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Thought for the Day: Accomplishment and Role Model; Come From the Outside In

We are very organized at the k'vasikin minyan on Chicago.  To be more precise, our master of ceremonies is very organized and keeps us on track.  Take Purim, for example.  We all want to daven correctly and with enthusiastic decorum.  On the other hand, immediately after kriyas ha'megila, of course, we all want to get busy with the next mitvah of the day -- mishloach manos ish l'rei'eihu.  Since many or our friends are right there, it is efficient to make the deliveries right there... which until a couple of years ago led to quite a bilbul during uva l'tzion till the end of davening.  An executive decision was made a few years ago to put baskets in the lunch room labeled the names of the regulars; after kriyas ha'm'gila mishloach manos can be delivered very efficiently.

This year I had a great idea, a chahp, as it were.  I got there early and figured I'd just drop mine deliveries off before davening.  Don't worry, it was before alos ha'shachar, so I wasn't running afoul of doing my work (instead of HaShem's) before davening; though it is arguable, of course, that the mitzvah of delivering mishloach manos is also HaShem's work -- but I was clearly doing this for my own convenience, so I am still glad it was before alos ha'shachar.  Anyway, as I was about to drop in my first package, one of my chaveirim reminded me that the "sh'he'chiyanu" this morning goes on the other mitzvos of the day.  Ah, right.... hmm.... I know that's only extra credit (we're going to make a sh'he'chiyanu anyway) and even if someone missed that bracha (but still heard the entire k'riya) he would not make a sh'he'chiyanu on just the rest of the mitzvos of the day... but still... hmm... Aha!  I'll just do all but one!  That way I can be efficient and still do the mitzvah l'chatchila.  So I went back to dropping my first one in, when another chaver said, "What if someone sees you do that and doesn't realize that you are keeping one back for later and therefore gives all his before davening?"  C'mon, I said, someone cares what I do?

Actually, Rashi says that they do.  Not only that, Rashi says that I personally am a big problem precisely for doing things like that.  Chazal say that "kashe geirim l'yisrael mi'sapachas"/geirim are harder on Klal Yisrael than a nasty skin disease.  Rashi's explanation is that geirim -- since they didn't grow up as observant Jews -- will make mistakes, and Jews will be led astray.  Fine; I can't argue with Rashi (he's not my zeidy, after all).  So apparently I do have to be careful about doing things that could be misinterpreted.

Why would people care more about what a ger is doing than any other Jew, though?  (As that is the inference from this Chazal/Rashi.)  One reason might be because a ger never does anything just because "that's what I always did"; since he doesn't have any of those.  That means he usually know why he's doing something; it might be wrong, but it's easy to find that out.  Another reason is that a ger is by definition someone who actively decided to reject his heritage and embrace the Torah.  You can't do that without passion, and passion sticks out; it may stick out like a sore thumb, but it certainly sticks out.

One morning some chaveirim were learning the gemara in Yevamos that discusses the, shall we say, ger issue.  They were learning at normal volume, and I couldn't help but listen in.  As they noticed they said, "We thought about learning this quietly, but we figured you wouldn't mind; besides, we don't think of you as a ger anyway."  Of course I didn't mind, but I should be considered a ger; I worked hard and continue to work hard to uproot the non/anti-Torah influences in my psyche and embrace the Torah.  I am justifiably proud of that hard work.


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