This question pertains to the issue of conversion, and if it makes sense in the Jewish context of some people being Chosen specifically by God.

Before beginning, this poster is aware of the long, and serious process of conversion, the commitment it requires, and the eternal nature of it. I am also aware that non-Jews can receive a share of the world to come, and that they can have a perfectly fine (albeit, less developed) relationship with G-d by following the Noachide laws and being a good, moral human being. This is a general or hypothetical question, but I look forward to your answers!

I have long been fascinated by Judaism, and I even like to think that I know more about Judaism than some Jews. I have always felt a strong connection to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and I believe I have felt his presence in my life as a non-Jew. However, I have long wanted to convert because I believe it would make my relationship with G-d closer, I love Jewish culture, and because I want to be a part of the Jewish community.

However, I am having trouble with some of the fundamental aspects of whether or not conversion makes sense in a religion where followers are, by and large (with exceptions for Abraham and so on), "Chosen" by G-d.

Therefore, my dilemma is essentially this:

Though I feel deeply like I have a Jewish soul, and I love G-d, and I wish to be a full member of the Jewish tradition...I am stuck thinking that I should not convert because, if G-d had wanted me to have a Jewish soul, wouldn't He have had me born into a Jewish family?

On some level, I have to ask myself if converting to Judaism would not almost be a rejection of G-d's plan for my life. Would I not be second guessing Him, if I was born into a non-Jewish family? Does not G-d direct who were are born into, and does He instead wish me to live as a righteous Gentile? Who is the pot to question the potter?

I would appreciate any insights you can share on this, and any real-life examples or sources to help me understand if conversion is the right thing to do.

  • Thanks everyone for your answers, however would I be correct in assuming, based on the answers given above, that this is a question with no answer? I appreciate all of your attempts to assuage my fears but based on the answers above it seems like we must chalk it up to "we cannot understand the ways of God", or something similar. Which is a fair response in itself -- but I wonder if there is anyone who is experienced or learned enough to can give me a concrete answer here, I would be very grateful. Thank you all! Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:53
  • you might be interested in this chabad.org/kabbalah/article_cdo/aid/380532/jewish/…
    – ray
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 18:06
  • I have edited my answer with a definitive source that has Gd hand picking converts (figuratively)! judaism.stackexchange.com/a/36192/4682 wanted to make sure you saw the edit
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:37
  • 1
    Avraham Avinu the first jew wasn't born into a jewish family.
    – Shlomy
    Commented Mar 28, 2022 at 0:40
  • @JeremyGlenne I don't see why your follow-up question fits. "God's will", "no answer", none of that. We are all given opportunities to improve the lot that we were born with; that's a good thing, that's really why we're alive. None of us is supposed to stay where we started.
    – MichoelR
    Commented Dec 31, 2023 at 13:53

13 Answers 13


Tosefos addresses a similar line of thought in Bava Kamma 85a:

שנתנה רשות לרפאות - א"ת והא מרפא לחודיה שמעינן ליה וי"ל דה"א ה"מ מכה בידי אדם אבל חולי הבא בידי שמים כשמרפא נראה כסותר גזירת המלך קמ"ל דשרי

(Rough translation) - One may have thought that there is no right to seek healing from a sickness that comes from Heaven, as it seems like contravening the decree of the King [that this person should be sick]. This comes and teaches us otherwise. (See also Rashi there)

(Before someone misconstrues this as equating being a non-Jew to being sick, it isn't.)

Hashem puts us in situations in order that we respond to them (in the case of sickness, it may be in order that we pray or some other reason). The correct response may vary depending on the situation, but simply the fact that Hashem puts a person into a given situation is no indication that He wants the person to remain there.

  • 1
    The duties of the heart by bschya ibn pakuda discusses the various different levels of Holiness. Commented Jan 5, 2021 at 2:58

The fact that conversion exists as part of halachah means that it is within the framework of options that G-d is giving you.

If you felt that really you were supposed to be a woman, then the correct response is to say "If G-d had wanted me to be a woman he would have made me one," because sex change operations etc. are not halachik options.

We can't know G-d's plans/why He arranges things the way that He does. Therefore, we will never really know why a convert was not simply born Jewish.

However, it is obvious that a convert does not have the identical life experience/background/motivations as does a born Jew. Clearly, for whatever reason a convert had to go through the process of conversion rather than being born Jewish, for their benefit.

  • Perhaps having to go through the process of choosing to be Jewish and converting will help them get in touch with their inner selves/Judaism more than if they never had to make that choice.
  • Maybe this "choosing" process is a rectification for some past life where the person chose to be irreligious.
  • Maybe the fact that the person is a convert is G-d's way of ensuring that they marry the person who's best for them (because a kohen can't marry a convert, and some people will - wrongly - reject a convert as being "inferior," or merely feel (and this can be justified) that they don't have enough in common with such a person.)
  • Perhaps the Jewish people will benefit from the knowledge/perspective that the convert brings with him by virtue of the fact that he did not use to be Jewish.

