Revisiting the “ger”
I wrote an article some time ago called “I’m not a ger.” It was my way of processing the claims of some people that certain non-Jews in the present day had the status of “ger” in one way or another. Some were saying that a non-Jew who had accepted the Seven Commandments but hadn’t had any formal process with a Torah-based Israel could be classed as “ger toshav.” Others were saying that certain non-Jews who had accepted the Seven Commandments and had something of a closer relationship to Israel or Torah had the status of “ger tzedeq”. [If you want the definition of these terms please refer to the words of the rabbis on that previous article I wrote.]
Recently I’ve seen another discussion on it crop up. Instead of just resting on my previous conclusions, I chose to at least take a look again, see what my more educated colleagues and those I considered my teachers said. I would at least do a search to see what those who are meant to know, what they say. I even took some of my time to go through a video of one of the main rabbis promoting the idea of a non-Jewish “ger tzedeq” and the idea that just keeping the seven commandments is enough to be classed as a “ger toshav,” taking notes as I went through his teaching.
Everywhere I looked, I found the same answers as I had found before. Rabbi after rabbi, website after website, friend after friend said the same thing. I went to one of the people I go to in order to ask such questions and his determination was much the same: there’s more to being a “ger toshav” than simply accepting the seven commandments; and that a non-Jew can’t be a “ger tzedeq.” The repeated definition of a “ger tzedeq” was a full convert to Judaism, or, in my words, someone who had fully naturalised and become a Jew in the Torah sense.
And near the beginning of my search, I had Rabbi Berel Bell, who translated Rambam’s Sefer HaMitzvot, clearly defining a “ger tzedeq” as
A righteous convert, who has fully converted to become a Jew, unlike a ger toshav, who has not. (footnote 2 of Positive Commandment 207, “Loving a Convert”, found at http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/940270/jewish/Positive-Commandment-207.htm)
And at the end of that search, I found myself almost at square one, looking at someone else commenting on Rashi and stating overtly that a ger tzedeq is a fully fledged Jew who used to be a non-Jew and has converted.
And I wonder to myself why I did this. Why did I check myself when everywhere I turn, except for one place, gives me the same answer? [By “except for one place” I simply refer to the person/people who made the original claim.] As someone wisely told me recently, it’s not good to rely on oneself. Ask those who know better than you. If possible, check with rabbis. Challenge yourself. In that vein, I’m not disappointed that I arrive at the same conclusions. When I look again at the article I wrote before, those rabbis that I quoted were quite clear about the issue.
Although I had given the main promoter of this modern “ger” idea and a colleague of his my time before, just to hear them out, my recent choice of listening to a class of his provided no further clear demonstration that he was making a valid point. His inability or reluctance to clarify himself in english or furnish clear examples or evidences of his conclusions when I saw him discussing with a friend of mine only further dissuaded me from his cause.
And yet his ideas has had some traction amongst certain people. Those who think he has a point have had him as a guest on their radio station a significant amount of times and have publicized his point of view multiple times to the denigration of those that oppose his ideas. His articles have place on his own website and on the website of what seems to be a major noahide group and are promulgated on a variety of noahide facebook groups. It’s odd that ideas that are so flatly contradicted by so many other rabbis, by the words of ancient rabbis, can get so much airtime. Or maybe it’s not so odd when I think back on my own history with christianity.
My lack of self-confidence when dealing with such entities as rabbis and my propensity for getting into meaningless, go-nowhere arguments with people so convinced about their rightness teaches me to avoid confrontations with this person and the group that has taken up his seemingly blatant error. I hope I’m not drawn into another meaningless debate about this issue. What would be the point? But who can tell with these things? Although it may blow over with the wind and be over, it could be another movement that sweeps away another bunch of Gentile God-fearers and creates another religion that distracts us Gentiles from the seven commandments rather than draw us closer to them. And then what? Another generation lost in the passages of history? Another chance to spread the seven laws flushed down the toilet for an easy way to be a Jew/ger or as close as?
The future is not ours to see. Whatever will be will be.