Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Navigating The Storm: Why There Will Be No Converts In the Time of Moshiach

by Rav Ephraim Kenig shlit'a

Reprinted with permission from Tzaddik Magazine

When Hashem examines a soul before it is born and sees that it can make converts to Judaism and influence mankind to return to God [1], He sees to it that this soul is surrounded by controversy.  Looking at the world today, we see examples of people who possess this quality and are, in fact, successful in arousing people to do teshuvah, and even making converts.  Hashem himself ensures that there is a certain stormwind encircling such a person. [2]

This stormwind exists before the soul is born, and as well as after it enters the world.  It is a tumult that manifests itself in many different ways, coming from any direction.  We are witness to how all types of controversy are played out in the world. The controversy surrounding a greater person is expressed at a higher level.  For instance, certain people may say he/she is acting improperly according to the Kabbalah, or that he/she is out of line according to a particular subtle religious issue.  Someone of lesser stature may be maligned via more material issues, such as financial matters. Or, for example, in the case of a simple Jew who has the quality to bring people back to G-d, others on a similar simple level might say, "Who do they think they are? You know what? They're not so great! After all, we are simple people!" All kinds of lashon hora [evil talk] surround this soul.  Even further, although it is for the good, G-d sees to it that this type of slander is readily accepted as fact.

I'm using these examples because we've already experienced them, especially during the time of the Baal Shem Tov.  At that time, G-d directed the controversy in a way that the lashon hora was accepted.  In other words, it wasn't slander that just hung in the air without adhering to the person. It caught on and was accepted as fact. This is what is meant by controversy.

Why must this soul be surrounded by controversy? Rebbe Nachman answers the question by quoting the Talmud: ''Converts are not accepted in the time of Mashiach or in the days of King Solomon.'' [3]  For a significant period during Solomon's reign, the Jewish nation ''sat each under their grapevine, each under their fig tree'', meaning that it was a time of tremendous goodness and peace.  It is difficult for us to imagine a world without war, political strife, or raging conflict, but during this specific period of Solomon's reign, everything was quiet and tranquil.  A Jew would arise in the morning amidst a sea of tranquility, having enough time for all of his devotions - to immerse in the mikveh and then pray properly with a settled mind.  Afterwards, he would eat breakfast and go out to work.  Tremendous blessing rested on everything at the material and spiritual level, and was the embodiment of  ''each under their grapevine, each under their fig tree''.

It was also a time when King Solomon sat upon what is called G-d's Throne, Kisey HaShem.  It is also know as the heavenly Throne of Glory.  According to the Talmud, Solomon ruled over the inhabitants of the upper and lower worlds.  By associating the term Kisey HaShem with King Solomon, it indicated that he ruled not only over the entire earth, but over additional worlds as well.  For this reason, the angels were frightened of him. They knew that when G-d commissioned them to bring shefa [bounty] into the world, they were obligated to fulfill their function.  No opposing forces hindered the abundant blessing, because they were afraid of Solomon.  The shefa itself was one of spiritual and physical calm.

According to all the holy sources, the same conditions will exist during the days of Mashiach, when the unique beauty of the Jewish people will be revealed to the nations of the world.  This revelation is one of the reasons we look forward to the time of Mashiach.  Obviously, during a time of such magnificence, there will be those from the nations of the world who will desire to be a part of the same honor. However, they won't be accepted, since converts to Judaism are accepted only before Mashiach's arrival, when the Jewish people have a lowly standing in the world.  It is written that during the time of Mashiach, everything will be set out like a king's table, which will attract those desiring to convert.  However, their motives will not be based upon love for G-d and His Torah, or the belief that Am Yisrael is the chosen people, who obey a higher calling.  Rather, their motives will be driven solely by the greatness of Israel which will then be apparent to all.  The essence of choice for a true convert is when they convert when Israel is poor and downtrodden; this is the only time converts can be accepted.  Under these conditions, if someone nonetheless says "Be that as it may, I still want to be part of this chosen people'', they are accepted. [4]  Thus, it is written: ''Converts are not accepted in the days of Solomon or in the days of Mashiach'' when the Jews are at the apex of their glory.

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This is why, according to Rebbe Nachman, a soul which has a strong ability to positively arouse others to good and cause converts, by definition, enjoys no peace.  It must be surrounded by controversy.  This ensures sincere motives on the part of those who come close or convert through the influence of this soul.  The situation of unrest applies both to this influential soul as well as to those who are influenced.  If there was no turbulence, it would be considered in the category of ''not accepting converts in the times of Mashiach; when motives for conversion are not genuine.  It is now clear why a commotion must surround this soul.  It is simply another test for those who desire to come closer to G-d.  Someone will whisper in their ear: ''You are associated with this individual? Stay far away!''  They are tested at every step. They have no quiet, which serves to check if their love is authentic. If they prevail nonetheless, it will be clear that their motives are proper and genuine, and they will be allowed to draw near.

You may encounter someone who is gifted with the ability to speak in such a convincing manner that there is no room for argument, since you know they are right. In this case, it seems you have little choice but to draw near.  Nonetheless, if you know in advance that this same person will be bombarded by all sorts of things said about them, you can come to the proper conclusion and draw near nonetheless. When you overcome the challenge, it proves the purity of your motives. That is how it works. The world is like a gold refinery that purifies us to the extent we allow. This is our work here and the purpose of our lives.

to be continued.....  

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you Rabbi...