Choosing Judaism as the only right way of life, a person who is not born a Jew, but wants to become one, must be prepared for all kinds of obstacles and barriers. Indeed, the adoption of the system of values and postulates of this religion is not a simple formality. It is preceded by real tests of beliefs and righteous aspirations. If a Jewish candidate passes them with dignity, a giyur awaits him. What is it and why is it needed? Giyur is a conversion to Judaism, including rituals that mark the emergence of another representative of the chosen people.
Giyur: general information
Before Beit Din, the so-called rabbinical court, a Jewish candidate agrees, regardless of gender, to abide by the 613 commandments of the Torah. A man who has taken upon himself this yoke must go through the following Jewish rites: Brit milu (circumcision) and twill (ritual bathing). In women, conversion to Judaism is different. They only have to twill. Each rite has its own special meaning and performs certain functions when making a giyur.
Brit Mila Features
Brit Mila symbolizes the union between the Creator and Israel. From time immemorial, this rite has been a mandatory procedure for a person practicing Judaism, and Jews still consider it immutable if it comes to giyur. Indeed, circumcision preserves the holiness of man, and the man to whom it is contraindicated will never become a Judaist.
Non-Jews are encouraged to undergo a Brit Mila under local anesthesia so that they can concentrate on accepting the commandments, but if there are good reasons, anesthesia is allowed.
In the event that the candidate has been circumcised earlier, he must undergo the atafat dam-brit procedure instead of the brit-mila in order to make the giyur. What is it and how is it implemented? Atafat dam-brit is a symbolic release of a few drops of blood through a small puncture in the place where circumcision is usually done.
She, like Brit Mila, is held in the presence of Beit Dean judges. The circumciser moel pronounces a blessing upon its completion and drinks a glass of wine. After the rite, the man must recover physically in order to twill. It usually takes two or three days.
How does a twill go?
Twila means entering a mikvah, a reservoir of rain or spring water. It is necessary to carefully prepare for this rite: wash, brush your teeth and comb your hair.
A man enters the mikvah naked and plunges under water with his head. After the first dipping, the woman leaves the pool and puts on a spacious robe. It should not prevent the body from coming into contact with water when it re-enters the mikva. Such vestments will make it possible to conduct the ceremony correctly and feel comfortable in the presence of judges. A man, unlike a woman, does not dress and remains in the water. The judges hold a short conversation with the candidate, asking them to accept the commandments again and say a blessing for the second dipping.
The ablution in this case will be a sign of the spiritual degeneration of the goy (gentile), his purification and becoming a hera, that is, a convert. At the end of the twill, he is called the Hebrew name. His man chooses in advance. Thus ends the conversion of a non-Jew to Judaism. Upon its completion, the newly made hero receives a certificate of passage of the giyur.
Causes for Giyur
It is decided by people who sincerely dream of living according to the laws of this religion, fulfilling all the commandments of the Creator and observing the traditions of the chosen people. Among them are many Jews by nationality, but not according to the laws of Judaism. This means that they only have paternal Jewish relatives. Such people want to return to their roots.
The question of nationality regarding the conversion to Judaism is not a matter of principle. The presence of Jews in the family tree, of course, will have a positive effect, but the decisive factor for the rabbis will still be the purity of intentions.
Conversion to Judaism for any mercenary reason, for example, for the sake of marriage in Israel or because of a momentary desire to make fundamental changes in life, is considered unacceptable. To people obsessed with such ideas, the rabbis are forced to refuse, otherwise a fictitious giyur will happen. What is it and what consequences will it have? Conversion to Judaism is considered fictitious if the applicant for the Jews was not going to keep the commandments initially or did not begin to fulfill them after the giyur, and the intentions to lead a righteous life were a farce.
The rabbis are trying to avoid such precedents. However, they do happen. Giyur a liar can be invalidated over the years, which will turn out to be great life difficulties for his family, so you need to think in advance whether to go for deception.
What do you need to remember?
People who sincerely want to profess Judaism need to be clearly aware that their way of life, when they adopt the giyur, will undergo significant changes. After completing the twills, they will have to look and behave like true Jews. In Russia, as in other countries with a different religion and culture, converts may well face confusion on the part of Christian relatives or even strangers.
