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Mission Control

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Topic: Conversion, Sincere

Andrew Merrill wrote:

Dear Rabbi,

One of my work colleagues asked me yesterday why Jews do not missionize, and Christians do. To me it just seems obvious that we would not, but it is difficult to explain this intrinsic notion to him. Could you help me out?

Dear Andrew Merrill,

Jews do not missionize among non-Jews. There are two reasons for this. First of all, we believe that when a non-Jew keeps the seven Noachide laws, he merits a portion in the World-to-Come, and therefore there is no imperative for him to become Jewish. If, like many Christians and Moslems, we believed that those of other religions are condemned to damnation, then we would also desire to convert people. However, we believe that a person can be completely righteous and merit the World-to-Come without conversion, by adhering to the basic moral laws revealed to Noach. Therefore we feel no compulsion to convert others, unless they show a true desire to convert.

Secondly, since sincerity is one of the criteria for conversion, we can determine that the candidate is sincere by discouraging him from converting. If he persists and does so for the love of Judaism, we accept him with open arms.

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