Question & Answer With Levi Yitzchock - The Feelings Of A Ger
A Simple Jew asks:
Vayikra 25:23 states, "...for you are Geirim and residents with Me." To this, the Degel Machaneh Ephraim commented that it is the nature of a Ger to feel alone since he has no one in whom to confide. The Ger may only feel that he can open up and share his true feelings and experiences on the occasion when he meets another Ger. However, the Degel suggests that Hashem is all is also Ger in this world since He too is all alone.
As someone who has undergone an Orthodox Geirus, to what degree can you relate and identify with these words from the Degel Machaneh Ephraim?
Levi Yitzchock responds:
There is so much truth to this. We as Gerim do have a tendency to gravitate to other Gerim since we have very much in common with them. Going through Geirus can be an emotional roller coaster ride which personally I feel is a lot different than that which a Baal Teshuva experiences. Firstly, we are not born Jewish, and because of this our sincerity is tested in many ways. I do feel, however, that the struggles of a Baal Teshuva and a Ger are similar in that we are both going through a major life style change. Fortunately, most Orthodox communities I have encountered are very accepting to Geirim. They all are anxious to here our stories which often give them chizuk.
Let me elaborate a little on the rollercoaster ride. It is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a way of testing one's sincerity. There are several meetings with the Beis Din which are very nerve wracking - especially the first one where you are being accepted for the conversion process. I should mention here that there are many different processes that different Geirim go through depending on the community and the rabbaim that they are dealing with. Sometimes you may go three or four months and your sponsor may call you and tell you the Beis Din would like to speak to you tomorrow. This can give you an anxiety attack to say the least especially when you think you are getting close and you have all your ducks in a row and they just want to know how you are doing or if you have any questions. There was no time limit given, you basically have to keep on your sponsoring rabbi. Then when you least expect it they want to meet with you again the next day or next week and by this time you've more or less resigned your self to the fact that it going to be another "How we doing meeting" only this time there asking really heavy questions. When they finish and say, "Well, are you ready for the mikveh?" After you say yes, they ask, "Next week? Do you have a mohel or would you like us to get one for you?"
I spent four years in the Marines and the more than two years of training to be in the Army of Hashem which is very serious business in a different way. In G-d's army you are literally a lifer (i.e. until they cover you with earth and say Kaddish.) We Geirim weren't drafted into this outfit we came of our own free will. Why you ask, because it is emes. There are so many Yidden out there that don't know what they have and worse some that don't care.
I pray that we all may continue to grow in Torah and Mitzvot, that we may be a light unto the nations, have love for our fellow Jew, and all come together in peace in Yerushalayim ushering in a new era with coming of Mashiach, may it be speedily in or days.