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Full Version: Exposing Misinformation about Ger, Ger-Toshav & Ger-Tzedek
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Do they have ger toshavs in Israel? Can I move to Israel?

Maimonides rules that there is no formal status of "Ger Toshav" these days (according to the scriptural definition), since the Lost Tribes of Israel have not yet been returned to their original borders within the Holy Land, and furthermore there is no proper Sanhedrin to regulate these matters. Both the ingathering of all the Jewish exiles from the Diaspora, and the establishing of an authentic Sanhedrin, will be accomplished by Moshiach (the Messiah, descended from David) when he is revealed speedily in our days.

There is, however, a status of Noahide "Hassid" (a pious individual of the nations, or "Hassidei Umot Ha'Olom"). A Noahide Hassid is one who accepts upon him/herself the obligation of fulfilling the Seven Noahide Commandments (Mitzvot) as was commanded by G-d through Moses. This qualifies a Gentile to live in Israel today according to the Torah. (This personal acceptance of the Noahide Code can optionally be formalized by making a declaration before a Jewish "court" of three Orthodox Jewish men). But if a Gentile merely accepts the seven mitzvot only because they are logical to him, then the person is not considered a Noahide Hassid.
Hi AskNoah,

1. Please could you tell me what exactly a ger tzedek is.

2. This is something that was said to me on Facebook (since a lot more than two people know of it, it shouldn't be lashon hara to repeat, right?) in response to an article I did on my blog where I quoted the Mishneh Torah that mentions ger tzedek in Laws of Kings and Wars, Chapter 10, Halachah 9 as meaning a gentile who had become a Jew (which is my understanding). The person on Facebook said this [sic.]:

"Basically, if a man wants to stay in idolatry, he shouldn't make up his own commandments. If he wants to leave idolatry and do the commandments, he should become a Ger Tzedek and he may take on the Jewish commandments. Rambam says while we do not recognize the status of a ger toshav as legal outside of the Jubilee year, we do recognize the ger tzedek. Again, a ger tzedek means both the convert and the non convert. The Ger Tzedek is the Noahide that wants to sit in his sukkah, or fast and pray on Yom Kippur, or go beyond his seven. He is not required to convert, though he may if he feels he should."

As you can see, this person believes that a ger tzedek can be both "a convert and a non-convert", "the Noahide who wants to sit in his sukkah, etc". It is a teaching promoted by a rabbi with others and I'm not sure how I should see it. I've consulted the Artscroll Chumash, Hertz Pentateuch, Abraham Cohen's Everyman's Talmud, Rabbi Hirsch's commentary on the Torah, and each says that a ger tzedek is a fully fledged convert, meaning he/she becomes 100% a Jew. I've checked multiple places on the internet: Soncino version of the Babylonian Talmud, Jastrow's dictionary of the Talmud, on and on. And I'm getting the same thing: a ger tzedek is a fully fledged Jew, a true proselyte/convert.

I'm just not sure how I should view such people who believe that noahides can be ger tzedek, if I'm understand what a ger tzedek is. Because if these guys are serious, then surely their teaching some incorrect stuff to multiple people on certain popular Noahide groups on Facebook. Not only do they teach this on facebook, but also at least two websites, one a popular Noahide website.

Could I have your clarification on the term ger tzedek, even if it's to agree with what I've found so far? If you can point me to some evidence I can use that would be great, unless you think I have enough already. Also could I have your guidance on how I should treat such teachings and teachers and students of such teachers?

Thank you.
1. Just as you found out through your research of Torah-Law sources, there is only one correct Torah-Law (halachic) definition of "Ger Tzedek", and that is a person who was born as a Non-Jew, and he/she went through the process of authentic conversion according to Torah Law, and thereby became a Jew.

2. Those who claim that there is a Non-Jewish type of "Ger Tzedek" are woefully confused or misinformed or in denial as to the correct and firmly established Torah Law (halacha) about this matter, and it is a pity that such wrong information is being disseminated over the Internet. What's worse, it puts many well-meaning but naive people who accept that false claim at risk of transgressing against some important principles of the Noahide Code (for example, by taking upon themselves to observe ritual commandments from the Torah that are only permitted for Jews).

As proof of the correct definition of "Ger Tzedek", see for example Rambam (Maimonides), Mishneh Torah, Laws of Gifts to the Poor 1:9, which states (translating directly from the original Hebrew):

"All [occurrences of the term] 'Ger' [in the Five Books of Moses] which are said regarding [the commanded agricultural] gifts to the poor - are nothing other than a 'Ger Tzedek'. This is as it says regarding the [commanded] tithe for the poor (Deut. 14:29): 'And the Levite and the 'Ger' will come." Just as the Levite is a member of the [Jewish] covenant, so too this 'Ger' is a member of the [Jewish] covenant..."

The point to notice here is that Rambam is clearly teaching that the term "Ger Tzedek" refers to nothing other than a member of G-d's covenant with the Jewish people, which a Non-Jew acquires through authentic Torah-Law conversion to become a Jew.

