“And you shall love the convert” (Devarim 10,19)
It is a positive commandment to love converts, that is to say, that we are warned not to cause them pain in any way, but we should do good and bestow kindness upon them as is fitting and possible. The term “convert” applies to anyone who has joined us from the other nations, who has left his faith and entered ours. Even though he is in any case included in the commandment of “and you shall love your neighbour as yourself” for he is a Jew for all purposes, nonetheless, Hashem has given us an additional, special commandment to love him.
Amongst the roots of this commandment, is (the fact that) Hashem has chosen the Jewish people to be His holy nation, and He wants to merit them, and therefore He guides them and commands them to follow the ways of mercy and benevolence, and He has warned them to bedeck themselves with any kind of pleasing, valued character trait in order to find favour in the eyes of all who see them. And how pleasant and desirable is the way of showing kindness and bestowing good on a person who has left his nation and all his fathers and mothers family and come to rest under the wings of another nation because he loves them, and because he has chosen the truth and hates falsehood, and when we merit to these good character traits, the benefice of G-d will rest upon us and connect to us, for good proliferates among the good, and the opposite applies to evil.
Amongst the laws of the commandment, is that which Chazal say that a person should not say to a convert “Remember your previous deeds”. And, so say Chazal, that a person must not speak shamefully of any nation in front of a convert for it may cause him pain. In an extension of the love which is extended to him, the scripture equates love of the convert to love of G-d.
This commandment applies in every place, at every time, to men and to women. One who transgresses this commandment and causes a convert pain, or is dismissive of his liberation or the rescue of his money, or one who treats his honour lightly because he is a convert and has no support, his punishment is exceedingly great for the Torah has warned us about it in a number of places.
We can learn from this precious commandment to have compassion for a person who is in a city which is not his birthplace and the place of his father’s family, as we see that the Torah warns us to have compassion on anyone who needs help, and with these character traits we will merit to receive compassion from Hashem, may He be blessed, and the blessings of heaven will rest on our heads. The scripture hints at a reason for this command when it says, “for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”. It reminds us that we have experienced this great pain that any man experiences who finds himself amongst strange people in a strange land, and when we remember the magnitude of the worry that exists, and that we ourselves have already experienced, and that Hashem, in His kindness took us out from there, our compassion will be aroused to any person in that position.