the murky atmosphere of political games so characteristic for every and any politician through the ages. Jewish lad however has an inborn feeling of justice, but we don’t know about that yet. We do know that he took some Jewish education, but limited due of his environment.

Would we consider him as a candidate, to be a leader of our nation? Would we consider him to be the spiritual leader of even a small Jewish community? Would we respect him, trust him, and come to him with our daily problems or happy events? Would some of us consider him enough “haimish or frum” to even talk to him? Perhaps, maybe if he would do tshiva? So? He did. Does it qualify him to be a leader?

We anticipate, for many of us that the answer would be – no. But H-shems ways are not like our ways. His thoughts are not like our thoughts. He however chose a person like this to be the head of all of us, Jewish people, and his name was- Moishe Rabaini. The Man who got us out of Eretz Mitzraim.  The Man that talked with The Creator himself on behalf of us. The Man that gave us our most valuable, most holy and only one treasure – The Torah. Moishe Rabaini, a Baal Tshiva who takes advice from a ger- convert Yisro and even marries his daughter, is the Man that without him we wouldn’t exist as the   nation- a klal.

We know about another one: Son of gerim, whose parents did not even send him to take a basic Jewish education. He grew up as a Shepard, anyway, Moishe Rabaini is arguing with his Creator to send some one else instead to do his mission- Moishe Rabaini wants that Rabbi Akiva ben Yosef should take Holy Torah from Heaven. We do not see it important to tell the whole story about Rabbi Akiva, but we do see that the history of our nation is filled up with baaley tshiva, gerim, bnei gerim. They were prophets, tanaim, later sages etc.

We meet them, baaley tshiva and gerim in our days as well. Perhaps they are not the level as in the past generations, but we are also not on the level of our fathers, we have to admit.

When we look at them, we wonder, and some times disbelieve, that some body willingly is taking on the yoke of the Torah.

We pray for them three times a day “Al hatzadikim veal hachasidim veal ziknay sheayris amchu bays yisrual veal playtas bays sofrayhem veal geyrey hatsedek ve ulaynee”

Off course we understand why we are preying for our righteous and devoted, for our sages and scholars. It is obvious to us, that without them we would not survive as a klal, neither as a nation. But gerim-converts? Why are they included in these most valuable parts of our nation? Why do we need them and why do we have this special prayer for them?

We have to admit one more time, that many of us have problems with concentrating or even understanding our prayers. But this is a case that even if we would put our minds in to it, we wouldn’t have an easy neither a sophisticated answer. We suspect something special about them. We see that there must be a reason why the parsha of Kabulas (receiving) ha Torah has a name of a ger-“Yisro”. We also read a story of another convert Rus, on an annual day of Kabulas ha Torah day of Shevios but do we understand or think even, why it is so?

Michtav M’ Elyahu teaches us that the essence of our existence as a human being is our bechira – freedom of choice. As family of bnei Adam –children of Adam we have at least seven general possibilities of choosing between what is good and that which is evil. This quality make us different not only from creatures of the three dimensional world, for this, according to Chazal, trait of articulated speech is just enough. Freedom of choice also makes us different, from creatures which exist high above of this what we can experience with our traits or even imagination – the angels.

Part of humanity is privileged with 613 general categories of good and evil. The Jewish nation received a gift which allowed us to come closer to our Creator by fulfilling his commandments. Commandments which not only shape our feelings to our co creations and  The Creator himself, but gives a possibility to understand our Father in Heaven, His so to say, character, His love to us, as much as we can comprehend it, with His masterpiece of  worldly creatures – our brain.

But, there is a catch. “Mesilas Yeshurim” of Rabaini Moishe Chaim Luzzato (Ramchal) and others teaches us to work, in order to put intention and thought to our performance of the commandments. Michtav M’ Eliahu goes even further. For the commandments which we learned in our environment, at home by our parents or in class by our Rebbes, for this he gives credit for its fulfillment to them- parents and teachers! He says that only a small part of the merit of our performance of the commandment belongs to us! Unless we work on ourselves to do the commandments consciously, we do have the merit, but we do not take everything that is given to us!

Now we could understand a little bit that in the case of a baal tshiva, or tinek sh-nishba, or convert born in to a gentile family. The situation looks very different. They are accepting and fulfilling all 613 commandments consciously (of course we are using 613 as a symbol of all, which is possible to fulfill in our days, for example: the lack of the Holly Temple unable us to do sacrifices).

It is this, the consciousness, what put them together, the devoted, righteous, and leaders of our nation (first categories of a blessing from Shmone Esre prayer) and geyrey hatsedek. The reason for devotion and righteousness of the Tsadikim and Chasidim, is the consequence of their consciousness, try to understand please this difficult sentence.

There are other reasons why categories of people mentioned in the blessing “Al ha Tsadikim” are so valuable to us. There are more explanations, especially in writings of Ramchal –“Derech HaShem" and “Daas Tevunos” and through all of “Michtav M’ Elyahu” or its English version- “Strive for Truth” by Rav Eliahu Dessler. However it is not the goal of this open letter to go deeper into this topic, all though we highly recommend these lectures.

