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Retracting From A Geirus

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Jun 26, 2019

לזכות אבי מורי ואמי מורתי שיחיו 

ולע"נ הוריהם ז"ל


Says the Rambam [Melachim 10-3]:


בן נח שנתגייר ומל וטבל ואח"כ רצה לחזור מאחרי ה' ולהיות גר תושב בלבד כשהיה מקודם אין שומעין לו אלא יהיה כישראל לכל דבר או יהרג ואם היה קטן כשהטבילוהו בית דין יכול למחות בשעה שיגדיל ויהיה גר תושב בלבד וכיון שלא מיחה בשעתו שוב אינו מוחה אלא הרי הוא גר צדק לפיכך אם בא ישראל על קטנה שהטבילוה בית דין כסף כתובתה או קנס אונס או מפתה יהיה הכל תחת יד בית דין עד שתגדיל ולא תמחה בגירות שמא תטול ותגדיל ותמחה ונמצאת זו אוכלת בגיותה מעות שאין לה זכות בהן אלא בדיני ישראל:


A gentile who converted, was circumcised, and immersed in the mikveh, and, afterwards, decided to forsake God and revert to his previous status as a resident alien is not granted permission to do so. Rather, he must remain as an Israelite in all matters or be executed.


If he was a minor and immersed by the court, he may repudiate his conversion when he attains adulthood and assume the status of a resident alien alone. However, if he does not object as soon as he attains majority, he is no longer given the opportunity to object and his status is that of a righteous convert.


Therefore, if a Jew has relations with a girl below the age of majority who was immersed in the mikveh by a court, the money due her as payment of her kesubah or as a fine for raping her or seducing her is placed in the custody of the court until she attains majority and does not repudiate her conversion. This step is taken lest she take the money, attain adulthood, and then, repudiate her conversion. Thus, she would derive benefit as a gentile from monies to which she is only entitled according to Jewish law.

The Rambam contrasts a קטן and a גדול. What a גדול may not do a קטן may do [i.e. repudiate his conversion]. This is a WONDER!! When the Rambam says that there is no repudiating geirus, that applies equally to גדולים AND קטנים. The capacity of a קטן to repudiate his [or her] conversion [כתובות י"א] is because his geirus stems from the din of זכין לאדם שלא בפניו - We are allowed to grant a zchus to a person even without his knowledge [and we also do so for a קטן who lacks דעת]. When he comes of age and reveals that to his mind conversion is no zchus, he may retract and thereby the geirus is retroactively nullified [בטלה למפרע] as we see in the Rashba [Kiddushin 23a and see Chasam Sofer in Ksubos]. But what has that got to do with the issue of a גדול nullifying his geirus from here on in [מכאן ולהבא]?? It is a totally different din! 


Moreover when discussing the din of childhood conversion [Isurei Biah 3-7], the Rambam doesn't even mention the din of מחאה [protesting the earlier proceedings - see the Magid Mishna there]?! The Ran in Ksubos alluded to this issue and said that the Rambam wrote the din of Rav Huna that we may immerse a גר קטן with the approval of a Beis Din in הלכות איסורי ביאה while he wrote Rav Yosef's din of the right of the קטן to protest in הלכות מלכים but that raises the issue [hints the Ran] of why the Rambam didn't codify the דין מחאה in הלכות איסורי ביאה where it belongs?! [See חתם סופר יו"ד רנ"ג]. 


It MUST BE that the din of מחאה relates to the din of a גדול repudiating his geirus which is why the Rambam quotes it here. But that, again, is a VUNDER because these are two conceptually different dinim. A קטן who protests undoes the geirus from the root because he shows that there was no זכין while the גדול who repudiates his geirus only does so from here on in and it has nothing to do with זכין?!    


To explain this, we first need to look at what the Rishonim [רא"ש ר"ן רשב"א ריטב"א ומאירי] wrote, that the Rif omitted the din of Rav Yosef that הגדילו יכולים למחות [the ability of a קטן to retract when he reaches age]. It could be that the Rambam and the Rif are consistent with their opinions elsewhere ["לשיטתם" in the vernacular], as we will hopefully explain [ועי' באבי עזרי, ובמה שאכתוב יבואר יותר].


