Furthermore, Rav Levi Yitzchak Bender also spoke with great pleasure and satisfaction of the entire village of Sinitsa he and his fellow Breslovers managed to convert at fearsome risk to their lives, with certain Breslovers displaying unbelievable courage and dedication in this endeavor.
But for a long time, this attitude and self-sacrifice puzzled me.
After all, Judaism forbids the proselytization of non-Jews. And not only are we forbidden from seeking out non-Jews to join our ranks, but we even force potential converts to prove their sincerity (both to the beit din and to themselves) by rejecting them several times before accepting them. And even then, the potential converts must undergo a course of study in order to really make sure they know what they're getting into (with the provision that they can back out at any time) and to prepare them to live as upright Jews straight out the gate of the final step of conversion.
Rebbe Nachman and Rav Bender clearly did not seek out converts.
Yet after seeing how sincere these potential converts were, these tzaddikim converted these gerim in great joy and -- in the case of the later Breslover chassidim -- with life-threatening dedication.
I believe the answer can be found on page 87 of Rav Ofer Erez's book Ahavat Kedumim: A Commentary on the Story of "The Lost Princess.
The Sincere Convert: A Magnet for Hidden Sparks
Using the example of Ruth, Rav Erez explains how back in Biblical times, a nation's ruler embodied the innate qualities that characterized that nation. This means that King Eglon of Moav embodied the tremendous gevurah and brazenness that characterized Moav.
In turn, his daughter Ruth inherited this same embodiment. However, due to Ruth's profound self-sacrifice and lofty spiritual stature, her conversion to Judaism literally sucked out and elevated any and all holy sparks trapped within the Moavite nation.
And so, emptied of its lifeforce, the Moavite nation ended up disappearing from the world stage. Even today, archeologists have managed to find very little left over from Moav.
Leading to Mashiach
It was these qualities inherited in their freed and sanctified form from his great-great- grandmother that enabled David Hamelech to fight so successfully against all enemies -- spiritual and physical, human and animal.
And then I understood.
What Sincere Dedicated Conversion Really Does
This weakens the impure lifeforce of that nation while strengthening the holy lifeforce of the Jewish people.
In turn, every lost and trapped spark gathered back to its source in the Jewish people brings the entire world even closer to the Final Redemption.
And that's what Rebbe Nachman was so happy about and for what Rav Bender felt was worth risking a slow torturous death in the searing cold of Siberia.
Anything to hasten the Final Redemption, may it come speedily in our days.