Recently I was going through some Responsa of Rav Yitzchok Isaac Halevi Herzog.

In one of the teshuvos Rav Herzog mentions parenthetically that there are some Rishonim and Achronim that are of the opinion that a child from a gentile father and Jewish mother is still considered a gentile.

Who are these opinions that hold that the child of a mixed marriage (i.e. That the mother is Jewish, and Father is a gentile) is not considered Jewish, and needs to convert?

Practically, are we concerned for such opinions to the extent that we require a Giyur Le'Chumra (A conversion done as a precautionary stringency)?

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    There are opinions in the gemoro that he is a mamzer and there is problem to make a bris on shabbos.
    – cham
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 18:34
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    A conversion may or may not have to be performed depending on when the mother converted: before conception, at conception, prior to delivery, etc. if the mother was Jewish by birth or a convert prior to conception, I am reasonably sure that the child is Jewish. The Jewish status of the child is undeniable if he is considered a mamzer. Only Jews can be a mamzer within the context of halakha. At least I think that is the case.
    – JJLL
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 20:35
  • @JJLL my question is regarding a Jewish woman from birth. Fully Jewish, just her husband is a gentile, does her child have to convert? Commented May 31, 2015 at 20:59
  • To the best of my knowledge, no, the child would not have to convert. A child born of a Jewish mother is Jewish no matter what the father is.
    – JJLL
    Commented May 31, 2015 at 21:25
  • Can you cite the specific responsum?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jun 1, 2015 at 3:56

2 Answers 2


Such a child is regarded after his mother, as elborated in the Gemara (Yevamos pages 16-17, and Kidushin page 68) "Your son (meaning grandson) from a Yisraelit is called your son (meaning that he is called Yisrael or "Jewish" today), and your son from the gentile woman (meaning she who had a child with your son) is not called your son (meaning he is not considered Yisrael)"

And the Shulchan Aruch (4, 5) also states that he does not require a Giur ("הנולד מישראלית וגוי נחשב כישראל לכל דבר ואינו צריך גרות")

And so from the words of the Rambam (הל' איסורי ביאה פט"ו הל' לד) concluded the Imrei Moshe that "He follows his mother and we do not consider the father at all" ("הרי הוא כאמו ואין משגיחין על האב"),

However, halachically, there is a (huge) Machloikes Rishonim (and achronim). Rashi in Yevamos thinks that Ravina there thinks that the child is "Yisrael Gamur" and so thinks Tosfot (on the spot).

BUT - Rashi in Kidushin (p. 72) thinks that Ravina says that he follows his mother to be ruled out as a Mamzer, and therefore the "Kosher Child" din is not met according to Ravina and thus he is considered a Gentile! The same might be understood from Rashi's words: "ויצא בן האשה הישראלית – מלמד שנתגייר" - that implies that he had to go through the Giur process (Note that the Ramban clarifies that the meaning is not an actual Giur).

The same opinion can be found in Tosfot (Kidushin p 71) and Shaar HaMelech (הל' איסורי ביאה פט"ו הל' ט) explaining the Riff's opinion.

And there are many Achronim who ponder on this issue and explain (it's a little too much for this forum)


Some Achronim still fear for the other opinion, some of which are the Maharshal on the Tur (266), and on the Drisha there. Another opinion that fears for it is Rabi Akiva Iger who states that even though he is Israel, we fear for the other opinion. Another one is the Yaarot Devash (Ch 1 last Drush).

According to this, if a Giur Lechumra will not be conducted, some will say the a Bris cannot be done on Shabes, some other will even fear for Lechumra on any gentile\Jewish Halacha...

And some will fear for the Mamzer opinion, which sadly cannot be solved by the Giur Lechumra (hapilly though, as shown above, is not a de-facto fear).


-- If you read Hebrew you can gain insight on many mefarshim, in great details from this wonderful Q&A in the DIN website

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    Practically today I've never heard of rabbis requiring one; however Rabbi Rakeffet tells of one student who was constantly anxious about this because her father wasn't Jewish. He told her if it would give her peace of mind, bring along a beis din when she was going to the mikvah anyhow before her wedding. That's what she did, and it seemed to make her feel a lot better. (Did halacha require it? No. But it was the right psak for this person.)
    – Shalom
    Commented Apr 4, 2017 at 18:15

Sources that child born to gentile father and Jewess is gentile:

This opinion is most explicit in Tosfos Kiddushin 75b (and is consistent with Tosfos' opinion in numerous other places, noteably Yevamos 15 & 23). [See Maharsha ad loc, and Piskei Tosfos]

This is also the opinion of Rashi (Kiddushin 67b and Parshas Emor, regarding the megadef). Rashi seemingly contradicts this position in Kiddushin 75a, ruling that a child fathered by an eved kenaani and a Jewess is a Jew.

See Tosfos Rid (Gittin 41b) who [like Rashi] differentiates between son of an eved & Jewess to a gentile & Jewess, based on the dictum עבד אין לו חייס. Chemdas Shlomo (E"H §2) quotes the Nesivos (also in Shu"t R' Yackov MeLisa from the author of the Nesivos) who says something very similar. (See also Ohr Someach Ch. 15 of Issurei Biah for different rationale to the same distinction).

The Maharit Alagazi suggests that the status of the child is defined by who raises him - his gentile father or his Jewish mother. While this would answer some of the apparent contradictions, the logic is difficult to understand.


R' Akiva Eiger (Shu"a Yo"d 266), Maharshal (cited in Drisha 266.15) and Maharam Shik (EH"E §20) writes that one should not circumcise a child of gentile father and Jewess on Shabbos, out of concern for the opinions that he is not Jewish.

R' Eliezer Gordon (Kuntres Achron, §1) contends this may be the opinion of the Rambam & Rif; see his rather lengthy discussion of the subject for a full synopsis.

IIRC (I don't have the sefer on hand), the Nesivos in (Shu't R' Yackov Melisa §26) doesn't allow the child born from union of Gentile and Jewess to marry a Jew/ess without Geirus.

Poskim who conclude child is halachically Jewish:

רמ”א (יו”ד סי’ קנט סעי’ ג) ס’ עצי ארזים (סי’ ד ס”ק ד ד”ה היוצא) ס’ ערוגות הבשם (סי’ ד ס”ק ד) פני יהושע (גיטין מ ע”א תוס’ ד”ה אותו) שיירי קרבן (גיטין פ”ד הל’ ב) תפארת למשה (יו”ד סי’ רסו) שו”ת ברית אברהם (סי’ ב אות ב) שו”ת נודע ביהודה (מהדו”ת אבהע”ז סי’ קנ) שו”ת חמדת שלמה (אבהע”ז סי’ ג) ישועות יעקב (אבהע”ז סי’ ד פי’ הארוך ס”ק ו) שו”ת בנין ציון (ח”א סי’ כא) שו”ת יכין ובועז (ח”א סי’ עה וסי’ קז, ובח”ב סי’ ג) שו”ת אחיעזר (ח”ג סי’ כא) חזון איש (אבהע”ז סי’ ו ס”ק ז).

[See also Chiddushei Grana"t §11, Imrei Moshe §26, Chiddushei R' Reuven Yevamos §22]

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