We have a privilege, to observe in our time a phenomenon which we did not experience in this scale for many, many, centuries. Thousands of people from lost generations are coming back to our only heritage which is, The Torah. Victims of communism, zionism and konsumpcionism appreciate the value of living in harmony with their Father in heaven Who gave them their lives. An unknown number of people, are coming to the covenant of our father Avruham with understanding, as it was expressed by Rabbi Menachem Mendel from Kotzk, that Torah is the safest way to come close to the Creator of everything and all.

There are tens or even hundreds of kiruv organizations giving them an opportunity to come back and learn how to become Jewish. Some of these organizations and yeshivos are doing a tremendous job of bringing people to be rightful members of the Jewish community. Unfortunately not all of them have the ability to teach them how to be, and stay, Jewish.

Most of these people are leaving everything from their past lives far behind. Many of them are splitting from their hostile families and friends. Loosing jobs, moving to different cites in order to live with a Jewish community. They sacrifice all that, what other people acquire so hard their entire lives.

We all feel happy seeing these individuals whose example gives us strength and ability to improve our faith. However there are thousands of people who moved to our neighborhoods. Sometimes they may come to our synagogue yet we don’t know, or even imagine their suffering. Some of them easily integrate with communities. Some of them got friends who are able to help them with their earthly matters, or spiritual needs. All though there are people who feel; they have no place to turn for help. With all their righteousness they are still human beings, which desire family or at least any other form of social life like every body else. Their life is limited to work, daily shiur, and synagogue. Sounds almost great. What else does the man need in his life? Is it really like that?  Some of them are disappointed with their experience in a Jewish community, which constantly and still are improving itself (This is the reason why we have a Torah). They can not find a job, meeting their qualifications and education. They can not afford tuition or tutoring for their children. There are hundreds of other problems which they, not only could have, but in fact they have in their lives.

Without a doubt, there are places where they may turn for help. Thanks G-d, the Jewish community have a long tradition of institutions and organizations which help people in their need.

“Call for help” is continuously repeated in many places through the entire Chumash.

“You should help an orphan, widow, convert and Levi (or any other person devoted to G-dly service)” This call comes from the mouth of Moishe our Teacher in his last speech. In Chumash Dvurim it says in many forms and in different sequences so as not to make us think that any of these categories of needy are more important than others. Indeed, thank to G-d, we have hundreds or maybe thousands of organizations to help them. How many of them are designated to help gerim? Not only born in gentile families but this which according to Chazal are part of our nation from Jewish, non observant parents? Do you know any of these organizations? Can you name them perhaps? We do not ask you about Kiruv organization which make them Jewish but this which will give them backup and support 5, 10, 15, years later. You think that after such a long period of time they should be integrated with their local community? But who is going replace their Zaidis and Babis on Yom Tiv and Chol ha Moed? Or help them in possible spiritual crisis? Or explain to them and their children that they are not just shvache yiden mitt shlechte yichus as many see them? Or give them the possibility to ask for material help when they need it?

Do we have bigger problems as the klal or perhaps more important commandments to fulfill? Maybe? But not a single Mitzvah is repeated in the Holy Torah more times than Ahavas Geirim-love and help for converts. Why do you think is this so?

Yes, you could do a lot in this matter its true. But as we do not count on righteous individuals when it comes to help orphans or widows there must be an organization, any institution, designated specifically for this category of our fellows. Both categories of converts, namely born in Jewish or gentile families.

With the help of the Almighty we try to fill up this evident gap in an otherwise, well organized system. Many of us are gerim and baaley Tshiva ourselves. We do understand the needs and unfortunately the sorrow of daily life of our fellow Jewish from adulthood, brothers and sisters.

In fact, before the time when we established this organization, privately we were organizing many kinds of activities for our fellows and their children. That was the time when we realized that the need is much, much greater than our ability.

Now we need your help.

It would be truism to say that we need financial help that is how our Creator arranges the world. But this is not all that we need from you. For some people we will need to find jobs, for others tutors, for some families, to be invited for Shabes or Yom Tiv, but not only for the meal, that we can buy in a food store. They will need company, warm friends, which without pathetic behavior will help to find the clues of daily tasks of Jewish life.

These are just some of the things that with HaShem help “Bnai Avraham” is planning to do. If any of you, Individual or community wants to know more abut how to deal with geirim, and baaley tshiva, or would like to hear of our experiences from the past, we are ready to meet you and talk to you. We are ready to explain our motivations and goals as well as share stories of our lives, which some people consider as spiritually elevating.

We do not want to do anything alone without the collaboration and advice of our Admoirim, Rabbis and true Leaders of our nation. In fact, those who know, by now, about our activities already, support us mentally and morally for which we deeply thank them.

We are also open to any ideas which you may have, in order to help our goals.