Suppose a man wants to convert to Judaism but cannot have a circumcision for bio-medical reasons (he has a foreskin, but has hemophilia or some other condition which would make the surgery fatal or life-threatening. Does this prevent him from converting, or may he complete the conversion process without being circumcised?

  • @DonielF The answer seems to apply to a born Jew but does not seem to refer to conversion. The example given in the comments of korban Pesach shows that. I can understand that the conversion process cannot be completed without milah, but would like to see additional sources. Mar 22, 2020 at 21:29
  • @sabba The question clearly asks about "born Jews and potential gerim." We don't judge duplicates based on answers.
    – DonielF
    Mar 22, 2020 at 21:43

3 Answers 3


There is a general consensus among the poskim that one who has an orlah cannot convert without having a milah. See here who refers to the views of:

שו״ת ארץ טובה סי׳ ב׳, ומשברי ים סי׳ ט״ו, זכר זכר יצחק סי׳ ג׳, מלמד להועיל סי׳ פ״ו, דעת כהן סי׳ ק״נ, ועיין בשרידי אש ח״ב סי׳ ק״ב־ק״ג שכתב שלתשובתו הסכימו כל גדולי הדור,ובכללם מרן הגאון רח״ע גדודזנסקי זצ״ל.

This is also the opinion of R. Tzvi Pesach Frank, הר צבי יורה דעה סי' רכ.

In his haskamah to the sefer חיי עולם נטע, R. Chaim Ozer writes:

ואמצא לחובה להעיר את כת"ר אשר בעניני הגירות...ע"ד השאלה להתיר גירות ע"י טבילה בלא מילה באופן שהמילה סכנה, אין בזה שום ספק כלל וחלילה להעלות על הדעת אשר בטבילה סגי, ופשוט דלא דמי לנידון הבה"ג שנכרת הגיד, וא"צ להאריך בזה וישתקע הדבר ולא יאמר כן. ולדעתי הי' נכון להשמיט הסימנים הנ"ל כל עיקר כי בימינו אלה מה שכתוב בספר יכול להיות לפוקה ולמכשול בדור שרבו קלי הדעת וישכיל כת"ר לתקן הדבר.

R. Gedaliah Felder (Nachalat Tzvi, vol. 1, p. 55) suggests a proof that such a conversion is acceptable based on the fact that gerim were received during the forty years in the desert when circumcision was dangerous; however, he cites the Panim Yafot who maintains that those converts circumcised themselves despite the danger.


Like everything else, it's debated!

There are opinions that he simply can't convert, that he needs no circumcision, or that he is allowed to "roll the dice" and choose to risk circumcision (let's assume a hemophiliac) for the sake of becoming Jewish. (If I'm not mistaken, it's mentioned in this shiur.)

The best bet would be to see what drugs and techniques could be used to make circumcision possible without being life-threatening.

  • He says it at 21:30. But without any sources so not so interesting.
    – user6591
    Feb 19, 2020 at 23:12

If a mother loses her first son to circumcision the second son is allowed to remain Jewish uncircumcised. I think it is unfair to tell a non-Jew that they cannot be Jewish if they can't get a circumcision for health reasons.

  • 1
    a) The law regarding a woman (or a man) not circumcising their son goes into effect after two fatalities, not one (see S"A Y"D 263:2 sefaria.org/Shulchan_Arukh%2C_Yoreh_De'ah.263?lang=bi) b) if one is born a Jew, they are Jewish regardless of what they do or don't do. One cannot 'lose' their Jewishness. How is a case of not losing 'Jewishness' comparable to one of someone trying to gain 'Jewishness'? Feb 20, 2020 at 4:38
  • 3
    @Jonathan 1. “The child of the Jewish father contains Jewish blood.” That doesn’t make him Jewish. Besides, not all non-Jews who want to convert have a Jewish father. 2. “A non-Jew who cannot become circumcised for health reasons should be allowed to become Jewish.” The actual halachic authorities quoted by other answers disagree with you.
    – DonielF
    Feb 20, 2020 at 14:07
  • 2
    3. “The Talmud says that if a human life becomes threatened it is a Mitzvah to break Shabbat.” No... It says that if a Jewish life becomes threatened it is a Mitzvah to break Shabbat. 4. “If we can break Shabbat...” You can’t compare breaking a Mitzvah that someone is already obligated in to save a life to forgoing a Mitzvah which doesn’t apply to them.
    – DonielF
    Feb 20, 2020 at 14:08
  • 1
    @Jonathan You’re missing the point entirely here. It’s not a punishment for the non-Jew not to become Jewish. It’s just a fact. Circumcision is a requirement to convert, and if he can’t circumcise, he can’t convert. It’s no different than a Mamzer not being able to marry into the general populace - it’s not a punishment to him for his parents’ sin, it’s just a fact of life.
    – DonielF
    Feb 20, 2020 at 19:52
  • 1
    @DonielF The Bible says that the son shall not pay the sins of the father. Furthermore, I agree that converts need to circumcise. But if it is life-threatening, and if the person feels they have a Jewish soul and want to do G-d's will by keeping the Shabbat; it's their human right to be Jewish.
    – Jonathan
    Feb 20, 2020 at 20:11

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