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Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Issurei Biah - Chapter Twelve, Issurei Biah - Chapter Thirteen, Issurei Biah - Chapter Fourteen

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Issurei Biah - Chapter Twelve

1

When a Jew engages in relations with a woman from other nations, [taking her] as his wife or a Jewess engages in relations with a non-Jew as his wife, they are punished by lashes, according to Scriptural Law.1 As [Deuteronomy 7:3] states: "You shall not intermarry with them. Do not give your daughter to his son, and do not take his daughter for your son."

This prohibition applies equally to [individuals from] the seven [Canaanite] nations and all other gentiles.2 This was explicitly stated in Ezra3 [Nechemiah 10:31]: "That we will not give our daughters to the gentiles in the land and that we will not take their daughters for our sons."

א

יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁבָּעַל עַכּוּ''ם מִשְּׁאָר הָאֻמּוֹת דֶּרֶךְ אִישׁוּת. אוֹ יִשְׂרְאֵלִית שֶׁנִּבְעֲלָה לְעַכּוּ''ם דֶּרֶךְ אִישׁוּת הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ לוֹקִין מִן הַתּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ז ג) "לֹא תִתְחַתֵּן בָּם בִּתְּךָ לֹא תִתֵּן לִבְנוֹ וּבִתּוֹ לֹא תִקַּח לִבְנֶךָ". אֶחָד שִׁבְעָה עֲמָמִין וְאֶחָד כָּל אֻמּוֹת בְּאִסּוּר זֶה. וְכֵן מְפֹרָשׁ עַל יְדֵי עֶזְרָא (נחמיה י לא) "וַאֲשֶׁר לֹא נִתֵּן בְּנֹתֵינוּ לְעַמֵּי הָאָרֶץ וְאֶת בְּנֹתֵיהֶם לֹא נִקַּח לְבָנֵינוּ":

2

The Scriptural prohibition applies only to marital relations.4 When, by contrast, one engages in relations with a gentile woman with a licentious intent, he is given "stripes for rebellious conduct" according to Rabbinic Law. [This is a] decree, lest this lead to marriage.

If [a Jew] designates [a gentile woman] for licentious relations, he is liable for relations with a niddah, a maid-servant, a gentile woman, and a licentious woman.5 If he did not designate her for himself, but instead, [engage in relations with her] spontaneously, he is only liable for relations with a gentile woman. All of these liabilities are Rabbinic in origin.6

ב

וְלֹא אָסְרָה תּוֹרָה אֶלָּא דֶּרֶךְ חַתְנוּת אֲבָל הַבָּא עַל הַכּוּתִית דֶּרֶךְ זְנוּת מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים. גְּזֵרָה שֶׁמָּא יָבוֹא לְהִתְחַתֵּן. וְאִם יִחֲדָהּ לוֹ בִּזְנוּת חַיָּב עָלֶיהָ מִשּׁוּם נִדָּה וּמִשּׁוּם שִׁפְחָה וּמִשּׁוּם כּוּתִית וּמִשּׁוּם זוֹנָה. וְאִם לֹא יִחֲדָהּ לוֹ אֶלָּא נִקְרֵאת מִקְרֶה אֵינוֹ חַיָּב אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם כּוּתִית [ג.] וְכָל חִיּוּבִין אֵלּוּ מִדִּבְרֵיהֶן:

3

When does the above apply? When the man who engaged in relations was an Israelite. If, however, a priest engages in relations with a gentile woman, he is liable for lashes according to Scriptural Law, because of the prohibition against relations with a zonah.7 [This prohibition applies] both to a non-Jewish zonah and a Jewish one. He receives lashes for relations alone, for he cannot consecrate her.8

ג

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים כְּשֶׁהָיָה הַבּוֹעֵל יִשְׂרָאֵל. אֲבָל כֹּהֵן הַבָּא עַל הַכּוּתִית לוֹקֶה מִן הַתּוֹרָה מִשּׁוּם זוֹנָה. וְאֶחָד זוֹנָה כּוּתִית וְאֶחָד זוֹנָה יִשְׂרְאֵלִית. וּבִבְעִילָה בִּלְבַד לוֹקֶה שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינָהּ בַּת קִדּוּשִׁין:

4

Whenever a man has relations with a gentile woman in public, i.e., the relations are carried out in the presence of ten or more Jews, if a zealous person strikes him and kills him, he is considered praiseworthy and ardent.9 [This applies whether the relations were] in the context of marriage or licentious in nature. This matter is a halachah conveyed to Moshe at Sinai.10 Support for this can be derived from Pinchas' slaying of Zimri.11

ד

כָּל הַבּוֹעֵל כּוּתִית בֵּין דֶּרֶךְ חַתְנוּת בֵּין דֶּרֶךְ זְנוּת אִם בְּעָלָהּ בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא וְהוּא שֶׁיִּבְעל לְעֵינֵי עֲשָׂרָה מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ יֶתֶר אִם פָּגְעוּ בּוֹ קַנָּאִין וַהֲרָגוּהוּ הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ מְשֻׁבָּחִין וּזְרִיזִין [ו.] וְדָבָר זֶה הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי הוּא. רְאָיָה לְדָבָר זֶה מַעֲשֶׂה פִּינְחָס בְּזִמְרִי:

5

The zealous person can strike [the fornicators] only at the time of relations, as was the case with regard to Zimri, as [Numbers 25:8] states: "[He pierced]ו the woman into her stomach."12 If, however, [the transgressor] withdraws,13he should not be slain. Indeed, if [the zealous person] slays him, he may be executed [as a murderer].14

If the zealous person comes to ask permission from the court to slay him, they do not instruct him [to],15 even if this takes place at the time [of relations]. Not only that, if the zealous person comes to kill the transgressor and he withdraws and kills the zealous person in order to save himself, the transgressor is not executed for killing him.16

When a Jew has relations with the daughter of a resident alien,17 the zealous may not strike him. [The transgressor] should, however, be given stripes for rebellious conduct.

ה

וְאֵין הַקַּנַּאי רַשַּׁאי לִפְגֹּעַ בָּהֶן אֶלָּא בִּשְׁעַת מַעֲשֶׂה כְּזִמְרִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר כה ח) "וְאֶת הָאִשָּׁה אֶל קֳבָתָהּ". אֲבָל אִם פֵּרַשׁ אֵין הוֹרְגִין אוֹתוֹ. וְאִם הֲרָגוֹ נֶהֱרַג עָלָיו. וְאִם בָּא הַקַּנַּאי לִטּל רְשׁוּת מִבֵּית דִּין לְהָרְגוֹ אֵין מוֹרִין לוֹ וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא בִּשְׁעַת מַעֲשֶׂה. וְלֹא עוֹד אֶלָּא אִם בָּא הַקַּנַּאי לַהֲרֹג אֶת הַבּוֹעֵל וְנִשְׁמַט הַבּוֹעֵל וְהָרַג הַקַּנַּאי כְּדֵי לְהַצִּיל עַצְמוֹ מִיָּדוֹ אֵין הַבּוֹעֵל נֶהֱרַג עָלָיו. וְהַבָּא עַל בַּת גֵּר תּוֹשָׁב אֵין הַקַּנָּאִין פּוֹגְעִים בּוֹ אֲבָל מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת:

6

If the zealous did not strike him, nor did he receive stripes from the court,18 his punishment is explicitly stated in the words of the prophetic tradition. He is liable for karet,19 as [Malachi 2:11-12] states: "Judah desecrated that which is sacred to God, [by] loving and engaging in relations with the daughter of a foreign god. May God cut off from a man who does this any progeny and descendant." [Implied is]20 that if he is an Israelite, he will not have progeny among the wise who will raise issues, nor a descendant among the scholars who will respond. If he is a priest, he will not have [a descendant] who "presents an offering to the Lord of Hosts." Thus you have learned that a person who shares intimacy with a gentile woman is considered as if he married a false deity, as the verse states: "engaging in relations with the daughter of a foreign god." And he is called one who "desecrated that which is sacred to God."

ו

לֹא פָּגְעוּ בּוֹ קַנָּאִים וְלֹא הִלְקוּהוּ בַּיִת דִּין הֲרֵי עָנְשׁוֹ מְפֹרָשׁ בְּדִבְרֵי קַבָּלָה שֶׁהוּא בְּכָרֵת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלאכי ב יא) "כִּי חִלֵּל יְהוּדָה קֹדֶשׁ ה' אֲשֶׁר אָהֵב וּבָעַל בַּת אֵל נֵכָר" (מלאכי ב יב) "יַכְרֵת ה' לָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂנָּה עֵר וְעֹנֶה". אִם יִשְׂרָאֵל הוּא לֹא יִהְיֶה לוֹ עֵר בַּחֲכָמִים וְלֹא עוֹנֶה בַּתַּלְמִידִים וְאִם כֹּהֵן הוּא לֹא יִהְיֶה לוֹ מַגִּישׁ מִנְחָה לַה' צְבָאוֹת. הִנֵּה לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁהַבּוֹעֵל כּוּתִית כְּאִלּוּ נִתְחַתֵּן לְעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "בָעַל בַּת אֵל נֵכָר וְנִקְרָא מְחַלֵּל קֹדֶשׁ ה':"

7

Although this transgression is not punishable by execution by the court, it should not be regarded lightly, for it leads to a detriment that has no parallel among all the other forbidden sexual relations. For a child conceived from any other forbidden sexual union, is [the father's] son with regard to all matters and is considered a member of the Jewish people, even if he is a mamzer.21A son conceived by a gentile woman, by contrast, is not considered his son. [This is derived from Deuteronomy 7:4:] "For he shall sway your son away from following Me." She turns him away from being one of those who follow God.

ז

עָוֹן זֶה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ מִיתַת בֵּית דִּין אַל יְהִי קַל בְּעֵינֶיךָ. אֶלָּא יֵשׁ בּוֹ הֶפְסֵד שֶׁאֵין בְּכָל הָעֲרָיוֹת כְּמוֹתוֹ. שֶׁהַבֵּן מִן הָעֶרְוָה בְּנוֹ הוּא לְכָל דָּבָר וּבִכְלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל נֶחְשָׁב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא מַמְזֵר וְהַבֵּן מִן הַכּוּתִית אֵינוֹ בְּנוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ז ד) "כִּי יָסִיר אֶת בִּנְךָ מֵאַחֲרַי" מֵסִיר אוֹתוֹ מִלִּהְיוֹת אַחֲרֵי ה':

8

This matter causes one to cling to the gentile nations from whom the Holy One, blessed be He, has separated us, and to turn away from following God and to betray Him.

ח

וְדָבָר זֶה גּוֹרֵם לְהִדָּבֵק בְּעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁהִבְדִּילָנוּ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֵהֶם וְלָשׁוּב מֵאַחֲרֵי ה' וְלִמְעל בּוֹ:

9

When a gentile engages in relations with a Jewish woman, if she is married, he should be executed.22 If she is single, he is not executed.

ט

עַכּוּ''ם הַבָּא עַל בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל אִם אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ הִיא נֶהֱרַג עָלֶיהָ וְאִם פְּנוּיָה הִיא אֵינוֹ נֶהֱרַג:

10

If, by contrast, a Jewish male enters into relations with a gentile woman, when he does so intentionally, she should be executed.23 She is executed because she caused a Jew to be involved in an unseemly transgression, as [is the law with regard to] an animal.24 [This applies regardless of] whether the gentile women was a minor of three years of age,25 or an adult, whether she was single or married. And it applies even if [the Jew] was a minor of nine years old, [she is executed].26

This [punishment] is explicitly mentioned in the Torah, as [Numbers 31:16-17] states: "Behold they were [involved] with the children of Israel according to the advice of Balaamו.27 Execute any woman fit to know a man through lying with a male."

י

אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל הַבָּא עַל הַכּוּתִית בֵּין קְטַנָּה בַּת שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁנִים וְיוֹם אֶחָד בֵּין גְּדוֹלָה בֵּין פְּנוּיָה בֵּין אֵשֶׁת אִישׁ וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה קָטָן בֶּן תֵּשַׁע שָׁנִים וְיוֹם אֶחָד כֵּיוָן שֶׁבָּא עַל הַכּוּתִית בְּזָדוֹן הֲרֵי זוֹ נֶהֱרֶגֶת מִפְּנֵי שֶׁבָּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל תַּקָּלָה עַל יָדֶיהָ כִּבְהֵמָה. וְדָבָר זֶה מְפֹרָשׁ בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר לא טז) "הֵן הֵנָּה הָיוּ לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּדְבַר בִּלְעָם" (במדבר לא יז) "וְכָל אִשָּׁה יֹדַעַת אִישׁ לְמִשְׁכַּב זָכָר הֲרֹגוּ":

11

Servants that have been immersed for the sake of servitude and accepted the mitzvot in which servants are obligated,28 have departed from the category of gentiles, but have yet to enter the category of Jews. For this reason, a maidservant is forbidden29 to a free Jew. [This applies to] both one's own maid-servant and a maid-servant belonging to a colleague.

When a person enters into relations with a maid-servant, he should be given stripes for rebellious conduct as prescribed by the Rabbis.30 [It is obvious that a Scriptural prohibition is not involved,] for it is explicitly stated in the Torah that a master may give a Hebrew servant a Canaanite maid-servant31 [for the sake of relations]32 and that she is permitted to him, as [Exodus 21:4] states: "If his master will give him a wife."

יא

הָעֲבָדִים שֶׁהִטְבִּילוּ אוֹתָם לְשֵׁם עַבְדוּת וְקִבְּלוּ עֲלֵיהֶם מִצְוֹת שֶׁהָעֲבָדִים חַיָּבִים בָּהֶם יָצְאוּ מִכְּלַל הָעַכּוּ''ם וְלִכְלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל לֹא בָּאוּ. לְפִיכָךְ הַשִּׁפְחָה אֲסוּרָה לְבֶן חוֹרִין. אֶחָד שִׁפְחָתוֹ וְאֶחָד שִׁפְחַת חֲבֵרוֹ. וְהַבָּא עַל הַשִּׁפְחָה מַכִּין אוֹתוֹ מַכַּת מַרְדּוּת מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים. שֶׁהֲרֵי מְפֹרָשׁ בַּתּוֹרָה שֶׁהָאָדוֹן נוֹתֵן שִׁפְחָה כְּנַעֲנִית לְעַבְדּוֹ הָעִבְרִי וְהִיא מֻתֶּרֶת לוֹ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כא ד) "אִם אֲדֹנָיו יִתֶּן לוֹ אִשָּׁה":

12

The Sages did not issue a decree with regard to this matter,33 nor did the Torah require that lashes be given for [relations with] a maid-servant unless she was designated for a [Jewish] man, as we explained.34

יב

וְלֹא גָּזְרוּ חֲכָמִים בְּדָבָר זֶה וְלֹא חִיְּבָה תּוֹרָה מַלְקוֹת בְּשִׁפְחָה אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיְתָה נֶחֱרֶפֶת לְאִישׁ כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

13

This transgression should not be light in one's eyes, because it does not involve lashes according to Scriptural Law. For this [act] also causes the son to be turned away from following God. For a son born of a maid-servant is a servant and is not a [full] member of Israel. Thus he causes [Israel's] holy seed to be profaned and produce servants. Behold Onkelos the translator35 included relations with a servant and a maid-servant in [the prohibitions, Deuteronomy 23:18]: "There shall not be a promiscuous manו and there shall not be a promiscuous woman."36

יג

אַל יְהִי עָוֹן זֶה קַל בְּעֵינֶיךָ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין בּוֹ מַלְקוֹת מִן הַתּוֹרָה. שֶׁגַּם זֶה גּוֹרֵם לַבֵּן לָסוּר מֵאַחֲרֵי ה'. שֶׁהַבֵּן מִן הַשִּׁפְחָה הוּא עֶבֶד וְאֵינוֹ מִיִּשְׂרָאֵל וְנִמְצָא גּוֹרֵם לְזֶרַע הַקֹּדֶשׁ לְהִתְחַלֵּל וְלִהְיוֹתָם עֲבָדִים. הֲרֵי אֻנְקְלוֹס הַמְתַרְגֵּם כָּלַל בְּעִילַת עֶבֶד וְשִׁפְחָה בִּכְלַל (דברים כג יח) "לֹא יִהְיֶה קָדֵשׁ" (דברים כג יח) "וְלֹא תִהְיֶה קְדֵשָׁה":

14

When a person engages in relations with a maid-servant, even in public, a zealous person may not strike him, not even at the time of the transgression.37Similarly, if one marries a maid-servant,38 he does not receive lashes according to Scriptural Law. For from the time she immersed and accepted the mitzvot, she departed from the category of gentiles.

יד

הַבָּא עַל שִׁפְחָה וַאֲפִלּוּ בְּפַרְהֶסְיָא וּבִשְׁעַת עֲבֵרָה אֵין הַקַּנָּאִין פּוֹגְעִין בּוֹ. וְכֵן אִם לָקַח שִׁפְחָה דֶּרֶךְ חַתְנוּת אֵינוֹ לוֹקֶה מִן הַתּוֹרָה. שֶׁמֵּעֵת שֶׁטָּבְלָה וְקִבְּלָה מִצְוֹת יָצְתָה מִכְּלַל הָעַכּוּ''ם:

15

If [the identity of] a Jewish child becomes confused with that of the child of a maid-servant, the status of both [children] is doubtful.39 Each of them is considered as possibly a servant. [Hence] we compel the owner of the maid-servant to free them both.40 If [the owner died and] the son [whose identity was confused] is the [only] son of the servant's master, when they come of age, they should free each other.41 Then they will be permitted to marry within the Jewish people.

טו

נִתְעָרֵב וְלַד יִשְׂרְאֵלִית בִּוְלַד שִׁפְחָה הֲרֵי שְׁנֵיהֶן סָפֵק וְכָל אֶחָד מֵהֶן סְפֵק עֶבֶד וְכוֹפִין בַּעַל הַשִּׁפְחָה וּמְשַׁחְרֵר אֶת שְׁנֵיהֶם. וְאִם הָיָה הַבֵּן הַהוּא (בֶּן) הָאָדוֹן שֶׁל עֶבֶד כְּשֶׁיִּגְדְּלוּ יְשַׁחְרְרוּ זֶה אֶת זֶה וְיִהְיוּ מֻתָּרִין לָבֹא בַּקָּהָל:

16

If the children whose identities were confused were female, they are both considered as possibly a maid-servant. If a person enters into relations with either of them, the offspring is considered as a servant because of the doubt.42

Similarly, if the identity of a gentile child becomes confused with that of a Jewish child, we immerse both of them as converts and they are both considered as possibly a convert.43

טז

הָיוּ הַתַּעֲרוֹבוֹת בָּנוֹת הֲרֵי שְׁתֵּיהֶן סְפֵק שְׁפָחוֹת וְהַבָּא עַל כָּל אַחַת מֵהֶן הַוָּלָד סְפֵק עֶבֶד. וְכֵן אִם נִתְעָרֵב וְלַד עַכּוּ''ם בִּוְלַד יִשְׂרְאֵלִית מַטְבִּילִים אֶת שְׁנֵיהֶן לְשֵׁם גֵּרוּת וְכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן סְפֵק גִּיֹּרֶת:

17

Whenever any of the gentiles convert and accept all of the mitzvot in the Torah44 or a servant is freed,45 they are considered as Jews with regard to all matters,46 as [Numbers 15:15] states: "For the community: there will be one law [for you and the convert]." A convert may marry within the Jewish community immediately, i.e., a male convert or freed servant may marry a native-born Jewess and an Israelite47 may marry a female convert or a freed maid-servant.

There are four nations from which [converts] are exceptions: Ammon, Moab, Egypt, and Edom. When a person from one of these nations converts, he is like an Israelite with regard to all matters with the exception of marriage within the Jewish community.

יז

כָּל הָעַכּוּ''ם כֻּלָּם כְּשֶׁיִּתְגַּיְּרוּ וִיקַבְּלוּ עֲלֵיהֶן כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה וְהָעֲבָדִים כְּשֶׁיִּשְׁתַּחְרְרוּ הֲרֵי הֵן כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל לְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר טו טו) "הַקָּהָל חֻקָּה אַחַת יִהְיֶה לָכֶם". וּמֻתָּרִין לְהִכָּנֵס בִּקְהַל ה' מִיָּד. וְהוּא שֶׁיִּשָּׂא הַגֵּר אוֹ הַמְשֻׁחְרָר בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְיִשָּׂא הַיִּשְׂרְאֵלִי גִּיֹּרֶת וּמְשֻׁחְרֶרֶת. חוּץ מֵאַרְבָּעָה עֲמָמִין בִּלְבַד וְהֵם עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב וּמִצְרַיִם וֶאֱדוֹם שֶׁהָאֻמּוֹת הָאֵלּוּ כְּשֶׁיִּתְגַּיֵּר אֶחָד מֵהֶן הֲרֵי הוּא כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל לְכָל דָּבָר אֶלָּא לְעִנְיַן בִּיאָה בַּקָּהָל:

18

What are the laws that apply to them [in that context]? It is forbidden to marry an Ammonite and a Moabite forever. This applies to the males and not the females,48 as [Deuteronomy 23:4] states: "An Ammonite and a Moabite shall not enter the congregation of God." It is a halachah transmitted to Moses at Sinai that it is a male Ammonite and a male Moabite who are forbidden to marry a native-born Israelite forever,49 [including] even their son's grandson forever. An Ammonite woman and a Moabite woman are, by contrast, permitted immediately50 as are [converts] from other nations.

יח

וְכֵיצַד דִּינָן. עַמּוֹן וּמוֹאָב אִסּוּרָן אִסּוּר עוֹלָם זְכָרִים וְלֹא נְקֵבוֹת שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כג ד) "לֹא יָבֹא עַמּוֹנִי וּמוֹאָבִי בִּקְהַל ה'" וְגוֹ'. הֲלָכָה לְמשֶׁה מִסִּינַי שֶׁהָעַמּוֹנִי הַזָּכָר וְהַמּוֹאָבִי הַזָּכָר הוּא שֶׁאָסוּר לְעוֹלָם לִשָּׂא בַּת יִשְׂרָאֵל אֲפִלּוּ בֶּן בְּנוֹ עַד סוֹף הָעוֹלָם. אֲבָל עַמּוֹנִית וּמוֹאָבִית מֻתֶּרֶת מִיָּד כִּשְׁאָר הָאֻמּוֹת:

19

An Egyptian and an Edomite convert - both a male and a female - are forbidden to marry among the Jewish people for the first and second generations. The third generation, however, is permitted, as [ibid.:9] states: "Children who are born to them [may enter the congregation of God in the third generation]."

יט

מִצְרִי וֶאֱדוֹמִי אֶחָד זְכָרִים וְאֶחָד נְקֵבוֹת דּוֹר רִאשׁוֹן וְדוֹר שֵׁנִי אֲסוּרִין לָבֹא בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל וְדוֹר שְׁלִישִׁי מֻתָּר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כג ט) "בָּנִים אֲשֶׁר יִוָּלְדוּ לָהֶם" וְגוֹ':

20

When a female Egyptian converts while she is pregnant, her son is considered a second [generation Egyptian convert]. When a second [generation] Egyptian male [convert] marries a first [generation] Egyptian female [convert] or a first [generation] Egyptian male [convert] marries a second [generation] Egyptian female [convert], the child is considered a second generation [convert].51 [This is derived from the phrase]: "Children who are born to them."52 The verse made the matter dependent on birth.

כ

מִצְרִית מְעֻבֶּרֶת שֶׁנִּתְגַּיְּרָה בְּנָהּ שֵׁנִי. מִצְרִי שֵׁנִי שֶׁנָּשָׂא מִצְרִית רִאשׁוֹנָה אוֹ מִצְרִי רִאשׁוֹן שֶׁנָּשָׂא מִצְרִית שְׁנִיָּה הַוָּלָד שֵׁנִי שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כג ט) "בָּנִים אֲשֶׁר יִוָּלְדוּ לָהֶם" הַכָּתוּב תְּלָאָן בְּלֵדָה:

21

When a male Ammonite convert marries a female Egyptian,53 the offspring are considered as Ammonites.54 When a male Egyptian convert marries a female Ammonite, the offspring are considered as Egyptians.55 This is the general principle: Among gentiles, the identity [of the offspring] is determined by the male. Once they convert, [the offspring] is given the identity that is of the lowest status.

כא

גֵּר עַמּוֹנִי שֶׁנָּשָׂא מִצְרִית הַוָּלָד עַמּוֹנִי. גֵּר מִצְרִי שֶׁנָּשָׂא עַמּוֹנִית הַוָּלָד מִצְרִי. זֶה הַכְּלָל. בָּאֻמּוֹת הַלֵּךְ אַחַר הַזָּכָר. נִתְגַּיְּרוּ הַלֵּךְ אַחַר הַפָּחוּת:

22

A person from the seven [Canaanite] nations who converts is not forbidden to marry among the Jewish people according to Scriptural Law.56 It is known that of them, only the Gibeonites converted.57 Joshua decreed that they be forbidden to marry among the Jewish people,58 both males and females.

He instituted this prohibition only during the time a Sanctuary is standing, as [Joshua 9:23] states: "[You shall be] wood-choppers and water-drawers for the house of my God." He made their ban dependent on the Sanctuary.

כב

מִי שֶׁנִּתְגַּיֵּר מִשִּׁבְעָה עֲמָמִין אֵינָן אֲסוּרִין מִן הַתּוֹרָה לָבוֹא בַּקָּהָל. וְהַדָּבָר יָדוּעַ שֶׁלֹּא נִתְגַּיְּרוּ מֵהֶן אֶלָּא הַגִּבְעוֹנִים וִיהוֹשֻׁעַ גָּזַר עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁיִּהְיוּ אֲסוּרִים לָבֹא בַּקָּהָל אֶחָד זְכָרִים וְאֶחָד נְקֵבוֹת. וְלֹא אָסַר אוֹתָם אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁיֵּשׁ מִקְדָּשׁ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (יהושע ט כג) "וְחֹטְבֵי עֵצִים וְשֹׁאֲבֵי מַיִם לְבֵית אֱלֹהָי". תָּלָה הַרְחָקָתָם בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ:

23

They are called Netinim, "the designated ones," for they were designated for the service in the Sanctuary. David came and decreed that they should never be allowed to marry among the Jewish people, even at a time when the Sanctuary is no longer standing. This is explicitly stated in Ezra [8:20]: "From the Netinim whom David and the officers designated for the service of the Levites." From this, we see that he did not make the matter dependent on the Sanctuary.59

כג

וְהֵם הַנִּקְרָאִים נְתִינִים לְפִי שֶׁנְּתָנָם לַעֲבוֹדַת הַמִּקְדָּשׁ. בָּא דָּוִד וְגָזַר עֲלֵיהֶם שֶׁלֹּא יִכָּנְסוּ בַּקָּהָל לְעוֹלָם וַאֲפִלּוּ בִּזְמַן שֶׁאֵין מִקְדָּשׁ. וְכֵן מְפֹרָשׁ בְּעֶזְרָא (עזרא ח כ) "וּמִן הַנְּתִינִים שֶׁנָּתַן דָּוִיד וְהַשָּׂרִים לַעֲבֹדַת הַלְוִיִּם". הָא לָמַדְתָּ שֶׁלֹּא תָּלָה אוֹתָם בַּמִּקְדָּשׁ:

24

Why did David and his court pass this decree against them? Because he saw that they were characterized by brazenness and cruelty. For they asked to kill and hang the seven sons of Saul, God's chosen one,60 and they did not have mercy upon them.

