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Probing Ruth’s Motives

Probing Ruth’s Motives

Rabbi Allen Schwartz’s contention in his letter “Headline Not Backed Up” (Letter, June 24) correctly identifies a shortcoming in “Ruth’s Conversion Would Be Rejected Today” (Editor’s column, June 17). Since the fall of the Soviet Union, many non-Jews have gone to Eretz Yisrael and identified with the Jewish nation by becoming citizens, to maintain family relationships.

Some want to intensify the relationship by converting.

The context of Ruth’s offer to go to Eretz Yisrael, identify with the Jewish people and convert, was maintaining the family relationship. “Do not urge me to leave you, to turn back from following you. For where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people are my people, and your God is my God.”

It is inconceivable that Naomi would have told Ruth to return to her people and her gods if she had already converted — before or after Ruth’s husband, Machlon, died. Thus, her offer at this time to convert was not religiously motivated.

In addition to acceptance of obligations, a major consideration in evaluation of a prospective convert is motivation. Does the Israeli rabbinate accept sincere converts whose motivation is maintaining family relationships, rather than religious?

Flushing, Queens

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