The Gemara in Yevamos [45b] says:


ההוא דהוו קרו ליה בר ארמייתא אמר רב אסי מי לא טבלה לנדותה ההוא דהוו קרו ליה בר ארמאה אמר ריב"ל מי לא טבל לקריו


There was a certain man whom people would call: Son of the Aramean woman, [as they cast aspersions on the validity of his mother’s conversion. With regard to that case,] Rav Asi said: Didn’t she immerse for the sake of purifying herself from her menstruation? [A similar incident is recounted:] There was a certain man whom people would call: Son of an Aramean man, [as they cast aspersions on the validity of his father’s conversion. It is not clear if the Gemara understands that this makes the child a gentile or if the child is Jewish but his father's invalid conversion will hurt the child's shidduch chances. The Taz understood the latter way. cf. Maharsha ]. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Didn’t he immerse for the sake of purifying himself from his seminal emission? [That intention is sufficient to consider the immersion an immersion for the sake of conversion.]

The Rif asks from the statement of R' Yochanan [Yevamos 46b] that geirus requires a court of 3 because it says "משפט" and thus a Beis Din is required [and so we pasken], yet here there was no Beis Din?! He answers that R' Yehoshua Ben Levi meant that בדיעבד we don't disqualify his son since he immersed for the sake of his seminal emission and wouldn't have done so had he not converted earlier. What R' Yochanan meant was that we don't let a person marry a Jewish woman and treat him as a full fledged Ger unless he converted in front of three. 


The Ramban and the Rashba asserted that according to the Rif, geirus in front of a court of 3 is critical [מעכב] and prove this from various sources. But this only applies to קבלת המצוות whereas מילה and טבילה according to the Rif are only לכתחילה. 


This is truly wondrous! It compels us to explore - What case is R' Yochanan talking about that we require 3, regarding which the Rif said that it is only לכתחילה? If he is talking about קבלת המצוות then  how do we know anything about מילה and טבילה requiring 3 לכתחילה? And if he is talking about מילה and טבילה requiring 3 לכתחילה, then where do we get that קבלת המצוות requires 3 even בדיעבד?? 


The whole notion of לכתחילה and בדיעבד is hard to fathom here. R' Yochanan cited a pasuk to prove his din, implying that it is מדאורייתא. So how do we get from this that there is a לכתחילה and בדיעבד?? Those categories don't apply to dinei Torah? Do you know any psukim that say "do it this way לכתחילה and this way works בדיעבד?" I don't either!! So how can the pasuk of משפט only be talking about a לכתחילה case?? 


ודברי הרי"ף סתומים וחתומים!! 


The Rambam ['איסורי ביאה י"ג ט] writes that the Gemara we quoted [Yevamos 45b] which says that when the woman immersed herself for Niddah [or a man immersed for his seminal emission] that means she is a giyores, means that this PROVES that she had converted earlier because she is acting like a Jewess but not that the טבילה constitutes an act of conversion now [as one might read the Gemara simply]. Thereby the Magid Mishna says that we can answer the question of the Rif from the Gemara that says that you need 3 judges present at the conversion. In fact 3 ARE needed and that is מעכב as the Rambam implies there in 'הלכה ז and this sugya is not talking about the act of conversion but rather her טבילה is just an indication that she is already Jewish. The M"M quotes the Rif and notes that his words are close to the Rambam's. So wrote the Meiri according to the Rif as did the Bach [268] and this is implicit from the language of the Rif: 


"דאי לאו גיורא לא הוה טבל לשם קריו".

If not for the geirus he would not have immersed himself for his seminal emission. 


That sounds like this was not a מעשה גירות but merely an indication that he was already part of the tribe. 


On the other hand 👆 after he resolved the question from the Gemara that requires three, why did the Rif have to add that Rav Yochanan only required 3 judges לכתחילה but not בדיעבד?? [And then the Ramban and others said that three judges ARE מעכב so what the Rif means is that 3 are not מעכב for מילה and טבילה but for קבלת המצוות three judges ARE מעכב. See 'חמדת שלמה יו"ד סי' כ"ט ול] Once the question is resolved, why make unnecessary distinctions??