Men will grow a beard and paisas at the temples. In public places they will wear hats (bales or hats). You will have to forget about catchy colors in clothes and some wardrobe items, such as shorts or T-shirts. They will need to be replaced with suits or frock coats. Do not forget about the traditional Talit Katan for Jews.
Women will refuse high-heeled shoes, clothes with a deep neckline, bright make-up and will prefer a modest and chaste image. Married ladies will cover their heads with a scarf or put on a wig.
On Saturday, converts should abstain from work, and devote their free time on other days to religious self-education. Food habits have to change. Pork and rabbit meat, for example, will need to be abandoned. And these are just isolated examples of changes in lifestyle.
Hera and Giyurs
If they do not scare a person, then he can turn to a rabbinical court. However, one should understand what kind of giyur he wants to accept: reformist, conservative or orthodox. It is worth noting that only the latter is recognized in Israel as true.
The reformist and conservative currents in Judaism deny the fact that the commandments were created by the Creator. The laws of the Torah for their representatives are nothing more than a form of behavior that can be changed in accordance with the requirements of our time, while for orthodox people the recognition of the divine origin of the commandments and their fulfillment are indispensable conditions for a giyur.
Such courts are not authoritative. Their verdicts are subjected to numerous attacks. Hera who have passed reformist or conservative giyurs will not receive recognition from the Israeli people. Most likely, they will have to complete the procedure of applying to Judaism again, but in a different court.
Where is orthodox giyur held?
In Moscow, the Central Rabbinate, headed by Berl Lazar, deals with the issues of giyur. Under the leadership of the chief rabbi of Russia, Beit Din meetings are held. They are the fate of the candidates for Jews. In Russia, only there from goy can one transform into a full-fledged hera and be accepted by the people of Israel as their own.
To go to the Central Rabbinate for a reception on the issue of giyur and immediately pass the ceremony will not work. It is preceded by long training. Courses are free, but are closed. A person has a chance to get on them only with the permission of the rabbi who is interviewing potential applicants. However, making an appointment is not so simple. First you need to get written recommendations from the rabbi of the synagogue at the place of residence. This condition is mandatory.
The question arises, how to become a Jew to a person in whose village there is no synagogue? In such a case, the Central Rabbinate recommends moving to another city. And this is only the first test on the path to becoming a hero.
First visit to the synagogue
It goes without saying that a person who has decided to go to the rabbi already has a small supply of knowledge. He read a lot of information on the topic of interest to him, perhaps even began to study the Torah and learn Hebrew. This is what many potential Jewish candidates do. In Russia there is no shortage of books and textbooks, so everyone can engage in self-education.
Having a minimum knowledge of Judaism and a spiritual need to continue training in religious tradition, a person goes to the city synagogue to talk with the rabbi. In a conversation with him, the future Jewish candidate honestly shares his feelings. The rabbi, in turn, may allow him to attend the synagogue, pray, attend special classes in the Torah, introduce members of the Jewish community. And this is very important, because, conducting active work, a person gains experience and knowledge, establishes contacts. If the rabbi is convinced of his sincerity and rationality, he will give the necessary recommendations.
Conversation with the Rabbi
Having received them, a potential candidate for a giyur can make an appointment with the Central Rabbinate. He must come there at the appointed time and fill out a short form. After that, the rabbi will talk with the future candidate.
The subject of conversation will be, first of all, the reason that prompted a person to think about a giyur. The rabbi will ask a lot of questions regarding the life of the candidate, his relatives, contacts with Jewish communities, read literature on Judaism and plans for the future.
Answering them is true. The rabbi, versed in the matters of giyur, is perceptive, and in any case will get to the truth. As a rule, he conducts more than one conversation with a prospective candidate to find out why he decided to adopt Jewry.
Of particular interest are family relationships. If the candidate is married or just about to enter into it, the rabbi will ask him to come along with his couple. After all, a giyur will become possible only if all members of the family are obligated to observe Jewish traditions.
When the rabbi ascertains the man’s pious intentions, he will appoint him to study. If the applicant has a family, then all its adult members participate in the training. Children are required to attend Jewish schools.