It should also be pointed out that this paragraph in Mishneh Torah continues: "...Nevertheless, we do not hold back poor Gentiles from these [agricultural gifts]; rather, they [may] come together with poor Israelites [Jews] and take them, for the sake of the ways of peace."

I am wondering about something I read in the Torah regarding "ger" or strangers and fulfilling certain celebrating Pesach. I understand there are different "levels" of Ger so I am wondering are the statutes about the strangers amongst the Jewish people also celebrating Pesach etc...only applicable to a resident alien (ger toshav - my understanding of the term) living in Eretz Yisrael?

Chad AKA RocNoahide
There has been serious misunderstanding and misrepresentation about this issue, so thanks for your question! The Hebrew word "ger" is used in the Five Books of Moses with 3 distinctly different meanings, and in every case, the correct meaning has to be understood from the context and within the basis of Torah Law.

(1) As a general word, outside of Torah-Law context, it can simply mean any person who is a "stranger" or a "sojourner". For example, Moses named his oldest son "Gershom", in commenoration of his statement in Exodus 2: 22, "I have been a "ger"/stranger in a foreign land." Likewise, King David wrote about himself in Psalm 119:19, "I am a "ger"/stranger in the land; do not hide Your commandments from me."

(2) As a shortened form of the title "Ger Tzekek" (meaning a Righteous Convert), which means someone who was born a Non-Jew, but then converted in accordance with Torah Law to become a Jew, and is therefore obligated to observe the Jewish Commandments. Please see Post #8 above in this thread.

(3) As shortened form of the title "Ger Toshav" (meaning a Righteous-Gentile resident of the Holy Land), in accordance with Torah Laws that applied for the Jewish nation in the Holy Land when all of the Jewish tribes were settled there, before the exile of the Ten Lost Tribes (which happened before the destruction of the First Holy Temple). The Ger Toshav observed the 7 Noahide Commandments in the Holy Land, similarly to a faithful and observant Noahide who observed the 7 Noahide Commandments anywhere in the world today. Please see Post #2 above in this thread.

You are probably asking specifically about Numbers 9:14, which speaks about a "ger" participating in the Passover sacrifice in the Holy Temple. The refers ONLY to a Jewish "Ger Tzedek", who was originally Non-Jew but then became a Jewish proselyte through conversion in accordance with Torah-Law. So "ger" in this verse only means "proselyte", as clarified in the proper translation of this verse, and Rashi's explanation:

9:14. If a "ger"/proselyte dwells with you [Jews], and he makes a Passover sacrifice to the L-rd, according to the statutes of the Passover sacrifice and its ordinances he shall make it. One statute shall apply to you [Jews], to the "ger"/proselyte and to the native-born citizen.

Rashi explains: "If a "ger"/proselyte dwells with you [Jews], and he makes a Passover sacrifice": I might think that ANYONE WHO CONVERTS should immediately make a Passover sacrifice. Therefore, Scripture teaches us, “One statute [shall apply to you {Jews}, to the "ger"/proselyte and to the native-born citizen].” And this is its meaning: If a "ger"/proselyte dwells with you [Jews], and he comes to make a Passover sacrifice with his fellow Jews, “according to the statutes of the Passover sacrifice and its ordinances he shall make it.” - [see Sifrei Beha’alothecha 1:30].
Hi AskNoah,

I've got another question.

Chapter 8 of Laws of Kings and Wars in Mishneh Torah ends with this:

"However, if he fulfills them out of intellectual reasoning, he is not a resident alien [ger toshav] and he is not of the pious among the gentiles, nor of their wise men."

Rambam separates ger toshav from pious of the nations, as if a person can be one and not the other, i.e., a person is not a ger toshav, but he is a pious of the nations. It makes sense to me that a Gentile who has no ties with Israel, who is not a resident of Israel nor wants to reside in Israel, but this person keeps the Seven Commandments because God commanded them to Moses, this person is a pious of the nations without taking the extra step of some residence status in Israel (i.e., ger toshav).

I can also understand that Rambam says that a ger toshav keeps the Seven Commandments because he has vowed to do so in order to get residency status in Israel. Rambam also stated that this no longer exists in our day, so ger toshavim should strictly be a theoretical concept.

So that makes two classes of Gentile that can be "pious": the Gentile that wants residency and formality in some affiliation to Israel, the ger toshav; and the Gentile who just keeps the Seven Commandments informally whilst living in their own land who has no residency connection or desire.

On page 50 of the Divine Code, in footnote 11, it states that the title of ger toshav applies to any gentile in any land who keeps the Seven Commandments because God commanded them to Moses. Doesn't this conflate the term the theoretical but non-existent (according to Rambam) entity, "ger toshav", with the still existing concept that anyone in the world who can be "pious", especially when Rambam is the one who appears to separate the two entities?

