What Makes a Jew a Jew
11 months ago Shayna Solkowitz 0
I want to begin this post with a story that a good friend of mine shared with me:
One day a guy wanted to convert from Judaism to Christianity. He went to the Priest who said ‘okay, on the following conditions:
‘You’re not allowed to keep Shabbat anymore.’ The guy was like, ‘Shabbos I don’t care about that, no problem.’
The Priest continued, ‘You’re not allowed to keep kosher anymore.’ ‘Kosher, eh, take the Kosher.’
‘You know you won’t be able to eat fish on Friday nights anymore?’
The guy contemplated, but eventually was like ‘alright, I guess I’ll give that up.’
So, the Priest proceeds to sprinkle some water on the guy, and says ‘Christian, Christian, Christian.’
The Priest says, ‘Remember, you’re not allowed to keep Shabbat, you’re not allowed to keep Kosher, and you can’t eat fish on Friday night.’
So the first week of this guy being Christian, he’s in the market on Thursday, and he smells delicious fish. He makes his way toward the fish. The beautiful fish is looking at him, and he’s like, ‘I can’t leave this beautiful fish.’
So, he buys the fish, takes it home, roasts it, and Friday night he sits down to eat this fish.
The Priest wanted to make sure that this guy was keeping up his end of the bargain by following the rules. So, the Priest goes to this guy’s house to see what’s up. He knocks on the door, and he’s like ‘You’re a Jew, you’re eating fish on Friday night!’ The guy responds ‘What do you mean? I’m not eating fish.’
The Priest responds ‘That’s what fish looks like, you’re eating fish.’
The guy counters, ‘No, I took some water, sprinkled it and said chicken, chicken, chicken.’
The same way a fish is a fish; a Jew is a Jew, no matter what. You and me, we’re the same amount of Jewish.
Anyone who’s mom or maternal grandmother is Jewish, is Jewish. Each and every Jew, no matter who, no matter what, has a soul inside them. What is a soul? A soul is a literal piece of G-D. You have a piece of G-D inside of you!! There’s a piece inside of you, and there’s a piece inside of me. No one is more or less Jewish. If I give you my toe, and you my finger, you both have a piece of me.
We all have an equal piece of G-D inside of us. A Jew who does every mitzvah possible, is the same amount of Jewish as a Jew who hasn’t done a single mitzvah in their life.
I’ve heard people say “I’m a bad Jew” plenty of times. They say it as a way of explaining that they are not adhering to Torah and mitzvot. But, does that make you a bad Jew? There’s no such thing as a good or bad Jew, only good or bad actions. And guess what: Actions can be changed.
If you think you’re a bad Jew, why not do something to change that? If you’re bad at math, you go in for extra help. If you’re on the basketball team and you think you’re bad, what are you going to do? You’re going to put in more time, and practice harder. So why is Judaism different? If you believe you’re bad, why don’t you put in the time and effort to get to a point where you don’t feel that way anymore? Why not make a small change?
One of my favorite things about Judaism is it’s not an all or nothing thing. You can light Shabbat candles, and then leave 5 minutes later for the Friday night football game. You can choose the kosher option 1 out of 100 times, and it still counts for something. Every mitzvah you do counts, and brings you closer.
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to choose the path you want to take. Judaism is something that is in our lives forever, it’s ingrained in who we are, and we get to choose how we want to translate that into our daily lives. I’ve been gone through the journey of taking on more mitzvot. If you ever need help or guidance, I’m always a listening ear. Knowledge is power. Start by learning more, and then action will follow. But you need to start somewhere at some time, so start today. It’s up to you to decide what to do with the gift of Judaism.
No matter how much you do or don’t do, you’re still as Jewish as Moshe, as Jewish as your rabbi, as Jewish as me. A Jew is a Jew is a Jew, and nothing can ever change that.
G-d gave us mitzvot because he wants a relationship with us. It’s pretty awesome if you think about it. And, as I’ve come to see in my own life, having a relationship with G-d has taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible.