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Yevamos, 47

YEVAMOS 46-50 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.


QUESTION: The Gemara derives the things that we tell a Nochri who wants to convert from the things that Naomi told Ruth when she wanted to convert. Naomi told her about the Mitzvah of Techum Shabbos, and that there are 613 Mitzvos that a Jew must observe, and that once a person becomes a Ger, it becomes forbidden for the person to serve Avodah Zarah.

Why do we tell a prospective Ger that if he becomes Jewish, he will no longer be permitted to serve Avodah Zarah? It is forbidden for any person to serve idols, even if he is not Jewish! (MAHARSHA, 47a)


(a) The MAHARSHA answers that Naomi did not actually tell Ruth that it will be forbidden for her to serve Avodah Zarah if she converts. Rather, she told her that once she becomes Jewish, it will be prohibited for her to leave Eretz Yisrael and go to Chutz la'Aretz, because "one who lives in Chutz la'Aretz is as if he has no G-d" (Kesuvos 110b).

(b) The ARUCH LA'NER answers that she was referring to forms of Avodah Zarah worship that are permitted only to a Nochri and not to a Jew, such as "Shituf" (worshipping another god along with Hashem; see Tosfos, Sanhedrin 63b, DH Asur l'Adam).

Other Acharonim (MITZPEH EISAN) add that a Jew may not derive benefit from an object worshipped as Avodah Zarah, while a Nochri may derive benefit from it. The TUREI EVEN (Chagigah 11b) says that it is prohibited (with an Isur Lav) for a Jew to kiss an object of Avodah Zarah, while a Nochri is prohibited only from serving it in one of the main forms of worship (by offering a Korban to it, or by prostrating oneself to it). The RIF on the Ein Yakov adds that it is prohibited for a Jew even to own an object of Avodah Zarah and to keep it in one's home, even if he does not intend to worship it, while a Nochri is permitted to keep such an object in his home.

(c) The RIF on the Ein Yakov asks another question. Naomi had already told Ruth that there are 613 Mitzvos. Since the Isur against serving Avodah Zarah is one of the 613 Mitzvos, why did she have to state specifically that Avodah Zarah is Asur?

The MITZPEH EISAN and IYUN YAKOV suggest that she was warning Ruth that the Avodah Zarah of a Jew remains Asur forever and cannot be annulled. In contrast, the Avodah Zarah of a Nochri becomes permitted once he shows that he no longer worships it. Naomi was telling Ruth not that there is an Isur of Avodah Zarah, but that the Avodah Zarah of a Jew is more severe than that of a Nochri.

(d) The Mitzvos that a Nochri must observe (the seven Mitzvos of Noach) are generally negative commandments (that is, not to do things that rebel against Hashem). A Ger converts because he wants to get greater reward for keeping all of the Mitzvos of the Torah. A Ger might think that as long as he keeps the Mitzvos, he will be rewarded for it and it makes no difference if he considers in his mind another deity to be real.

That is why Naomi warned Ruth that besides the 613 Mitzvos, one must also have intention to do the Mitzvos l'Shem Shamayim, for the sake of Hashem, and one must believe only in Hashem and not in any Avodah Zarah.

QUESTION: The Gemara says that a Ger must have Milah done to him as soon as he accepts the Mitzvos without delay, before doing Tevilah, because "we do not delay the performance of a Mitzvah." After he heals from the Milah, he then does Tevilah.

If we really want to expedite the conversion process. then why should he do Milah first, wait until it heals, and then do Tevilah? He should do Tevilah first and then he can do Milah right away, becoming a Ger immediately!


(a) The RAMBAN writes that the Ger must do Milah first because if we let him do it at the end of the process, he might back out when considers the pain involved, and he will have wasted the time and energy of Beis Din in being Tovel him. However, if b'Di'eved he did Tevilah first and then did Milah, it is also a valid Gerus.

(b) TOSFOS and the TOSFOS HA'ROSH seem to say that the order *does* make a difference. Milah must be done first, or else the Gerus is not valid. The Rosh mentions the wording of the Gemara (Kerisus 9a) that says "our fathers entered the Bris of Hashem with Milah, Tevilah, and Haza'ah," putting Milah first and implying that this is the proper order. It seems that the source for the order is the order in which our ancestors underwent their Gerus process, and from there we learn that now, too, a Ger must do it in the same order.

(c) The RASHBA and RITVA explain that Milah must be done first, because Milah -- the removal of the Orlah -- represents the removal of the Tum'ah of Nochrim, as the Gemara says in Nedarim (30b). The Tevilah done afterwards is done in order to acquire the Kedushah of Yisrael. If Tevilah was done while he still had an Orlah, it would be like someone immersing in a Mikvah in order to become Tahor while holding a Sheretz in his hand. The Ritva adds that because of this, the order must be followed, and Milah must be done first or else the Gerus is not valid. (The Rashba, though, is uncertain whether the order is Me'akev for this reason.)

One difference between the different approaches could be whether a Nochri who had Milah without Tevilah is considered to be a partial Jew, or whether he is still a full-fledged Nochri. Does Milah start the process of Gerus, or is it necessary to have all of the components of Gerus in order for any degree of Gerus to be accomplished?