כד

וְלָמָּה גָּזַר עֲלֵיהֶם הוּא וּבֵית דִּינוֹ לְפִי שֶׁרָאָה עַזּוּת וְאַכְזָרִיּוּת שֶׁהָיְתָה בָּהֶם בְּעֵת שֶׁבִּקְּשׁוּ שִׁבְעַת בְּנֵי שָׁאוּל בְּחִיר ה' לִתְלוֹתָם וַהֲרָגוּם וְלֹא רִחֲמוּ עֲלֵיהֶם:

25

When Sannecherib, King of Assyria, arose, he confused the identity of all the nations, mixing them together, and exiling them from their place.61 The Egyptians that live in the land of Egypt at present are of other nationalities. This also applies with regard to the Edomites in the field of Edom.

Since these four forbidden nations became intermingled with all the nations of the world [with] whom it is permitted [to marry once they convert], all [converts] are permitted. For when anyone of them separates himself [from them by] converting, we operate under the presumption that he became separate from the majority.62 Therefore in the present age, in all places, whenever a convert converts, whether he be an Edomite, an Egyptian, an Ammonite, a Moabite, a Kushite, or from any of the other nations, whether male or female, he or she is permitted to marry among the Jewish people immediately.63

כה

כְּשֶׁעָלָה סַנְחֵרִיב מֶלֶךְ אַשּׁוּר בִּלְבֵּל כָּל הָאֻמּוֹת וְעֵרְבָם זֶה בָּזֶה וְהִגְלָה אוֹתָם מִמְּקוֹמָם. וְאֵלּוּ הַמִּצְרִים שֶׁבְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם עַתָּה אֲנָשִׁים אֲחֵרִים הֵם. וְכֵן הָאֱדוֹמִים שֶׁבִּשְׂדֵה אֱדוֹם. וְהוֹאִיל וְנִתְעָרְבוּ אַרְבַּע אֻמּוֹת הָאֲסוּרִים בְּכָל אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֵן מֻתָּרִים הֻתַּר הַכּל. שֶׁכָּל הַפּוֹרֵשׁ מֵהֶן לְהִתְגַּיֵּר חֶזְקָתוֹ שֶׁפֵּרַשׁ מִן הָרֹב. לְפִיכָךְ כְּשֶׁיִּתְגַּיֵּר הַגֵּר בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה בְּכָל מָקוֹם בֵּין אֱדוֹמִי בֵּין מִצְרִי בֵּין עַמּוֹנִי בֵּין מוֹאָבִי בֵּין כּוּשִׁי בֵּין שְׁאָר הָאֻמּוֹת אֶחָד הַזְּכָרִים וְאֶחָד הַנְּקֵבוֹת מֻתָּרִין לָבֹא בַּקָּהָל מִיָּד:

Footnotes
1.

Licentious relations with a gentile man or woman are not included in the scope of this Scriptural prohibition, as stated in the following halachah.

2.

Although the verse the Rambam cites as a prooftext refers to the seven Canaanite nations, all other gentiles are also included as reflected by the verse from Nechemiah.

The Tur (Even HaEzer 16) differs with the Rambam, explaining that the verse should be understood within its limited context, referring only to the seven nations. (The Rambam's opinion has a source in the Sheiltot D'Rabbenu Achai Gaon, while that of the Tur is found in the Sefer Mitzvot Gadol) The crux of the difference is the exegesis of the continuation of the verse cited by the Rambam: "For he shall sway your son away." Kiddushin 68b quotes Rabbi Shimon as focusing on the motivating rationale for the verse and thus including all those who might sway a person's heart. Thus it refers to all gentiles. The Sages, however, do not accept this perspective.

3.

Although the verse is contained in the Book of Nechemiah, the Rambam considers Ezra and Nechemiah as one book. See Hilchot Sefer Torah 7:15. Similarly, Sanhedrin 93b states that none of the books of the Tanach are named after Nechemiah.

The verse cited by the Rambam is part of the oath taken by the people to remain true to their faith upon their return to Zion. At that time, the gentiles living in the land were not Canaanites.

4.

The Tur, loc. cit., differs with the Rambam concerning this point as well, stating that there is no concept of marriage between a Jew and non-Jew.

5.

This was a decree passed by the court of the Hasmoneans when they saw that the Jews were sharing intimacy with Greek women (Avodah Zarah 36b). The transgressor is given stripes several times, once for each of the Rabbinic prohibitions he ignored.

6.

According to Scriptural Law, if a Jew engages in relations with a gentile woman in public "the zealous may strike him," as stated in Halachah 4. The Hasmoneon's decree, however, applies even when relations were carried out in private.

7.

The term zonah is generally translated as "prostitute." It has, however, a precise halachic definition, as stated in Chapter 18, Halachah 1.

8.

Note the contrast to the laws applying to a Jewish zonah, as mentioned in Chapter 17, Halachah 2.

9.

The Ra'avad rules that the zealous person must warn the transgressor before striking him. The Maggid Mishneh states that the concept of a warning is relevant only with regard to execution by the court and not to the independent actions taken by a zealous person. The Rama (Choshen Mishpat 425:4) quotes the Ra'avad's view.

10.

I.e., a law which is not commanded by the Written Torah, yet communicated by the Oral Tradition.

11.

As Numbers, ch. 25 relates, the Jews began worshiping idols, because they were lured to by Midianite women. Enraged Moses commanded that the worshipers be executed. Zimri, the prince of the tribe of Shimon, took a Midianite woman and confronted Moses, engaging in relations before him. When Pinchas saw this, he slew Zimri, giving expression to the law mentioned by the Rambam.

12.

Our Sages relate that Pinchas' javelin went through Zimri's back and into her gut, killing them both in the midst of relations.

13.

Even if he transgressed already.

14.

Needless to say, a warning must be given and two acceptable witnesses must observe the slaying.

15.

The initiative to slay the transgressor must be totally that of the zealous person. For the court has no obligation - and there no license - to exact such punishment.

16.

For the zealous person is considered as a rodef, pursuer, whom the intended victim has the right to slay, as stated in Hilchot Rotzeach, ch. 1.

17.

As explained in Chapter 14, Halachah 7, this refers to a non-Jew who accepted the seven universal laws commanded to Noah and his descendants. In his Commentary to the Mishnah (Sanhedrin 9:6), the Rambam states that the woman herself - not only her father - must not be an idolater.

18.

The Maggid Mishneh writes that if he was given "stripes for rebellious conduct" by the court, he is no longer liable for kereit. Our Sages (Makkot 23b) state a similar concept with regard to a person who receives lashes for the violation of a Scriptural prohibition. The Rambam extends the idea to include a person who is punished on the basis of Rabbinic decree.

19.

This applies even if relations are conducted in private.

20.

As interpreted by Yevamot 22b, 23a.

21.

Indeed, Horiot 13a states that a mamzer who is a scholar receives precedence over a High Priest who is unlearned.

22.

For the gentiles are prohibited against adultery.

23.

Note the gloss of the Maggid Mishneh who questions the source for the Rambam's ruling, arguing that the passage from Numbers cannot be interpreted as definitive proof.

24.

See Chapter 1, Halachot 16-18.

25.

If, however, she is younger than three, the relations are not considered significant.

26.

From that age onward, sexual relations in which he engages are significant, as stated in Chapter 1, Halachah 13.

27.

Who advised the Midianites and the Moabites to have their women seduce Jewish men to provoke God's wrath.

28.

See Chapter 14, Halachah 9.

29.

I.e., the prohibition is Rabbinic in origin, as indicated by the conclusion of this halachah and the following halachot.

30.

And not lashes, as is the punishment for the violation of a Scriptural commandment.

31.

Were there to be a Scriptural prohibition involved, it would not be relaxed in the case of a servant.

32.

So that the offspring will be the master's.

33.

Forbidding such relations to a Hebrew servant (Ma'aseh Rokeach).

34.

Chapter 3, Halachah 13.

35.

Who composed the standard Aramaic translation of the Torah.

36.

The Rambam does not fully accept the view of Onkelos. For Onkelos defines the scope of the Biblical prohibition as including these relations and the Rambam does not, as evident from the fact that the Rambam does not considered these relations as punishable by lashes. (The Rambam also has a different conception of the prohibition of relations with "a promiscuous woman"; see Hilchot Ishut 1:4.) Nevertheless, the Rambam uses the view of Onkelos as support for his condemnation of this act (Mayim Chayim; see also Beit Shmuel 16:6).

37.

In contrast to relations with a gentile woman (Halachah 4).

38.

In contrast to marriage to a gentile woman (Halachah 1).

39.

When explaining this possibility the Talmud gives the example of women who gave birth together in a cave. Today, unfortunately, such confusion has happened in hospitals.

40.

Otherwise, because of the doubt, neither of the children would be able to marry. They could not marry a Jewess, for perhaps they were servants, nor a maid-servant, for perhaps they were Jews (compare to Hilchot Avadim 7:7).

41.

Since we do not know which is the servant and which is the master, they must both free each other. And thus the servant will certainly have been freed by the master.

Before they reach adulthood, however, it is impossible for one to free the other, because a minor may not free a servant.

42.

In this instance, the Rambam does not say that the owner must free the offspring, because there is no obligation for a woman to marry and bear children. Compare to Hilchot Avadim, loc. cit.; see Maggid Mishneh, Beit Shmuel 16:7. The master may not, however, compel either of them to work. For they both can require him to prove his claims.

43.

Thus they are forbidden to marry a priest, as stated in Chapter 18, Halachah 3 (Maggid Mishneh).

44.

As described in Chapter 13.

45.

At which time his conversion process is completed.

46.

I.e., there is no difference between a convert and a native Israelite with regard to any matter of Jewish observance.

47.

But not a priest (Maaseh Rokeach).

48.

The rationale for this leniency is explained as follows. The Torah explains the reason for this prohibition: "Because of the fact that they did not greet you with bread and water on the way." Now it is not appropriate for women to greet travelers with food. Hence, since the sin does not apply with regard to women - the consequence of it - the prohibition against marrying into the Jewish people also does not apply with regard to them.

49.

They may, however, marry women who converted to Judaism or freed maid-servants. Shaar HaMelech also states that these individuals may even marry maid-servants who were not yet freed.

50.

Indeed, Ruth the maternal ancestor of King David - and ultimately of Mashiach - was a female Moabite convert. Initially, and indeed for several generations, there were questions whether she and her descendants were allowed to marry within the Jewish. Ultimately, however, the ruling stated by the Rambam was accepted throughout the Jewish community. See Yevamot 76b.

51.

Rashi differs and maintains that the child's status depends on that of its mother. Thus if the mother is a second generation Egyptian convert, the child is a third generation convert and is permitted. The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 4:4) quotes both views.

52.

The Maggid Mishneh explains that the intent is that everyone knows that birth involves both a man and a woman. Hence the child must be the third generation from both of the male and the female.

53.

Who has converted.

54.

The Maggid Mishneh refers to Yevamot 78b and maintains that this ruling applies only when the offspring are male. If they are female, they are not considered as Ammonites (and hence, permitted). Instead, they are considered as Egyptian and forbidden for three generations, i.e., we follow the greater blemish. This view is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 4:7).

55.

This also can be considered as applying only when the offspring are male. If they are female, some opinions considered them as permitted (as a female Ammonite) and others as Egyptian [Rama (Even HaEzer, loc. cit.)].

56.

This ruling depends on the Rambam's interpretation of the prohibition: "You shall not intermarry with them" mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. As explained, according to the Rambam, the verse applies to all gentiles, not only Canaanites, and only before they convert. Once they convert, all gentiles - except the four nations mentioned in the previous halachot - may marry freely among the Jewish people.

The other authorities, by contrast, maintain that the prohibition applies to the Canaanite nations alone and after conversion. Otherwise, they maintain, it is unnecessary, for there is no concept of marriage between a Jew and a non-Jew.

57.

Note Joshua, ch. 9, which relates how the Gibeonites deceived the Jewish people and established a covenant with them.

58.

Because of the deception they perpetrated.

59.

For the narrative in Ezra speaks of a time when the Temple had already been destroyed.

60.

As related in II Samuel, ch. 21, there was a famine for three years in Eretz Yisrael. Through prophetic vision, David learned that the reason for the famine was Saul's oppression of the Gibeonites (exactly what Saul did to oppress them is a matter of discussion among the Rabbis). David asked the Gibeonites what they desired to be appeased for this oppression. They answered that they wanted to slay seven of his descendants. David handed over seven of Saul's descendants to them and they hung them and left their corpses on the gallows. For this act of cruelty, David decreed that they should never marry among the Jewish people. For Israel should be characterized by kindness and mercy. See Chapter 19, Halachah 17, which further develops this theme.

61.

I.e., in order to thwart the possibility of local peoples organizing rebellions against him, Sannecherib destroyed the national identity of people by exiling them from their native lands and forcing them to intermingle with other peoples.

62.

This principle applies in many instances when forbidden and permitted substances or individuals become mixed together. See for example, Yoma 84b, Zevachim 73a,b.

63.

The Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 4:10) quotes this ruling, but states that according to the opinion of Rabbenu Asher, Sannecherib did not succeed in erasing the identity of the Egyptians and the prohibition against marrying their converts still applies.

Issurei Biah - Chapter Thirteen

1

Israel entered the covenant [with God]1 with three acts: circumcision, immersion, and offering a sacrifice.

א

בִשְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים נִכְנְסוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל לִבְרִית. בְּמִילָה וּטְבִילָה וְקָרְבָּן:

2

Circumcision took place in Egypt, [before the Paschal sacrifice, of which Exodus 12:48] says: "No uncircumcised person shall partake of it." Moses our teacher circumcised [the people]. For with the exception of the tribe of Levi, the entire [people] neglected the covenant of circumcision in Egypt.2 Regarding this, [Deuteronomy 33:9 praises the Levites,] saying: "They upheld Your covenant."

ב

מִילָה הָיְתָה בְּמִצְרַיִם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות יב מח) "וְכָל עָרֵל לֹא יֹאכַל בּוֹ". מָל אוֹתָם משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ שֶׁכֻּלָּם בִּטְּלוּ בְּרִית מִילָה בְּמִצְרַיִם חוּץ מִשֵּׁבֶט לֵוִי וְעַל זֶה נֶאֱמַר (דברים לג ט) "וּבְרִיתְךָ יִנְצֹרוּ":

3

Immersion was performed in the desert before the Giving of the Torah, as [Exodus 19:10] states: "Sanctify them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their garments." Sacrifices [were also offered then], as [ibid. 24:5] states: "And he sent out the youth of the children of Israel and they brought burnt offerings." They offered them as agents of the entire Jewish people.

ג

וּטְבִילָה הָיְתָה בַּמִּדְבָּר קֹדֶם מַתַּן תּוֹרָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות יט י) "וְקִדַּשְׁתָּם הַיּוֹם וּמָחָר וְכִבְּסוּ שִׂמְלֹתָם". וְקָרְבָּן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (שמות כד ה) "וַיִּשְׁלַח אֶת נַעֲרֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיַּעֲלוּ עלֹת", עַל יְדֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל הִקְרִיבוּם:

4

Similarly, for [all] future generations, when a gentile desires to enter into the covenant, take shelter under the wings of the Divine presence, and accept the yoke of the Torah,3 he must undergo circumcision,4 immersion, and the offering of a sacrifice. A woman [who converts] must undergo immersion and bring a sacrifice, as [Numbers 15:15] states: "As it is for you, so shall it be for the convert." Just as you [entered the covenant] with circumcision, immersion, and the offering of a sacrifice; so, too, for future generations, a convert must undergo circumcision, immersion, and must bring a sacrifice.

ד

וְכֵן לְדוֹרוֹת כְּשֶׁיִּרְצֶה הָעַכּוּ''ם לְהִכָּנֵס לִבְרִית וּלְהִסְתּוֹפֵף תַּחַת כַּנְפֵי הַשְּׁכִינָה וִיקַבֵּל עָלָיו עֹל תּוֹרָה צָרִיךְ מִילָה וּטְבִילָה וְהַרְצָאַת קָרְבָּן. וְאִם נְקֵבָה הִיא טְבִילָה וְקָרְבָּן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (במדבר טו טו) "כָּכֶם כַּגֵּר". מָה אַתֶּם בְּמִילָה וּטְבִילָה וְהַרְצָאַת קָרְבָּן אַף הַגֵּר לְדוֹרוֹת בְּמִילָה וּטְבִילָה וְהַרְצָאַת קָרְבָּן:

5

What is the sacrifice that a convert [is required to bring]? A burnt offering of an animal or two turtle-doves or two fledging doves. Both of [the doves] must be brought as burnt offerings.5 In the present age, when there are no sacrifices,6 [a convert] must undergo circumcision and immersion.7 When the Temple is rebuilt, he must bring a sacrifice.8

ה

וּמַהוּ קָרְבַּן הַגֵּר. עוֹלַת בְּהֵמָה אוֹ שְׁתֵּי תּוֹרִים אוֹ שְׁנֵי בְּנֵי יוֹנָה וּשְׁנֵיהֶם עוֹלָה. וּבַזְּמַן הַזֶּה שֶׁאֵין שָׁם קָרְבָּן צָרִיךְ מִילָה וּטְבִילָה וּכְשֶׁיִּבָּנֶה בֵּית הַמִּקְדָּשׁ יָבִיא קָרְבָּן:

6

When a convert is circumcised, but does not immerse himself, or immerses himself, but was not circumcised, he is not considered a convert until he perform both of these activities. He must immerse himself in the presence of three men.9 Since a court is required, he may not immerse on the Sabbath or on festivals, or during the night.10 If, however, they had him immerse [at night], he is a convert.11

ו

גֵּר שֶׁמָּל וְלֹא טָבַל אוֹ טָבַל וְלֹא מָל אֵינוֹ גֵּר עַד שֶׁיָּמוּל וְיִטְבּל. וְצָרִיךְ לִטְבּל בִּפְנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה. וְהוֹאִיל וְהַדָּבָר צָרִיךְ בֵּית דִּין אֵין מַטְבִּילִין אוֹתוֹ בְּשַׁבָּת וְלֹא בְּיוֹם טוֹב וְלֹא בַּלַּיְלָה. וְאִם הִטְבִּילוּהוּ הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּר:

7

We immerse a minor who seeks to convert based upon the guidance of the court.12 For it is an advantage for a person [to convert].13 When a pregnant woman converts and immerses herself, her child does not require immersion.14

When [a convert] immerses himself alone and converts alone - or even if he does this in the presence of two persons15 - his conversion is not valid.16 If he comes and says: "I converted in the court of so-and-so and they had me immerse," his word is not accepted with regard to license to marry among the Jewish people17 unless he brings witnesses [who testify to the truth of his statements].

ז

גֵּר קָטָן מַטְבִּילִין אוֹתוֹ עַל דַּעַת בֵּית דִּין שֶׁזְּכוּת הִיא לוֹ. מְעֻבֶּרֶת שֶׁנִּתְגַּיְּרָה וְטָבְלָה אֵין בְּנָהּ צָרִיךְ טְבִילָה. טָבַל בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ וְנִתְגַּיֵּר בֵּינוֹ לְבֵין עַצְמוֹ וַאֲפִלּוּ בִּפְנֵי שְׁנַיִם אֵינוֹ גֵּר. בָּא וְאָמַר נִתְגַּיַּרְתִּי בְּבֵית דִּינוֹ שֶׁל פְּלוֹנִי וְהִטְבִּילוּנִי אֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן לָבֹא בַּקָּהָל עַד שֶׁיָּבִיא עֵדִים:

8

[The following rules apply if] he was married to a native-born Jewess or a convert and he already fathered children. If he says: "I converted alone," his word is accepted with regard to the disqualification of his self,18 but not with regard to the disqualification of his children.19 He must immerse himself again in the presence of a court.20

ח

הָיָה נָשׂוּי לְיִשְׂרְאֵלִית אוֹ לְגִיֹּרֶת וְיֵשׁ לוֹ בָּנִים וְאָמַר נִתְגַּיַּרְתִּי בֵּינִי לְבֵין עַצְמִי נֶאֱמָן לִפְסל אֶת עַצְמוֹ וְאֵינוֹ נֶאֱמָן לִפְסל אֶת הַבָּנִים. וְחוֹזֵר וְטוֹבֵל בְּבֵית דִּין:

9

[The following laws apply with regard to] a female convert who we see conduct herself according to the ways of Israel at all times, for example, she immerses herself after being a niddah,21 she separates terumah from dough, or the like, and to a male convert who follows the paths of Israel, for example, he immerses himself after a seminal emission, and performs all the mitzvot. These are considered as righteous converts even though there are no witnesses to testify before whom they converted. Nevertheless, if they come to marry among the Jewish people, we do not allow them unless they bring witnesses or they immerse themselves in our presence. The rationale is that their identity was originally established as gentiles.

ט

גִּיֹּרֶת שֶׁרְאִינוּהָ נוֹהֶגֶת בְּדַרְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל תָּמִיד כְּגוֹן שֶׁתִּטְבּל לְנִדָּתָהּ וְתַפְרִישׁ תְּרוּמָה מֵעִסָּתָהּ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּזֶה. וְכֵן גֵּר שֶׁנּוֹהֵג בְּדַרְכֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁטּוֹבֵל לְקִרְיוֹ וְעוֹשֶׂה כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת. הֲרֵי אֵלּוּ בְּחֶזְקַת גֵּרֵי צֶדֶק. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין שָׁם עֵדִים שֶׁמְּעִידִין לִפְנֵי מִי שֶׁנִּתְגַּיְּרוּ. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן אִם בָּאוּ לְהִתְעָרֵב בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל אֵין מַשִּׂיאִין אוֹתָם עַד שֶׁיָּבִיאוּ עֵדִים אוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּטְבְּלוּ בְּפָנֵינוּ הוֹאִיל וְהֻחְזְקוּ עַכּוּ''ם:

10

If, however, a person comes and says that he was a gentile, but that he was converted by a court, his word is accepted. [The rationale is that] the mouth that forbade him was the same that permitted him.22

When does the above apply? In Eretz Yisrael in the Talmudic era. For [at that time,] all the people there could be assumed to be Jewish. In the Diaspora, however, he must bring proof of his conversion.23 [Only] afterwards may he marry a Jewess. I say that this is an additional stringency adopted to protect the purity of our lineage.

י

אֲבָל מִי שֶׁבָּא וְאָמַר שֶׁהָיָה עַכּוּ''ם וְנִתְגַּיֵּר בְּבֵית דִּין נֶאֱמָן. שֶׁהַפֶּה שֶׁאָסַר הוּא הַפֶּה שֶׁהִתִּיר. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבְאוֹתָן הַיָּמִים שֶׁחֶזְקַת הַכּל שָׁם בְּחֶזְקַת יִשְׂרָאֵל. אֲבָל בְּחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ צָרִיךְ לְהָבִיא רְאָיָה וְאַחַר כָּךְ יִשָּׂא יִשְׂרְאֵלִית. וַאֲנִי אוֹמֵר שֶׁזּוֹ מַעֲלָה בְּיוּחֲסִין:

11

Just as we circumcise and immerse converts; so, too, we circumcise and immerse servants which are acquired from the gentiles for the sake of servitude.24

When a person acquires a servant from the gentiles and the gentile takes the initiative and immerses with the intent of becoming a free man, he acquires his own person,25 provided he says while immersing: "Behold I am immersing before you for the sake of conversion." If he immerses himself in the presence of his master, he does not have to make an explicit statement.26 Instead, since he immersed himself, he attains his freedom.27

For this reason, [when having the servant immerse,] the master must push him into the water28 until he arises at which time he is in his servitude. He must tell him that he is having him immerse for the sake of servitude in the presence of the judges. A servant must also immerse only in the presence of three judges and during the day as a convert, for it is a partial conversion.

יא

כְּשֵׁם שֶׁמָּלִין וּמַטְבִּילִין אֶת הַגֵּרִים כָּךְ מָלִין וּמַטְבִּילִין אֶת הָעֲבָדִים הַנִּלְקָחִים מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם לְשֵׁם עַבְדוּת. הַלּוֹקֵחַ עֶבֶד מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם וְקָדַם הָעֶבֶד וְטָבַל לְשֵׁם בֶּן חוֹרִין קָנָה עַצְמוֹ. וְהוּא שֶׁיֹּאמַר בְּעֵת טְבִילָה הֲרֵינִי טוֹבֵל בִּפְנֵיכֶם לְשֵׁם גֵּרוּת. וְאִם טָבַל בִּפְנֵי רַבּוֹ אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לְפָרֵשׁ אֶלָּא כֵּיוָן שֶׁטָּבַל נִשְׁתַּחְרֵר. לְפִיכָךְ צָרִיךְ רַבּוֹ לְתָקְפּוֹ בַּמַּיִם עַד שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה וְהוּא תַּחַת שִׁעְבּוּדוֹ וּמוֹדִיעוֹ בִּפְנֵי הַדַּיָּנִין שֶׁלְּשֵׁם עַבְדוּת מַטְבִּילוֹ. וְאֵין הָעֶבֶד טוֹבֵל אֶלָּא בִּפְנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה וּבַיּוֹם כְּגֵר, שֶׁמִּקְצָת גֵּרוּת הוּא:

12

When a servant is freed, he must immerse himself a second time29in the presence of three men during the day,30 for through this act, his conversion is completed and [his status] becomes that of a Jew. It is not necessary for him to accept the mitzvot and [for the judges] to inform him of the fundamentals of the faith, for they already informed him when he immersed himself for the sake of servitude.31

יב

כְּשֶׁיִּשְׁתַּחְרֵר הָעֶבֶד צָרִיךְ טְבִילָה אַחֶרֶת בִּפְנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה בַּיּוֹם שֶׁבּוֹ תִּגָּמֵר גֵּרוּתוֹ וְיִהְיֶה כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לְקַבֵּל עָלָיו מִצְוֹת וּלְהוֹדִיעוֹ עִקְּרֵי הַדָּת שֶׁכְּבָר הוֹדִיעוּהוּ כְּשֶׁטָּבַל לְשֵׁם עַבְדוּת:

13

Converts, servants, and freed servants must be immersed in a mikveh that is acceptable for a niddah to immerse in. All of the substances that [disqualify her immersion because] they intervene [between the water and her flesh] disqualify the immersions, of converts, servants, and freed servants.32

יג

וּבְמִקְוֶה הַכָּשֵׁר לִטְבִילַת נִדָּה שָׁם מַטְבִּילִין אֶת הַגֵּרִים וְאֶת הָעֲבָדִים וְאֶת הַמְשֻׁחְרָרִים. וְכָל דָּבָר שֶׁחוֹצֵץ בְּנִדָּה חוֹצֵץ בְּגֵרִים וּבַעֲבָדִים וּבִמְשֻׁחְרָרִים:

14

One should not think that Samson who saved the Jewish people, and Solomon King of Israel, who is called "the friend of God,"33 married gentile woman who did not convert. Instead, the matter can be explained as follows: The proper way of performing the mitzvah is when a male or a female prospective convert comes, we inspect his motives for conversion. Perhaps he is coming for the sake of financial gain, in order to receive a position of authority,34 or he desires to enter our faith because of fear. For a man, we check whether he focused his attention on a Jewish woman. For a woman, we check whether she focused her attention on a Jewish youth.

