Why is the ger toshav only accepted during the times of the Jubilee?

"A person who accepts these seven mitzvot is a ger toshav. A ger toshav may be accepted only in the era when the [laws of the] Jubilee Year are observed. In an era when the [laws of the] Jubilee Year are not observed, however, we may accept only full converts [to Judaism" - Mishneh Torah, Avodah Kochavim 10:6

  • 2
    Interesting. Perhaps it has something to do with judaism.stackexchange.com/a/51393/5323?
    – MTL
    Mar 5, 2015 at 22:48
  • @Shokhet, I think so. It seems to prevent gerim gerurim, so instead to make gerim tzedekim, but I'm not sure how. It seems to help the non-Jew create the proper fear and love for haShem(Fear is the beginning of wisdom, etc.) I have personal chassidic approaches and explanations to this, but I'm not sure about halachah references as to why.
    – EhevuTov
    Mar 6, 2015 at 3:08

1 Answer 1


The Gemara has the same question:

Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar says: The halakhot pertaining to a gentile who resides in Eretz Yisrael and observes the seven Noahide mitzvot [ger toshav] apply only during a period when the Jubilee Year is observed.
Rav Beivai said: What is the reason? It is derived from a verbal analogy between “well” and “well.” It is written here, with regard to a Hebrew slave, who can be sold only when the Jubilee Year is observed: “Because he fares well with you” (Deuteronomy 15:16). And it is written there, with regard to a ger toshav: “Where it is well for him; you shall not wrong him” (Deuteronomy 23:17).

It is interesting to note that although there are some opinions learn this gemara to applying to only some laws of ger toshav, according to the Rambam the statement of the gemara is absolute. However there is still an obligation to "compel" all the inhabitants of the world to accept the 7 Noahide laws as stated in Hilchos Mlachim (8:10).

Regarding keeping the ger toshav alive the Raavad agrees with the Rambam that nowadays it doesn't apply. The reason he says is that the Jubilee Year also caused Shmita. During Shmita, everything became ownerless, so it wasn't a burden to also keep the גר תושב alive. However, nowadays Shmita doesn't apply, so keeping the גר תושב is a burden on the community.

וקרוב הדבר להיות מן הטעם כי בזמן היובל היו שומטין והיה יכול להתפרנס שלא בטורח צבור ועכשיו אינו יכול

  • Excellent! I've been looking for this for years. How does what the Raavad and what Rambam know, effect the decision of Hilchot Melachim 10:10, where a ben Noach that gives tzedakah: a Yisrael can receive it, and Yisrael has a mitzvah l'chichuso to sustain the ben Noach? I'm assuming this has to then be at a less level of sustainment. e.g. Differeing such as the sustainment between a Yisrael and a Yisrael? I've read in Od Yisrael Yoseph Beni Chai, by Rav Aaaron Soloveitchik of blessed memory, perek 3, that there are "aspects" of ger toshav today. I'm highly interested in this sugiya. Thank you.
    – EhevuTov
    Nov 2, 2023 at 7:12
  • 1
    @EhevuTov The commandment to sustain a ger toshav is something that for sure doesn't apply nowadays, even according to the opinions that differ with the Rambam. Regarding the difference between a ger toshav and a Jew, you are correct that there was a different level of sustainment between a Jew and a ger toshav. See Ramban on Sefer Hamitzvos that argues with the Rambam regarding this issue. Also see Rambam Shabbos 2:12 regarding breaking shabbos for a ger toshav. See Shulchan aruch 39:3 ger toshav writing tefillin.
    – user6781
    Nov 2, 2023 at 8:25

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .