It is written in the Rambam (Laws of Forbidden Relations chap. 14, 2) that when the potential convert comes to convert "we notify him regarding a small number of weighty mitzvot and a small number of light mitzvot and we may not prolong this matter". So we see that we should merely notify them regarding a small number of mitzvot and not to teach them the intricacies and finite details. And this is partly because we find written in the talmud (Sanhedrin 59) and codified in the Rambam (Laws of Kings 10, 9) that a non-Jew is forbidden to learn Torah and if he does so he is liable to death. This is also borne out from the gemara (Shabbat 31a) that we find that the great sage Hillel the elder taught the converts Torah only after he converted them and not before. Thus it is forbidden to teach them the intricacies of Jewish law until they have converted since prior to conversion they are considered completely as non-Jews. Thus, one who teaches them in such a manner is certainly causing them to sin. Also we find that it is forbidden to prolong this process since we do not wish to overly discourage and frighten them.

Moreover, teaches the Rambam there (ibid. 5) that if he accepts this we must convert him immediately and it is forbidden to delay this. Explains the Bet Yosef (268, 2) the reason for this that we are forbidden to delay a mitzva and must do it promptly. And writes the Rambam there that we should not be exacting on the convert and this clearly signifies that we should not give him a test to see how much he has memorized about Jewish law etc. And off course all the above mentioned is learned from the words of the Talmud (Yevamot 47a) and is brought in the Tur and the Jewish code of law the Shulchan Aruch (268, 2) as the undisputed halacha.

Additionally, we do not find anywhere in the Torah or talmud or the Rambam or the Shulchan Aruch that a convert must move to a Jewish community prior to conversion and on the contrary the Rambam himself writes (Laws of Kings 5, 7) that a Jew is allowed to live anywhere in the world that he wishes except for Egypt and off course this includes the converts as well since we must treat them as full fledged Jews in every way like it is written many times in the Torah (Lev. 16, 29, ibid. 18, 26, Numbers 15, 14, ibid, 15, 29). It follows that if one rejects a potential convert due to this he is acting contrary to halacha since we may not be overly exacting on them and overly discourage them or delay them as mentioned above since we are thereby delaying a mitzva without any halachic justification. Also we are thereby preventing the potential convert from studying Torah and doing mitzvot and thereby robbing from him his portion in the world to come.

Thus, in conclusion we find that according to Jewish law it is forbidden to teach potential converts the intricacies of Jewish law and likewise it is forbidden to draw out their conversion process for years. Also, one may not require them to be tested regarding this. And one may not obligate them to move to a Jewish community prior to conversion as a prerequisite. And all this stands in stark contrast to the tradition passed down to us from Mount Sinai as taught in the Talmud and the Rambam and the Shulchan Aruch.

I could think of few things as to why, but I was wondering, is there any Halachic mention of this practice?

  • 1
    This is a WOT -- I suggest paring it down and looking at some of the related questions judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/99071/…
    – rosends
    Jan 3, 2021 at 18:09
  • Can this be summarized as "Rambam said X. Why don't we do as he said?"? In short, this is how the tradition rolls - each new generation tweaks it a little to suit the needs of the generation as Rabbis see it until you face something completely different.
    – Al Berko
    Jan 3, 2021 at 18:15
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    Historians have observed Rambam says more about clarifying mitzvah observance than the Talmud. In Talmudic times, if you wanted to be part of the Jewish people, that meant you were all-in on observance. In Rambam's time, we wanted to clarify that being Karaite wasn't enough. Today someone can say "I want to be Jewish" and point to lots of famous Jews who are not halachically-observant, so a lot more education is needed.
    – Shalom
    Jan 3, 2021 at 21:04
  • @Shalom In Talmudic times Jewish sects that did not practice Judaism like the Rabbis existed
    – ezra
    Jan 5, 2021 at 15:05

1 Answer 1


The question boils down to, why does a convert today have to go through a lengthy education process and be required to move into a physical jewish community when the classic halacha clearly does not require this.

I don't have a source, but I would say that in today's society a greater level of background is needed for one to honestly say that they can accept the rigors of Judaism. In classical times Judaism was much more community supported. One joined the Jewish community and that was his whole life. Jews just didn't live amongst the goyim. So there was no need to make sure that the convert could keep to the many intricacies of halacha; that would come naturally as he lives as part of the community. There was no need to require him to live in the community; if he became a Jew he would have no choice. There was less worry about backing out; this was a terribly unliked move in the eyes of the non-Jews, and the convert must be committed to come and convert in the first place. Today none of that is true, and a Jew might not live so exclusively amongst other Jews, and a convert is not a social outcast for deciding to become a Jew. There is every reason to think that a convert might never learn most parts of practical halacha, and that he might decide afterwards that this is not what he had in mind. And there is no motivation to accept a convert who will later leave Judaism.

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    "the classic halacha clearly does not require this." - actually, it forbids it.
    – simyou
    Jan 4, 2021 at 6:12
  • The considerations you put forward are all valid, but they would only justify a longer and more personal process so the Beis Din should really be confidant that they are serious and will pull through. It does not justify teaching everything before hand. Worse, the system today basically becomes a formal test where the Beis Din often has no reason at all to believe that they will be observant Jews (at least here in Israel), but they only know that they passed a test, so the new process actually made it worse on the very issues it should have been resolving. (which should not surprise anyone.)
    – simyou
    Jan 4, 2021 at 6:23
  • @simyou, if I can explain how things got out of hand I have answered the question, at least mostly.
    – Mordechai
    Jan 4, 2021 at 23:15

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