If we find no ulterior motive, we inform them of the heaviness of the yoke of the Torah and the difficulty the common people have in observing it so that they will abandon [their desire].35 If they accept [this introduction] and do not abandon their resolve and thus we see that they are motivated by love, we accept them, as [indicated by Ruth 1:18]: "And she saw that she was exerting herself to continue with her and she ceased speaking with her."36

יד

אַל יַעֲלֶה עַל דַּעְתְּךָ שֶׁשִּׁמְשׁוֹן הַמּוֹשִׁיעַ אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ שְׁלֹמֹה מֶלֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁנִּקְרָא יְדִיד ה' נָשְׂאוּ נָשִׁים נָכְרִיּוֹת בְּגֵיוּתָן. אֶלָּא סוֹד הַדָּבָר כָּךְ הוּא. שֶׁהַמִּצְוָה הַנְּכוֹנָה כְּשֶׁיָּבֹא הַגֵּר אוֹ הַגִּיֹּרֶת לְהִתְגַּיֵּר בּוֹדְקִין אַחֲרָיו שֶׁמָּא בִּגְלַל מָמוֹן שֶׁיִּטּל אוֹ בִּשְׁבִיל שְׂרָרָה שֶׁיִּזְכֶּה לָהּ אוֹ מִפְּנֵי הַפַּחַד בָּא לְהִכָּנֵס לַדָּת. וְאִם אִישׁ הוּא בּוֹדְקִין אַחֲרָיו שֶׁמָּא עֵינָיו נָתַן בְּאִשָּׁה יְהוּדִית. וְאִם אִשָּׁה הִיא בּוֹדְקִין שֶׁמָּא עֵינֶיהָ נָתְנָה בְּבָחוּר מִבַּחוּרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. אִם לֹא נִמְצָא לָהֶם עִלָּה מוֹדִיעִין אוֹתָן כֹּבֶד עֹל הַתּוֹרָה וְטֹרַח שֶׁיֵּשׁ בַּעֲשִׂיָּתָהּ עַל עַמֵּי הָאֲרָצוֹת כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּפְרשׁוּ. אִם קִבְּלוּ וְלֹא פֵּרְשׁוּ וְרָאוּ אוֹתָן שֶׁחָזְרוּ מֵאַהֲבָה מְקַבְּלִים אוֹתָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (רות א יח) "וַתֵּרֶא כִּי מִתְאַמֶּצֶת הִיא לָלֶכֶת אִתָּהּ וַתֶּחְדַּל לְדַבֵּר אֵלֶיהָ":

15

For this reason,37 the court did not accept converts throughout the reign of David and Solomon. In David's time, [they feared] that they sought to convert because of fear and in Solomon's time, [they feared] that they were motivated by the sovereignty, prosperity, and eminence which Israel enjoyed. [They refrained from accepting such converts, because] a gentile who seeks to convert because of the vanities of this [material] world is not a righteous convert.

Nevertheless, there were many people who converted in the presence of ordinary people38 during the era of David and Solomon. The Supreme Sanhedrin would view them with skepticism. Since they immersed themselves, they would not reject them, but they would not draw them close until they saw what the outcome would be.39

טו

לְפִיכָךְ לֹא קִבְּלוּ בֵּית דִּין גֵּרִים כָּל יְמֵי דָּוִד וּשְׁלֹמֹה. בִּימֵי דָּוִד שֶׁמָּא מִן הַפַּחַד חָזְרוּ. וּבִימֵי שְׁלֹמֹה שֶׁמָּא בִּשְׁבִיל הַמַּלְכוּת וְהַטּוֹבָה וְהַגְּדֻלָּה שֶׁהָיוּ בָּהּ יִשְׂרָאֵל חָזְרוּ. שֶׁכָּל הַחוֹזֵר מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם בִּשְׁבִיל דָּבָר מֵהַבְלֵי הָעוֹלָם אֵינוֹ מִגֵּרֵי הַצֶּדֶק. וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן הָיוּ גֵּרִים הַרְבֵּה מִתְגַּיְּרִים בִּימֵי דָּוִד וּשְׁלֹמֹה בִּפְנֵי הֶדְיוֹטוֹת. וְהָיוּ בֵּית דִּין הַגָּדוֹל חוֹשְׁשִׁין לָהֶם לֹא דּוֹחִין אוֹתָן אַחַר שֶׁטָּבְלוּ מִכָּל מָקוֹם וְלֹא מְקָרְבִין אוֹתָן עַד שֶׁתֵּרָאֶה אַחֲרִיתָם:

16

Solomon converted women and married them and similarly, Samson converted [women] and married [them]. It is well known that they converted only because of an ulterior motive and that their conversion was not under the guidance of the court. Hence the Tanach40 considered it as if they were gentiles and remained forbidden. Moreover, their conduct ultimately revealed their initial intent. For they would worship their false deities and build platforms for them. Therefore the Scriptures considered it as if [Solomon] built them, as [I Kings 11:7] states: "And then, Solomon built a platform."

טז

וּלְפִי שֶׁגִּיֵּר שְׁלֹמֹה נָשִׁים וּנְשָׂאָן. וְכֵן שִׁמְשׁוֹן גִּיֵּר וְנָשָׂא. וְהַדָּבָר יָדוּעַ שֶׁלֹּא חָזְרוּ אֵלּוּ אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִיל דָּבָר וְלֹא עַל פִּי בֵּית דִּין גִּיְּרוּם חֲשָׁבָן הַכָּתוּב כְּאִלּוּ הֵן עַכּוּ''ם וּבְאִסּוּרָן עוֹמְדִין. וְעוֹד שֶׁהוֹכִיחַ סוֹפָן עַל תְּחִלָּתָן שֶׁהֵן עוֹבְדוֹת כּוֹכָבִים וּמַזָּלוֹת שֶׁלָּהֶן וּבָנוּ לָהֶן בָּמוֹת וְהֶעֱלָה עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב כְּאִלּוּ הוּא בְּנָאָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (מלכים א יא ז) "אָז יִבְנֶה שְׁלֹמֹה בָּמָה":

17

When a court did not check a [potential] converts background and did not inform him of the mitzvot41 and the punishment for [the failure to observe] the mitzvot and he circumcised himself and immersed in the presence of three ordinary people, he is a convert. Even if it is discovered that he converted for an ulterior motive, since he circumcised himself and converted, he has departed from the category of gentiles and we view him with skepticism until his righteousness is revealed.

Even if afterwards, [the convert] worships false deities, he is like an apostate Jew. [If he] consecrates [a woman,] the consecration is valid,42 and it is a mitzvah to return his lost object.43 For since he immersed himself he became a Jew. For this reason,44Samson and Solomon maintained their wives even though their inner feelings45 were revealed.

יז

גֵּר שֶׁלֹּא בָּדְקוּ אַחֲרָיו אוֹ שֶׁלֹּא הוֹדִיעוּהוּ הַמִּצְוֹת וְעָנְשָׁן וּמָל וְטָבַל בִּפְנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה הֶדְיוֹטוֹת הֲרֵי זֶה גֵּר. אֲפִלּוּ נוֹדַע שֶׁבִּשְׁבִיל דָּבָר הוּא מִתְגַּיֵּר הוֹאִיל וּמָל וְטָבַל יָצָא מִכְּלַל הָעַכּוּ''ם וְחוֹשְׁשִׁין לוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר צִדְקוּתוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ חָזַר וְעָבַד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה הֲרֵי הוּא כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל מוּמָר שֶׁקִּדּוּשָׁיו קִדּוּשִׁין. וּמִצְוָה לְהַחֲזִיר אֲבֵדָתוֹ מֵאַחַר שֶׁטָּבַל נַעֲשָׂה כְּיִשְׂרָאֵל. וּלְפִיכָךְ קִיְּמוּ שִׁמְשׁוֹן וּשְׁלֹמֹה נְשׁוֹתֵיהֶן וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּגְלָה סוֹדָן:

18

For this reason, our Sages said:46 "Converts are as difficult for the Jewish people to bear as a leprous blemish." For most converts revert for some reason or other and cause Jews to stray. It is difficult to separate from them once they have converted. Look at what happened in the desert at the worship of the Golden Calf and Kivrot HaTa'avah.47 Similarly, most of [the complaints in the instances when] our people tried God were instigated by the mixed multitude.

יח

וּמִפְּנֵי זֶה אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים קָשִׁים לָהֶם גֵּרִים לְיִשְׂרָאֵל כְּנֶגַע צָרַעַת שֶׁרֻבָּן חוֹזְרִין בִּשְׁבִיל דָּבָר וּמַטְעִין אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְקָשֶׁה הַדָּבָר לִפְרשׁ מֵהֶם אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְגַּיְּרוּ. צֵא וּלְמַד מָה אֵרַע בַּמִּדְבָּר בְּמַעֲשֵׂה הָעֵגֶל וּבְקִבְרוֹת הַתַּאֲוָה וְכֵן רֹב הַנִּסְיוֹנוֹת הָאֲסַפְסוּף הָיוּ בָּהֶן תְּחִלָּה:

Footnotes
1.

Tosafot, Keritot 9a, refer to this as the covenant which separated the Jews from the other nations. The Rambam is emphasizing that all of these acts where performed in preparation for the Giving of the Torah when the covenant took effect.

2.

See Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 1:3 which describes the extent of the Jews' assimilation in Egypt.

3.

Implied is that together with these ritual acts, the gentile must also accept the yoke of Jewish observance. As Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 268:3) emphasizes this is a fundamental element of the conversion process.

4.

If he had been circumcised as a gentile, a small amount of blood must be drawn from him for the sake of conversion [Chapter 14, Halachah 5; Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 268:1)].

5.

In contrast to other situations when a pair of such doves are offered and one is brought as a burnt offering and one as a sin offering.

6.

For the Temple is destroyed.

7.

The Rambam mentions the two acts in the desired order: circumcision and then, immersion. Nevertheless, if a convert immerses before circumcision, there is a difference of opinion among the later Rabbis if the immersion is acceptable or not [Rama (Yoreh De'ah 268:1)]. Hence he should immerse again because of the doubt (Siftei Cohen 268:2).

8.

Yevamot 46a quotes an opinion which requires the convert to actually set aside the money. The Talmud's conclusion, however, is that it would be undesirable to do so, lest the funds be used for other purposes which is a transgression.

It must be emphasized that even before the convert brings a sacrifice, he is considered as a full-fledged member of the Jewish people.

9.

Numbers 15:16 states: "There will be one judgment for you and the convert." Since the verse uses the term judgment, Yevamot 46b states that like in a judgment, three judges are necessary.

There are opinions that emphasize that this is merely an asmachta, a Rabbinic ruling that uses a Biblical verse as a support. Kin'at Eliyahuexplains the rationale for this view. Were the concept to have its source in Scriptural Law, judges possessing semichah, the unique ordination that ceased in the Talmudic era, would be required and thus it would be impossible to accept converts in the present age.

10.

For a court does not hold sessions at these times. Another reason why the immersion should not be performed at this time is that it amends the person's state, and that is not permitted on the Sabbath. Nevertheless, the Rambam considers the first rationale of primary importance (Kessef Mishneh).

11.

The Rashba explains that a legal case that is begun during the day may be completed at night. Hence, the convert's immersion may also be accepted at night.

12.

Conversion, a change in status, must be brought about through a conscious decision by the convert. A minor is not considered as able to make mature decisions and is not held responsible for his conduct. Therefore he cannot make the decision to convert. Nevertheless, the Jewish court makes this decision on his behalf.

The converted child, however, has the option of refuting the conversion when he comes of age. If he protests his conversion at that time, he is considered a gentile and need not observe the mitzvot. If, however, he accepts his conversion when he comes of age, but regrets afterwards, he is bound by his original decision.

13.

A person cannot act on another person's behalf unless it is considered to his benefit, but our Sages consider becoming part of the Jewish people a benefit sufficient enough to justify their actions. The Maggid Mishneh explains that although the Torah and its mitzvot compel a person to restrain his conduct, as long as he is young and has not become habituated to forbidden conduct, he will be able to accommodate himself to the Torah's guidelines.

14.

For the fetus is considered as part of her body and her immersion is sufficient for the fetus as well.

15.

For two people do not constitute a court (Hilchot Sanhedrin 2:10).

16.

For as mentioned in the previous halachah, three judges must be present.

The Rambam's perspective is not accepted by all authorities. Rabbenu Asher maintains that the requirement applies only at the outset. After the fact, even if a gentile circumcised himself and immersed on his own, the immersion is acceptable, provided he accepted the mitzvot in the presence of three Jews. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 268:3) mentions both opinions, but appears to favor that of Rabbenu Asher.

17.

As indicated by Halachah 10, this refers to a situation where previously, we know that the person was a gentile. If not, different laws apply. In all instances, the person must observe the mitzvot because of his statements. We, however, do not rely on his word alone with regard to marriage.

