Thursday, May 31, 2007

CONVERSIONS BY REB JAY - Yevamos 28 (actually 24) - Daf Yomi

A conversion must be done lishma, i.e, with the desire of accepting the Torah and joining Klal Yisroel. Therefore, one cannot convert for marriage or any other external reason.

Because of this, during certain periods in Jewish history, converts were not accepted. For example, during the reign of Dovid Hamelech, converts were not accepted due to a concern that their acceptance was based on fear (due to the strength of Dovid’s army). Similarly, during the days of Shlomo Hamelech there were no conversions due to a concern that the conversions were based on a desire for prestige (as Klal Yisroel at that time was considered to be the jewel of the world).

The Rambam notes that although technically converts were not accepted at these times, there were Beis Din Hedyotos (Common Courts) that did accept converts. How was the status of these converts resolved?

The Rambam writes that their status was pending; if they saw after a period of time that these converts were still keeping the mitzvos, it could be assumed that their conversion was legitimate, and they were considered to be Jews retroactive to their conversion (meaning, for example, if it was a woman who had a child during the waiting period, the child was considered to be Jewish).

Perhaps we can use this principle to understand a difficulty in MegilasRus. Boaz married Rus as a redeemer of the property of Noami (and Rus was an extension of this due to her being the wife of the cousin of Boaz--Machlon). However, if Rus was a converts, then we know that a converts is regarded like a newborn baby, and any prior status - which in the case of Rus would include her marriage to Machlon - should be negated?

Using the principle of the Rambam we can say that Rus initially converted prior to marrying Machlon; however, there were doubts regarding her conversion (as it appeared that it was done for marriage). Therefore, her conversion had a probation period, and once she decided to follow Noami, it was retroactively revealed that her initial conversion (at the time of her marriage) was legitimate, and she fell under the category of things that could be redeemed by a redeemer (Boaz).