Here is the relevant (first) paragraph of the footnote you cited in "The Divine Code" by Rabbi Moshe Weiner, p. 50, with my emphasis indicated by capital letters, and my clarifications in brackets:

Quote:According to Rambam’s Laws of the Worship of Stars [and Idols] 10:6, during the temporary diaspora of the Jewish people (during which the Jubilee cycle is suspended), no one can be accepted into the [full Torah-Law] LEGAL STATUS of a Gentile “Resident” (Ger Toshav in Hebrew) of the Land of Israel. This means that we do not confer upon a Gentile the LEGAL status of a Ger Toshav, even if he makes a declaration before three Torah-observant adult Jewish males that he accepts and abides by the Noahide Code. However, the TITLE ["]Ger Toshav["] alternatively refers to any Gentile in any location who keeps the Seven Noahide Commandments because they were commanded to Moses in the Torah. For any Gentiles who are not yet on this spiritual level, the Jews are commanded to expel them from the Holy Land of Israel, and they are forbidden by Torah Law to dwell there (whether they are expelled or not).

Here we see that there is a distinction made between:

(a) the actual Torah-Law legal status called Ger Toshav, which, according to the majority opinion of the Rishonim Rabbis including Rambam, can only be conferred on a Gentile during a time when the Yovel (Jubilee) cycle can be observed (i.e., in the complete biblical Holy Land with all the 12 Tribes of Israel settled there),

(b) an honorary title "Ger Toshav" which may be used by and applied to a pious (Noahide) Gentile even nowadays, since he is conducting himself in the manner of a Ger Toshav, and it is obvious to everyone who knows the halacha (Torah Law) that this does NOT mean that he literally has the legal states of a Ger Toshav, since that does not exist in our time

Those who are interested in halachic discussion are referred to Rabbi Weiner's short exposition titled "The Ger Toshav in contemporary times," which is topic 8 in the Preface to the Hebrew edition, "Sheva Mitzvot HaShem," vol. 1. He concludes that discussion by stating that, "if a Gentile wishes to accept on himself the yoke of the seven commandments in their entirety and to be called a 'Ger Toshav' ... the opinion of Rambam and the rest of the Rishonim Rabbis is that he does not need to [make a declaration of his acceptance specifically before a Jewish court]."

It is unfortunate that Rabbi Weiner's dedicated attention to these details has subsequently been misused by some "innovators" to claim support for a false idea that there is an actual Torah-Law status of Ger Toshav in our times, which they also conflate with misinformation about what that status actually includes.
Note: For Gentiles, there is no problem with simply acknowledging the special quality which G-d assigns to the Seventh Day. And there is no problem for them to do any normal activity in a nicer way, and having in mind to honor the Seventh Day by doing so. Here are a few examples:

- just resting for the sake of one’s own physical rest and relaxation, or taking a day off from one’s job if permitted by the employer, or vacationing

- [as stated by Rabbi J. Immanuel Schochet o.b.m.] eating a very nice meal after sunset on Friday and/or during the day on Saturday (which can include lighting candles on the table during either of those times to beautify the meal)

- wearing nicer clothes

- spending more time in higher quality prayer and permissible Torah study
Furthermore, please see Post #4 on the following page of our forum, from Rav J. Immanuel Schochet A"H Z"L, of Toronto, Canada, the first overseeing Rav of Ask Noah International:

That post is copied here:

07-27-2007, 10:42 AM (This post was last modified: 07-27-2007 10:49 AM by Rabbi Immanuel Schochet.) Post: #4
Rabbi Immanuel Schochet
Academy Rabbi
Posts: 13
Joined: Jun 2007
RE: Wearing a tallis?
Noahide men (or women) should not buy their own tallis gadol to use during their daily morning prayers, or a tallis katan to wear continually (even with the tzitzis fringes not showing). The tallis is a uniquely Jewish symbol. Thus a Noahide who wears a tallis is likely to be mistaken for a Jew in a synagogue service or in other settings (including the places where a Noahide might go without hesitation, but which would be forbidden for an observant Jew to be seen there).

Also, if a tzitzis fringe on a Noahide's tallis came undone on the end and he retied it himself, it would be forbidden for a Jew to put on that tallis, since it would no longer be fulfilling the mitzvah, and thus the four-corned garment would be forbidden for him to wear. This is one reason why a Noahide should not have his own tallis, because it might get acquired or borrowed by a Jew.

But even without that possibility, Noahides should not acquire and/or wear tallis or tefillin, or do the other things quoted above from the book "Path of the Righteous Gentile." There are and must remain these clear lines of distinction between Jews and Gentiles.

Furthermore, tallis and tefilin, though somehow related in practice to Jewish prayer, actually are independent mitzvos and have nothing to do with prayer-services and do not add to them. They are distinct mitzvos on their own. Thus it should be emphasized that the only "enhancing tools" for prayer by Noahides are sincerity and submission to G-d.