18.

And he is not allowed to continue living with his wife until he performs the conversion rites again.

The Siftei Cohen 268:22 quotes Rabbenu Asher who rules that his statements are of no consequence whatsoever. For example, if he enters into relations with a married Jewish women. If he was a gentile, the woman would be able to continue living with her husband, but if he was Jewish (i.e., his conversion was acceptable), the relations are considered as adulterous and she is forbidden. According to Rabbenu Asher, his word is not accepted and she is not forbidden.

19.

The Maggid Mishneh questions how is it possible to disqualify his children. Even if he was indeed a gentile, the children would be Jewish. He explains that there is a halachic difference in a situation where both the parents converted privately. In that instance, were we to disqualify the children because of their statements, there would be a change in status.

20.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger adds that according to the Rambam, he must also have blood drawn from his male organ as is the case of a convert who was circumcised while a gentile.

21.

According to the authorities that, after the fact. do not require a convert's immersion to be performed in the presence of a court, this immersion also could serve as the immersion for the sake of conversion.

22.

I.e., we knew nothing of the person's identity before he came before us. He was the one who raised the doubt whether he was Jewish - by saying that he was a convert - and he resolved it - by saying that he converted in a proper court. This follows the principle of miggo, if he desired to lie, he could have told a more effective lie, saying that he was a native-born Israelite.

23.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam, explaining that there are two Talmudic opinions: one that accepts the convert's word both in Eretz Yisrael and in the Diaspora and one that requires him to bring proof in both places. Similarly, the Ramban and the Rashba differ and maintain that the convert's word is accepted in all places. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 268:10) mentions the Rambam's view, but appears to follow that of the Ramban and the Rashba. Today the custom is for a court to be careful and investigate a convert's conversion before allowing him to marry among the Jewish people.

24.

For becoming a servant is also a change of status, causing the servant to depart from the status of a gentile, as stated in Chapter 12, Halachah 11.

25.

Yevamot 45b-46a explains the rationale for this law: The gentile owner who sold the servant does not own his physical person in the same manner as a Jew does. That ownership is a new factor established through immersion. Hence, if the servant takes the initiative, he can avoid being acquired.

26.

For taking this independent act in the presence of his master is considered as if he made an explicit statement.

27.

He must, however, reimburse the master for his value [Maggid Mishneh; Rama (Yoreh De'ah 267:9)].

28.

By manifesting his control over him in this manner, he emphasizes that he is acquiring him as a servant.

29.

The Maggid Mishneh cites views that maintain that this immersion is Rabbinic in origin. Rabbi Akiva Eiger cites Tosafot who emphasize that it is a Scriptural requirement.

30.

As required of a convert (Halachah 6).

31.

See the initial halachot of the following chapter which describe the manner in which a gentile and a servant are informed about the mitzvot.

32.

See Hilchot Mikveot which elaborates at length concerning both concepts mentioned in this halachah: what makes a mikveh acceptable and which substances disqualify an immersion when they intervene between a person's flesh and the water. For this reason, a servant or a convert should trim his nails and hair [Rama (Yoreh De'ah 268:2); see also Siftei Cohen 268:7].

33.

See II Shmuel 12:25, as interpreted by Menachot 53a, et al.

34.

Tosafot cites the narrative (Shabbat 31a) which relates that a gentile came to Hillel and asked him to convert him on the condition that he become the High Priest. Hillel agreed. Later the convert discovered the error of his ways and accepted Jewish practice genuinely. Tosafot explains that from the outset, Hillel recognized his potential sincerity and therefore accepted him even though originally, his motives were self-oriented. The Bayit Chadash and the Siftei Cohen 268:23 state that Hillel's example may be emulated and the Jewish courts have the prerogative of making a decision to accept a convert even though at the outset, he seeks to convert for ulterior motives.

35.

For as the Rambam continues to explain, a convert's lack of observance could have a negative effect on the entire people. There is no obligation to convert. A gentile who observes the seven universal laws commanded to Noah and his descendants is on a very high rung. Hence unless a gentile is motivated by a very sincere commitment, it is preferable for him not to change his status and serve God in his present state.

36.

At first, Naomi tried to dissuade Ruth from converting. When, however, she saw her sincerity, she allowed her to join her. See Chapter 14, Halachah 1, which describes how this concept is applied.

37.

I.e., because their motives were not genuine, as the Rambam continues to explain.

38.

I.e., these individuals did not know that the converts should not be accepted.

39.

I.e., would they accept Jewish practice genuinely.

The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 268:12) interprets this to mean that the conversion was effective. They are Jews and have all the privileges and responsibilities of the Jewish people. Nevertheless, as an initial and preferred option, our Sages would not allow them to marry within the Jewish people and the like until they had established their sincere commitment to the Torah and its mitzvot.

It must be emphasized that, according to the Shulchan Aruch, we are speaking about people who convert for ulterior motives, but still accept the yoke of the Torah and its mitzvot. When a person "converts" without accepting the Torah and its mitzvot at all, the conversion is invalid, even if he becomes circumcised and immerses in a mikveh. For that reason, non-halachic "conversions" are unacceptable. See the notes to Halachah 18.

41.

The Maggid Mishneh states that even if the court does not notify the potential convert of the mitzvot, the conversion is effective. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 268:12) when quoting this law, changes the text to "the reward for the mitzvot," implying that the gentile must accept the mitzvot before immersion. As the commentaries to the Shulchan Aruch explain, according to the Shulchan Aruch, if a convert does not accept the observance of mitzvot, the conversion is not acceptable even if he becomes circumcised and immerses. This concept is particularly relevant in the presence age when there are many non-halachic "conversions."

42.

Hence a get (formal bill of divorce) is required before the woman can marry another Jew.

43.

The basic concept is that a convert who sins is considered as a Jew who sins. Even if he or she commits serious transgressions, the conversion is not revoked. The Kessef Mishneh maintains that if the convert intentionally worships false deities, a lost object that belonged to him is not returned, as indicated by Hilchot Gezeilah ViAvedah 11:2.

44.

I.e., because despite their sins, they remained Jewesses.

45.

I.e., their connection to idolatry.

46.

Yevamot 47a. It must be emphasized that sincere converts are given the highest praise. In a renowned letter to a convert named Ovadiah, the Rambam states: "We [i.e., native-born Jews] share a connection with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Your connection is with the One who spoke and created the world."

47.

Our Sages explain that in both instances, it was the erev rav, the mixed multitude of converts who accompanied the Jews out of Egypt, who enticed the people to perform these sins. Kivrot HaTa'avah refers to the incident, Numbers, ch. 11, where the people complained because they desired other food in addition to the manna.

Issurei Biah - Chapter Fourteen

1

What is the procedure when accepting a righteous convert? When one of the gentiles comes to convert, we inspect his background.1 If an ulterior motive for conversion is not found,2 we ask him:3 "Why did you choose to convert? Don't you know that in the present era, the Jews are afflicted, crushed, subjugated, strained, and suffering comes upon them?" If he answers: "I know. Would it be that I be able to be part of them,"4 we accept him immediately.

א

כֵּיצַד מְקַבְּלִין גֵּרֵי הַצֶּדֶק. כְּשֶׁיָּבוֹא אִחָד לִהִתְגַּיֵּר מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם וְיִבְדְּקוּ אַחֲרָיו וְלֹא יִמְצְאוּ עִלָּה. אוֹמְרִים לוֹ מָה רָאִיתָ שֶׁבָּאתָ לְהִתְגַּיֵּר. אִי אַתָּה יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה דְּווּיִים וּדְחוּפִים וּמְסֻחָפִין וּמְטֹרָפִין וְיִסּוּרִין בָּאִין עֲלֵיהֶן. אִם אָמַר אֲנִי יוֹדֵעַ וְאֵינִי כְּדַאי מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתוֹ מִיָּד:

2

We inform him of the fundamentals of the faith, i.e., the unity of God and the prohibition against the worship of false deities. We elaborate on this matter.5We inform him about some of the easy mitzvot and some of the more severe ones. We do not elaborate on this matter.6 We inform him of the transgression of [not leaving] leket, shichachah, pe'ah,7 and the second tithe.8 And we inform him of the punishment given for [violating] the mitzvot.

What is implied? We tell him: "Before you came to our faith, if you partook of fat, you were not liable for your soul to be cut off. If you desecrated the Sabbath, you were not liable to be stoned to death. Now, after you convert, if you partake of fat, you are liable for your soul to be cut off. If you desecrate the Sabbath, you are liable to be stoned to death."

We do not teach him all the particulars lest this cause him concern and turn him away from a good path to a bad path. For at the outset, we draw a person forth with soft and appealing words, as [Hoshea 11:4] states: "With cords of man, I drew them forth,"9 and then continues: "with bonds of love."10

ב

וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ עִקְּרֵי הַדָּת שֶׁהוּא יִחוּד הַשֵּׁם וְאִסּוּר עַכּוּ''ם. וּמַאֲרִיכִין בַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה. וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ מִקְצָת מִצְוֹת קַלּוֹת וּמִקְצָת מִצְוֹת חֲמוּרוֹת. וְאֵין מַאֲרִיכִין בְּדָבָר זֶה. וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ עֲוֹן לֶקֶט שִׁכְחָה וּפֵאָה וּמַעֲשֵׂר שֵׁנִי. וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ עָנְשָׁן שֶׁל מִצְוֹת. כֵּיצַד. אוֹמְרִים לוֹ הֱוֵי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁעַד שֶׁלֹּא בָּאתָ לְדָת זוֹ אִם אָכַלְתָּ חֵלֶב אִי אַתָּה עָנוּשׁ כָּרֵת. אִם חִלַּלְתָּ שַׁבָּת אִי אַתָּה עָנוּשׁ סְקִילָה. וְעַכְשָׁיו אַחַר שֶׁתִּתְגַּיֵּר אִם אָכַלְתָּ חֵלֶב אַתָּה עָנוּשׁ כָּרֵת. אִם חִלַּלְתָּ שַׁבָּת אַתָּה עָנוּשׁ סְקִילָה. וְאֵין מַרְבִּין עָלָיו. וְאֵין מְדַקְדְּקִין עָלָיו. שֶׁמָּא יִגְרֹם לְטָרְדוֹ וּלְהַטּוֹתוֹ מִדֶּרֶךְ טוֹבָה לְדֶרֶךְ רָעָה. שֶׁבַּתְּחִלָּה אֵין מוֹשְׁכִין אֶת הָאָדָם אֶלָּא בְּדִבְרֵי רָצוֹן וְרַכִּים. וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר (הושע יא ד) "בְּחַבְלֵי אָדָם אֶמְשְׁכֵם" וְאַחַר כָּךְ (הושע יא ד) "בַּעֲבֹתוֹת אַהֲבָה":

3

Just as he is informed of the punishment [for disobeying] the commandments; so, too, he is informed about the reward for [their observance]. We tell him that by observing these mitzvot, he will merit the life of the World to Come. For there is no completely righteous man other than a master of wisdom who observes these mitzvot and knows them.

ג

וּכְשֵׁם שֶׁמּוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ עָנְשָׁן שֶׁל מִצְוֹת כָּךְ מוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ שְׂכָרָן שֶׁל מִצְוֹת. וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ שֶׁבַּעֲשִׂיַּת מִצְוֹת אֵלּוּ יִזְכֶּה לְחַיֵּי הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא. וְשֶׁאֵין שׁוּם צַדִּיק גָּמוּר אֶלָּא בַּעַל הַחָכְמָה שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה מִצְוֹת אֵלּוּ וְיוֹדְעָן:

4

We tell him: "Know that the World to Come is hidden away only for the righteous; they are the Jews.11 The fact that you see Israel suffering difficulty in this world [reflects] the good that is hidden away for them. For they cannot receive an abundance of good in this world as the gentiles do. For they hearts may become uplifted and they will err and lose the reward of the World to Come, as [Deuteronomy 32:15] states: "Jeshuron became fat and rebelled."12

ד

וְאוֹמְרִים לוֹ הֱוֵי יוֹדֵעַ שֶׁהָעוֹלָם הַבָּא אֵינוֹ צָפוּן אֶלָּא לַצַּדִּיקִים וְהֵם יִשְׂרָאֵל. וְזֶה שֶׁתִּרְאֶה יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּצַעַר בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה טוֹבָה הִיא צְפוּנָה לָהֶם שֶׁאֵינָן יְכוֹלִין לְקַבֵּל רֹב טוֹבָה בָּעוֹלָם הַזֶּה כָּאֻמּוֹת. שֶׁמָּא יָרוּם לִבָּם וְיִתְעוּ וְיַפְסִידוּ שְׂכַר הָעוֹלָם הַבָּא כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים לב טו) "וַיִּשְׁמַן יְשֻׁרוּן וַיִּבְעָט":

5

The Holy One, blessed be He, does not bring upon them an abundance of retribution solely so that they will not perish. For all the other nations will perish and they will prevail. We elaborate on this concept to make them feel cherished. If [the prospective convert] retracts and does not want to accept [the mitzvot], he goes on his way. If he accepts [their observance], we do not have him wait, but instead circumcise him immediately.13 If he was circumcised, we draw the blood of circumcision from him.14 We wait until he heals entirely15 and then immerse him.

