Better as a Jew?
Rabbi Moshe Ben-Chaim
Reader: In an article you answered entitled “Am I better off as a gentile or a Jew?” you stated:
“Torah study is also the greatest command, for in its pursuit, man elevates his highest element, his soul. He attains greater wisdom of God. And this too is open to a gentile; he is to study his laws, and if he takes on more than his minimal 7 laws, which he is allowed to do, he is to study those laws too. And he can convert to attain equal status to a Jew, and enjoy the same portion of the afterlife.”
Do you mean that only the person who converts will enjoy the same portion of the afterlife? This is very important for me. Thank you for your answer.
Rabbi: Conversion to Judaism is not required for one to attain the afterlife. For God promised the patriarchs that they would enjoy afterlife and they were not Jews. There were no Jews until Torah was given at Sinai 3300 years ago. But the greater the person's perfection, the greater is his afterlife and when one converts and takes on more laws he will have a greater portion.
But even without conversion, one can keep all of the commands [except for Sabbath, holidays and tefillin] so you can attain the same level of perfection as a Jew. It's not the act of conversion per se that secures our perfection, but is it is the following of the laws and Torah study which you can do just like a Jew. So on Sabbath and holidays make sure you light a match to demonstrate that you're not keeping Sabbath completely. The reason why a gentile cannot observe Sabbath is because the Jew must maintain the exclusive role of Torah’s authorities. This protects Torah’s accurate transmission. For of gentiles not well versed in Torah observe the Sabbath or wear tefillin, they give the impression of being a Jew, and others will trust him to learn Torah, and due to his lack of Torah obligation and thus study and practice, he will distort Torah teachings.