4

This question was inspired by a recent question asking about knowledge of one's tribal lineage.

I am aware that male converts are often given 'Avraham' as a Hebrew name. (Not sure what the standard name for a female convert is.) It is my understanding that said name represents the goy's acceptance of God, the Torah and the Oral Tradition. As such, the ger is considered Abraham-like.

Since a ger (convert) is considered fully Jewish, does that not imply that they too have a place in the Land of Israel. If so, are converts granted tribal affiliation?

  • See the preexisting questions at judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/…. Do those answers answer your question? – msh210 Jan 6 '16 at 5:18
  • 2
    Minor point: 'given the name' implies they do not have a choice. Converts are welcome to call themselves whatever they like. – mevaqesh Jan 6 '16 at 5:25
  • Many female converts will take on the name Ruth. – sabbahillel Jan 6 '16 at 10:41
  • Since a convert does not have relatives (he or she is like a newborn child) he does not tak on tribal affiliation in the sense that you mean since he has "no father". – sabbahillel Jan 6 '16 at 10:43
  • 2
    A convert is ben Avraham (as in Avinu), but the converts I know took all sorts of names. "Avraham ben Avraham" is uncommon in my experience (which, granted, is limited). – Monica Cellio Jan 6 '16 at 16:10
9

No, at present male Gerim and their male children do not have an inheritance in the land of Israel. Inheritance of property comes through the male line, meaning father to son.

Male converts do not become a part of any of the twelve tribes. And thus, their male children do not have a portion in the land at this time. This was a case decided by the court of Moshe Rabbeinu and mentioned in the written Torah according to Rashi's commentary. (See VaYikra 24:10-12 for details.) Rather, they are part of the congregation or community of Israel (עדת ישראל, קהלת ישראל).

This actually places them in the status of representing the whole, (הצבור) and not the individual. Like others who represent the whole of the Jewish people, meaning Kohanim, they do not possess an inheritance in the land.

This concept is actually mentioned in Midrash HaGadol (Volume 8 of Mossad HaRav Kook edition, parshat Pinchas 26:54-56, pp. 459-460, see also Bava Bathra 122a, Ein Yaacov to Bava Bathra 8:15, Yalkut Shimoni on the Torah, parshat Pinchas 773:7, and Yalkut Shimoni to Nach 29:1) which says that in the future, the converts will become a 13th tribe. This is actually alluded to in Yechezkel's prophecy, chapter 48:18-19, concerning the structure of the third Temple. It refers to an unnamed group called "the city workers" (העבד העיר) who will be given a special piece of land in Israel that is contributed by all of the tribes together.

They are recognized as converts because of their title (העבדי העיר). The double 'Heh' is a sign of them actually being Gerim like is found in Pirkei Avot 5:21-22 in regard to 'Ben Bag Bag' and 'Ben Heh Heh'. They were both children of converts. It is no accident that mention of them follows after Avot 5:20 which concludes by saying, "May it be Your will, L-rd, our G-d and G-d of our fathers, that the Temple will be rebuilt speedily in our days, and our portion in Your Torah is given." Meaning that they don't have a portion up until that time.

This double 'Heh' sign alludes back to the 'Heh' that was added to the names of both Avraham and Sarah when they made the covenant with G-d. (See Bereshit 17:1-8, 15-16 for details.)

It is worth pointing out that this is to distinguish from female converts and female children from a male convert. When a woman marries, she takes on the tribal status of her husband. If she marries a man of a particular tribe, she and all her future children are members of that tribe and are thus allotted a portion in the land of that tribe.

  • 1
    Thank you @YaacovDeane for your answer. You raised an "obvious" fact that I overlooked. My thinking was along the lines of if a ger is considered to be a full Jew, how could they be excluded from tribal affiliation? You reminded us that even the Kohanim had no tribal affiliation. Are you aware of any thought on associating gers with Kohanim? I know that there is a comment in the Talmud that considers a non-Jew who studies Torah as a member of the priesthood. I am not sure if Chazal meant that literally or if it was one of many not widely known "inside jokes" found in the Talmud. – JJLL Jan 7 '16 at 2:29
  • Good answer! In the world to come we are told that there will be many converts who responded to the appearance of the Messiah. In that event, I guess we would need our own tribe. In my case, I have no tribe, but my daughter, having married a born Jew, now belongs to her husband's tribe. – Bruce James Feb 16 '16 at 15:59
  • Could you provide a source for the Midrash HaGadol you quoted in this answer? – Chaim Oct 14 '18 at 0:45
  • @Chaim Sorry for the slow response. Citation has been added per your request. – Yaacov Deane Oct 28 '18 at 17:25
  • 1
    @JJLL Concerning the relationship of Gerim to Kohanim, this is a deep subject with a lot to discuss. The short answer is yes, there is a relationship. But the subject requires an entire book for itself. – Yaacov Deane Oct 28 '18 at 17:49

You must log in to answer this question.

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