When a non-jew converts to Jusaism, must he still do teshuva from past sins, or does the "reborn" concept stretch far enough to consider him "sinless"?

3 Answers 3


From Rambam, Laws of Kings and their Wars, Chapter 10:

בן נוח שבירך את השם, או שעבד עבודה זרה, או שבא על אשת חברו, או שהרג חברו, ונתגייר--פטור. הרג בן ישראל, או שבא על אשת ישראל, ונתגייר--חייב; והורגין אותו על בן ישראל, וחונקין אותו על אשת ישראל שבעל--שהרי נשתנה דינו.

A non-Jew who commits a capital offense and then converts: if the capital offense did not affect a Jew (e.g. idol worship, cursing G-d's name), then the Jewish courts don't carry out any punishment against the new convert. But if a non-Jew murdered a Jew, or was involved with a Jewish married woman, then he is held accountable even after conversion.

Interesting. So apparently, as you've indicated, it's not entirely "clean-slate."

The Talmud has stories of people who'd done horrible things against the Jews rethinking their lives, running off, and converting. Apparently we accepted them for conversion; how they work out their previous lives and regrets is between them and G-d.

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    I've heard of a medrash telling of Nevuzaradan's conversion, and a similar medrash with Pharoh's (after supposedly surviving the Red Sea).
    – jake
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 18:25
  • Nevuzaradan's conversion is brought in a Gemara.
    – Yahu
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 18:33
  • It would seem that in a murder case, there is reason to question the convert's sincerity, and therefore the validity of the conversion. That doesn't come off as a clear proof of an exception to the clean slate theory. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 22:10
  • Sanhedrin 96b for Nebuzardan's conversion
    – Re'eh
    Commented Jan 25, 2016 at 5:03
  • I don't think this really answers the question. Whether or not the court punishes you has nothing to do with whether you need teshuva. Someone may for example have repented and no longer need teshuva, but the courts will still punish him.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 17, 2017 at 9:56

Based on the Gemara that says he is like a child KiKatan Shenolad Dami it would seem he has a completely clean slate like a child.But my original conclusion is wrong as pointed out by Yahu.

In fact even the question of familial relationships is a Machlokes in a Gemara in Yevamos between Reish Lakish, who says if he had a child prior to his conversion he is still obligated, because he resembles a katan shenolad so the original Children have nothing to do with him.Then there is Reb Yochanan who says it makes no difference as the reality is he has children.

They have the same argument about the status of a child born after a geirus in regards to a firstborn getting the double portion of inheritance. Reb Lakish says the child born after birth is a Bechor Reb Yochnan says no.

Another gemara that disproves my original point is in Sanhedrin it says if someone did an Aveirah and was converted he is still responsible for his sin. The Chavas Yair brings an example of a ger who had stole from a Jew prior to conversion The question asked was must he return the item? the Chavas Yair said yes again proving "no clean slate", Another interesting Machlokes on this topic is a women who ran away with a gentile and then returned to Judaism and the gentile converted can she now marry him (If her original husband died,or divorced her) normally we say she can not marry the person she cheated with or continue living with her husband The Rabbenu Taam as explained by the Mordechai says she is allowed to marry the man she ran away with as the Geirus makes a New man Kikoton Shenolad Dami MOST DISAGREE this ruling and again it seems "No clean Slate"

In fact to knock the Final nail in the coffin of my original thought process the gemara in Yevamous says one of the reasons Converts suffer after converting is because they failed to keep the Seven Noachide laws earlier again disproving The Clean slate. Source

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    Those Gemaras are not referring to his sins and his slate. They refer to his status as a person regarding familial relations. There are meforshim that do say that a reason a ger brings a korbon is to atone for not having come under the "wings of the shehinah" sooner.
    – Yahu
    Commented Mar 21, 2011 at 23:29
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    Kudos to ST for brutal self-criticism and integrity in the process!
    – Yahu
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 5:44
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    Aditionally, I don't think the stealing would prove anything since the sin is still in the process of being committed until he returns the object. This may apply to any ben adam lechavero as well, since the victim still has a claim or complaint, as opposed to a ben adam lemakom which Hashem has the right to commute.
    – YDK
    Commented Mar 22, 2011 at 15:29
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    @SimchasTorah: Your last point is wrong because it is out of context. Yevamos 48b cites a beraisa of Rabbi Channinah who makes that point, but it is rebutted without defense by Rabbi Yossi who says that BECAUSE they are born anew, converts suffer for things they did only as a Jew. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 18:34
  • @SimchasTorah: I also have a problem with your analysis of the Chavas Yair's opinion. If the ger were being held liable for his former sins, he would have to restore what he stole and pay a 20% fine, would he not? But if as a new Jew he found himself in possession of someone else's property, he would have to return it to the owner, right? So that analysis does not support your position; it only supports that he has an obligation to return property that he does not own. As for Rabbeinu Tam: There are other reasons to explain that, too. Commented Jan 22, 2013 at 22:08

The Yerushalmi Bikurim 11b states that a convert is forgiven for all his/her sins.

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