“And the sister of Lotan was Timna” (Bereishith 36:22).
This seemingly irrelevant piece of genealogy has an important underlying message according to the Midrash. Timna had wanted to convert--to become part of the people of Abraham, Isaac and Israel. Yet, our forefathers did not accept her into the fold. The rejected Timna then became the concubine of Elifaz, son of Esau, and gave birth to a son: Amalek! The arch-enemy of the people of Israel was the child of a rejected convert! Had Timna been accepted into the Israelite nation, there would have been no Amalek.
This ancient lesson has continuing meaning in our days, when the conversion crisis in the Orthodox world is a burning issue. The following is drawn from an article I wrote, published in Hadassah Magazine, November 2008.