Why Can’t a Convert Marry a Kohen (Priest)?

I am a convert to Judaism and I’m very proud of it. I have always felt totally welcomed by the community and in no way an outsider. But I am deeply bothered by the law that says a convert is not allowed to marry a Kohen. If I am a fully fledged Jew like any other, why am I not good enough to marry into the priestly tribe?

Answer:

A convert can marry a king. A convert can marry a prophet. A convert can even marry a rabbi, the highest echelon of Jewish society (if you ask me). So it makes no sense to say that a convert can’t marry a Kohen because they are second class citizens. There must be some other reason.

When the Torah forbids a marriage, it is never because one party is not good enough for the other. It is because the parties are not matched to each other. They are simply not soulmates. In the case of the Kohen and the convert, their soul dynamics clash, their spiritual energies contradict, and so they can’t marry.

The holiness of a Kohen is hereditary. If your father is a Kohen, then you are a Kohen. Priesthood is a birthright that is not achieved through a person’s effort nor deserved through a person’s righteousness. It is an honor that is bestowed at birth.

The holiness of a convert is the exact opposite. It is completely earned. The convert was not born Jewish. He or she chose it. They achieve Jewishness of their own initiative and with their own hard work. They are self-made souls.

So these two souls, the Kohen and the convert, are moving in opposite directions. The Kohen receives his power from above. The convert creates his own soul energy from below. The Kohen has the ability to bring down blessings to others, just as his soul was given to him as a blessing. The convert has the power of innovation, of initiative, of creating holiness from the ground up. For this reason, their souls are not a match.

Both the Kohen and the convert have awesome holiness. It is a great privilege to be gifted with the soul of a Kohen. And yet, the self-made soul of a convert has a depth of experience that inherited holiness cannot compete with. Neither are second class souls.

The Kohen is crowned with a legacy from past generations. A convert creates his or her own legacy for future generations. The Jewish people is richer because of each of them.

Good Shabbos,

Rabbi Moss

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