Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Worthiness of Converts

“God watches over converts” (Psalms 146:9). [In Hebrew,] the initial letters of this phrase spell the word yeshag - “He will roar.” This alludes to the Talmudic teaching: “Rabbi Yitzchak bar Shmuel said in the name of Rav: The night has three watches, and over each watch, the Holy One, blessed be He, roars like a lion and cries, ‘Woe unto the children on account of whose sins I destroyed My House and burned My Temple and exiled them among the nations.’ “

Why did God destroy the Holy Temple if this would cause him to “roar” in grief (so to speak)? To increase the number of converts. As our sages state, “Israel went into exile among the nations so that the numbers of converts would increase” (Pesachim 87b). [Thus, the word yeshag, “He will roar,” is concealed in the initial letters of the verse that describes desire for converts.] (Rabbi Chaim Vital citing Rabbi Yitzchak Luria, Sha’ar HaPesukim, Tehillim 146).