Who knows?

I don't. G-d does.

-Rebbetzin HaQoton

P.S. Good luck on your journey, wherever it takes you. You sound like a a very sincere, searching person, who thinks. Most people don't take the time to think...

  • As a not-very-strict Jew, can you elaborate on how you know which of G-d's plans are there for us to change as a challenge and which are there to accept as what He wants? Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 14:23
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    @thumbtackthief, Welcome to Mi Yodyea! The point of this answer is that processes that are explicitly provided for in Halacha, which we believe describes how God wants us to behave, must therefore have their place in God's plan for at least some individuals, while processes that are forbidden by Halacha must not. I agree with your implicit suggestion that this post could be improved if the author would edit in sources for the assertions about what is provided for and what is forbidden.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 15:36
  • ... If you're interested in learning more about the many, many details of Halacha, I recommend starting with the description of the concept on JewFAQ and branching out from there, as well as, of course, asking questions here.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 15:38
  • 1
    Do you have a source prohibiting sex change operations?
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Apr 8, 2015 at 0:34
  • @mevaqesh check Lev. 22:24 and Deut. 22:5.
    – NickNo
    Commented Dec 22, 2015 at 8:26

Converts are a way that Gd rewards us for doing His Will. He selects a righteous individual from the nations and attaches them to Israel, like a King who rewards his well-behaved son by planting a beautiful plant in his garden, (Yerush. Berahot 2:8).

We'd be sorely lacking without these beautiful plants:

  • Obadia, was an Edomite convert, praised even more than Abraham, (Sanh. 39b). Gd chose him above all other prophets to channel vital messages for us about messianic times.

  • Ruth and Naamah, Moabite and ammonite convertesses, respectively, were matriarchs of our messianic line of kings, (4:18-22, Yevamot 63a, Rashi ibid).

  • Rahab, a convertess of the Seven Nations of Canaan, married Joshua, and among her descendents were a number of Prophets and Priests, including Jeremiah! (Megillah 14b).

  • 8
    My mother is a convert :)
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 22:31
  • Do I remember correctly that Moshiach might be a convert as well? Definitely a Baal Teshuvah, I remember that, but a convert also or do I misremember? Commented Mar 29, 2022 at 12:09
  • BT maybe, definitely not a convert
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Apr 3, 2022 at 1:17
  • I think ure right. Based on Devarim 16:17, it should def not be a convert. But I am remembering the Kabbalah teaching that the highest sparks fell the lowest into the kelipot of the nations. So how could Moshiach be born to a Jewish family when that is not falling as far into the evil nations? So I am wondering if Devarim 16:17 can be interpreted as for instance, David ha-Melech was originally born to Jews, and is a Jewish spark, but his gilgulim as Moshiach will exit out of the kelipot through non-Jewish parents? Ie born to Jews originally, but final exit of kelipot thru goyim? Commented Apr 18, 2022 at 1:26
  • It is halachically impossible for a convert to be descended from King David (unless it is revealed and certified unanimously in some way that this halacha changed or does not apply).
    – Baby Seal
    Commented Apr 21, 2022 at 14:09

...if G-d had wanted me to have a Jewish soul, wouldn't he have had me born into a Jewish family?

It's possible that you are being tested to see if you will go all the way and convert.

We see that Abraham was tested; had G-d wanted him to live in the land of Canaan, why wasn't he born there?

(That said, we firmly believe that there's no obligation for anybody to convert. This answer is not an appeal / suggestion that you convert.)

  • That is an interesting proposition Danny, but I think the question still remains if the explanation about 'testing' is valid...Namely, Why did God choose to test me in this aspect when others are born into a Jewish family? Thanks! Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:57
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    @JeremyGlenne - now you're asking to explain why G-d runs the world the way He does.... if only we knew the answer to that. That said, don't think that people born into Jewish families have no tests; remaining a faithful Jew is a daily test for some people. Commented Mar 11, 2014 at 8:50

The Gemara in Pesachim 87b writes:

R. Elazar said: The Holy One, Blessed be He, did not exile Israel among the nations save in order that converts might join them.

From this gemara it is clear that God desires that there should be converts.



I am stuck thinking that I should not convert because, if G-d had wanted me to have a Jewish soul, wouldn't he have had me born into a Jewish family?

First of all, your interest and respect in God's will already makes you a good candidate for conversation. Secondly, there's actually a tradition that one who converts to Judaism does so because they already have a soul which is 2/3 Jewish. Meaning that of the three parts of the soul that all humans have (nefesh, ruach and neshama), a convert to Judaism already has a Jewish nefesh and a Jewish ruach. A Jewish neshama can be gained through effort, learning, and observing the mitzvot.

Don't be discouraged by the your circumstances of being born into a non-Jewish family. Perhaps God has put you there for a particular reason - but it doesn't exclude the possibility that you can take the steps for yourself to convert to Judaism and affirm the connection with our people that it sounds like you soul already feels.

