Let's say a gentile is living in Lebanon or western Jordan, or west bank or even the State of Israel. Is he obliged to get circumcised since he live is Eretz Yisrael ?

  • R. Eliyahu Gaon of Vilna writes that non-Jews in Israel must keep all the mitzvot. This is an unpopular view and was censored from his work.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 18:53
  • @mevaqesh who censored it ? The Gaon himself ?
    – mil
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 18:59
  • @mevaqesh A non-Jew is not allowed to keep shabbos completely. That is why, for example, someone studying for conversion might keep a pen in his inner pocket on Shabbos or deliberately turn on an electric light. Are you saying that this is overridden in Eretz Yisrael? Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:01
  • @sabbahillel see seforim.blogspot.com/2014/02/… which brings the Gaon and related sources. if I have time I will later post this as an answer.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:20
  • Please elucidate on your assumption / statement. Why would any gentile require circumcision? It's not one of the 7 Noachide commandments. Why is it different of he lives in Israel?
    – DanF
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:21

2 Answers 2


To paraphrase this article on the seforimblog:

Raphael Shuchat notes that in a manuscript version of the Aderet Eliyahu text there is an important addition:

ואפילו הגוים הדרים בא"י צריכים לקיים כל המצוות, לפי שכל המצוות תלויים בארץ ישראל

But even with this addition the text is still very difficult, and no one has been able to find a source for the notion that Gentiles have to observe all the mitzvot in the Land of Israel, meaning that the idea is probably original to the Gaon.

R. Eliezer Waldenberg also takes note of the passage in Aderet Eliyahu, and seeing no way to explain it assumes that the text is a mistake.

Yet R. Waldenberg was unaware that in Aderet Eliyahu, Deut. 1:5, the Gaon says the exact same thing, namely, that in the Land of Israel non-Jews are obligated in all the mitzvot.

ולכן נענשו אפי' נכרים מפני שלא שמרו את התורה בארץ כמ"ש (מ"ב י"ז) לא ידעו את משפט א-להי הארץ, שישראל מצווה על כל התורה בח"ל ובארץ מצווה אפי' נכרי

This text appears in full even in the second edition of Aderet Eliyahu, which is the edition that censored the comment to Deut. 32:9. R. Elijah Dessler used the censored Aderet Eliyahu so he didn’t know the Gaon’s comment to Deut. 32:9, but he noted the comment to Deut. 1:5 and expressed his great surprise.

וזה דבר פלא לאמר דע"פ דין תורה כל נכרי הדר בא"י יהי' מחוייב בכל המצוות כל זמן שבחפצו לדור בה, ותו מה יהי' בדבר שמירת שבת, שהרי הגוי אסור בשמירתה, ומה יהי' באכילת קרבן פסח, וכדומה

While I don’t know of any talmudic or midrashic sources to support the Gaon’s position that a non-Jew in the Land of Israel has to observe all mitzvot,. there are some earlier texts that place additional obligations on non-Jews than what we normally assume.

Ibn Ezra, Ex. 13:7, 20:8, Lev. 17:13-14, 20:25, states that a non-Jew living in the Land of Israel (i.e., a ger toshav) is obligated to observe Shabbat. He is also not to work on Yom Kippur, to refrain from eating hametz on Passover, and to only eat kosher food. This is Ibn Ezra's understanding of the peshat of the Torah, but the Talmud records no such laws.

The most significant of the sources I can cite, and the one closest to the Gaon's position, is found in Avodah Zarah 64b. Here the Talmud quotes אחרים as saying that a ger toshav has to observe all the mitzvot with the exception of ritually slaughtered meat. The Hazon Ish, Yoreh Deah 65:6 wonders about this position, since does it mean that a non-Jew must wear tefillin and eat in a sukkah? He assumes that the talmudic passage means that non-Jews in the Land of Israel are only obligated in the negative commandments, and this is required so that Jews not be negatively influenced by their non-Jewish neighbors. See also R. Asher Weiss, Minhat Asher, Bereishit, p. 19.

To summarize, R. Elijah Gaon was of the opinion that gentiles living in Osrael must keep all the commandments, which would presumably include circumcision as well, but this is a minority view.


No, the obligation is only on born-Jews (i.e. descendants of Jacob) and converts to Judaism; it's not tied to the land.

Rambam, Kings and their Wars Ch. 10:

המילה--נצטווה בה אברהם וזרעו בלבד, שנאמר "אתה וזרעך אחריך, לדורותם" (בראשית יז,ט). יצא זרעו של ישמעאל, שנאמר "כי ביצחק, ייקרא לך זרע" (בראשית כא,יב). ויצא עשיו, שהרי יצחק אמר ליעקוב "וייתן לך את ברכת אברהם, לך ולזרעך" (בראשית כח,ד)--מכלל שהוא לבדו זרעו של אברהם המחזיק בדתו ודרכו הישרה, והם המחוייבין במילה.

Circumcision was commanded only to Abraham and his offspring ... excluding Ishmael ... and excluding Esau.

(Obviously, Islam practices circumcision, and they're welcome to do so! But Judaism does not regard them as obligated to do so.)

  • 3
    In the next paragraph after your quote Rambam says that nowadays the Children of Ishmael are obligated to be circumsized
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 18:52
  • The Rambam isn't speaking about Eretz Yisrael. The question is whether the law is different in Israel. Rambam does not address this.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 18:52
  • @DoubleAA I also did read something similar today at Noahide.org when they said that the descendants of Avraham from Ketura are obliged to get circumcised, and since the Ishmaelites got mixed with them, the Ishmaelites are now obligated to get circumcised...
    – mil
    Commented Nov 4, 2015 at 19:02

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