ה

וְאֵין הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֵבִיא עֲלֵיהֶן רֹב פֻּרְעָנוּת כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֹאבְדוּ אֶלָּא כָּל הָעַכּוּ''ם כָּלִין וְהֵן עוֹמְדִין. וּמַאֲרִיכִין בַּדָּבָר הַזֶּה כְּדֵי לְחַבְּבָן. אִם חָזַר בּוֹ וְלֹא רָצָה לְקַבֵּל הוֹלֵךְ לְדַרְכּוֹ. וְאִם קִבֵּל אֵין מַשְׁהִין אוֹתוֹ אֶלָּא מָלִין אוֹתוֹ מִיָּד. וְאִם הָיָה מָהוּל מַטִּיפִין מִמֶּנּוּ דַּם בְּרִית וּמַשְׁהִים אוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּתְרַפֵּא רְפוּאָה שְׁלֵמָה. וְאַחַר כָּךְ מַטְבִּילִין אוֹתוֹ:

6

Three [judges] stand over him and inform him about some of the easy mitzvot and some of the more severe ones a second time while he stands in the water.16 If the convert was female,17 women position her in the water until her neck while the judges are outside. They inform her about some of the easy mitzvot and some of the more severe ones while she is sitting in the water. Then she immerses herself in their presence. Afterwards, they turn their faces away and depart so that they will not see her when she ascends from the water.

ו

וּשְׁלֹשָׁה עוֹמְדִין עַל גַּבָּיו וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ מִקְצָת מִצְוֹת קַלּוֹת וּמִקְצָת מִצְוֹת חֲמוּרוֹת פַּעַם שְׁנִיָּה וְהוּא עוֹמֵד בַּמַּיִם. וְאִם הָיְתָה אִשָּׁה נָשִׁים מוֹשִׁיבוֹת אוֹתָהּ בַּמַּיִם עַד צַוָּארָהּ וְהַדַּיָּנִין מִבַּחוּץ וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתָהּ מִקְצָת מִצְוֹת קַלּוֹת וַחֲמוּרוֹת. וְהִיא יוֹשֶׁבֶת בַּמַּיִם וְאַחַר כָּךְ טוֹבֶלֶת בִּפְנֵיהֶם וְהֵן מַחְזִירִין פְּנֵיהֶן וְיוֹצְאִין כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִרְאוּ אוֹתָהּ כְּשֶׁתַּעֲלֶה מִן הַמַּיִם:

7

What is meant by a resident alien? A gentile who makes a commitment not to worship false deities and to observe the other [six] universal laws commanded to Noah's descendants. He does not circumcise himself or immerse. We accept this commitment and he is considered one of the pious gentiles.

Why is he called a resident? Because we are permitted to allow him to dwell among us in Eretz Yisrael, as explained in Hilchot Avodah Zarah.18

ז

אֵי זֶה הוּא גֵּר תּוֹשָׁב זֶה עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁקִּבֵּל עָלָיו שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲבֹד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה עִם שְׁאָר הַמִּצְוֹת שֶׁנִּצְטַוּוּ בְּנֵי נֹחַ וְלֹא מָל וְלֹא טָבַל הֲרֵי זֶה מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתוֹ וְהוּא מֵחֲסִידֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם. וְלָמָּה נִקְרָא שְׁמוֹ תּוֹשָׁב לְפִי שֶׁמֻּתָּר לָנוּ לְהוֹשִׁיבוֹ בֵּינֵינוּ בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת עַכּוּ''ם:

8

We accept resident aliens only during the era when the Jubilee year is observed.19 In the present era, even if a gentile makes a commitment to observe the entire Torah with the exception of one minor point,20 he is not accepted.21

ח

וְאֵין מְקַבְּלִין גֵּר תּוֹשָׁב אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַיּוֹבֵל נוֹהֵג. אֲבָל בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה אֲפִלּוּ קִבֵּל עָלָיו כָּל הַתּוֹרָה כֻּלָּהּ חוּץ מִדִּקְדּוּק אֶחָד אֵין מְקַבְּלִין אוֹתוֹ:

9

When a servant is purchased from the gentiles, we do not say: "Why did you choose to convert?"22 Instead, we say to him: "Do you desire to enter the category of Jewish servants and become one of the observant of them?" If he agrees, he is informed about the fundamentals of the faith, about some of the easy mitzvot and some of the more severe ones, and the punishments and rewards [associated with them] as we notify a convert. [Then] we immerse him23 as we immerse a convert and inform him [of the mitzvot] while he is in the water.

If he does not desire to accept [the status of a servant], we are patient with him for twelve months. Afterwards, we sell him to a gentile. It is forbidden to maintain him for a longer period.24 If at the outset, he established a condition that he would not be circumcised or immersed, but instead would be a resident alien, it is permissible to maintain him in that status.25 A servant may be maintained in this status only during the era when the Jubilee is observed.

ט

הָעֶבֶד הַנִּלְקָח מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם אֵין אוֹמְרִין לוֹ מָה רָאִיתָ שֶׁבָּאתָ. אֶלָּא אוֹמְרִים לוֹ רְצוֹנְךָ שֶׁתִּכָּנֵס לִכְלַל עַבְדֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְתִהְיֶה מִן הַכְּשֵׁרִים אוֹ לֹא. אִם רָצָה מוֹדִיעִין לוֹ עִקְּרֵי הַדָּת וּמִקְצָת מִצְוֹת קַלּוֹת וַחֲמוּרוֹת וְעָנְשָׁן וּשְׂכָרָן כְּמוֹ שֶׁמּוֹדִיעִין אֶת הַגֵּר וּמַטְבִּילִין אוֹתוֹ כְּגֵר. וּמוֹדִיעִין אוֹתוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא בַּמַּיִם. וְאִם לֹא רָצָה לְקַבֵּל מְגַלְגְּלִין עָלָיו כָּל שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר חֹדֶשׁ וּמוֹכְרוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם. וְאָסוּר לְקַיְּמוֹ יוֹתֵר עַל כֵּן. וְאִם הִתְנָה עָלָיו מִתְּחִלָּה שֶׁלֹּא יָמוּל וְלֹא יִטְבּל אֶלָּא יִהְיֶה גֵּר תּוֹשָׁב מֻתָּר לְקַיְּמוֹ בַּעֲבוֹדָתוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא גֵּר תּוֹשָׁב. וְאֵין מְקַיְּמִין עֶבֶד כָּזֶה אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן הַיּוֹבֵל:

10

The only sexual relations forbidden to a gentile are: his mother, his father's wife, his maternal sister, a married woman, a male, and an animal, as will be explained in Hilchot Melachim UMilchomoteihem.26 Other relations forbidden the Jews are permitted to them.

י

הָעַכּוּ''ם אֵין אֲסוּרִים עֲלֵיהֶם מִשּׁוּם עֶרְוָה אֶלָּא אִמּוֹ וְאֵשֶׁת אָבִיו וַאֲחוֹתוֹ מֵאִמּוֹ וְאֵשֶׁת אִישׁ וְזָכָר וּבְהֵמָה כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּהִלְכוֹת מְלָכִים וּמִלְחֲמוֹתֵיהֶן. אֲבָל שְׁאָר עֲרָיוֹת מֻתָּרִין לָהֶן:

11

When a gentile converts or a servant is freed,27 he is like a newborn baby. Any relatives whom he had as a gentile or a servant are no longer considered his relatives. If both he and they convert, he is not obligated for relations with any of them.

יא

עַכּוּ''ם שֶׁנִּתְגַּיֵּר וְעֶבֶד שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּחְרֵר הֲרֵי הוּא כְּקָטָן שֶׁנּוֹלַד. וְכָל שְׁאֵר בָּשָׂר שֶׁהָיוּ לוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא עַכּוּ''ם אוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא עֶבֶד אֵינָן שְׁאֵר בָּשָׂר. וְאִם נִתְגַּיֵּר הוּא וְהֵם אֵינוֹ חַיָּב עַל אַחַת מֵהֶם מִשּׁוּם עֶרְוָה כְּלָל:

12

According to Scriptural Law, a convert may marry his mother or his maternal sister after they convert. Nevertheless, our Sages forbade this so that [the converts] will not say: "We came from a more severe level of holiness to a less severe one. Yesterday, this [relationship] was forbidden and today, it is permitted."28

Similarly, when a convert engages in relations with his mother or his sister when they have not converted, it is considered as if he had relations with a woman with whom he was not related.

יב

דִּין תּוֹרָה שֶׁמֻּתָּר לְעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁיִּשָּׂא אִמּוֹ אוֹ אֲחוֹתוֹ מֵאִמּוֹ שֶׁנִּתְגַּיְּרוּ. אֲבָל חֲכָמִים אָסְרוּ דָּבָר זֶה כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמְרוּ בָּאנוּ מִקְּדֻשָּׁה חֲמוּרָה לִקְדֻשָּׁה קַלָּה. שֶׁאֶמֶשׁ הָיְתָה לוֹ זוֹ אֲסוּרָה וְהַיּוֹם מֻתֶּרֶת. וְכֵן גֵּר שֶׁבָּא עַל אִמּוֹ אוֹ אֲחוֹתוֹ וְהִיא בְּגֵיוּתָהּ הֲרֵי זֶה כְּבָא עַל הַנָּכְרִית:

13

What is the law that applies to converts with regard to relations with their relatives. As we explained, if one was married while a gentile to his mother or his sister and they converted, we separate them as explained [above]. If he was married to any one of the other forbidden relations and he and his wife converted, they are not forced to separate.29

A convert is forbidden to marry his maternal relatives after they convert according to Rabbinic Law. He may, however, marry his paternal relatives. [This applies] even when he certainly knows that these persons are his paternal relatives,30 for example, twins, in which instance it is clear that the father of one is the father of the other. Nevertheless, our Sages did not enforce a decree with regard to one's paternal relatives.

Accordingly, a convert may marry the wife of his paternal brother, the wife of his father's brother, his father's wife,31 and his son's wife. [This applies] even if they married his brother, his father, his father's brother, or his son after they converted.32 Similarly, his mother's paternal sister, his paternal sister, and his daughter who converted are permitted to him. He may not, however, marry his maternal sister, his mother's maternal sister, nor a woman who married his maternal brother after he converted. If, however, a woman married his brother while he was a gentile,33 she is permitted to him.

יג

כֵּיצַד דִּין הַגֵּרִים בַּעֲרָיוֹת שֶׁל שְׁאֵר בָּשָׂר. אִם הָיָה נָשׂוּי כְּשֶׁהוּא עַכּוּ''ם לְאִמּוֹ אוֹ לַאֲחוֹתוֹ וְנִתְגַּיְּרוּ מַפְרִישִׁין אוֹתָן כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ. וְאִם הָיָה נָשׂוּי לִשְׁאָר עֲרָיוֹת וְנִתְגַּיֵּר הוּא וְאִשְׁתּוֹ אֵין מַפְרִישִׁין אוֹתָן. גֵּר אָסוּר בִּשְׁאֵר הָאֵם אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְגַּיֵּר מִדִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים. וּמֻתָּר בִּשְׁאֵר הָאָב אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁיּוֹדֵעַ בְּוַדַּאי שֶׁזֶּה שְׁאֵרוֹ מֵאָבִיו. כְּגוֹן תְּאוֹמִים שֶׁדָּבָר בָּרוּר שֶׁאָבִיו שֶׁל זֶה הוּא אָבִיו שֶׁל זֶה אַף עַל פִּי כֵן לֹא גָּזְרוּ עַל שְׁאֵר אָבִיו. לְפִיכָךְ נוֹשֵׂא הַגֵּר אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו מֵאָבִיו וְאֵשֶׁת אֲחִי אָבִיו וְאֵשֶׁת אָבִיו וְאֵשֶׁת בְּנוֹ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁנִּשֵּׂאת לְאָחִיו אוֹ לְאָבִיו אוֹ לַאֲחִי אָבִיו אוֹ לִבְנוֹ אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְגַּיְּרוּ. וְכֵן אֲחוֹת אִמּוֹ מֵאָבִיהָ וַאֲחוֹתוֹ מֵאָבִיו. וּבִתּוֹ שֶׁנִּתְגַּיְּרָה מֻתֶּרֶת לוֹ. אֲבָל אֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא לֹא אֲחוֹתוֹ מֵאִמּוֹ וְלֹא אֲחוֹת אִמּוֹ מֵאִמָּהּ וְלֹא אֵשֶׁת אָחִיו מֵאִמּוֹ שֶׁנְּשָׂאָהּ אָחִיו מֵאִמּוֹ אַחַר שֶׁנִּתְגַּיֵּר. אֲבָל אִם נְשָׂאָהּ אָחִיו כְּשֶׁהוּא עַכּוּ''ם הֲרֵי זוֹ מֻתֶּרֶת לוֹ:

14

When two twin brothers were not conceived in a state of holiness, but they were born in a state of holiness,34 each are liable [for relations with the other's wife] because of the prohibition against relations with a brother's wife.35

יד

שְׁנֵי אַחִים תְּאוֹמִים שֶׁהָיְתָה הוֹרָתָן שֶׁלֹּא בִּקְדֻשָּׁה וְלֵדָתָן בִּקְדֻשָּׁה חַיָּבִין מִשּׁוּם אֵשֶׁת אָח:

15

When a man marries a female convert and her daughter who converted or two maternal sisters [who converted], he should remain married to one of them and divorce the other.36 If he married a female convert and she died, he is permitted to marry her mother or her daughter.37 For our Sages ordained their decree only during [the woman's] lifetime.