Learn, read, pray, and seek out a rabbi to begin the process of conversion. Feel free to message me for any recommendations on the above or further questions.


  • Any source for your claims in the paragraph starting "First of all"?
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 15:14
  • Note incidentally that Stack Exchange (by design) has no private-messaging system. You can, however, chat.
    – msh210
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 15:15
  • @msh210, you can find a discussion of the partial soul of a convert on Zohar II:98b-99a.
    – izmargad
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:50
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    Also, it's worth looking at the Ari in Sha'ar haGilguim (Ch. 7) where he discusses that a convert's soul is actually an entirely new type of soul, one that has not undergone prior incarnations (the nefesh at least), and thus it can be a vehicle for an incomplete ruach which needs rectification. Either way, the principle remains that someone who feels they have a Jewish soul shouldn't think that it is God's will that they remain a Gentile.
    – izmargad
    Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:51
  • izmagarad...that last bit is very interesting, can you elaborate on "the principle remains that someone who feels they have a Jewish soul shouldn't think that it is God's will that they remain a Gentile." Thanks! Commented Mar 10, 2014 at 17:54

we were not created as inanimate pots to be kept on display but rather as human beings with free will to choose and to grow spiritually. What would have happened if Ruth thought like you?

I am not saying it is right or wrong to convert. (one may even lose out in converting.) only that we cannot know the reasons for many things, since who can understand the ways of God?


I think you are operating under an incorrect assumption: you seem to understand that a soul is 'neutral' until God decides whether to place it into a Jewish body or a non-Jewish body. Hence it makes sense to ask why God chose to place your soul in a non-Jewish body. My understanding (can't recall the sources right now) is that every soul that is placed into the child of a Jewish mother was already a Jewish soul beforehand; it is a fragment of one of the souls that left Egypt and received the Torah. From this perspective, it no longer makes sense to ask why God placed your soul in a non-Jewish body; there was no other option, as your soul was not from that original group.

I also recall learning (but don't remember the source) that when God offered the Torah to the other nations, although each nation as a whole rejected it, there were individuals among them who wanted to accept. These individuals are reincarnated throughout history as people who have a mysterious attraction to Judaism and eventually convert.

  • i just want to point out that what you said about G-d offering the Torah to the nations...is a well known and accepted mesorah. please update us when you find a text source Commented Feb 16, 2018 at 0:58

Judaism has always encouraged a dialog with G-d. He wants you to challenge Him, like Avraham argued against the destruction of Sedom. Don't just accept what's put in front of you - work to make it better.


There is an expression in the Talmud which talks about a convert who converts. This double language has an implication. That implication is a person who goes through with the conversion process was someone who already had within them a Jewish soul and it was part of their life mission to uncover this aspect within them through a conversion process according to Jewish law...


  • Interesting, because Ritva gives a different explanation for this. Let's not confuse peshat with derash.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 0:36

Rebbe Nachman teaches that part of elevating honor to Hashem, to the Root (Euphemism for Hashem, like "Makom") is by bringing in geirim and baalei tshuve, as brought in Likkutei Moharan (Torah 14:1-2). He says this is part of bringing down peace to the whole world. The Torah teaches us how to elevate sparks of holiness to Hashem, and serves as an antidote to the yetzer hara, as stated in various places by many rabbonim. Some of us are born in goyishe bodies with a Jewish soul in order to elevate the body to Hashem through destroying the klippos and removing all the layers and screens (as Rebbe Nachman puts it) through tevilah before a beis din and consciously and fully accepting the mitzvos, rescinding all allegiance to the false idols. I personally recommend against converting for reasons regarding the next world, what's important is sanctifying this world through our actions and achieving d'veikus (cleaving) to Hashem.

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya, by the way!
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 0:04
  • I took the liberty of clarifying the source. If you with to reverse the edit, or otherwise edit, just use the edit function.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 23, 2017 at 0:26

Just to add on previous answers..

the talmud (shabbos קמו) states that the souls of converts were actually at sinai. (the gemara says מזלייהו, but many מפרשים quote it as נשמות..)


I tell you how I see it, because I feel the same way about Judaism. I hope I don't sound arrogant (I'm just about to start my conversion process) but I just perceive myself as a Jewish soul. G-d decided that my journey had to be different because I had to learn different things than other people, and then "get back home" and convert. Is it not a beautiful metaphore of the whole Jewish history, afterall? Everyone's journey is different. I am converting in order to get back home. That's how I perceive it. I know I also feel this way because I know my ancestors where Jewish and obliged to convert to christianism, but still... I think everyone has their own journey. And, if you have any doubt about it, ask yourself : what about Ruth? What about all the Rabbis and Profets that came from a convert genealogy? We are never going to know G-d's full plan, neither we need to. If you feel this way with Judaism there must be a reason for that. Just trust G-d and you'll be fine :)

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