Personal Redemptions

While busying around, I was thinking about Pesach, how we are told that we should consider as if we had personally been brought out of Egypt. My first thought was that it would be harder for converts to do that. After all, our biological ancestors were not among the Jews who left Mitzrayim. But then I realized that, in fact, I know firsthand what it is like.

Mitzrayim is a place of other gods. A place where our situation makes it terribly difficult to see the truth. Slavery is harsh, but predictable.

When I was involved in Christianity, it was a Mitzrayim of sorts. Truth was hidden. God was only part of a larger myth. There was the harshness of the taskmaster -- threats of Hell -- should I ever attempt to leave. The social army that enslaved me; a circle of friends that would disappear, like frost under a hot sun, should I abandon our common obesience to a false messiah.

Yet, like the Jews, who understood when it was time to leave, my soul likewise understood. As much as it is possible in this era, I heard the voice of God -- not audibly, but insistently-- telling me that I could not stay in that place.

Most converts will tell you, if asked why they became Jewish, that they never really had a choice. We were each told, in our particular way, that we MUST. The time had come. Our souls knew they were in exile, the time had come to head home.

And most will tell you that the journey is hard, and usually takes much longer than we imagine it "should", punctuated by frustrations that brought back memories of more predictable times. Even so we always understood where we must go. Out of our Mitzrayim. Home.

On Passover we ate a whole lamb. Roasted. Unbroken. The god of the Egyptians, made into a feast of freedom. If the lamb represents the foreign gods of exile, then it makes sense to me that it had to have been whole. You can't break off pieces of others' gods and religions and make them a part of yours. When we leave mitzrayim, we leave it all behind. Completely. We carry none of it with us when journey. Now we will be sustained by matzoh, the bread of faith, and water, the flow of Torah from generation to generation.

In a way, I think, being a convert is a gift. Most Jews can imagine coming out from a place that served other gods. A convert has lived it.










9.11. 2001