I have been studying Judaism for some time, and am deep into the conversion process. I love this religion and cannot picture my life without it.

I can’t help but wonder why a person like me, who loves Judaism, was born a gentile. Why wasn’t my soul worthy enough to be born into the Jewish nation? I am upset that I had to be born into the situation I was, and not as a Jew.


Thank you for your e‑mail. It was refreshing to read about your passion for Judaism!

There is an episode in the Torah that reflects your dilemma. The circumstances aren’t exactly the same, but the way I understand the story, I believe its message is quite applicable to your situation.

The verse (Leviticus 24:10) reads:

Now the son of an Israelite woman, and he was the son of an Egyptian man, went out among the children of Israel, and they quarreled in the camp—this son of the Israelite woman, and an Israelite man. And the son of the Israelite woman pronounced the [divine] name and cursed.

What happened?

Here we have a man born to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father who became extremely angry and blasphemed in the encampment. Our sages explain the reason for his anger. Apparently, the man was told that he was tribe-less, and hence unable to pitch his tent together with the tribe of Dan.1 The reason: tribal lineage runs through the paternal line, and his non-Jewish father was of course not part of any tribe.

He understandably wanted the right to pitch his tent where he preferred, and when told that he could not, he blamed everyone for the seeming injustice—G‑d, his mother, his father, the tribe of Dan, etc.

Unfortunately, there was one very important thing the man didn’t realize:

Every soul is sent to this world with a unique mission and purpose. Our job is to ask “What am I needed for?” not “Why can’t I have that?” for G‑d gave each of us exactly what we need in order to fulfill our mission in this world.

In short, the Torah is responsibility-based, not rights-based.

This is why in the Torah not everyone can fulfill every divine precept. There are commandments that only a male can do, and there are ones that only a female can fulfill. There are rules relating to the priests and Levites and converts. An Israelite may have a beautiful voice, but according to the Torah it is the role of the Levite, not the Israelite, to sing in the Temple.

Together we are on a collective mission, and G‑d decides the role each person is to play in our great destiny. G‑d simply tells us to look at our lives and use Torah as the compass to guide us in our decisions.

Back to the episode in Leviticus.

This individual could have looked at his situation and said, “For whatever reason, my father was not Jewish . . . obviously I have a unique role to play that only someone in my position can accomplish. . . . There must be things I can accomplish, a mission to fulfill, that only I can do.”

But he didn’t. He simply blamed everyone for his situation.

Instead of recognizing that for whatever reason he was not meant to camp amongst those in Dan, he cursed the source of the rule—the Torah and G‑d.

Instead of looking at Torah and allowing that to dictate his role in life, he decided which role he wanted to play in life, and got upset at the Torah.

Let’s return to your question.

You have a unique mission to play in this world that no one else can do. You were born exactly where you were supposed to be born, and to the parents you needed to be born to. Your talents, weaknesses, profession, place of living—all these too are clues as to your mission in the world.

Now, what your destiny is—that is something I don’t know. Are you meant to be a righteous gentile and fulfill a unique mission in that role? Or are you of one of those Jewish souls that somehow “got lost” along the way, and now has to find the way back home and convert?

What I do know is that you ended up exactly where you needed to be. Your job is to “bless” those circumstances, and then try to fulfill your mission as best you can.

With blessing,

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar,
Ask the Rabbi @ The Judaism