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I always thought it was a misconception to be "half-Jewish". Usually the speaker means one of their parents are Jewish, making them either fully Jewish or fully Gentile.

However, I saw today that the Minchas Chinuch (Kometz HaMincha #347) suggests the possibility of such a status (although in Minchas Chinuch he seems less sure). The case is two people own a non Jewish slave (not an Eved Kenaani, but with קנין הגוף). One frees their half, and the half slave converts. The free half is Jewish, and when the remaining half is freed, it remains Gentile.

I'm looking for other sources which discuss such a status. Maybe they disagree with the concept and say the Jewishness spreads (as Minchas Chinuch suggests, unlike in his Kometz HaMincha). Maybe they discuss the practical ramifications that the Kometz HaMincha brings, or suggest new ones.

I'm already aware the Ben Ish Chai in Benayahu (Eruvin 18a), amongst other places, discusses this concept, and relates it to Siamese twins. The Kometz HaMincha also quotes a Turei Even which discuses this, but I don't know what he says.

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    +1 I was actually going to post this question a couple weeks ago, with this exact case, but I didn't think it was possible; I assumed it wouldn't work, due to the logic you ascribe to the Minchas Chinuch. I'm stunned to see that someone actually suggests that this would work (and more stunned that it's the same person who says it wouldn't).
    – DonielF
    Apr 2, 2019 at 0:33
  • חצי ישראל וחצי גוי באופן שנתגייר חציו - נחלקו האחרונים האם אומרים שפשטה קדושתו ונעשה כולו ישראל (קובץ הערות נו-יח בדרך אפשר), או שנשאר חצי גר וחצי גוי (ופשטה שייך רק במקרה שהחצי הקדוש לא יוכל להתקיים בלי החצי האחר) (קונטרסי שיעורים קידושין יא-ח ד"ה ובמה) files.daf-yomi.com/files/bookfiles/kovets-yesodot-vehakirot/…
    – user17743
    Feb 21, 2021 at 11:36
  • It flies in the face of logic that a slave can be half free. Going from 2 to 1 owners doesn't sound like half free just a slave under different conditions.
    – Dude
    Jul 24, 2023 at 0:18
  • @Dude the gemarra is full of such examples. You have to broaden your mind to new concepts, otherwise you'll be lost when learning Torah. In this particular case, it's not that he has two owners, it's that each other has a stake in half of him.
    – robev
    Jul 25, 2023 at 5:31
  • @robev This is true. A person who is part Jewish is just as much part gentile. I've never looked at it like this way before. HAlachally, they are either Jewish (through the mother if father's gentile) or not (if father's Jewish but not the mother). But from an ethnicity standpoint, either way, the person is half Jewish and half non-Jewish. Like it or not, a person who's father is Jewish but not the mother is just as Jewish as the person who's mother is Jewish but not the father, genetically.
    – Turk Hill
    Mar 18 at 23:51

1 Answer 1

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The source is from the gemara in Kiddushin and Gittin which Kiddushin daf 6a Rashi cites the gemara in Gittin daf 43a which asks a question about if a half-emancipated goyish slave who is now half-Jewish marries a Jew, what is the din? I believe this is the source that Minchas Chinuch used.

This is also explained in the Chumash about a charufa which Kiddushin 6a talks a little about. Basically a charufa is a goyish slave woman who was reserved for a Jewish man when she gets redeemed and then comes a person and marries the charufa when she was not redeemed yet. this is in sefer Vayikra perek yud-tet, pasuk chuf-alef. Of course, if someone today says they are half Jewish because of their dad, they aren't Jewish at all.

Regarding the matter of the Judaism spreading, I can use the gemara in Kiddushin daf 7a that says that if a man says to a woman that he wants to marry half of her, the kiddushin doesn't spread to the other half since her mind stops it. Therefore, since a woman can't be married halfway since she can't marry two men, the kiddushin stops there and doesn't spread and she isn't even married halfway because she can't marry too men as I said before. I can also use this case to say that since the Jewishness here stops halfway because of the other master, it doesn't spread but still doesn't disappear since we don't have the problem here of a woman who can't marry two men. Because of this, the Jewishness of the slave doesn't spread fully and only partially does it spread. Also, a disclaimer, please don't pasken out of anything I just said since I'm not a posek in regards to marriage or anything. Just a regular bachur.

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  • I think you misunderstood what I'm discussing. Also I don't think you can apply the laws of kiddushin to Jewishness. I'm not talking about a half slave half not slave, which the Minchas Chinuch discusses in basically every mitzvah. Read again what I'm discussing.
    – robev
    Jun 22, 2023 at 17:46
  • Why can't u apply the laws of kiddushin to Jewishness? its the same concepts being used. the concept is basically Daas. a woman has daas to stop the marriage from coming to her other half. Here also, the slaves other master has daas to stop the jewishness from spreading to the other half. I also read ur question and it says that a non jewish slave who was owned by 2 owners and one frees their half thus making that half jewish while the other says he dosent want to. In fact, it might be that he becomes fully goyish since the other master left and now, one master controlls him. Jun 22, 2023 at 18:03
  • if u can explain the thing i misunderstood, i would appreciate it. Jun 22, 2023 at 18:03

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