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We have seen above that if a proselyte accepts that he will observe all the mitzvot except for one, this is not regarded as a valid acceptance of the mitzvot. In such a case, we do not accept him, for conditions may not be attached to conversion, and there is no half conversion.

Bible Living

If, however, he accepts upon himself all the mitzvot , but he intends to violate [a certain law] to gratify his appetite, this is not regarded as a deficiency in his acceptance of the mitzvot. Rav Moshe Feinstein discusses the case of a woman who at the time of her conversion had considered the possibility of working on an upcoming Yom Tov , for fear that otherwise she would be fired. He too presents a similar argument:. It stands to reason based on the implication of certain passages that if a proselyte accepts all the mitzvot , but tells the court that while he accepts all the mitzvot , he knows that he would not be able to stand the test and suffer martyrdom were he coerced to violate a prohibition, for which one is required to suffer martyrdom rather than violate — this is regarded as acceptance of the mitzvot.

For she accepted the obligation to observe the mitzvot when she can, namely, when she is not being coerced otherwise.


The fact that she will violate a prohibition is because she does not have the strength to stand the test, even though she would like to observe the mitzva and not commit a transgression… It stands to reason that the same law applies in the case where he says that he will not be able to stand the test of financial loss.

The Iggerot Moshe has another novel position regarding conversion. In the course of a discussion regarding a woman who underwent conversion before a Conservative court, the Iggerot Moshe writes as follows:. Furthermore, there is room to say that the fact that her husband, for the sake of whom she underwent conversion, desecrates the Sabbath and acts in a wanton manner regarding various prohibitions, causes her to think that there is no real obligation to observe the mitzvot.

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Thus, she is like a proselyte who converts [to Judaism] while among idolaters, whom the Gemara in Shabbat 68 says is regarded as a convert, even though he still practices idolatry. The reason is that he accepts to be like all the Jews, this being regarded as acceptance [of the mitzvot ], even though he knows nothing of the mitzvot. For knowing the mitzvot is not indispensable for conversion… Therefore, even though the court told her that she must observe the Sabbath, she thinks that this is merely an added adornment, but even one who does not observe the Sabbath or the like, she mistakenly believes to be a kosher Jew.

The Seridei Esh relates to the case of a Jew who had been living with a non-Jewess by way of a civil marriage, and now his wife wishes to convert. In such a case, they may convert her. Responsa Seridei Esh , II, no. The Gemara states that even if it becomes clear that a proselyte had converted for some ulterior motive, his conversion is nevertheless valid:.

For Rabbi Nechemya used to say: Neither lion-proselytes, nor dream-proselytes nor the proselytes of Mordekhai and Esther are proper proselytes unless they become converted at the present time. Yevamot 24b [9]. It would seem that we should conclude from this passage that we do not consider the ulterior motives of proselytes who convert for some other reason and have no intention of observing the mitzvot. The author of Responsa Bet Yitzchak , however, writes differently:.

Regarding the matter itself that if a proselyte converted for the sake of some benefit, the law is that they are all proper converts — the Ritva writes in the name of the Ramban that the reason is that since they converted and accepted [the mitzvot ] upon themselves, the presumption is that because of their compulsion, they decided to accept [the mitzvot ]… this proves that in any event they must accept the mitzvot with a genuine heart. This is not the case where a person converts only on the outside, but his heart is not with him to maintain observance of the mitzvot , and we know that he intends even afterwards to have relations with a menstruant woman, to profane the Sabbath, and to eat non-kosher food.

This is not the case where a proselyte converts and accepts upon himself the yoke of mitzvot. If in his heart, he has no intention to observe them, the Merciful One seeks the heart, and the conversion is invalid. According to the Bet Yitzchak , the Gemara is dealing with the case of a proselyte who converts for some ulterior motive, but once he converts fully intends to observe the mitzvot. But if at the time of his conversion, the proselyte knows that he has no intention of observing the mitzvot , his conversion has no validity whatsoever.

And indeed, on the theoretical level, it is very easy to distinguish between the motivation for conversion and the question whether the proselyte accepts upon himself to observe the mitzvot.

Character Development in Targum Ruth

This is by no means necessary. Kook, reject this novel position of the Bet Yitzchak :. Even if he comes before us and tells us that his inner thoughts were different than what he had expressed with his mouth, we do not care about his inner thoughts. According to this understanding, there is room for great leniency on the practical level in cases where the proselyte declares that it is his intention to observe the mitzvot , even if it is later proven that he had lied. In such a case, the Iggerot Moshe rules that his conversion is invalid:.

However, R. He was dealing with a case of a non-Jewess who had married a kohen , and now wishes to convert. The question arose whether she may be accepted as a convert, when we know that she will continue to live with the kohen , to whom she is forbidden:. Truly, if she states explicitly that she does not want to accept this mitzva , it is forbidden to accept her. But in the case under discussion, she does not state this explicitly.

The Proselyte and the Prophet

Thus, even though we know that she will violate this prohibition, nevertheless, for the benefit of the kohen and for the benefit of his children, we accept her. When R.

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  5. Goren was asked about a proselyte who wished to live in a secular kibbutz, he sent his representatives to examine whether it was technically possible for the proselyte to obtain kosher food and observe the mitzvot on the kibbutz. Since it is technically possible, we cannot apply the principle of anan sahadi — we are witnesses, since there is no absolute certainty that she is lying.

    To sign up for this series or other VBM courses, click here. This does have ramifications regarding his credibility regarding forbidden foods, and the like. The author of Chemdat Shelomo writes that, according to the Rambam, immersion in a mikve before a rabbinic court for the purpose of conversion constitutes implicit acceptance of the mitzvot. The Iggerot Moshe understands that the wives of Shelomo and Shimshon returned to their idol worship only much later, and so their later conduct proved nothing about their original intentions.

    Jewish Proselyte Baptism

    See: Techumin XIX, p. Yevamot 47ab It follows from this Gemara that the prospective proselyte is twice informed about acceptance of the mitzvot : once when he first comes to become a proselyte, in order to examine how well he understands the significance of joining the Jewish people and how prepared he is to do so; and a second time when he immerses in a mikve , as part of the conversion process itself. The Gemara in Bekhorot says that if the prospective proselyte refuses to accept some of the mitzvot , he cannot become a proselyte: A idolater who comes to accept the [entire] Torah except for one thing — we do not accept him.