Rabbi Avi Weinstein

Were converts promised Israel? “Sand” is thrown in our eyes.

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2009 at 2:43 pm

No people that I know of questions its identity more than Jews.  This silliness allows us to question our own legitimacy, and more frighteningly allows others to delegitimate our identity as well.  Enter historian Shlomo Sand and his soon to be translated book, The Invention of the Jewish People. Sand tells us that our bloodlines are not pure, that we have descended from converts, and so, therefore, our claim to an eternal connection to Israel is bogus.

Echoing Arthur Koestler’s canard in his The Thirteenth Tribe, he eschews the Biblical connection of present day Jews because they are not the descendants of classical Israel.

Ovadyah the proselyte had the same problem over seven hundred years ago, when he wrote his famous letter to Maimonides wondering how he could say certain blessings that implied the bloodline that Sand sees as necessary.

Maimonides explains that Abraham and all that was promised to him was promised to those who claim him as his father.  The spiritual father determines the connection not only to the religion of Israel, but also to the Land of Israel.  For the Torah was promised to those descendants of Abraham who have demonstrated that they have joined with Israel.

Our national identity emanates from citizenship of the spirit. Processes are in place to formalize this citizenship–it’s called conversion.

For those who reject these principles, Sand provokes a challenge that must be discredited, but for believers, his speculations are irrelevant. The only question is whether the conversions were ‘kosher’. Sand presents a challenge to the secular alternative to peoplehood, but to the Jews for whom the Torah is the constitution, it evokes a huge yawn followed by a sigh of “so what!”



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