So one one hand the Rif implies as understood by the Ramban and other Rishonim [to distinguish about the number of judges needed between לכתחילה and בדיעבד]. On the other - he seems to write like the Rambam that the Gemara is not talking about the actual מעשה גירות but about the proof that such a מעשה had already taken place. 




The Tur [268] writes that according to the Rif, טבילה is not effective at night [see there and in the Shulchan Aruch סעיף ג]. The Bach writes that the source is from what the Rosh writes in Yevamos [4-31] on the Gemara of "מי לא טבלה לנידותה" [that we quoted earlier]: 

"ומיהו קשה שטבילת נדה בלילה ולקמן (מו ב) אמרי' דאין מטבילין גר בלילה ותירץ רבינו מאיר ז"ל מדלא קאמר אין מטבילין גר בלילה מ"ט משפט כתיב ביה כדאמר גר צריך שלשה משפט כתיב ביה אלמא דלא גמרינן ליה ממשפט דאין לו דין משפט אלא לענין גוף הדבר שצריך שלשה אבל לא לזמן הטבילה. וגם פשטיה דקרא הכי איירי ושפטתם כתיב ביה דהוי שנים ואין ב"ד שקול ולילה לא הוי אלא מדרבנן ולכתחלה הוא דלא הא דיעבד שפיר דמי. אי נמי קבלת מצוה הוי כתחלת דין וטבילה הויא כגמר דין דהוי אפילו בלילה ומדרבנן הוא דבעינן ביום לכתחלה. ורב אלפס ז"ל כתב דלכתחלה בעינן שלשה דלא מנסבינן ליה בת ישראל עד דטביל בפני שלשה אבל בדיעבד לא פסלינן לבריה אם לא טבל בפני ג'". 

"This is difficult because the immersion of a Niddah must be at night and later on [46b] we say that a ger may not immerse at night [so how can the immersion of a Niddah count for geirus]? Answered R' Meir from the fact that it doesn't say that we may not immerse a ger at night because geirus is called משפט as it says that we require 3 judges for a conversion because it is called משפט [and a regular court case requires 3], we see that we only learn from משפט that the geirus itself requires 3 but not with regard to the time of the immersion. That is also the simple meaning of the pasuk ושפטתם  - you [plural] should judge, so that is two. There can't be an even numbered Beis Din [so we need 3]. Conducting a geirus at night is Rabbinically forbidden לכתחילה, but בדיעבד it counts. Or else, קבלת המצוות is like the beginning of דין and the טבילה is the גמר דין which may be done at night and only מדרבנן we require לכתחילה that it be done by day. The Rif wrote that that לכתחילה we require 3 and we don't allow such a ger to marry a Jewish girl until he immersed before 3 people but בדיעבד we don't disqualify his son if he didn't immerse in front of 3."


The Bach says that the implication of the understanding of the Rosh in the Rif is that the latter holds that לכתחילה a Beis Din is required and the conversion may not be carried out at night but בדיעבד no Beis Din is necessary and the conversion may be done at night. However the Bach and Gra [סקי"ז] asked that from that fact that the Rif only asked the question that the Gemara here says that a Beis Din is not needed and R' Yochanan says elsewhere that a Beis Din is needed implies that he is not at all bothered by the fact that the טבילה took place at night. So according to the Rif it seems that it is not at all a problem to convert at night. This is not like the Rosh understood the Tur that a night conversion is only valid בדיעבד!!?

The Bach and Gra remained with this question unanswered.     


The Gemara in Yevamos 47a says:


ת"ר (דברים א, טז) ושפטתם צדק בין איש ובין אחיו ובין גרו מכאן א"ר יהודה גר שנתגייר בב"ד הרי זה גר בינו לבין עצמו אינו גר

The Sages taught: The verse states that Moses charged the judges of a court: “And judge righteously between a man and his brother, and the convert with him” (Devarim 1:16). From here, based on the mention of a convert in the context of judgment in a court, Rabbi Yehuda said: A potential convert who converts in a court is a valid convert. However, if he converts in private, he is not a convert.