In the classroom, the goy will have the opportunity to thoroughly study Judaism. The basic concepts of this religion, such as kashrut and the Sabbath, as well as prayers and commandments, will be explained to the candidate during the training. Moreover, during it, the candidate for the giyur learns not only the theoretical side of the issue.
He should regularly visit one of the Moscow synagogues, establish friendly relations with the Jewish community. One of the Jewish families will take over the patronage.
Gentile Giur lifestyle
From time to time, the applicant is summoned to a rabbinical court to check how training is being conducted and to make sure that his intentions are still serious.
At each meeting, the candidate is instructed which particular commandments to keep. After all, maintaining a fully Jewish way of life before converting to Judaism is considered a sin. For example, one cannot fully observe the Sabbath before taking the giyur. What is it, teachers will explain in the courses, and how to observe it, the rabbinical court will recommend. Self-will in such matters is unacceptable, especially since the rabbis closely monitor each ward and regularly consult with community members and teachers about his affairs.
Candidate training takes an average of two to three years. When his knowledge is strengthened, and he himself will be ready to lead the life of a righteous Jew, then he will be called to a Beit Din meeting.
There the candidate is with an identity card, as well as all kinds of letters of recommendation: from the rabbi of the synagogue, members of the community and the accompanying family.
It is not recommended to come to the rabbinical court alone. Plus will be the appearance of religious friends and neighbors. The court must be attended by the course teacher, coordinator and guardianship family. If the candidate has a spouse, potential husband or wife, their appearance is required, as they together must demonstrate their knowledge of religion and their willingness to keep the commandments.
Judges will interrogate goy's children. However, if they are very small, then their parents should share plans for their upbringing.
What can the judges ask?
The Beit Dean, led by Berl Lazar, will reach a verdict based on the results of the candidate’s case study, letters of recommendation, and a direct conversation with him.
Questions that will be asked by judges may relate to Jewish history, traditions, prayers, main events and figures of the Torah. When did the Temple of Solomon fall ? How to cook kosher fish? Where did the prophet Moshe grow up? How do Jews celebrate Purim? Sometimes judges are asked to recite passages from a prayer. The basics of Judaism, the goy, claiming the status of a Hera, must know perfectly.
The conversation will be long and thorough. During it, judges can try to convince a candidate to take a giyur, telling about all the misfortunes of the Jewish people. This is a kind of test challenger. When the judges receive enough information from the conversation, they will ask the candidate to leave the room for a while. After a brief meeting, a verdict will be announced before him.
The court's decision
Judges may make a negative or positive decision regarding a giyur. In the first case, they will point out possible gaps in knowledge and advise to postpone such a responsible decision. A new meeting will be held in a few months.
In the case of a positive decision of the judges, the candidate must choose a Jewish name for himself. As a rule, he does this in advance. However, if the candidate has no options, the judges will offer him several to choose from, after which they will give the person a direction for Brit Mil and Twill.
The pregnant female applicant must inform the judges of her situation, since the giyur will also apply to the child. Moreover, if he is conceived after a twill, then he will become equal in status to a person born of a Jew, and if not, then to a gera.
Hera in Judaism
An interesting question is, what is the position of converts in Jewish society? Are they his full representatives? What do Hera look like in the eyes of the Jews? The Tanakh (Holy Scripture) says that Jews should be treated with respect as converts, not as oppressors, not insulting, and not deceiving. In addition, many of the goyim of antiquity, reincarnated as heroes, have become significant personalities that people still remember.
So, in the Tanach, the Moabite Ruth, who converted to Judaism and became the great-grandmother of the great king David, is mentioned. His image of the ruler is considered ideal. According to one of Jewish traditions, it is from his family that the Messiah, sent by the Most High, will come out to save the world and bring deliverance from suffering to the people of Israel.
They took the giyur and father-in-law of the founder of Judaism, Moshe Itro, and Rahab, the mother of the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel. As Tanah shows, being a hero is no worse than a Jew. However, there is one difference. Converts cannot be bound by marriage with koens (priests).
So we figured out how to become a Jew. It remains only to overcome all the obstacles on the way to the goal. But do not let them embarrass the person who intended to join the people of Israel. For the true believer, the gates to a righteous life are always open, and he can be sure that he will pass all the trials on the way to them with honor.