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A certain acquaintance of mine had bad middos and I didn't like her. Then she converted to Judaism. Nothing has changed: she still has bad middos; I still don't like her.

But everything has changed. Suddenly, by not liking her, I am committing at least two and possibly three major aveiros. I am ashamed that I find it incredibly hard to accept her as a fellow Jew, even though the Rabbinate has pronounced her such and she is therefore such by all accounts.

1) How does one suddenly come to love (and not hate) someone one had not previously loved (and had hated) when there is a new obligation to do so?

2) How can one quickly start seeing someone as a fellow Jew when one had not seen them as a Jew before?

3) (Bonus, philosophical:) "Ahavas habrios" seems to be a bit disputed as an actual mitzva. But is it possible that ahavas habrios is necessary as a fence around ahavas yisroel (and loving the ger, etc.) because of the suddenness of conversions?

  • Communicate your feelings (Lev. 19:17), relationships can be made or broken with communication. Also realize that you are not obligated to love her. You are obligated to 'love her as you love yourself' (19:18). Most people don't feel a narcissistic love for themselves. All people look out for themselves and try to make decisions that benefit them. THAT is what you are obligated to do for a fellow Jew. When faced with a decision involving them, try to consider their interests as you would your own. This started as a comment but might be an answer at this point. – Baby Seal Dec 28 '16 at 22:11
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    Leviticus 19 always seemed to me to be the "meat" of that book, but IMHO,I don't think those verses mean you have to personally like every Jew. That's just plain impossible! Some folks(Jew or no Jew) are just no good, even to their mothers and dogs. – Gary Dec 29 '16 at 6:44
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    Don't be so sure you have to like her. At least not without evidence. Hopefully I will have time to address this... – mevaqesh Dec 29 '16 at 9:22
  • @mevaqesh I thought I had evidence (at least for "love" and "don't hate") but if you think I don't, please do explain – SAH Dec 29 '16 at 18:25
  • You might want to mention what this evidence is in the question, since it is the motivation. – mevaqesh Dec 29 '16 at 20:48
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You have asked some good general questions, here, SAH. But, within this, I have to ask - or rather, I think YOU have to ask yourself - if you may be judging her too harshly. Pirkei Avot states that one should not judge others until you have reached their position. I don't know if that adage applies to non-Jews, halachically. Even if not, I would venture that this is a common ethical behavior for humanity.

I can't evaluate what factors went into your judgement of "bad middos" as a Gentile. Perhaps, you viewed her by your own "higher" ethical standards - meaning by your personal behavior. Did you expect her to live up to your standards, or common Jewish standards? Either way, she was a Gentile, so that may have been an unfair judgement.

OK, now she converted. I don't know what her motives were, but, yes, she is expected to live up to a different standard than when she was Gentile. But even within Judaism, there is a huge gamut of what is considered "good middos". It may not be your personal standard, but it may be acceptable.

Even if not, I think you need to keep that Pirkei Avot adage in mind, esp. now that she is a fellow Jew. Converts frequently undergo "post Judaic" stress. Suddenly they realize that being Jewish is far more challenging than they thought. Maybe your friend realizes that she made a mistake, but she can't reverse, now. This could be quite traumatic for her.

I think a good (not necessarily the BEST) option is to be a true caring friend, if you want to deal with this person at all. Ask questions to discover her challenges and problems in the process of conversion as well as now. Get a sense of what her position is before you judge her. If you can be helpful, wonderful. If you can't, refer her to someone who can. You're not obligated to shoulder the burden of the solution on your own. But, I think the proper "Jewish" behavior is to at least offer a caring shoulder and not be quick to judge others.

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UPDATE: I tried and tried to love this convert. My biggest advances came from learning the Baal Shem Tov's teachings about the ayin tov. As the BeShT taught, I looked hard for the same qualities in myself that I had reviled in her. Initially and for a long time, I did not find them, but I kept looking for them in myself. One day I did find them, in great measure and to shattering effect. Doing so was a very humbling experience that changed my entire Avodas H' as well as my self-perception.

I also tried to think about how I could help this person; through this, we are taught, the mirror becomes a window.

As soon as I started to think this way, something remarkable happened --although I had not yet succeeded in either helping this person or loving her personally. Her middos dramatically improved. She not only stopped treating me and others cruelly but actually began to treat us decently and even kindly. I see this as a small miracle and a small but infinitely large corroboration of the Baal Shem Tov's hasbore.

  • SAH, I am glad that you provided the follow-up story. But, in terms of answering your own question (providing self-answers, I find, is a larger challenge than having others answer, I find!) I think you can strengthen this answer by summarizing what the Besh"t said and be more specific in explaining how his teachings helped you accomplish item 2) in your question. (I chose #2, as, so far, your answer seems to focus on that aspect the most.) BTW, "Ayin Tov" is Rav Eliezer's suggestion to being the best behavior that one should develop - See Pirkei Avot 2 Mishnah 11. – DanF Jun 2 '17 at 20:48
  • @DanF You're definitely right. I'm a little busy now but will try to do this atfter Shabbos. Yours is the accepted answer and will so remain :) – SAH Jun 2 '17 at 20:49
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    You mean, I tried and tried to love this giyores. Glad everything worked out. B''H! – ezra Sep 20 '17 at 4:53
  • @ezra Yeah. B"H – SAH Sep 24 '17 at 18:13

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