A female convert I know, who had stopped observing mitzvos for a few years, but then sought to return to the fold, was led to believe by someone that she would have to go again to the mikvah to confirm her Jewishness. I had never heard that before and now I have reasons for being suspicious of the advice, given its source. Is this halacha?

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    no shes jewish and follows the rules of tashubo which has nothing to do with proving ones jewishness or going to a meeqwo Nov 19, 2014 at 14:27
  • That's what I think, but I'm not a rav. Nov 19, 2014 at 14:32
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    I read in history that many anusim (Jews force to convert in Spain) who escaped to Amsterdam went to the mikvah to emphasize that they were returning to Jewishness. In the histories, it was said that it was a minhag to emphasize their return and not a halacha. Nov 20, 2014 at 0:59
  • related judaism.stackexchange.com/q/12786/759
    – Double AA
    Apr 22, 2015 at 0:17

2 Answers 2


Shulchan Arukh, Yoreh Deah 268:12

‏...ואפילו חזר ועבד עבודת כוכבים – הרי הוא כישראל מומר שקידושיו קידושין.‏
ישראל מומר שעשה תשובה – אינו צריך לטבול. רק מדרבנן יש לו לטבול ולקבל עליו דברי חבירות בפני שלושה

...even if the convert returned to worshiping idols -- he is still a Jew such that his marriage proposals are binding.
An apostate Jew who repents -- he does not need to dip [in a Mikva]. Only rabbinicly he should dip [in a Mikva] and accept upon himself words of companionship (?) in front of three [people]. (my translation)

So a custom like that is on the books. But it doesn't mean they aren't Jewish in the meantime. It's a sort of formal "welcome back" ceremony.

You should have her speak to a rabbi to see how her situation compares to this one.

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    do you know to what degree the rabbinic custom mentioned there is still followed? As for the source of information the geores received, he was a rav of a shul, but he is currently having legal difficulties and not in a position to explain that advice or his motivation for giving it. Nov 19, 2014 at 15:39
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    @BruceJames In that case, she probably needs a new rabbi.
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 19, 2014 at 16:24
  • @BruceJames, I have hard of it being followed until today. It doesn't just apply to converts who left and want to come back, and it is more specifically about someone who accepted a different religion, rather than just became irreligious.
    – Yishai
    Nov 19, 2014 at 17:04
  • @Yishai See Betzel HaChochma 1:51 that one who is "Kofer BeDat Yehudit" needs to dip even though they didn't accept any other religion per se.
    – Double AA
    Nov 19, 2014 at 17:09
  • @DoubleAA, interesting, but that I haven't heard of being followed until today (i.e. I have heard of what would at least seem to be counter examples).
    – Yishai
    Nov 19, 2014 at 17:23

Here's the problem. In theory, conversion is instant and irreversible. If we had a magical machine that could peer into someone's soul so we could be certain that right before the conversion s/he was sincerely committed to keeping everything; then the next day somehow something totally changed and s/he decided to worship idols and eat pork or whatnot, we would call them a Jew who is sinning.

In our normal world, however, we can't always tell whether a convert is entirely sincere, or just how deep their commitment runs. One interpretation of the book of Ruth has Ruth and Orpah converting back in Moab, but it's only Ruth's later declaration (and insistence) that show that her commitment was solid, whereas Orpah's wasn't.

So ... let's say a non-Jewish guy comes in, swearing on a Bible that he came to Judaism "through his Jewish girlfriend, but not because of her." (A dayan involved in geirus said he liked that phrasing.) He converts. The next day, she dumps him. From then on out, he stops keeping shabbos, kashrus, or anything else. This might cause a reasonable person to question whether the initial conversion was really sincere.

So the convert whose observance lapses will always face scrutiny, fair or otherwise, that perhaps the initial commitment wasn't good enough. It thus wouldn't surprise me if some would want to play it safe with another dunk in the mikvah.

(At the same time, please apply some reasonable limits. If someone converted and kept glattkosher/chalav-yisrael/or-zarua-veses/daf-yomi/rabbeinu-tam-zemanim/magen-avraham-krias-shema/gedzundheit for fifty years and then had a lapse in religious observance, we'd say that person changed at some later point!)

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    This answer would be a great deal more valuable if it cited sources, especially considering the sensitive nature of the topic.
    – Isaac Moses
    Nov 19, 2014 at 16:26
  • There are Rishonim who seem to have understood the machlokes about Kusim being geirei arayos or geirei emes to be about this point. Nov 19, 2014 at 18:32
  • @Shalom What is "gezundheit"?
    – SAH
    Aug 1, 2018 at 20:56
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    @SAH "gezundheit" is what a Yiddish speaker would say when someone sneezes ("bless you.") That was my attempt at humor after a long string of chumra jargon.
    – Shalom
    Aug 5, 2018 at 3:25

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