מעשה באחד שבא לפני רבי יהודה ואמר לו נתגיירתי ביני לבין עצמי א"ל רבי יהודה יש לך עדים? אמר ליה, לאו. יש לך בנים? א"ל הן. א"ל נאמן אתה לפסול את עצמך ואי אתה נאמן לפסול את בניך

The Gemara relates: There was an incident involving one who was presumed to be Jewish who came before Rabbi Yehuda and said to him: I converted in private, and therefore I am not actually Jewish. Rabbi Yehuda said to him: Do you have witnesses to support your claim? He said to him: No. Rabbi Yehuda asked: Do you have children? He said to him: Yes. Rabbi Yehuda said to him: You are deemed credible in order to render yourself unfit to marry a Jewish woman by claiming that you are a gentile, but you are not deemed credible in order to render your children unfit.


Tosfos asked: 


ותימה מיהא אי הא דבעינן ג' היינו דוקא לכתחלה אבל דיעבד חד נמי כשר א"כ אם יש לו עדים לאו בינו לבין עצמו הוא.


Question: If we require three for conversion only l'Chatchilah, but b'Di'eved one is Kosher, if so (that he has witnesses), the conversion was not by himself! (It was in front of two, which suffices b'Di'eved.)

This is a wonder! Tosfos [מו: ד"ה משפט] discuss how we know that geirus is similar to גזילות and חבלות that require a court of three and not to הודאות והלוואות where one is enough [see the beginning of Meseches Sanhedrin] and they prove that it is more similar to גזילות and חבלות and if so there is no opinion that one suffices בדיעבד!? So what is Tosfos' question??! 


The Shach [יו"ד סי' רס"ח סק"י] comments on what the Shulchan Aruch writes that according to the Rif בדיעבד it is enough to do מילה וטבילה in the presence of 2 people, that the number 2 is not precise and even one is enough and quotes our Tosfos. We see that he interpreted Tosfos as discussing מילה and טבילה and wrote that בדיעבד three are not necessary and one is enough. And so is explicit in Tosfos [קידשין ס"ב: ד"ה גר] that only קבלת מצוות requires three but for טבילה one is enough and they quoted the Gemara in Yevamos 45b that we cited earlier.


This is very difficult to understand!! ממה נפשך! However you spin it we are in hot water [not for טבילה though]. If the concept of משפט regarding geirus relates to מילה and טבילה then why is one enough for those while we need 3 for קבלת מצוות? How can we split up the meaning of משפט to mean 3 for קבלת מצוות and one for מילה וטבילה?? Also, how can קבלת מצוות be like גזילות וחבלות and מילה and טבילה like הודאות and הלוואות [that require one]. So it must be that "משפט" doesn't refer to מילה and טבילה and even one person isn't necessary - NOT like the Shach and Tosfos!! Also, how does the Tosfos we quoted above know that the Gemara is talking about מילה וטבילה [as the Shach understood] and therefore one is enough. Maybe when he said on the Gemara "נתגיירתי ביני לבין עצמי" he was referring to קבלת מצוות where 3 are required. If so - what is Tosfos' question that בידעבד one is kosher and therefore the עדים were enough??! For קבלת מצוות we need 3?!! 


וכל זה צריך עיון גדול!!!!!!! 😔😕 



We have an apparent problem with the statement of R' Yochanan [:יבמות מ"ו: מ"ז: ובקידושין ס"ב] that geirus requires a Beis Din of three because the pasuk characterizes the process as "משפט", judgment, that necessitates 3 judges. What is R' Yochanan the Amora revealing to us?? We already have a braisa where Rebbi Yehuda the Tanna already told us this information [.מ"ז]. It is ooold news??! 


