Parshat Bo From West Coast NCSY

Posted on July 21, 2008

In this weeks parasha, Bo in chapter 12 verse 48, it talks about  when the nation brings the Passover offering and there is a convert among them, he shall bring it “like everyone.”

In looking at Rashi, however, we find a strange comment, that a convert should bring the Passover offering at the same time as everyone else. This is the meaning of “like everyone.”

My question on Rashi is why would one ever think that a convert would bring it any other time?

An answer that I am offering is that I believe the Passover offering is a commemoration of B’nei Yisroel’s ancestors’ acceptance of Torah and mitzvot, by killing one of Egypt’s gods (the lamb).

One might think that since a convert is just now accepting Torah and mitzvot that he or she should bring the offering at the time of conversion and not along with the rest of B’nei Yisroel. They didn’t have any ancestors at Mt. Sinai or in Egypt who accepted the mitzvot which the rest of the nation is commemorating.

My answer has to do with the concept that can be applied to our daily lives called “Am Echad” (One nation united). Once the individual converts, they are immediately spiritually connected into the framework of “Am Yisroel” and it is almost retroactively as if they had been a Jew for all time and that their soul and ancestors were also, though not in the immediate physical sense, at Mt. Sinai.

“Am Echad” Judaism is not a religion on which one’s quantity or length of membership counts; it is a religion in which quality counts and a “ger ” (convert) is not treated differently from any other Jew. There is no lineate break in period and conversely they are a full- fledged member and have just as much a right to commemorate the acceptance of Torah and mitzvot at Mt. Sinai as any individual born Jewish.

In our daily lives we should not exclude those Jews who are new to the customs or are converts – conversely, we should reach out to them in recognition of the fact that it is extremely hard to go against the grain of society and follow one’s heart.