I read in the Book of Isaiah (Is. 56:1-8), about the foreigner joining Hashem. I asked my Rabbi briefly about this passage. He explained that the passage is probably neither about a gerut conversion or someone becoming noachide, but something called a 'ger toshav'.

So, I'm asking if some one would like to enlighten me regarding this subject. I'm sorry I can't be more specific in my question, as this is a new concept to me.

Very grateful for any answers.

  • 2
    See this: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/13488/1569
    – b a
    Sep 14, 2012 at 5:19
  • In light of @ba's comment (thanks, b a), I think this question should be reworded so it asks what a ger toshav is only, so people don't answer it with an explanation of Is., which is covered by the other question. Just MHO.
    – msh210
    Sep 14, 2012 at 5:30
  • 2
    Rabbi David Katz from Tzfat Israel has done extensive research on the subject and has presented it in these two lessons. netiv.net/ger-101-rabbi-david-katz
    – user4599
    Dec 6, 2013 at 18:37
  • Rabbi David Katz book The World of The Ger is an amazing resource for learning about Ger Toshav, it has help me in my search as a non-Jew on my path to honor Hashem..
    – user9409
    May 7, 2015 at 11:51

3 Answers 3


In Avodah Zarah 64b, they ask: Who is a "ger toshav"? Whoever accepts upon himself, in front of three friends, not to worship idolatry — these are the words of Rabbi Me'ir. And the rabbis say: Whoever accepts upon himself the seven sins which the sons of Noach accepted upon themselves. And others (i.e. Elisha Acher) say: None of these are a "ger toshav." A "ger toshav" is whoever accepts upon himself all the commandments except not to eat neveilah.

The Rambam (Isurei Biah 14:7) rules like the rabbis. This definition of a "ger toshav" is what we are regular to call a "ben Noach." So according to the halachah, there is no difference between a ger toshav and a ben Noach, but according to the other opinions in the gemara there is. The Rambam there says that he's called a "ger toshav" (lit. resident stranger) because he's allowed to live in Israel with us.

  • 1
    The difference between a ben Noach and a ger toshav would appear to be that the ger toshav accepts the designation and agrees to heed those seven commandments. Sep 14, 2012 at 12:58
  • Note that I defined a ger toshav as "what we are regular to call a 'ben Noach'" (in reality, all of mankind are bnei Noach)
    – b a
    Sep 14, 2012 at 20:19
  • Wouldn't the main difference between that the ger toshav lives in Israel while benei noach would be living elsewhere?
    – Dude
    Apr 7, 2016 at 7:45

As noted by @ba there are three views in Avodah Zarah 64b. R. Meir holds that the ger toshav commits to not worship idolatry, the rabbis include all seven commandments, and "others" hold that he keeps all mitzvot except for the consumption of nevelah.

As noted, Rambam (Hilkhot Issurei Biah 14:7) sides with the rabbis. It should be noted that other Rishonim side with R. Meir, e.g. apparently Rashi (Bava Kamma 113b s.v. ger toshav).

It should be noted, that there was another view; which is not the "accepted view" that the ger toshav must convert within a year! R. Shaul Lieberman z"l discusses this in his Midr'shei Teiman (p. 8).

While present in several Midrashim that he cites (such as Midrash Lamed Beit Middot p. 374), it is almost absent from the Talmud. The closest we find is R. Yohanan (Avodah Zara 65a) who could be understood as having espoused this view. However, the Talmud there rejects interpretation of the words of R. Yohanan. Nevertheless, it appears that the Yerushalmi understood R. Yohanan as requiring a ger toshav to convert within the year (cf. Yerushalmi Yevamot 8:1).

This fascinating view is implied by the Bahag (Hilkhot Milah) as well.


I see no one has answered you in the context of the scripture that you cited. Your Rabbi is right; but, see in scripture whenever it's speaking of the ger it means convert, but the foreigner can be a bnei Noach if he lives in the land of Israel, or just a foreigner that obeys the 7 just for the wisdom in them, but the later is no bnei Noach because he's not doing it to join himself to HaShem. They are only called the wise of the nations. The foreigner starts becoming a stranger when he seeks to do more and more mitzvos. A stranger is the one that has it in his mind to be a full citizen, were as the foreigner does not. Nor does he have the rights of a full citizen. He is under common law or universal law, were as the stranger is under Israeli national law. As shown in Exodus 12.43.

Then we see when it speaks of keeping pesach the stranger is mentioned to keep it but not the foreigner Exodus 20.10. You should also know that when the stranger is singled out; with words like don't abuse/mistreat them, it simultaneously also means the foreigner, evidence being the following words "you were strangers in the land of Egypt". Where the Israelites converts in Egypt? No, maybe some but not for the most part. All the do and don't do to the stranger commandments always apply to the foreigner too. You have to be a foreigner to get labeled stranger. But when it says foreigner that strictly means the one who is not a citizen, even if he is in the process of conversion.

Now Isaiah's sermon can be understood with this in mind. By saying foreigner he can address everyone and linking them with proper paralleling subject as we have it outlined in the Torah. Watch the clever thing he throws in there. Let not the foreigner say, who has attached himself to GD say "GD will keep me apart from his people." In the temple there was a separation wall. A court for the foreigners, how do we know here, it means stranger. Because the stranger is addressed alongside the eunuch, just as in Exodus 22.20-.21 but with widows and orphans. Orphans because according to HaLacha the convert has no parents. A woman convert addressed with the widow in the passage given above, because she may never find a husband, so Isaiah expounded on the teaching by speaking of the eunuch and the one in process to converting in the same sentence. It's an encouragement to them. And yes even the true Beni Noach must keep shabbat. I know you heard otherwise but only the gentile idol worshipers.

It says Takumim that keep the sabbath merit the death penalty. Why then do we make those taking conversion classes do something to not keep it perfectly. It's a hedge [Takanot] [enactment] to protect them. Remember he can change his mind at the very last minute about converting. Let's say he goes back to idol worshipping? That means an idolater has desecrated the Shabbat of HaShem. Its the reality of our world. Now I seriously doubt that bnei Noach ever kept shabbat in the manner of a Jew. He simply did not work his occupation. Notice the eunuch is keeping Shabbat, now we know that a man with crushed testicles can't become a part of the national congregation. Obviously it's a way of addressing the bnei Noach since the bnei Noach is like the eunuch in a small ways. That is that he has an issue in regards to his private area that keeps him out of the congregation. Obviously he's talking two different covenants because he's saying both that hold fast to my covenant but I just don't know enough to address the Shabbat keeping.

  • This needs to be edited to fix the grammar and make it clearer what you mean. Mar 10, 2016 at 18:33
  • Yes I see that II've been up all nit night in three onlonline classes II'll do that right now
    – user12174
    Mar 10, 2016 at 21:37
  • I'm grateful for your answer and I thank you. I don't see the point of people voting down an answer before giving some constructive critique. And if its spelling and grammar issues, help them. And to the jewish community I would like to remind you of the consequences of lashon hara.
    – Ben
    Apr 7, 2016 at 6:26
  • @Ben The point of downvoting would be to protect others from the contents of a flawed post. While it may be uncomfortable for the author of a post, it is certainly not necessarily unproductive (in a case where the post is actually flawed). | Lashon hara doesn't apply to constructive criticism | FWIW I didnt downvote.
    – mevaqesh
    Feb 2, 2017 at 21:17

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