Also, Tosfos [:ד"ה משפט מ"ו] say that the "משפט" referred to by the Gemara is the pasuk "ושפטתם צדק בין איש ובין אחיו ובין גרו" or possibly "משפט אחד יהיה לכם ולגר". Why was Tosfos looking for psukim when Rebbi Yehuda was explicit that the pasuk is "ושפטתם צדק"? Why did Tosfos suggest that Rav Yochanan was referring to the pasuk "משפט אחד"? And to make things "worse", Rashi in Kiddushin [62b] quotes the pasuk "משפט אחד"!! [See Keren Orah and Chemdas Shlomo 29].


And like an "over the top" צריך עיון is that the Ramban [46b] writes that the Halacha of R' Yochanan is really הלכה למשה מסיני and the pasuk is but an asmachta. But Rebbi Yehuda [47b] is quite clear that the source is the pasuk and not הלמ"מ. As it says "ושפטתם צדק - מכאן אמר רבי יהודה". Sounds a LOT like he derives the law from the pasuk and not הלכה למשה מסיני. 




So being against the wall as we are, we are COMPELLED to say that R' Yochanan and R' Yehuda are talking about 2 different things because otherwise how can R' Yochanan teach us independently what is already explicit in the braisa?! R' Yehuda is talking about geirus that requires the presence of the Beis Din as learned from the pasuk of "ושפטתם צדק וכו' ובין גרו". Just as we need a Beis Din for tzedek [justice], we also need one for geirus. R' Yochanan is telling us something else - that geirus is a משפט בחפצא, meaning that it is inherently defined as a משפט and as a result a בית דין is required because you can't have משפט without a בית דין. The nafka minah is whether you need 3 judges or one is enough. The pasuk of "משפט אחד" used by R' Yochanan teaches us that geirus is משפט and if there is a doubt whether it is the משפט of גזילות [three] or הלוואות [one] then Tosfos taught us [Kiddushin 62b] that if we can equate לקולא or לחומרא then we go לחומרא [sort of a Brisker-esque Tosfos...] and therefore the משפט will require three like גזילות.  However the pasuk of ושפטתם צדק teaches that the בית דין should perform the geirus and it can't be done without them. So as long as there is a שם בית דין that is enough, even if the בית דין consists of one.


The Ohr Sameach [איסורי ביאה י"ג ו] writes that since a Ben Noach is judged with one judge and when a ger comes before us to convert he is still a Ben Noach, one judge constitutes a valid Beis Din for him [see there]. However this all applies to the din that a בית דין is necessary and teaches that one judge is sufficient. But when it comes to the חפצא of משפט it is clear that we require a משפט that pertains to Jews and not Bnei Noach. משפט of geirus relates to the משפט of Jews and that means three judges after the היקש to גזילות.


Ont the other hand, if the pasuk is talking about "משפט" which is the geirus per se we can say that it is talking about the primary and central aspect of geirus which is קבלת המצוות [as the Taz writes 268-9] and not about מילה and טבילה. While the pasuk of ושפטתם צדק which is talking about the מעשה גירות in the בית דין includes מילה and טבילה. So we need both the statements of Rav Yochanan and of R' Yehuda. The latter is talking about the fact that we require a בי"ד and that refers to the entire geirus and thus one judge will suffice [because he has a שם בית דין as we see by בני נח] and R' Yochanan is teaching us that there is a חלות דין of משפט for which we need three judges. However, that is only for the קבלת מצוות. Also מדרבנן there is a דין to make the entire geirus a משפט and in front of 3 and that is מדרבנן as Tosfos [47a] said. From the the Shulchan Aruch [268-3] we see that Tosfos holds not like the Rif and if there is only one person on the Beis Din the ger is permitted to marry a Jew because the obligation of 3 is only מדרבנן. Now we understand the opinion of Tosfos as explained by the Shach that one judge is necessary because as we said the pasuk of R' Yehuda [ושפטתם] is referring to the entire geirus and only if he converts in complete privacy it is not effective but in front of one judge it is. When Tosfos said you need three judges for קבלת מצוות [Kiddushin 62b], that was based on the pasuk of R' Yochanan and these are two distinct dinim, as we explained.


WHOA! Fireworks!! 💥😀      




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