Rambam, Hilchot Milah 1:7 says that a convert must be circumcised before his conversion is complete. If he was already circumcised when he was not Jewish, a Hatafat Dam Brit (taking a drop of blood) must be done.

What if the convert received a halachically valid circumcision when he was 8 days old, does he have to do Hatafat Dam when he converts? For example, his mother thought she was Jewish, and didn't find out until after her son was circumcised that she was in fact not Jewish. When the son was 8 days old he received a proper, halachic circumcision. Does that circumcision count for the conversion process?

In other words, do we say that the reason the already circumcised convert must get Hatafat Dam Brit is because the first circumcision wasn't a halachic one? (In which case the convert in question did receive a halachically valid circumcision)

Or do we say that the reason he must get Hatafat Dam Brit is because the previous circumcision wasn't done with the intention of converting? (and therefore it doesn't matter whether the previous circumcision was halachically valid or not, it was not done as part of the conversion process)

  • Note that I am not asking about Giur L'Chumrah. I am asking if the son is doing a complete conversion (e.g. after the mother found out she wasn't Jewish she elected not to convert. The son decided to convert later on in life, and goes through a complete conversion process)

  • Additional Note: Rambam, Hilchot Issurei Biah 13:1 says that the Jewish People also did the three steps of conversion before the Torah was given. The circumcision was done in Egypt, before the Jews ate the Korban Pesach. It could perhaps be argued that they did not know they were circumcising themselves as part of the conversion process. If so, perhaps a parallel could be made to our case, where the original circumcision was not done with the intent to convert, but it was still halachically valid for the conversion process. (Also, the tribe of Levi never stopped circumcising their children, so they definitely didn't have in mind the conversion process)

Someone just told me that this question was discussed in connection to the Ethiopian Jews, and is discussed in Ovadia Yosef's Yabia Omer and other places. I haven't looked any of them up yet.

  • @GershonGold: The Rambam brings that, as does the Shulchan Aruch (Yorah Deah 263:4 - hebrewbooks.org/pdfpager.aspx?req=9147&pgnum=168 ). My understanding is that this is because the act of circumcision was never performed on him. In my question, the act of circumcision was performed on him
    – Menachem
    Jul 31, 2013 at 18:38

1 Answer 1


There's a Rabbi Frand tape concerning such a question. The fellow was given a Jewish circumcision on day 8 (or maybe the Sunday thereafter), then grew up, attended yeshiva for many years, then suddenly realized he was not halachically Jewish -- he thus sought to convert now. The ruling given was that he'd had a circumcision done "for the sake of Judaism" (unlike someone born without a foreskin, for instance), and that sufficed for conversion purposes as well. (Even better, he'd gone to the mikvah before Yom Kippur and that was deemed good enough as well too.)

I'm terribly sorry but I don't recall off-hand who the posek was.

  • Please add in actual number of tape and Posaik as it is not reliable as is. Jul 31, 2013 at 19:23
  • 1
    @Shalom: What I find fascinating about this case, is that it is conceivable that this fellow could have "unwittingly" converted. If the circumcision from his youth was enough, and the mikvah from earlier was enough, then all that was left would be to accept the yoke of heaven and mitzvot. Technically, that is done with the Shema, which this fellow said every day.
    – Menachem
    Jul 31, 2013 at 20:49
  • @Menachem actually he went to the rabbi and said "I want to convert, how do I do it"; given his track record that was deemed good enough of a mitzva acceptance -- so it was ruled he was all set!
    – Shalom
    Aug 1, 2013 at 2:47
  • I asked yadyechiel.org if they knew which shiur this was, and they answered "Rabbi Frand thinks that it a lech lecha shiur and that is all that he can remember. You can go to our website and click on Rabbi Frand's shiurim by the parsha and see if you can figure out what shiur that was Hope this helps you out." Do you konw which tape it was?
    – Menachem
    Aug 2, 2013 at 0:10
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    Here's a link: torahmedia.com/flexcart/…
    – Menachem
    Aug 2, 2013 at 15:31

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