Kenneth Cohen

Loving the Convert

One of the customs of Shavuot, is to read the Book of Ruth. The story takes place during the time of harvest, and Shavuot’s other name is חג הקציר, the Holiday of Harvesting.
It also tells us the story of our most famous convert, Ruth. She gave up being a princess in the Land of Moav, to becoming a poor convert collecting the remains of the daily reaping. As a result of her devotion to Judaism, she was rewarded that King David descended from her. She is considered the mother of the Mashiach.

There is a Midrash that says that Ruth lived 400 years, and King Solomon had a throne made for her, alongside of his throne. She became the example for every convert who would choose to embrace Judaism.
Several times in the Torah, we are commanded to love the convert. The question asked is why there is such a Mitzva, when we are forbidden to warn someone that he is a convert.

The answer that explains this best is that every convert has his own unique story as to how they came to Judaism. Unlike born Jews that are easily traceable by finding their country of origin, it is unlikely that any two converts share the same story.

This is why we must love and welcome them to our faith. They may not have given up a role in a kingdom, but many have made huge sacrifices in becoming part of Am Yisrael.
On Shavuot, we recognize that we all were converts, when we were ”strangers in a strange land.” We all chose to accept the Torah on this great day. We must also remember that we must love the convert, and make his transition to Judaism as smooth as possible.

About the Author
Rabbi Cohen has been a Torah instructor at Machon Meir, Jerusalem, for over twenty years while also teaching a Talmud class in the Shtieblach of Old Katamon. Before coming to Israel, he was the founding rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Los Angeles. He recently published a series of Hebrew language-learning apps, which are available at