Prologue: Who is king?
Jewish leadership has traditionally embraced two types of leaders. Those who lead from the start – with the Yichus for leadership who never do anything wrong and are groomed for the position on the one side, lead from the start. On the other hand, some of the great Jewish leaders are those who boot-strapped it, climbing from the bottom to take their places atop the Jewish nation, leading our people to the greatest of spiritual and physical heights.
This diametric difference between the two types of leaders is typified by the two brothers, Yosef and Yehuda. In describing Yosef, Yaakov notes that he was, what Harav Aharon Soloveitchik ztl (The Warmth & the Light) called, a Chosid Meulah – a saint. For as we note in the “V’Yeeten Lecha” Tefillah, Yosef was deserving of Bichos Shadayim v’Racham – that he was blessed already from the womb. Thus, his character strength was God-given and protected him from giving in to his external struggles.
Yehuda was different. He is considered the symbol of Teshuvah. When he realized his sin with Tamar he noted that she was more righteous than he (See Sotah 14a) which began his teshuvah process. He was, what Rav Aharon ztl called a Moshel b’Nafsho – he overcame his difficult soul problems, once he realized his blunder.
In his Beracha, Yaakov tells Yehuda that he has the “whelp of a lion” impelled by various drives, who elevated himself from the prey. After selling Yosef, he was willing to sacrifice his freedom to save Binyamin.
Of the two character types, the Chassid Meulah and the Moshel B’Nafsho, the Jewish leader should not be the Chassid Meulah. The majority of the populance cannot relate to him, nor he to them. Any man can be a Moshel B’Nafsho if he sets his mind to it. Thus, Yehuda was most fit to be the king of Bnei Yisrael.
Who’s YOUR Daddy?
As Yaakov heads to Egypt to reunite with his son, he offers Korbanos to Hashem the God of his fathers. The link to Hashem through our Avos became a theme that we use in relating to Hashem in all of our Tefillos.
However, how does one Daven if one cannot refer to the Avos as “our” forefathers? How does one daven if one’s forefathers were not Jewish and he, a convert?
Rabbeinu Tam (Tosafos Bava Basra 81a) notes that a Ger should not be able to exempt one from Birkas HaMazon since the phrase “Al SheHinchalta L’AVOSEINU” would not be accurate for him as a Ger. Basing his ruling on a Mishna (Bikkurim 1:4) Rabbeinu Tam rules that in private, a Ger should reference Elokai Avot Yisroel instead of Avoseinu. Similarly, one would assume that Rabbeinu Tam would not allow a Ger to lead Chazaras HaShatz as his noting the phrase Elokeinu V’elokei Avoseinu would also be inaccurate.
The Ri (Bava Basra 81a) disagrees. He maintains that Hashem changed Avraham’s name from Avram to Avraham signifying that he was the father of a multitude of nations. Ri holds that Avraham is the forefather of all converts as well. This position is also the position of the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 53:19).
A question is raised in regard to what a complete minyan of Converts should recite based on the mishna in Bikkurim. However, the Mishna Berurah’s ruling (53:50 & 199:6) here is clear – that a convert can use the regular terminology of Elokai Avoseinu in any setting.
Rav Yosef Carmel (Living the Halachic Process Vol. II) provides another advantage to this issue. He notes that by using the standard terminology, we are encouraging converts to integrate more smoothly into the Jewish society, as the Torah desires.