The RADBAZ (3:917), who follows the opinion of the Rashba, writes that since Milah removes the Tum'ah of Nochrim from the Ger, even though he did not yet do Tevilah he is nevertheless considered a Jew in certain aspects (for example, there is a Mitzvah to support him if he is poor, and if he touches wine it does not become Asur). The ARUCH LA'NER (in TESHUVOS BINYAN TZION YD 91) writes that if a Ger did Milah without Tevilah then he should observe Shabbos (he is no longer considered a Nochri who is prohibited from observing Shabbos). It might be that this view only follows the opinions that say that Milah removes him from the category of Nochri, and thus the process of Gerus has already begun. According to the other opinions, though, Milah alone might be worthless, because Gerus needs both Milah and Tevilah, and without either of them, he remains a complete Nochri.

QUESTION: The Gemara says that an Eved does not need Kabalas Mitzvos when he is freed in order to complete his Gerus. RASHI explains that when he first became an Eved and did Tevilah l'Shem Avdus (with intention to become an Eved), "he was already Shayach to Mitzvos." Rashi says that the Eved has some Mitzvos because of "l'Ma'an Yanu'ach Avdecha" (Devarim 5:14), which requires that he rest from Melachah on Shabbos, and, in addition, we derive from a Gezeirah Shavah of "Lah Lah" that he is obligated in the same Mitzvos in which a woman is obligated. Therefore, since he is already obligated in certain Mitzvos at the time that he becomes an Eved, he does not have to undergo a new Kabalas Mitzvos at the time of the Tevilah of his emancipation.

Why does Rashi mention two sources for the obligation of an Eved to observe Mitzvos? It would have sufficed to mention the Gezeirah Shavah that teaches that an Eved is obligated in Mitzvos like a woman! Why does Rashi have to mention the specific Mitzvah of "l'Ma'an Yanu'ach Avdecha?" (ARUCH LA'NER)

Moreover, it does not seem correct to cite the verse of "l'Ma'an Yanu'ach Avdecha" as a source that an Eved is obligated in Mitzvos. That Mitzvah is specifically directed to a Jewish master and it is commanding him not to have his Eved work on Shabbos. It does *not* tell us that the Eved himself has a Mitzvah to refrain from working on Shabbos (like the Gemara mentions later, on 48b; see also Rashi there, DH Bein ha'Shemashos)!

ANSWER: Rashi here is bothered by a problem in the Gemara. How can the Gemara say that the reason the Eved does not need a Kabalas Mitzvos when he is released is because he already had a Kabalas Mitzvos when he become an Eved? The Gemara itself says that one can force a person to become an Eved against his will. If an Eved can become an Eved against his will, then certainly he did not accept upon himself the Mitzvos at the time he became an Eved. How, then, can the Gemara say that he does not need Kabalas Mitzvos when he is released?

The answer to this problem can be inferred from the Gemara later (48a). The Gemara there explains that there is a Machlokes Tana'im whether an Eved is exempt from Kabalas Mitzvos when he is freed only if he has been an Eved for a long time, or even if he is freed immediately after becoming an Eved. Rashi (DH b'Yefas To'ar) explains that an Eved who has been an Eved for a long time does not need Kabalas Mitzvos at the time of his release, because during his Avdus he was *practicing* the Mitzvos in which an Eved is Chayav, and thus, through observing those Mitzvos, he accepted the Mitzvos upon himself.

Apparently, even the opinion that holds that an Eved does not need Kabalas Mitzvos if he was released immediately after becoming an Eved will also follow the same logic, even though he has not yet had a chance to practice the Mitzvos. By virtue of becoming an Eved (whether voluntarily or not), he has become resigned to his fate of having to observe the Mitzvos, and thus it is considered an acceptance of the Mitzvos.

According to this, it could be that Rashi is in doubt whether the Mitzvos that an Eved practices (or becomes resigned to have to practice) because of the Gezeirah Shavah of "Lah Lah" can also constitute a Kabalas Mitzvos. Perhaps those Mitzvos are different, because, first, no one is standing over him making him keep those Mitzvos. Second, even if those Mitzvos will be enforced, those Mitzvos are generally negative commandments (Isurim that he may not transgress) and they do not include the positive Mitzvos Aseh that a person proactively observes. Thus, the Eved will not be seen to be actively practicing the Mitzvos as an Eved and we will not see any Kabalas Mitzvos. That is why Rashi also writes that the Eved is obligated in the Mitzvah of Shabbos by the verse "l'Ma'an Yanu'ach Avdecha" -- the dominating factor in the life of the Eved is his subservience to his master. On Shabbos, his entire life changes because his master cannot make him work. Consequently, his drastically different conduct on Shabbos will definitely demonstrate his acceptance of the Mitzvos. That is why Rashi mentions "l'Ma'an Yanu'ach Avdecha."

On the other hand, "l'Ma'an Yanu'ach Avdecha" is only a Mitzvah on the master, telling him how to treat his Eved, as mentioned above. Therefore, Rashi also mentions the Gezeirah Shavah of "Lah Lah," because those Mitzvos are on the Eved himself.

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