Posted by: A Shining Knight | December 23, 2016

My “Three Wise Men”

Thirty years ago this month, in the final phase of my conversion to Judaism, I had to go in front of a Bet Din (3 conservative rabbis serving as a “rabbinical court”) where they could ask me anything about anything to determine my worthiness and readiness to become a Jew.  As someone with “test anxiety” under normal circumstances, you can imagine the near-panicked internal hysteria this caused me.


At the beginning of our session these rabbis – who looked exactly how you’d expect 3 elderly rabbis ordered from Central Casting to look – were, or at least I perceived them to be, very terse and stern as they asked their questions and I gave my answers.  Everything changed, though, when one of them asked me the planned date of my wedding.


Me:  “I’m not getting married.”

Rabbi #1:  “Then why are converting?”

Me:  “Because I believe all good people get to go to heaven, and that’s what Judaism teaches.”

Rabbi #2:  “Are you dating anyone?”

Me:  “No.”

Rabbi #3:  “So you’re doing this all by yourself for yourself?”

Me:  “Yes.”


Pause…pause…pause…dark clouds break…sunlight begins to stream into the room.  I believe I saw a smile.  I know I saw a rainbow.


And now…3 grumpy old rabbis turn into 3 eager teachers (and I start to breathe).


Next question:

Rabbi #1:  “Why did the Jews stay in the desert 40 years when it should only have taken 4 weeks to walk to Israel?”

Me:  “Uhhhhh…I dunno.”
Rabbi #2:  “Because it takes a generation to change a mindset.”
Rabbi #3:  “They needed to arrive in Israel not as slaves but as a free people.”


Next question:

Rabbi #1:  “When did God part the Red Sea?”

Me:  “Uhhhhh…I dunno.”

Rabbi #2:  “When the first Jew took a step of faith and walked into the water.”

Rabbi #3:  “The minute the first big toe touched the water, the seas parted.”


I’ve thought back on that day many times in the past 30 years, and I can never remember any other questions or answers, or what else we talked about before they gave me their stamp of approval.


What does all this mean?  Uhhhhh…oh, wait…I know, I know!




Happy Merry Everything, Everybody!

We’re all in this together.

Here’s to an incredible 2017!

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