MichaelS wrote:

The case: Ben Noah in the process of giyur. Stood before the Beis Din and was asked question 'Will you follow the mitzvot as fully as a goy can up until the end of the process of giyur and completely after the process is done?'.

Do bate din (Jewish courts) in fact demand that a potential ger do mitzvos to the extent possible before giyur? If so, I assume it's so the ger knows what he's getting into and/or so he gets practice, but is that demand codified in halacha or only a practical measure taken by bate din?

  • I do not believe that this is necessary, at least with regards to Talmudic halacha, though I may be wrong (which is why this isn't an answer).
    – rosenjcb
    Aug 19 '14 at 13:45
  • if a joy wants to keep mee9woth before conversion there is no problem in doing so. he is allowed to wear tafilleen and keep shabboth if he wishes and study torah. but i assume it is not a must because when converting we must teach him/her the laws of kashruth and shabboth and so on. but we should not teach him all at once for he/she might be over whelmed and be discouraged to follow the halochoth. from here we see in talmudic times people converted without knowing any halochoth. Aug 19 '14 at 19:00
  • 1
    Own experience: they do. Also, a goy can make vows and is punished from Shamayim if he does not follow them, so until he becomes a ger he is obliged by his vow (unless he decides not to continue the process), then he's obliged like a ger is. See: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/44527/… . As I am writing, I know this only from one experience, I don't know the general case. I was instructed to 'observe what I can and wear tallis qatan, eat kosher, keep Shabbos as much as possible, keep tznius, ...' and asked will I follow - as I understood.
    – MichaelS
    Aug 22 '14 at 14:41

A perspective convert is not obligated to keep any extra mitzvos for it. Today it is common for a beis din to independently decide as a matter of policy to require the show of commitment of a candidate practicing while readying him/herself for the actual conversion. After all, the person could try the lifestyle and find it leaves them cold, avoiding a possible mistake. But at least the person will be in practice, and less likely to forget to wash hands before eating or make a berakhah, or the like. But it's not a halachic duty on the person, as there is no special halachic category of being "pre-conversion". Nor is such observance a mandatory part of the conversion process.

In fact, a problem for prospective converts are the one or two mitzvos that non-Jew ought not keep.

For example, Shabbos. Hashem describes Shabbos as "an eternal sign between Me and the Jewish People." A non-Jew observing Shabbos is somewhere between theft and pseudo-adultery. For men, one clever solution is to wear tzitzis. For a Jew, who is obligated in wearing tzitzis, the tassles are considered subsidiary to the garment, which is worn on Shabbos. For a non-Jew, the tassles are unnecessary in terms of attire, so they are being carried no less than if they were in the person's pocket. There is also a question whether an eiruv works for a non-Jew, so carrying in an eiruv would be something the prospective convert can do without standing out amongst his shul mates.

The limits of Torah study for a non-Jew is more complex, with many extant rulings. Obviously they're allowed to learn the things they need to know to be good Jews day one -- applicable laws, the fundamental beliefs (which the Chovos haLvavos would also call "applicable laws", the title of the book is "Duties of the Heart"), and likely Tanakh. Paritcularly someone living in a Christian culture, where Tanakh is respected, if under a different name and in a translation that has a number of alterations. But because there is a variety of rulings, the applied rules would depend on the beis din.

  • Many thanks for this info. Your first paragraph (the one that answers the question) could do with some evidence (e.g. citing a source).
    – msh210
    Aug 26 '15 at 18:51

I heard from R. Nota Greenblatt, one of America's foremost poskim, that this is a relatively recent development. In Europe converts expressed dedication to keep mitzvos, and then "learned on the job"


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