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The Special Status of a Convert


Rabbi Ari Shvat

Tishrei 16, 5781
Hi, I am the son of a convert (my fathers Jewish father married a non-Jewish British woman.) I went through the yeshiva system, but have always struggled with this part of my identity especially in light of the many ideas I have read from the Kuzari, Maharal, and even Rav Kook, not to speak of the Kabbalistic and Chassidic works which seem to place converts as essentially lesser than born Jews. Ive developed the feeling that Judaism views someone like me somewhat defective. Perhaps you can help me clarify how to understand these ideas? Thank you,
Your status is very clear, for when the convert's father is Jewish, the leading authorities, e.g. the Rama, Vilna Gaon and Aruch HaShulchan (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 7, 1), write that you have "yichus" and can even be a Dayan (Judge or highest level Rabbi) on a Beit Din. Judaism sees anyone who has converted as if their soul always was Jewish, and even stood at Mt. Sinai. The Rambam writes that it's no problem for converts to receive prophecy [e.g. Avimelech, Lavan and Bil'am] but even according to the Kuzari whom you referred to, in your case, where your father is Jewish from birth, it may be the same as regarding being a Dayan, and you can be a prophet, as well as any other Jew! As of now, we don't have prophecy anyway, but you are more than welcome to learn a lot and achieve the highest level possible, that of Dayan and hopefully the day will come that you will be among the prophets, as well!
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