It is permissible for a man to marry two paternal sisters who converted, for our Sages did not ordain any decrees with regard to paternal relations, as explained.38

טו

הַנּוֹשֵׂא גִּיֹּרֶת וּבִתָּהּ הַגִּיֹּרֶת אוֹ שְׁתֵּי אֲחָיוֹת מִן הָאֵם יוֹשֵׁב עִם אַחַת מֵהֶן וּמְגָרֵשׁ הַשְּׁנִיָּה. נָשָׂא גִּיֹּרֶת וּמֵתָה הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לִשָּׂא אִמָּהּ אוֹ בִּתָּהּ שֶׁלֹּא גָּזְרוּ אֶלָּא בְּחַיֵּיהֶן. וּמֻתָּר לְאָדָם לִשָּׂא שְׁתֵּי אֲחָיוֹת גִּיּוֹרוֹת מִן הָאָב שֶׁלֹּא גָּזְרוּ בִּשְׁאֵר הָאָב כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ:

16

[Our Sages] did not ordain any decrees with regard to shniot39 who convert. Therefore a convert may marry his maternal grandmother. Similarly, a person may marry a convert and the mother of her maternal grandmother40 or her and the daughter of her daughter's daughter. Similar laws apply with regard to the remainder of the shniot.

טז

הַשְּׁנִיּוֹת כֻּלָּן לֹא גָּזְרוּ עֲלֵיהֶן בְּגֵרִים. לְפִיכָךְ מֻתָּר הַגֵּר לִשָּׂא אֵם אִמּוֹ. וְנוֹשֵׂא אָדָם גִּיֹּרֶת וְאֵם אִמָּהּ אוֹ בַּת בַּת בִּתָּהּ. וְכֵן בִּשְׁאָר הַשְּׁנִיּוֹת:

17

A servant is permitted to marry his mother while he is a servant.41Needless to say, this applies with regard to his daughter, his sister, or the like. [Since] he has already departed from the category of gentiles,42 the intimate relations forbidden to the gentiles are not forbidden to him. And [since] he has not entered the category of the Jewish people, the intimate relations that are forbidden to the converts are not yet forbidden to him.

יז

הָעֶבֶד מֻתָּר לִשָּׂא אִמּוֹ כְּשֶׁהוּא עֶבֶד וְאֵין צָרִיךְ לוֹמַר בִּתּוֹ וַאֲחוֹתוֹ וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן שֶׁכְּבָר יָצָא מִכְּלַל עַכּוּ''ם. וְאֵין הָעֲרָיוֹת הָאֲסוּרוֹת עַל הָעַכּוּ''ם אֲסוּרוֹת עָלָיו וְלֹא בָּא לִכְלַל יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּאָסְרוּ עָלָיו עֲרָיוֹת הָאֲסוּרוֹת עַל הַגֵּרִים:

18

It appears to me43 that if a servant engages in homosexual or Sodomite relations, they should be executed.44 For these two prohibitions are universally applicable.

יח

וְיֵרָאֶה לִי שֶׁאִם בָּא הָעֶבֶד עַל הַזָּכוּר וּבְהֵמָה יֵהָרֵגוּ. שֶׁאִסּוּר שְׁתֵּי עֲרָיוֹת אֵלּוּ שָׁוֶה בְּכָל הָאָדָם:

19

Servants who are freed are like converts. All of the relationships forbidden to converts are forbidden to them and all those permitted to converts are permitted to them.

A person may give his maid-servant to his own servant or to a servant belonging to his colleague. At the outset, he may give one maid-servant to two servants.45Nor must they follow any restrictions. Instead, they are like animals. There is no difference whether a maid-servant is set aside for a servant or not, for there is no concept of marriage except within the Jewish people or among gentiles themselves,46 but not among servants themselves or between servants and the Jewish people.

יט

עֲבָדִים שֶׁנִּשְׁתַּחְרְרוּ הֲרֵי הֵן כְּגֵרִים. כָּל שֶׁאָסוּר לְגֵרִים אָסוּר לָהֶן וְכָל הַמֻּתָּר לְגֵרִים מֻתָּר לָהֶן. נוֹתֵן אָדָם שִׁפְחָתוֹ לְעַבְדּוֹ אוֹ לְעֶבֶד חֲבֵרוֹ. וּמוֹסֵר שִׁפְחָה אַחַת לִשְׁנֵי עֲבָדִים לְכַתְּחִלָּה וְאֵינָן צְרִיכִין שׁוּם דָּבָר אֶלָּא הֲרֵי הֵן כִּבְהֵמוֹת. וְשִׁפְחָה שֶׁהִיא מְיֻחֶדֶת לְעֶבֶד אוֹ שֶׁאֵינָהּ מְיֻחֶדֶת אַחַת הִיא לְפִי שֶׁאֵין אִישׁוּת אֶלָּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל אוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם עַל הָעַכּוּ''ם אֲבָל לֹא לַעֲבָדִים עַל הָעֲבָדִים וְלֹא לַעֲבָדִים עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל:

Footnotes
1.

See Chapter 13, Halachah 14.

2.

See Chapter 13, Halachah 14.

3.

The halachah is quoted from Yevamot 47a. As early as the Talmudic era, potential converts were dissuaded in this manner.

4.

Our translation is based on Rashi's commentary to Yevamot, loc. cit.

5.

Because they are the fundamentals of our faith (Maggid Mishneh).

6.

This law, quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 268:2) indicates that even the opinions which require a convert to accept the observance of the mitzvot do not require him to accept all of the mitzvot individually. Instead, he must make a general commitment to confirm to Jewish practice.

7.

These refer to different obligations from the crops that must be left for the poor. See Hilchot Matanot Aniyim, ch. 1.

8.

Although this is the version in the standard published text of the Mishneh Torah, many manuscripts and early printings state "the tithe for the poor." This fits both the context and the Rambam's source, Yevamot 47a.

These mitzvot are mentioned because the giver has no control over them. When a prospective convert sees that Judaism places such financial obligations upon him, he may regret his choice (Rashi, Yevamot, loc. cit.).

9.

This can be interpreted as referring to the warnings concerning the transgressions.

10.

And this to the encouragement based on the knowledge of the reward for mitzvot.

11.

The commentaries have questioned the Rambam's statements here noting that in Hilchot Teshuvah 3:5 and other sources, he states that the pious among the gentiles have a share in the World to Come. Among the resolutions offered is that "All of Israel have a share in the World to Come" (Sanhedrin 10:1). By virtue of the essential Godliness of the Jewish soul, they are granted a portion in this eternal good. A gentile must, however, earn his portion through his deeds. It is not "hidden away" for him.

12.

I.e., the outcome of prosperity was not increased observance, but the opposite: rebellion against God's will.

13.

For we do not postpone the performance of a mitzvah.

14.

I.e., a small wound is made on his male organ to draw blood for the sake of the covenant. The expression "the blood of the covenant" is derived from Exodus 24:8. See also Zechariah 9:11.

15.

For we fear that, otherwise, the immersion might cause the wound to become infected (Rashi, Yevamot 47b).

The commentaries ask: Why don't we have him immerse first and then circumcise himself? In this way, he will not have to delay his conversion any longer. The Ramban (cited by Turei Zahav 268:4) states that we fear that he might refuse to become circumcised. This will be problematic for the immersion will have completed the conversion process. Hence, we have him become circumcised before the conversion is irreversible.

16.

Rashi (loc. cit.) explains that since the immersion completes his conversion, the convert must accept the yoke of mitzvot at that time.

17.

And thus it would be immodest for her to enter the mikveh in the presence of the judges.

18.

See Hilchot Avodat Kochavim 10:6 which states that in an era when the Jews have undisputed authority over Eretz Yisrael, they may not allow an idolater to dwell in the holy land. Only when a gentile accepts these seven universal laws is he granted this privilege. The rationale for the Rambam's ruling is derived from the prooftext he cites (Exodus 23:33): "They shall not dwell in your land, lest they cause you to sin against Me." Since gentiles may turn into a negative spiritual influence, they should be prevented from dwelling in the land. If, however, a gentile has made a commitment to the observance of these seven laws, he will not lower the moral climate of the land.

As explained by the commentaries to Hilchot Avodat Kochavim, the Rambam's opinion is not universally accepted. The Ra'avad interprets the prooftext as referring to the seven Canaanite nations alone. Never, he claims, were other gentiles prohibited from living among us.

19.

The Jubilee must be observed only when the entire Jewish people are dwelling in Eretz Yisrael. Therefore when the tribes of Reuven and Gad, and half the tribe of Menasheh were exiled by the kingdom of Assyria (this took place approximately 150 years before the destruction of the First Temple), the laws of the Jubilee ceased to be observed according to Scriptural Law (Hilchot Shemitah ViYoval 10:8).

20.

The Rambam's source ( Bechorot 30b) states: "one minor point of Rabbinic Law." The commentaries question why the Rambam omits this point.

21.

As the Rambam states in Hilchot Avodat Kochavim, loc. cit., in the present era, we accept only full converts. Implied is that in the present era, were we to have the authority, we should prevent gentiles from living in Eretz Yisrael.

The Ra'avad differs with the Rambam concerning this point, explaining that with regard to certain matters the status of a gentile who accepts the observance of the seven mitzvot in the present age is more severe than that before the revocation of the Jubilee laws and in other matters, it is more lenient. According to his opinion, however, there is no reason why a gentile should be prohibited against living in Eretz Yisrael. In his gloss to Hilchot Avodat Kochavim, the Kessef Mishneh states that even the Rambam would agree. For since the gentile is living a moral lifestyle, there is no reason to fear that he will lead a Jew to sin. The Rambam's directive here is directed at the courts. They cannot formalize a resident alien's status in the present age.

In that vein, it must be emphasized that although the concept of a resident alien does not apply in the present age, we are obligated to teach the gentiles the seven universal laws commanded to Noah's descendants, as the Rambam states in Hilchot Melachim 8:10.

22.

As we tell a prospective convert. We do not make this statement to a servant, for he is not coming to convert on his own volition.

23.

A male servant is also circumcised before conversion. It is questionable why the Rambam does not mention this point.

24.

He must be sold to the Diaspora or to a gentile (Hilchot Avadim 8:12).

25.

The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 267:4) writes that in the lands where he lived (Central Europe), it was forbidden to convert a gentile to Judaism. Therefore it is taken for granted that the servant was purchased on the condition that his status not be altered. Hence, he may be maintained indefinitely as a gentile.

26.

Hilchot Melachim 9:5.

27.

See Halachah 17 which emphasizes that even while a servant, a servant need not show concern for these prohibitions.

28.

I.e., it would appear that he was bound by more severe prohibitions before conversion.

29.

This applies even to maternal relatives. Since they were married before, we do not force them to separate (Siftei Cohen 269:2). We do not fear that these converts will say that they entered a lower level of holiness, because there are relations - a mother and a sister - which they are forbidden. This makes it obvious that the distinction in the laws results from their change in status (Kessef Mishneh).

30.

I.e, one might say that the reason for the prohibition is that one is certain that he is related to his maternal relatives. Those reputed to be his paternal relatives, however, might in fact not be related to him at all, because the man reputed to be his father may not be his parent. For the gentiles are known to be promiscuous. This is not the reason for the leniency. Instead, the Torah does not have any conceptual of paternal lineage with regard to a gentile (Maggid Mishneh).

31.

There are opinions which forbid the wife of the convert's father [Tur, Rama (Yoreh De'ah 269:3)]. The Siftei Cohen 269:4 adds that the convert should also refrain from relations with the sister of his father.

32.

For their conversion is of no consequence in this context. They are considered as having no family ties.

33.

But was never married to the brother according to Jewish Law.

34.

I.e., they were conceived before their mother converted and born after she converted.

35.

For it is considered as if the two brothers are ordinary Jews and bound by the laws that apply to members of our people. Nevertheless, they may not fulfill the mitzvah of yibbum, for they are not brothers in the complete sense [Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 269:4)].

36.

This is a Rabbinic decree. According to Scriptural Law, the marriages are valid. Nevertheless, our Rabbis were stringent and forbade this union, for were the women to be native-born Jewesses, this would be forbidden. Hence, formal divorce proceedings are necessary.

37.

In this instance, as well, were the women to be native-born Jewesses, this would be forbidden. See Siftei Cohen 269:10 which cites opinions that maintain that the Rabbinic prohibition applies after the woman's death as well.

38.

In Halachah 13. Note the contrast to the previous clause which speaks about relations with maternal sisters.

39.

This term refers to relatives more distantly removed than those forbidden by Scriptural Law. Relations with them are forbidden by Rabbinic decree, as explained in Chapter 1, Halachah 8; Hilchot Ishut 1:6. Since the prohibition is a Rabbinic safeguard, our Sage's did not add a further safeguard with regard to a convert. For we do not ordain a safeguard for a safeguard.

40.

Our translation follows the text of the authoritative manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah. The Siftei Cohen 269:12 justifies this reading, explaining that relations with a woman's maternal grandmother (the version in the standard published text of the Mishneh Torah) is a Scriptural prohibition, not a Rabbinic safeguard.

41.

I.e., before he is freed.

42.

See Chapter 12, Halachah 11.

43.

This phrase points to a conclusion deduced by the Rambam for which he has no explicit source in previous Rabbinic literature. The Ra'avad, however, considers the concept as blatantly obvious.

The Maggid Mishneh adds that he is also executed for relations with a married Jewish woman and questions why the Rambam does not mention this transgression.

44.

The word "executed" is plural. Both men or the man and the animal are executed (Or Sameach).

45.

I.e., we do not enforce monogamy.

46.

See Hilchot Melachim 9:5.

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The Mishneh Torah was the Rambam's (Rabbi Moses ben Maimon) magnum opus, a work spanning hundreds of chapters and describing all of the laws mentioned in the Torah. To this day it is the only work that details all of Jewish observance, including those laws which are only applicable when the Holy Temple is in place. Participating in one of the annual study cycles of these laws (3 chapters/day, 1 chapter/day, or Sefer Hamitzvot) is a way we can play a small but essential part in rebuilding the final Temple.
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